This has been haunting me for a long time, but it’s especially bothering me over the last few weeks so I’m finally writing about it. Content notes for relationship woes and loss of sense of self.
I moved in with my partner when I was 16, and I brought some belongings with me but went through a purge as I usually do when I’m about to move. Since I was 16, I didn’t own any furniture or appliances or dishes. I had a bed, desk, and bookshelf, but I left them at my dad’s.
I’ve been living with my partner since then. And honestly, the number of things I feel I can claim as “mine” is not much higher than it was five years ago. I noticed during this recent move that I’m pretty sure I own less than half of all the things in our apartment. Which is probably why I always feel so overwhelmed and unable to organize anything.
(I also lost a bunch of my things to a flooded basement when we lived with his mom.)
It seems like most of the things I use are “ours” or straight-up not mine. If I work on a project, his tools do the shaping. If I cook or eat, it’s with “our” dishes, which were either his before we started dating or were given to us by his family. I sleep on his bed. One of the two pillows I use isn’t even mine, and apparently I can’t spend any money on anything right now or I would buy my own body pillow.
The desk I use was his. It’s not big enough for my monitors, so I have to borrow part of his desk space. The chair I sit in is his. Both of the non-earbud sets of headphones are his. Most of the books on the shelf are his. Most of the movies and video games are his. The towels are his. It could be argued that even the cats are his.
The car is definitely his, as his grandparents sent us the money for it and apparently made it clear that if we separate, they want him to keep the car.
Shit, his mom considers me her foster kid, so I’m even borrowing his mom. (Which is kind of an awkward thing to say, I love the hell out of his mom, but it still fits this pattern.)
I know that we try to think that things don’t define us as people, but to an extent, they do. I’m sure there are homeless people who feel like they lack a sense of self because they don’t own anything but what they can carry.
This whole issue, coupled with the fact that I feel fundamentally not myself even being married, has caused me to realize that I have lost a great deal of my sense of self over the last six years. That’s part of the appeal of being monogamously married: that you’re half of a whole. (This also plays out, to an extent, in poly relationships with a primary/hierarchy orientation.) SO MANY people tout the “I’m only half myself without you” mantra that I had internalized it and didn’t fully understand what that meant for the self.
My fucking NAME isn’t even entirely my own.
There’s a quote from one of the Eragon books (Brisingr) that well reflects this sentiment:
Eragon paused with his mouth open; until that moment, he had been unaware that he and Saphira were speaking in turn. The knowledge pleased him: it signified that they had achieved new heights of cooperation and were acting together as a single entity—which made them far more powerful than either would be on their own. It also troubled him when he contemplated how such a partnership must, by its very nature, reduce the individuality of those involved.
Obviously the nature of Eragon’s relationship with his dragon is drastically different from what it’s like to be married. My soul/identity/whatever hasn’t been magically bonded with my partner’s. But in an emotional way, isn’t that kind of the goal?
It’s certainly the result when you and your partner emotionally support each other, and expect each other to take responsibility for how you feel about each other’s behavior. I said “each other” a lot. Anyway.
I feel kind of lost and despondant lately. I think I need to do more to promote a good sense of self, like make art. I’ve been listening to music more, which helps a lot. I’ve been wanting to make more videos, but I’m hampered by feeling like I have no proper equipment, to the point that I might crowdsource for it because I want THAT BADLY to be making videos.
I’ve been going on for a while. TL;DR: being married makes me feel like I don’t completely exist.