Next Installment in Having Needs: Why I Live Alone
Near the end of my marriage, I proposed at one point that we keep separate houses. I thought this was a great idea: I have my own place, MY space, that I can choose to share with you or not.
I thought this idea was even radical, ahead of its time. I made statements like: “Even if I’m in a longterm relationship again, I’m always going to have my own house because I am empowered!”
Now, I think keeping two houses while married is a radical idea and if that’s what both people want—wonderful!
However, for me, this was pure avoidance and here’s why.
My boyfriend just moved in with me, and for the few days before we officially merged addresses I FREAKED. OUT. This had seemed like a really great idea for the last month. We had planned it this way, even—on purpose! Yet as the countdown ticked to me no longer having complete reign over my house, I panicked. My inner animal woke up and snarled at me: “What were you thinking, Bez?! How did you let this happen?? You said you’d never live with a man again!”
So me being me, I started telling him. “This was a big mistake! I don’t think we’re going to make it as a couple. This is a bad idea!” All this while he’s packing boxes.
With some examination, and the help of some friends, I realized the reason I didn’t want to live with my partner wasn’t because I didn’t like him or that I preferred to live alone. Neither of those are true. It was because when I live alone I feel certain I can meet my own needs and not have to bear the agony of expressing them to someone else.
Ugh! Who wants to do that?!
It was a blanket solution to I avoiding those in-the-moment confrontations. I would just say, “I don’t like living with my partner,” rather than say, in the moment, “It bothers me when I’m the only one who does the laundry and I need us to share the housework.”
For me, the scariest needs are the tiny ones. About the laundry, the noise level, the smell, the clutter, the listening, the talking.
Because each of those tiny needs has a huge backstory and years of neglect. Each hard to say need come loaded with painful history. (If there was no painful history, or if I’d healed that history, those needs wouldn’t be hard to say.)
Today is my first official day of sharing a house with my partner and children (and no one else) since I left my marriage 5+ years ago.
All day, I’ve been bumping up against those tiny things: he needs me to keep the Britta water jug full, I need him to share in the housework (and listen to me when I have something important to say).
I can feel the intense vulnerability of addressing my needs in the moment. And we’ve been making it fun, playfully expressing them to each other in funny, tragic, and dramatic ways. “Our new running joke tag line: ‘It’s so hard to get good help around here!'”
Read the whole Need series:
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