t’s 8pm and I feel like I just took my first breath of the day. My body relaxes into the couch while my husband, who loves food almost as much as he loves me, is in the kitchen cooking us a special Shabbat Dinner.
I glance over at one of my plants (I’ve become obsessed with plants since covid, literally bringing life into my home) and I gasp: a new sprout. (Told you I was obsessed ☺). Immediately I well up with tears (doesn’t take much these days) and the first thing out of my mouth is “you see how not present I am.”
My husband lovingly comes over and sits beside me. “What if you could just appreciate the beauty instead of making yourself wrong,” he says. “Look at that – a little sunlight, chlorophyll, oxygen, hydrogen and new life emerges.”
It really is a miracle. And how lucky am I that I have a partner who reminds me to be present – not the kind of reminder like I should be doing something (which most of my reminders to myself are) but the kind of reminder that says ‘Appreciate this beauty. This is the whole reason we want to be present in the first place.’
Gratitude flows in.
And then he takes a big loud gulp from my glass of water and I can’t stand him.
Talk about going through all the feels in a matter of just a couple of minutes. Yup. That’s pretty much how the past 57 days have been for me. (And yes, I counted.)
But in that moment, a blog post was born. As I witnessed a new bud on my plant, something budded inside of me. I’m ready to write, it said.
I’ve been feeling so many feelings over the past 57 days. New feelings, all of them deeply. The types of experiences I haven’t been able to logic my way out of (thank you, @iamdustinhogan, for the phrase) and so I’ve turned to different forms of expression. A new realm, outside of the brain and into the body. There’s been a lot of growing and shifting and shaking. A lot of leaning into new kinds of discomfort. A lot of allowing myself to feel and express emotions that I’ve deemed ‘bad’ and that I was afraid to express because I wanted to be great all the fucking time. Whatever ‘great’ means.
Irritability. I’ve been so irritable with my husband. My amazing, loving, totally supportive, would-do-anything for me, perfect husband. Has been driving me fucking crazy. We’re not used to spending this much time together. He works late most week nights and travels a lot for work. Of course we’d have new experiences as a couple when we’re literally doing something we’ve never done. But also – is there something wrong here?
And then I stumbled upon @lindsayellenrein’s recent post about her relationship. “The goal here is not to change each other,” her therapist said, “the goal is to tolerate your differences”.
I burst into tears.
I’m seeing every part of my husband, fully and wholly. All those parts of him that I love and all those parts of him that drive me crazy. And now, as I’m confronted by our differences, I get to practice accepting them. We’re two completely different people with completely different backgrounds. Of course we wouldn’t be aligned on every thing. Why should we expect to be!?
Learning that my journey was shared with someone else gave me freedom. In that moment, I got to shift away from feeling like something was wrong in our relationship and acknowledge how we’ve been showing up for each other. How we’ve been stepping into having hard conversations, practicing bringing respect, love, and compassion to our differences, when we’re sad, scared, irritable and angry.
I got to be proud of how we are working through our differences – differences that sometimes feel so big they seem irreconcilable. But they’re also the differences that make us each who we are – who we fell in love with and who we each chose as our partner in life. The differences that exist along with – not in opposition to – our shared values that unite us. Those that we’re learning to have space for as we come together to forward our unique mission for our partnership that is bigger than each of us individually.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll share specifics about what we’re currently working through in our relationship and how we’re processing through it, with a step-by-step guide you can try yourself!
Until then, I breathe and I practice. I’ll extend compassion to my partner and to myself. I’ll cry and I’ll probably order more plants.