Not Draconian self-care.
For the first two or three years Jalan and I were together, she wasn’t working and I worked almost exclusively from home. We were joined at the hip. Two nights apart when I was traveling for work were pretty much the limit before we were both feeling strain from it. She does work now, but that includes from home, and we treasure our time together, generally choosing to be in the same room when possible. And I almost never travel for work since getting sick, in any event.
That lays context for how odd it is that I told her I needed to head out to a coffee shop this afternoon at least in part because of how she was going about her day.
Before my friends worry, let me say up front that this does not indicate a problem between us.
For many reasons, some in my personality, some in my mental illness, some in my personal history, I have often had trouble rolling with changes in plans. I’m far less uptight about this than I was even a few years ago. Much of that is because of my fundamental trust in Jalan. And she’s worked on helping me get away from the maladaptive, compulsive element of this–by things like not telling me her plans. Especially early on, I’d find out where we were going for dinner when we got there. Asking while she was driving generally went un-answered, except when she could see that my not knowing was causing genuine anxiety or agitation. That pressure to need to know the plan rarely comes up these days, and I seldom even feel driven to ask. I trust her. It works for her needs, as well, in that not telling me the plan leaves her free to change it to suit her mood without risking distressing me.
This is the last day of her week off of work, and she started the time off with a fair bit to do for her job before returning tomorrow. She hasn’t worked on it this week–she’s taken much-needed leisure instead. But an hour or so after the second time she told me she was coming downstairs soon to work, I started feeling my old discomfort with not knowing what’s going to happen, and especially discomfort with plans being changed without notice.
So I went upstairs, sat with her on the bed, and explained that, while I trusted her to get done what she needed to in a way that worked for her, the way the day was going meant I was getting twitchy. I took care to explain that this was in no way a rebuke for how she’d spent her week, or the fact that she was changing her plans for today as she wrestled with the best way for her to get to it and get it done. Rather, I needed to go out alone for my own self-care. It wasn’t about her; it was my decision as to the best thing to do to meet my needs. After some kissing, I was on my way.
As I’ve remarked before, we communicate with such quantity and such care that most people would probably see it as exaggerated and might even find it too much to handle in a relationship.
But it suits us perfectly.
That, and I can pick up Chinese food on the way home.