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August 4th, 2014

A Bittersweet Symphony

Posted on 2014.08.04 at 12:55
I have really made it a point not to talk much about my ex. After all – that’s from a very different chapter of my life, and one where I was not particularly happy. But while time may not necessarily heal all wounds, it does grant some degree of serenity as the calendar turns. And occasionally, as the days go by and the seasons change, fate and circumstance cooperate to bring up a memory that makes you really appreciate where life has taken you.

Driving home yesterday from the gym, I went about my typical ritual – blasting the A/C to combat my post-workout sweat, cracking open a Rockstar, and flipping radio stations to find just the right song. By chance, I landed on a station that was just beginning the orchestral interlude to the song, “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve. Almost weepy in its punk-meets-classical tone, the song immediately transported me back to where I first heard it – in Ireland, during my first honeymoon.

My ex and I had a very up and down relationship. While we were only married for 2 ½ years, we were together for 5 years prior to that. When times were bad, they were really bad. But to be fair, the same can be said (sorta) about the good times. Our good times were truly fantastic. And our honeymoon was no exception. Cash-strapped though we were, I was determined for us to go to Ireland for our honeymoon. And despite the drama involved in making it happen, we looked forward to feeling the crisp cold wind as we touched down.

In many ways, our honeymoon was like our marriage. Laughter and tears… Awe and upset… Good times and bad. But for all I knew, that was how it was all supposed to be. Around every corner, there would be something new – a new adventure, or a new mystery. Driving all over the place, the entire vacation was a never-ending journey of discovery. Even the long country roads held a mystery. Over in the distance, a ruined fortress would jut up from the middle of a grassy field separated from others by tumbling down stone fences. And on the radio, we heard, “It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life.”

Our marriage began going bad before we ever said the words, “I do”. What started off really well turned into a never-ending session of drama. For some reason or another, I found myself in the role of husband, step-father, and sole-provider. While I agreed upon the first two roles, the third was something that was thrust upon me without me having a say. Despite the fact that she was an R.N., she kept finding reason after reason why she could no longer work. Regardless of today’s plan, tomorrow would bring about some new excuse. So the complete burden of expenses fell upon my shoulders. No sooner would I find a way to take care of one problem when a new one would manifest itself. And it was making me absolutely miserable!

“I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah”

As the years went on, I hated my job and I began to really hate my home life. The only time that I had to myself to be calm and to be away from the constant drama was on my commute home from work. Despite often driving in blinding rain across the causeway, for the hour that it took me, it was just me. Well, me and the radio. And on occasion, I would hear that lyrical reminder…

“Try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money then you die”.

Pulling up into the driveway, I was always very tired – tired from the drive, tired from having my soul sucked away in an IT company where I didn’t feel like I did anything of any importance, tired from a dangerous drive, and tired from the anticipation of some argument that I would face when I would walk through the door. What would it be this time? A depressive fit? A manic scream-athon? No dinner because she just couldn’t/wouldn’t cook? Musty laundry in piles in the living room waiting for me to tackle them because she ‘wasn’t feeling well’ all day long (yet again)? Some new crazy drama involving her incredibly redneck biker-gang relatives? Something else in the house broken with a completely unbelievable explanation? A new all-encompassing and all-consuming obsession that would take precedence over absolutely everything? Addiction? What would it be? What would it be?

“No change, I can change, I can change, I can change/But I'm here in my mold, I am here in my mold”

Every now and then, I would be surprised. She would be in a good mood. The house would be neat and clean. A couple of scented candles would burn pleasantly. And I would smell a fantastic dinner being prepared. Those were the nights when I almost wanted to cry out of sheer joy. The relief from the drama could sometimes be utterly overwhelming! But as time went on, those days became fewer and fewer as my homelife became less stable and I never knew what I would face when I walked in the front door.

“And I’m a million different people from one day to the next”

Our marriage was most certainly over before the paperwork dried. She chose to chase her next obsessive dream (which to my knowledge turned into yet another bad bit of drama that was, of course, all Other Peoples’ Fault), and I decided not to follow her into the abyss. I couldn’t do it anymore. I just couldn’t do it. I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Nothing felt safe to me. Nothing felt stable. I couldn’t sleep. I felt sick to my stomach with anxiety every day. I just… couldn’t. And despite loving her deeply, it was time.

I have never wished her any ill, and I still don’t. As unhappy as I became in our marriage, I know that she too was unhappy. What I don’t understand is why. From the stories she told me, she had a truly terrible childhood, and I think it really messed her up as an adult. I had arrogantly thought that I would be able to help her get past her early traumas, but I was wrong. I do hope that someday she is able to heal and grow and move past her own injuries. I feel that I am still on my own journey of healing and self-discovery. I certainly am in a much happier place, not only in terms of physical location, but in terms of life, acceptance, relationships, love, and friends. I hope that she too will find her own sense of peace…. Just not anywhere around me.

“cuz it’s a bittersweet symphony this life”

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