She came into my life completely by surprise—if, in fact, you believe there are any surprises in life—but our initial interactions were from a distance and it would take quite a bit of time for us to meet face-to-face.
Little did I realize how that span of time would come to feel like a lifetime to me, a lifetime in the blink of an eye. This was all new to me, this sort of slow start, and although it took some getting used to, I really grew to like it.
We took our time in the beginning, feeling each other out, learning about one another, growing attached. We each had to exercise an abundance of patience in the early stages. It was necessary—we communicated so differently. It was only in fits and starts that I would learn what she liked, what she didn’t, her moods, her habits, her routines. And while I had been so fiercely independent before her, I don’t think either of us had experienced being so connected to another person—and sometimes it was really frightening for me.
I struggled with loss of independence and ingested a hearty dose of self-doubt as I worked through what it would take to have her in my life on a regular basis, but I knew it was critical for us to start to work as a team rather than vying for primacy.
One arena in which we clashed early on was our eating habits—I’m a foodie, so what and where and how I eat are very important to me. Yet, because she couldn’t stand some of the foods I really loved, she could really get in the way of my enjoying what I liked, making her preferences so clear that I’d often get turned off by even my most favorite things. She just had that effect on me, that control over me.
Sometimes I resented it, but I couldn’t be angry with her for it—I just let it ride. What else could I do?
She’d also get really grumpy if I didn’t eat when she wanted to eat (or if I did when she didn’t). And whenever she was displeased, she’d never pull any punches. It was rough going for us, in those moments and this lasted for quite some time. She could make things really miserable for me if I wasn’t doing what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. But it wasn’t only about the food. She had a power over me that it sometimes scared me—and I was growing so attached to her that I couldn’t differentiate at times.
It was a really odd feeling for me, one that I had never experienced before—but, I have to admit, it was also pretty exciting and the excitement really had me hooked.
Another proving ground revealed itself in our completely opposite sleeping habits. I used to be a really deep sleeper and I loved my alone time in bed. But there would be times when I was tired and wanted to turn in—maybe read a book or watch a movie—and she would still be up and raring to go. And, if she wasn’t tired, there was no sleeping, no matter how tired I was. It was like my needs didn’t matter to her. She’d fidget and fret and toss and turn, and I’d have to pay attention to her if I ever expected to have any peace.
It was hard for me to let go of that sacred space for myself, but I wanted to be with her so deeply that I felt I really didn’t have a choice.
As our connection grew, I was humbled by her strength, and I found that I’d do anything to make her happy. It got to the point where I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.
Sometimes, she could put so much pressure on me that I would feel completely alienated, out of control and I struggled, constantly preoccupied with self-doubt. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her, yet I was becoming so invested in her, and it all seemed to happen so fast. She made me do all sorts of things I never imagined I’d do and my friends noticed the changes in me. They’d express concern by cloaking it in ways that only friends can, so as not to make me feel awkward or alone, but I knew what they were doing. I tried to seem like I still had it all together, but honestly I wasn’t sure anymore.
I found myself waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, wondering what would happen next, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Finally, at precisely the instant when I got so fed up I thought I couldn’t take even another minute of it, as if the universe had heard my plea, something shifted. She knew she was wearing me out and I had given her all I could give. I knew I couldn’t possibly make any more room for her in my life than I already had without exploding or losing myself entirely.
We both knew in that moment that we’d have to make a drastic change if we were going to stay together. It was the proverbial moment of truth.
Although the details of that moment have faded over time for me, as details are wont to do, I remember one thing hauntingly clearly, as clearly as if I were seeing it happen now, right in front of me. I remember looking at her, right into her deep, soulful eyes, as I swelled up with the love of a hundred lifetimes and my heart spoke to her, and it said, “Hello, my love. I’m your Mommy and I’m so happy you chose me.”
And then my life began all over again, with an eternal love to show for it.
Sarah Rosenberg runs with scissors, eats with her fingers, and encourages her dogs to kiss her on the mouth. She lives and breathes as the grateful shepherd of her nearly-nine-year-old daughter, whose old soul belies her young bodily incarnation. Sarah’s writing creates fissures in her seemingly hard surface, allowing slivers of brilliant light to shine out from within. She is a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise