If I had one emotion that I could share with you, it would be gratitude. To me, you are a noble king, throned in purple and clarity of heart. I don’t think everyone quite understands why I feel this way about you, given how things started between us. But you and I know all each others secrets and inner truths, so to us it makes sense. No one else properly understands though, and it is hard to explain exactly what happened.
I’d like to share the freedom and beauty that you gave me by, in a very real sense, vindicating your reputation. There are so many people who tell me that I’ve done the right thing by leaving you, that my attempts to maintain such a strong connection are “commendable”, that I am too good for you, that you were using me and that I am better off without you. I don’t think they are wrong, exactly, but on the other hand they aren’t right either. To understand why your bond is so important to me and why I love you, to this day, far more than popular opinion would deem appropriate, we need to look back at the past. None of this is news to you and I, but I think it’s time to share exactly how much I owe you.
I grew up in a very isolated and horribly insulated environment. Almost from birth, my father was indoctrinating me with the idea that I should be a wife and mother one day. His values were not particularly strange per se, being of the usual sort. Chastity, generosity, obedience, housewifely duties. I think what was particularly damaging, though, was my mother dying when I was only ten and me being forced to take on that role, of mother and caretaker, far too early. There were weeks where I wouldn’t see another soul, other than my father and sister, for five or six days at a time.
And the only way that my very young, brainwashed teenage mind knew of to escape from this was to get married to someone, anyone and set up my own establishment. I described myself to you once as a “domestic diva”, and this is very true (with the exception of ironing, don’t let me within a mile-radius of that chore). Put me in a kitchen and I’ll make you a five course meal within an hour or so, I clean like nobody’s business and my organisational skills are absolutely wicked. So I set out to get married, and I liked you. I thought you were awesome.
But I also thought you were too old for me, and that you wouldn’t consider it anyway. You said no many times before you said yes. I know that you didn’t set out trying to capture me, and to be fair to myself I didn’t really consider whether or not you were even considering it because I was pretty hell-bent on my own destruction. I was going to run away and join a band, I had the meet-up planned.
That’s when you stepped over the line, I think. Because you called me to talk me out of what was clearly a hastily drawn-up and stupid plan. I fell in love with your voice during that phone call, you know. It was so deep and gruff. I asked you if you wanted to be my white knight, and you said no.
You said no a lot of times before you said yes. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that now that I am on the other side of our journey walking together. If you hadn’t so clearly given me the space and time to make other decisions I would have been much more conflicted, now, about what to think of you.
I know that you made a mistake, and so do you. You should have directed me back to my family, other people to guide me into adulthood. It wasn’t appropriate for you to help me.
But you did it anyway, and then what could be done? I tempted you, back then. I was young, and I was scared, and in that moment I needed you. We both know that the truth of it is that in many ways, I trapped you – not the other way around.
You found so many ways though, over the years, to make up for it. You put me through high school, helped me get my first jobs, helped me go to university. You held me when I was sad and lifted me when I was happy. You supported me and dried my tears. You never complained when I talked to you about the approximately thousand crushes I’ve had over the years. I changed so much over those years as well, because you never held me back. In fact, if anything you pushed me forward.
You didn’t let me stay at home and become a housewife, actually. I think any other man would have just thanked his lucky stars that he had a young wife who loved cooking and playing video games. You don’t think like that and never have. You were still trying to save me, I think, from myself. You told me I had to become independant of you, that I needed to make my own decisions and that you couldn’t control my life.
I became all those things, Hawk, and then I looked back at you, still my most loyal white knight, and I saw how sad you were. You didn’t have someone to go with you to yoga classes anymore, to practice naturopathy with and to chant Hare Krsna in the dawn. I wasn’t that person anymore, who wanted to do the things you loved. I knew you were going to stay with me as long as I needed you to, as unsuited and incompatible as we were. You had talked about leaving at various points in our marriage, and I had never been ready, before, to let you go.
All good things come to an end, eventually. I thank you so much for every single one of those beautiful years though, Hawk. They were years of life, of living and loving and listening to each other. We built our house on shaky ground, but it was held together with such strong glue and nails that I think that even though that ground is evaporating more and more every day underneath us, the house is floating up into the sky. Still, you see, you love me and I love you.
It’s wonderful, being a girl that you love. There is another path in front of me now, and I will walk it with bravery and independance, just like you taught me to. I think what makes me the most grateful is knowing that you will watch me walk that path not with jealousy but with pride and happiness. You’re happy to let me go, but like most of the decisions that you’ve made regarding me over the years, it’s coming from thinking it’s the right thing to do.
Did we have arguments? Yes. Did we love each other? Yes. Did you hurt me? Not on purpose. Did I hurt you? Probably.
That’s marriage for you though, it’s connection on a level that no one else properly understands. But I hope that when the other people in my life read this, Hawk, they’ll understand you a bit more. It took me a while to understand as well, because I thought that you didn’t care about me. I was wrong about that, it wasn’t that you didn’t care – it’s that you cared too much to be selfish. You wanted me to share myself with the world and find my own path on the river. And I’ve done that and you’re not even mad that it led me away from you, when I know you miss me more than anything. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have had a child with you. I know from my own experience that you’ll do everything for our son, and you are an amazing parent.
Someone said to me recently that they had always wanted to marry a girl who had a great relationship with her Dad. I suppose, technically, for me that isn’t true. But in our hearts and in the relationship we shared, in another way it’s very, very true. I may not be on the best terms with my father, but I have an amazing connection with my ex-husband. He’ll be there for me whenever I need him, no matter what trouble I get myself into.
For all those beautiful years in the past and the many more to come, thank you.