You see, I love decorating and my apartment is almost exactly how I want it to look, minus three pieces of furniture, the file cabinet being one of them.
But I’ve also been broke since moving out on my own after the divorce, topped with not being paid as well as I should be considering my credentials and work experience, so I told myself that once I got salaried and had extra money, I would treat myself to buy the file cabinet.
And I did.
I have been so excited to put it together, because while it is a pricey piece of furniture, it still came in a box.
Mr. Artist asked me what I was going to do over the weekend because he wanted to get together.
(We basically see each other every day, but this month since I’m having to study for my test, we see each other every other day and well, he says he goes through withdrawals from me. I end up missing him too, so we are a pretty mushy pair)
I mentioned that I wanted to clean and put together my file cabinet so I’d probably only have time in the evening.
He responded that he could help me put the file cabinet together.
Now maybe that sounds like a given to some of you, but to me, that was the equivalent of him buying me flowers and chocolates.
Because, you see, I haven’t had someone say that in a long time.
I replied, “Really? That would be nice.”
He responded, “Yes, I’d be happy to help, silly.”
I said, “I’m not used to happy help.”
And then he replied, “Of course I’d be happy to help you, you’re my other half. What makes you happy makes me happy or vice versa.”
This made me think of the stark contrast between this relationship and my marriage.
In the beginning years of marriage, my ex and I bought most of our furniture in boxes and would have to assemble it ourselves.
We worked together and she put in just as much effort as I did.
Then things started changing or maybe, with more responsibilities and hardships, things that were always there became more amplified.
Compliance is not cooperation (John (my coworker) heard this somewhere and it blew me away) and that’s what happened in our relationship. I’d ask her to help with something, she’d complain and argue about it, I’d nag her some more, she’d finally give in and do it, begrudgingly…sometimes.
By the time we bought a house, I was largely on my own.
In fact, since we had a house, we bought more furniture to fit it and while that furniture was better quality, most of it still came in boxes.
But this time, I assembled it alone.
She would gripe and complain about how she was tired or didn’t feel like doing it, how we could do it “later” (later never came) and then disappear into a room where I wasn’t working in.
Or she’d start with me, then “get tired” or “frustrated” and conveniently disappear.
I remember trying to make the best of it.
I would tell myself that it was my stuff too and I would take care of it and put it together because I enjoyed it, regardless of her attitude and lack of support.
It didn’t just happen with furniture, though.
It also happened with cleaning, maintaining the lawn, taking care of the dogs, managing the budget…etc.
I think I just didn’t want to believe that someone I had dedicated my life to and gave every effort in making a nice home for, could be lazy, disengaged, and take my efforts for grossly for granted.
I kept waiting for it to change.
I thought if I was patient, if I kept trying, if I just expressed my feelings to her, that she would try.
But she didn’t.
It just got worse.
And soon I was running a house on my own, taking care of “our” things, “our” dogs, “our” yard, and her.
I’ve carried so much guilt regarding my decision to leave and the feeling like I “abandoned” her.
But when I remember things like this, I am reassured that I did what I needed to do.
That this is right for me.
It also makes me think that if I had stayed, I would have never met Mr. Artist.
I would have never known there was a man, desperately looking for his soulmate, thinking that his chance had passed him by and I was exactly who he had been looking for.
I would have never known that he would be so grateful for me that he would try his hardest to show me just how much so, every single day.
And that this man would love me for all my complexities and be willing to assemble furniture with me, just because he knows it’s important to me.
In fact, he’d be happy to do so.