I remember my father once telling me that in some traditional stories, a year and a day can mean forever. If this is so, then most of this last year and a day would be the eternity of preference for me, minus the stress of historical baggage.
A year ago yesterday, my Tom landed in the UK after a painfully long, slow process of paperwork. Moving to marry is not easy, believe me! But he got here, and my son and I went through the dramatic transformation from being a domestic unit of two, to being a fully functioning family. Today seemed like a good time to draw breath, look back, and look forwards.
I have learned so much in this last year. I had very little sense of self in 2010, and most of what I did have was based on fear. I had been told so many times how demanding and unreasonable I am, how excessive. I had been characterised as emotional to the point of instability, and so unfeeling that any emotional expression had to be treated as suspect and probably just emotional blackmail. It’s not easy moving forwards when you have so much baggage, and it must have taken some doing to step up to that. But Tom has always been glad to say that he loves me, and that it is no hardship to express that.
I’ve rebuilt a lot of my sense of self this last year, to a large degree through my relationship with Tom. He takes joy in my company, delights in doing things that make me smile. He does not treat any of the things I want to give as laughable or irritating, and does not find it hard to give the things I need. Through this, I’ve gone from being something monstrous in my own eyes, to feeling that I could, possibly, be ok as a person. Go back eighteen months and I felt like a total human-fail, that there must be something profoundly and intrinsically wrong with me that explained what was happening in my life. This last year makes me think very differently.
I’ve never known anyone else I felt so at peace with, so comfortable with. I can share anything. Life becomes a joint, creative enterprise, balancing work and responsibilities with playful exploration of the world. It’s an ongoing nurturing of each other, a sharing of inspiration and everything I ever hoped or imagined a good relationship could be.
Relationship is the core of human experience. Be that relationships with other humans or with the rest of the world. We exist, and know ourselves through the ways in which we interact with others. There was a time when I felt that pain was a measure of love, and how much you will give of yourself or sacrifice the best measure of devotion. I felt at the same time that generally this was something I would do on my own, and I had no right to expect anything at all in return. These days I view relationship in terms of that which is shared. It is what we do together, what we dream together, how we treat each other. A two sided thing, a give and take, co-supporting and rooted in care and respect. Without care and respect on both sides, it’s not a balanced relationship, it’s a relationship based on use.
There is so much more to learn, I think. So much to understand and discover, to explore and create. I look forward at a future that is rich with possibility. Short term challenges and set backs are so much easier to handle when you have a sense of direction and a feeling there are good things in your life. I have that now, but for a long time, I didn’t.
So I’m offering up this very public declaration of love, this recognition of the gorgeous, honourable and delightful man who has brightened my life in innumerable ways. Here’s to many more years, and to celebrating the good people, the beauty of small things done well, and the sheer joy of good relationship.