You just need a space is all.
We have a COVID case of the Mon...
My husband and I just had – I won't call it a fight, because we weren't angry at each other – a low point in our communication. Most of the time, these little low points spring out of some misunderstanding of well-intentioned words or actions, and then we talk it out, (he's very much against walking away from anything) and we find that it usually stems from some larger, deeper thing that one or both of us is going through. In this case, we cite the general COVID-19 discomfort and ennui. Just ONCE we'd like to not have to think about anything we're doing in terms of whether or not it's healthy and/or responsible... We are spending so much time in the same studio apartment, parents' guest bedroom, hotel room, etc. yet, somehow, we manage to get neither quality together time nor quality alone time. We're just here. Every day. It's been a rough year for everyone. We try to keep this in mind. Tonight, we have the conversation through which we try to distinguish what is unique to us and what is universally felt. We've done that a few times before, but each time gets more and more taxing. So, I try to think of a new way in which we can gauge what exactly it is we are feeling.
I pride myself on coming up with creative (frequently silly, but often effective) solutions to problems. For example: Up until the Quarantimes, he and I lived and worked on opposite coasts for the past two years with only as many short visits as our wallets would allow. Last summer, we were having a hard time hanging up the phone after long, sometimes exhausting, or emotional talks. We would hang up, and then one of us would immediately call back saying, "I just needed to feel you there again." I tried to think of a way to stay connected after hanging up, so I came up with a sequence of short hand motions that we would do as soon as the call was ended. We even synched up to the tempo of the three beeps an iPhone makes when you end a call (Thanks to #apple for the perfect metronome). I worried that it was way too silly and that he would think that I was making light of the situation, but it turned out to be the most extraordinary trick for us to feel connected after being disconnected. We were doing the same thing at the same time with each other in mind 1000s of miles apart. It always made me smile, and I could always see his returning smile in my mind's eye.
I know...it's pretty cute, and it WORKS!
So, tonight, we are together, but in the midst of great emotional discomfort. I'm reminded of the threads regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the language around "sitting with our discomfort." I've spoken those words aloud a number of times, and I think I was doing some version of that with all my journaling and talking, talking, talking to my husband and my family members and getting in fights with people over how they could possibly see the world the way they do. Tonight, I decided it's time to see what that means, physically. We were lying down on the bed next to one another, so I spread out on my back with arms and legs wide and asked him to do the same. I told him, "Just hold my hand, and lie here with me to feel the exact weight of everything."
We lay in silence for a few seconds before my loud mouth blurted out,
"It's actually not as heavy as I thought!"
I waited a bit longer to see if I could explore deeper and, perhaps, even more physically. Two minutes later, I said,
"I feel like lead weights are pinning down every part of my body to this bed and that I couldn't get up if I tried... but I also feel sooo comfortable lying down on this bed."
He laughed again, (I LOVE when I can make him laugh...every little bit gets me giddy; therefore, I will continue to mention all of my successful endeavors). His feeling was different. When I asked how heavy the weight of his emotions was, he said that it wasn't exactly a heaviness that he was feeling. It was an absence. Tears filled my eyes, (he didn't see or it would've ruined the whole experiment) because I associate the word "absence" with "emptiness," and the idea of him feeling empty made me a lot more sad than him feeling heavy. To my somewhat relief, he said it wasn't emptiness, but rather that he felt the absence of knowing how to feel and what to think. I tried to interpret this and think of what to say next. It's incredibly rewarding to put the emotional needs of others before your own in any instance. You wind up inadvertently feeling better about your own issues, and, often, the answer for them is an answer for a problem of your own waiting in the wings.
Before I could respond, with a harumph, he exclaimed,
"I just don't know anything about anything."
Now, I know this isn't true, because he knows literally everything about everything, and it's so annoying being married to someone who is ALWAYS right about stuff... But I decided to let him sit with this feeling and said,
"Well... That's nice for now. It's probably better than knowing."
A little chortle.
He then asked me if I remembered being young, and wanting so badly for people to just explain things so that you could understand them, and it all seemed so ridiculous that people made you wait for that understanding. I replied affirmatively; I remembered every time a grownup said to me, "You'll understand when you're older," and how infuriating it was to hear.
"I really miss that," he said. "I miss the time when I thought I knew everything."
You want it so badly until you get it, and then you want to wad it up and throw it out of a moving car on the highway into a garbage can that's on fire just before a thunderstorm blows through and washes the garbage away to nowhere.
We lay there in silence for a few more minutes. Just feeling the maturity wash over our legs and tummies and hands and feet. Then, he got up to go watch the rest of an episode on Netflix, and I sat on the couch looking through home decor pins on Pinterest. The weight and the absence have not disappeared, but there's a new something in the air in this hotel room. It's like a quiet blanket is wrapped around those feelings, keeping them warm for whenever we need to sit down with them again. We don't have to be under the blanket tonight, but it's great to have for when it gets cold. (As a type-A person, this kind of organization and compartmentalization is a big ol' gold star.) We feel better. Maybe it's because we have each other; that has been an incredible constant through these uncertain times. But maybe, it's because we took the time, individually, together, to make a space for those feelings: a physically initiated and imaginatively formed space where they are all floating, fully realized, partially felt.
The space is there now.
It's open for business, and it actually requires that you NOT wear a mask.