An Experiment’s Results…
Last night, I ate a sour Mediterranean salad and soggy fries for dinner. Then I sent my husband an email:
This experiment is making me feel different than I thought it would. It’s bringing up anger and sadness and defensiveness.
Then, as if to illustrate how I was feeling, I went to see a movie, turning off my phone, so he wouldn’t be able to reach me and respond. A particularly mean-spirited torture: We’re the kind of couple that can’t live with a sadness or disagreement hanging between us, without checking in, talking about it, working it through.
I wasn’t angry at him – he had been loving and sweet on the phone when we talked over the past few days. But something about this forced time apart was making me regress, using the distance as an excuse to feel upset and insecure, as if we didn’t have three years of marriage, of figuring all that shit out, under my belt.
The movie was beautiful, a French/Gaelic animated film, with glowing watercolor images. But I couldn’t relax into the charm. Half an hour in, I gathered up my bag and left the theatre. I hailed a cab, and went home. Home-home. Old home, where my husband was.
It wasn’t worth it to continue the experiment if the space we had created was only growing yucky feelings.
As the cab pulled up to our building, I had an instinctual feeling of expectation I always have when I come home – anticipating the cats running for the door as I come in, sticking out their velvet noses to rub in my face. It flashed through my mind for a second, before I realized – the cats wouldn’t be there. And then I had a small epiphany. It wasn’t a coincidence that I had given away my cats right before I took this time alone. I was avoiding home at least partly because I wanted to avoid being there without them. I wanted to avoid reminders of them. I wanted to avoid missing them. Despite my protests and previous habits, I was missing them.
This part-way experiment was not a total failure. I’ve learned I can still enjoy eating dinner alone. I am still capable of sleeping on a mattress on a dirty floor. But maybe, just maybe, I realized, as I paused before my apartment door, I’m not as tough as I used to be. Maybe I can miss the ones I love after I say goodbye. And maybe love has diluted my stubbornness just a little, breaking my need to carry through experiments and other things just on principle.
I turned the key in the door, and stepped into my husband’s shocked and delighted arms.Printable Version