Well. I’ve been silent for a few days, as I just caught up on two full seasons of Downton Abbey. Yeah, I know, I was on a bit of a binge. But I’m caught up now! (Tremendous fun, that show: it makes me want to say less, sit up straighter, and improve the power of my eyebrows when giving a meaningful look.)
Anyway. My husband’s employing corporation finally announced publicly the reason that we’re still here: the company my husband is currently assigned to, a joint venture, has a questionable future, ownership-wise. My husband’s parent corporation is having some difficulties with its partner, another not-quite-as large corporation. The two corporations are in, to put it in marital terms, “counseling.” There could be a separation on the horizon. Or divorce, which could lead to sole custody of the joint venture, or some other sort of arrangement. The two parties could also come to some sort of reconciliation. Little is clear.
But it’s this kind of uncertainty–an uncertainty my husband has been managing very quietly, and largely alone, at his office for over a year now–that kept my husband from relocating to that European place I dreamed of a year ago. We’ll see where we end up. We feel strangely unmoored, but we’re “yar.” (Tell me you saw “The Philadelphia Story” — yar means easy to handle, fast, agile…. that’s us.) No matter where we go, we’ll be fine.
Meanwhile, up the street, a friend just finalized her actual divorce this week. Her ex-husband is expecting a new daughter with his girlfriend in April. My friend’s son is excited to have a new (half) sister. My friend is… handling it well, from what I can tell. Life can carry on very rapidly (for him, in any event). She remarked recently that she feels a bit restless, a bit like she’s been treading water for the past year. She wants to get back out there, get her new life started, meet somebody new. But how does one begin?
And down the street, another friend is trying valiantly to manage the dissolution of her marriage. She and her soon-to-be-ex are handling it with friendship and from what I can see, grace. But it’s not easy, logistically: her husband works many hours and travels a great deal. She works part-time and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree. Her children have extracurricular interests and packed schedules. She wants to find a full-time job with benefits, but she feels she can barely keep her head above water. When your current life requires more time than you already have, how do you pursue a new one?
Across town, another friend has announced that after two years she is leaving the man for whom she left her husband. I have to admit I feel that “friend” is too strong a word–we were once friends, but I found it very hard to be her friend given the manner in which she left. This other man is not a better man, or in my not at all humble opinion, a good man. He was just another man. Well, apparently she ultimately found him to be “too controlling.” I’m fascinated, and profoundly relieved she has decided to be on her own for a while. But will she be on her own? She and her ex-boyfriend, the controlling one, will continue to work together. Baby steps? Better than jumping into dark water head first, I guess.
My husband, when he hears all this “housewife” news, slowly shakes his head in dismay. He tries to imagine what it must have been like when these marriages were in tact–how profoundly awful it must have been in order for three very different women to decide to leave what my husband saw as “pretty good things:” marriages to nice guys, living in nice homes, enjoying a level of financial security that will be difficult to maintain on one’s own.
That’s what my husband saw. Those wives looked as happy as me. Those husbands seemed as happy as him. We can all be very good at maintaining facades.
Maintaining such facades requires less effort, I guess, than tolerating what’s below. And the work required to fix that? Sometimes it’s too much to bear. These three women… they all have one thing in common when it comes to what they didn’t have and what they now know they deserve. They all want to one day be with a person who listens to them, who knows them, with whom they can be themselves, their true selves, freely. Who loves them.
Wanting that, and not having it, despite effort, with a person you’ve spent years and years with, raised children with? I would feel like I was drowning.
The only recourse would be to flee.