None of this makes any sense
When I was a much younger man, I believed I knew something about heaven and hell. Heaven was waking up on a Sunday morning beside the person I loved with no plans for the day. Hell was waking up on a Sunday morning beside the person I loved, knowing that she didn’t love me back.
Since then, I’ve experienced hells that make that one feel like a summer’s day at the beach. Coming to the realisation that I was being abused – that I’d been abused for ten years – and that nobody would do anything to help me: that was hell. Having my in-laws take the children for the weekend to ‘give us time to talk’, only for my wife to pack a bag and leave, thereby stealing my children out from under my nose: that was worse.
But there is a deeper, darker hell than all of that, a personal hell inside your own head and heart: the fact that you still love them.
Walking away from the person you love – your wife, your best friend, the mother of your children – because you realise they will eventually kill you: that is agony. Walking away from someone when you still love them, when they complete you, when your hopes and dreams for the future revolve around them, is a pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
When I told my wife it was over, I took the dog for a walk around the block. I rang my parents and tried to tell them what had happened, but I couldn’t get the words out – all I could manage was a high-pitched whine. Holding things back for so many years, my emotions came out in such a rush, I thought I might die.
I fell to the pavement, sobbing uncontrollably. I was wailing, choking, hyperventilating. The dog sat next to me, howling at my distress. We made a pretty sight.
Cars drove by. Pedestrians stopped and stared, and then hurried on. I was utterly broken.
Everything I loved, everything I’d worked for – a wife, a home, a family – it was all over. Even though I chose it for myself, even though I’d made the decision to end it, I was devastated. I wanted to take it back. I wanted to reset the clock. We were going to grow old together. We were going to be together until the end of time.
Most of all, I just wanted to hug my wife.
Even at the time, I knew it was ironic. She was the one who’d brought me to this place, on my knees in the street, sobbing. Yet I wanted her more than anything. My only comfort came from the very person who caused me such pain.
What makes this hell worse than any other are the questions that torture you. What if I went back? Could I have done things differently? Should I have given her another chance? Was it my fault? How can I survive this heartbreak?
But the absolute worst question, the one that keeps me up at night, and cuts my heart to pieces, is: who the hell was she?
Did the person I loved ever exist? She was very good at pretending she was an innocent, loving person, even as she threatened me and beat me and took away my dignity and self-respect. I was equally good at pretending she was an innocent, loving person, even as I sank deeper and deeper into depression and ill-health as a result of her physical, mental and emotional abuse. And now I wonder if the person I miss so much – the innocent, loving girl I married – was just a figment of my imagination, someone I dreamt up so I could endure what she was doing to me.
I was devastated to leave, but she wasn’t sad that I left. She wasn’t upset in the slightest. She was angry. What kind of person is angry when their partner leaves?
She still maintains to all who’ll listen that we had a perfect marriage until the day that, out of the blue, I upped and left her. She acts all sweet and innocent, and claims she still doesn’t know why I left. To her, she is the victim of my betrayal. My heart breaks for that girl, that sweet, innocent girl that I loved.
This is the worst hell: loving the smiling face of the devil. Loving the mask that the monster wore.
Was any of it real?