You, Me, and “We”

Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name Elizabeth Rose.  Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.

They don’t tell you about the major life shift that happens when acquiring a relationship when you are in your 30s. The early days, for me, were an adjustment and I still find myself settling in, seven months later.

The first time Jason stayed over, he asked which side of the bed I preferred. My response?

“The middle.”

It was true. Both sides were mine. For the last five years as a single woman, I never had to choose. At that moment, I understood how set in my ways I had become and what a change in my normal life a relationship would be. Am I actually going to commit to this? Like, for real, real?  I was so used to being just me.

Since then, our relationship has evolved to the point where “you” and “me” has turned into “we” and I have loved becoming one half of a couple with him. But I’ve noticed when I speak off-the-cuff, my initial reaction is to keep us separate. I create definitive boundaries in my speech. His “our” is my “yours” and “mine.” For example, here’s an exchange we had while walking through the farmers market:

“…and before we sail to Alaska, I’m going to install a hard top on my boat. Excuse me, our boat.”

“Awesome! That’ll look great on your boat!”

If he throws around “we” and “our” without even thinking, then I should feel comfortable doing that, too, right? The answer to that is a unanimous, “Duh.”

Part of me thinks I keep “you” and “me” as a way to respect our individual lives. I also feel it’s me not wanting to rush things and that keeping us separate in speech will keep the pressure off him.

But it’s never about the other person, is it? The real issue is, I don’t want to put pressure on myself. It seems I conquer some areas of self-doubt, but they manifest in other ways.

Same anxiety, different form.

Turns out that maybe I’m afraid of losing myself in this relationship, still afraid to really put my heart out there. I can’t hide from the truth. My subconscious has spoken.

I expressed my concerns to several friends and the general consensus was they had felt this way, too. They also said, being able to pull back and look on as an outsider to notice “what you’re missing out on” in your single life is healthy. Life will continue to put obstacles or tests in our path to make sure we want to continue in the direction we are heading. The truth lies on which intentions you want to act. After some introspection, I’ve found all my roads lead back to “we.”

But it happened again this past weekend. His best friends from high school invited me to a surprise birthday party, a nice gesture knowing that Jason wouldn’t be able to make it. I called him to see what I should bring.

“I’m going to your friend’s birthday party. Do you want me to get him a little something from you?”

Once again, I create boundaries with you.

“I don’t know. Just get him a funny card from the both of us. That’ll be great.” My heart melts. And maybe that’s just what needs to happen. I need to allow my heart to melt the walls I’ve built and let the “we” and “ours” bring me further into love.

Because every time he says it, I settle in and surrender a little more to the “we” of it all.

I can’t deny that it feels so good.

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