Uncoupling

I’ve had a pain in my chest, on and off for the last two days.

I try to think of anything I might have done to strain muscles. Playing pinball? I hadn’t done that for years. Maybe deconditioning, after not going to the gym for two weeks? I climb to the top of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, 528 steps, and the pain does not worsen. My Fitbit shows no aberration in my pulse.

Tonight, as I think about tomorrow, about the tasks I need to do to finish separating bank accounts, the tears steam down my face and the pain in my chest returns.

And I realize that I still love my husband.

I’d convinced myself I didn’t, anymore. I convinced myself that the pain was coming from my ego, damaged by rejection, from grief for the life that was gone, for the future planned that would never be. The pain of our family being broken, never again laughing together, so easy and joyful. The holidays spent alone, because my children would rather skip them than feel the twinge of the missing limb. The social circles that have reformed, but are not the same.

I thought I was healing. You’re better off without him, people said. He’s a cheater, a liar, cruel and selfish. I agreed. I have a new life. I’m travelling. There is a new man who thinks I am wonderful, and hopes I will come home to him. But the tears still run down my face tonight.

Those who knew of our financial arrangements were astonished. I still kept all the books. We had joint accounts and credit cards. I helped him set up separate ones, advised on decisions, paid bills, did the taxes. When they asked why, I would say something about it not being to my or the kids’ advantage to have him fall apart financially, but the truth was deeper. Here was where I still mattered. He may have rejected me as a life partner, as a lover, as a friend, but in this one aspect, I was still acknowledged as having value to him.

Tomorrow is the day when we settle accounts. It’s a sensible time to do it, with taxes paid and year end finished. I am, alone, on the last trip we had talked about doing together, and this would have been when we headed home.

Although one joint account will remain until the house money comes in, that is all that will be shared. No longer will I see, like tracks in the forest, the signs of his passing: gas bought in Lake Cowichan, dinner with a child paid for in Duncan, a cheque from a client deposited. And my sorrow tonight makes me realize how I held to those small connections.

It’s hard to stop when you have loved someone for 30 years. I would have kept loving him if his health had failed, if he’d developed cancer, an addiction, a mental illness. I had already been there with him as his body softened and his opinions hardened. How could I suddenly stop loving him, just because he decided he no longer loved me?

Yes, I have accepted reality– there is no going back. I know that if he was to say, again, that it was all a mistake, I would turn my head and walk away. The cuts were too deep, and their healing does not involve him.

But tonight, I let my heart have its way, and I cry.

And hope that tomorrow, there will be no more pain in my chest.

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