This is the point where, with a massively awkward silence, I look at the blog I've had to let rot and say to a subset of friends, "Can we talk?" The reality, though, is that you probably know what this post is about, and even if you don't know for certain, you have a sinking feeling, deep down, that you already suspect what I need to say.
Let me put it plainly, then, so we can move on:
- I've asked Jeff for a divorce.
- I plan to relocate to Portland, Oregon in 2014.
I've held my words more and more tightly to myself as 2013 crept on. I did all the things that must be done: I paid for major house repairs, I worked on getting our lives in order, I got a promotion and I focused on my work. I did all of these things while conscious that the center of my life had rotted away. Dissolved. Vanished. I kept going anyway, because It Is What One Does, After All.
A few friends, very few, began to insert words in their conversations that told me they could see something was deeply, terribly wrong. I responded to even fewer of those friends, for fear that if I started screaming I wouldn't stop until every air molecule had left my lungs, and the weight of the decision would never allow them to re-inflate.
I haven't written about 2012-2013 publicly because I can't figure out how to do two things simultaneously. I have to face everyone who bought shirts, sat in the ICU, made sure I ate, and cheered us on in hospital after hospital -- and say, I am sorry. I let you down. Then I have to say the rest: I understand that you moved on because this is how the human condition works. No one can stay in crisis mode for years and years. Before you judge, though, you might want to ask what happened after you left.
Eventually, everyone trusted that this post-hospital New Normal would hold, and left us to our own devices. Our days kept turning, and they brought the kind of small events I couldn't share over a rah-rah mailing list celebrating Jeff's recovery. Things small and large: embarrassing, gut-wrenching, mortifying things. The kind of things that make you cry over coffee with an ever-shrinking set of trusted friends because leaving your spouse's dignity intact matters to you, and if you talk, you destroy it.
We were awkward, post-accident. We were the refutation of the Happily Ever After. It was easy to cheer Jeff's breathing, awakening, swallowing, talking, walking. It was harder to speak about the massive memory loss, pervasive depression, and situationally inappropriate behavior. It meant that after each interaction, a few more people quietly drifted out of our lives.
Here's an easy test. When you read the first three paragraphs of this post, were you shocked? Did you see it coming? Did you have a momentary flash of awkwardness and guilt that, if translated into words, would be "I ... should have called, or checked on them. I meant to."
Everyone meant to. I understand. Even now, I don't want to come out swinging. Enough people have been hurt. It has to stop somewhere, but I won't allow the price to be my silence.
* * * * *
This message unlocks Pandora's Box. It allows me to speak about my plans, and what happens next. I recognize that once I save this post, I should assume that the message is simply out, despite my access restrictions here. All I can ask for is your kindness and your discretion.