“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ― Anaïs Nin
“Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
― Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember
It took me thirty years to sift the chaff from my wheat when it concerned my marriage. Now, as I reflect on my marriage at this traumatic crossroad I wonder about a lot of things and my mind is full of questions.
What makes people to stay in unproductive relationships? Why do women and some men prefer toughing it out in abusive relationships instead of cutting loose and starting a new life or moving on with life? Fear? Intimidation? Insecurity? Lack of understanding of the enormity of what they are in? Children? Culture? Misplaced faith? Religion? Why do people cope with threatening abuse that could lead to death and sometimes lead to death in their relationships? A perverse fascination with cruelty or the abusive process? Weaknesses? Indoctrination or pervading fear? Why are abusive partners always giving reasons for their being abused and ready to stick it out in abusive and almost killing relationships? Why? Why?
However, these are only questions, which I have not been able to find answers to. My marriage is a prime example of a relationship faulted from the beginning but I was blind, I mean really blind about it. I was blind for more than thirty years. It was not that I did not perceive the cracks or that Mika do beat me or break my bones or give me eye bumps. To be honest, he has never raised his hands against me in our more than thirty five years of marriage. Relationship abuse comes in different forms and the most galling and killing is being ignored. Think of it; think of gross disinterest in you by your partner. The person you love, care for and serve is just not interested in you. You do not exist so to say. You are invisible to him. He does not care about you and won’t mind what happens to you. In the house you are two strangers managing to coexist. What matters to your partner is that you are there to serve his whims. If you are a woman like me that means: cook, clean the house, take care of your children, manage your husband- financially and in all other ways women manage men- and be there to perform your wifely and marital roles- I mean the ones you have to do in the bedroom notwithstanding at times you were unprepared and did not feel like it.
These roles and duties could go on for ages without you realising how your life is seeping through your fingers like a broken egg until you open your hand and find out that you had nothing for all your years of serving and suffering. It could be devastating as I found out. I had poured myself into carrying out my marital and maternal responsibilities that to a great extent I had neglected myself. I repressed my needs the moment my children and husband’s needs were met. Even if I wanted to spend some time on myself, I had almost none remaining. I would have continued in this soporific state not asking for anything more than making them happy and remain unaware if something did not happen to me.
Mika, I will be seeing Dr. Wilhelma today?
Hen. En. I hope it is not for another pregnancy?
Another pregnancy? What gives you such idea?
Have you not been going on about another child since we had Andrea?
Yes, I did for two years after but we have rested this issue many years ago, and talking of pregnancy, since when have you touched me?
Touched you? What do you mean?
Don’t let us start again this morning, Mika. I just want to inform you about the visit in order that you will have to prepare your dinner and be at home when the children come back because I would be visiting the doctor after work and I might be coming back late.
That’s okay; I will be back early then.
That was it; there was no question as to what was taking me to the doctor. The moment pregnancy had been taken out of the equation; whatever happened to me did not count. I did not count his reaction to my doctor’s visit as important but it was his response after the visit that sets me thinking. However, I did not know that this same day, my ‘perfect’ and well-tailored world would collapse around me —a walled city knuckling under consistent battering. Like all cataclysms, it was not a sudden bang happening but a slowly seeping event—damp taking over a house. The dam was full and there was no outlet, so it burst. It was a normal day like all days in my life. I was not given any inkling that my well-run and model home was on the verge of exhibiting the chaos theory. Dressing up this morning at the bedroom dressing table, I had touched my breasts and drank in my fit and trim body. A finely chiselled body that belies being a mother of two and a forty something career woman. It couldn’t be otherwise: daily exercise, aerobics, picky eating and harmonious living with nature and with all those I came across. After a naturally approved breakfast, the taking of the children to school, I decided to branch at my doctor’s surgery before going to the office to inquire about some tests she had conducted on me. I had been bothered about a little moat that I observed on my breast.
The results are back.
Yes, but …
But what, Doctor?
They are not that positive, Angel.
I looked at Dr. Wilhelma– an alien, she looked at me back wondering why I was looking at her like a new specie of ‘creepy crawly’. She also looked at me with what I thought was a sign of pity. I discarded her pity and kept my gaze on her unchanging.
Angel, you have breast cancer.
Involuntarily I touched my breasts and sat down dejected. Questions started- a Grand Prix race in my head.
Where did I contract it? Does it mean I am going to die? How much time do I have left? My personal businesses were all in disarray, what must I do to put them in order? What happens to my children? What about my husband and my colleagues at work? Have I lived well? Am I going to heaven or is it hell? God, why did you allow this to happen to me? Why me? Why this time? What do I have in common with cancer?
Angel, Angel, are you here?
I slid out of my reverie as Doctor Wilhelma touched my hand.
It has not fully metastasised. It can still be controlled. A small surgical procedure, some radiation treatment and you would be fine and almost whole again.
Almost? Almost isn’t enough! I will be incomplete or wouldn’t the surgery involve taking a part of my breast away?
Not a big part. A tiny bit where the tumour resides.
Who gave the tumour a resident permit in my body?
Nobody can answer that, Angel.
I sleepwalked out of the surgery and did not know how I drove home. I had taken a ‘sickie’ from work, only to lie on my bed staring at nothing until I got a phone call to come and pick my children. The day had gone down and I had done nothing except put myself in a zombie drive button. I did not remember how the remaining part of the day went. It was evening and I had to go to my mother in law’s place for an obligation dinner. I also did not know how I went through the dinner but finally it was night and we were back home and preparing for the night.
Won’t you ask me about the results of my visit to the doctor?
I believe you will tell me if you think it concerns me.
If it concerns you? Won’t you be interested in what I am going through?
Interested? I am interested in you, aren’t I?
Oh, that’s why you asked me the reasons for my not eating, my being listless and downcast.
Look woman, I am stressed out at work and that may be the reason for my not observing your condition. I am sorry, what did the doctor say?
I went for the results of my tests?
Tests, what type of tests?
Mika, I told you Dr. Wilhelma had been conducting some tests on me because of that moat on my breast.
Is the moat not a birthmark?
No, it is not. After going through the tests’ results, she said I had cancer.
That was Mika’s response to my news. After the news, he prepared himself and went to work. No other response, no caring word, no questions asked and their was no answer given by me. On the day of my operation, I took a taxi to the hospital: Mika had an important assignment at work. It was late in the afternoon after I had been in the hospital for many hours that he came. His boss, hearing that I was in the hospital for cancer operation forced him to leave work and come to me in the hospital. This was what led to my seeing him half an hour before I was wheeled into the theatre. I had a successful operation and the tumour was excised. Recuperating on my bed, I started a review of my life and what I had been doing with it for the past thirty years. The scenes that marched through my mind’s stage were unpalatable. (to be continued…)
Images from GOOGLE Images
Quotations from GOODREADS