Wednesday, 28 September 2011


Thank you for your sweet comments on my last post. You ladies' kindness encourages me.

Beth, you are terribly gracious, but I'm afraid you give me more credit than is my due. I'm not in the least bit selfless nor sacrificial. If I was, truly, I would be so happy for the opportunities that come A's way that I wouldn't care if they left me feeling alone. I would embrace his successes because of what they meant for him, regardless of what they meant for me. In truth, I'm simply lonely. I feel trapped here and destined for sixty years of loneliness, punctuated by small, sweet moments of intimacy. I'm terrified of living out the rest of my days shadowed by a conviction that I'm always inherently falling short; always feeling like I'm robbing people of some greater joy they could be experiencing if they weren't with me.

A is a wonderful person. He's warm and loving and generous and never has a bad word to say about anyone. But he doesn't realise that all the kindness in the world can't take away the guilt I feel, knowing how much our marriage has cost him in terms of his career and his relationships within his family. I know I've trapped him in a lose-lose situation; he either follows his career aspirations at the cost of our marriage, or  invests in our marriage at the cost of his career. And I can't help but be aware that if he'd married someone else - another architect perhaps, or just someone less relational and more introverted who didn't mind spending so much time alone - he wouldn't have to make that choice. I'm also aware that there are plenty of women out there who would give their right arm to be with someone like him, and who would also give him the space he needs, and part of me wants to keep him at arm's length so that when one of those women snatches him away from me it won't be so painful.

So you see, there are no selfless motives in the things I do; only two entirely selfish instincts for self-preservation and self-destruction.

I did do one productive thing today, and that was to look at some adult learning courses offered in this area. Now that we're both earning it might be feasible for me to go to some kind of class a couple times a week. That might help, if only by getting me out of the house so I'm less aware of how often I'm alone there. And who knows? I might even make some friends. I'd underestimated the impact that moving to this side of town would have on my social life - it puts me about an hour's drive away from my old friends, which is just far enough to make it impractical during the week, and given that most of my colleagues are a good 20-40 years older than me, we don't tend to socialise much outside of the office, although the interactions we have at work are bright enough.

I'll be honest, I feel a sliver of optimism at this prospect. There are a number of courses that look interesting, from pottery to Italian to upholstery to sign language...

I'm sorry that the last few posts have been so down in the dumps. I'm still feeling kind of sad, but I think it won't last too much longer. I realise these marriage posts are a little off-topic for what was originally a weight-loss blog, too, but my scales are broken at the moment so I can't even hazard a guess as to how i'm doing or what I look like :| Will get back to that as soon as possible.

Thanks again for all your support and encouragement and for putting up with my whining...!


Monday, 26 September 2011

The Interim

In the interim, we celebrate our first wedding anniversary. My sister is visiting from the States with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. A kindly agrees to have our anniversary dinner with them so I can see them one last time before they go home. We do celebrate together, too, just him and me. We go back to where he proposed, with a tarp and a big umbrella, because it's raining. We huddle together in our little shelter, giggling, high on champagne and memories and creme brulee and happiness.

The next weekend, we go to Portugal. It's languid and warm. We're good at holidays; we're relaxed and flirty and content. The food is insane - one entree at any restaurant turns out to be equivalent to what my mom used to cook for a family of five. The meat melts like butter in your mouth; I've never tasted anything like it. For the most part, I feel ok about this. I never finish a portion, and rationalise to myself that it's mostly protein and veg with very little carbs. We agree with A's friend that he is to come stay with us for a few weeks upon our return to the UK.

At this point, A's parents throw a spanner in the works. Over skype, they tell us they don't want the friend staying in the spare room, which is their room for the few weeks of the year that they're in England. We try to reason with them, suggest that maybe we could use the spare room and the friend stay in our room, but they're resolute. A's dad is angry and desperate to be in control of the situation, demanding that we agree with him. The discussion quickly escalates into an argument. They tell me if I don't want to abide by their rules I can leave.

Why does this matter? I have a family of my own. I have parents who love me, and a home where I belong, where I'm not a transplant organ being slowly eaten away by the recipient's protective mechanisms. I have a last name and an identity outside of this family. I was a whole person before coming here, and I don't need this family's acceptance. 

I am an adult, so I begin to write, calmly, to his parents. I explain that I'm not one of their children and I don't expect to be dictated to as though I am. That I require that they afford me the same respect I've shown them. Mid-sentence, though, I feel it. Something clicks in my brain, and everything shifts.

They hate you, Sophie. They want you gone, all of them. Even A. He's embarrassed by how awkwardly you stick out here. If only he'd known beforehand how different you were from the rest of them. If you stay here you'll always be an outcast. They'll make him leave you, convince him he made a mistake. They'll introduce him to someone, or pressure him to join a dating site like they did his brother.  And he'll see. He'll see who he could have been with. He'll find someone just like them and she'll slot so neatly in to the space you left, soon no-one will even remember you were there. You have to leave. Leave before they find you and throw you out. Leave now, while it's still your choice. Leave this place - take your awkwardness and your breathless, gasping fears and your sadness and your rage, and let the world be in peace. 

A applies for a Saturday job, teaching. He asks if I'll mind. We don't need the money, but it would be a fun opportunity for him. Between his day job, the business he's setting up with his friend, this Saturday job, and the time that he needs to spend alone on his own hobbies, I wonder when we'll see each other. I want to protest, to exclaim "But you promised! You said this would be the year we worked on our marriage..." But I'm too tired to fight him for that anymore. I don't believe we have that long left together and I want to just enjoy the times we do have, and the times that we're happy. Barely a day goes by anymore that I don't wish only to be free of this body, of this presence on the earth. I wonder if he knows that and is filling his days up in preparation for being alone, and I know I have to let him.

If I let him go, a thousand times, in all these small ways, maybe one day he'll let me go too.