There was never a right time to leave her.
I wanted to, for years. There’s the absurdity of it, it took years even though it was obvious to both of us, almost from the start, that things weren’t going to work out.
Our relationship then rapidly became one huge delaying tactic, one crisis after another in which there was the implicit plea; not just yet, let me get through this first, this job interview, this course, this new position in work, this next trip.
She kept me busy, bound up in these crises with twenty texts a day and emails, demands, questions, requests, anything to stop my mind wandering off onto the basic fact of our unsuitability to each other.
I could never devote enough time or thought to her concerns, her crises. There was a central, gaping hole at the core of it all, the fact that I didn’t love her and that neither of us were ready to accept that. She demanded proofs of love, tokens of love, not material things but focus, attention, involvement, concern, but in the absence of the spontaneous and natural pleasure we should have taken in each other, the freely-given sense of fullness, we had only The Demand and The Void.
Nothing could fill that void, no amount of running about, no quantity of time given, it was a black hole into which we were both slowly and inexorably disappearing, sometimes it felt as though the whole house were imploding.
There were other factors mixed up in all this of course, all that family stuff for her, my own cowardice and doubt, our lack of self esteem, scepticism about love, past disappointments that weighed on us.
It’s hard to feel that your essence is not in some way celebrated, that what you are is of delight to no-one. Then, no matter where you are, you’re not at home, no matter how well you do you lack comfort and security. Whereas to be loved and to be in love is to have a home anywhere, to enjoy a basic freedom, to have trivial daily fears and concerns seem surmountable, secondary.
Some people have never been in love, I suppose and have told themselves that it doesn’t exist. I know quite a few, some of them get married thinking that a reliable husband who’ll bring in money for the kids they want is the best you can ask for, or that nights out with the lads, maybe a few one night stands, visits to prostitutes on Stag weekends, or at the very least porn will get them through it. That’s how life is. These people tend to be in their early thirties.
Some people fall in love once, it goes wrong, they never recover from that and then they drift into realism and a refusal to risk anything. Give me someone who has been as disappointed as I have. But two disappointments don’t always cancel each other out, won’t add up to satisfaction.
Equally of course I know lots of couples who have been together for years and are happy, and whose love for each other I don’t doubt. But you need love, without love your relationship is just one more thing you have to manage, one more negotiation between your fear and need, one more drain on your spirit, one more cost/benefit analysis. It will weigh on you, you'll begin to steel yourself for your partner’s return home from work, find you're hyper-alert to every nuance and tic of their mood, feel your heart sink when the phone goes and it’s them.
Call me naïve, tell me: give it time, come back in five years and tell me the same. But you can trust me, Ive already been there numerous times and that’s not the point, even if it all goes wrong, I’ll still stand before the Lord of song, with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah.
As my close friend Mr Cohen has so wisely and rightly put it.