It’s been a very tough couple of weeks. Barely husband and I had a massive argument and then all the cards were put on the table. I told him I am trying to find myself because I don’t recognise the person in the mirror anymore. Whatever fake name I use – Anna, Danielle, Erica – doesn’t matter. Who am I?
Of course he didn’t understand that. He even went to the point of asking me if I’m having an affair, which, by the way, I am not. He then went into his typical offensive mode. I learned very early on in our marriage that, when he’s upset, he says things with the sole purpose of hurting me. He doesn’t believe them and, after a while, he doesn’t even remember saying them. After all this time I have become numb to his method. I shrug and ignore.
To make things worse, we both caught a throat infection that left us coughing as if we had TB and, in my case, it was so bad all my stomach and neck muscles were in constant pain. Then the unexpected happened: he apologised.
He doesn’t usually apologise, as it means admitting he is wrong and I’m always the wrong one. Since I stopped bothering to defend myself, we just leave it at that, but, this time, he did. He said he was trying to understand what’s going through my mind, but he can’t. He seems to think there must be one single enormously bad fact to get a marriage to break – cheating, hate or violence, for example – and we don’t have any of that.
In his apology, he mentioned the time he broke up with me about 10 months into our relationship. We were fine in my perception and he dropped the bomb that he didn’t want to be with me anymore. I cried. I was very hurt. But I’m a proud person and never, ever even tried to get him back. I treated him extremely professionally at work and left without saying a word. On weekends I went out with friends and he probably knew I’d be out with them. I just wanted to forget him.
The reason for this break up, which he never explained fully before now, was that he realised he was in too deep and we were extremely different. We ARE extremely different.
I am open minded and independent; I swear a lot; I love piercings and tattoos; I frequented Canal Street in Manchester, which, for the non-British, is the gay village.
He is the old fashioned macho man with some homophobic tendencies. I told him once I kissed girls before. That used to turn an ex-boyfriend of mine on, but, with him, the storm of criticism I faced left me crying and shocked (I never touched that specific subject again but I have managed to open his mind a little, even if ever so slightly).
Basically I was everything he was raised to consider not ladylike or wife material (don’t get me started on THE mother-in-law), so he tried to break it off. During that time, driven by the rebellious “fuck it” spirit I was in, I had a fairly big tattoo done on my lower back. Needless to say he absolutely hates it and says to this day it’s his fault I had it done. And it is. To avoid conflict, I never had another one done. If I wasn’t with him, I am sure I’d be covered by now.
Why did he ask me to take him back? I don’t know. He said he missed me and he realised he loved me, even with all the differences. Why did I take him back? Today, the more I think about it, the answer is: ‘I don’t know!’ I was out, I was fine. I guess I did have feelings for him and I relied on the things we had in common more than stressing the differences.
That brings me back to how I don’t know who I am. I suppressed so much of my personality to avoid conflict that I became someone else. To make matters worse, he also accuses me of having changed, but he wants the suppressed personality of his dreams, not the zombie that walks around the house without any opinion. He definitely doesn’t want ME back and I can’t give him his fairy tale version anymore.
If back then I had the maturity I have today, I would have exposed all the differences. Say, rub them in his face IN AN ATTEMPT TO GET THEM ACCEPTED. It would be a case of take me as I am or leave me. He might have left me then, but at least I would still be ME.
Soundtrack: Melanie Martinez – Pity Party