After spending two months apart from my domestic partner, while he started a new job cross country and I prepped our house for sale, I worried that things would be weird when I got here.
At first, when the fears were large enough to paralyze me, I said nothing. I didn’t dare speak that worry aloud.
But after a while, I did tell him. And his response was to tell me he didn’t know how things would be. This was not what I wanted to hear. That’s been the blessing and curse of dating him. He tells me what he actually thinks, which may or may not align with what I want to hear.
And this time, it really didn’t. I spent a few hours having an anxiety attack 1000 miles away, feeling like I couldn’t say anything else, especially once he told me that my voicing my doubts had made him feel anxious. I suddenly found myself envisioning the worst. A situation where nothing worked. We were different people. We came back together not as two clean halves of a whole — say, like those half-heart friendship necklaces that were all the rage when we were kids — but as something messy, worn, changed in our parting.
Like tectonic plates staggered every so slightly, causing upheaval.
Later, I asked for a video call, and he was so sweet and reassuring. Not at all defensive or anxious as he’d seemed over text. Maybe it was time. Maybe it was actually hearing the tone of my voice.
But after the call, the worst of my own anxiety dissipated. A small trace still remained though, one that would catch me at odd moments, like in the first seconds of a shower or the last few seconds before falling asleep.
What if things are weird when I move back in with him?
Love at First Sigh
The amazing thing about anxiety is that it’s so good at arguing for its own existence. It’s been wrong so many times, but for some reason, we can’t help but take it seriously and over-weight the times in which, like a broken clock tells the right time twice a day, it was occasionally correct.
In some ways, anxiety is the world’s most toxic employee that has nonetheless otherwise convinced management it is indispensable.
That’s why I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Although I should have been.
When I came back together with my partner, it wasn’t weird at all. In fact, it was incredibly normal.
I had initially envisioned my first days in Dallas as a sightseeing tour. But instead, we spent them sleeping, watching movies, cuddling, getting brunch, picking out a couch for the new place. A weekend as milquetoast as they come.
And it felt not boring, but incredible. I found myself able to relax — fully relax — for the first time in months.
And over those uneventful few days, it all came back to me, what had hit me so hard in the earliest days we were together: The reason I fell in love with him in the first place wasn’t because he was neon, loud, technicolor, a show-stealer.
No, I’d fallen in love with him because he was the person I could relax around. The person I found myself seeking out to recharge with after other people had drained me.
I remember being amazed when that happened. When I realized there’s nothing more romantic than being able to relax around someone.
I wish someone had told me that when I was a little girl, instead of all that nonsense about locking eyes across a crowded room. Love at first sight. A quickened pulse. Drama. Highs and lows.
No, lasting love was something a great deal more subtle but far more sustaining. Being able to relax around someone was the biggest sign that they were made for me. Love at first sigh.