Monday, April 04, 2011
The Spaces Between
Written this past Saturday night.
I lead a schizophrenic life.
When she isn't here, I fill my hours with work, play, routine -- anything to occupy myself so that I never have time to think about how much I miss her. I've become so good at it that sometimes when I know she's coming I actually dread the interruption of the life I've made without her -- the self-centric world that I had to create, against my will, when her mother finally forced my hand two years ago after months and years spent tolerating deceit and disrespect in the name of desperately trying to make our marriage work. I tell myself that I can live without her; it's the only defense I have against the punishing ache and the often overwhelming sadness.
But then she arrives, and I spend a day with her like I did today -- laughing, playing at the park, sharing and cherishing every little moment -- and those lies that I tell myself dissolve, the walls I build around the most fragile parts of me crumble. I'm forced to admit that she is the air I breathe, my reason for being, my everything. I tremble in the face of a feeling so powerful that it can make my heart swell to the point of bursting even as the knowledge of my own sudden vulnerability fills me with terror. I can't imagine being without her.
There's someone in her mother's life these days. He's been there for well over a year. It took almost no time at all for the woman who once swore an unwavering dedication to our marriage and our family to unravel and extract the roots she'd created with me and begin creating new roots with another. He's now part of my daughter's life. My daughter, who isn't even three years old. It's entirely possible that eventually, at some point, my child will call him "Dad," not because I won't be there as a father to her but simply because if her mother does in fact marry into the kind of future he offers, he could very well be the only man with whom she'll ever remember living. He will be family. She'll have two dads.
There hasn't yet been a language invented that contains the words that could properly describe the kind of pain this thought causes me. Her mother, meanwhile, doesn't even begin to concern herself with such trivialities -- and why should she, I suppose?
I never wanted to be a part-time father.
I didn't ask for this schizophrenic life.