The windmills of your mind

samedi, le 05 septembre 2009

When you knew that it was over,
Were you suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the colour of her hair?
~Alan Bergman

A bitter anniversary. It is three months to the day that L’homme walked out on me, without a word. Three short months that have changed the course of a lifetime plotted over thirteen long years.

In December things got a bit rocky. L’homme upped and left, allured by the fool’s gold of the dark night, on a five day bender. When the hangover set in, he came back. And through a cricket test series, we found closeness and connection again.

L’homme found work a day or so a week and things become lighter. He became more enthused about a friend’s software program on the surface and started dreaming about the riches he was going to reap and the kindness he was going to bestow on me. He’d tell me that he’d buy me a house in the French countryside, I’d tell him that all I want is for him to love me. He even felt that all was well in our relationship, albeit that ‘his’ bar was simply surviving from month to month.

The bar was never his, but that detail he was not going to divulge to those not in the know. But as the bar was not his, he also didn’t know to what extent the bar was floundering from month to month, to what extent it was draining what little access I had to money. To what extent I needed him to take responsibility for himself, and how I, for the first time in our lifetime together, needed him to ease some of the household financial burden.

At the end of February we attended a relative’s wedding and an epileptic fit thrust new possibilities upon his software project. But the software project remained limited to a few phone calls a day, endless ‘meetings’ in bars and little promotional effort to match the potential it held.

By early April L’homme spoke kinder about our relationship to others. He described our lifestyle as that of an old married couple. But meanwhile back home, there was a direct correlation between the glasses of wine, the pages of online porn, his absenteeism in the relationship and a household spiraling deeper into a recession. The wine, the porn and the absenteeism increased while the money ran out. But if he saw us as an old married couple, surely his absenteeism would soon become more attentive?

By mid-April our vehicle with our sensitive relationship in it, battled up steep and rocky mountain paths, with no 4 x 4 capabilities. And I yanked the steering wheel this way and that, and L’homme fell more and more quiet, became more and more distant.

The most bitter, hurtful conversation of our lifetime together was had. He voiced his regrets, that he had no desire for me, that he had always been absent from the relationship and his biggest regret of all, that he could not be better for me.

In the same conversation he also told me that I had no choice but to endure this, to endure his lack of desire, to endure his absence and to endure the way he treated me, because, should I decide to end it, he would sue me. And he would sue me to maintain him in the lifestyle he had become accustomed to, the lifestyle I offered him.

I limped away from that conversation heartbroken, angry and hurt beyond comprehension. For months I’d been trying to wriggle from the burden of his dependency, to get him to take responsibility for himself, and he rewards me by taking total control over me. By threatening me with legal action I cannot afford, he ensured that I had to abide by a life with him, with his lack of desire and deepening absence.

And so our vehicle with our sensitive relationship in it came dangerously close to a precipice. I slowly and carefully negotiated the downhill.

In early May L’homme goes away for the weekend. Leaving me alone, scared and confused. He realises he doesn’t have the infrastructure to leave, ever dependent on not the person that I am, but the lifestyle that I offer him, albeit now stripped bare of all luxuries. And for light comic relief he is the clown of Friday night’s party.

A few days later he announces that we are about to get divorced, that we are buckling under the stresses and strains of life, that he said things in the heat of the moment that he shouldn’t have and all of this the result of economic pressures. And he has the warped insight that we could maybe patch it all back together again if he one day made some money.

On Mother’s Day, my mother, as countless times in my life before, rescues me. She invites L’homme to join us at a concert. He sits next to me, he holds my hand, he hugs me from time to time, he buys me a little black cat. And tears roll uncontrollably over my face. At least for now I have all I have fought for and asked for so desperately these past many months. I feel a vague closeness from L’homme, a glimmer of his presence. And with his closeness and distant presence, I could move forward, I could move on.

A few days later our fortunes turn. L’homme gets fulltime work. I jump up early in the mornings, load The Princess in the car and take him to work. At lunchtime we take him home cooked meals and though things are still shaky, I revel in yet another corner we have turned.

I now do not have the burden of L’homme on my back for financial well-being, I can feel somewhat less guilty about his financial predicament. I can breathe lightly again, not deep, satisfying breaths, but shallow, short breaths. We will survive the recession, we will break through to the other side, hand in hand, arm in arm and we will grow old together.

L’homme admits that he feels much better about himself, that he treats me better and that things are going better. Not great, but at least better. And for me, better is good. He again talks of us as a couple, of us as together. He tells others about our love of France and things we have in common, the fact that we are both snobs, him intellectually and me stylishly and intellectually and that’s why we’re together.

But then I realise L’homme is only going to use his financial gains to satisfy his ego, his life in bars with no relief to the household pot and the kindnesses he has bestowed lightly on me, has only been to justify his self-indulgent lifestyle. On a Friday night at the end of May I tell him about a meal of favourites I’m going to cook, only for him not to come home at all and to stagger in from the bars in the early hours of the next morning, with the meal of favourites dried out and cold.

Tired, beaten down and exasperated by the fighting, the struggling of the past few months, I simply fall silent. And in my silence I search for new approaches to bridge this gap.

I stumble across a therapy program that offers:
‘What we need to understand is that conflict is supposed to happen. This is as nature intended it. Conflict needs to be understood as a given, a sign that the psyche is trying to survive, trying to restore what went wrong, to get it’s needs met and become whole. What you have experienced during the romantic stage of your relationship is an indication of the potential of what your relationship can be like.’

I have never in my life been as happy as I was during the romantic stages of my relationship with L’homme and if this is the potential of what our life together can be like, this is what I want.

But then, before I can share this with him, he announces that he is going to move out. Just like that. Later that night I ask him to hug me. And I cling to him with the same desperation I did on Friday.

Oh my love,
My old, my sweet, my gentle love
From year to year as all the seasons fall
I love you more you know,
I love you … still
~Jacques Brel

(And as Charles Baudelaire knew, my and L’homme’s world only went round by misunderstanding. Wind turbines totally fascinate me, even though they aren’t as pretty as windmills. It’s one of those contradictions – a man-made thing that blemishes an exquisite landscape, but I find them very gracious and elegant. And I wonder what the windmills of L’homme’s mind generate.)

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