It really does just explain it. The hard reality of the thought. As opposed to the mere abstract concept of it. This is wow. Just wow, big fat wow. Pause. Think. A token, slough-off phrase that kids use to get out of trouble or lesser punishment is actually true here. It wasn’t just me.
It opens my eyes to an enormous world of possibilities. Who would have thought in all the time and thousand-and-one things to pass since trying to process this (the whole of the category) or this that that ONE thought, or even the revelations as of late, or any of the moments that have given me pause to ponder, could actually tear back the veil and explain shit.
But the sentiment, which is much more than just a sentiment, does just that. It applies to the past. The true application of those exact words – “it wasn’t just me” – revokes things that needed to be revoked. It recolours things. Most importantly, it exonerates. It finally, FINALLY, answers soooooo many gaping, wounded questions that needed to, for the love of God, just be freaking answered! I had learned to put away all the top-heavy guilt and blame I assumed – assumption that reached far beyond the necessary, and to the extent I thought my hell with M was my punishment – away on my own because obsessing about irretrievable answers was pointless.
Because it really wasn’t just me. It wasn’t. I wasn’t alone. I didn’t just self-destruct all willy-nilly. I had help. Besides my own innate ability to trap thoughts in my head and whip up grandiose bullshit theories, I had a few people willing to let me carry the weight of two. For more than a little while. It took me so long to see that I was the frog in the pot whose water rose to boiling. It took me so long to see the abuses I was getting because I was focused on trying to do the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the mowing, the wood-chopping, the grocery-toting, the mom-ing, the dad-ing, and whatever free-moment, free-wheeling, self-deprecating spiral-down I could manage.
And of course it wasn’t just me, any number of people could say. Any number of people now. Even a few lone rangers who reached out back then, back when the split was fresh. But until you realize it, you are fighting yourself from the inside out, tormented by the web of unanswered questions, and throwing and taking indictment on yourself because it somehow makes things seem easier to “control” and because you have a sense of accountability. But it only takes being loved – truly loved – the right way once to understand that if he – K – loved me, loved me in earnest, he would have never allowed me to beat myself up so much, but he definitely would have performed in a way that let me know he loved me and not just leave me to assume I ‘should’ know it. M, either.
Not that my mental capacity was ever his responsibility, no. But that in the simple idea that people generally protect and cherish the ones they love, he oppositely appeared content to let me to spiral down in a Tasmanian devil flourish. Not just once. Or twice. But over the duration of ten whole years. Even calculating all the times I’ve lost my shit, channeled my inner Gloria (Modern Family), you don’t. Treat. People. Like that. I’m not supposed to treat people I love like shit (oh the glory hole of where I’d lose my footing on human behaviour), you don’t treat people you love like that.
Regardless, and I digress, I spent countless hours and years wondering, poring, contemplating, and crying about what I did wrong and what did that made him check out. Spanning the first days to the last days trying to explain the cause of it and coming up with the only answer: I did something. Something here. Something here again. Something there, that one time. Oh, this other time, too. Because why else would someone who called you their “angel” just stop talking, interacting, conversing? I obviously disappointed him. And I could see my real faults, as much as I would make them up, so I’d lop it all out, hoping K would respond in kind to the least of them to say ‘yes, that’s it’ or ‘no, babe, you’re crazy.’ But he wouldn’t.
I still, even as of writing this entry, “know” which moments gave him “cause” to throw in the towel – i.e. his excuses for not owning his own behavior; but knowing where I owned my shit and knowing why he defected out are two, very, VERY different things.
Yet there I was trying to fix the sullen, disaffected disdain he had for our life in chunks. I tormented and languished over what I could have done better, kinder, softer. If I had just been a better person. If I had just been any kind of different woman. If I could just not do this, his behavior would have been this. If I hadn’t lost my shit on him at x, y, and z moments, this would have been better. If I could just figure out the magical, perfect solution, he would have been more engaged, more loving, more wanting to connect, less angry, more protective, more… invested. Less foot-tromping, less swearing at everyone and everything. Maybe we could finally begin our relationship. He would finally… love me.
But that never happened. It was the furthest thing from his reach. And mine. And it’s just about as wrong as you can get on any relationship goal. Checking out, retreating, withholding, stonewalling, all of it. It is its own kind of abuse. You cannot expect to check out for the entirety of ten whole years on somebody, for whatever reason, right or wrong, him or me, them or us and equally not expect them to process it in some kind of adverse way. You can’t expect to go tromping around swearing at everything, at home and at work, and pretend like nothing matters when everything mattered, everything was on the line, without there being some kind of repercussion.
But I’m not the one just saying that. I apologized profusely in the six years since the divorce for my own contributions and for being a crazy ass and hard, hard, hard. But he knew it. Of course he knew I blamed myself. And he let it be. The mindfuck of it all. I know that none of my sins justify someone else’s behavior. At all. Explain, maybe. Justify, no. I was the furthest thing from the perfect counterpart, but he knew this – in all of his cancer days and after, when the choice to be bitter and angry was still a choice and not a habit – and he did nothing. Not only does the phrase “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” absolutely apply here, but it explains what I could not, in all of the fault-assuming, guilt-owning hodge podge of anguish that came from trying to figure out why. That it wasn’t just me.
Sometimes, it’s just the other person.