No Longer Myself Without You.

By alison July 17, 2006 58 Comments 4 Min Read

Plath2

When Mark first left I bought "Wintering" by Kate  Moses and sobbed over every word of the first chapter. A fictional account of the  end of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes  relationship, the fact that it is so beautifully written is enough to make you cry. Even without relating to every word to the degree that you end up putting the book in the freezer until you’ve got your strength back…

"She slaps the paint up the wall, evens it under the stroke of the brush. It takes mere moments for her to realize she’ll never get anywhere like this: the shabby unpainted room yawns away. she dips the brush again. Their fish mouths gulp at the surface.   Assia rocks on her bulb, her rooty filaments clumped and dirty. He’s spilling his milt into her, filling her little  cup with it. It’s all so dirty- the hairs will never come out of this paint. Sylvia could pluck at the sticky walls forever. She drops the eyelashing brush on the newspaper and searches the floor for the drip pan and the roller. She’s gagging on the fumes. She want’s to retch. She can’t clear the particulate out of your throat. If it weren’t for the children she wouldn’t have to see him at all. No- not this way. It’s unspeakable. It opens a hole, gaping at the edge: Where would she be without her children? And that ideas’s frightening twin, a tiny figure escaping across a crater: not seeing him."    

Three months ago I couldn’t read it. I had no perspective wider than my own grief, though like Sylvia,  I was consumed by domestic detail to the point of frenzy,  trying to numb my hysteria with the stench of polish and lemons and lavender nurtured by a heart that failed to nurture what mattered most.

Housework as an opiate

And like her,  sometimes  sheer horror caught me unawares and left me grasping for air in a house that wanted to suffocate me. Burying my head in my two year olds little chest and hoping the scent of his baby soft skin would soothe me. Not  seeing  him. No not  that. Not that.

But that was then.  Now he is gone. If not in person, then in spirit. He isn’t who he was. His voice is different.  And the words that  come  mumbling out have been fed into him  by a woman plainly desperate to  eradicate who he was.  It hurts  and yet most of me feels  no pain at all.  For this is what he has chosen-  a  woman who has two children of seven and nine  she does not see.   A woman who doesn’t hold her babies dear. 

To most peoples  bewilderment the scabs on my heart are for him. Not for me. I’m worth more than a bucketful of tears for a man who cannot see that a woman who chooses not to love her children can only ever love herself. A man not willing, no– too stupid, to recognise that the way we choose to love our children is at the very heart of who we are.

Being a mommy is the very essence of who I am and if that means I’m drowning in it, then so be it. Finley matters more…

I stopped crying days ago. Not since I tried and really rather dramatically failed  to put a plastic  shed together  in the garden and found myself sobbing in the arms of a neighbour, have I come undone.  I like my  shiny happy new  life. I like the gaps where he used to be. The sense of  absolute possibility trembling under my skin.

I’m strangely happy and he knows. I see it in  his shifty gaze. The one that drinks me in,  in all my contented glory. No longer required to comfort me with lies, but continuing to do so all the same.
So she can have him.

The  chances of finding me with my head in my (currently utterly filthy) oven are getting slimmer by the day. As are my hips.

I’m letting myself be. Poor, poor darling,  Sylvia Plath.

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58 Comments

  1. fairycakegirl says:

    I'm sooo proud of you sweetie!

  2. Savannah says:

    Yep.

  3. Savannah says:

    Yep.

  4. Meredith says:

    OH Alison, that is my favorite book, and you're right, so beautifully written. You are so right…it almost mirrors what he's done too. He's an absolute fool.
    You are my hero. I don't know what I'd do in the same situation. You take care.

  5. Meredith says:

    OH Alison, that is my favorite book, and you're right, so beautifully written. You are so right…it almost mirrors what he's done too. He's an absolute fool.
    You are my hero. I don't know what I'd do in the same situation. You take care.

  6. Sarah says:

    I'd love to be able to make a comment that is both insightful and inspirational here… but I can't. There isn't anything left to say, Meredith, Kali, Savannah and the lady of the fairycakes have said it all.

  7. Sarah says:

    I'd love to be able to make a comment that is both insightful and inspirational here… but I can't. There isn't anything left to say, Meredith, Kali, Savannah and the lady of the fairycakes have said it all.

  8. Kelly says:

    Ahhhh………."There you are!!" So excited to see you!!
    Peace & Many fabulous Blessings!

  9. Kelly says:

    Ahhhh………."There you are!!" So excited to see you!!
    Peace & Many fabulous Blessings!

