The truth can be a wild and desolate place. Thick with bracken, obscure and wet, it’s a place we flee from as much as we seek it out.
We returned from our family holiday earlier this week. It was our first since Ben has been clean. (Our previous holiday was some years ago – an ill-conceived trip to Morocco. Then, I took us to the old city of Fes, where I’d thought alcohol was prohibited. Turned out it was available – at a price – at our riad. Ben had been so desperate to keep how much he was drinking a secret that he left money in the public fridge for each can of beer he drank – money that vanished, of course, before it made it to the proprietor. The poor man looked incredulous when Ben admitted he’d left payment in the fridge. I was fuming, but that’s a story for another post.)
Anyway, we returned a few days ago, exhausted from days of walking through the wilds of England. We had fierce sunshine and black clouds in revolving door mode throughout most days. We walked for miles, Rosie included, climbing up tors and dodging sheep poo and cow pats. The mists descended and dissipated. The rain doused us. The sun dried us. Then the cycle started all over again.
We didn’t say much. There was not much more than feet trudging determinedly, then warily, along stony paths or through leggy bracken. I had fun. Rosie did, too. But on the train back, after Ben and I shared an irritable moment, I said: “You know, you never thanked me for taking us on holiday.”
“I only came for her,” he replied, pointing to Rosie. “I didn’t want to come.”
There it was: the truth I didn’t want to hear. You see, I think I imagined this holiday would do something to bind us as a family, perhaps open up something between us – give us an opportunity to really talk.
We had none of that. If anything, it underlined how far apart we are, and how much I need to move on and impose some sturdy boundaries to protect myself and my sanity. Ben has let go of the past. I am convinced he sees it as a burden, lacking current value. For me, memories of our early days are still vivid, still rich with feeling, even if that feeling now belongs somewhere else (in the past). It is a trick in my brain that allows me to feel something as I felt it before, even if that remembered feeling is only temporary.
His words hurt. I staggered from that truth, even as it came up from behind and embraced me. Truth is a place that holds every answer and nothing. The truth, the truth. Never quite the comfort you expect of it… until time works it into your bones.