It’s difficult to put into words, this. A few days ago, I had an uncharacteristically candid phone call with Ben. I told him a few truths I hadn’t expected to share with him so soon. He was very calm and understanding at the time, but the next day, when I tried to ring him and couldn’t get through, I fell into a panic, half-expecting him to turn up drunk on my doorstep.
This hasn’t happened. Instead, Ben has resorted to his usual passive aggressive strategy of simply refusing to answer my phone calls. I’ve phoned him every evening since we last spoke, so that Rosie can speak to him (and so I can find out how he’s doing), but each time, I’ve been unable to reach him.
There are two ways of looking at this. Either he is being genuinely passive aggressive and refusing to have any contact with me, and by extension, Rosie. Or he is really working on his recovery.
Each time I ring, they tell me he is at an AA meeting. The AA meetings run until 9pm. Rosie is asleep by then, so hasn’t spoken to her dad for a few days now. And neither have I. I think it’s great that he is at the AA meetings, of course. But what about Rosie?
In a couple of weeks, I’ll be allowed to visit Ben at the rehab centre. But I suspect he doesn’t want to see me – or Rosie. I wish I knew for sure. I wish he would just speak plainly, without all this white noise.
So, is this really it? Of all the ways I imagined our marriage ending, this wasn’t one of them. We’ve had such spectacular bust-ups in the past, it seems out of character to be bowing out without any drama – or even a tortuous conversation.
I expect I’m over-reacting. He probably just needs a bit of time. Fortunately for him, time is what he has. But I can’t help feeling he will never change. This furtive avoidance, this tendency to dissemble, this refusal to confront an issue squarely – all of these things are entrenched behaviours for Ben. I don’t think rehab will address them.
I should be happy, I suppose. Isn’t this what I have been wanting all along? To be on my own? Well, not really. I’ve always expected Rosie to have some contact with Ben, wherever he is. I’m disappointed that he doesn’t feel the same way. I’m disappointed that he is letting whatever bilious feelings he has mustered against me, crowd Rosie out of his heart.
In the end, he will lose out. I don’t need to keep ringing him. And yet, I do feel sad – lonely, even. What can I say? I am on my own – really on my own – out here in London. I sit at my computer or work on my projects, and the futon is empty. The flat is silent. And while I revel in that silence – love it for its comforting constance – I am cast adrift by it.
This morning, I was listening to Midweek on BBC Radio 4. Billy Bragg was talking about his new interpretations of old Woody Guthrie songs. This one caught my ear. Ben and I have broken the frontier of yonder. Our sun sets in the minor key. Our moon rises in extended silence.
- An irrational fear of being doorstepped by my husband (marriedtoalcoholic.wordpress.com)
- Counting down to lift-off (marriedtoalcoholic.wordpress.com)