Love. Not much of an expert. I’ve been in love a couple of times. I loved my husband truly, madly, deeply and then dearly, solidly, faithfully but when love receded, we were left, two people in middle years with no common ground. Two people locked in separate towers. The loving companionship that I’d looked forward to once our children were grown wasn’t there. No shared interest, unless you counted a whopping great mortgage. I fell in love with the man who promised to share the rest of my life with me. To love and care for me. Beyond the physical, we shared so many things. Books, music, ideas. I never stopped loving him. He buggered off.
So here I am, on my own and enjoying the equilibrium. Happy enough. Not enough of an expert in being in a happy relationship to dare to offer any advice to anyone. I do know a bit about unhappiness and, umm, being middle-aged. And I can smell and taste unhappiness in a house made miserable with a toxic relationship.
Once the passion draws back and we’re left looking into the distance, there has to be more than love to keep us going. Once the children are grown and the mortgage paid off, there has to be a sustaining friendship. Knowing what will interest the other. Taking pleasure in surprising the other with small treats. Sitting companionably in the car not needing to talk. Respecting each other’s independence as well as anticipating their needs.
I have friends who have enjoyed long, loving, faithful and respectful marriages. I read many blogs where people find companionship and solace so I know that it’s doable. They have willingly given up the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue for the deep, deep peace of the marriage bed.
So this brings me to my friend. Her husband is rude and disagreeable. He makes no effort to be welcoming and polite to people. If you don't agree with him, you are automatically labelled as stupid. He feels no awkwardness in shouting at visitors.
But much worse is the way that he treats my friend, his wife. The person he promised to love and honour.
He belittles her at every opportunity. She appeases him. He denigrates her looks and figure. She worships him. He criticises every opinion that is not his own. She brings him titbits and morsels to please. He drives her friends away by his foul moods. She excuses him.
I read a quotation by Nietzsche “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."
Watching them, I see no friendship, only an abuser and victim. For years, I've kept my, admittedly mouthy, gob shut. Of late, other mutual friends have deliberately taken me aside to talk about the situation. Indeed, I gave a stranger (to me) a lift and within 10 minutes, she had brought the subject up.
Someone asked me if there is any likelihood that my friend will read this. Not bloody likely. He supervises her use of the internet and filters her emails.
For all of you who have wondered whether I'd disappeared, here are some photographs that I took a couple of weeks ago. The support stocking being off and the holes in the leg just looking ugly but not hurting, I joined a fabulous walk.
JRRT stayed near here and this landscape is believed to have been the inspiration for some of his Middle Earth passages. In the distance, you can see the highest point in the Brecon Beacons. The river meandering through is the Usk. The sky really was that blue and the greens were that green. Of course, the only way you get a really green landscape involves quite a lot of rain. Shame about July and August, or the monsoon season as we've learnt to call it.
A harebell - campanula rotundifolia
Also called witches' thimbles, fairy bells and Old Man's bells (where the old man is the Devil). This little clump was at the top of the hill. Maybe Tolkien saw elves there as well.
Spottie Boy enjoying a rest at the top
Look, he's got fur on his back again. Isn't he handsome? Not the poor, bald and scarred / scared boy who arrived last April.
See I knew that I'd stop being a whining old git. Some of the crap has diminished and when I read other people's blogs, I know that I have a lot to be happy about.
I'd like to apologise for the image. I hope you weren't eating or suffer from a delicate constitution.
Just lately, I haven't felt much like blogging. Or at least, not blogging without whining.
Rather than making me happy relaxed, my holiday ended up being cut in half and I just seemed to be stressed and miserable. Lots of stuff got in the way of it being a happy time. Only stuff, but just adding to the small hillock of manure.
Partly, this was down to the fact that I sussed out a month or so back that the legs weren't all they were cracked up to be. In the hot weather back in June (yes, there was some but it was before the school holidays), the right one started to swell up. Only a little bit to start with and you probably wouldn't have noticed. Except, my shoe was too tight. Then there was this tell-tale vein snaking its ugly way down my shin. And a big bruised area that hung around under the skin and was just slightly uncomfortable. Someone dropped a carrier bag containing ring binders onto my leg and immediately it started to swell up with even more bruising under the skin. And just didn't go away. A trip back to see the consultant was already planned and I knew what he'd say. So last Wednesday, off I went for a bit more embroidery. More messing about with support stockings. The dressings came off on the weekend and, as I expected it all looks horrible. Yes, yes, I know it's transient and even today the bruising is much less. But just at the moment, the support stocking has worn a raw patch at the back of my knee and my leg throbs like bloody hell if I'm not either walking or resting it up. I've had it all done before, so why am I so down in the dumps this time?
Madette, my lovely clever baby, has been bitterly disappointed. Something that she wanted so much hasn't worked out. The letter arrived and it was a thin letter. We knew that if it was good news, it would be a fat letter. She asked me to open it. It was kind and thoughtful beyond the need to just give the news. But it didn't stop it breaking her heart. And there is nothing I can do to make it better. All I can do is hug and talk and listen but I can't make it different.
On Saturday evening we went out for a little while and when we came back, lovely blind Spottie Boy had emptied the partly full washing machine. And strewn the laundry all over the floor. When he'd finished that, he had a little chew at the washing machine seal. And pulled it out with some little nibbles. It took me nearly three hours yesterday morning to get it back in place (and work out that the seal wasn't ruptured). My finger tips are raw. My arthritic knuckles are swollen. Last night I couldn't use the knife and fork properly at dinner.
Yes, I know that this is a bleat. Any one of these little turds of unhappiness could be dealt with. All together, they have just overwhelmed the regular mountain of poo. Normally, I can just get on with the daily dose of poo. In fact, I'm the one that turns up with a shovel to help out for other people. But just at the moment, I've lost the ability to keep shovelling.
My fingers will mend. My leg will mend. My Madette's heart will mend.
I just didn't need any of it to be broken in the first place.
Anyone got one of these to lend out? I'm all composted out.