I am at a party, the spirit flows freely and with it conversations, I am sitting next to a petite woman, of an age close to mine, she is blonde and slim, we have never met before, we are unlikely to do so again. Despite not knowing each other we talk intimately, perhaps the anonymity makes it possible, or the alcohol, or that it is just easier to open up to someone with whom you have no baggage or connection. There is an air about her which makes me think that she is tired, or troubled in some way, her eyes are kind and have crows feet, they feel as though they have been earned over time, I sense a warmness and her face becomes more animated and breaks into a broad smile as she talks about her daughter, she clearly thinks the world of her daughter. She tells me that she has been married for more than twenty years, but that the marriage is not working well. Her husband doesn’t talk to her, he cannot communicate with her, they are married and live together, but he remains in his own little world. When he wakes up he is angry and miserable and doesn’t talk and he carries on that way all through the day, it never changes, he will never change.
I think of this situation as being intolerable for them both, wife and husband, What are you going to do about it I ask.
She pauses, then says “Nothing, I’ve thought about it a lot, I’ve decided to stick with it, do nothing, I am too worried about how I would cope on my own, it’s too scary, so I am just making do. At some point in a few years I will be a Grandmother and that will be fine, I will enjoy being a Grandmother. I have decided that I am ok where I am ”
I am disturbed and feel saddened by what she tells me, I am not her, her choices are her own to make, she is resigned to a relationship that makes neither of them happy, but chooses the dulled pain over the fear of the unknown. As my thoughts reflect back to myself, the person I am above all trying to fathom out and make sense of, I see that like her husband I was unable to talk to my partner, it felt impossible, that as much as I struggled to communicate my partner equally could not talk to me or listen. I did not change the dynamic, I did not know how to.
My relationship ended after a terminal decline of communication and ultimately of love. I did not choose the outcome, but nevertheless it came. With it also came freedom and whilst the grace to accept this unwanted gift may be elusive it brings opportunity, to explore the questions that matter most to me now, what do I want, where do I want to go and above all who am I. I wonder if I will ever find the answers, who knows, but searching for them is the voyage I want and that I need, wherever it may take me.