Sunday evening truth: After two full weeks, I feel a bit lost.
Maybe it will come and go, just as the realization I am actually here at all keeps knocking me over in unpredictable, powerful waves of ‘Oh my gosh!!’ They rise up at the silliest times and catch my breath. At the kitchen sink doing dishes; brushing my teeth for bed at “his” bathroom vanity (the first three years, I used the hall bath, not the master bath); waking up in the middle of the night and hearing him sleeping, or letting the dog in and out but not leashing her for a long car ride home/north. And, driving everywhere, to learn where I am and how to get lost and, then, found.
So, it happens a lot, the realizations. They’re not easing, either. It’s like moving here and living here are One. Big. Dazzling. Shock. (You will let me know if this is normal or if it is not.)
Tonight, sitting quietly, my internal compass is off.
Parts of Being Someone’s Partner feel unfamiliar and rough-edged. And, while I am generally happy (OK, ecstatic), I am presently uncomfortable and (angry with myself for) feeling lost – exactly the feeling I do not want in this new geography and new home, cohabitating with another adult-as-partner. (How do I do this?)
Things are going fine. Today: simply spent. Grocery run with his son, brunch prepared by partner. His son left to visit other parent.
We napped, adulted, supper’d in summer pajamas.
6PM. I cleaned up dinner and manfriend headed to bed (yes, that early), to rise and shine at 2 AM to work the mechanics of crushing or pressing grapes once they are picked in the cool, early morning. His schedule will be nuts for the next six to eight weeks.
And when he bedded, suddenly the day came to an unexpected halt. Or, rather, my role in this house/as a partner did. My things finally here, in storage, as of yesterday. I feel safe, the way one feels safe in the vestibule of a city building during a passing rainstorm. Safe, and a relief I can’t explain. Also like a visitor, lightly breathing, trying to not take up space or exist too loud or make noise that would wake a person. Waiting (but for what or whom?)
“You belong here, in this house. You do know that, don’t you? You fit perfectly here.” He asks/tells me when we are quiet and enfolded, adulting in private earlier this afternoon. I smiled and nodded; at the time I agreed. It felt “yes” and accurate; it has felt “yes” for some time.
Left alone to myself right now, I realize my ‘belong’ space and fit-in-here has been defined by the other two people in the house. I mediate gently, listen, deal with food when asked or when obviously my task; I fill in the gaps an alpha/partner/’aunt’/friend female might fill, had there been one here before. There was not, not in this house, anyway.
I am the first (and the idea is, the last), of any length or measure, outside the wife and mother – roles someone else owns and I am happy she keep them as long as appropriate. But, who am I when not needed or sought?
Wait – stop. I ask that again. It rings in my head a few moments then wanders down into the velvety, gooey darkness where all these things murmur – these deeper truths, the painful questions – and something unlocks. I have been asking this question, “who am I when someone doesn’t need me?” since DD moved out abruptly in late January. Her departure left me reeling; it continues to seize regularly, weighted collars of failure and heartbreaking loss make it hard to inhale, and my once-usefulness exhales and dies all over again. It’s been doing this for nearly nine months, a gestational period of “Why?” and “Where did I go wrong?” It’s hard to live with someone you doubt or do not trust, especially when that person is you; it has been grossly uncomfortable facing myself every day despite what loved one’s say of my good worth and “excellent parenting”.
So, by her not needing me, I have defined myself as a mom-failure, an adult unworthy of just about everything related to mentoring, guiding, teaching…and being capable of weathering the needs – or lack thereof – of others.
So, who am I here? Here with manfriend/partner and his dear teenson? And while he sleeps for early work, who am I, waiting out in the living room/den, playing hushed-martyr-girlfriend, stalled and waiting to feel sleepy enough to tiptoe down the slender hall to bed and ghost in beside him.
Who am I when no none needs me?
Who am I when I need someone? Better still, who am I, what of me do I own, when I need me? That is the answer, the anchor: who am I at my core regardless of role or being desired or fetched or filling in a blank or mending or paring or hemming or holding or kissing or unfolding or responding?
It is the beginning of week three. I will make an effort to Be myself and not immediately define my fit here…but I’m not sure how to do that without automatically embracing stereotype or without the administration of someone else’s needs before my own. Women who caregive do this without a second thought: we take the role(s) we know, rather than one we create for ourselves.
“Reinvent yourself,” they said, when I announced my departure from Long Island, from DD living in our/my/the house, from leaving a traditional desk jockey job. The leavings, juicy and ripe with potential.
“You can reinvent yourself when you come down here,” manfriend/partner suggested on more than several occasions.
I’m working in it. One feel-good at a time. One dizzying, elated wave of relocation euphoria at a time.