What does a writer do when he is in psychological pain, devastating hurt? Agony is the better name, and suffering is its coverlet. He makes up a song for himself, an air to play over and over again until the pain is extinguished and he is soothed. It is a fabricated ritual to slake the immediacy of the anguish. By telling himself about himself there is a measure of the repetition in all that and this very repetition can alleviate the outrageous hurt, the attack upon the self. In this expression I just want to cut through and get to core truths, reflections, or generalizations that may serve clarity, perhaps assuage the pain.
Mene mene tekel upharsin, the writing on the wall. Thou has been weighed and found wanting, she tells me, in short. The past can’t be erased nor expunged; the present, for her, is intolerable. She has a terrific memory and uses it, at times, inquisitorially. Flagellation above all. She can’t forget and forgive, how regrettable. She cannot come to terms with nor metabolize the past so it is always alive and festering. I have come up short, mortal man. [I must go. I must leave. I feel compelled to do so, she says.] She believes living is best found elsewhere, a canard and human folly — stick and fight — but she doesn’t grasp that, for it is beyond her ken and she is not a little unaware. She is into smart and I am into character. I have to watch an operatic acting out. She sings the aria of the about to be divorced. I thought she was made of sterner stuff. She is not, mostly a brooder, meek and intense, timid, very inhibited, very obedient to authority. She is a people pleaser, she ingratiates. She’s Jane Fonda. Consequently she validates herself in her role. She is who she is because the role tells her, an as-if personality, almost a Zelig. She is, sadly, very outer-directed and that is the only significant awareness she owns up to. At 57 I don’t think that will change. And she has simply fallen out of love with me, these things happen.
When pressed no real answers come forth except a remembered litany of my abuses, a rosary, and oh how she plays the beads, for she is a variant of the intense Virginia Woolf, so introverted that her feelings are internal wallpaper. Unwilling to make a commitment to what we have shared — the marriage, that special commitment holds no meaning for her. She is not into any commitment other than that commitment she has made for herself, that counts for her. Hard to share with this woman feelings at this time when the only room she has are her own feelings, not out of egotism, mind you, but from immaturity and quite frankly not having learned better or at least having self-parented herself to care. She is a mock-feminist. She admits she is amazed that she shared with me that she doesn’t know herself. How do you deal with that? She parts without tears, chilling; the mind, the ego over the heart and soul. A diminishment, in my eyes. And I do love her but that is fast disintegrating.
So I make my final post-mortem case not to do this; although it is all over, she cannot shed a tear for what has been shattered. In that much is learned, a hard learning for me. Maybe I should have been the woman, and she the man and I would have wept for us both. Maybe she should learn to be less frosty to another who has lain beside her for years, there is something to be said for that. Her cliché answer is that she wept for herself, her own pain, in private. It might have been better if she could have articulated all that, but Woolf again. There is the milk of human kindness, and there is also the rancid milk of inhibition.
I cannot stop someone who has her mind made up; reason doesn’t work; what works is the fullness of time. She has cast aside two major traits of mine: faithfulness and loyalty. Not something to be lightly dismissed, but it is; for her acting out cannot abide dissent or perspective.
I am responsible for what I have done. I own that. I am not one whit pleased with that aspect of my self that has been abusive and unkind; I cut deeply with words. I have a strong personality coupled with a whip-lashing tongue, but I have no excuse for myself. I don this attitude. I have worn this defensive self for decades, long before I met her. I know I can change – – I have and in this marriage; I have seen change in my dealings with her, but she is someone who cannot forget, who cannot forgive in larger ways, considering the totality of who I am. Original sin for her is a repetition compulsion, one cannot escape that ring of fire. I am worth more than being thrown away. To validate her own deep feelings I become collateral damage.Remembrance of things past is the wall I come up against. Why such an allegiance to it? She dwells often in the past and I dwell in the present because I simply know better. If she was a harbor all the ships at sea would find anchorage there and not one would be allowed to leave port. She is not capable of real inner growth.
What aches is that I am seen as unredeemable; that what I have done cannot ever be forgiven. Really? And that is ridiculous. She apparently does not think of redemption. Or she is weary of forgiving me. What must be factored in is her own inhibited ability to express herself because her pain with me is much too much to bear. She never learned to process what she was feeling. And whose responsibility is that? I thought she was grander in her capacity to cherish the many instances in which we related and shared; apparently not. I find her to be a stern god, an unforgiving one, Baal. Upon the scales of justice memory always wins out for her — and who in her family of origin taught her that decrepitude.
The unremitting fact is that I drove a lovely, gifted but decidedly confused, waffling, stubborn and ultimately narrow, immature and unaware woman from the marriage. And I will pay for it to “the end of my days,” as she might express it.What I did was unconscionable, to her way of thinking. I think not, I was not a guard at Auschwitz. And she has repaid me in spades, especially in the covert, scheming and skulking manner in which she deceitfully plotted and planned her “escape” to freedom. For her freedom is what you remove your self from. She does not have any idea of the majesty of freedom to, that is moving to a larger realization of self. I married a limited self.
In A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS Thomas More asks the prosecutorial Richard Rich, having been betrayed by him, for Rich always sought higher offices, these powerful words: “For Wales, Rich, for Wales.” What you have given up of your inner self to attain money and office. Integrity! And to my now ex-wife I ask the same question as she cowardly flees to a new position, as she leaves the state. “For Amarillo, Jane, for Amarillo.”
Woman on the run!