there were things I hated, too

I wrote awhile back about how much I loved simply co-habiting and sharing the daily stuff of life with a partner…

Well, as it turns out, I was having coffee with another divorced, single mother in a similar field…and we got to chatting about our personal status. She shared how much she liked having her home, routines, closets, television remote and bed to herself, and said that she not only did not miss her ex-husband, but also had no real desire to let anyone else in to her life in the same way. And then I confessed how much I loved living with someone, and we continued this conversation about benefits and shortcomings of space sharing…until suddenly the stuff I hated about living with my ex bubbled through the surface and out into the open.

For example:  his retreating immediately to the living room after dinner, lying across the entire sofa with a transistor radio and headphones in his ears, listening to god-knows-what programs about UFOs and conspiracy theories and the like…

The woman across the table from me cracked a smile, which became a cackle and then a guffaw as we both began to laugh aloud, our bodies shaking, and I saw in stark relief, for the first time, how freakin’ bizarre this scene was! And I realized that, in fact, I did not love everything about living with another person, at least not when he was so emotionally checked out and disinterested in relating.

So let me revise my initial treatise to confess that I loved living with my partner…when he was a partner. Time’s passage must have colored all my memories rosy, because I seemed to have forgotten how hard it was, at times, to accept and forgive when he’d shrunk a favorite sweater in the wash or broken my grandfather’s China while doing the dishes. And it especially sucked to watch his escape into the crackle and faraway voices of a transistor radio, a stupid little hand-crankable, battery-powered device, as its allure replaced any desire for my company, closeness, unity or intimacy.

I am describing what I believe is some sort of undiagnosed, untreated mental illness…nothing extraordinary, possibly just your run-of-the-mill depression. To see it and face it is difficult enough; to suggest or cajole that a loved one seek help is even more potent; to watch as it slowly erodes any hope for a positive future is devastating. And I’m sure it’s no different from anyone else’s experience of realizing that their relationship is doomed, that the end is near and that they are utterly powerless to do anything to save it. But living with that sucked!

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