How Can You Be Away and Still Be Present in Your Intimate Relationships?
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MAUDE: I have been on a journey with a beloved friend to a women’s retreat most of the week. As Phil and I sat down to write this blog, it seemed that both of us being in two different physical places and what that felt like for each of us, was the topic for this week. I chose my words carefully in writing here because so many of the usual descriptions, like not being together, don’t actually speak to how we felt.
I think how we felt has a lot to do with how we are together. Our connection seems so deep that we carry it within us; it resides there. We don’t seem to feel distance when one or the other goes somewhere, at least not as a sense of loss or something missing. I’m also sure that this would have different qualities if one of us were not returning.
We share a sense of peace and relaxation between us and an assurance of our connection that generates the calm of no fear. When together in space, we are usually fully present with each other. When one of us goes elsewhere, we are present with those we are with, yet do not experience a sense of the loss of that presence we share.
We each have different strengths and weaknesses, but we do not fill voids within one another. I’m not referring here to the changing vicissitudes of life, and how we all take turns helping each other with those. I mean emotional neediness and the sense of completing oneself through the being of another.
So I sallied forth on quite an adventure with my dear friend, into the open arms of an amazing group of women. We laughed, cried, sang, danced, performed and presented together. We shared the deepest intimacies, joys, heartaches, insecurities and strengths. We feasted on healthy foods – well, there was the homemade ice cream and chocolate cake with cherries inside, oh and the rhubarb champagne (the rhubarb from one sister’s garden) but the vintner didn’t use sulfates! We hiked, and discussed and explored inside and out. We talked and listened, learned and grew and laughed and laughed and laughed. And peace prevailed.
There is a quality within intimate relationships that transcends time and space. There is also a completeness of being present in a moment with those you are immediately connecting with that does not in any way minimize or cause a sense of separateness from any other intimate relationships, like those of partners, family and friends.
In our gathering, we were fully present with each other and at the same time, deep inside, along with all this goodness and presence with my dear sisters, Phil was also there, snuggled up somewhere in my heart, fully present, while happily enjoying the solitude of being alone in the house, writing and programming and happy as can be.There is a quality within intimate relationships that transcends time and space #quote #relationship Click To Tweet
PHIL: Maude just spent four nights away at a women’s retreat, and on return, we talked about how easy a separation like that was because there is no sense of severance; we retain the sense that we remain connected. For me, this is in contrast to a previous girlfriend who traveled for work; when she came back, there was a sense of separation that took a while to dissipate, and I never fully understood what that was about. When Maude comes back, we just pick up where we left off.
This might sound strange, but I wouldn’t say that we miss each other, certainly not in the sense of something being missing. We both enjoy our sense of autonomy. I find that being in the house alone has a different quality to when we are both in it, and Maude says the same.
My relationship with Maude gives me security, relaxation and peace, and these qualities are not disturbed in any way by our separation. The security is not in a parent-child sense, but instead security that comes from feeling connected, which is something we all have a need for. We are a species that lives in groups; we require each other to survive, and to make that happen, nature has given us a strong pull for connection.
With Maude and I, that sense of connection is strong and consistent, and the trust we have in each other sustains this. Another is the issue of neediness. We are, in some way, complete in ourselves, and the addition of each other is a delightful bonus. So I think what I am saying here is be attuned to and rejoice in the connections you have with everyone.
Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: Maude’s cabin at the retreat
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You prompted me to think about when my wife and I are apart. Recently she went, with our daughter and SIL, to Guatemala for a week. (Our daughter manages things when my wife and I travel together). My staying behind was essential to the trip as we have animals and much to attend to at home. Very early in the discussions of a possible trip I volunteered to stay behind so that the planning could progress. I was happy to do it, and sometimes enjoy the time alone – but am always anxious for her to return. My connection while she is gone is to tend to her flowers, the garden and more. And we banter in emails when apart – I tell her I am worried as I am down to one can of chili, and am not certain what to do when there are no more clean dishes. She emailed a reminder to water the indoor plants – I responded: “We have indoor plants?” Things can unravel a bit when I am here alone, but I always make sure that she returns to a spotless house and no laundry to do. All of that connects us while apart.
“We have indoor plants?” Very funny! Thanks for your version of separation.
Wonderful wonderful sharing….now if only you could share that rhubarb champagne??
I appreciate what you say about that connected feeling you have even when you’re apart. That kind of trust is cherishable.