Silence is never golden

Of all the things I find unfathomable about my wife’s decision to end our marriage—and there are many incomprehensible things—all these many months since she first told me she no longer loved me—it is her refusal to speak to me, now even to acknowledge my presence. I have become a ghost in the corner. She told me once during the dissolving of our marriage that she was a better friend than a partner. This has turned out like much else not to be true. She could no longer find a way to be a partner, and now isn’t a friend. Friends talk to one another.

I saw my wife last night at our South End Rowing Club’s holiday party. “Saw” is the operative word, because she didn’t acknowledge me, or say hello, or ask after my son Adam’s health. Her disassociation is complete. It is purposeful, and intentionally hurtful. She knows and finds some kind of perverse satisfaction withholding communication. It’s because I want it that she withholds it. It’s the one power she retains. She held all the cards, played them, and now that the game is over has shut down the gaming hall. Her gamble is complete. She won. Let us hope it’s not a Pyrrhic victory—though as she once said to me that she was destined to die a lonely old woman.

It didn’t have to be so. And perhaps she’ll find yet another man to be with, briefly. There have been many–all without the foreknowledge of her expiration date.

She also said to me months ago that she couldn’t talk to me because I write about our conversations. If she talked to me maybe I would not have to write about it; maybe I would know and not obsess. Genuine communication—a practice we were never good achieving—would resolve so many questions, would make things complete. Completion wasn’t her goal; only ending.

Thinking about how she’s behaving, I have to ask myself the question, why do I care? What did I expect would happen? Why did I harbor any misguided illusion that she might turn out to be genuine, to be a warm, compassionate woman? It was my fantasy, what I wanted so passionately to be so, when it was so evidently not so. Ever. The trauma in her life prevented it. Her default attitude is distrust, especially men, and people in general. So when I failed to perform to her expectations, the thin veneer of trust vanished. She called me untrustworthy. In truth, there was no trust from the beginning.

I didn’t expect to be disappeared.

I know, now, that my decision to move is beyond doubt the right decision. Continuing to share with my wife the life I created here, so much of it with her, is emotionally impossible. Yes, my emotions are internal states that I inflict on what’s happening. Putting them away, far back in the past drawer, will be so much easier on the other side of the country.

I imagine she’ll be grateful, too. She has told me many times that she is not the cause of anything I’m feeling, or decisions I’m making; that these emotions, these decisions are mine alone. And they are. Yet to deny being the cause in the matter, the match that lit the fire, is yet more evidence of her disassociation—from me, from her life, from life. It’s a denial of possibility, a wall constructed to block out any light that might, just might, shine in.

I walked out of her house on September 1st and her life returned to how it had been before she ever met me—but for five years past and the specter of Niland still haunting our common pathways. Very soon that specter will be gone, and she can be free of being purposefully furtive, evasive, avoiding the places I might show up, not “seeing” me when I’m there.

She wounded me, and has found a way to twist the knife. She knows how much this causes me despair. I doubt it makes her happy.

Moving will be my healing. I sacrifice much leaving the life I have created here, but good friends will remain good friends, and new places and people will come to replace the old ones. She cannot take these things away from me. She took one kind of life away from me, but not my actual, as-lived way of being who I am. I realize I am more who I am without her. I had hoped to be more of who I am with her.

In two weeks it will be Christmas, a holiday my wife hates on so many levels, and did everything within the limits of family acceptability to ignore. She permitted a celebration, one dinner, with our children and sometimes a friend. She very reluctantly participated in gift giving. She disliked that I enjoyed Christmas, enjoyed giving gifts. Among the reasons she gave to end our marriage was that I spent money on Christmas gifts for her, and my sons, when I was otherwise short on contributions. I think my wife did try to make the holiday acceptable–she liked giving us experiences instead of things–but at base Christmas was a bone that stuck in her throat. And she resented it.

Will Christmas come this year to her with any memories of our Christmas dinners past, when together with our children and friends we feasted on the elaborate labor of love dinner I prepared, setting the table with all the “good” china and silver, an orchestrated holiday meal meant to surpass the year before? Did she enjoy those times, or see them as an obligation she couldn’t avoid? I know she saw my enthusiasm as an indulgence, something to endure rather than be delighted.

This being Christmas I end this very last piece I will ever write about my marriage to this woman, a marriage I do not regret but for all the things I failed to see, with my sadness over one Christmas gift delivered a year late. It was promised, and after much trial and a lot of error, finally accomplished. I know it was received, opened, and the packaging discarded. Yet when I asked whether this package had been received, more than a week after it was delivered and verified by the PO, I was told no. I don’t know why she would lie to me.

It’s unfathomable, and sad. It tells me something I don’t want to know.

Time to move, move on. Onward and upward!

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