Balancing “Me” With “We”

One of the things that no one tells you when you move in with your significant other is just how intertwined your lives become. I mean, I’m not stupid, I understood things were going to change. I’d have to adjust to sharing my space, I couldn’t starfish out on the bed anymore, we’d have to work out our morning routines, etc. And I have to say, it’s been 9 months or so and the biggest obstacle was getting him not to put wet towels in the hamper… I’m not a clean freak by ANY definition but I do have a weird thing about that mildew smell.

I don’t even really mean intertwined in the sense of being together all the time because I truly love just being with him, and we still have friends and hobbies that don’t overlap, which we enjoy.  And I don’t even mean intertwined in the sense that once he moved in, there was no hiding. No hiding what I really look like without makeup, no hiding my hairy stubble (shaving my legs and lady-bits everyday? FUCK THAT), no hiding that oh riiiiiight, I DID pluck those rogue hairs on my chin between dates and nope that’s not going to hold up on a daily basis, and definitely no hiding what it sounds like when the Indian food we had for dinner doesn’t agree with me. Seriously people – we live in an 800 square foot condo with one bathroom. Things got intimate real quick.

No, what I mean by intertwined is our emotional energies. I know that sounds so new age and full of bullshit, but it’s really true. One of the reasons Gil and I do so well as a couple is because we are alike in so many ways, and one of those similarities is that we’re incredibly emotionally driven creatures. I love that about him. I love that about me too. But when you have two emotionally driven people in a small space, you can’t escape whatever the other person is feeling, even if you wanted to. Even if nothing is being said. The energy in a room changes when someone new enters, and you absorb some of their energy whether you realize it or not.

So naturally, when one person is going through a stressful time at work, with their family, or with anything else, when you live with them and share your life with them, you are going through it too, by proxy. What I have realized, and what I wish someone had warned me about, is how much this affects me. See, for me, when it’s my own stress, I know what I need to do to take care of myself. I’m a talker – I need to talk it out, I need to write, I need to cry, whatever. Maybe I need to buy a new necklace or sign up for a photography class. But when it’s someone else’s “stuff” it’s not as natural to take those same steps to take care of ourselves. And that’s a mistake, as I have recently discovered.

I am realizing not to underestimate the impact that his emotional state can have on me. Like I said, what he goes through, WE go through. There are only 800 square feet in this place and we’re not little people physically or emotionally. Not only do I absorb his feelings and energy and vibe, I will do whatever I can to support him. That’s what you do in a healthy relationship, but it can be draining, and it’s just as important (if not more so) to take care of myself in those situations as it is when it’s my own personal stress.

So today I talked (to my mom – seriously the best mom in the world), I cried (the kind where you try not to but it just kind of leaks out everywhere until you just accept it and really let it go) and I’m now writing. All I need now is a new necklace.

Seriously, why is this not something they warn you about when you decide to live together?? I’m not sure which “they” I’m referring to, but it seems like a quick heads-up would be appropriate. I guess it’s like one of those “couples secrets” like where the best farmer’s markets are and which florists are open late on Valentine’s Day.

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