I knew. I knew a thousand times over.
I promise myself that I will write this once. I will write and I will leave it. I won’t retouch it or second guess it. I will not apologize for it.
I won’t forget it but I will not live in it. I will not bathe in the sadness of it. The anguish of the emptiness that defines this part of my life.
This hollow part in my center.
I have not allowed myself to really feel despair to this point. The literal mourning to my core that makes me question, can I do this today? Can I do this life?
I spent years, ten of them married, making sure that someone else was OK. I lived for it. I lived to take care of someone else. I felt responsible. I never felt trapped or obligated. I never felt stuck or unsure.
If anything, I was sure. I was certain. I was certain that if I tirelessly loved this man without end I could make him better. I could make him love me the way that I loved him.
I could make him love being a father. I could make him love being a husband. I could make him love his life. I could wait him out. He would return to me.
I really did believe that.
But underneath, I knew. If I replayed all the things he’s said or done to me that he’s long forgotten, or buried in shame, I knew a thousand times.
We stood outside all that.
I loved him relentlessly through everything.
I loved him through addiction. Recovery. Relapse. Unemployment. Bankruptcy. Home loss. Mental illness. Lying. Betrayal. Loneliness. I had such an uncompromising determination to believe that so much was out of his control to the point that no matter the amount of hurt it caused me, it suddenly occurred to me that it would never actually end.
I clung to small moments of happiness like a child clings to their lovey in their sleep. I carried them around like fragile pieces of glass, and they got me from minute to minute, month to month…year to year.
I know what it feels like to love someone so loyally and unconditionally that I overlooked and compartmentalized so much and so well that I literally drowned in my own care giving. I drowned out everything I ever wanted, everything I ever thought it would be, everything it should have been because I believed that somewhere, deep down, the man I married was inside.
But when the divide between two people in a queen bed is so wide that being in the same room literally gave me panic attacks, or when reaching for your lover’s hand and they don’t respond, or worse, pull away, you know. When they lie in the dark and whisper “You deserve better than I can give you” and roll over to the other side. When you glance in their direction across the room, and they look away…every time. When you send the kids for a sleepover so you can eat a meal that consists of something other than fish sticks or pancakes and make love all over the house, or dance in the kitchen, or get silly drunk on the deck or go for a walk and be quiet…and none of that actually happens and instead you end up on two different couches, in the dark, dying inside.
That is what the part before the end feels like.
I remember following him out to his car one morning before work. I didn’t have shoes on and the driveway needs repaving. The gravel hurt my feet. My insides hurt more.