My Eleven, my beloved, the Fitz to my Simmons, expects no trade for acts of love and kindness. Rather, from the start we have given of ourselves to each other, in service, because this is right and good. This is how people who love each other behave. We found ourselves in agreement on that very early in our relationship. Eleven says that at an upcoming SCA event, he intends to stay back a little, because he is a natural extrovert who doesn’t want to outshine me. Would you believe the lady protested? Yes, she did. And though he will be my man-at-arms, he will be no less important. We are interdependent: capable of functioning apart, but even better together. We are not 50% + 50%. We are 100% + 100% and somehow we come up with 250% when we combine.
We are alike in our thinking. We think not as a man and a woman but as people. Where gender is important to consider in a matter of perspective, we discuss it. He’ll never shake his head and mutter “Women!” under his breath; I’ll try to overcome that problem in myself, that “Men!” that comes hissing out sometimes. We are so vastly diverse, we humans, within our genders and between them. No, of course he hasn’t had a period, and he doesn’t have fibro, but he gets these awful spells of back pain, and so he understands what it’s like to be down and out because of it. No, he can’t get pregnant, but he can get someone pregnant, and though I would want him to decide with me what happened to a child of ours, he would understand that some choices are not choices, no matter how much we wish they were. He knows that my body is not a place to nurture a child, even half his beautiful genetics, because my body barely sustains me and my chances of mental health problems as a result are higher than those of neurotypical women. He knows I couldn’t put a child I did birth into unknown arms, because my father was so very damaged by that action (but his mother had no choice, either!). I think we would both grieve. I also think we would find ourselves at peace.
I can say these things with about 99% confidence because we have taken the time to crawl into each other’s skin and to share each other’s values. I could never ask a person to make fundamental changes just to become compatible with me. You love who you find as you find her and leave the if-onlys behind. This is part of how we build trust: by knowing each other that well. I feel secure when I have a reasonable idea of what he’ll think about something. I’ve been in the dark before; it’s scary. But we’re standing in the light together. And that is worth so much more than adhering to expectations or norms.
Maybe I am a prideful little thing because I need to be with someone who can admit that my advice is as valid as his, when one or the other of us is lost. That we can both be lost and want a lifeline. It doesn’t change the need to be equal. We have areas of expertise. I value his. He values mine. Where they cross, it’s almost frightening how fast we come to similar or even the same conclusion. This, too, is a security that makes me a better partner because it’s easier to admit you’re wrong to someone who isn’t Right About Everything. If I find that I need to be right about something because it’s my truth, we’re capable of differing with respect.
I am borrowing from a blog post I have open, a post that made me think about why the blogger’s opinion on relationships bothered me, when I say this:
No number of sweet notes, fixed garbage disposals, daily “I love yous”, little presents, kisses, surprise dinners, or in my case weekends at SCA events will balance a relationship in which these things are collateral. Trade. No. These are the things we give freely to each other, except the garbage disposals; I’m afraid I’m hopeless at plumbing. We chose each other. We choose each other. We define ourselves as free and sovereign within ourselves, fully human, fully equal. What we change about ourselves we change because we know the other person has a need unmet, or a wound unhealed. There is no such obligation, only the desire to be even happier. We each have our own way! Often! Because there is room in our world for “yes, and” despite other limited resources like time. Seeing him get his way doesn’t mean I won’t get mine. Gratification is not always instant. We’re adults. We can cope.
I am not his queen, or anyone’s (outside of a Society context, and even then you couldn’t pay me to run myself that ragged). We stand side-by-side, or arm-in-arm. I’d jump off any pedestal from any height just to stay that way.