What I Learned When James Went on Retreat

My partner, James goes on silent retreat every year.  This year he went for a 10-day monastic stay at Spirit Rock. While he was gone I learned a few things about myself.

1. I *missed* him.  We’ve been together for several years, and I hadn’t felt this way before! In the past he’d come home and ask, “Did you miss me?”  Or I’d go away and come back and he’d ask, “Did you miss me?” Often the answer was, “Um, well, I really enjoyed being on my own… and yeah, I did.” But this time the placement of the heart strings must have been different because I missed, and I felt how much I love to share my home with him, intertwine my life with his, be greeted by his enthusiasm, play with his theatrical humor, soak up the nutrients of being held by him, and feel the steady concentration of his yoga or meditation practice.James making funny faces

2. I *trust* him.  Teachers tell us trust is the thing a man wants from his woman. J and I argue about this sometimes, because in my zeal to be efficient, effective, and capable, sometimes my personality doesn’t leave much room for someone else to step in. It’s not that appealing for a man to feel like his woman doesn’t need anything or doesn’t trust him. My learning edge has softening, resting, leaving room for someone else, trusting; these are my opportunities for deeper relationship.

James in handstandWe also have different definitions of trust.  I trust that if someone has shown a particular behavior, that they will continue to show that behavior until they don’t. It’s practical.  If I wish for that behavior to be different, I don’t call that trust, i.e. trusting that he’ll do something he hasn’t done before, that I wish he would do. We disagree on this one. So sometimes it appears that I don’t trust.

When he was gone I noticed I trust his judgment, particularly about setting sane and healthy expectations for my mercurial self.  I was anxious one morning because I had offered to lead a ritual in my yoga community, and stepping forward in spiritual leadership stirs excitement and nervousness.  I could not make up my mind about the plan for my day: “Do I drive or take the bus? Do I leave work early or stay late? Do I take all my things with me or come home to get them?” I hadn’t felt this crazy in awhile, and I realized I rely on James to help me make decisions. I would have asked him what to do, he would have given me a reflection, probably something like, “It sounds like you’re trying to be a lot of places at once; how about you come home before the ceremony.” That would settle it, and my anxiety would quiet.

3. Food tastes better when he’s home. I like to cook a lot, and bringing healthy home-cooked food with me to the office makes me feel rich. So sometimes I prepare food and feel a greedy hopefulness that I’ll get all the leftovers. I thought I’d love to have all the portions to myself, but I cooked a whole chicken and was sad because he wasn’t coming home to enjoy it. It didn’t taste as good without the delight of feeding my love.

4. I didn’t like living alone.  I used to relish living alone, but this time it was like a classic old outfit I’d kept in my closet, and when I put it on again it didn’t suit me anymore. The first day I felt spaced-out and apathetic. After another day of telling myself, “If it’s hard it must be good for you,” I accepted that I enjoy living with people, and I invited a former housemate and friend to join me. I didn’t need to socialize; I just like to share my home with another sweet soul, and I was glad to let my heart have that. We had a good time.

Thanks to a change of routine to open up insight.

Welcome home, James!

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2 thoughts on “What I Learned When James Went on Retreat

  1. Cindy, I feel the love you share with James come through loud and clear in this blog. I know how it feels when you suddenly realize these things, there was a time I loved living alone, doing my own thing, eating my choice of food. The the day came when I suddenly knew all these things were better with Harvey around! It was a marvelous revelation for me.

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