  10. Kristy says:

    You go girl!Dirty oven and happy kid -just right I'd say 🙂

  11. Sharon says:

    You should write a book. Your story is so compelling.
    I'm so happy you are feeling stronger!

  12. Sharon says:

    You should write a book. Your story is so compelling.
    I'm so happy you are feeling stronger!

  13. Holly says:

    You are utterly amazing. 🙂

  14. Holly says:

    You are utterly amazing. 🙂

  15. karlanee says:

    You have reached that state of utter profound wisdom that comes after having expended nearly every tear there is to shed. I'm quite in awe honestly.
    I remember a similar time in my own life when I had to get to the end of myself in order to finally see how terribly sad that other person really was.
    I'm proud of your dirty oven! It's a symbol I think of your new freedom.

  16. karlanee says:

    You have reached that state of utter profound wisdom that comes after having expended nearly every tear there is to shed. I'm quite in awe honestly.
    I remember a similar time in my own life when I had to get to the end of myself in order to finally see how terribly sad that other person really was.
    I'm proud of your dirty oven! It's a symbol I think of your new freedom.

  17. June says:

    Good for you, Alison! Obviously, we are all proud of you (and much relieved that you aren't on Sylvia Plath's path–that would not be a good thing). Life is glorious even with all it's sad bits–you and Finley are going to have so much fun.

  18. June says:

    Good for you, Alison! Obviously, we are all proud of you (and much relieved that you aren't on Sylvia Plath's path–that would not be a good thing). Life is glorious even with all it's sad bits–you and Finley are going to have so much fun.

  19. Kether says:

    You amaze me.
    And you are absolutely right.

  20. Gena King says:

    Bravo Alison! Sooner or later he will Miss his son sooo bad,can you imagine not seeing Finley every morning when you wake? of course you cant,and if Mark has a heart at all,then surely it must be breaking.Its his loss.

  21. Gena King says:

    Bravo Alison! Sooner or later he will Miss his son sooo bad,can you imagine not seeing Finley every morning when you wake? of course you cant,and if Mark has a heart at all,then surely it must be breaking.Its his loss.

  22. Claudette says:

    This is the turning point….for you and him. Female independance either exilerates or frightens men, he'll want to be part of it or crush it. I think this will be the start of him attempting to worm his way back in-hence the looks he gives you. Alison, don't you ever lose sight he is nothing more than "Gollum" wanting to reclaim his "precious", duplicitous & deceitful! Think you are loving how you feel now (notice how your step feels lighter), wait till your soulmate first makes an appearance and catches your eye. This is when you realise that Mark was nothing more than the interlude. So glad the fog has cleared.

  23. Claudette says:

    This is the turning point….for you and him. Female independance either exilerates or frightens men, he'll want to be part of it or crush it. I think this will be the start of him attempting to worm his way back in-hence the looks he gives you. Alison, don't you ever lose sight he is nothing more than "Gollum" wanting to reclaim his "precious", duplicitous & deceitful! Think you are loving how you feel now (notice how your step feels lighter), wait till your soulmate first makes an appearance and catches your eye. This is when you realise that Mark was nothing more than the interlude. So glad the fog has cleared.

  24. Mindy says:

    Keep moving forward as you are, and continue to carve out a beautiful life for yourself and Finley!! You deserve it!!! Hugs..xo

  25. Suzie says:

    You have been liberated my Sweet – and what a feeling huh?
    I haven't been able to comment lately, as my heart has been breaking for you, and I had no words…
    But I am so happy you are at this place now 🙂 And the sweetest revenge of all is being genuinely happy (and slim!!)
    Forget him and just be in love with your life as it is!
    Hugs xxx

  26. Suzie says:

    You have been liberated my Sweet – and what a feeling huh?
    I haven't been able to comment lately, as my heart has been breaking for you, and I had no words…
    But I am so happy you are at this place now 🙂 And the sweetest revenge of all is being genuinely happy (and slim!!)
    Forget him and just be in love with your life as it is!
    Hugs xxx

  27. Lisa says:

    You go, girl!

  28. Lisa says:

    You go, girl!

  29. Julie says:

    I am new to this page and thought ..what a lovely light, cheery place, just fluff…How wrong I was–how wonderful to find strength as well…hang in there sister, youre obviously loved and admired by more than just this new devotee

  30. mum says:

    Ali, I've hoped against hope that this day would arrive, that the fog would lift and my Alison would reappear in all her beauty and glory that was meant to be.Well done Angel,the only way is up now!

