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Posts Tagged ‘mistakes’

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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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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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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New Year’s Eve is surely the loneliest day of the year. What to do this morning but stand alone on the miserable, windswept plains at Year’s End and look backwards on desolation, or strain tear-stung eyes into the gale to catch a glimpse of an empty, awful future? Behind me, the virgin mistletoe hangs withered and dry, the Christmas cupboards are bare, the Yule fire lies cold ash. The present is bleak and comfortless.

Yes, today I am sad, and more than sad; a night lying awake with my partner’s snoring ringing in my ears and my head ringing from that knock has left me too much time to think. I am overwhelmed with sorrow and regret – the things not done, the things I will never do, the many things I wish undone, all crowd my thoughts until no room for positive thoughts remain.

I know I should raise my head proudly to look into this rising sun and visualise my future, to remind myself that I have within me all I need to achieve my dreams; I am a burgeoning seed waiting for the promising spring, a sleeping flower waiting for the warmth of a helpful sun. But I have woken from the comfort of my dreams into a harsh reality, and as I stand on the porch watching a stern, grey day break over the exhausted, wind-whipped garden, I cry.

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Silence; not the deep, reverential hush of a religious moment, not the crisp, sparkling quiet of a midwinter midnight, surely not the snug, safe content of a happy family curled up on a holiday sofa. Only silence; cold, numb, unfathomable.

There are no words to describe this lack of words or the fear it brings as I blunt my dreams against its senseless mass. I want to press my hands into the holly, hold my fingers in the candle flames, just to prove that there is still pain, still life and so perhaps, still hope.

When we are alone together there are so very many things not to talk about that the weight of the unspoken words crowd in on us, the silence presses my face with ugly hands, grimy with guilt and the bitter reek of the past. I want to scream, to fight; do something to tear open this silence which is the exhaust of all the words ever spoken. It chokes my lungs and I suffocate, hour by hour, in a horrible ecstasy of unspoken regret.

Into my heart an air that kills

From yon far country blows:

What are those blue remembered hills,

What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,

I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

And cannot come again.

AE Housman

Speakers tend to chant these lines as a comfortable elegy, but for me the words are filled with despair, anger and finality.

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by Nicole Krauss

“He went on for some time while I sat listening in silence because I knew he was right, and like two people who have loved each other however imperfectly, who have tried to make a life together, however imperfectly, who have lived side by side and watched the wrinkles slowly form at the corner of the other’s eyes, and watched a little drop of grey, as if poured from a jug, drop into the other’s skin and spread itself evenly, listening to the other’s coughs and sneezes and little collected mumblings, like two people who’d had one idea together and slowly allowed that idea to be replaced with two separate, less hopeful, less ambitious ideas, we spoke deep into the night, and the next day, and the next night. For forty days and forty nights, I want to say, but the fact of the matter is it only took three. One of us had loved the other more perfectly, had watched the other more closely, and one of us listened and the other hadn’t, and one of us held on to the ambition of the one idea far longer than was reasonable, whereas the other, passing a garbage can one night, had casually thrown it away.”

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I sent him a text.

‘I’ve just realised that it doesn’t matter. I’m not able to do Christmas, it’s too sad and pointless. I have to go home.’

‘Oh dear’, he replied.

 

He phoned me.

‘Do you realise that I tried to tell you months ago how I felt, but I couldn’t make you listen, that I needed something to change, that it wasn’t working? I have done what I had to, to protect myself, to make a life for myself. You can’t expect me to give that up, to trust you and make myself open to rejection again because you’re lonely at Christmas.

I don’t want to be rejected any more, to have to put up with being hurt any more, to just wait for you like before. I can’t go there again and I don’t know how I feel now; I need some space.

Yes, it feels safer to talk about it like this, by phone, but I’m not able to give you what you’re asking for at the moment.

I have to be in a meeting in ten minutes.’

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