My partner and I have been really getting along.
I am going to say the word now.
Excuse me while I go writhe on the floor and then puke. I’m sure I’ll be fine. Afterward. In a minute. Or an hour. Or something.
This closeness, this utter tenderness, this fierce desire to make sure she’s okay, this affectionate, wry amusement, this moment of knowing, this listening, this seeing. Her beautiful skin. Her utter boyness in boy clothes. The way she wants to be touching me all the time. This history, these twenty-five years, the way we’ve hurt each other and then mended, or not. This person who is my family, who holds the knowing of me, who is trying to let me hold the knowing of her. The way she is so afraid I’ll leave her, stop seeing her, or just disappear. The way I’m so afraid she’d take advantage if she knew how utterly, utterly I love her.
What I call the above paragraph is as good a reason as any to have a big blowout fight. Because you can only stand the intimacy word for so long before you want to run away screaming. (Sometimes I run around the house screaming preemptively, which my partner either tolerates or finds amusing, because she hopes it will prevent the blowout fight.)
By the way, though I’m using the word “you,” meaning, “me,” I would like to state for the record that my partner is every bit as likely to blowout as I am. Although publishing this blog may tip the scales slightly in favor of me being the exploding firecracker. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Perhaps we can take bets on whether we can make it the next 7 days until the 25 year mark without having the blowout-I’m-more-afraid-of-intimacy-than-you-are fight.
Of course, here’s the thing: if we do have the fight, we’ll have to forgive each other.
And another thing: we’ve gotten relatively skilled in saying, “Bet we’re fighting because we just can’t handle the closeness. Let’s pretend we’re on different planets. You go in your room and I’ll go in mine and then I’ll call you from my cell and make space sounds in the background to make the other planet thing realistic.” (That’s not what we actually say, but I may call on it in a pinch.)
I love my partner so much because our relationship is one in which being f-ed up and afraid of intimacy is liveable. I mean, she sometimes asks me to be more emotionally available, but the fact that I sometimes have to throw in an insult when I’m being all romantic is as much a cause for humor and rolling around laughing as it is for conflict.
When we got married the first time, 15 years ago, before it was legal, I said to her, “You’re a controlling, kvetching, passive-aggressive jerk and I’m going to marry you anyhow.” This made her very happy. It took away all the pressure of pretending to be perfect, or my knight in shining armor, or any of that absolute bullshit.
In this reality of neuroses and craziness, of grief and hilarity, that is our life, I am truly happy that we are returning again to the acceptance of all things. I still believe, as my character Reverend Alex says, that love is a practice. I think it is a practice of accepting my partner for who she is, of sitting with my own discomfort instead of trying to control her (or making jokes until she makes me stop) when she’s irritating me, of letting her be herself as much as I possibly can.
I think this is love–this fear of intimacy, this need for too much, this knowing the fight may come in the next seven days, this forgiving, over and over again–and the refusal to take shit, when that is, in fact, appropriate, as it has been on both sides at different times…the complete and utter imperfection we bring to each other…this is the real thing. My partner has always wanted to be the one who saved me, who healed me, who helped me…but the truth is she’s the one who’s driven me crazy, who’s forced me to become better, to look at myself in my deepest darkness, who’s held me when I felt weakest so I could stand up and go save myself again.
I celebrate love as completely imperfect. I celebrate love as freedom from trying to be good enough. I celebrate the laughing at neurosis and knowing absolutely it’s never completely going away. I have learned this with one person above all others. In and out of couples therapy with Oingo-Boingo, Niminy-Piminy, the Sheepdog, the Poodle, and the Stork-Man (among others), cartooning our way through the careening diagnoses and the how do you feel about that questions.
I celebrate that the fight may come though I don’t want it to, because I am not in control.
I celebrate that I will try not to fight, and I may anyhow.
I celebrate. This madness. This daily life. This one person, who gives me back to myself, sometimes roughly, sometimes with the utmost tenderness. As I give her to herself.
Metta for us, in our almost 25-year insanity.
I honor the light in her, and in myself.
And I still wish she would let me give her a wedgie every other day or so. What’s with that boundary?
PS–Don’t forget to bet on whether or not we’ll have the fight. And who will start it.
PPS-I’m betting we’ll have it, that it won’t really be a blowout, and that she’ll start it.
PPPS-Or maybe I will start it. If I plan on starting it, does that count? Or is it throwing the game?