This one involves navel gazing, because we’ve reached that stage, apparently.
The crying at the gynecologist’s office last week forced me to think about intimacy. One of the many cruelties inflicted by husband is that he left when I reached the–ahem–prime of a woman’s early 40s. Of all the deprivations, that is not the worst, but it is not the least of them, either, to leave me hanging like that as I was blossoming. After sitting with it for a week, I appreciate that sexuality is something we shared for most of our adult lives, but we shared it. I have my own. And that’s about as far as I’ve gotten with that.
I saw an image of a long-haired man wearing a baby in a grocery store, invoking memories of husband’s sweet babywearing days. But I can’t figure out what that means anymore. When we had babies, we were building a life together, so full of hope for our family. Those hopes have been dashed, and I don’t know how to read the past anymore. Were those hopes of the happy days all a lie? I don’t know what hope means in the past when the dreams weren’t realized. It’s like rereading a novel, when the ending changes the way you read the chain of events. I don’t know how to tell the story of my own life, now that I know how it ends up. That became so fraught that my memory got blocked again this week. The one difference this week is that I was looking at the past not to understand husband but to make sense of myself and my own life. I’m starting to think of myself as a discrete individual.
I overshared with some friends and admitted that I just don’t give a shit about things. I feel so detached. One of the friends, a poet, interpreted that conversation like a text and later returned a touching insight. I am detached, indeed; I’ve been detaching from what I knew–I threw out carloads of things this summer, and I am detaching from this relationship, and from how I understood myself. But, she added, I am making new attachments–with people, with new things to do, with new ways of understanding the world. My life is being unravelled and rewoven at the same time. All I see is the unravelling. She sees something else. O, to have a poet for a friend!
What I hear a lot is that I’ll get through this. What I hear a lot is that I am strong. I know I’ll get through it, damaged and weary and chastened maybe, but I know I will. I know I am strong, and I ‘m afraid that husband knew that, too. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to be strong. That’s why I ended up with him in the first place. I was responsible and did all the right things. He was flaky but brilliant, he didn’t care about the things he was supposed to but he was so thoughtful about things that didn’t seem to matter, he was irresponsible but got away with things, and he was so trenchantly witty. He allowed me to let go, to kick back. But there’s none of that anymore. Now I need to be strong, to get through the pain, but feeling this pain is my last attachment to him, and it is my loyalty to his own pain. But of course, I know I have to move through the pain, and when I do, I’ll be alone. Being alone will prolly be all right,* because I’m–you know–strong.
Realizing this set me to a widow’s wailing this morning. I didn’t feel like I was crying him out. It felt like I was crying myself away from him. It was so loud that the dogs fled and made themselves scarce. It lasted so long that the cat came around, not to make sure I was okay, but just to see what was up. She let me pick her up. I stopped crying. I made a pot of coffee and a cup of dandelion tea, because I wanted the one but figured I needed the other more.
*That’s an inside joke. Husband was delighted by some repairman who looked at a part (in a car, a piece of household equipment, I can’t remember) and, despite husband’s concerns about its state of disrepair, the repairman shrugged and pronounced, “It’ll prolly be all right.” Husband loved to say that when things looked dicey. And if he were here now and I admitted how scared I am, he’d say, It’ll prolly be all right.