I woke up this morning with a gentle breeze blowing over my body amidst slightly tangled sheets, the remnants of last night’s bowl of popcorn, a vibrator and a book of Maya Angelou essays. I woke up this morning for the last time in what has been my bed only for the last 25 years. Later today, my beloved will come and we will together dismantle the bed parts so the movers can haul it down to the curb.
My man and I have been living together nonstop for several weeks now, sharing a new bed that we are making ours in a home we are making ours as our six-year relationship evolves. The other night over dinner I said I wanted a last night in my bed. My bed was monumental and the tears started to flow. He said he would honor whatever I wanted and commented that he saw irony in this situation. I had made it a contingency of our returning from a ten-month break that we move towards moving in together, and here I was feeling challenged about giving up my independence. I smiled and then cried again.
“But it’s my bed!” I exclaimed. This bed has been my safe place to land. It has hosted merriment and passion, and cradled secrets. My bed has been a comfort for sadness, sickness and fear. Through everything, it has, above all, been mine. While others have been invited in, it has been at my sole discretion. Now I face a challenge with my bed as the metaphor — how do I partner and continue to retain my own self? How do I give of myself and not give myself away?
So yes I have been striving toward learning how to have a sustainable, fulfilling romantic life partnership and here it is before me – no small feat – and yes I am scared. It’s been 17 years since I lived with another partner. I ask my beloved if he realizes how much trust I have in us to break this 17 year habit of mine. I feel that even though my fear is huge, it is not reason enough keep us from moving forward, that desire and fear aren’t mutually exclusive states, and in fact doing something despite my fear feels like finding my strength.
For 17 years since my divorce I have let my fear of failing again keep me from opening to partnership. My defenses are not unique – choosing the unavailable, walking away at signs of first struggle, magnifying the faults instead of the strengths, etc. This process of deciding to move in together and proclaim our life partnership on a deeper level has been an exercise in moving through fear, in dancing with the balance of honoring him and us, while honoring me.
Maybe I should pay for storage and keep my excess cookware so WHEN we break up I won’t have to buy new stuff. Oh shit – I sold my condo. How will I afford a Boston rent on my own WHEN we break up? Our time on break last year, while horrible in the moment, served me in discovering what is important in this relationship. These moments of panic are reasons to pause and remind myself of the strengths we individually and collectively have built. Even if there is no longer a bed that I call MINE, there is still ME in whatever bed I am in. And I give myself credit for the choices I am making, choices I didn’t know how to make 25 years ago when last a bride. For me the success of this relationship is a mindful meditation practice, a conscious choice each day and while I don’t know how long it will last, I am OK with that too. The book of 17 years is ending and the sequel begins.