We choose our partners with a secret eye seeking the twin. Not the twin in the mirror, but the lost twin in shadow. The discarded, smothered twin we poked and twisted and kicked under the bed of childhood. The Other. The Everything We Are Not. The Abandoned One.
Forgotten in order to please.
If the stars are kind and align just right, you choose well. And The Chosen shimmers with your own potential, reflecting not what you have found but what you seek. And basking in their soul mate glow you grow- just a little. You stretch and you risk- just a little. With time and fledgling self awareness you notice a glint sparking back at you and you reach to claim it, knowing, This belongs to me. I am this, too.
And you take it back.
This unburdens your partner, piece by shining piece- who is, by design, if you have not done the work of reclaiming, either bored or chafing beneath the yoke of your golden-hued projection. Or worse- wandering off in search of eyes that see something new, or more authentic.
When people ask, What is the secret of a good marriage? I usually answer, Chemistry. And good manners. Especially when it comes to the toilet seat. And then I laugh. Because it's true. But only a slice of the truth. The more complicated truth (and one you don't share at dinner parties) is a messy, juggling, wrestling wrangle with the aspects of two separate selves discovering two mysterious twins in the marriage bed.
You see, it's not always safe to integrate.
The squelched and sore parts of you can knock apart your coupled equilibrium. Don't kid yourself. It's not ever easy to bid for wholeness. To grow. Growth means change. And change is challenging. Even in the best of circumstances. So some days it's frighteningly tempting to believe that the dust balled fragments skulking in the shadows are not worth the effort of excavation.
Denial and distraction can smell pretty good at first.
But one cloudy day when your mending hip is aching and your desert skin is itching, you glance up from the kitchen counter cluttered with sticky spoons and banana peels, and you meet a clear gaze that sees you for who you really are- not some projected angel in the house, not some idealized muse, or nurturing mother stand-in. But who you really are in all your unadorned, quirky, burnished glory.
And you thank not the stars, or luck, or even fate. You know better. You've done your homework. So has he. So you smile a slow smile and crack, What are you looking at?
The love of my life, he says.