Stupid lonely me


These past few weeks have been unremarkable (aside from my brief reincarnation as the Incredible Hulk a few days back, that is). Ben comes and goes, much like the postman, only he camps out on the futon for a few days in between the coming and the going. He also takes Rosie to gymnastics on Sundays and collects her from school on Mondays.

He does more than that – much more. He cooks and does some essential cleaning – stuff I would never have time to get to, like mowing the lawn or cleaning the oven (yes, he really did clean the oven).

These are all helpful things. No doubt, his way of contributing given he hasn’t the means to contribute financially. Still, I can’t help wondering whether they are also his way of compensating for being distant and unapproachable.

Travelling companions

As the sun finally shows its face and the heat creeps into our bones, I find my thoughts travelling somewhere else, back to those moments of escape we thrived on so many years ago: a beach in Mombassa, a balcony in Kerala, a hilltop in Chiang Mai, twilight in Perth’s King’s Park, a Parisian ferris wheel, a ruin in Sri Lanka, a beluga whale in eastern Quebec, a foggy moor in the Lake District, the banks of the Thames. On and on and on and on – so many paths beaten in curiosity, so many chances to witness another part of this world and our place in it.

And when I’m back there, treading that route in bite-sized vignettes, I think how easy it would be to just slide these two halves together: the past and the present, and simply move forward. Why waste the last precious moments we have in this world contorted with bitterness? Why not close our eyes to the past and agree that we need to make this the best it can be, because this is all we have?

Trick of the light

Invariably, these thoughts dance up when I’m on my way home. They catch me when I’m alone, staring into an impossibly blue sky, or while I’m walking through the park with Rosie, both of us made stupid by the sun glancing off the fields.

And then Ben comes round and says the usual 10 words to me. He lies on the couch, nesting under a green blanket, and murmurs from time to time. It isn’t conversation. He speaks as if no one wants to listen. And because I can’t hear him, and because it is too much of an effort to keep asking him to speak a little louder because I’m deaf in one ear, I don’t want to listen. And if, by chance, we look at each other, his expression is flat and uninterested.

These thoughts, these memories, are from another era. They are aliens from another world, suddenly made visible by a trick of the light. Because when I’m sitting next to Ben on the couch, with the TV tuned to some dreadful piece of drivel (white noise that he uses to lull himself to sleep), the feasability of sliding those two halves together vanishes, replaced by an ever-widening crater.

Some things are irreparable.


10 thoughts on “Stupid lonely me

  1. I was visiting with a dear friend of mine last weekend. Her husband is an alcoholic and quit drinking 8 years ago. She was telling me he spent 9 months in a funk like Ben is in now. She said she finally couldn’t take it anymore and she went up to the local university and registered him for school. She filled out all the papers, requested financial aid, signed him up for classes, and simply gave him the forms to sign and told him “you are going to college.” She said she was a patient with his recovery as she could be for as long as she could be, but eventually she realized if she was going to stay sane and they were going to keep their marriage, she was going to have to be the one to kick start his re-entry into the world.

    • I don’t know. Our relationship was already broken, I think. When he’s with his rehab friend (playing squash or going to AA meetings), he sounds happy and engaged. He only withdraws when he’s around me. I can’t kick-start anything with him. I’ve tried so many times throughout our many years together, and I’m fed up. I know that sounds petty, but I’m tired of always picking things up and sorting things out. For once, I’d like him to make an effort to keep our relationship going. I know that’s a lot to ask of someone in recovery. I guess I’m just not that person any more.

      • That makes perfect sense. I’ve heard my friend say some of the same things. Their relationship was broken too. Terribly. He cheated on her and would get physical with her when he was drunk, knocking her down, throwing her down stairs, etc.
        After he got sober, he refused to talk to her, or even acknowledge her. He says now it’s because he was so ashamed, and couldn’t really remember how bad it was because he blacked out so much. He says he couldn’t face the truth, and thought if he so much as said “hi” she would have unleashed her fury. She says she probably would have.
        I don’t know why she stayed, but she did and now they’ve been married 18 years, though only happily for about 6. They are not the norm, though.

      • I think guilt has a lot to do with his reticence. But we have a history of problems. No beating up or anything like that – he was a sad drunk. He has just always been aloof since day 1. And why did I stay with him? It’s a question I ask myself daily.

      • My friend says she stayed because of the vow of marriage, that she thought she owed it to God to stay. It’s an argument I’ve heard from many. You’re already doing life and parenthood on your own as much as if you weren’t married. You’ll do what’s best for you and Rosie. You love Rosie and you have your head on your shoulders; you may not feel like it all the time, but you do.

      • On is on, yes. And backwards isn’t always so bad…you can see how far you’ve come.

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