I want to be with you, but I need you to leave

You’re out of the house, on that much anticipated getaway with your sister, and I’m happy for you … I’m also happy for me. Is that wrong?

I love being with you — there are parts of me that are so in tune with parts of you I can’t imagine being without you. There are also parts of us that don’t fit together so well. We’ve stayed together a very long time and we have learned to find common ground, take turns, tolerate — but not necessarily celebrate.

It’s like I said in family therapy yesterday — nobody really gets our whole person, we need people who can relate to all the parts of ourselves or we feel very lonely. I feel very lonely — a lot. Oddly enough, I feel less lonely sometimes when I’m alone. When I’m with you, a part of me feels less lonely, but another part does — and that part feels all the more lonely and jealous about the amount of time the one part feels loved and regarded.

Your presence is comforting. Your touch helps regulate my mood most of the time. I sit beside you and watch TV I wouldn’t choose in kind or amount because I want to be with you. I struggle to separate from you and find the intensity — the “up-energy” — I need to pull away for work or home projects instead of being with you. After decades of relying on this slight hypomania for success in school and work, when I’m with you and my mood is regulated, I miss it and feel anxious that I’m not getting enough done. And then I have a crash like last weekend and the up isn’t worth the down and I feel even more anxious that I won’t shake it before Monday when I have to put on my professional mask and truck into the office where I really can’t afford to be a mess.

I know how to trigger it — the up-energy that is. When I travel it’s what I do in order to “be on” while in front of clients all day long for several days in a row. In the evenings and into the night I use the energy to pound away responding to e-mail and working on projects and following up on the meetings. I tell you, and sometimes myself, I work this way because I don’t want working on the weekends to get in the way of being with my family. That’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. There’s a payoff for it: when I have that energy, I don’t notice the loneliness.

The travel wore on me after years of the weekly grind — physically and emotionally. The weekly mood swings were exhausting. I found myself crashing every week when I headed back home feeling more lonely than ever. I blamed it on you and the kids — it couldn’t be something I was doing or not doing to cause the cycle. I was taking my medication, going to all our flavors of therapy, working out while on the road. How could it be me?

Now I own it — I recognize my choices have contributed to the cycle. Not traveling means overall I cycle less, but when we are apart — especially when I’m at home to enjoy my own routines and use the energy to get things done at home I’ve been putting off — I have a hard time resisting.

I’m not sure how it’s going to work this weekend. I’m doing it: planning more than I can do, staying up late working on projects, feeling a huge sense of accomplishment over what I’m getting done as the superhero single-dad-for-a-weekend … and Tuesday I have to go to the office after you’ve come home and my little party comes to an end. I’d like to think I can just sail on into next week feeling great, but that’s probably just hope or hubris talking.

I have given up feeling guilty about it. I don’t start the cycle so much now — even when I’m traveling. When I do, I own the consequences, and I feel less angry at me or my family when I cycle down.

Maybe some day I’ll find and accept a balance that works for me and I won’t need you to leave anymore.