I recently read a blog post that got me thinking about identity--how it changes, sometimes immutably. We go into marriage half expecting that our individual selves will remain intact. We expect to blend our life with another with salad metaphors in mind, keeping all the unique parts of our personality fresh and unchanged.
But it is alchemy. Mysterious and transcendant, inexplicable alchemy. The dross most certainly does rise. But even in that painful process, something else happens, too. Your life becomes so completely engaged with someone else's: their pain and joy is your own. Some freedom goes away, some responsibilities get added, but so do new pleasures, and some burdens are lightened.
Sara Groves says it beautifully with, "Life with you is half as hard and twice as good."
I am eternally changed for having married Bill. If we were a fork and spoon before, we've each changed into something else--a spork, perhaps, or maybe even a pair of chopsticks. There's no going back to our old roles and routines. We have formed something new here, and even if it all fell apart, I would never fit back into the same single-girl-spoon slot I originally comfortably occupied.
We do not blend like salads, easily extracted from each other. Alchemists sought it in metallurgy, but it happens with us: our base selves are transformed into something improbable and beautiful: one solid team, a golden pair.
I have all the more compassion for anyone who has found themselves not just missing a person in their life, but finds their very soul severed from a loss of such magnitude. Reinvention is no small task.