Saturday, June 30, 2012

Among My Own

(Grand Bazaar, Istanbul)

It was an odd match that perhaps shouldn't have been.

Still I was going along with it. Sharing has never been easy for me, but I did the best I could, all the while trying to ignore how my unconventional life must have sounded in your ears, and how uncomfortable it was for me.

In the ninety-nine point nine percent mate-for-life world of people from “our culture”, I had to belong to the zero point one percent.

It was soon clear to me that your life might look conventional from the outside, it was really “anything but” on the inside.

Your partner, regardless of being a decade your senior, behaved childishly. He ridiculed and complained about you often. He picked fights with you over the daily mundane. Instead of sharing a life together, he hid his assets from you. In fact, you revealed to me that he mentioned the D word often enough for you to ask for referrals of lawyers.

I scouted out the names and numbers of several family lawyers per your request, but I didn’t pass that information to you.

Instead, I talked to you about the realities of being a divorced woman in “our culture.” The culture from our mutual hometown, to be exact, still looks at a woman without a husband with contempt and despise.

You will be excluded from all social events for couples. That means you will lose the majority of your friends.

Eating out will be spotty, unless you are very comfortable eating alone in restaurants.

You will be looked at as a damaged good, regardless how much you struggled to raise your children in a foreign country.

Loneliness will be your constant companion.

You will lose the purchasing power of a dual income. You will have to say NO to things you used to take for granted. You will get used to shopping at places such as the flea market or the secondary market stores.

My first apartment was furnished with a table, four chairs, and a tiny black-and-white TV--all were hand me downs. We used three chairs for eating and studying, and the fourth one as the TV stand in the livingroom. We spread the sheets on the carpet in the bedroom in the evening, and that would be our beds.

Moving was significantly easier in those days.

The blank space on the information form where it says “Emergency Contact” I had to fill out each time I enrolled the children to a new school, would make me cry every time. “Loneliness” was too weak a word to describe how I felt.

If you have young children, these will be more severe on you and them, and last much longer.
Good thing is you don’t.

There are rewarding gains to be had, of course. I wasn’t trying to scare you away from getting a divorce. After all, the decision might not be solely yours to make. But I did want you to see clearly before you jump.

I wish someone had done the same for me. But it all was a big life’s lesson I desperately needed. I can see it now--now that the tears had long been dried.

When you called to complain about your home life, I listened with sympathetic ears. When you mentioned life has no purpose for you to continue, I tried to pump you up.

When you made the comment about how hard it would be to rid your newly acquired wardrobe, I knew divorce would not be in your near future.

That was fine, though. Plunging into the unknown is not only scary, it is also a move you have to make on your own. Nobody should make you learn the lesson before you are ready to learn it.

Then I had to go away. It was the trip of a lifetime--literally. I have saved over decades for this, and it is unlikely I will be able to do it again anytime soon. I savoured every moment of it, soaking in every little detail.

I did not forget you. Over the crepe-de-chine deep blue Mediterranean Sea, I thought of you. Before falling asleep with the gentle sway of the giant ship, I secretly wished you peace and strength.

It was easy to adjust the time change on the trip, when daily excursion exhausted me thoroughly. Coming home was quite a different story.

I called as soon as I felt mostly myself again, hoping you would enjoy the Turkish Delight and all the amazing sites, of which I took sixteen hundred plus photos, I visited during the trip.

You never returned my call.

I’m not quite sure what I had done to have angered you. I know you are alive and well from your online posting, so I don’t have to worry that you had taken your own life.

After doing all I could to support you, it is proven that it wasn’t enough. I am truly sorry for that. I hope you will eventually find the happiness you longed for.

Our friendship may have served its purpose, and now you are ready to move on. Maybe you needed to cut me off in order to forget the dark period of your life. That would require a complete reversal of your relationship with your husband, which is all but impossible.

It hurts to think that you behaved just like the rest of “our society,” which would be equally unforgiving should you choose to be a single woman realizing happiness does not necessarily require a man.

Why was I surprised? I shouldn't be.

Your silence speaks loudly how futile my efforts were, but I will get over it like yesterday’s headache--painful when it happened, yet will be forgotten soon.


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