I had never felt so alone . The feeling was overwhelming, a severe and sickening loss, like the dismembering of something beautiful, my chest caved and gut full of rot. It was my turn to suffer the way he did. The actualization of one of my biggest fears: being left.
I screamed at him, pleading, “Please, have mercy on me.”
Hurt comes in stages depending on the act.
It was pouring, the rain wouldn’t stop, it soaked through my shoes and up the leg of my pants. I didn’t feel safe until the loud thug of my car door slammed shut. I cranked the engine, blasting the heat, trying to comfort myself. It was New Year’s Eve Day, the most ironic day of the year to be at the attorney’s office. Why we chose that day of all days, I can’t really say. However, he did say, “I want to get this over with today.” I told him, “I’m not sure that can happen.”
Whenever I hear people say, “I felt like I was dreaming,” I know what they mean, but I’m usually critical of their lack of words or description. However sometimes there are no other words to describe being awake, yet in a foggy-coma like a dream state, and that’s exactly how I felt. The other, more basic word that describes it is denial. I didn’t want to believe what was happening, I wanted to push it down through my body and out, anything not to feel the heaviness of my situation when he told me, “I can’t give you what I was giving you before.”
Driving in my car, hands tight on the wheel, my lips begged to quiver, but I silenced them, I had to remain strong. I couldn’t let her see me that way. This was all too upsetting for her, even though I explained many times that it was nobody’s fault. As I neared my house I spotted the neighborhood cat I was trying to make my own.
Tinkerbell the cat showed up a few months ago, my neighbor said she’d given her away but was forced to take her back. She made her an outdoor cat hoping someone would take her in for safe keeping. I lured her to my porch with kibble and a plush bed inside a partially overturned rubbermaid-bin. I was excited to have a cat to pet and talk to when I got the mail, another animal to woo, to charm into falling in love with me, and cats are the most finicky of all lovers. My ego expanded knowing that I’d enticed her into my world, that she would give me purrs and knead dough in my lap.
However, on this day she wasn’t at my house, she was up the street at my neighbor’s. I saw her black triangles, and green peepers sticking up and out of an even fancier, fluffier bed than the one I had provided. I saw two little bowls next to the bed, and the long stretch of roof that housed it all. My heart rate increased, body tensing. I couldn’t take one more thing.
I drove down the driveway, coaxing myself to pull it together. It was New Years Eve, and Susan was upstairs waiting for me to ring in 2013 with her. We had the whole evening planned, a menu of homemade Cuban Shrimp, a bottle of Prosseco, music, and dancing together in the kitchen, wood from under the house to make folk art, and chocolate.
She greeted me at the door, concern in her eyes, “Hey babe, how did it go today?” I shrugged, how could I tell her, what could I tell her? All the thoughts ran through my head, the way I try to control outcomes, I didn’t know my move here. I was out of plays, one because I’m not that girl anymore, and two because nothing is real except for the truth.
I avoided her question, instead I said, as my voice cracked, “I saw Tinkerbell at Tom’s, he has a bed out front for her. She doesn’t want me anymore, she left me.” I went to arms, rubbing my eyes in the shoulder crease of her shirt. She said, “Love, Tinkerbell didn’t leave you, she’s just trying to take care of herself. She’ll be back to visit. She’s a smart cat looking for the best home. Tom told me he’s considering adopting her, he even spoke to his vet.” Through a mouthful of tears, I moaned, ” What? She is leaving me. I thought she was going to be my cat. I’m the one who loves her.” The pain was almost unbearable. I was shaking. She knew it wasn’t really about the cat.
I cried for a minute and then pulled away from her wiping my eyes. She fixed me a cheese plate and a glass of wine. I picked out some music, and folded into my chair, I was exhausted, empty, emotionally disabled, yet my shoulders still clung to my ears, jaw grinding out an anxious tune. I sat watching her in the kitchen, and listening to Glen Hansard, as he sang, “Echos of another time, playing lightly on my mind. There’s many rivers still to cross, temper the bitterness in love. Though what you say is true, this might be it for me and you, maybe we can draw that line, maybe another time.” His words pierced me, they spoke of the complex feelings I have for two people. My tears continued to pool while she diced the vegetables, and in that moment everything was going to be okay.
I felt so sad, alone, and abandoned by him, but knowing-in the way a survivor knows she’s made it-that this was the price I had to pay to be with her. I hadn’t ever really suffered, everything had gone my way. I mean I struggled a lot with the guilt about what divorce would mean for my children, but I personally never felt such an enormous loss of the relationship. I was just now morning something that should’ve been taken from me three and half years ago, and that’s what made it so much harder. He was finally letting me go, and for once I felt the depth of his sadness at the on-set of it all, as my own, and the pain stung.
I was selfish, I had everything, her love, and his stability, and that wasn’t fair to either of them. It had to come down. The moment I was really able to understand the loss he suffered is when I felt my own, until then I never knew the depths of his pain. I couldn’t stand knowing I’d hurt him that way, but I also knew I couldn’t have stayed just to keep him from it, that would’ve been cruel, and unjust. It was my turn to taste the hurt, the primal fears in my face, and my chance to give him, and myself what he gave me, freedom, flying lessons.
To Be Continued.