Darkness in the Daytime


“Perhaps thinking everything through to the end was not a healthy thing to do.” Rubashov. Darkness at Noon.

Thinking the dissolution of my marriage to my wife through to the end is undoubtedly not a healthy thing to do. It becomes obsessive in its search for answers to questions that were never asked. This thinking has become obsessive.

Tomorrow I must go to my wife’s attorney to sign the final papers of marriage dissolution. There are ten documents, each detailing some aspect of the final settlement and judgment. I did not contest the divorce, unwanted as it was. There was little point to add anger and revenge, much less expense, to the process. B did not want that, nor did I. We had both suffered previously at the hands of vengeful spouses.

Still, the finality of the documentation, witnessed by a Notary, cuts deep into my ever-thinner skin. Every ounce of me knows I am better off. The freedom I’m enjoying living on my own, even in these temporary conditions, is telling me what I missed. Just being comfortable in my own space, listening to the music I like, painting, not worrying about toothpaste in the sink or an open drawer, is a relief and a pleasure, all the harsh edges gone.

I miss her companionship, even if we were only roommates sharing a house for most of our time together. I miss our dog. I have fond memories of the times early in our marriage when I think she did love me. I loved her, and some kernel inside of me loves her still. It’s what drives the obsession with questions that cannot be answered.

I do not miss being judged, and found mostly guilty.

Still, I ask why, and try to piece together a narrative that explains it all, like some grand unifying theory.

The Koestler quote at the beginning wasn’t random. There’s a red thread that runs through her life that connects her most formative experiences with what came to pass with me. This is, of course, entirely speculative, based only on the bits and pieces of personal history she chose to relate and what others have told me.

I could be wrong. Maybe she divorced me only for purely mundane reasons with no underlying drama of preordained inevitability: wanting too much togetherness, not enough money, always being there, invasive. Hurtful things, spoken with her clarity of vision. She said I would try to anticipate what she wanted in order to please her, for fear of displeasing her. That was true.

The red thread I see is her adherence to old principles of her second youth.  In its purest form these principles sought to abolish social injustice throughout the world. My wife committed her life and career to this ideal. If social justice could be achieved, what price would be too high? Maybe millions would have to die for a billion to be happy—would that be worth it?

Arthur Koestler wrote, “A … revolutionary is forever damned to do what he loathes most: become a butcher in order to stamp out butchery, sacrifice lambs so lambs will no longer be sacrificed.”

I’m not suggesting she sacrificed lambs, only me.

What I am suggesting is a steely harshness that made compromise impossible. There was no middle way. Loyalty to her principles was more important than acceptance. It would have been “bad faith.”

I saw these principles at work in many aspects of her life, her relationships. I wasn’t the only one to experience their wrong end. I wasn’t blind—even seeing them too late.

I will get through the legal document signing tomorrow, and move on, and away. I’ve booked my one-way flight to Boston, leaving January 4th.

The darkness will remain in the night, where it belongs, and the sun will shine during the day.

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