The Other Chair
Life is so much sweeter when someone fills ‘the other chair’, isn’t it?! Well, I think so, and this is coming from someone who happily enjoyed being single for almost a decade. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a spouse at all, as having a partner in life is not just defined by being single or being married. It’s about having someone in your corner who supports you, who cares about you, who believes in you, who listens to you, and who cheers you on and likely up, as you make your way in this journey. Through the years, I would say that many people have filled ‘the other chair’ for me and I would guess it to be similar for you, as well.
As a child, it was my parents who filled ‘the chair’. I was fortunate enough to grow up with both of my parents who took very good care of all three of us kids. We were fed, clothed, had a house to live in, played outside, went camping (with borrowed trailers to start with), were made to do our homework, indulged in the occasional meal out, had birthday parties and Christmas presents, and got tucked into bed every night. Each of my parents had grown up poor themselves and worked hard to create a different life for us. Our mom and dad sacrificed A LOT of their own time, personal desires, etc. in order to do so, and for that, we are very grateful to this day. I am well-aware that my childhood is not everyone’s childhood, and that nothing about it should be taken for granted. Some people cannot even afford ‘the chair’, let alone be bothered by filling it.
Not unlike other young adults, it was my group of friends who became my ‘chair fillers’ once I got older. And soon, my longtime common-law boyfriend. Together, we all tried our best to figure out life, and together we rode out its up and downs. From post-secondary schools to part-time jobs to getting settled in our career choices to bar-hopping, dating, partying, moving out and ‘settling down’ so to speak. Talk about a steep, but necessary learning curve. Though some of us are no longer in each other’s lives, I was and am grateful for all who have helped shape me into who I am today. Grateful to have (had) others around me. To fill ‘the chair’.
In my late 20’s, early 30’s, I went through a period of grown-up self-discovery. My career was steady, but my boyfriend wasn’t. We turned out to be two different people with two different goals and we parted ways. I was devastated at first, but I knew in my heart that it was the right decision. Mostly, I think I was upset because ‘the chair’ was empty. Not that he was gone, but that there was no one there to fill it. There’s a difference, you know. Because we had met young, I had a lot of figuring out to do about who I was, what was important to me, who was important to me, and what I wanted out of life for me…for myself to be happy. As it turned out, sometimes my parents and my friends ended up filling ‘the chair’ at different points for which I was and am very thankful once again. And, at times, I was actually happy to have ‘the chair’ not filled. I had my own filling up to do soul-wise, and nobody could do it for me. I learned that, and it was one of the most valuable things that I have since learned.
Ironically, because of that invaluable lesson, I met my now husband. I didn’t need someone to fill ‘the chair’, it was simply an added bonus that he wanted to sit there, and that I wanted him beside me. We have each chosen to be there, side by side. Of course, right along with him are still my parents (grateful again), my family, my friends, my colleagues, and sometimes even mere acquaintances, such as you perhaps, to occupy ‘the chair’—that is what makes my life so very rich and so full. So, who is it that fills ‘the other chair’ for you?