Mary is the one that figured it out. A lightbulb moment happened this afternoon when I met her at queeny park. She was going out on a second running loop and I was going to join her on my bike. She was getting cold while I was changing so she was going to start out and I would catch up to her. I knew that getting on the bike is now an almost comical struggle but I’m always ready for a challenge and I am not yet used to being defeated. That is what I wanted, so she she took off. A new bike mounting strategy had to be invented. I was happy that no one was watching but success was eventually achieved.
Upon finally catching up to her, Mary of course was curious why it took so long. After my explanation, she cried and felt awful. I was a little perplexed as she knew that it was taking me a long time to accomplish things of this sort. She realized that a large part of the awful feeling was guilt for not staying to help me. I, on the other hand, wanted her to go. I am fiercely independent and would much rather be allowed to do things than feel like a burden.
I feel guilty that she is starting to have to do most of the work. More deeply than that, I feel guilty that I can’t provide her with a wonderful future of companionship and support. I feel like I am going to let her down.
I don’t feel that she should feel guilty, and she does not feel that I should feel guilty. But we both have this awful feeling. Guilt is causing an unnecessary challenge that we will have to learn to navigate in our relationship. How do we stop it? We don’t have a clear answer yet.