  31. mum says:

    Ali, I've hoped against hope that this day would arrive, that the fog would lift and my Alison would reappear in all her beauty and glory that was meant to be.Well done Angel,the only way is up now!

  32. Robynn says:

    There is a wonderful Afrikaans novel, Griet Skryf 'n Sprokie (English translation "Griet Tells a Fairy Tale"), that starts (more or less) with the protagonist – who has been abandoned by her man and fled to a friend's holiday flat to recover – sticking her head in the gas oven, only to see an enormous cockroach, and so hit her head as she makes her speedy exit. Of course she spends the rest of the afternoon cleaning the oven. Crisis averted.
    I think you might like this book.

  33. Robynn says:

    There is a wonderful Afrikaans novel, Griet Skryf 'n Sprokie (English translation "Griet Tells a Fairy Tale"), that starts (more or less) with the protagonist – who has been abandoned by her man and fled to a friend's holiday flat to recover – sticking her head in the gas oven, only to see an enormous cockroach, and so hit her head as she makes her speedy exit. Of course she spends the rest of the afternoon cleaning the oven. Crisis averted.
    I think you might like this book.

  34. Kim says:

    Your tears may not just be for him but for whom you thought he was. A man who leaves his family for another is, well, no real man. Being a father takes a true man just as you are a true mother at heart. Your friends here are right – this is a turning point for you. you are right – she can have him. But you are the stronger person here and that is never the easy position to be in. The reluctant leader sets her mind forth and caries on when other leave. She finds her way to rise above and create heaven amidts hell, complete with flowers, lemons and polish. Your son will thank you and respect you forever. This is the road less traveled and less celebrated. It is not for the faint of heart – only the strong are selected. You are to be comended for keeping your head and forging ahead. I will sontinue to send my good thoughts your way.

  35. Gayle says:

    Know that your website is amazing…but also know that we like you just for you. All the baubles and pretties are wonderful, but it's your personality that makes you so special to all of us. Wishing your family peace and love.
    Below is a lovely song to sing to your son.
    Take Care-Gayle http://pbskids.org/rogers/songlist/song5_ra.html

  36. Gayle says:

    Know that your website is amazing…but also know that we like you just for you. All the baubles and pretties are wonderful, but it's your personality that makes you so special to all of us. Wishing your family peace and love.
    Below is a lovely song to sing to your son.
    Take Care-Gayle http://pbskids.org/rogers/songlist/song5_ra.html

  37. Heidi says:

    Like Emily Dickinson, I hope you continue to dwell in possibility and write lovely prose! I echo all of the sentiments of my kindred spirits at this site; we visit because of you and your loveliness; we wish you strength and peace.

  38. You are in the right way. Now it’s only up.

  39. You are in the right way. Now it’s only up.

  40. Linda says:

    Keep your head held high, I to have been in your shoes. I only found your site recently, awesome, keep up the good work. We are all with you…..

  41. Linda says:

    Keep your head held high, I to have been in your shoes. I only found your site recently, awesome, keep up the good work. We are all with you…..

  42. donna says:

    Keep smiling Alison, you’re doing just great 🙂

  43. Annabelle says:

    “The way we choose to love our children is at the very heart of who we are”.This truly shows the inner soul of a good person!Like Claudette said; Stay away from Gollum!

  44. Annabelle says:

    “The way we choose to love our children is at the very heart of who we are”.This truly shows the inner soul of a good person!Like Claudette said; Stay away from Gollum!

  45. Sandybeach says:

    "I like the gaps where he used to be. The sense of absolute possibility trembling under my skin."
    …beautiful.

  46. Sandybeach says:

    "I like the gaps where he used to be. The sense of absolute possibility trembling under my skin."
    …beautiful.

  47. Sara says:

    Alison,
    I've just discovered your site and it is lovely. Your writing is beautiful. I am so sorry you are going through a difficult time. Your attitude and strength are amazing. Your little boy is lucky to have such a mother! Keep your chin up! I will be passing your site on to some other people I know will enjoy it!

  48. kelly says:

    Hi, I havent been by here for quite awhile as my own site and family keep me so busy. Stopped by tonight just to have a link and see what was going on over here. I was really shocked about the news of your husband and I am so sorry that you have been through such a traumatic time. I must just say though that your writing is lovely, so sincere and poetic, it has really moved me. Rarely have I read anything so beautifully written. I am thinking of you even though we dont know each other, I am sending you all the best wishes and vintage vibes possible.

