My husband has been gone most of the past two weeks, out of town to take care of a family medical emergency. All is well, and he is due home shortly.
It’s been an interesting time.
We are newly married, only about 2 1/2 years, and after 40+ years of life for me, 30 months seems like the blink of an eye. I love the man dearly; love who he is and how he conducts his life. I love that I am better with him beside me, that he balances me in just about every way possible.
I love our life together.
It’s been stressful lately, though; a huge season of transition. Kids moving in and out, a major home addition, a new business, health issues, life in general. Our relationship is good, but we’ve been clinging to faith and hope and love more than we’ve been able to live it. We love each other; we just don’t have a lot of time or energy to be in love.
I think that’s just the way it is, mostly. Life is like this for people in this season of life. He told me the other day, “We aren’t retired, yet. We have a few years of work ahead of us…”
So in his absence, a curious thing has happened. For two weeks, I have stretched out a bit, spread my arms wide, slept in all of the bed, turned on the light whenever I wanted to, like I used to. I’ve focused fully on the kids, like I used to. I’ve felt less anxious, less concerned about how the house looks, whether or not there’s food left over (he always gets home late, after closing the music store). I’ve been less self-conscious and more self-aware. Like I used to.
I miss him, for sure. I can’t wait till he calls me and tells me about his day and we listen to one another breathe on the phone before we hang up, way too late for a 615AM alarm. I send him text messages and email. I miss him.
Like I used to.
There’s something wonderful and fresh about this longing. We’re apart, and the fondness is, indeed, growing.
But it scared me, to realize all of this. To admit, in my head, that I missed him but I was okay.
That somehow, I was breathing easier.
It scared me, and I pushed it all away, and buried it, and leaned harder into the waiting for his call.
And then the other night, I gave in, and I thought about it all, and how it was probably okay that I kind of liked this quick revisit to that other place, where it was me and just me. I lived that way, lived it hard, for eight years. It was me, only me, and the bed was always all mine and my heart was for my kids and when I let go at the end of a long day, I sunk into a place that was just me, and it was good. Easy. Comfortable.
And then I felt called to make a marriage, to commit, to have a partner in the second half of this life. I loved and respected him. I knew, deep in my heart, that he was for me. I chose the “yes”, and I dressed like a princess and walked towards him alone, down an aisle lined with my history, into a circle of the best love I’ve ever known, my children and my friends and my brother and sister-in-law and my pastor and his tears, who tethered me to grace through the working out, through the fear and trembling. I said, “yes”.
I chose, and it’s been the up and down and chaotic and busy and crazy and fun and deeply joyful. It’s been the holding hands, side by side. It’s been the passion and the risk, the wide and the deep.
We lived it, up and down, holding on for dear life. And lately, it’s been tenuous. But still good, solid. It is our life.
And then these few weeks apart, and I’ve been reminded of the wide open spaces I walked through when it was Just Me.
And I whispered, finally, the truth to myself.
“I kind of like this.”
“This is easier.”
Secrets bind anxiety, and I let go my secret to my own ears, and then knew I needed some other ears. I started an email to my most trusted advisor, asking for a few moments, thinking I could pour my heart out and admit my feelings and get some good counsel.
I finished the first sentence and I stopped. I heard his voice, this advisor, and I knew what he would say.
“Have you talked to Tony about this?”
My fear leapt into my throat, and I recognized that Independent Girl, the single mom, the one who Takes Care Of Everything; the part of me that lives in fear, that fixes everything herself, that hates vulnerability, that bears all the burdens. That part of me was terrified to speak these things aloud to the man I loved, afraid of rejection, afraid of letting him process these feelings that had a life of its own.
I picked up the phone, and I called, even though it was after midnight, and I let my heart spill out, carried in the mucky sludge of anxiety and fear and failure.
What kind of wife is content and relaxed when her husband is gone?
It seems odd, I’m sure; but I was terrified. But I told him how I felt, and he responded with understanding beyond my own, layered with love and compassion, and before I realized what had happened, love snuck under my fear and got in between the cracks of my doubt and squeezed until it hurt. He got it, he validated it, he loved me anyway. I admitted my failure.
He loved me anyway.
This is my life. It is not easy.
But I’ve chosen this, and I’m in for keeps.
And he’s on his way home.
I can’t wait.