March 5, 2016

Last year, for a little while, my revenue wasn’t steady. From week to week, the number of hours I was working, and therefore the amount of money I was making, were never the same. I wasn’t making as much as I would have expected, and I started getting anxious about money.

I hate being anxious about money. I hate having to wonder about it. I’ve been working since I was 14, and was lucky enough to never have to worry about it. I do not spend a lot, most of the things I enjoy are free, or almost, and I always got more money than I needed to afford them. Therefore, I don’t usually count much, knowing that I have enough.

But at that moment, it wasn’t the case anymore. I started worrying about it, and when I’m worried, I act in pretty messy ways. As I’ve mentioned, I’m no big-spender, and most of my expenses are related to my mortgage, grocery, and yoga classes. Knowing that I couldn’t cut back on my mortgage and neither on my yoga classes (that’s a non-negotiable for me), there was one thing left to be careful about: grocery.

I started counting little things, details, to try to see how I could diminish the cost of food. I already do not eat much out of the house, and I prepare most of my stuff, so there wasn’t much room to cut down expenses there. Then, as I was having breakfast one day with my boyfriend, I finally found a way to reduce my expenses. The solution was sitting right in front of me, eating five bananas, three eggs, two large pita breads and making it go down with about a liter of coffee: I could simply stop sharing grocery with my boyfriend.

Taking into account that since he is a man, he eats more than me (which still has to be proved though) and that being a very active man, he eats even more, splitting grocery seemed to make sense. I found even more arguments to support that brilliant idea. Given the fact that our schedules were pretty different at the time, we were not sharing a lot of meals together anymore. Plus, he loves sausages and buys fish, meat and eggs, while most of my diet is vegetarian, and everybody knows that meat is a lot more expensive than tofu.

My boyfriend is amazing, and loves me very much. Even though he wasn’t very excited about the idea, he accepted to do as I wanted. And there we were, each with our side of the fridge, separating kitchen cabinets, asking each other if we could borrow an apple for breakfast occasionally, always making sure to buy it back the day after.

Next to each other isn’t the same as together

We were basically living next to each other, just like any other couple right? No sorry, just like any other roommates. Splitting things this way had a much more profound effect on our couple than I would have expected. As I started counting, we both started losing. I was clearly not giving without expectations anymore. We lost that sense of sharing everything together, that precious bond between two people who love each other. We were living under the same roof, yet not sharing the same home, the same food. It felt off.

Did I save any money? I don’t know actually, and I’m lucky enough today to be able to not really care anymore again, as I found a new job who allows me to have a steady income every two weeks. My boyfriend and I are now back to sharing grocery, but it feels like much more than splitting the bill. There is no more of the “you give one, I take one” mentality in our house, as everything is for anyone to take. The meals are not anymore calculated to be equal for both parties, with ingredients taken from each other’s grocery: the food is both ours to be taken, shared, and enjoyed. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Given the importance of sharing, and its profound effect on the way I feel, I am starting to wonder if there are other areas in my life where I could start sharing more. Where am I also trying to save up? Where am I trying to control instead of sharing simply and freely?

I believe I might tend to do so too in my relationships sometimes. It’s much more easy to feel in control when you repress from sharing your true self. But is it worth it? I believe it might not, that when we stop sharing, may it be food, our thoughts, our emotions, we are missing on an occasion to connect, to share something much deeper: love and meaning.

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