In the end, we’re always kind of alone, aren’t we?
I’d be a fool and a liar to sit here and write that I haven’t found the bright spots in separating from my wife. And she’d probably tell you the same thing. So much of our own marriage became work at the end.
And when the only love affair going down in your life requires shoveling way more coal into the engine than it gives off heat, well yeah, it may be time for a change.
So that’s what happened. We changed things up. We split.
Breaking up makes some people ecstatic and giddy and instantly infused with some sort of new-found liberation. To them, I raise an eyebrow and quietly mumble my congratulations.“Well done, you b*stards. Enjoy your f*cking freedom.”
It hasn’t been that way for me though, and I don’t think I’m alone. Walking away from my marriage, even if it made sense at the time, has been tough. And for good reason.
Obviously, I don’t miss the bad stuff, the arguing and the slamming doors. And even though I’m not going to stand around and tell people that we were the perfect couple (just look at all of our happy photos together on Facebook and Instagram), that still doesn’t mean that I don’t feel incredibly lonely without her in my life. Because guess what? I do. And screw you if you think I’m an ass to feel that way or to admit it out loud.
There are nights when I stand in the middle of my kitchen in this old house I’ve rented, stare at the juice-stained couch sitting there like a battleship parked in front of the TV a room away, and wonder what the heck she’s doing at that exact moment. Then I’ll start thinking about how we used to end up on the couch together almost every night of our marriage. (And with almost a decade together, that’s a lot of couch time.) We anchored our own sides of the thing with regularity to the point of tradition.
Now, the split is the split and she’s not there anymore. It almost feels like she died, but she didn’t. I know that and I’m glad of it, obviously. But still.
I walk over and sit down and flick on the flat-screen. And before long, as I scan the channels mindlessly and take a sip of my wine, I run across our old shows. Seinfeld. The King of Queens. Roseanne. The Sopranos. Hell, even Mike & Molly.
We had so many shows we watched together. And because I laugh at almost any joke any half-assed TV writer out in Hollywood has ever put into an episode, she spent most of a decade sitting on her side of the couch, being pummeled by my laughter. Maybe she doesn’t miss that. And even if she did, I know that wouldn’t be nearly enough to make things better or turn life around.
But I miss it so much, man. And I need to tell someone that, but there’s no one here.
Eventually, down the road, I’m supposed to imagine that there might be a new someone down the end of my couch, someone different, from a different place, with a different name and a different look and different charms and quirks and tastes than the woman I used to know. But I’m not there yet. Not even close. I don’t think about someone else, mainly because I don’t want to.
Right now, tonight, at this very instant, I feel as lonely as I’ve ever felt and that has nothing to do with the fact that I’m typing this post while sitting my ass on the couch. Alone.
And for what it’s worth, I hope that tonight, my ex maybe feels the same way.
I hope she might somehow know that I’m still obviously able to laugh my stupid laugh at this old re-run of Seinfeld we watched together a hundred times back in the day. But when I peel apart the hope, scrape away the frost, and cut my hand through the fog of all this separation, I also hope she notices that she can’t hear the sound of my laughter anymore.
Except in her head. And that’s the kind of loneliness I’m getting at.
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