Zero distance

Years ago when I met my wife, when we negotiated becoming married, we argued. We argued about what marriage is – what we wanted marriage to be. I thought of it as the disappearance of the individual, a sort of magical dissolution of two beings into one. She did not. She thought of it as an alliance between two mutually interested people as a supportive, exclusive team.

It bothered me, this disagreement, and in antagonistic moments I always remember it. Today, as I audit a mooc on the psychology of happiness, I’m learning more about why. I have an ‘anxious attachment style.’ My wife’s is very ‘secure.’

My psychology professors exude contentment as they lecture. They cheerfully describe the empirically real behaviors and reactions we display, as organisms, from touching to talking, and how ‘healthy’ activity makes ‘happy’ people. Since I’m familiar with who I am, and my abnormalities can indeed be uncomfortable, listening to these lectures is often like pressing myself through a cheese grater.

I want to say something about my sense of total contact – that ‘union’ my wife, and apparently all ‘secure’ people, shrink from. I experience it in moments. It’s a clear, safe spot where understanding another is knowing myself. It’s an astonishment and an abandonment, while the most profoundly connected and complete sensation I ever expect to enjoy. I express wanting it to those who attract me, and frighten the ‘healthy’ ones away.

I regret frightening them. I see life within them. I want to join that life. So with my marriage: we are indeed allied. We are deeply trusting and pervasively intimate. On occasion, despite all reality, I see her as myself. In those moments I am absent all questions; soundlessly and eternally content – perfectly unalone.


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