Northern Man and I have two different beginnings to this relationship. It clearly started much earlier for me. This came as a bit of a shock one day and then I realized it was completely irrelevant. Things start for you when they start and other people have the experience they have; you aren't dependant on someone else's experience or authority for validation. I remember something about this...
My world blew open here - and I got hit so hard I felt the need to Gant Chart (yesssssssssss, I just made that a verb, live with it) the damn thing so I could see it. There were two things happening in my life - I think when a sea change happens, there often are two primary things occurring (question is, can you identify them - because the cause of the sea change happens very slowly - it's the end result or discovery that can be rather sudden) and as I was lifting one foot off a rapidly shifting (broken) tectonic plate and placing it down on another I set my hands down on the ground in front of me for balance (separate leg stretch) and looked up. I think that's key - LOOK UP.
So I defined the beginning of the relationship somewhere in the middle of that Gant Chart, probably on or about the 4th red arrow when I stood at the top of the stairs unwilling to leave until I saw him again and then kissed him at the top of the stairs and ran, dragging the girls into the cold and hoping the car would start. I wouldn't have put the line there except for what came immediately after and this is where some things mean a lot to one person and not so much to another. Those arrows and those conversations, those intimacies, those things that were happening were huge in my life. I did not do those things with other people. I remember him asking me if I did, trying to get a read on who I was, I think. I did not expose myself like that, I would not have. I think he is different and so we have different experiences. By the time I got to Flurry it was all over. I was toast. His line is at Flurry and so we are an entire month apart.
Which brings me back to whether or not I require that my experience be authorized, validated or agreed with in any way. I don't. I just need to remember that it's my experience. It was my sea change, or recognition of that change, my sudden shift and my looking up. My fear, my standing in the face of that fear and my honesty and in some cases my complete lack of honesty and cowardice whenever I folded and ran like hell.
And I *don't* know what the hell happened. I don't know how I got here six months later - where I am today. I sat up this morning; the first words out of my mouth were, how the hell did this happen?!
This is not a complaint. This is a statement of fact. Or a head spinning moment, or something like that. I don't actually have a problem with what's happened, I'm just very uncomfortable at the moment.
So here's the thing. By now I would have been halfway to married. That's just the way this would have worked. Of course I would have known the guy an awful long time before it came to any of this anyway so that's different to start with. Cohabitation would have already have occurred. When? I don't know; I guess it would have depended on the circumstances but it would have occurred one way or another at least to a large extent even if two separate residences were maintained (Elizabeth's father and I did this for quite awhile but we did not spend much time apart).
But here's the thing, none of those things should be happening right now. I'm not going to speak for Northern Man, he's got his own stuff, I'm only going into mine other than how his might affect mine (that's a bit of a tangle I'll skirt around maybe). I don't want to cohabitate. I like living alone. I dislike entirely this sense of midweek sadness; it disrupts my illusion of control. I like my bed. By myself. I like being able to process without confrontation. I have a lot to process.
It turns out I was wrong about being a broken mess. If I use my original definition of broken mess then we're all fucked. Sorry, hosed. Seriously. Everybody has baggage and a lot of it. If you've been married for a very long time then you have a set of ideas and a way of communicating and expectations that might as well be hard coded into your DNA. That can be as daunting as coming out of an abusive short term marriage. If you come from different cultures and you're older than 20, good luck with all that. I used to wonder how people decided to do dishes. Here's the back story on that and it's actually really important.
I was maybe 8 years old, maybe a little younger. I was standing on a wooden crate painted high gloss red and black and my brother and I used this crate so we could stand at the kitchen sink and do dishes. I noticed there were two ways to do dishes. You could fill up a dishpan of soapy water and another of rinse water and do them that way or you could have just one dishpan and rinse the dishes under running water. I no longer remember which way we did them and quite honestly I prefer running water but I'll go either way depending on how much water I have at hand. I remember very clearly that there was a right way and a wrong way and that whole countries could be destroyed over this if you weren't very, very careful. People with different ideas on how to do dishes should not get married because...
HOW THE HELL DO YOU DECIDE HOW YOU'RE GOING TO DO THE DISHES?
Do you flip a coin? I don't think so. It's too important I think. You can't very well let go of something so integral to who you are as dumping the rinse water. How does that decision get made? What if you don't know about this little problem before you get married or cohabitate?
I was 8. I seriously worried about this. If you think I'm kidding, say so in the comment section and someone will get back to you.
Later I figured shit like that just got worked out because how important can dishwater really be in the big picture? I was a lot smarter at 8.
Look, we all know it's not about the dishwater, not really. It's about being right, survival, hurt feelings and old wounds. It's about how much attention do I really need to pay to whether I step on your toes or don't step on your toes or how much crying do I have to do by myself so I don't upset you until I can work out what's real and what's not.
All that stuff is just stuff and it gets itself worked out. What's starting to really suck is that Saturday afternoon to early Monday morning is just not cutting it. THAT is what's really starting to suck. It is really hard to work out the dishwater shit in a condensed 36 hours a week.
On the other hand, it is what it is (god, I hate that line, but it's what I've got right now) and here I am anyway waking up this morning and asking myself:
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?!!!
I know exactly how this happened.
"...Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell."
I just wasn't watching what was going on at the bottom of the ocean.