“Talking it over” is a book by Julian Barnes, one of my favourite writers. This book about the vicissitudes of love made me fall in love with Barnes’ writing at a time I was falling out of love with my husband.
But wait, that is not true. I never fell out of love with my husband. It’s just, that his behaviour made it impossible for me to stay with him any longer. Domestic violence is something mainly contributed to the part of society described as “precarious” today. And nobody talks about it much. Least those on the receiving end. As one inevitably feels ashamed. As if it was their fault, somehow, that a partner takes it out on them.
As I write this, I still ask myself, what I did to make him explode at me so viciously. For my own wellbeing I have long since decided, that I won’t waste any more time shouldering his guilt. Which I did for quite some time. But still the question remains: How on earth could I let it come that far? What was my part in it? I believe in the saying “It takes two to tango.”. Perhaps, if I knew and were back then, who I am today, I could have prevented all this. Two hang-ups with this: I am who I am today also because of what has happened. Mainly, because those “dark times” – as I refer to it – caused a complete break-down, forcing me into therapy for some years. Which, in turn, left a stamp on my personality. And second, 17 more years on the clock ought to make one better at matters of the heart. But there is no way to turn back time. So, it remains a rethorical question.
But if I had to answer it today, I’d say, I could at least have helped preventing it. By fighting the beginnings. Not accepting verbal abuse. Solving conflicts by arguments rather than going along, grudging within. I was not equipped to deal with a very short fused character at all and to be honest, it is still hard for me, today, if I happen across flares of anger. But the biggest mistake was trying to live up to his expectations rather than living my own life, sharing it with him. Heck, I even lived up to my own expectations of how a married couple should function. Intellectually denying, but still accepting my father’s explanation about hierarchies “…a womans master is the man…”. The women in my husbands family were used to fighting back. To a point, I deemed unseemly, in the case of his sister. I thought her to be a horrible suffragette and hard-hearted woman, not giving in an inch, ever. I am not the aggressive type at all, but to stand up for myself would have helped, I am sure. I can’t really tell, if that would have prevented him from doing, what he did. But this is something to remain in the folder labelled “his problem”. All I can say, is, living a lie is not helping at all. And I am sorry, I did it.
p.s.: this is to my sweetheart: no, I don’t want him back. yes, I love you. But just as you were forced to leave your wife (and I know there was no choice there, either), I was forced, too. And we both know, love doesn’t disappear. Just as it happens without one knowing why, it also happens to people, who better not stay together, as it can turn into descructiveness. As I see it, one can but take a standpoint to a bond once established by who-knows-what (hormones is all there is to it, I have come to suspect) and live with it. The crazy roulette of hormones bancrupting the casino, when it brought us two together. Leaving us to spend the fortune wisely.