“Why aren’t you angry?”

“Why aren’t you angry?”

My therapist asked, with a bewildered expression on her face.

“It’s been a while now and I still haven’t seen you get angry?”

I’d been seeing a Therapist, Liane*  weekly since the day I asked my husband for a divorce. We were several months into seeing one another when she blurted the question out.

It hadn’t really crossed my mind. But it was true, I didn’t and I don’t feel anger about my failed marriage. Or the man I chose to pick as a life partner.

Don’t get me wrong. I do get angry. I feel wrath. Get under my skin and I will rise up like a tidal wave, wreaking havoc as I smash down into the perpetrator, with toxic words piercing his exterior like poisonous arrows. Yet my feelings regarding the separation and my ex weren’t instinctive or primal.

They were the result of years and months of gradually being worn down. I was being emotionally abused by my ex, a narcissist. He couldn’t see his own behaviour. He was completely mystified when I chose to leave him.

“But the children are happy. I am happy. The only problem is you. Why would you leave this?”

It’s sad because he genuinely believed the above. My happiness wasn’t of significance to him. We had a regular healthy income, two beautiful children, a vast social network and enjoyed regular trips away – what more could I want?

I was often accused of believing “the grass is greener”.

I was also woken at night by my husband having “relations” with me, apparently this was acceptable as I was his wife. He barked at me whenever I pulled my phone out (which as a freelancer was a necessity). He made me breastfeed in a room alone to avoid offending his family. I was never allowed the opportunity to time alone, he’d barrage me with endless phone calls reminding me of my failings that day. In every activity I conducted in front of him, I was belittled to the stage that I started to believe I was the person he saw.

So no, I wasn’t angry. I was full of adrenaline and fear. I was emotionally exhausted and drawing on what little reserves I had. I knew I had a long journey ahead rediscovering myself. Building myself up again. I would need to find the back bone he had worn down if I was going to get what I and my children deserved.

I knew I also needed to address what had led me to being here. How and why did I allow someone like him into my life? That’s an ongoing journey.

I needed to find peace. Peace in my surroundings, but most importantly, peace internally. Anger has no place there. It’s a healthy emotion. I’m a strong believer in sitting with your emotions. But anger is not one I have to sit with.

There are plenty of other demons I have to confront. But anger has no place here.

I twisted my hair round my fingers and awkwardly shuffled in my seat. Not entirely sure how I was meant to feel.

“I guess I just haven’t. Should I?” I meakly replied to Liane.

I was yet to realise I didn’t need anyone else’s validation in how to feel, but I was heading down the right path..

You missed the turn. Where the F**K are we?

Is that what happened?

Is that how life happens? Marriage doesn’t come with a Sat Nav. Lord knows it should.

Did anyone else do one of those pre-marriage questionnaires with their priest while preparing for a wedding? A rather extravagant multi option compatibility test. It asked whimsical questions like how we cope in social situations and whether we both wanted a family.

This is what it should have said:

Will you support your partners career?

Will you celebrate and support one another’s autonomy?

Will you change nappies?

Will you remember to be kind?

If I had seen the honest answers to the above I’d have grabbed my hard-earned savings and ran. As it was, we blindly marched into marriage, despite the regular squabbles, we believed love was enough. Love endures, love binds, love knows no limits.

Until it does.

The picture perfect wedding. An extravagant honeymoon. Cocktails on the beach as the sun set over Hawaiian seas. Two helicopter tours, one over the Grand Canyon, another over the picturesque beaches and volcanoes of Kauai. Stunning skyscraper views of New York. We bought a projector to be able to share the memories with family and friends on our return.

I had never allowed myself to dream of such luxury, such love. Yet there it was. What’s more, he agreed to support me to study and do the career I dreamt of. It seemed, for one moment in time, that I had it all.

He was charismatic, charming. People never failed to warm to him. He was generous in spirit. Happiness radiated throughout each room he entered. We both loved to live each day like it may be our last.

When we ate out, we had the best of everything. Large glasses of delicious heady wine, tender pink steaks piled high alongside chunky and crispy sweet potato fries.  Plump tomatoes sliced finely and smattered with deep olive oil, garlic and oregano. Finished with a Moroccan mint tea and no doubt a cheeky digestif for the road.

Evenings in were still an occasion, there was never a viewing of Mad Men that wasn’t accompanied by an Old Fashioned meticulously prepared by myself, he was never patient enough to stir for that long. Yet the impulsiveness which accompanied his inability to be patient was almost intoxicating.

His allure was how he contradicted me. While I am scrupulous and love the meditative effect of taking my time over the things I enjoy, he wanted and made everything happen immediately. He was the yin to my yang. Or so we thought.

“Often it’s the selfsame thing that attracts you to someone which eventually drives you apart.” Anon

It transpires that his view on life did not transpose well over to being a father. Patience is more than a virtue. When you’re a parent, it’s a necessity.

We didn’t have a sat nav. While the average marriage would benefit from one, parenthood requires a compass and stormwear to endure the destabilising knocks that bringing new life into the world entails.

We didn’t have the gear. We got lost. We got angry. We never found our way back.

CUT!

Oh hey!

I wasn’t expecting to be here. Were you?

Life was picture perfect. Like a preppy Hollywood movie, with a generous serving of Pride and Prejudice for good measure.

I met the man (tall, dark and handsome). Dated him the appropriate number of years. Lived together, travelled, all that jazz. He got down on one knee with a rock so bright I had to squint to see what it was in his sweaty shaking hands.

I said yes.

I bought the dress, we chose the village church, the reception venue in the woods. We delighted over hog roasts and flower displays. The sun shone brightly as we said our vows, then kissed under a floral arch to rapturous applause. He was in a three piece suit with tales, I wore romantic lace. We had never known such happiness.

We added two beautiful bundles to the mix. That’s where the cracks began to appear. Soon enough they were enormous chasms. Impossible to avoid or ignore. Like a volcano, our marriage erupted suddenly, catastrophically, irreparably.

And now we’re here. Life. But not as I knew it. Life: Take Two.

Life’s a bitch bastard and then you marry one. — Anon