If we believe that we are destined to read certain books then it must also be true that some books sit on our shelves just waiting for their moment.
Today I am re-discovering "Around the House and in the Garden- A Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing and Home Improvement." by Dominique Browning. I read this book a few years back, quietly adored it and sent copies to my friends. But I read it then without emotion. It didn’t resonate with me because I had never known it was to have to fill the gaps someone has left in your heart and home. Never needed mending before…
This morning, before Finley awoke, I climbed back into bed with a cup of tea and read Dominique’s story all over again:
"You always know when it is over, and it is almost never during one of those familiar moment’s of high drama- a big fight, a big betrayal, a big disgrace. We don’t hit love’s bottom with door slamming, fist-clenching, sob-choking fury. That’s when we are alive. Instead the death of a relationship seems to creep up very quietly, achingly; it makes it’s slow, sour presence felt in strange and subtle moments. The things you think you are fighting about- sex, money, work, children- those are never really the main event. They’re the skewed translations of deeper problems, curled up in the dark belly of love: problems of fear, or grief, problems with scar tissue that may long ago have knit itself over too thickly.
When I think back over the unravelling of my marriage, things are clear now that were not then. But this story isn’t abut marriage and in any event I intend to protect the privacy of a couple that no longer exists to protest the accuracy of anything I might say. My story begins with the end of a marriage, the end of a household, the end of a home. It is about mourning, and the passage through what I came to think of as a living death- or perhaps, living a death. And it is about the way a house can express loss, and then bereavement, and then finally, the rebuilding of a life."
I went to the doctor’s a few weeks ago. He held my hand as I sat and cried, and told me that in many ways the end of a relationship is worse than a death because "the buggers keep coming back." And I laughed through my snotty sodden tears, as he offered me tablets and comfort and counselling and in the end said that only time could heal a broken heart.
But he is wrong. Time- and words from women who have been there. Who know what it is to feel the surge of panic that rises in you when the day is done. When everyone has gone home and there is only you in a house haunted by what should be. What no longer exists.
So I read. Because I cannot do my feelings justice the same way that writers better than I can. Because sometimes realisation comes in the least likely turn of phrase, in the shortest of sentences.
Now, tonight, now that numbness is a friend of mine I am getting some perspective. Women from all walks of life are showing me the way.
And so just like Dominique did, I am laying my heart on the doorstep and asking my house to heal it.
Perhaps it’s time to bag up his clothes. The trail he has left behind.