  49. kelly says:

    Hi, I havent been by here for quite awhile as my own site and family keep me so busy. Stopped by tonight just to have a link and see what was going on over here. I was really shocked about the news of your husband and I am so sorry that you have been through such a traumatic time. I must just say though that your writing is lovely, so sincere and poetic, it has really moved me. Rarely have I read anything so beautifully written. I am thinking of you even though we dont know each other, I am sending you all the best wishes and vintage vibes possible.

  50. Danielle says:

    Alison you are so honest with us and I value that. If I lived next door, I would happily make you lemon tea (or a G and T!), feed you violet cremes and soothe your sobs! When you said "he's not the man he used to be" you hit the nail on the head. His behaviour does make you wonder doesn't it? How can he possibly think he's going to get love from a woman who doesn't see her children? I wonder what his relationship with his mother was like? Was she cold towards him? Is he subconsciously searching for a woman to recreate something from his childhood? Maybe you are just too damn warmhearted! There are underlying issues at work here, and knowing that should help you to avoid beating yourself up wondering what you did or didn't do. You know it's also better for Finley to grow up with one loving, utterly devoted parent than to have a father in his life who is ever-capable of walking out at a moment's notice. Better he's gone now and you all move on! I don't know if any of this is helping but I always read your blog and I really feel for you. I too am very proud of you! xxxx

  51. Danielle says:

    Alison you are so honest with us and I value that. If I lived next door, I would happily make you lemon tea (or a G and T!), feed you violet cremes and soothe your sobs! When you said "he's not the man he used to be" you hit the nail on the head. His behaviour does make you wonder doesn't it? How can he possibly think he's going to get love from a woman who doesn't see her children? I wonder what his relationship with his mother was like? Was she cold towards him? Is he subconsciously searching for a woman to recreate something from his childhood? Maybe you are just too damn warmhearted! There are underlying issues at work here, and knowing that should help you to avoid beating yourself up wondering what you did or didn't do. You know it's also better for Finley to grow up with one loving, utterly devoted parent than to have a father in his life who is ever-capable of walking out at a moment's notice. Better he's gone now and you all move on! I don't know if any of this is helping but I always read your blog and I really feel for you. I too am very proud of you! xxxx

  52. Kathy says:

    Even in grieving there is beauty: to see your own beauty and goodness and to have the ability to nurture your pain with creativity, compassion…to see in the mirror what is truly there, all the goodness and beauty of your own wonderful qualities…to celebrate your ability to triumph over life's trials through your own personal strengths. Be thankful he showed his true colors earlier rather then later, because now you have the chance to find someone who really deserves you while you are still young. And always remember, any psychologist will tell you, from what you said, he isn't really 'in love' with "her" just as she can't possibly be in love with him, because the two of them do not seem to genuinally have the capacity to have a true emotional bond. They can compensate by having charisma, charm, attractiveness, etc., but their behaviors tell me, there is something deeply missing in their underlying psychological makeup. Unfortunately, some people do not have a conscious (sociopaths) or they cannot feel another person's feelings and are only able to be in touch with their own (as you said, she can only ever be in love with herself) which is a true narcissist. There are, unfortunately, many more of them out there then most people realize. When you begin to date again, which you will, look for two things: 1.) Is their behavior consistent with their words? 2.) Are they emotionally responsive to your emotions in a way that is intuitive (rather than canned)? The final test: when you look into their eyes, do you see emotional expressiveness in them when you express emotions of sadness or pain? If the answers are Yes, Yes, and Yes, then they pass, you've found a genuine feeling person. But be careful, even feeling people are not always trustworthy, so keep your guard up, be cautious, and keep doing what you're great at, nurturing yourself, because that emotional independence will keep you from feeling needy and possibly succombing to the wrong man. You're brilliant!

  53. Kathy says:

    Even in grieving there is beauty: to see your own beauty and goodness and to have the ability to nurture your pain with creativity, compassion…to see in the mirror what is truly there, all the goodness and beauty of your own wonderful qualities…to celebrate your ability to triumph over life's trials through your own personal strengths. Be thankful he showed his true colors earlier rather then later, because now you have the chance to find someone who really deserves you while you are still young. And always remember, any psychologist will tell you, from what you said, he isn't really 'in love' with "her" just as she can't possibly be in love with him, because the two of them do not seem to genuinally have the capacity to have a true emotional bond. They can compensate by having charisma, charm, attractiveness, etc., but their behaviors tell me, there is something deeply missing in their underlying psychological makeup. Unfortunately, some people do not have a conscious (sociopaths) or they cannot feel another person's feelings and are only able to be in touch with their own (as you said, she can only ever be in love with herself) which is a true narcissist. There are, unfortunately, many more of them out there then most people realize. When you begin to date again, which you will, look for two things: 1.) Is their behavior consistent with their words? 2.) Are they emotionally responsive to your emotions in a way that is intuitive (rather than canned)? The final test: when you look into their eyes, do you see emotional expressiveness in them when you express emotions of sadness or pain? If the answers are Yes, Yes, and Yes, then they pass, you've found a genuine feeling person. But be careful, even feeling people are not always trustworthy, so keep your guard up, be cautious, and keep doing what you're great at, nurturing yourself, because that emotional independence will keep you from feeling needy and possibly succombing to the wrong man. You're brilliant!

