How I stopped loving himThere is nothing worse in this life than falling out of love with someone. It has only ever really happened to me once because I work hard to keep loving people I love--something inside me does not want to let go of it and ticks away forever, trying hard to see the things I loved and make them worth more.
It is hard too, for me at least, not to be loved by someone who once loved me. "Hard" does not begin to cover it. It feels like a terrible sickness that I cannot shake off. It feels as though I have been diminished to a point, as though my worth has been drained to nothing. It has happened to me often in the past few years: either I have stopped being loved or the person who loves me has stopped feeling I am worth showing any love to. From my point of view, it feels the same, whichever is the case. The worst of it is, I need to cure that sickness before I feel as though there is none of me left. I need to be loved: it is the fuel of my existence. I cannot help that; I cannot rationalise it away. It is so deeply part of who I am that it is almost the only thing I am sure about that is true about me. Everything else I have lied to myself about, sacrificed, changed or traded. But that remains.
But once I had a love that died. I couldn't see the good in him any more and I found him too hard to love. It wasn't really his fault. He lost his way and became confused. I have wanted to love him again: that same thing ticks away inside me, but I find that I have too much contempt for him even to want to be with him.
He was always inclined to be a whiny child. His marriage broke up after only a few years because he was unable to love his wife. He treated her badly because he had such a lack of understanding of his own worth. Feeling unworthy of love makes it hard to love others. It was not wholly his fault, of course, but part of becoming a man, for him, was to absolve his wife of blame and accept responsibility. Really, that was the time in his life when he became responsible, stopped blaming others for how his life was, stopped feeling bitter for what he did not have, and started to recognise what he did.
Simply, he abandoned the poisons in his life, stopped thinking he was a special case and found what there was to love in himself. He became confident and aware, capable and unafraid. It was then that I began to love him. I cherished him, took care of him, believed in him. You would have liked him. He is very personable and generous. His wife found she liked him, and they reconciled.
He was very content. Although he didn't love his work, it didn't get him down the way it would have done before, and the rest of his life was enough compensation for that. He was able to focus on the thing that mattered to him: writing, and although what he was writing was not very good, he felt good about it. And, ultimately, that is what matters, because we must please ourselves if we are to please anybody.
When they had a child, he felt fulfilled, that he had found a way of life that gave him what he wanted. But from that point, things began to sour for him. His wife found things in his life that she didn't like and she changed in ways that made life harder enough that his contentment slowly eroded. Some say having children changes a woman, that her all-encompassing love for the child leaves too little for her man. I suppose that may be true, and when you are someone who needs love, losing it can be tough. Still, he was resilient, and made changes to help him cope with that. They changed countries and he found a great job. His relationship was not perfect: it became easier to be frustrated with what his wife lacked and harder to focus on what she had--what she had diminished a little, and sometimes a little is enough, if it is the right little.
But at that point, he could still have been content, but he made a bad choice, a ruinous choice, which he could not have understood at the time was as bad as it turned out to be. It seemed right. At that time, he still had a quality that I loved in him: he would do what he thought was right, not inflexibly but steadfastly.
But it was terrible for him. He had, without knowing it, become sick. Suddenly, he found himself isolated, lonely and hopeless, and too sick to cope. His ability to focus on the right thing disappeared. He couldn't think how to improve his life, to make the right choices. For someone like him, who enjoys being around people, the worst thing to do would be to separate himself from them. But he couldn't help that. He had to work to support his growing family, and his focus on them, on making life work for them, made it impossible to find the energy to make life for himself.
He became broken, trapped in a cycle of mania and depression, alienated and deeply lonely. His wife withdrew her love for him. With three young children, she had nothing left for him. Were he still the confident, resilient man he had been, he would have been big enough to weather that, to maintain their relationship by his own goodness, by having enough heart for both of them. He failed in that; he didn't even try. I became unable to love him too.
If flowers could beg for water, they would take it from anywhere. They would seek it out. And he did. He sought love, and found it. Because he did not go outside, and had no belief that he was at all attractive, physically or personally, he could not--and would not, in any case--find it with a local woman. He did not have the capability anyway: he felt he should spend what time he could with his wife, housebound herself by motherhood, and try, with the few resources he had, to make a relationship that would at least sustain them until... well, it's hard to say until what.
He was desperate to be home, to be somewhere that didn't feel alien and unkind, to have people in his life he felt were at least not hostile to him. I wonder whether he should not have simply done that, left her and the children and tried at least to recover himself, his sanity, his wellbeing. Would it have been a worse outcome?
But he found love. A parched, foolish love that would never have had any attraction for him were he whole, but easy for an onlooker to misunderstand. And it would have been easy to surrender it if it had not been the only love he felt in his life.
It probably seems odd to most people to love and be loved by someone you do not ever meet, who possibly is not even real. I mean, I know how fucking odd his life became! I don't need telling. I am rational enough to know how a thing is, even if in the heat of the moment it seems another way.
And I genuinely believe there is no sin in it. A person cannot help who they are, what they consist in. Particularly not a simple, gentle person like him. There is enough to hate him for without hating him for needing to be loved, when I know that he was so close to dying, and needed love to be able to hope to flourish.
That slipped away though, strangely enough because she was jealous of his life, jealous that he wanted to love his wife. But it didn't help his life any for her to be gone, his relationship with his wife was too broken, trapped in a cycle of contempt and frustration, each unable to be better for the other, each unable to be the first to say, stop.
I cannot talk about the last few months of his marriage and the months afterwards because he has already sung that song and the people he wanted to hear it let it fall on deaf ears. That left him crushed, hollow, almost without self esteem. I do not think anyone intends that to happen to you; they simply cannot love you any more and that isn't something they can help. I wish I had been able to love him then. He needed me. I suppose I can say that I cared enough about him to try to help him recover from what had ailed him, and was successful in that. It seemed so prosaic to have been sick, to have an organic cause for the depression, the confusion, the sadness.
But what good did it do him? The damage was done. He had become someone whom the people he needed, desired most to love him did not love. And when you are not able to say, I am loveable, because you simply do not believe it, you cannot find a way to make that all right.
I could talk about other things that make me despise him: how he lost his livelihood because he was stupid, how he has become a bad father and a worse friend, how he has become so insensitive that even people he thinks are happy with him cannot even stand to be with him, feel he is not worth time or effort, but I have already given enough reasons not to love him. I know that without love, he has no reason to be, and I feel sorry about that, but how can I feel that anyone can love him if I can't, when I know I am capable of love, albeit a small, withered love that no one, except him, wants.