Some words feel too alien to be true, even when they are. It makes them hard to say, even harder to discuss and defend. I don’t handle it well. A sentence causes hurt and denial and anger and pleas and I have no words, nothing to offer that doesn’t make it worse.
This isn’t working.
We’re not–we can’t be–a couple.
We’ve been together more than a decade. We moved states away with nothing but each other, twice. Said vows between the arms of a hurricane. I didn’t want kids, he got surgery so we could be sure. We’ve boosted (or sometimes dragged) each other over the day to day obstacles of work and life and academia. Eleven years, almost twelve. Some of it has been good. Some, unbearable.
It isn’t working.
Too many arguments. Too much damage control, too little ability to understand each other. Too much guilt. Because it can be controlled, all this damage, but one of us is gunpowder and the other is flame. How much time, how much effort, before the hazards of staying together aren’t worth it anymore?
There is shouting, tears. Not so much fighting as being miserable at each other in the same room. First he says fine, I’ll go, find a place to stay right now; if we’re not together I can’t bear to be here. Then it’s please, I can’t live without you, just stay, we’ll figure something out. I try to list steps we can take, so we might do this calmly, though neither of us is calm. I say I’m sorry. It doesn’t help. We’re still broken.
We are both essentially single for the first time in our adult lives. He denies it, and I don’t have the energy to say it again. I slink off to another room, fail to be productive, wish I were alone in a quiet that didn’t touch anyone else’s life, where no one else could touch mine.
There are things I know: that this is my fault, that it needs to be dealt with, decisions made, that I cannot put off or put on him. That I am controlling and hurtful and not to be trusted. That the boundaries I set are not fair, that they make intimacy all but impossible. That this is not going to change. That I am not wholly sane, not wholly sure about the things I think I know.
It isn’t working and I feel like an imposter. How can I write about relationships here when mine all fail so spectacularly all at once? How can I be allowed (yes, really, I am) to provide counseling on sexual behavior and boundaries and the rest? Why do people keep asking for relationship advice and how dare I say “I’ll try” instead of “dear God, run, ask anyone but me”?
I’m shutting down and shutting people out. It seems safer for everyone, though this time I’m aware that it is also selfish. This is terrible timing, though no timing would be good. Final week of semester. Papers and exams and presentations demand attention. Applying for jobs. I am avoiding the necessary conversations, not even sure I can form the right words.
It isn’t working. What else is there to say?