It’s the birthday of my beautiful girlfriend Rose. 🙂 What a wonderful opportunity to appreciate this lovely woman! She’s worked so hard to be here, lived such a complex and challenging life. It’s left some scars, but it’s also brought out such wonderful traits. She’s kind, loyal, brave, fun, generous, and complex. I’m so fortunate to have her in my life. So much has changed since I met her. I’ve found whole new directions, doors opened that had been closed, deeper understandings of worlds I’d not been to before. Sometimes we go and sit by trees she once slept in when she was homeless. At night we take turns reading Harry Potter to each other. Some nights she talks to me in her sleep. My inner children trust and love her. They play with her, cuddle up to her, cry in her arms when they’re scared or sick. She knows us, she picks switches, uses our names, knows the right pronouns. We’re so different! She loves Hilltop Hoods, I’m into David Bowie. She struggles to get her motor running for work. I struggle to turn mine off. I’m into anime and foreign films, she’s… coming around ha haa. We’re so similar too, both with our dark, wild sides, longing for the domestic but also needing to run free under the stars, to remember that we’re strong.
It’s not always been easy to build a relationship between us. We’ve both worked hard, paid attention, learned a lot. We’ve come through a few ‘shall we call this off?’ conversations. Building a relationship is complex. It’s like a whole additional person, separate from each of us, that we’re both constructing. The dynamics have a life of their own. We each bring ghosts with us. At times we can barely see each other because our memories are in the way. At times words are too hard, or closeness is unbearable. But we’ve kept building, because it’s been worth it for both of us, our connection makes our lives better. We’ve made something that works, that shelters us, that brings out our best, that gives us the freedom to keep rebuilding it as times and needs change. We’re a good team, and that’s a precious thing. We’re family, and I adore her.
I’ve changed. She’s made my heart bigger. I’m gentler than I used to be, more careful. I’m angrier too, more protective. My life is so different, full of all her networks too, the people she loves and the children dear to her. We can’t go anywhere without running into someone she knows some how. In my tiny art class at college, 2 of the 7 other members know her – from different times and places. Her networks are as vast as my own – but where mine are often online, hers are local and often part of her long work history. She teaches me too – her passion for all things child related is without rival. Where my knowledge was abstract and book based, she has shown me how to baby wear a child, check if a nappy is dry, keep a restless young one entertained in the car without taking your eyes off the road. We’ve each been the foundation for each other. I help with lunches and early morning starts with her job. She drives me to far away gigs and washes out my brushes afterwards. We each play supporting roles in each other’s lives, no one person the sun around which the other orbits, but an exchange of energies. We watch and try to tend the change which bringing our lives together creates for all our other relationships. We nurture those who are loving and allow to fall back a step those who cause pain and chaos. Everything changes with the start of a new family. Our friends rejoice in it and become part of it.
I’m a small part of Rose’s story, but I hope to be a good one. She deserves such devotion and care, a safe place to be vulnerable, to be flawed and human, to make mistakes and learn and have your best efforts and good intentions count. She deserves the things I’ve been seeking, real attachment, empathy, honesty, a place to be real, to know and be known, a place to grow love. I’m not good enough. Sometimes I’m mean. Sometimes I’m intrusive, or demanding. Sometimes I’m exhausted and have little to offer. It’s been a journey to process her grace in the face of my flaws, in her love I find moments of being able to accept them in myself, to draws lines between intent and effect, to be humbled without being debased. To be able to accept my failures and own them, and say sorry without collapsing into terror and self loathing. I find I have to accept the limits of my role. I am a partner, I cannot make up for the tragedies of the past. I cannot make her happy. I should not fight her battles for her. I am on her side, on her team, a retreat from the world, and I can love her and do my best to meet her needs and bring out the best in her. I can let go of the rescue fantasies and help us both to be a great team. I can help us to navigate the disastrous risks of the roles of carer and caree when one or the other of us is sick. I can accept that she too is human, that she cannot take away my pain or erase my past or meet all my needs. Sometimes that’s laughably easy. Some times, at 3am, when reason has fled and the world is dark, and our partner it cast in the role of the only fire at which we can warm our hands, that’s difficult.
How fortunate I’ve been! To get so close and spend so much time with such an incredible person! How wonderful to be able to spoil her a little, to know enough about her to be able to put together good gifts, and gentle care for the sadness of a day that’s also an anniversary of pregnancy loss, so often forgotten about in the excitement. I love her tremendously and can’t wait to be by her side for another year. 🙂