Marriage always felt like an ill fitting garment on me. It was too tight around the neck. The colour was wrong. It bulged and bagged in the wrong places. Marriage and I clashed. It didn’t suit me.
My ex was a peculiar mix of autocratic alpha male and little boy lost. We settled into a strange dynamic where I tried to fix all of his problems while he busily told me all the things I couldn’t do. You can’t move to Melbourne. You can’t travel alone. Help me with this problem, what should I do? No, you can’t dye your hair red.
There is no personal growth in having someone fix you. Hard times are unpleasant but there is something to be said for standing on the other side thinking, fuck yeah, I rock. What else can I do? I don’t have a Cinderella complex and I don’t want to be fixed by anyone. However, I do have a save the world complex that usually starts in my own relationship. Burying yourself in someone else’s shit is not only exhausting, it’s dangerous too. The dynamics of the relationship change, frustration emerges. Inevitably, it all falls apart.
Children were brought up a lot, and fought about a lot. I never wanted kids, something that my ex knew when he met me. However, when you are a female with a working set of ovaries, the phrase ‘I don’t want children’ scares and confuses people. They don’t buy it. If it were my ex who was against having kids and I pressured him the way he pressured me, I would be just another baby crazy female. When a woman doesn’t want kids, it’s looked at quite differently. You are perceived as selfish, you are cold and unfeminine. “You’ll come around”, I was told. I kept waiting for the magical moment where the baby gene snapped to life in my head. It never came. My ex constantly reminded me of my ticking clock. I never heard it. The joys of procreation were explained to me at length, and I tried to talk myself into it. I never could. People acted as though the only worthwhile thing I could do with my life was create a small likeness of myself, then drag it into adulthood while imparting dubious wisdom on it. I felt like telling people that my uterus and I were just fine without their input.
Marriage changes relationships. Suddenly, you are together out of obligation, not choice; you are together because the law has bound you. The excitement of love gives way to routine. I dreamt of my single life, not in a ‘fantasise about other men’ way, but in a ‘I really wish I had the freedom to do whatever the fuck I want to’ way. Spending Sundays in Bunnings with my other half made me want to hang myself with a length of chain from aisle 13. I longed for the new, the crazy. I found myself pushing limits, doing dangerous things like climbing safety barriers and going to the edges of cliffs, peering over. I wanted a rush, a surge of adrenaline that would fill the glass enough to get me through the mundane dinner parties for the year. It didn’t work. I changed in marriage, my priorities shifted. I became a wife. I dressed differently, acted differently. Thought differently. I lost my essence. I was being domesticated like a housecat, when I dreamt of going wild and slaying birds. I tried to fit my commitment suit, but it was unravelling.
Unfortunately, I had to get married to discover I am not the marrying type. I have to be honest here, on an anonymous blog where I post as a faceless cartoon cat. Brave, I know. I don’t believe in forever, and Hollywood happy endings don’t exist. I’m sorry if I’m spoiling your Friday, but it’s true. I used to believe in them, I also believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and God, you know what happened? I grew up. And read Richard Dawkins. Now, I think that I am my own happy ending and I don’t need another human to validate anything. I think that my life is my own to live as I want to and during this time a number of gentle alpha males will wander along beside me as I try and figure out what the fuck I am doing. But I am not fixing any of them. Fuck that.
When my ex and I eventually separated, I became Humpty Dumpty. I have had to rewind the tape and try and put myself back together again and it’s been hard, nerve wracking and depressing. I’m almost there, though. Reconnecting with old friends and family has been a wonderful tonic. Seeing them seems to remind me of the old CC, the person who I began to leave behind. I have conversations and can almost feel synapses popping back into place in my brain. You used to have an opinion about this, remember? Before the blur of home improvements, Aldi and reality TV, you used to talk about things that mattered and have real conversations where you argued, passionately. Remember? You used to not give a fuck.
After merging everything with another person, from lifestyles to bank accounts, extricating myself was tricky. I don’t want to do that again. I don’t want to lose myself. I don’t want to be defined as anybody’s anything ever again. I’m not saying that I hate men or that I am commitment phobic, because I don’t and I’m not. I’m saying that while I believe in love, I don’t believe in the Shakespearian all-consuming type, and I don’t believe in Hollywood happy endings. I tried to jump in that lake and nearly drowned, but there is something to be said for standing on the other side, having your shit almost together again, and saying, fuck yeah, I rock, what else can I do?