I struggle sometimes when speaking about the past.
Not the with emotions, not any more thank goodness. Those have been processed and purged.
And not even with the facts. Those have been accepted and analyzed.
But with the pronouns.
Sometimes, I might refer to “My first house” or “The pug I used to have.” And although factually true, those feel off. Because it wasn’t just my house, it was our house. Max wasn’t my dog, she was ours. Yet the use of the collective doesn’t feel right either. Because even though we were an “our,” that team has seen been disbanded. So I often end up stumbling over a hodgepodge of pronouns when recounting some story, making it sound as though I had some boomerang of a husband.
It would be handy to have some past form of collective pronouns. But English is complicated enough already.
It caught me off guard the first time I heard Brock refer to Tiger as, “Our dog.” He adopted the big-headed while I was barely in the picture and at the time Tiger became “ours,” I still didn’t share a home with Tiger or his daddy.
But Brock saw him as ours.
That simple pronoun classifying us as a team. A partnership. A family.
Over the next few years, I was always impressed with Brock’s use of collective pronouns. The “I’s” replaced with “we’s” and “our” displacing much of “mine.” When he would misspeak, accidentally removing me with the use of a singular form, he would immediately correct his word choice with emphasis on the shared form.
As for me, it felt weird – in a good way – to transition pretty quickly from ours, to mine and back to ours, yet with a different him.
The words we choose are telling, often revealing more than we intend. As relationships move from dating into something more serious, it’s expected that the pronouns begin to shift as well.
Be mindful of those words –
If someone uses the collective too soon, it may be a sign that things are moving too quickly. If the singular stubbornly remains, it may indicate that the speaker is not all-in. If the shared forms are applied too generously, it can indicate that the individuals have lost themselves to the couple. And if somebody in a relationship starts to shift back into the singular form, listen to what they’re telling you.
As for me, I’m probably still going to call my first house, “Ourrr…My” house for a least a while longer. Because apparently it’s easier to get an ex husband out of your life than out of your choice of words.