I wanted to write something beautiful and poignant and wonderful, but no words come to my mind. There’s no flowing poetry and no easy verse. There is only confusion, and anxiety, and weary acquiescence.

Today, I was in the aisle at Safeway contemplating nuts before I came to work. The song “Running” by No Doubt came on and I stood there motionless, tears rolling down my cheeks, for five minutes. Peanuts and cashews blurred in and out of focus. I thought it was a pity that the salt which burned my cheeks wasn’t put to a better purpose, such as legume seasoning. And now my head aches and I’m exhausted and I can’t sleep. Ian and I have decided to live apart for a year, and the songs I once dreamily cast us in seem so far past that they’re anachronistic to my life. Love? Passion? Contentment? Apparently I got off at the wrong stop.

What is there left to say or do when you’ve done everything within your capacities? My lips are so tired from always forming the same words; my tongue wants respite from pleading and cajoling and threatening. My eyes are heavy with fears and tears. There’s a path worn in my ears by “I wills” and “I promises” and “I’m sorries.” My heart has supplanted my stomach, but that’s quite alright because I don’t feel like eating anyway. The cold, brilliant organ of my brain is collected and calm. This is real.

Part of me is so excited to roam free. I look forward to nights without the kids, nights when I can go dancing and laughing and light-hearted. My house will finally stay (mostly) picked up. Now if there’s food burnt to the stove, I’ll know it was my fault. And there won’t be any more fighting over blankets, or the precious few inches of mattress that are left when you fit two adults and two children with bad dreams into one bed. I can work more. I’ll be handling all my own finances so I won’t have to worry about disconnection notices. I already feel better and less stressed since we decided this, and he isn’t moving out until the end of August. And we aren’t getting divorced. We don’t hate each other, we don’t fight and scream much, we just need space. Yet space can cause exquisite pain all by itself.

There is a deep sadness entangling my heart, and I know it will get better with time. There’s no need to be self-deprecating, because it’s been agreed upon that most of the fault lies elsewhere, not with me. Yet I feel like a failure. What did I say or do, or not say or do, that could bring us to this point? In the past, things really did trace back to me. There were long, long depressions when I stayed in bed all day and cried if he touched me. There were manic outbursts of anger that had no cause. There were nights when I blacked out and woke up covered in fresh cuts. But that was all before I knew about the manic-depression. That was before I realized I didn’t have to be miserable for the rest of my life. And now I’ve tried every approach to make things better. I’ve been loving, I’ve been stern, I’ve been coy and casual. I’ve offered rewards and threatened consequences. I’ve bought books about love and marriage and books about self-improvement. From my mind has sprung poetry and drawings and racy love letters. I’ve constructed elaborate romantic surprises, like when I had his co-worker hide letters and pictures around Target because he had to work on our anniversary. I love to bring him flowers. One of my favorite things is to slip his wedding ring back on his finger when he forgets to put it on after making tortillas or doing the dishes. Every time, I imagine we’re getting married all over again. Every time, I’m so glad I get to marry him over and over and over again. But now I won’t be doing that, at least for a while.

I’m terrified to hold out hope for us. I’ve done that for so long. I’ve done it every time I’ve come home from work, actually believing he’s accomplished something that day, that the house would be picked up and the kids would be dressed and I wouldn’t have to spend my evening doing dishes and trying to make my house presentable. I’ve done it every time that I reminded him my birthday or anniversary was coming up in a few days, knowing he’d forget on his own. I’ve done it when I’ve poured my heart out to him, in letters and texts and drawing pads. Yet his heart is like stone; he has no passion, no romance, no dreams. He doesn’t talk much and he doesn’t share his secrets with me the way he used to. I’m stuck in this terrible place, longing for love and partnership and growth, but stagnating because I’m the only one trying. And I’ve noticed the way other men look at me, and sometimes it sets me on fire; but mostly I just wonder how many lovers I could accumulate while pretending they’re him. I’ve finally ceded control; I’ve accepted that it’s not within my power to change, and I’ll have to wait and see what happens. I just wish it didn’t feel like I’m hoping for a miracle.

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