This is something I’ve needed to write for a very long time.
I think it was the house.
When you see things in hindsight, you can always see things more for what they are than when you were in the thick of it. And I see so, so clearly that the house was a giant, honking metaphor. For everything.
I insisted on the house. I correctly noted that he was paying a lot of rent and could just as easily be paying a mortgage; with the $8,000 Obama tax credit, it was almost stupid to continue renting. I incorrectly noted that it was the next logical progression in our relationship.
We were engaged. I’d pushed for that, too.
So we found a house, and everything fell into place. It was perfectly beige with a huge yard near the good grade school. There were no major repairs to be completed–we need only move in and start our life together.
My finances put me in a place where I couldn’t even be on the loan. My name had nothing to do with the house, not even the bills. It was his house, according to law.
And according to all the little ghosties in my mind.
I kept wringing my hands, wishing the beige walls would turn purple. I poked around in the dirt, wishing all of the ugly spots in the yard would simply become beautiful. I tidied away all my junk, wishing it would all find a home in the house.
But paint doesn’t magically change colours, and I felt like painting would be an imposition. Gardens don’t magically spring up, and I felt shy to ask if we could change the yard. None of my stuff belonged, and neither did I.
I felt like a house guest who had overstayed her welcome. At the same time, I felt caged. The children’s voices carried on the wind reminded me time and again that I was supposed to be making babies, that I was supposed to be married, that I was supposed to be “settling down”–and it was all because I had insisted.
I felt old. I felt like I could picture every evening for the rest of my life. I felt trapped.
I’m sure someone else could have solved this situation by simply expressing regret, isolation and the need for nesting. But I couldn’t. I had long ago established a wall between us. A wall built of what I felt I owed him and what I had selfishly thought he should be able to figure out on his own. Every day I spackled up new expectations and regrets, pushing my wants beneath the surface because I knew everything I didn’t get was my own fault, anyway.
So I became withdrawn, so I escaped through whatever means necessary. I had left well before I left. I was no longer cultivating myself. I wasn’t interested in my life or all the things I’d been pushing for. An online friend joked “Just leave your fiance and come live with me in squalor.” Suddenly, nothing had ever sounded so good.
In hindsight, I think it was me that caused it all.