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Posts Tagged ‘mid life crisis’

cathy

A wild and violent night, when the wind verbally abuses the rooftops and the shrill, anxious voice of the beech trees choruses the angry baritone of the sea against the hills. I’m standing outside again, revelling in the blows and buffets, a willing victim of each salt-spray slap.

Hysterical, in the ‘Cathy and Heathcliff’ not funny sense, so let’s rewind to the beginning.

It always seems to be the little things which start the arguments. This time we started over which actor played Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. You couldn’t make up the things which happen in a dysfunctional relationship; they are so funny in a dreadful, twisted way.

I was wrong (about the Captain), not surprisingly as my memory gave out years ago under the black weight of the past, but I can’t believe that I was so stupid, that I opened my mouth at all, that I haven’t learned how much anger can suddenly come out of a tiny, misjudged comment. I stood like a kid who has dropped a match into petrol and watched my world explode.

After the shouting, the accusations, the endless, endless dragging up of vile, decaying moments from our past, there was a haunted calm in which the two exhausted armies stared red-eyed across the battlefield, still strewn with those ugly, dead memories but beneath the wind quiet and sad now, waiting. Finally, we called a truce on all references to the past and met as grownups for the first time in years. We walked that grim war-ground together until two or three am but all we could agree was that there is nothing, nothing but sadness; nothing he wanted or could offer me at all.

So I said goodbye. I moved into the guest bedroom and I brooded through the storm into the long bleak dawn but I still don’t know whether I was throwing one more shot to shock him into standing up and loving me – would that even be possible? Or did I honestly, bravely decide that I lack the strength and patience to live in slavery, waiting for someone to say that I have earned their love? My turn to say those three little words; like him, I don’t know – but now we don’t know alone.

So, after all, this is Wuthering Heights, not The Sound of Music; Maria will not earn the heart of her Captain and however hard the wind blows the hills will be dead and silent forever.

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black hole

Yesterday my husband told me that he does not recall one happy memory from our marriage. Could there be any words in any language from any time to follow that? I had thought that the day I woke up had to be the lowest of my life, but it turned out to be the first step down the long winding staircase from my tower into a dark netherworld I had no idea existed.

How did I feel: There are no words for that either, just a picture; the CGI swirling black hole which always features at the low point of the disaster movie, only inside him, inside me, inside our relationship, pulling in the light, the warmth, the joy, sucking in everything. I didn’t feel. A black hole is a region of space-time from which nothing can escape, even light: I was gone.

Imagine throwing something into the air. The harder you throw, the faster the object is travelling when it leaves your hand and the higher it will go before turning back. If you throw it hard enough it will never return, the gravitational attraction of earth (or me) will not be able to pull it back down. The velocity the object must gain to escape is known as the escape velocity. I think he is throwing his cruelty at me, harder and harder, to try to reach his escape velocity – eventually he’ll throw something so cruel so hard that he’ll break free and never come back.

But in space,as the object travels it is crushed into a smaller and smaller volume, the gravitational attraction increases, and so the escape velocity gets bigger. Things have to be thrown harder and harder to escape. Eventually a point is reached when even light (which travels at 186 thousand miles a second) is not travelling fast enough to escape. At this point, nothing can get out as nothing can travel faster than light. This is a black hole; this is where we are.

Of course, you can’t see a black hole in space (because it absorbs light); science can only tell us that there are good reasons to believe they exist – which, if you are not a scientist, puts black holes high up on the ‘don’t discuss at dinner’ shelf along with deities, ghosts and conspiracy theories. I’m more a believer than a sceptic by nature (otherwise I wouldn’t be going through this!) but in the depths of my darkness, a thought whispered in my ear like a naughty fairy:
What if I just didn’t believe him?

Not believing people isn’t nice. Relationships are built on trust and respect and that involves a commitment to accept what people say at face value, more or less. But there are times when we accept, for good reasons, what someone tells us without actually believing it – when Grandma says she still sees Grandpa sitting by the fire, when your child tells you they have stomach ache and can’t go to school. It doesn’t mean it’s true, it means it’s true for them and it lets you know where they are at that time. Grandma misses Grandpa, Charlie is feeling anxious or afraid;

my husband is a very depressed and angry man.

