Chapter 20

There is a moment when every man is at his most honest. When his defences are down and he can do nothing but succumb to his true thoughts and feelings. In this moment, gone are the thoughts and fantasies of what propelled him to erupt in ecstasy mere seconds ago (unless, of course, he’s actually with the object of these thoughts and fantasies). In this moment, he thinks about what he truly wants, how his needs can truly be met, well beyond the pale of ephemeral sexual satisfaction, his mind unclouded by biological urges.

I refer of course to the moment just after orgasm, when, spent and satiated, a man lies back and allows his mind to drift to the places it truly wants to go. When truths he can normally suppress come floating to the surface and he’s both powerless to prevent it and disinterested in doing so.

It’s a perfect time for him to acknowledge who he truly loves.

My wife is trying very hard. In every way, she’s trying to be the wife I didn’t have for many years. At first that angered me, made me resentful for the fact that it took me telling her I was leaving before she was willing to do this. I’m not angry anymore. I can see how much effort she is putting in and I’m torn between feeling incredibly appreciative of what she’s doing and desperately sad because I think it’s too late. Things that should be touching me deeply are recognised and acknowledged but there is a vacuum where my feelings should be.

She says she is going to make me fall in love with her again. The thing is, nobody can make anybody do anything. I’m trying to be open to that possibility, but when I lay there catching my breath, the endorphins rushing through me and my heart rate returning to normal, when the daytime filter drops away and I let myself acknowledge what I really want, who I really love, it is not her.

Regardless, that is neither here nor there. Thinking about what I want is jumping the gun. Needs must be my focus. Not just mine. As much as I need to understand my own needs, I also need to consider those of the people closest to me, and whether or not I’m truly the person who can help to meet them. Currently, I’m functioning as a good husband and father, outwardly doing all the right things. Still, that vacuum where my feelings should be persists. I wonder if I can trick myself into having the feelings she wants me to have for her again. Then I remind myself that that’s exactly how we got here in the first place. No. Not again.

For my children, there is no need for trickery. I’m their father and I will do whatever I must to meet their needs. It’s everything beyond them that I must consider.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the notion that my relationship with my wife was never really given an option to fail. The stakes were simply too high, right from the start. Holiday romance. Long distance relationship. Moving countries to be together. Moving in together immediately. At no point along that time line was there ever the option to say hold up, I need some time and space to figure out if this is the right thing for me. If this is really a person who helps meet my needs.

To have done that would have left the other person alone and isolated in a place they knew nobody. First her. Then me, when I moved.

Outside of a single month (June 1999), I haven’t been single since I was 18 years old. I’ve spent my entire adult life in relationships. I don’t actually know what life is like standing on my own two feet. True, I moved out of home as soon as I could, and have worked continuously since I was 15, but I’ve always had some kind of partner along the way. A crutch, maybe? Did I think I couldn’t do life on my own? I’m not sure. Maybe. Probably.

I know I can now. As to whether or not I should, again, I don’t know. Right now it’s one day at a time. Maintain positivity in my outlook. Address negativity with composure and patience and without compromising my integrity. (Well, no more than I have already.) That all has to come from in me. I can’t lay responsibility for my behaviour on anyone but me. The rest, working things out, will come.


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