As a travel nurse, I spend most of my time away from my home and my partner. It’s a hard thing to be separated from the person you love, but we decided that reaching our financial goals was worth a little hardship, and that our relationship was solid enough to withstand the separation. We were right, our relationship has stood up to numerous tests over the past two years of being apart, but not without our ups and downs. We’ve done it, but it hasn’t been easy.
I’m lucky enough to travel with another nurse, who lives in the same home town as I do. She’s straight, as an arrow, and on the surface we have very little in common. She’s very feminine, and has religious convictions that are in opposition to my lifestyle. She’s a republican, I’m a democrat. She’s a conservative, I’m a liberal. She’s my friend, but we have the kind of relationship that allows us to be honest with each other, and still be close despite our differences. Even though the differences between us are staggering at times, we’ve also developed a deep understanding of the others feelings, and I respect her convictions, even though I disagree with them. She does the same.
The past few months have been difficult for both of us. You see, when you are 1600 miles away from your partner (or your spouse), little disagreements and tiny little fears can escalate into gigantic problems and staggering suspicions. Suddenly the weekend barbecue with friends that the two of you always attended, seems like nothing more than an opportunity for one of the single lesbians in the group to horn in on your partner. The fatigue in your partners voice from working too much, sounds like disinterest, and you start to worry. There’s no opportunity to rekindle your intimacy, and so things snowball into something that has a life of its own. You might as well be a world away.
My friend and I discovered that we have more in common than we realized this week. She cried, afraid that her relationship with her husband was at risk. I cried, afraid that the distance between my partner and I was tearing us apart. We shared feelings about how vulnerable we felt, so far away from our loved ones. We laughed at how silly we felt admitting that we both had envisioned sultry seductress’ out to take our love away. We were both living through the same situation, and experiencing it in almost the exact same way. I could see that she placed the same value on my relationship with my partner, as she placed on her marriage to her husband. We were two women, comforting each other, and trying to offer the other some sanity as our own minds tried to wander away into ridiculous jealousy.
It worked. She helped me get through my fears, and to realize that my partner had done nothing at all to cause me to feel insecure. I got grounded in reality again, before I put my foot in my mouth and accused my partner of something that I know she didn’t, and wouldn’t do. My friend says I did the same for her. It seems that by talking sense into the other, we each found some sense of our own. In the end, I discovered that we have a lot more in common than I thought we did. I also discovered that even though my friend is very conservative (I know she voted for Bush, she just won’t admit it), and lives pretty far to the right, she is still a reasonable human being who doesn’t make blanket judgments and respects my life and my feelings. We found common ground to stand on, my friend and I, and from this vantage point our differences don’t seem so huge after all.