It was a huge risk to take. I am gambling on there being some remnant left of the man that I had fallen in love with. I start to think that I may have been mistaken.
Then Mark calls. He has decided to resume the mortgage payments. And take the house off the market.
Then he offers to pay maintenance for Mia. That makes me suspicious. Is this sudden change of heart merely a cynical ploy to protect his assets? I tell him that I meant what I said; I have no intention of taking him to court.
He says he knows that. Then tells me that he set up an account for Mia when I left. And he has been paying into it ever since. He offers to transfer the money into my account. I ask him why he hadn’t told me about it before.
He responds with “I suppose I’ve just been angry at you for leaving me”. He’s been angry at me for four years? That is a lot of anger. I am surprised; he has never been very good at articulating his emotions. I ask him if he has been having therapy. He hasn’t. Apparently he has just been doing a lot of thinking.
Then he throws me by asking why I left. He says that I never really explained. And that it would really help him if he knew. I tell him that I wrote something for him at the time; I wanted to get it all down while it was still fresh in my mind. I had decided that I would only give it to him when he asked. I was starting to think he never would.
I get it up on screen. I haven’t read it for years. And I need to make sure I’m not being too harsh.
I don’t think I ever said sorry for leaving. I’m not even sure I was fully able to explain why I had to go. And I owe you at least that much.
January 16th 2003 – I’ll never forget the night you came into my life and turned it all upside down. You proposed just three months later. And I accepted immediately.
I had some of the best times of my life with you. We spent over a decade of our lives together. And we have a beautiful daughter. Nothing can change that.
I know that what I did to you was terrible. But you said to me “If you’re going to leave me, leave me now and let me get through the pain instead of making me live it every day”. And you were right. I was unhappy. I would have made you live that pain every day.
So I tried to do it as quickly and as humanely as possible. To you it must have seemed like I didn’t care. I was so cold and clinical about it. But I had to be. I had to be cruel to be kind. I had to give you a chance of happiness with someone else. We could never have been happy again.
Why did I leave? Believe me if I had thought there was a way to make it work I would have stayed. But there wasn’t. We had grown up and apart. I still loved you but not in the way I should have. Not in the way I used to.
Things were bad between us for a long time before I left. You know that. I even suggested counselling once and you said I should go for counselling by myself because I was the one with the problem. Do you remember that?
Then once I gave up my career, the end became inevitable. What you would undoubtedly consider as simply being careful with money, I considered controlling. I started to feel like a non-entity.
I don’t even think you realised how close I came to losing the plot when Mia was born. When they whisked her away I thought we had lost our baby. That first week we spent with her in hospital changed something inside me forever. I was absolutely petrified. My love for her made me feel so vulnerable. You were so strong for the three of us and I will always love you for that.
I barely slept those first few months in case she stopped breathing. They had me complete a questionnaire at the doctors – apparently I was borderline post-natal depression. They had me fill in another form. And this time I ticked what I knew were the ‘right’ answers and they declared that I didn’t have post-natal depression after all.
Maybe I should have asked for help but that would have been weak. They may have thought I wasn’t capable of looking after Mia and taken her away from me. Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds now but that’s how I felt at the time. I felt like I didn’t have a voice anymore. I felt totally useless.
I tried to tell you that. And I asked for your support. But your reaction was to take me on a shopping spree. Then you got angry with me for not being grateful for all the new clothes you were forcing on me. And I got angry with you for not knowing who I was anymore.
I remember talking about having another baby and I said to you that I couldn’t go through it again. That it was too hard. And you said that I was exaggerating and that it couldn’t have been that bad. But it was. And you couldn’t see it. I already felt like a useless non-entity and you dismissing the way I felt just made me worse.
You were telling me what I did and didn’t feel. Do you remember when I would turn the heating up because I was cold and you would turn it down and tell me that I wasn’t because you weren’t? It started to feel like that all the time for me.
After a while I managed to pull myself together. And I knew what I had to do. Our marriage hadn’t worked for a long time. Leaving you and taking our daughter was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
The last few years of our marriage, things had got so bad that I found it really hard to remember the good times. But now that we have been apart for a while, I’m starting to remember them again. And it makes me so sad.
When Mia cries because she misses you, I know I’m responsible for the situation. But I still maintain that I did what was best for all three of us. And you would never have had that closeness with Mia if I had stayed because you would have relied on me to look after her.
I’m sorry I broke your heart. I’m sorry I destroyed your world as you knew it. I don’t think you will truly appreciate how unhappy we were until you find the happiness you deserve with someone else. Maybe then you will understand why I had to leave and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll forgive me and I’ll finally be able to forgive myself.
I email it to him with tears streaming down my face. I have spent the past four years trying not to think about the pain I must have caused him when I left because I couldn’t bear the guilt.
I’m getting ready for bed when the phone rings. It’s Mark. He sounds choked up. I tell him I’m sorry. His voice cracks as he says that I have nothing to apologise for.
He says he could see what I was going through but felt powerless to help. And he is the one who is sorry because I was right. We could never have been happy again.
We talk properly for the first time in years. He says that my letter answered a lot of questions for him. He couldn’t understand why it had been so easy for me to walk away. But now he knows it wasn’t.
I ask him if we can try to be friends again. He says he would like that very much. I put the phone down. Then find that I am smiling through my tears; it finally feels like closure (for both of us).