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.

5 thoughts on “Bearings.

  1. No doubt every one of us struggles with these questions when we shed the “hats” we are accustomed to wearing. The choice? Quick grab a new hat, any one near; or take time to find the bestest one/s we can. Shopping stinks, but the rewards for taking one’s time can be great. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Taking time to discover what feels right is going to be worth it. Having rushed into many things before, I like your idea very much. Sort of like ‘measure twice, cut once’ but nicer and more flexible. Trying on hats. That works. OX


  2. Big adjustments, an empty nester and moving and leaving your home of many years. I remember just leaving my house I’d built, it was hard. I remember my daughter leaving for school, twice, it was easier the second time I knew what to expect. You can’t be their mom, they have only one. You can be close to them if they let you. Get involved in something locally, pull yourself out. Is there a school or university close by, take a class? The new home will sink in slowly, do you have a space there? You are creating a new routine, everything is unfamiliar, it’s disorienting unfortunately. Ground yourself, identify what feels grounding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The idea of grounding is new to me – you are the second person to suggest that. Things that feel good now are now what felt good in NY. Exploring here by driving new roads and walking around in the grocery stores (any of them). Seeing what’s on the roads, how to find my way back to something familiar, and seeing the odd regional foods available (mostly the canned stuff). Putting pieces together. Cooking always feels good. And, having fun. I love the starting point, the nest, here. It is sweet and humble, familiar, warm, open-armed, safe and imperfect. The idea of new everything – routine, friends, job, wayfinding, choreographies – you are right: overwhelming, at times, not always; like when distractions are low. I am confident balance will come, meanwhile, enjoying being aloft a while. 🙂


  3. I have several disparate thoughts. I should probably take more time to formulate them but, if I did, I would never get back to writing here. So, it’s now if I feel so moved to respond, which, apparently, I do!

    First, this blog moved me to tears, and not much makes it through that particular wall these days. It’s not because you succinctly capture the questions I’ve recently come around to working on myself – yet again! “Who am I when no one needs me?” “Who am I when I need someone?” (My own question currently boils more down to, “How can anyone be interested in spending time with me if I don’t have a core of interests?”) No, in this case, it’s not the existential subject matter that has moved me, it’s the very fact that you so eloquently and vulnerably hash out your issues. I, on the other hand, seem to be resting on the laurels of previous attainment of self-awareness and actualization, and I’ve been highly resistant to putting in the time/effort to deal with my own shit rather than distracting myself endlessly. So, thank you for repeatedly modeling what I know I want to be doing: observing, thinking, writing. The tears were for the undeniable, painful recognition that I have been avoiding doing what I most deeply need. I don’t need to be doing so publicly, but I need to be doing it, for myself. Thank you too for writing in a way that provides both the stimulus to think and the incentive to respond. I am grateful for the people in my life who communicate on this level!

    Oh, ha ha, that was just ONE of my thoughts. : )

    You asked for a reality check about your unmooring. I would be surprised if you didn’t feel a bit lost and off-kilter, especially with the confounding emotional turmoil of DD! I’m like you (or, at least what I perceive at this distance) – I identify with being able to handle anything, especially if I’ve made a conscious choice to do it. I can let go of a lot of ego BS, but that self-image is the hardest one for me (which is why I’m having trouble accepting that I’m having trouble – maybe these thoughts are not so disparate!). Anyway, having become unmoored a few times myself – some by my own choice, others not – it sounds like you’re accepting that there will be many waves to ride before you completely find your sea-legs, no matter how land-locked we are here in the shadow of the Blue Ridge. I will leave it at that for now and save more for in person, if that’s meant to be.

    It sounds like your biggest disappointment is with your own expectations of yourself, not at all with the situation at hand and the choice that you made to move here. In fact, you gush about your “nest” and your new job. Just “Be-ing” you sounds like a great step toward, yes, grounding, or reorienting that internal compass, if that resonates more. What a huge load of change you’ve taken on all at once!

    Liked by 1 person

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