Back To Centre
On going from left, to right, and back again.
I once read some life advice in The New York Times from a widow mourning the passing of her husband. She’d been told to ‘sleep on his side of the bed’. She claimed doing so greatly lessened the ache of missing his physical presence. That filling the space where he once lay meant she yearned for him a little less.
Months and months ago, when I was lying wide awake in the middle of the night, I remembered her advice. I’d read it a long time prior to my marriage falling apart but, there in the booming silence and the crushing darkness, it came to me.
I have a habit of doing that; remembering things I’ve read. Not when I want to remember them, necessarily, like on command when quizzed, but when I need to.
On that sleepless night, I recall rolling over to the right-hand side of the bed. It felt cold. The sheets were unwrinkled. They hadn’t had the weight of a body on top of them for a while.
It felt slightly odd to be on the wrong side of the bed; by contrast it was mildly comforting. I don’t remember drifting off to sleep that night, only waking up. And when I did, it was morning.
When I was holding onto my marriage, when I was trying to bend and twist and will it to work, when all I wanted was for him to stay, I was petrified.
To the core.
I was never scared of being alone; I am great alone. I enjoy alone.
I feared the change. How it would affect our son. How life would be astronomically different. I was afraid of how people would look at me. What they would say.
Mostly, I was afraid of myself. Who would I be, after twelve years of calling myself ‘wife’? What would become of me, without all the shared hopes and dreams? Without the security blanket and cosiness that being coupled brings?
At the time, I never considered all the things I’d gain. It never occurred to me to be anything other than terrified.