i wish

backbone

backbone
Written by Cathoel Jorss,

Over breakfast my partner announced he is falling in love with another woman. I said, “What?” The omelettes had turned out so well. It was a cool, greyish day. I had asked why he kept heaving huge sighs. For a long time I could say just nothing. Then I asked a question, how can this be the first I am hearing of this. Because it is very new, he said. Also she’s married and has kids so it’s complicated.

I think I said, Oh, how dramatic. I felt filled with pain and contempt, and the pain of contempt. I got up and took my breakfast into the other room, shutting the two doors between us. I couldn’t eat. Naturally after a while I went back and had to ask some more questions. He met her two weeks ago, at a friend’s. A friend’s of mine, as well. They talked for ages. The two of them really understood each other. They’ve been ‘texting’ a lot. I was outraged. How could you get to the point of asking a woman for her phone number – without saying anything to me? Oh no, he said, as though that made a difference: we talk online. I said, Why didn’t you just come home and say to me, after that first night, I met a woman last night and we had this amazing conversation, I feel very attracted to her. Everything might have had the chance to turn out different. It might have been the beginning of a new closeness for us. Or is it just that for some reason you wanted out – you don’t wanna live in Australia, you wanna stay in Berlin – and you lack sufficient emotional self-awareness to break up our relationship without using this lever.

His emotional honesty and his courage were the qualities I most cherished in this man. Now those were gone, I felt nothing but a bitter disdain. The dry, unflinching, writerly part of my brain was saying, What a convenient trap. I cannot say or do anything. If I howl and cry I will be making myself more unappealing while this stranger, this mother and wife, remains mysterious and alluring because blah honeymoon. If I say, I’m so angry I feel like I could crack a dinner plate over your head, then I’m a monster and he can take refuge with her and be relieved to get away and thus basically whatever I do, I am making myself easier to leave, easier to get over. The cold tight tiny childhood feeling in the pits of me which whispers: didn’t we always know this, you are unlovable. How old is she? Young. What do you talk about in your endless emails, do you talk about how the two of you are falling in love and how you want to be together? “No, not really, we can talk about everything! Everything!” Oh, how divine. I could feel the grief and fury in me congealing over with a self-preservative lard of dry humour. Underneath this cold gel, the endless pain lurked dark and wild. I thought, well if he is prepared to jettison a three-year love affair, and to leave me in the middle of Europe alone; and if she is prepared to leave her husband and two (or three?) presumably quite young children – they must be made for one another. I just couldn’t get over my feeling of disgust. I said, I’ve never respected you less.

The whole conversation took less than half an hour. He burst out at one stage, But I love you, Cathoel, I really do! Yes, I said, sourly… I can see that. He said, I honour and respect you so much. That cannot be true. For then how could you treat me so poorly? How can you have been so close with me the last two weeks while this was going on, and never even mentioned it? I said, Can I see your emails? “No,” he said, almost primly. “Those are ours, that is our private communication, and I protect that.”

That hurt more, in the instant, than the rest of everything all put together. My wounded child soul was roaring, Wait! What? Help! No! Help! Isn’t it… our privacy that you should be protecting? We are so interwoven into one another’s lives. I thought we were. I threw him out. I went out, too, after he’d gone and walked in sunglasses through the dim afternoon along the green-shaded river. Berlin, so much pain. I passed the spot where in August of 2012 I had sat down on a park bench and cried, overcome by the dismaying enormity of what I had done: locked my house door in Melbourne behind me, and come to Berlin for a week, on a whim, on an instinct, and stayed on and stayed. Homesickness choked me and I did not love the swans. The man, who until this morning seemed so darling, so honest, so filled with love, went off into the greenery and scuffled. People were walking past smoking joints and wheeling their bicycles, I was busy crying as quietly as I could. Moments later he reappeared, holding out a sweet handful of fresh soft summer leaves, heart-shaped they were, I did not know the tree. He said, “Brush your nose,” which was the way he’d learned to say “blow.” In spite of everything I’m sure I must have giggled. He had graded the leaves, choosing only the softest, from smallest at the top of the pile to palm-sized below, so that I could ‘have a good blow’ as Gran used to say and reassemble myself. I thought, all my life I have never been loved like this. And I was right. And also, I was wrong. It is painful to love a weak person, it hurts. And it seems there are only two choices here, as to what might happen. 1: in a few weeks he comes over crying and saying, I’m so sorry I hurt you, I will never hurt you again. Gee… that’s attractive. Or 2. He really is falling in love – ugh, that phrase, in this context, it just fills me with contempt – and this is the end of the nicest, kindest, wisest love affair I have ever been a part of. Thus it is not only over but was partly imaginary. Aye… there’s the raw.

99 comments on “backbone

  1. Exactly the word that is running through my head, Katie…

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 6:26 pm
  2. Thank you Raelene! I feel hugged X

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 6:33 pm
  3. thxxx

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 6:42 pm
  4. Thanks darlin Sandy. Your Moroccan hugs are most welcome.

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 6:54 pm
  5. Zackly how I feel. Thank you Jennifer.

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 6:56 pm
  6. That is a brilliant suggestion, Jennifer, thank you! I am wary that these kinds of sudden attractions have some obvious pitfalls. Great way to explore that. And at the very least he’d know then what he is looking for in his next relationship, that suddenly reveals itself as missing, here.