  54. mama p says:

    In America we have a profound statement for men like that: "FUCK HIM"

  55. It happened to me when my son Justin was 2 also. My mom said… if you want to go out I will watch Justin and out I went! How I gathered up the courage to go I do not know how but I did. I started going to a club that offered free dance lessons once a week. I held my head high, dressed to the T and walked right in. I went every week. What was especially great about these dance lessons were you didnt need a partner. You danced with every one, you did the steps then moved on down. That way every woman met every man. After a few weeks one of the guys there asked where I went after the lessons. I told him I went to another club across town that had live music. He asked if I minded if he ever came there to buy me a drink sometime. I said that would be fine and one night he showed up. Turned out he was in the process of getting a divorce too (no kids)On our second date he asked me to bring my son along.When I saw how good he was with my son I started to fall in love with him. That Thanksgiving we spent it with his family. They accepted us with open arms. We married shortly after that. When I gave my son the choice of what he wanted to call Phil (dad or Phil) he said he's my dad (his own dad asked to not be a part of his life altho paid child support his whole life)which was fine with us. Now we have been married 28 years and have a daughter 25 named Aimee. We never refer to the words step father ot step child in our home.We are just one happy family. I know this is a long story but I had to let you know. Second marriages are great! Some of us just don't get it right the first time is all. I hear women say all the time I will never marry again and I think of all they are missing!There's someone else out there for you. You're just one of us that needed 2 tries! He's out there! I know he is! fondly, Nancy

  56. It happened to me when my son Justin was 2 also. My mom said… if you want to go out I will watch Justin and out I went! How I gathered up the courage to go I do not know how but I did. I started going to a club that offered free dance lessons once a week. I held my head high, dressed to the T and walked right in. I went every week. What was especially great about these dance lessons were you didnt need a partner. You danced with every one, you did the steps then moved on down. That way every woman met every man. After a few weeks one of the guys there asked where I went after the lessons. I told him I went to another club across town that had live music. He asked if I minded if he ever came there to buy me a drink sometime. I said that would be fine and one night he showed up. Turned out he was in the process of getting a divorce too (no kids)On our second date he asked me to bring my son along.When I saw how good he was with my son I started to fall in love with him. That Thanksgiving we spent it with his family. They accepted us with open arms. We married shortly after that. When I gave my son the choice of what he wanted to call Phil (dad or Phil) he said he's my dad (his own dad asked to not be a part of his life altho paid child support his whole life)which was fine with us. Now we have been married 28 years and have a daughter 25 named Aimee. We never refer to the words step father ot step child in our home.We are just one happy family. I know this is a long story but I had to let you know. Second marriages are great! Some of us just don't get it right the first time is all. I hear women say all the time I will never marry again and I think of all they are missing!There's someone else out there for you. You're just one of us that needed 2 tries! He's out there! I know he is! fondly, Nancy

  57. Katie says:

    "Lives crumble in small, simple moments."
    How true that is…Ali, I just found this site and can't stop reading. I too, thought it was a sweet site that shared stories about vintage aprons, etc…but found so much more. Last year I went through something similar with my husband of 7 years. Guess he was getting "itchy". We have two children and truly loved each other madly. Then he told me that he had suprised himself by falling in "love" with his beautiful and artsy assistant and was probably going to leave me. US. I had never gone through so much pain and agony in my entire life…yet I came out a stronger woman because of it. We are still together after a lot of fog-lifting, realizations, counseling, reading, tears, and hell. Something that helped me get through this might help you too:
    “Can real feelings develop in such an environment? Sure, but they become hard-wired to the conditions that they grew in. The affair is murky water, and people, adaptive creatures that we are, develop pseudo gills and fins to swim in it. Pull a fish out of water and into the air, you know what happens.”
    and:
    Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. – Carl Bard
    By now you have probably gone through a lot of the anguish that you are ever going to go through, but I know there are times when it will bring you down to your knees, as it still does me. Hope I helped give a little relief for those bad days…

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