Monday, November 28, 2011

Truth Found The Light Of Day


The words hit me. There was a kind of tunnel vision effect. Time slowed down. I was enveloped in a kind of quiet buzzing and my vision blurred... Soon I realized that I was furiously angry: How could you say that to me now? I'm unemployed and going through the worst time in my life and you choose this moment to tell me that?

The words came like daggers to my heart.

A mere five minutes before I had been asked to sit on the couch for a minute cause "we needed to talk". Not exactly a common event between my wife and I but this being exceptional times, not all that alarming to me at the time. Then everything went sideways. What do you mean by "Done"? Did I misunderstand you? What do you mean exactly? My wife of 22 years just told me that our marriage is over. Been over for a while in fact.

Something not entirely new, yet it was...

This was not actually the first time the subject had been brought up between us. On two or three other occasions my wife had expressed her unhappiness with our relationship. There was the time she went out for drinks and conversation with a friend from work without telling me. They did nothing more than hold hands, but I felt betrayed, inadequate, and ashamed the same as if it had been a more carnal affair. On another occasion she spent the weekend in a hotel to reflect and write. She came back seemingly having arrived at the conclusion that she loved me but needed more from me. On still another occasion I was banished from the house for a few days, which I spent at my Brother's place, then in the guest bedroom for a few days until we reconciled.

This time was starkly different - Awfully, agonizingly, irrevocably different.

After each episode, there was talk about what needed to change, and each time there were exhortations that I needed to do "more" - give more help around the house, help more in the decision making, keep up better on the home repairs... etc... all things to "do". None of these things made much of a difference though. Not because of a lack of trying, no there was tremendous effort to be more of a "doer". Not that at all. Instead it was due to not one iota of it being relevant. Not even almost. It was not what I was doing or what I wasn't doing, but the fact that it was me!


After all, hadn't she told me when I came to her all broken up about being laid off that she couldn't support me in this? Yes, She had. And just like every other time I couldn't understand why she was turning against me. I chalked it up to her problems. She has a history of depression and self loathing of varying degrees. She was grossly overweight the entire time I knew her. (Not that it mattered to me, I loved her despite her problems.) She was the product of a less than ideal family situation, one where alcoholism and poverty tore her parents apart when she was pretty young. I didn't care. I just knew that I could love her through anything... But not this!

There was no denying it. I knew it in the very core of my being...

Finally my deepest most secret fears were realized. Never allowed to see the light of day before, these suddenly free terrors burst forth, shattering my reality. They were behind a new awareness that overwhelmed me like an ocean wave that knocks one down and pounds you into the sand leaving you dazed, half drowned, and gasping for air. I suddenly knew why we were the way we were, and there was no escaping it....

We were going to separate.

Soon after that evening we sat across the table from one another enjoying our favorite dishes from our favorite Chinese buffet. We were talking, better than we usually do - heck maybe better than we ever did. The conversation was substantial, meaningful and relevant. Far from trivial, deeper, much deeper than small talk. I am keenly aware that this is probably how successful couples talk... but we are not successful. We are just the opposite. We are divorcing. Through tearful, wonderful, bittersweet words the truth is revealed. The truth that I already knew, but never knew. There was the fact that made it all finally make sense. The key to why there was always an undertone of uneasiness circling at the edges of my conscience.  The bombshell that didn't surprise but that nevertheless crushed everything I had been, I was, and I hoped to be.

She did not love me.

Wham! Again the spinning, the gut wrenching feeling. My world fell away and I was engulfed in a buzzing sound like a microphone with it's jack only half plugged in amplified through headphones glued to ones head - there was no escape from the painful reality.

I was on my own.

In a tone and manner that seemed way too nonchalant, no - happy is a better word - in a way that was much to "happy", she was speaking to me from out of the chaos. As far as she could tell she never really had loved me. She loved the idea of being married, of not being alone, of belonging... but did not love me. Probably not ever. She said it again - I don't love you. It was obvious it was not repeated for my benefit, but instead it seemed to be for her own benefit, to be sure she had actually spoken the words. Words that had never been allowed to pass from her lips, but that had burned inside of her for a very long time.

And though I didn't understand it at the time, thus began my second life.