I discovered that there was nothing more painful or enlightening than a spell of enforced introspection; navel gazing at the lowest level, to give myself some perspective on the problem. Two weeks of wearing a hair shirt and practicing virtual self flagellation of the deepest level had come and gone. I was sick of hearing my lone voice asking over and over what could have been so bad that caused him to scarper in such a manner. The sound of silence was deafening and I longed for the adrenalin inducing verbal jousting that we used to have. This was no existence, I told myself. I felt invisible and invalidated. It was astonishing how quickly I had become proficient at licking my wounds and being completely self absorbed in my problems. I became obsessive in my pursuit to find answers and raked through every phone bill and credit card receipt for clues. Numbers that I didn’t recognise on his cell phone listings were called in the hope of discovering who they were and how they knew him. I hid away from those people that might judge me and in turn isolated myself wherein I became a prisoner in my own sad and pathetic little world. Every conversation we had before he left was analysed; no matter how insignificant it had seemed at the time, if it could be replayed, deconstructed and reconstructed to find some kind of meaning then it was done. I picked and picked away at the scab of my life, never giving it a chance to heal.
I might have coped a little better, emerged from the shock a little sooner, had he been there to join in with the conversations I was having with myself. I didn’t have his voice to ‘contaminate’ my inner thoughts; to challenge the authenticity of my recollections; to provide another perspective and to put me right when I got it wrong. Silence is golden – but it can also destroy your soul.
I couldn’t find him; he was A.W.O.L – missing in action with no trace to follow. His prolonged silence was the cruellest of punishments to heap upon me. I had been emotionally and mentally beaten to a pulp.
“Where are you, you cowardly bastard?” I would lob at his non existent presence. I threw a million expletives and curses on his soul and out into the ether in the hope he could sense my tears, anger, and fear. I railed at him until my throat was raw, until my chest ached with the constant convulsed efforts at crying when there were no more tears left to shed. Alcohol became my crutch as I'd slip into a drink sodden coma for a few precious hours and it was a welcome relief. But coming round to the effects of a prolonged and cumulative hangover compounded my misery; it was hell and I knew it had to stop but I could see no other way of fleeing my mental torture, of having some respite to keep me just this side of sane. I’d drunk more than a coach load of 18-30’s holiday punters on a two week bingefest in the Costa-del-drinkyourfaceoff could manage between them.
I knew that the time was coming where I had to face reality; to get a grip on my life such as it was. "Tomorrow", I resolved and I sat down one more time, a very large drink in hand, and played Natalie Imbruglia's 'Torn'. May as well go the whole hog, I thought, and completely immerse myself in one more mega session of self pity and self indulgence. I played the track on repeat and cried my heart out until sleep found me. But as a coping strategy, consuming bucket loads of alcohol had reached the end of its life. My life may have been torn apart but it was time to cut back because the real world was knocking at the door.
In time I let my friends in; let them see me in all my dejected and ‘sorry for myself’ splendour of tissue mountains, the remnants of uneaten congealed ready made meals and empty booze bottles dotted around the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and sitting room. The house looked like a recycling centre. I didn’t care, they were here, they helped me tidy it up and the in-depth analysis of my situation continued in profusion only now with the combined experience and opinions based upon their disastrous love affairs interspersed with mine.
“It’s another woman, isn’t it? Do you know her?”, one friend asked. “I know he was a quiet guy but you know what they say - still waters run deep”, she added.
“No he’s gay, got to be gay”, offered another. “Don’t you remember that time the bald guy with the string vest and cowboy boots minced after him all night at your brother’s party? He seemed much too delighted with himself that another man found him attractive. And then, when we pulled his leg about it all, he got all pissed off and flounced off in a huff!”, she added as way of evidence that my man had possibly started batting for the other side.
“He didn’t flounce off, he strode away because we were pissed and really getting on his nerves and er, well, no, I don’t, I don’t think he’s gay”, I replied, coming to his defence rather too quickly for some odd reason. Perhaps, I considered, it would be worse having him leave me for a man instead of a woman; that our relationship had been based on a lie for all those years.
“Well maybe he isn’t a hundred percent gay yet but he’s bi-curious and couldn’t bring himself to tell you”, chipped in my friend of the gay theory who seemed to be warming to her theme now that we were on our second bottle of red wine. “That’s why he’s done a bunk sweetie, without facing you properly, you mark my words.
“And you’re far too flippin gorgeous for him to leave you for some predatory wee tart with Tupperware tits and a trick pelvis”, said my friend sporting the ‘other woman’ theory. I laughed at the image; especially as two weeks of mourning and neglect had left my face looking like a smacked arse nestling in a string bag. Come to think of it, my arse looked in pretty much the same condition too. At least, I mused, my arse didn’t have hair on it so I could tell them apart if need be. I very much doubted that right now I could see off competition from Lilly Savage let alone someone who might just look like Barbie so I hoped she was wrong on that count.
I pulled myself out of my reverie; "or maybe, just maybe, it’s drugs or gambling or fraud or murder or rape or God knows what”, I said in sadness and desperation. I’d thought the unthinkable because I had no choice.
"I might never know", I said forlornly. "I may as well consult the ruins or the tarot cards or tomorrows horoscope for all the hope I have of hearing it from the horses mouth. Until then it's just guesswork and conjecture and only when he tells me the truth, will I know that I can treat it as hindsight, something that has already happened that I cannot change and that it is indeed an exact science".