The year is 2007. The year of my best worst moment. I am on the brink of 30 and, by all appearances, I have everything a woman could desire. My husband and I have two darling daughters daughters, both under the age of three, fantastic jobs (both as English teachers in a junior high school, in neighboring districts), we have two lap dogs and a newly opened antique business run out of the attached carriage house. We live in a lovely original 1878 Victorian home which he and I, with the help of family, restored. My husband even built a picket fence around the back yard the previous summer so yes, I even had a picket fence. It is the type of life that I grew up hearing about in story books, watching in sitcoms. I should be happy. My husband loves me. My daughters love me. My family loves me. I have a new double sink in the bathroom. My husband built me a half bath upstairs. He wants me to be happy. I want me to be happy.
But instead of happiness, I feel a heavy weight filling me. I feel a need to purge. I do not understand why. I just feel wrong. My life feels wrong. It is May and soon I will celebrate my birthday with my sisters in Montreal listening to my favorite author, Maya Angelou, speak.
It is evening and my husband and I settle into bed. I begin to weep quietly. It is silent except for the sound of my weeping. I tell him that there is something wrong with me. I don't know what it is. I need him to help me. But he doesn't know what's wrong (how could he? I don't even know). What I needed he could not give me. He was incapable.
Less than one month later our marriage begins to crumble.
I am going to tell a story in a moment because I need you to understand that I loved my husband. I know he loved me. I loved the home that we had built together. But it was not meant to be. I spent countless nights alternating between tears and blame: myself, him, my family, the men that abandoned me in my childhood.
But the writing I do now, today, is not about blame. It is about acceptance. With acceptance comes forgiveness and healing.
Here is a story that I created to explain how my husband and I eventually had to follow our separate paths:
Once upon a time there was a handsome young man. He was newly heartbroken and, deciding to leave his village for the first time (going against his mother in the process), he wandered into the woods. After some time he came upon a young woman, bathing in a clear stream. Although she was not nude, the sight of her was one in which he was immediately enthralled, having never seen a woman bath before. He was captivated and waited for the woman to complete her ministrations. It was not long and she emerged, dripping, and basked in the sun upon a rock, feeling the divine light replenishing her soul.
Slowly, so not to startle her, he approached the bathing beauty. After a brief conversation, he offered to show her his home and the land that had been in his family for generations. Although the woman had never been to the village, she had heard many stories about it and was intrigued. She reluctantly agreed to leave her water world and took the young man's hand.
It was not long before the young man asked the maiden to marry him. Having been seduced by the village life, the merriment, the exotic places and people, she agreed, not realizing how she would in the process, sacrifice her home and her self-love.
After many years of making a home for herself and her husband, the woman felt there was something missing and asked the man if they could not go fishing, for dinner had been beef, pig and chicken, of which she had tired and desired something more of her previous diet.
The man, seeing an opportunity to spend an afternoon with his wife, whom he adored, in an activity that he relished, did not deny her such a small token. They took the small boat out to the broad river. There were many fish to be caught and the wife and husband lost sight of the shore in their delight of the pusuit. Unfortunately, a storm had begun to roll in, and upon seeing this, the man cried out that they must immediately begin to row ashore, otherwise all would be lost.
For the woman, although all the fish she could possibly ever want lay at her feet in the small boat, and the man she most desired (and with all her heart loved) was alongside her, fearing only for her safety in his demand to return to the village.... she had finally returned to her water home. Despite the dark clouds and the misty spray on her face, she felt no fear.
She responded, "Husband, must we go now? The clouds are still far off. It has been so pleasant a journey. I wish not to return to the village so soon."
Her husband was aghast that she would consider remaining and began to row the boat in the direction of the shore as he spoke, "My love, it grows dark and the storm threatens us. Why would you not return with me to the shore and our home?"
The woman, with her heart aching ,said, "My love, I can not return with you to our home. Although you have caught for me all the trout, bass and perch a woman could desire, I am not satisfied. We have not yet found the whale."
The husband cried, "But there are no whales in these waters!"
The maiden responded, "Yes, husband, I know."
My intention today was to tell about how I found the book I was in the process of writing when my marriage began to crumble. I stopped writing at page 52 because I could not continue dredging up emotions of the past when I was burdened by the emotion of the then present. I wanted to share in my joy that today, for the first time in 6 years, I had the ability to return to that book and pick it up. I am healing. I am becoming whole.
I reread parts of the book.
The first page tells about my husband and how much he loved me, so much in fact that he wrote pages about me. Sweet, endearing pages that were filled with his love. He gave those to me over six years ago. I wanted to write this today to explain that, while our parting was heartache, it was meant to be. It had to be. I have accepted this.
Because I was in search of a whale. I still am.