I need help.

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rock-in-water

After feeling cheerful and positive yesterday, back to reality. It is Monday morning and he is getting ready to leave again, his mind already elsewhere, a note of tension in his voice. To be fair, he is trying to make polite conversation in the kitchen – but it isn’t going well. Then he asks me a question which makes me cringe inside; it’s an apparently innocent question about the young friends I saw yesterday but I know there is no answer I can give which will not wind him up and set him ticking like the clock on a time bomb. If I don’t answer, he’ll be furious, so I do my best; I fail, the rant starts …

Eventually he notices that I have stopped trying to think of responses and so he turns the sharpness on me. How can we talk when I’m crashing around the kitchen? (I’m filling the dishwasher) How can he be expected to talk to me when I’ve been so rude this morning? His words bruise me like stones but I know better than to react or show my hurt.

Have I been rude? I’m no saint, but I’ve been trying so hard to stay calm and polite. I stop doing chores, turn around, make eye contact (which makes me realise how often I avoid that) and try- really try – to be soothing, gentle, positive. It’s just so demoralising knowing that his bitterness is crouching there, waiting for a tiny excuse to pounce, even an imagined excuse.

I think when we get to a certain point on our downward spiral we begin to see the world in such a dark way that no-one can make a situation happy for us. Insult lurks in every comment; the life experiences of the sweetest young people become a contemptible heap of errors. We lose perspective, humility, generosity and joy.

And so a dear, dear man, who was once a laughing, loving boy with a thrilling appetite for life becomes a bitter, angry, spiteful old man, hoarding his hurts like a miser’s gold. I say old, although he is the same age as me, because nothing seems to age a person like anger. Anger’s stern grey lines mark his face like time’s mapmaker, but none of the journeys have happy endings.

If you want to be happy and stay young, learn to let time wash away life’s scars; be a rock, steadfast in the river of your experiences, feeling life as a cool caress as it laps and tumbles against your gleaming skin.

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silence

This week I have been on a journey and I have discovered that, like Alice, I have well and truly lost my muchness. There’s no sign of me, no sign of my relationship. The one good I can get from this is that, since the past is completely broken and lost to me, I have to start from where I am now.

I know I said that I would be terrified of a New Year resolution list at the moment, but I have been thinking about how strongly I need to do something to initiate change, and finally I thought ‘I need a list’; so here are the things which I would like to change to improve my relationship. Because I cannot make changes outside myself, this list is about me.

There are ideas here which might make some people very angry; I do know that women have fought hard and in many places are still struggling for the rights which I seem to be planning to give away. But I am a long way into this relationship and have succumbed to the temptation to use short cuts when I deal with and speak to the man I love.

So the idea behind this list is to make myself focus on ways that I have overstepped the boundaries of respect, kindness and polite behaviour – to remind myself to walk carefully without treading on another person’s feelings.

Things I will change to improve my relationship with my husband

1. My insistent opinion. It’s not till I try not to disagree or contradict that I realise what an argumentative person I am at the moment. It is anti-modern and personally almost impossible to give up my right to express my opinion, but I can see him flinch and close up every time I indulge myself, so enough.

2. My desire to be right. I’m no more likely to be right than anyone else, so why do I assume that I am correct? In order to be right, I make him is wrong; I can see how that must hurt.

3. My criticism. When you’re with someone a lot they get on your nerves; the mannerisms you used to love, how much they snore, whether they work too hard or not hard enough. I have slipped gradually into the habit of letting many little things annoy me and worse, of commenting on them. That must be debilitating. I’ve also been so hard on myself that I need a drop of mercy too.

