At 12.20 a.m., the doorbell screeched – and my first reaction was “Goddamn, who the fuck is it?” My immediate thought was, “Hmm, do you think it’s him?” Has he come looking for me? It has been one year since I packed my bags abruptly and took off for San Francisco. And it has been a tumultuous year for me to say the least.
Up until a month ago, I completely despised L. I was intensely angry at his self-righteous attitude and annoying obstinacy. Apart from the random rants of sarcasm, and self-defense, I never heard from him otherwise. Certainly, there were no apologies for his part in the break-up and fermentation of our 7-year relationship. In fact, every time or every instance I heard from him, he was his usual self-righteous self. Let me explain. He always has this put-on air of an objective expert about him and can never resist dispensing a piece of advice — even when nobody is asking for it. It is as if he has suffered so much and lived through so much that it makes him an expert on life — and his advice is truth. Yeah, it’s extremely annoying.
When we saw each other last, in June last year, the entire experience was awkward and mostly just plain awful. More than half of our exchanges were intense and surrounded by an air of violence and aggression — by that time, I was so spent from the years of fighting, all I wanted was to get out alive. I no longer wanted anything from him — and perhaps as always, I felt a strong bonded sense of responsibility to him, to our past and to our connections, that I tried to maintain my cool. And perhaps I also felt a sense of guilt — for having found someone else and for leaving him all by himself again.
Before I returned to Singapore, to process my work visa, I had to pluck up courage to email him to inform him that I would be back – but only for a month, to settle the loose ends. He immediately emailed me and said I’m not allowed in his house – and that I should stay at my mom’s or at one of my friend’s. I was angry to say the least – because it was as much my house as it was his house since we were married. This has always been a major issue with us, because when times were good, it was our house. When times were bad, which was often, it was his house – and I’m just a freeloader, even though we were legally married and I’m entitled to half of our domicile as much as he is.
Perhaps due to my own sense of self-righteousness, and perhaps to prove a point, I went straight to our home despite L’s text and email warnings not to go to his house. In my mind, I was as much a victim of the relationship as he thought he was. And like any victim who achieves clarity of her situation, I just wanted to stick my middle finger at him and get the fuck out. When he got home, I already anticipated a huge blowout, because as always, his response to situations that make him uncomfortable is to be overly aggressive and stamp his anger all over you. In an attempt to make you give up and adopt his point of view. In this case, see how much pain you’ve caused him.
As expected, the days that followed were filled with angry questions and self-pitying emails. What pissed me off the most was not his anger for my decision – but his continued self-pity. That, to me, is so much worse than if someone were angry for your decision to break up a longterm relationship. It made me feel that I was never really a part of his life – that we didn’t have a life together. That I was a periphery of his existence. That was what hurt the most – and yet, I was glad that happened, because that made me feel like my decision to leave was right. That this, whatever it was, could only work because I caved and submitted to his priorities and beliefs. And that, would have driven me to suicide. And I knew I was capable of so much more. I am intelligent, compassionate and have cognizance of this well of potential just waiting to be unleashed.