In that order. Though to be honest, the leaving had begun before I’d gone searching for the job. The decision had formed so incrementally I hadn’t even known I’d been forming one. Until one day, as ordinary and as profound as opening your eyes to a new day, I realized that walking away was my only option.
Having been married at this point for twenty years, that’s a long-ass dawning.
Except, you know that seven year itch? I’d gotten it. Way back then, merely seven years into our marriage, and I had audaciously scratched it by having an honest talk with the Hubs. Which went something like this: Hubs and I had gone to bed just like any other night–me first and him coming in sometime later. (Which was another red flag of doom, but I won’t unravel the thread here.) Anyway, the story: Our bed didn’t have a head board and was pushed up against the bedroom window–right at mattress level–exactly how we both liked it.
We were both in bed with the window open at our heads. Hubs was sleeping on his back and I was on my stomach, staring out into the night–because the window was right there at my face and I was staring out, breathing, and staring inward, too. That kind of thing. I was awake and hubs was just starting to doze and I gave words to the ache in my heart. God, I remember even all this time later the knot squeezing my throat, making my voice queer. The writer in me would say “reedy” but…
I said, “I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore.”
Hubs opened his eyes. It was dark, yeah, but you know how you know? It was like that. He woke up a little, my words registering along the cusp of his dreams. Then he sort of sighed, or his breathing changed, so I knew he was awake.
Staring out into the night and breathing that fresh air, I said, “I mean, I love you with all my heart, but I don’t think I’m in love with you.” My tone was utterly apologetic. I was apologizing for the hurtful thing I was saying because I did love him. For the things that was a list trailing the length of my arm. But. The one thing erasing that list, or regaling it to next-to-nothingness? I truly and utterly believed he didn’t love me.
Hubs had never been intentionally hurtful or hateful–and right there was the awfulness in what I was admitting. He was a good man. An honest man. A kind man, even.
But he was a neglectful man, and I needed attention. Which was stupid, right? And selfish. So, so ruinously selfish. I was laying there, staring off into the depths of the night, and I was telling hubs he was awful and not good enough and I didn’t love him anymore because he didn’t pay enough attention to me.
How self-absorbed it sounded! Which was why the apologetic tone oozed out of me as I was admitting my pain. My pain was self-ascribed, something that was my problem, not his. He’d done nothing wrong. Therefore, I had. There was something wrong with me! And as I stared inwardly into the night in front of me, my admission blasted away the barriers to truth…which was that I didn’t need to leave him and change my address. I needed to change the address in my head! I needed to change how I saw our relationship! If I did that, if I did away with my expectations then I would see how much he loved me. Who wouldn’t love that back?!?!
Well, you see the problem here, don’t you?
My epiphany disguised my cowardice as handily as a magician draping a kerchief over a table. I had caved. I had forgiven. I had shouldered the blame, making it all mine and somehow molding it into a newfound and shiny nugget of true love.
No wonder I escaped into writing novels about sex and monsters. In the next installment of Gypsy Writer Divorcee, I’ll get us closer to the leaving for the job part.