(I wrote this on Friday night – we’ve only really confirmed the breakup properly tonight, so I’m posting it now, as I’ve been at a wedding all weekend. HA, irony.)
So, after a week of Maria skipping out every night, we’ve split up. She loves me, I love her, but it’s not enough. We discussed it recently, and our loving cup has turned from fine wine into purest vinegar; we argued constantly, our life aims differed (and hers were obessively inflexible) and it got to the point that she was constantly pushing away my increasingly desperate attempts at affection. I had to edit that sentence with a palpitative heart to transfer our relationship into the past tense; for me, it’s still live and I cannot let it go. I love her so much, I love her little happy face (which has become rarer and rarer), I love her daftness and idiosyncrasy. I love her sausage fingers and her funny toes, her foot-stomping tantrums and her beautiful smile.
I’m aware that, while she has affection for me, she’s fallen out of love with me more than I have with her. She’s been pushing me away, avoiding intimacy, and sleeping curled away from me in the bed. I would sit up and watch her, unable to hug her for fear of receiving a torrent of whinges. She’ll watch TV, but not with me, listen to music, but not mine, read books, but not the ones I give her. Again the present tense is creeping in, dammit. She was there, but not with me.
What’s really breaking my heart though, is my broken dreams. I dreamt of having little angry, hairy children together, playing with them, and hugging them. I can see them, feel them; I miss their never being born. I guess, to some extent, her size and shape gave me the impression of what they were like. I dreamt of her grown old and grey, rheumy-eyed and wrinkle-faced, but the same glint of mischief in there, old together, dying together. I dreamt of her happy and professional, with the office job she always wanted and deserved, tapping away like Daisy Steiner at the Colwyn Bay Gazette. I dream about her, I worked for her. We only have one life, and I wanted her to share it. Our lost future.
Tonight, I’ve been rolling around and screaming to myself, biting furniture so our landlord can’t hear my moans upstairs. I’m aware I’m taking this very badly. I’ve gone through the classic stages, of denial, rage, guilt, etc, starting sadly with a cliched self-awareness that ties all this together but doesn’t undermine it, or weaken it. I’m left with an admiration for her bravery and resilience in the face of her heartbreak and my tears, and I’m trying very hard not to give in and beg to be taken back – because she’s right, it would be no good for us. Yet all I can think, from behind this swollen sagging face, hot and sore on cheekbones, eyelids and nosetip, is of our love. And every time I think it, a burst of sour untargetted passion hits me, and the crying starts again. Snot and spittle and shaking and my eardrums blasting with the tension of it all.
Goodbye Maria. I loved you, you I, but it’s not enough. Is this what being grown-up is like?
So welcome to Square One. Opportunities balanced against loss. Three years of love and commitment, squandered. First step, think hard if my job is something I still want to do. I wanted something that could provide for her; despite the wage I’ve not kept up with the bills, and I’ve lost lots of self-respect in making that choice. Time to stand on my own two feet?
Meantime, I’ll crack out the Morrissey, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, and cry some more.
Who then devised the torment? Love,
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.
— W.H. Auden, Four Quarters. Little Gidding, IV (corrected attribution.)