Irreverent Mama

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Did you miss me?"

Matthew has gone camping with the kids for a few days. He's taken all of our conjoint lot who do not have summer jobs. They'll be gone till the end of the week. And when he comes home, he will ask me. "Did you miss me?"

With Matthew, I have the relationship I've always dreamed of. Intimacy that I've always craved. (Yes, sex, of course sex, but sex is the easiest and most straighforward form of intimacy, in my experience.) But the talking! Long conversations. Easy conversation. Deep conversations. Conversation that flows like a thread through our lives, the bedrock upon which the relationship is built.

For the next few days, though, I will be alone.

Some women don't like being alone. Most who don't will say they don't sleep so well. Some say they miss this or that that their fellow does for them. A few will say they miss the conversations. (Strangely, they never say they miss the sex. Isn't that odd? Do they not miss it? Perhaps they're even relieved at its absence? Or do they miss it and don't want to say? This question stirs a mild curiousity in me.)

Me, I love being alone.

I love being able to come and go without a second's thought or hesitation. No need to check in with someone, let him know what's up. I love being able to sit in bed with a book or my laptop till ridiculous hours. I love being able to sleep diagonally in the bed. I love being able to set my social calendar without balancing competing needs. I love that the only mess in the house is the one I create. And the silence. I love, love, love the silence.

I love it all.

Matthew misses me when he goes away. He will certainly miss me this time: he is getting the short end of this stick, and we both know it. Yes, I'm working, but camping with four teens is not a holiday. (The kids don't know this, and we don't tell them, but parents know the truth of this.) It is particularly not a holiday for a quiet introvert type who needs his alone-time.

But even when he's had a great time - like his last trip, a few weeks ago. A conference on a topic of great interest to him, with interesting sessions and lots of free time to explore a city he'd never before visited. Just the right mix of mental stimulation, social interaction, and blocks of time on his own. A perfect few days away. A holiday, really.

Yet, still, when he returns, he will hold me long, tell me he missed me, and ask, "Did you miss me?"

And I won't have. I used to feel guilty about this. It seemed a sign that my emotional tanks were flawed, that, even in this perfect-for-me reationship, I was unable to fully invest. Obviously, he loves me more.

In the decade or so I've had to consider this, my perception has altered. This is not because he loves me more. I think it's simply another expression of our fundamental difference in temperaments. I am a natural optimist; he's more depressive. My glass is always half-full; his is half-empty. We see this difference over and over again; this is merely another manifestation of the old, familiar pattern.

He enjoys his few days away - and he does enjoy them - but one part of his mind is always aware there is something he doesn't have that he wants (me! Isn't that sweet?), and it is that on which he focusses. Because that's how his psyche works. Me, I enjoy my time alone. While I'm aware that he's somewhere else, and with him are some good things I can't have right now, my focus remains on the good things I have in his absence - because of his absence. Because that's how my psyche works.

"Did you miss me?"

He'll ask this as he draws me into his arms, and I will sink into our welcome-home kiss, and I will revel in his return, in the solidity of his hug, in his smell, in the comfort of how well we fit together. I will look forward to the long conversation that I know will follow, going over the events of our days apart, our responses to them, our thoughts and ideas. I look forward to later that evening, and some intimacy of a different sort. All those good things I couldn't have when he was gone are back! Here in my arms!

And as the kiss breaks, I will look up at him and say, "Yes, I missed you."



  • I am like you. It doesn't matter who I have been with, how much I've loved him..I've always enjoyed being on my own. I love my own company. I love it for all the reasons you listed.

    And since you wondered about sex, I don't miss it for the short times I have been alone. And it's got nothing to do with not liking sex, I do. Very much. But being 'asexual' or maybe a 'non-sexual being' for a period is actually enjoyable and other senses take priority.

    And yes, I'd also say 'I missed you' even if I hadn't. I did exactly that many times. It keeps them happy - I don't know of one man who doesn't secretly want to be the centre of his partner's life. They may shout out loud they like our independence and intelligence and lack of neediness and sure that's all true - but hell they need to be needed.Big time.

    By Blogger Wendz, at 11:38 a.m.  

  • I think its possible to both enjoy time alone and to miss the other. They are not mutually exclusive.

    By Blogger The Boy, at 5:33 a.m.  

  • Wendz - At the moment of his return, I did miss him, if that makes any sense at all... I take your point about not missing sex for short periods: come to that, I don't miss it when Matthew's gone, and not because I don't enjoy it when he's here! Just a different mindset. 'Course, he's never been gone for more than 5 or 6 days at a stretch.

    Boy - Yes, it is possible to enjoy time alone and miss the other, both. Not something I do, but it's possible!

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 6:51 a.m.  

  • Wouldn't know, but hey, life can be a shit. Nice post though!

    By Blogger john.g., at 11:28 a.m.  

  • John - Oh, I don't think it's so shitty. He loves me, I love him. We have different ways of leaning into life, but as long as I don't expect him to be like me, and he affords me the same respect (which we both do!), all is well.

    And you know? When we greet each other after a separation, I'm pretty sure we feel exactly the same.


    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 12:51 p.m.  

  • I love being on my own, though I consider myself fairly sociable. I've always thought that people who missed other people desperately were a little pathetic; as long as I know that the people I love are safe and sound, I don't miss them terribly when they are away. But I once knew a couple who always missed the other very much when s/he was away, and they were perfectly fine people, not insecure in any way.

    Sleeping diagonally across the bed, now, that is pure heaven. But I am brazen enough to do that even when my husband is in the bed.

    By Blogger Mary Witzl, at 4:40 p.m.  

  • As long as I know that the people I love are safe and sound, I don't miss them terribly when they are away.

    That's exactly how I feel. Even my children - even when they were much younger - I didn't miss them terribly much as long as I knew they were happy. If I feared they weren't - then I wanted them back fiercely!

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 6:42 p.m.  

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