A few weeks ago, as I drifted about my kitchen making myself a quick bite to eat and preparing to chill out on my sofa for a lazy night in, I just so happened to glance over towards a particular spot on my kitchen floor. Within an instant I felt the atmosphere change around me as I remembered why that particular spot was significant and my stomach became uneasy.
I found myself having a very clear flash back and in my mind the months wound back. It had been snowing outside, everything softly blanketed in a brilliant white but what would normally look beautiful had suddenly looked so foreign. I remember wishing the snow would stop because my world was already feeling such an alien place and the bleak weather was, somehow, making it so much worse.
It had been a matter of days since I had discovered my husband’s infidelity and he left me then and there.
I couldn’t stop reading and re-reading the phone messages my husband had sent me from work on the morning of that terrible day. He had told me he loved me and missed me so much, he had told me he couldn’t wait to spend time with me at the weekend. Reading them back I felt my mind tormenting itself as the evidence of my husband’s affection overlapped with the knowledge of the new reality I was in.
After much pleading and begging on my part, my husband had finally agreed to speak to me, to explain and give me answers. He said he was going to take the day off from work and allow me the time to talk with him. I had felt a glimpse of hope ignite in my heart for the first time in days. He told me he would meet with me at 8am. I remember thinking to myself that it was an early time to meet but this was my chance to understand what he was thinking and to hopefully make him see what a terrible mistake he was making.
Once I was finally sat in front of him, the questions I had been rehearsing all night weren’t properly converting into words. My body shook as I tried to put my brain into gear. I started to realise that no matter how many questions I asked him, nothing was making sense. I could tell he wasn’t giving me the truth, instead he was feeding me bizarre excuses and offering up a false version of our marriage that was literally so removed from the actual reality of our relationship that it felt like my mind was melting.
I began pleading with him. I tried so desperately to persuade him to love me again.
An hour passed and I could sense that he was looking at the clock. I could feel he was becoming uncomfortable and agitated by my continued talking. Suddenly he abruptly interrupted me and told me he felt we had said all that needed to be said and that he had to go because he had work.
I sat there stunned. My mind was screaming but you took today off to speak with me. After all these years you owe me at least this, surely.
He hadn’t booked the day off. He had fitted me in for an hour before work. That was the time he had allocated to me. After all those years of love, my all important chance to speak with my husband, the man I had loved and given my life to was over. I was allocated an hour by him. That was it.
He told me one final time that his decision was final. Cold and so far removed from the man who had been my loving husband, that it felt like I was talking to a complete stranger. I couldn’t find the words, any words at all so instead I tried to hold him. If I could just hug him, he would remember who I was, he just needed to feel the familiar warmth of my embrace and he would change his mind.
He went cold and lifeless as he shrugged me off.
I didn’t know what to do. I had never felt so insignificant, so frightened and so desperate in my life. My life. It felt like it was ending.
As he was getting his coat on, I blindly walked into the kitchen and stared into the garden. The snow was pounding the ground but there was complete silence. I thought about going out to get some air but my legs were limp. I slumped down onto the hard floor. I tried hard to let out a cry but no sound came.
Suddenly my voice finally found its way out of my body and pierced the silence in a gushing current that wouldn’t stop. I begged through my broken sobs, I begged and pleaded with God not to let this happen. “Please God, no. Please, don’t do this to me,” I repeated over and over, a broken voice shrieking the pained cries of a broken heart.
I don’t know how long I was on the ground for. I heard the door slam behind me and realised he had left. Despite my primal pleading and the awful state I was in, he just left.
I know this sounds naive but I don’t think I ever truly understood the earth shattering consequences of being left by someone I love, the abandonment. In that moment, there on my kitchen floor. I felt pure fear, pure confusion, pure desperation and pure pain.
In the months that followed, I would continue to beg him to love me. The sudden shift from being lavished with love to suddenly being shunned like a stranger did awful things to my mind. It left me feeling completely vulnerable and powerless, in a constant whirlwind of self doubt and confusion.
I would blame myself for making him leave me, for him developing feelings for someone else. I would feel worthless. I would feel like a failure, that I was not good enough to be loved by him.
Above all I would feel the searing loss of someone who had been my whole world and who I had loved beyond measure. Who had loved me the same until suddenly, he hadn’t.
On the most simplistic level, I have come to understand the primal ache of being left behind. I suppose for most of us it is a deep fear, even unconsciously. The fear of being left behind.
I think back to my cries to God that day. How I had pleaded with him not to do this to me. I look back now and see that in that moment I had mistakenly believed that God had abandoned me too. Of course, he hadn’t. God hadn’t done this to me, my husband had.
In my despair I wasn’t able to comprehend the unbreakable love of God. A love that is never ending and never failing. In that moment I was applying the fickle and weak nature of my husband’s love to my comprehension of God’s love.
In fact, God has done anything but leave me behind. He is carrying me forward, every step. God hasn’t pushed me away, He is drawing me closer, every day.
I seem to relive these moments in my mind a lot lately. I am becoming stronger but there are so many memories of the hurt and shock, the trauma and betrayal, that seem to be just under the surface and ready to bubble up at any point.
In time, I trust that the the pain may lessen and the wounds will start to heal but I fear this experience will remain with me. The dull, uncomfortable and persistent ache of the one I loved no longer wanting me. The ache of abandonment.