My psychologist once asked me when I was going to write a ‘Dear J’ letter as a cathartic exercise in letting go. At the time I felt sad that I didn’t feel the need to, but the time has come to face the ten years of my life that I gave you and for me to learn how to live without fearing love again.
We were so young when we met but believed we were so much older then we were. We wanted to play house and rushed to be an ‘established couple’ because we believed we would be together forever. We talked, we joked, we loved and we played. We were in it together and we talked about growing old, sitting on the verandah and bashing each other up with our walking sticks.
As hard as it is to admit to myself, the cracks were there from the very beginning. You lied to me because you knew which answer was the one I wanted to hear. When I found out the truth it tore me apart, but I wanted to believe in us and I ‘forgave’ you. I was in love with the idea of being in love. Of showing the world that I could be loved and that in some way I had ‘made it’, none of which is a solid foundation for a relationship.
In those ten years, of course we had great times. You taught me how to rock climb. We climbed mountains together and walked some amazing bush tracks. We shared two fantastic U2 concerts together, as well as many other great bands. We had great wine and great food together, even though Tetsuya’s was to be our last wedding anniversary together. We adored our dogs and enjoyed sharing jokes about the crazy things they did, like getting stuck under the lounge and how they played tag with each other’s long, floppy ears. We bought a house together and made it our home. We saw sunrises, watched sunsets and stayed up all night talking. We always held hands when we were out. We knew each other’s silly sides and how to make the other laugh. We knew the secret tickle spots and what would turn the other person on. We shared weekends away, visiting wineries and art galleries. We shared a love of Star Wars, of sci-fi and watching TV series’ on DVD, one episode after another. Yes, you can watch ’24’ in under 24 hours. We shared homemade cheesecake, homemade ice-cream, great chocolate milkshakes and damn fine pancakes. We joked about the time I bought a purple, silky bedspread right before we got Burberry and how he destroyed it in 2 minutes. We shared cars that always did something they weren’t meant to – the breakdown on the side of the Pacific Highway outside Grafton, the demon car from hell that was magnetically attracted to other cars. Ten years of shared history.
And then there was the yang to the ying. The fights, the nights spent on the lounge, the disregard for each other, the walk outs, the anxious phone calls, the hung ups, the yelling, the debts, the pain, the tears and the falling out of love. The last two years we were together were a series of ever more insistent signs that we could not mend what was already broken. I believed the ever growing Warcraft obsession was a problem but it was a symptom of the rot that had set in a long time before. We didn’t know how to talk to each other anymore and when we tried we didn’t hear, or didn’t care, what the other was saying.
I will not deny that when my bipolar spiraled out of control I was not pleasant to live with. I was irrational when I thought I was rational. I was needy when I thought I was independent. I was lashing out at you because you couldn’t understand. When I was diagnosed and realised that all of those things I’d been blamed for as lack of will power were actually not my fault, you couldn’t see it the same way. You had learned early in your life to hold a grudge and you couldn’t easily forgive me for the spending and roller coaster life we had shared.
The illness fed into the growing divide between us and the gnawing pain of our relationship engulfed my illness. As we disintegrated, I was slowing dying as the life was drawn out of me with each day of neglect. I blamed you for that for a long time, but I see now that you didn’t understand what was happening. You didn’t know how to deal with what life had dealt to you. I was not the girl you fell in love with anymore. I believed I was but that was no longer evident as I became consumed by the darkness I had tried to keep at bay. You were unable to help because perhaps that would have meant accepting that I was actually sick and it wasn’t ‘in my head’.
We all know the story of the night I tried to kill myself. I felt everyone, especially you, would be better off without me and my bipolar. That you left me lying on the kitchen floor until the ambulance officers took me away. It took you almost 24 hours to phone my parents and tell them what had happened. That you told them I would be okay and not to come to Sydney. That two days later on the night I cut my arm open you left me without saying goodbye because you were angry at me for not ‘getting better’ quicker. I had no idea what was happening outside of those hospital walls until much later and I am glad of it now because it would have broken me even more then I already was. That your mother came to Sydney not to see her daughter in law who was in hospital but to tell her son to leave his wife, sell the house and ship her back to her parents without a backward glance. That your mother spoke with my father and ‘arranged’ for me to go home with them because to her our marriage was over, regardless of what you, or I, thought.
Strangely, after all of that, I admitted to myself today that in a way I still love you. To say I don’t is to pretend that what we had didn’t exist. Yes, it was based on rocky foundations, but I do believe we did love each other. That on the day we married in front of our family and friends overlooking Byron Bay, we meant the words we said to each other. You were my world for ten years and I loved you so much.
But I forgave you too many times for things that I would never put up with now, things which were disrespectful to me but my self esteem wasn’t able to see it that way at the time. People said I was perfect for you, but you were not perfect for me and I didn’t want to admit that to myself. I need someone who can show affection and do little things that show they care for me as a person. That wasn’t you. I drew the line at writing on my own birthday card but I often bought my own presents.
During our marriage, I never knew how much my family and friends did not like you. I lost friends, and some family, over you and I brushed it off as them not giving you a chance. To this day, my parents have not forgiven you and I doubt they ever will. My brother would only cross the road to run you over if the opportunity ever arose. The depth of their anger has shocked me but its opened my eyes to what I didn’t want to see for so long.
We were incompatible. Our fundamental world views were too far apart to ever find common ground apart from superficial things like U2, our dogs and wine. We didn’t share the same values and our dreams never seemed to quite line up. You thought you were a strong personality but thinking it and being it are two different things. I know now that I am a strong personality but I played the submissive one to stroke your ego and that inequality was always going to ruin us somewhere down the track. We tried ever so hard to make the differences work for us, but in the end it was so hard to struggle through each day. When I left, I told you it shouldn’t be this hard, and I honestly wish for you to find someone to share your life with and for you to know what I meant when I said that.
You are not the person for me and I am not the person for you to share this life with. Did we make a mistake marrying each other? Perhaps but it is now part of who we are and we wouldn’t be the people we are today without the experiences we shared. I’d give anything to go back and make things right with the knowledge I now have but wishful thinking isn’t going to mend broken hearts and wipe away tears.
I can’t ever forget how intensely I loved you but I can also never forget the pain you caused me. I forgive you because I need to heal this heart of mine and I forgive myself for the years I ignored my inner voice. We are better people without each other then the people we became when we were together. It has taken me much, much longer then I anticipated to get to now but I finally feel whole and that the puzzle that once made no sense, now fits together. Forgiving you and making peace with the ten years of my life that I gave you is one of the last pieces to fall into place.
I could blabber on about how sorry I am for what happened and perhaps you would even tell me that you are sorry. Yes, I loved you. Yes, I love you in a different way now because you were once my husband. But our paths lie in different directions and we made the right decision to honour that. I felt only relief when I left and when I signed the divorce papers. My inner voice told me I was doing the right thing for me. That voice told me today to write this and to let go.
Thank you for the ten years of your life that you gave me. Thank you for pushing me away because without that I wouldn’t have gotten better and I wouldn’t have been able to heal the hole in my heart I had carried for so long. Thank you for the memories we created together. Thank you for loving me in the way you knew how. Thank you for setting me free.