4. My sexuality. I love my husband and I feel a strong attraction towards him. It’s increasingly painful that he is unhappy to be close to me, to be touched by me or to accept any gestures of affection, but I have to respect his boundaries. If I reverse the scenario, if he – a man – was pushing unwanted attention on me – a woman – the rules would be clear.

5. My lack of patience. I am frustrated, I want things and I want them now! But other people don’t always work to our time schedules, and I am aware that pushing to get what I want, the way that I would in business, is not appropriate or helpful, or kind. I have to wait.

A short list but how far I can succeed in restraining myself and keeping to it I don’t know; I just don’t know. But I will try, so don’t be angry – wish me luck!

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beach 027

A traditional walk on the beach on New Year’s Day is a fascinating opportunity for watching people in their relationships. Here, of course, are the self-absorbed young lovers, arms entwined; the happy, noisy families, scooping children out of the surf; the teenage tribes, walking off their awesome rave; the quietly satisfied old couples, secure as their interwoven fingers.

And us. Two separate figures walking the tideline, each of us the only person on earth. The day is breathtakingly beautiful; after weeks of gales and rain, the crisp blue sky which frames the sparkling sand and sun-bright spray is a glorious miracle. For a moment I remember summer and turn carelessly to share my happiness, but no, there is no shared moment, no smile returned; just a man alone with his pain.

I don’t upload images usually, but New Year, new idea, and this shot caught a moment; for the briefest time the beach ahead of me was completely without people, and as the spray blew across the sunlight, the momentary glory and emptiness of this image was exactly as the day felt for me. It was like looking at the first day of the world before the arrival of man, and of hope and sadness.

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Early morning found me standing alone – again – on the lawn, waiting for the sleepy January sun. It seemed like a meaningful gesture to go out and seek the dawn on New Year’s Day; I was not disappointed. The wind had dropped, the garden had somehow gathered its strength and appeared cool and quietly potent in the chill moonlight, a deep calm spreading with the shadows from the settling beech trees.

I have weathered a storm. Not gracefully, it’s true, but I feel like I have shaken off the old pain with the old year and woken with a bad headache but a remembrance of who I used to be, who I could perhaps be again. Has rejection forced me to turn to what I have left – myself? Or am I just a typically contrary woman, changeable as last night’s gale, spinning the weathervane of emotion till I am dizzy?

Well I’m steady today at least, and I face the new day with the will to make a resolution. There are confident, brave and ambitious souls out there making lists – long lists! – of resolutions, but I don’t have the strength to write a bucket list, let alone walk around with its weight on my shoulders, so just one wish for this princess.

Resolution is such a resonant word; it can be passed as a formal expression of opinion, it means determination, it can be used to mean promise, we can resolve and be resolute. So much in this one word.

So this is my resolution for New Year, my promise to myself; to be resolute, to find resolution, to go where this journey has to take me, to find and to be myself – today, tomorrow, whatever.

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Last night I got very drunk, today I will be so, so sorry; I will probably read this and be very sorry indeed. But we all need a break and it doesn’t look like one is coming my way any time soon so I have taken the easy option for now; a bottle of wine, a lot of crying and a night of self pity and oblivion. Happy New Year.

I have tried so hard. I have been understanding, I have been patient. I have made myself as near what he wants as I can be. I was so pretty and I smelled divine and I kissed him – and he held me a little too firmly by the arms and said no, behave.

No, behave.

The Samaritans, he told me, have a support group for despondent men and my despondent husband is part of that. This dreadful disclosure filled me with guilt and pain for him – until he explained how he has to remain in control to ‘manage the damage’. Then I realised that it is this control which is orbiting our marriage like a cold, ominous Death Star, crushing it with restraint and fear and threat.

I’m alone and desperate and drunk enough to fall down. The Samaritans intervention on one side of this relationship has left me unchampioned and alone, their support system has creating a monster, giving an implacable justification to the distance, the denial, and the cruelty of everything he does; permitting him to step back and abandon me, to save himself rather than our marriage.

From somewhere nearby I can hear Kermit and Miss Piggy singing ‘Love led us here’ … Ha Ha.

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