Like most of us, I have found myself spending a lot more time on my own as we navigate the rules and regulations that keeps changing around COVID and how to keep ourselves safe. Now, in saying that, this post is not about COVID (see previous post on my thoughts on that), but rather it is my reflection on what this free, slowed down time has done for me. I have spent the last two years at this point spending a lot of time working on myself and what I want out of my life. Taking the time to reflect, consider and just ask myself what was holding me back from accessing my goals and how I can take steps to address them. I went to counselling. I began to write again. I took time to read, to sit and to feel what I needed to feel. And out of all of that, I learned a lot.
I learned that for a long time I was emotionally numb. I had spent a lot of years caretaking Husband while he was surviving through his war-based trauma, and I became dull to my emotions. Happy emotions. Sad emotions. And everything in between. My best friend described it by saying that I was “emotionally constipated” and was unable to feel any emotion until I cleared myself out. Covid isolation was able to do that for me. With the support of my counsellor, I managed to work through and start to feel those emotions I had unintentionally stuffed down. And it sucked. I had experienced a lot through Husband, surviving mostly, and those emotions were rough. They were rough to feel. They were rough to work through and they were rough to overcome. But it unclogged that block allowing me to feel the spectrum of emotions again. All of them. And damn does it feel good.
I learned that I love Husband, even through the shit. Now, I knew pre-covid that we loved each other but that time allowed us a chance to spend some time together. Time that was not impacted by daily distractions or on-going expectations of day-to-day life. Most couples during this time fought or became frustrated with how much alone time they were having, but for us, it worked. It gave us a chance to see where we were struggling, acknowledge it and take the much-needed time to address it. Quality time that was meaningful, important, and reconnecting for us. And it was hard and challenging and awesome.
I learned that I really do need my alone time. Straight up time that is just for me and not for anyone else. And that is okay. Just because I need a night alone, or don’t answer that phone call, does not mean I don’t care. If I am having a bad day or feeling stressed and don’t want to talk about it. That’s okay. I am not you. For some people, talking about it is needed. For me, it is not. It is much more impactful for me to take an hour with a good book, or a piece of scratch art, and just be with myself and my thoughts. I talk all day every day, with some heavy stuff, and sometimes I do not want to talk. I have learned that this is what works for me. It helps me stay grounded and happy, and that I will have a conversation when I want to.
I also learned that the life that Husband and I are living does not work for everyone. And that’s okay. For a long time, we have felt pressure to adhere to what is considered “normal” for couples, and this break from reality allowed us the chance to realize that we are not normal. We do not fit into the standard expectations on customary roles of husband and wife. So, we are not normal. And nor do we want to be. I work outside of the home, and Husband does not. Who cares? He finds joy in his gardening and his chickens and spending time with our dog. Great. That works for us. We do not have kids, and although we are trying, we may never have kids. That also works for us. I am lazy and he is not. That is okay, although it doesn’t always work for him and I am working on being better at it. That is the point. We are working on things that work for us. Not for you, not for our families and not for our friends. It is our life and if it looks different than “normal,” perfect.
“I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves”
– Steve Maraboli
And, lastly, and most importantly of all, I learned that we are happy. Happiness doesn’t mean we don’t have our challenges. Trust me. Husband and I have had a ton of challenges, and still are going through them. We both have bad days when our depression makes us unable to get off the couch. Husband’s anxiety hits him hard and fast in ways that become unmanageable and may lead to hours throwing up or feeling stressed for days. My ongoing insomnia can make me a cranky, hard to live with woman on a semi-regular basis. Our house constantly has something wrong with it that we keep dumping money into and it never gets fixed. And my job is stressful and infuriating and invigorating all at the same time. But, that is life. It is our life. These challenges are part of what makes us happy. Happy that even with the challenges, we still have love. We have each other. And that is enough.
So, why can’t you be happy for us too?