We’ve given up on us
Love of my life… it’s easy to remember when I met you. The roundest of round numbers (in our lifetime).
The year 2000.
It’ll be just as easy to recall the end. Another round number.
The beginning of a decade, bringing with it so much new hope, to then dash it to the ground with the coronavirus.
Our relationship, too, ends at a beginning. Lockdown.
I’ve lived abroad for over half of my life yet have felt an increasing pull to return to an English-speaking country, where I ‘get’ the nuances of the culture.
You, not so much. But you said you’d go wherever I wanted. Do whatever it takes to make me happy. Follow me to the ends of the Earth (or did I imagine that?).
I waited and waited.
I waited some more. I made excuses. Mostly to myself.
We’ve stalled and stumbled through too many months, too many years, of living in a place that doesn’t feel like ‘home’. Not to me.
Finally, this year was going to be ‘the year’. House on the market, pet passports in order, kids prepped and excited for new horizons.
You mumbled about vague ideas, possible plans… nothing concrete. I smelled reluctance but didn’t give it a name.
I still thought you were coming with us…
…up until just a few weeks ago. I believed you’d come too.
We both knew we’d no longer been a match made in heaven for a long time. That was clear enough. But we’re parents. We both love the kids. So used to being a unit. On the same team. Or at least trying to be…
When push came to shove, it didn’t happen.
I went for a walk with a friend. Was it only five weeks ago? ‘Social distancing’ was a newly-born term. I dared to confide those whispers from my soul — set them free across our two-metre space. My words hung in the air. Out.
Dropped like lead.
Her response surprised me.
Can kindness be cold? Can candour cut yet caress and stir promises? That there might be another way?
‘Perhaps he’d be relieved too?’
It hit me like a crashing wave.
‘I hadn’t thought of that.’
Nearly knocked me off my feet. I gasped. Could she be right?
So I asked you. I took the plunge. Initiated the difficult conversation.
And once it’s done, there’s no going back.
So here I am. And there you are. Apart. Although no oceans divide us, there is the Channel to consider.
And I’m drifting along… waves of deep sadness lapping against bursts of joy that we’ve finally done it. Admitted we just weren’t right for each other any longer.
We couldn’t make each other happy. Miserable, yes. And the children…
In the end, at the end, of 20 years, a sense of apathy. We’re drained. We’ve done all we can. Exhausted every angle. Grabbed at each advantage. Shot each other down to then pick up the pieces. Again and again and again.
Now… there is no raging, no fight left. No fireworks nor begging and supplication from either side to please, please, I’ll do anything but won’t you give it one last try.
It’s more an acceptance. Resignation. A laying down of arms. Ceasefire and weary defeat.
It just kind of petered out.
For a while longer, we still told each other, at the end of a call, ‘I love you.’ It was a hard habit to break after 20 years.
Our 20 years. An easy number to remember. An impossible love to forget. Love of my life… a lifetime ago.
Adapted from my post first published in May 2020 in PS I Love You on Medium.