While you were away...
My partner and I have been together for almost nine months now, and previous to being with him, I hadn't had a serious relationship – or lived with a partner – in three years.
Needless to say, some days are simply magical; others, not so much. In fact, they can be a downright damn struggle. We are both exceptionally strong-willed thirty-something individuals who crave adventure, independence and freedom like a junkie craving their next fix. At times, this can cause much turmoil and unrest inside me, as I’m still negotiating my way through relationship protocols, whilst he has become increasingly comfortable and nonchalant about it all.
For the past two weeks, my dude has been away on a technical diving training course in Victoria. During this time, I have been living on my own up here in our home in Queensland, just doing my thing. And what a blessing that has been.
I’ve rediscovered so much about myself in this short time, and it was the perfect chance for me to pause and do some serious self-evaluation. Here’s what I discovered while he was away:
1. I have so much more spare time
When I’m not busy fussing about him, I have a helluva’ lot more time to do other things.
Case in point: Since he left, I have gotten up at 5 am every morning to go to the gym.
Now, this is absolutely unheard of in my world; my intense detestation for early mornings and working out could rival the hate between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But in his absence, I have suddenly discovered this whole new block of time for myself.
Seriously, my productivity has skyrocketed: I’m writing more, seeing my friends more often, working out every day, planning lessons for my students in advance, and spending more time on personal passion projects.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love making my partner’s life easier and I am always looking for ways to help him; whether that’s making his dinner, writing cute notes to hide in his lunch that I’ve lovingly made, or doing the laundry so that he always has fresh clothes for work.
I’m not complaining here. I do it all because I love him.
But I have to admit, that when I take the focus off all the things I feel I should be doing for him, I suddenly focus on the things I should be doing for myself. And it kinda feels good…
2. When I’m not focusing on his happiness, I start to focus on my own
I’m naturally the type of girl who tends to put her partner’s happiness on a pedestal (sometimes above her own) and will stop at nothing to make sure that his life is a non-stop glittering parade of contentment and appreciation. I can’t help it, it’s just who I am.
And even though I swore up and down after my marriage breakdown that I would never be that girl again, I have since discovered that - much like my chubby thighs and tendency to swear too much - this part of me ain’t changing anytime soon.
But these past two weeks have left me with plenty of time to think about what makes me happy and what I want to do. I’ve realised just how easily I slipped back into that old habit of focusing on fulfilling someone else’s happiness before attending to my own. And although I won’t stop looking for little ways to brighten his world, from now on, I will also remember to shine some light on mine first.
3. Constant compromise sucks
Everyone who’s ever been in a relationship will tell you that to make it work, you will have to compromise from time to time. No relationship is perfect and no two people are exactly the same.
But sometimes, I get damn sick of compromising and wish it would just kindly fuck off.
For the past two weeks, I haven’t had to compromise on a damn thing, and holy moly has it felt good! I did what I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was free to be me – all of me, in all my glory, with all my idiosyncrasies and inappropriate tendencies – without fear of how it could impact on someone else. I know that sounds incredibly selfish of me, but hot damn, it felt amazing.
4. I love my own company
I’m not a loner by any stretch; in fact, on a scale of Howard Hughes to Kim Kardashian, I’m somewhere around the top end of loving attention from my posse. But I have also relished every night that I’ve come home to an empty house, content in the knowledge that I get to hang out with one of my favourite homies: Myself.
I am comfortable with the silences that emanate from an empty house. I am content with sleeping in a big bed all on my own, wrapped in snuggly blankets and self-satisfaction. I delight in just hanging out in my home alone, enjoying my company. Of all the skills I learnt during my three-year hiatus from relationships, this was the most valuable of all, and it's the one that I’m glad I still hold dearly and closely to my heart.
5. I love this man with all my heart
No matter how much he may drive me crazy, how much I sometimes question our compatibility, or how frustrated I get at our vast differences, I love this man.
Deeply. Truly. Fiercely.
I’ve missed his presence, his scent, his laugh, and his smile. I’ve missed seeing his sleepy eyes in the mornings and feeling his strong arms wrapped around me at night.
I’ve realised that although life seems to run a little smoother without him here, it sure as hell ain’t as much fun.
I may miss my single life at times, and I have enjoyed my little taste of it this past fortnight, but it doesn’t beat the feeling I get when he looks into my eyes and tells me he loves me. Nothing in this world feels better than that.
And that’s what I learnt while you were away…