Recently, I had a bit of a revelation about me and autonomy. Some things that seem normal and healthy to most people are not always easy to recognize or do for those of us who have learned dysfunctional relationship styles throughout their lives. Happily, I noticed one area I feel I have improved in this morning!
If you read my work about being Solo-Poly, you know that my autonomy is very important to me. But the way I have been experiencing autonomy has been about the big picture. Living alone. Traveling. Making my own decisions. Not sharing my money with anyone, etc.
But meeting and very strongly connecting with DJDM here in Medellin means that I am spending a lot of actual time with him. Like, A LOT of time. I am used to living alone and it’s been a long time since I had a partner who had time like this to spend with me. I love it. It’s fun (it’s also VERY sexy) but it’s been interesting to make the adjustment.
So the revelation… Doing things together, apart.
He got up to go to work early, showered and went out to make himself some breakfast. I also woke up and was checking my messages etc. (Isn’t that what you do when you wake up?) I could hear him out in the kitchen making breakfast doing his thing. I made the conscious decision to let him be. To hang out in bed and chill. I thought, “We’re spending so much time together, we both deserve a little space and time apart, even though we’re both here in the flat.” He came in after he ate, was happy to see me awake to chat a little before he left. He kissed me goodbye and went to work.
I know, you read this and you think, so uhm EL, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that this is kind of new for me. I used to lose myself and my autonomy in relationships. I thought you always had to be with the other person. I married a man who couldn’t allow me any of my own time. He expected that I wake up in the morning with him to talk to him and see him off, even though I needed a lot more sleep than he did and worked from home so my commute time was zero.
There was no way in hell in my marriage I could have let my husband make his own breakfast. He might have said I could, but he would have pouted and made me feel bad about it. I also made his lunch every day and somehow it became positioned as my privilege, and when he was mad at me, he would take that away and make his own lunch and it made me feel awful.
Back to Medellin, and I am happily laying in bed Tweeting away, knowing my partner is not only fully capable of making his own breakfast, but that he would rather I stay in bed and get the sleep I need than have me make it for him. I was pleasantly comfortable in the knowledge that there would be no hurt feelings if I stayed in bed and did my own thing while he did his.
The night before, he sent me to bed on my own. I need more sleep than most people, and we have had some serious marathon sex sessions, which means I am not getting much sleep! LOL So this night we decided to focus on “self-care” and he sent me to bed early. I have no idea what he did, watch TV, play on his phone? It didn’t matter. I went to bed and got a good night’s sleep. Again, in my marriage, my husband insisted we go to bed at the same time, and he also watched TV before sleep even though he knew that would keep me up later and make it harder for me to sleep. DJDM would never even think of that!
Last night, we laid in bed for a while, texting, talking, just relaxing, (another super tired day for me). When I was ready I turned off my phone and went to sleep. He went out to the living room and again did his thing until he was actually ready for bed. No clinging. No recriminations. No bad feelings. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I know. It feels good to finally be figuring this out and able to respect each other’s space and time, even though we are a couple.
Again this morning, I needed to do some work. So I got up and got going. He asked me if I wanted him to come out into the living room with me. Nope! I got it. Stay here in bed and relax and enjoy and when you are ready, come on out. He replied with the biggest grin and said, “When I’m ready I’ll shower and then come out and make breakfast so you can eat while you work.” Big puffy hearts. I got a bunch of work done, we both got some alone time, and I got a yummy breakfast out of the deal too!
This may seem like little things, but for me, this is a big step. Not only have I learned to maintain my autonomy in the big picture of my life and relationships, but now I am learning how to have it in the close personal moments of a relationship too.
You might also like this post about intimacy. What’s this intimacy thing about, really?