My absence from writing in all forms is beginning to take its toll on me. Barely a day could go by that I didn’t need to be engaged in some form of writing. Events of the past several months have changed that obsession drastically, and dampened my Muse.
Our move is complete. The dust has settled, we have firmly left behind the old and moved on to the new. We survived one of the most stressful events in life with our respect and kindness intact (admittedly there have been quite a few tense moments along the way). I’m deliriously happy with our change of venue, as it brings me back to familiar territory, to a place I loved living in my 20s and early 30s; and closer to dear friends. We are in a vibrant part of the world, with constant happenings and a never-ending list of things to see and do. And although it’s at its summer hottest this month (and next), it is still cooler than where we used to live, and I relish that I will see the changing of the seasons this year.
I don’t lose sight of the fact that SJ did all this for me. He will tell me that he too enjoys being in our new town, and wants to discover this new place, but in my heart of hearts I know I took this man from his hometown and all that was familiar for his 6 plus decades of living. SJ is a well-traveled, educated, and well-read man; but his roots were always in one town (he hates when I make this characterization, but it is the truth and not an aspersion). I try hard to be understanding that he now is the “alien” and needs to find his footing, his pace, his raison d’etre (as was the case when I moved to his town). At “home” he had the familiarity of a community and culture in which we’d lived and raised a family for 24 years; and a town in which he’d been born and had family and friends. Here it’s different. I am so thankful he’s an explorer and has few qualms over setting out to discover new horizons. He’s actually studied and read up, taken me by the hand, and introduced me to parts of this town I used to just whiz by on my way to work, school, or social events. Within our first week he had our library cards in hand, pubic transport passes, and a membership at the local natatorium. SJ gets to indulge in his favorite pastimes without limit: reading and puzzles. He’s read up on his Meyers-Briggs Temperament, and that of our entire family. His traits are no mystery. His energy comes from within. He’s an introvert.
Meanwhile I’ve had offers for short-term projects in my previous field of work; I’ve reconnected with local friends and colleagues. I’ve had a wonderful get-away with my best friends in the world, and quality girlfriend time. Two of our three progeny have visited. I’m about to host a friend for dinner this week. I have found a great yoga center that feels right. My extrovert is alive and well.
What does this all have to do with the title, “Holding Hands,” you may wonder?
SJ and I have always had challenges with hand holding, literally and figuratively. I adore holding hands, I’m the ultimate “physical touch and closeness” person. But somehow SJ tends to twist his wrist in a way that pulls my entire arm into an uncomfortable contortion I can’t sustain. It feels so unnatural and contrived. For years I just declined to hold hands because it was too uncomfortable, and it seemed petty to mention it: “Uhm, you hold hands the wrong way…” Eventually I did explain it to him, because I craved his hand taking mine, his leadership. Yet 24 years later it remains a struggle. We simply can’t just grasp one another’s hands comfortably. Something about this is very sad to me.
This physical awkwardness seems to be symbolic of the difficulties with Dominant and submissive postures and attitudes throughout our marriage. And, as deliriously happy as I am to be relocated here, I feel a palpable drift between us. Interactions feel tense, terse, short. I constantly feel he’s quietly judging me or is impatient. Maybe he feels the same from me? Just the other night, I told SJ “We aren’t communicating well,” and he whole-heartedly agreed–yet nothing more was said or resolved on the matter. I desperately wanted him to take the lead and guide us to a solution. He didn’t. I demurred. And voila, it’s all swept under the rug. Left to fester.
Today I symbolically rejected his leading, his attempt to hold my hand… He asked me to drive and he was to give the directions, reading from his phone map ap. It was difficult for me. There is a part of me that needs to know the “big picture,” the path 5 turns ahead of me. He gives the steps as we are upon them. Eventually I said that I would look at the directions myself, and would prefer to have Siri tell me… My style is to take in the entire journey in summary, and THEN get the step-by-steps. I guess I’ve never been very good with just trusting the journey will work out–or perhaps trusting someone ELSE could get me there. This frustration is compounded by a constant sense of amnesia I feel from having been absent from this place for several decades and vaguely remembering my way around. But in essence, I full-out rejected his attempt to lead today. I felt like I’d slipped a full 5 years back in time. By the end of the day, he was again driving and I was giving directions.
I don’t mean this to be disrespectful to him… but I see that it is. I just don’t know how to change.
Part of me wants to just chalk this all up to having spent so much 24/7 time in each other’s company, for like 4 months solid. Being in a “new” place, we don’t have different and distinct pursuits yet (or perhaps I feel “guilty” that I may have pursuits but don’t want to “abandon” him). Our styles seem to be clashing a lot, and our patience seems thin, and we are settling back into that polite roommate existence together, sometimes barely tolerating. No, no, no, no. Don’t want to go there again.
It reminds me that we cannot stop communicating. We were doing so well over these past 4 years. I accept that the stresses of moving and acclimating to a new place, and more time together, add to our current state. I long to get back the fun, the laughs, the passion, the fun flirting, the hugs and kisses and light conversations, and the ease of just “being” together, with the intensity of loving each other well and fully. I crave his dominant side. I look to him to help guide us there, but he’s not. It feels like he’s handed in his notice.
And I will admit, I’m a little lost on how to get us back there…