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 6:58 pm
  7. Have to be a country and western song, surely, Clint? That way if I play it backwards… ^_^

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm
  8. It would be really beautiful to come & stay with you both. Thank you so much, Carmen. Very kind of you. X

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 8:10 pm
  9. This powerful shoutout helped me, La Liz. Thank you. X

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 9:42 pm
  10. Your honesty is both painful and powerful. I hope that expressing it helps a bit.

    Bruce Byfield June 20, 2015 at 9:49 pm
  11. It really did. Thank you for reading, Bruce.

    Cathoel Jorss June 20, 2015 at 9:51 pm
  12. You know, Judith, I thought a lot about fiction and fact after writing this. It was written within hours of a shattering piece of news. I did my best to render people and conversations as fairly and truthfully as I was able. So it’s not fiction but I’m not sure it would be fair to call it ‘factual’ as it represents only my own point of view, and my experience.

    Cathoel Jorss June 21, 2015 at 12:40 am
  13. Oh darl. A close friend of mine was recently left by her beloved partner of three years – out of the blue and for reasons that made no sense – five weeks after moving in together. She is devestated, but beautiful and strong and she will heal from this and go on in integrity and in her power to love again with a man more ready and able to stay the distance. I’ve no doubt that will be true for you too should this prove to be the end of this relationship that you have cherished, as she cherished hers. M x

    Meera Atkinson June 21, 2015 at 1:07 am
  14. Good advice. Wise Susan. Thank you for thinking of me bella x

    Cathoel Jorss June 21, 2015 at 2:50 am
  15. Come home…………

    Margaret June 21, 2015 at 2:56 am
  16. I’m so sorry C xxx

    Karen June 21, 2015 at 7:46 am
  17. I will be blessed with sweet dreams tonight I just know after feasting on House of Lovers in Spain. Thankyou for lending your lovely eyes! Jx

    Jennifer June 21, 2015 at 11:25 am
  18. Sorry, Cathoel, for some reason I’ve reposted the last comment I made here! I’m appalled on your behalf and full of admiration that you’ve been able to document a time when I for one would be in total lockdown and unable to communicate at all. Thankyou. And my heart is aching for you. A line was irrevocably crossed and we’ve all experienced that dreadful sensation as trust flees past your ear. You didn’t wake up this morning with the intention of restructuring your primary relationship forever. This has happened to you, yet all the responses you naturally reach for based on this initial sense of being without agency in this situation, do indeed script you into the roles you’ve described ie the ones that make it easier for the other party to rationalize ending the relationship. I’m just gobsmacked by his behavior. I’m feeling for you. I told my partner and we share mutual outrage. I hope that you derive some comfort from all the supportive messages here. Of all people, you are not a victim and being forced into this position is further insulting. I know you’ll navigate this with strength and grace but there is no getting around the pain and for that may heart goes out to you, love Jenx

    Jennifer June 21, 2015 at 12:11 pm
  19. Oh god. Shock, disbelief, grief to think of you not with him, of him not with you. Please do not let this diminish your wonderful self xxx

    Alison Lambert June 21, 2015 at 12:43 pm
  20. So expletive deleted not fair at all – you have my permission to smash as many eggs (plates, glasses, windows) as you require.

    When trust is broken, dreams get shattered – that is what is so bloddy unfair when merde like this seeps into our lives. Why can’t the devils not have the civilization to put the effort into the wonder they hold in their hands, or have the decency to say “I am not the person that you think that I am” well before trampling all over hopes.

    Outraged on your behalf.

    jeanieinparadise June 21, 2015 at 2:19 pm
  21. stay strong , stay vulnerable, honour yourself and all that you are Cathoel x

    cal mackinnon June 23, 2015 at 10:58 am
  22. Oh CJ, how dreadful. Men are aweful! xxx

    Diamond June 23, 2015 at 11:06 am
  23. big fat slice of love and affection on the way over to you now…….Mm’WAH xx

    Lesley Owen June 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm
  24. Cathoel, what can I say? It beggars belief that this could happen, but then it so often does. Thinking way back, years ago . . . of course! Write about it – nothing better for resetting your mind, yourself. You’ve done both the best and hardest thing, and of course you did it so, so well. Do more – try verse? If a friend of a friend in town might deliver proxy hugs from Flaxton, we’re here for a day or two; if not best of best wishes. Russell + Veronika

    Russell Obst June 23, 2015 at 9:38 pm
  25. Russell are you in Berlin? I would love to meet up. Let’s email, that sounds wonderful.

    Thank you for your kind thoughts. And to everybody for your kind loving thoughts and generosity. I’m a bit preverbal just now but it means a lot to me. A lot.

    Cathoel Jorss June 23, 2015 at 9:49 pm
  26. Dearest CJ, you’re in my thoughts. From the post, I love the detail in mentioning omelettes – the most brutal moments always feel so much more real to me when they are grounded in domesticity. Take care my friend xxx.

    Debbie July 5, 2015 at 11:53 am
  27. “Why didn’t you just come home and say to me, after that first night, I met a woman last night and we had this amazing conversation, I feel very attracted to her. Everything might have had the chance to turn out different. It might have been the beginning of a new closeness for us,” Yeah, that’s what I would have done. As for; “it’s “complicated”. Poor him, my heart weeps.

    reverend hellfire July 5, 2015 at 12:01 pm
  28. Hugs to you dear gentle soul….

    Margaret July 16, 2015 at 1:40 am
  29. One year ago … and this tale of woe is even more a work of art than I remembered.

    Rhyll McMaster June 21, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *