So says Robert Frost.
One afternoon, my now ex and I were discussing adolescent rebellion. He said that while he had rebelled completely, I had not. Oh really? How do you rebel so completely, I asked. He gave me the usual litany: long hair, earrings, the goatee he still wears, his music, his friends, his non-traditional career path. In my mind he barely rebelled at all apart from the usual trappings. That he had chosen a non-traditional career path was true, but then again his father had chosen a non-traditional path as well. The rest was window dressing.
When you grow up, as I did, in a household where expressing emotion is, well, discouraged dealing with strong emotions, hell ANY emotions, can be difficult. It is best to bury or sublimate; tuck your feelings away or find a more socially acceptable outlet for them and move on. Maintaining the facade, a facade built on secrecy, of the good family was paramount to my parents. My parents prided themselves on a what goes on in the house stays in the house policy. My sister and I were free to say whatever we liked in the house, but it went no further. The strange thing is that I don’t remember us talking about anything, ever. My parents may have discussed politics, current affairs, church, work, but I don’t remember my sister and I contributing. What conversation there was was never animated. One of the few outbursts I remember occurred when my sister took my mother’s “you can tell me anything” speech to heart and told her she had slept with her then boyfriend. Our mother called her a slut and a whore and damaged goods. She told my sister no decent man would ever want her. She threw my sister out of the house, then sent our father after her when she tried to leave. You think I would have learned from this lesson, but I didn’t. I tried talking to my mother about what it means to be a modern, single, middle-aged woman in the world. I try to talk to her about work, friends, dating, love, sex, feeling invisible. I so wanted to believe that I could tell her anything. It’s like going to the hardware store for groceries; you won’t find strawberries amongst the screwdrivers.
In short, I am woefully unequipped to deal with the emotions that I am experiencing. I want them to go away. They can go out for drinks or hang out on the therapist’s sofa for a while and leave me in peace. So here goes. Here’s what I’m feeling. (These are in no particular order except the one that percolates from my brain):
- I’m glad it’s over and he’s sailing further and further away. He just told me he is leaving our synagogue. I don’t think it will be long before he is out of my life entirely. I wouldn’t be surprised if I get a wedding invitation. Maybe I’ll go.
- I think he is mentally ill and I am glad to be away from him.
- I’m relieved I never have to worry about whether he will hold down whatever job he has at the time. My mother recounted an episode where he told the head of the department his study was flawed. Shortly after that his bosses informed him that they didn’t have the money to fund him. Few things are as stressful as waiting to hear whether your husband’s grant funding came through and whether you will be a single- or dual-income household.
- I’m so glad I got the cat. Just the other day I was telling a friend how we had been through a lot together the cat and me.
- I see glimpses of the man I fell in love with and I know it won’t last. He is on his best behaviour right now but eventually the facade will crumble. I see him for what he is.
- I mourn the loss of the man I met and fell in love with. I had him for two years then he vanished.
- I mourn the life I gave up in New York.
- I mourn the loss of the woman I was.
- I mourn the end of a relationship.
- I mourn the loss of a companion and partner. While it is better to be alone than in a bad relationship, I’ve still lost something.
- I mourn the end of the good times.
- I mourn the loss of regard. It’s one thing to not care about getting someone’s good opinion, it’s quite another when your spouse no longer respects you and you don’t know why.
- I’m angry at myself for staying.
- I’m angry at him for not having the courage to leave when he was so unhappy.
- I’m angry that he didn’t take me up on my offer to be a bicoastal couple.
- I’m angry that I dropped everything and moved around the country; sacrificing my career for what?
- I’m angry that I didn’t see the writing on the wall for what it was.
- I’m angry that he ignored me when I asked for help around the house.
- I’m angry that he found someone so soon. My male friends tell me that they moved on quickly when their relationships (not marriages) ended. My therapist tells me it demonstrates a lack of regard for the relationship. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
- His sense of his own self-importance is maddening.
- This whole episode has done a number on my sense of self-worth.
- I’m angry that I didn’t see the same behaviour patterns in my now ex that I saw in my father.
- I’m mad that I wasn’t kinder to myself. I should have treated myself better.
- I’m surprised at how much I don’t miss him.
- I’m amazed at how quickly that happened.
- I’m surprised how many people were concerned for my safety. That they said nothing until after does not come as a surprise.
- Considering that I don’t miss him, the depth of sadness that comes over me at times has caught me off guard.
- That we still have amicable conversations comes as a surprise.
- I miss intimacy.
- I miss sex, even though I’ve probably never had good sex in my life.
- Yes, the two are separate and interconnected. Personally, I’m not the type for one without the other. That’s why I’m not on Tinder. I missed out on most of the online dating thing, so to me being 46 and on Tinder is the sort of thing The Kids in the Hall would have lampooned.
- I am firmly ensconced in my blanket fort with my cocoa and my graham crackers and my books and some movies. I don’t want to hear about flirting or crushes or dating. I don’t want to hear about other people’s sex lives. I don’t want to see people kiss at the end of services. I don’t want to hear about soul mates. No wedding blessings please, unless the phrase, “it’s a trap” is included. And I will do just about anything to avoid a baby naming. The professionals call this cocooning and it is normal. Wikipedia, however, likens it to agoraphobia and hermiting. I will continue to labour under the delusion that it is normal.
There are many more emotions swirling around, but these are the ones I can put to paper, as it were, today.