Coming out of a 12-year relationship with my husband, I was ready to move out on my own. That’s only been a few months, mind you, but it felt like forever.
Moving out on my own usually means going to live with a friend or family member. (Or, if we weren’t close, going to a different house). Either way, I felt like I’d been married before, or that we’d both graduated from a lower-level sociology class in college.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been “that person.” In fact, the last relationship I had was years ago, when I was in my early 20s. So leaving my spouse before he got sick was, at the time, the best thing that happened to me.
I was confident that we had a lot in common, and I felt we could support one another. I was wrong.
First, because he got sick and I was in a bad place. I was also worried because, as I saw it, I had become the problem.
He got sick and I was in a bad place.
After he got sick, it was all I. I was irritable, upset, and angry. I was always on the go, and I didn’t know how to sit down or where to put the dishes. I was also missing my social life.
After he got better, it was all I. I didn’t see much of him anymore because he’d be working so much that I wasn’t able to keep up. But I still craved his company, the feeling of being needed, of being looked after.
It used to take me a whole day to think about something important enough for me to have time to handle it. It was because I was needed so much that day. I didn’t even remember why I was needed in the first place.
When my husband got sick, it was all I. I didn’t see much of him anymore because he’d be working so much that I wasn’t able to keep up.
Eventually, I managed to catch up with a few things he’d missed — important deadlines, things that mattered to me, and personal things I’d wanted to talk about. But all I kept coming back to was that one time, that intense moment, when I just wanted him to be there.
It used to happen in a flash, and I’d miss him like I would miss a rollercoaster. He’d cackle with delight, and we’d hop on the first flight home together.
It was a fleeting feeling, but I held onto it because it meant that, perhaps for the first time in my life, I was capable of wanting his presence. It was something I’d never felt before, and it meant that I mattered to him.
At first, I didn’t know how to function without my husband. I felt too weak, so I just sat in our living room and looked at the ceiling. I didn’t do any work, and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just stared at the ceiling because I couldn’t figure out how to get myself to move anyplace else.
One night, my husband turned up at my door unannounced. He was late for a meeting and was crying as he recounted how he’d felt abandoned by me.
“At least give me a chance to repay the favor,” he said.
I didn’t argue with him. I just stared at him.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, why don’t you try out, I don’t know, a dating app?”
I didn’t even know what a dating app was, or how to use one. So I just stared at him again.
“What do you mean?” I asked again.
He made me a list. “Any good ones?”
I nodded your head. “Yes,” I said. “I can’t get online because I have to work from home, but I’ll try a few apps.”
“I’m not going to stop you,” he said. “But I have one rule. You can do whatever the hell you want, but you can’t use the time to do anything that could be considered a disruption to the normal lives of everyone in this house.”
He shut the phone down.
“What is that?” I asked.
“Uhh… nothing,” he said, and pulled out of the parking space with me in his car.
I tried not to stare at the silvery streaks of silver in the paint.
“What is that?” I asked again.
“Silicon,” he said, and scratched his head. “I scratched my hair.”
We lived in a very white house. White covers most of the rest of the spectrum, except for red and green, the three colors that divide the room.