And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me
If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah
Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me
Darlin’, darlin’, stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me”
Ben E. King, ‘Stand by Me’
When the night is falling is when I miss him the most. I’ve never been quite easy with the transition into darkness; it was never a good time of day for me. A little cranky, a little anxious, just like a little kid I suppose. But there was something magic about night falling when I was with him these past two and a half years. Being with him, being at his house, being snuggled in for the night, with dinner in the oven or steaming on the table, watching the news with the sky darkening. Maybe we’d run up to the top of the city’s hill to catch the crows on their evening migration to the large trees down by the waterfront. One time, maybe more, we took pictures or even filmed then. Or, sitting on his little deck, glass of wine in hand, watching these crows fly overhead. Where were they coming from, why did they fly east at dusk every night? Together, we would ponder these questions. I felt so tucked away and safe with him in that little house. It’s so painful to think how much of it was a lie. Perhaps what your heart breaking means is when what you thought was the most precious and special feeling in the world between you and another person turns out to have been only special and precious on your side and as it turns out they’d rather be rid of you. Not knowing when I stopped being special and precious to him and when he started pretending is very painful.
It’s the most terrible feeling in the world and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. My heart is broken twice now, first for when I had to take the baby and leave him in 1989, and now, for this. I have to console my poor childlike twenty-three year old self, who never had the luxury of time or energy to grieve the loss of the love of her life, because she had to shut him out of her mind completely in order to raise the baby.
I wish I could bring back that iron curtain of my twenty-three year old’s mind, that denial, to close him off again. I’ve consumed many bottles of wine this past winter trying to do so. But the doorway in my soul to him remains wide open. I threw it open nearly three years ago and now and it will not shut.
More and more, I’m finding myself consumed with compassion for him because I don’t think he’s ever been in charge of his life. I don’t think he’s every really made choices. Due to the same type of early childhood trauma I experienced, he fell into a way of self medication which has grown to consume him, to own him. It has kept him from developing emotionally. It kept him from looking for me and our daughter after we left; it kept him from sending me a kind letter after i left him. It led him down dark alleys and into associations with low people.
I’m not sure what happened to lead him to break my heart. I’m not sure how much was choice and how much was him being led down an alleyway. Is he capable of making plans, of changing his life? Or does he just meander along towards whatsoever is pulling his interest at the moment?
I was so mad at him for not doing anything about getting a car to visit our daughter and I more often. Now, I think I understand more. He is trapped where he is. He has been trapped all along. He has not had the freedom of movement which I’ve enjoyed these past two decades, choosing to complete a college degree, choosing to better myself. He has a monkey or two or three on his back and they are strangling him.
So many of my friends say , ” Enough, already, ” he’s a selfish, lying asshole. “Don’t keep making excuses for him.”
Well, I know that I will never see him again in this life. He committed the one act which would drive me permanently away; although perhaps that is what he wanted. To sleep with another woman behind my back. It’s the one act I could never forgive. So does it hurt me to try and understand? Is he deliberately wicked? Or was he, as he put it, confused? Is confusion the way he has handled every major life decision, ranging back to when I was pregnant?
What makes me saddest on nights like these is something he said to me the last time we spoke on the phone, in December. It was something like, “Well, what are you still so upset about? You didn’t care for me at all. Nothing I ever did pleased you.”
Does he really think that? Why? Did he need to convince himself that I had never cared for him? Did this other woman convince him of that? I was always so grateful for everything he did for me. I was always rearranging my life to drive down there to see him, and accepting that he would rarely, if ever, drive up to see me. I was accepting of his reclusive, stubborn ways, of his quirks, of so many things. I kept trying and trying to be accepting. How can he think such a thing when I took a week of vacation time in August to help him at the sidewalk sale? I just don’t understand. I don’t think that he thinks clearly at all about some things. I wish I had known more about some of his issues right at the beginning. I’m wondering if it could have been possible to try to work things out if he’d been honest with me.
If he’d been honest with me. But he wasn’t, and he kept not being honest with me, so I guess he’s just not capable of honesty?
Oh, I tried so very hard to make it work. I tried so hard not to judge him. I tried so hard to go out on that limb and reach out to him but he shut me out without telling me, and that’s what really hurts.
And so I continue to grieve, for my twenty-three year old self who could not, and for my forty-three year old self who cannot stop. I hope that every day brings me closer to some closure on this but on some days it seems an uphill struggle, as I understand so little about why he would be so intimately involved with me and yet turn to another woman, after we’d been reunited after 20 years and that first glorious year we had together. I don’t think I’ll ever understand.