September 3, 2012

So what's going on with you two, anyway?

I'm moving cross country.  I feel like I am breaking up my family.  I don't know if I'm even going to be able to live with my cats or not.  Ben and I don't know what our collective future holds.  Will we stay together and opt for 2 more years of long-distance relationship?  We've done that for 4 years already (when I was in vet school), and though it sucked, we made it work pretty well.  Will this separation be the straw that breaks the camel's back?  We have had a very tough year.

In truth, we've had a very tough 12.8 years together.  Less than a year into our relationship, Ben had his first open-heart surgery and I moved to Tanzania.  I have always moved ahead with my life, traveling to Sicily and Japan and Nicaragua and Guatemala without him.  I never wanted to leave him behind, but that's how he always felt.  Marriage was something that neither of us wanted to consider when we first met, and it has remained a touchy subject.  I am not someone who dreams of a wedding day, but I felt like Ben would be choice for life-partner if it came up.  I have proposed to him a couple times, to which he always answers, "I don't know."  That didn't really bother me until this past year.  I felt like I'd rather be in a relationship with Ben than be married.  This past year or so it has hurt my feelings that he didn't want to marry me.  Today, amidst the stress and turmoil of our house turning upside down while I try to extract our things from "ours" into "yours" and "mine" in anticipation of the move, Ben said, "I'm sorry that our relationship never took that next step.  I'm sorry that we never committed to a life together."  I asked why he was sorry.  "Because I think it has caused a lot of stress in our relationship."  I asked if he wanted to commit, and he said, "No, I just don't feel that way about us."  I asked if he thought we should just break up with the move.  He said he wanted to see what it felt like to be apart.

We have been having a really wonderful time together, so supportive and fun, this past month or two.  Giving up 13 yrs of loving history feels wrong.  Giving up my best friend and favorite person feels wrong.  Moving away feels wrong in terms of separating our lives. Again.  I said I'd never do it again.  And yet, here I am, doing just that.  So does that mean we're supposed to?  Things are not perfect between us, but at the end of the day we deeply care for one another, and I think that long-term relationships are made up of the daily decision to be together, despite problems, not a marriage license.

Several of our friends know some of our private issues, but I really try to keep it private (or at least not public via the internet) because this is not just my story to tell, it's ours, meaning that half of it is Ben's.  And I try to respect his privacy.  However, I have missed having an outlet for all this pent up stress.  Writing/blogging very often serves as a release valve for me.  I was inspired to just put this out there today when I read my friend's blog about her experiences in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.  She's there for 2 years, and has had some pretty extreme ups and downs, and even though she's a pretty private woman, she shares the best AND the worst with her readers, and I remember how cathartic and real that can feel. Just to acknowledge when things aren't all rosy.  People appreciate the realness of your openness.

The following quote sums up how I feel about my move to DC as well as my relationship with Ben.  And I'm sure it applies to so many other situations.  In the end, I committed myself to finding a good position for myself, and so this opportunity arose.  In the end, Ben has not expressed that he's as committed to Us as I am willing to be, and so I am moving 3000 miles away, even though we love one another and don't particularly like the idea of not being together.  Again.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:  that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.  Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.  Begin it now." --Goethe

September 1, 2012

Best Pep Talk

Excerpt from an email to one of my friends tonight:

"Gah! I can't believe I'm already moving!  Fuck! Exciting! Scary! What the hell am I doing!  This'll be good!  Am I crazy for doing this?!"

Her text response:

"Life is happening, grab it by the tits, throw on some tassels, and shimmy the fuck out of it."

[so, yeah, I was offered the position in DC, and accepted it.]