He had lost himself. Somewhere along the way, he no longer knew who he was. Did the depression come first, leading him astray? Or did the depression tag along, following the self out the door? Regardless of the order, he was left a shell. Rather than face the void and explore its dark depths, he chose to avoid by creating a facade of a man. It must have been exhausting, balancing on that edge, trying not to fall while maintaining the illusion that he was nowhere near the cliff. He was a master at that delicate act for years. Even when he left, he thought he could continue to pull a Copperfield on those around him, using mirrors of deception to hide the enormous truth. The fall was inevitable. For a brief period after his arrest, he seemed to see the precipice, the darkness surrounding him just beyond the lights he used to distract and blind. Yet still, he was unable to face the pain, and he chose to continue being a master of illusion. By denying the void, he allowed it to grow.
I also avoided the truth in those years, not consciously, but on some deep level. I didn’t give any credence to the physical symptoms of anxiety that coursed through my body in the final few months; I wrote them off as work stress combined with my Type A personality. It’s hard accepting that I didn’t see the truth. I feel bad for me, but even more so, I feel like I failed him. One of the few regrets I have is that I didn’t know that he needed help before it was too late.
I expected to face my own void when he left. I loved that man, adored him. He had been the driving force in my existence for half my life. How could I lose him and not face a gaping wound? The initial loss was too raw, too overwhelming to feel any sense of loss. As I settled in to my new state of being, I surprisingly realized I didn’t feel as much emptiness as I expected. It was more like the void left after a tooth has been pulled: slightly sore with the occasional shocky bit, but mainly just strange and alien. Like one does with the tongue after losing a tooth, I explored the hole, drawn to its strangeness. At first, it consumed all my waking thoughts, but as time elapsed, it grew less prominent. I became accustomed to his absence faster than I ever anticipated, consciously filling that void with friends, activities, anything I could get my hands on. I survived not by teetering on the edge, but by filling in the hole. I am still aware of the place where he was, but accept that he was the tooth that needed to pulled for healing to occur.
I hope that he is not still trying to walk along that cliff or survive the darkness beyond. I wish that he, too, can find a way to heal the void.
17 thoughts on “A(void)”
“One of the few regrets I have is that I didn’t know he needed help before it was too late”
I keep repeating this line over and over. I can’t agree more. I feel like I failed the man I adored. Does that ever go away? And I, too, am surprised by the void. You wrote that so beautifully. Thank you.
I can only echo Meg’s words. I didn’t realize there was a problem until it was too late. Coming as she did from a family of alcoholics (and don’t get me started on the Catholic upbringing), she knew how to keep secrets. It’s kind of a way of life in her family. Yes, I feel a bit like a failure (as a person) for not seeing there was a problem, but not as a good man. In that I am quite secure now, though I did question it for a while.
Great distinction. Although we may not have realized the problem, our intentions were good.
It comes down to forgiving yourself for not seeing things clearer. I choose to look at it as a learning opportunity rather than blame myself. I didn’t act out of disregard or malice, simply ignorance. I may have failed him, but he failed himself first.
He failed himself and you. I agree. Forgiveness is the key.
“I am still aware of the place where he was, but accept that he was the tooth that needed to pulled for healing to occur.” –> This whole post was beautiful — poetic, even — but this sentence brought it all home for me. I just love your insights. *sigh!*
🙂 And your healing will occur too!
I knew my husband had an alcohol problem in 2005. I acknowledged it a few times and then put it in the denial box because the rest of our life seemed so perfect. He raised the red flags, I just didn’t look hard enough. After he broke his leg in six places and required emergency surgery he took pain pills and drank heavily. I knew it was wrong but he was in horrible pain, after he healed he never cut back. If I had done something then perhaps we would not be where we are now. I know it’s not my fault, but the day we got married I made a commitment that included looking out for him. I should have held him accountable, I should have been his friend instead of his enabler. I will never make the mistake of not holding him accountable again and I will pay attention to any red flags.
I think it is easy to excuse those little signs when everything else is good. He’s lucky to have you:)
Such a well written blog. Avoiding the truth, although you now realise that didn’t help, is very common in toxic relationships. Often because we either don’t realise the torment we are suffering, or we don’t want to admit that we are in a relationship that isn’t working. I work with many people who are in or who have been in similar relationships. I too was in a toxic relationship and I thought it was normal, how wrong was I?
I know for me it was also trusting him to the point of complacency. I thought I knew him. I was overconfident. I’ve learned that getting to know someone never really ends.
“I hope that he is not still trying to walk along that cliff or survive the darkness beyond. I wish that he, too, can find a way to heal the void”
The caring nurturing roll that we had / have for our first love never ends…..despite any negative treatment of us.
Odd how the void is not a yawning gap if the void when he was present was big enough. I was surprised at the found relief I felt. Not that it doesn’t still hurt sometimes–but that it hurts less than staying would have.
Amazing how something so ugly can be transformed into a beautifully-written piece of art. This entry is poetic. I can completely relate to the tooth analogy and found myself nodding over and over again. Hugs to you.
And to you too:)