Yesterday, I woke up at 4 am in a minor panic – wondering if my man was ok.
He was on his way from London to Luanda, Angola, via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This may sound like a crazy itinerary, but its par for the course around here.
I knew he had made it to Ethiopia but I hadn’t received the usual text saying that he was boarding his next flight, or that he had landed at his final destination. So, I reached for my phone in the dark and googled Ethiopian Airlines.
Unfortunately, one of the first things that pops up when you search Ethiopian Airlines, is Ethiopian Airlines 961, a flight that was hijacked in 1996. For some reason, I clicked on this…not a nice thing to do to my sleepy brain.
Anyway once I found his flight, and saw that it still had an hour to go before reaching Luanda, I felt better and fell back asleep.
And sure enough, I was woken up a few hours later by him calling me to tell me he had safely reached the apartment where he’d be staying.
I used to think there was something wrong with me and/or our relationship because we spend so much time apart (and always have). And, because I like it that way.
Thoughts would cross my mind – ‘If we really liked each other, we’d want to be together more/all the time’, ’This isn’t a real relationship because we’re constantly coming and going’, blah, blah, blah.
But now, as I think of most of the couples that I know in thriving, long-term relationships, one of the common threads is space.
They give each other the space – whatever that looks like – to do what they most want to do.
Yes, there are kinks to be worked out. Crystal clear communication and being willing to ask for what you want when you want it are essential skills that take time to develop.
But to me, the most intimidating thing about giving Jihad the space to explore and do whatever it is that he really wants to do in life – is being faced with the challenge to do the same.
Sometimes, it’s easy. I know what I want, and I have no hesitation about going after it. But other times it feels like the hardest thing in the world – either I’m fooling myself into believing I don’t know what I want or I know what I want, but I’m too scared to go after it.
And then, it starts to look like there’s big gaping hole in my life that would be nicely filled if my man were only here to take me out to dinner or on vacation or whatever. Which can pretty quickly devolve into ‘This just isn’t working because…’ And, wheeee! Down the rabbit whole we go!
I’ve done that ride a few thousand times. And while it’s nice to know that it’ll always be there as an option, it’s become a little predictable for my taste.
Now when I feel like something is ‘off’ in our relationship, or I’m just not that excited about being with my man…and particularly if I feel like I am ‘missing’ him while he’s away, I notice that my attention goes directly to where I’m hiding out or holding back in the rest of my life.
Because when I’m playing full out and doing what I love, being in an amazing relationship with my amazing man (no matter where he is on the planet) is strangely the coolest thing in my world, and simultaneously just the icing on the already delicious cake that is my life.
So if your relationship is seeming, um, currently not so delightful. Ask yourself first if there’s anything you haven’t expressed. Give yourself 30 seconds. If something comes to mind, then go express it.
If nothing comes to mind, move on to the vastly more exciting question of ‘What do I want to be doing in/with my life that I’ve been hiding from or avoiding?’
And hang out there for a while. Give yourself the same space to explore as you would want to give your partner or child (or whoever you happen to actually like in this moment).
Acting from this place is where the magic is.
It’s one of the few places on the map where Luanda living and Los Angeles living overlap.