What mindless chanting will do to you

There was no entry last night.

I wrote many words and decided to post none of them. It was better that way. There's a difference between writing to actually explore what you're feeling, and writing just to hear yourself complain. It took me a few tries last night to realize that I was trying to do the latter, and that my true wish was for the catharsis of scrawling things out with the knowledge that no one would read them.

I have to think that shortly after someone figured out the concept of writing, someone else came along, saw this new invention, and thought: "Aha! Now I can really get a dig or two in on that rat bastard that pissed me off!"Despite the fact that we have the appearance of adults, we often act like the emotional second-graders we are.

Last night, I was writing about Jeff finishing up grad school. It's a tough, sore, long-standing subject with me, and I've found it more and more difficult as time has passed to differentiate when I'm frustrated with my spouse as opposed to when I'm frustrated with the effects that graduate school has had upon my spouse.

There is a very subtle difference between the two. It requires careful speech and thought on my part—a difference that I have not always observed. When around people I trust, I sometimes speak before I think; the results are often close to what I intended, but with different shades of meaning that can be disastrous.

So, what exactly was I trying to write about last night? It was silly, petulant, childish—but every word of it was true:

I'm a little afraid of what life's going to be like after Jeff gets out of grad school.

The time requirements dictated by his working half-time while being a graduate student have meant that, by necessity, we've spent a good deal of time apart. The corollary: when people spend time apart, they change in ways that are not apparent to either of them until they are no longer apart.

We dealt with this on a regular basis before our marriage. Living seven hours apart necessitated honest, open communication at all times; otherwise, our relationship suffered.

Living together, it is easy to forget these lessons. When the person in question sleeps next to you every night, washes their underwear with yours, and even borrows your toothpaste, you come to expect their presence. Having presence, when both partners are busy leading their lives, can be easily mistaken for having understanding.

Sometimes, lately, I catch Jeff looking at me, and I get the sense that he's wondering what I'm thinking, wants to know what's going on in my life, but avoids asking because he really doesn't have time to hear the answer.

Fast-forward through two years. In mid-May, Jeff's time constraints are going to ease up greatly. Jeff will come home before dark, and not spend evenings doing homework. Over the past two years I've grown accustomed to sharing a house—but not activities or much conversation—with another person.

Suddenly, we'll be talking to each other again.
My fear is of what we're going to find. I don't feel different…

(So maybe that's not entirely truthful…)

I do feel different. Older. A bit more melancholy. Inside, I have not changed; at least, I don't think so. But the past two years were an emotional lesson that I'm not likely to forget soon. I'd spent the past three years (two prior to marriage, one after) learning in very slow and often painful steps to trust Jeff, and then, suddenly, he couldn't be around when I needed him.

I learned who my friends were. A few of them did exactly what I needed—helped me up when I fell, dusted off my pride, gave me a hug, and said, "Now. Walk on your own. You're capable."

I was capable. I did learn. But during that time I kept chanting mindlessly to myself, "This will end"—without giving much thought to what life would actually be like when that day came.

It's now more than just a day in the future. It's a couple of weeks away.

I've learned how to walk alone. Now it's time for me to re-learn how to walk with Jeff. Here's hoping he doesn't strangle me first, because I'm pretty good at being an emotional pain in the ass when changes are needed.

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