I found a bookshop today. Phew! Of course the books were used but charged as new, but my desperation to lose myself into the chapters of other stories was of higher importance. Feel different emotions, become almost addicted to the reel that shows in my head like a movie, and the satisfaction to reach a conclusion. An end. And there’s something endearing about used books. When I buy books new, I’m careful not to crack spines, I don’t bend pages, I use bookmarks. They look unread, untouched. So when I read a used book, I consider the other people engrossed in the same story, wondering what they felt, how it related to them, if at all. If they were disappointed or enthralled.
I sat by the pool and began my journey. The heat simply got too much, and I started to feel sick from the intense heat, no breeze, the smell of sewage or something, maybe left out garbage adding to the queasiness.
I retreated to my air conditioned room.
Odd messages sent between myself and my husband. His responses obligatory, short, unemotional, so detached I could be messaging an acquaintance. Not the man I’ve spent most of my life with.
The man that I’ve seen cry at the birth of our children. The man that’s held me while I’ve cried, soothed nightmares. Enjoyed many dinners with, travelled with and accumulated stories and anecdotes that we usually regale over evenings together. Laughing so hard. Knowing each other’s habits, our pet hates, our quirks.
The man that once told me that he was asked to draw the perfect woman, then added so genuinely, well, it was you! The man that drove to One Tree Hill and wrote, I LOVE YOU PENNY in big rocks that could be viewed from the top of this huge hill. The man that buys my favourite flowers (sunflowers), that has stood by me unquestioning and unwavering. The man that once told me I was the most courageous person he knew.
Now I pass emails to him from my legal team, he does as requested but does it in autopilot. Mixed with work files and tax reports, ‘wife’s rape case paperwork.’ A kind of repitition to the chore. Words, statements blending together. Could be anyone now. Not the wife he proposed to over ice cream in our barely furnished little house in Australia – because we couldn’t afford to furnish it and relied on borrowed bits and pieces. Not the wife he referred to as his best friend. The woman that he used to look at with undying love and affection. That would always open the door for me, always give me his jacket when I was cold after a night out. The couple that’s slept in cars, tents, dodgy backpackers, fantastic local pubs and some of the most amazing luxury accomodation.
I am now the annoyance. The one asking for clarity, needing to find my place in my family. Although the mere fact that I had such a horrible motorbike accident didn’t spur him into action or emotion. Would he have gone through the motions then if I’d died? Do tax returns, get body back, attend work meetings, call a funeral place, drink coffee, reports to colleagues, set funeral date, arrange insurance payout.
His parents are helping with the children, supporting him. So I’m kind of a spare part. Waiting in the wings. Scared to push too hard in case I get shut out, scared not to show my need to make things right, not let my family down. Trying to find a balance.
I am feeling the brutal force of his boundaries – whether intentional or subconscious.
I like his opinion on things. He’s the considered one, I’m the spontaneous one. Of course we have argued in the past because of my tendency towards knee jerk reactions and his need for time and information gathering. But it’s worked in the past, he became more assertive and spontaneous and I became more able to research something or consider more facts.
But now my friends message with tenderness, care, concern and interest. My husband only responds and it’s usually when I’ve been direct about the travel insurance or money. The business exchanges.
When I’ve had bad nights, he’s heard it all before. When I’m sad, it’s too much for him. When I’m confused, it’s not really his problem.
He’s not being a dick. He’s tired. Tired from my issues, tired from fighting, tired of my anger bursts.
I’m not the person I used to be. I’ve let things corrode me, make me bitter, make me angry. Left me feeling that everything is unjust. Almost personal against me.
He quite rightly needs space from that. Time to consider his own feelings, as opposed to preempting and reacting to mine.
But these blows, they strike and they hurt. I can’t get used to this new demeanour. This new way of communicating. I want a glimpse of the old husband I knew. That connection.
I’m not really needed at home. I tell myself I am, to look after the kids, to support him. But he’s fine without me. They all are.
I built this expectation of detachment around me and now I’m horrified that it’s all I have.
I’m on a journey of self discovery and I don’t like what I see. I don’t like the damage I’ve created.