Remember those days where you had your own apartment, paid your own bills, dedicated yourself to your own schedule? In the days before marriage or serious relationships we were independent without realizing we were alone, and actually thrived in our abilities to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted without having to double-check our intentions with another human being.
Enter a serious relationship and/or marriage. All of a sudden we become independent as a unit, doing the things we love and need to to with the acknowledgment of our significant others. We get so intertwined with having someone else know what we’re up to (as any respecting relationship would do) that we don’t even realize the security we are placing in our twosome life…until the significant other is out of town or unavailable for a number of days.
What a huge transition, to go through life suddenly, well, ALONE. It’s unnerving at first, knowing that I am on my own for a long period of time, having to fill my routine that I normally spend with him with activities I no longer enjoy without him. It’s bittersweet- on the one hand I love seeing him go to his great-paying job that he enjoys, and I get a lot more work done on my own writing career when he is away. On the other hand, I just plain miss him, and nothing is as fun without him. Since he’s my best friend, I don’t like going days without him. I miss how it takes us 2 hours to shop for 4 things at Walmart because we’re too busy looking at stuff and making fun of gadgets we would never use, and longing for items we just don’t have room for. Shopping on my own it takes me 15 minutes, and I don’t take the time to even barely look up from my shopping list.
I miss the water fight we inevitably end up in when watering the lawn. Now I water the lawn and get pissed off when the nozzle splashes me in the face. Having him gone, life just sucks a little bit. I love how much I just plain appreciate our relationship, and I am so glad I don’t relish the time he’s gone. It would just be nice if I could get back into a little bit of that independent me, so I could enjoy this time apart a bit more.
He doesn’t enjoy it, either. When he gets a chance to call, we basically talk about how much we miss one another. He wants me to go out with him when he travels, getting a place where he’s at so he has me to come home to until we travel back to our permanent home, but we just plain can’t afford to own a place and rent another. I have to remind him of how illogical it is to take me with him, and he reluctantly agrees. It’s hard on both of us.
We know we’ve been blessed for his job. He works on an oil rig and has done so for years, and on his days off he works for a local landscaping company. He loves both of his jobs, but hates being away on the rig, and oftentimes he doesn’t know when he will come home, since another hitch can start right up when he finishes one. He can be gone for 10 days or 3 months at a time, and he doesn’t know until he gets there. The money is freaking awesome and he loves it, but we have the penalty of being apart.
My battle is reclaiming independence, which is easier said than done. Since our relationship comprises of us alerting one another wherever we go (not to ask permission but to keep the other person from wondering and worrying) it’s weird that I don’t have to pick up the phone and let him know I’m going to chill at my mom’s for a few hours but will be home soon. It feels like an odd betrayal that I can do whatever I want but not have the opportunity to let him know. He calls me before and after a shift, letting me know he’s OK and when he will be calling me again, even lets me know what he had for lunch. I take these opportunities to fill him in on my daily agenda so we can have that small bit of normalcy while we’re apart.
I am slowly but surely relearning my independence and starting to almost enjoy my regular activities when he is gone. The hardest accomplishment is to not feel guilty that I am not able to make his lunch in the morning and that I get to basically sit on my bum writing all day while he works 12 hour shifts working his duff off and getting a few hours of sleep before he gets to do it all over again. I feel guilty that I can go into town and run errands while he’s stuck at a “man camp” where the nearest town is over 2 hours away. I worry that he’ll lop a hand off out there or he’ll get seriously hurt. I just plain wish he could come home every day where we could do “nacho night” or our Sunday drive to get milkshakes and drive around the mountains, looking for big game critters.
We both have to learn how to function apart from one another, which is such a goofy thing. I lived alone for almost 10 years before I met him. You’d think it would be no sweat to have him gone. But anyone who has to deal with a traveling loved one knows this odd battle of not quite knowing what to do when they’re gone. It’s hard, but it does get easier. I do my thing while he does his, and when he comes home we can make up for lost time and spend time with one another until he is off again. Sooner or later, his leaving will become common to me, and something that I just attribute to the rest of our little rituals and routines. And I will naturally just go about my business until he returns.
Until then, I’m still learning how to just plain do every day things without him by my side. It’s not easy, but I’m doing it.
If you have a spouse who travels for work, leaving you behind, then you know exactly what I am talking about. This it the situation I am in- my loved one travels for work, working 2 weeks at a time before coming home for a few days, then he’s off again with a huge embrace and wishes of traveling safely.
Who knew it would be so HARD to function on your own when your loved one is away? When he’s gone I find myself lost- I feel displaced when I do every day things that take me out of the home. I can’t call him to ask what groceries he thinks we need, I can’t contact him to ask him where the cell phone bill ended up. I have to remember how often he waters the lawn, where he put the toilet paper. It’s amazing the lack of independence I feel when he is away even though I can literally do whatever I want. It’s like all my years of taking care of myself and living alone have gone out the window, and I suddenly feel like a child who was left alone until mom comes home from work.
We get so wrapped up in our relationships and doing things together; it becomes so commonplace to shop for groceries together, to pay bills together, to eat together and run errands together that when that half of the daily life is gone you’re left scratching your head wondering how much coffee you should make. I’m grateful that my man adds so much to my life, but I don’t realize HOW much until he is gone. My house feels empty, and I don’t even know how to create a to-do list on my own anymore.
You get used to your loved one traveling, to worrying about them while they’re so far away. You get used to standing on the porch bawling your eyes out when their truck pulls in the drive after more than 2 weeks away. You get used to creating that to-do list while they are away so you can painstakingly get things done alone. But isn’t it funny how you go from being a totally self-reliant individual to second-guessing yourself on your own in a relationship? Who knew?
I’m not only getting used to having him away for such a long time, but I’m getting used to finding the “single” me again. The me who could hang out with friends all day without checking in with anyone. The me who grocery shopped for only my needs. The me who woke up on my schedule and did my own thing until I had to go to work. The me I was when there was only me to worry about.