A beautiful magnet once installed itself into my sixteen year old heart. I had never felt anything like it before. The magnet’s strong pull drew me to one particular gentle soul and I didn’t want to look any further. The beautiful magnet made my heart skip a beat when The Gentle Soul walked into the room and it made me yearn for him when he walked out of the room. My ears pricked up to love songs on the radio and I sang along with wild abandonment.
Having this magnet in my heart and The Gentle Soul in my life made me laugh more often, my step much lighter, my smile more permanent and gave me direction. This strong sense of love made me feel like I belonged in this man’s heart and that he belonged in mine.
The beautiful magnet glowed warmly in my nineteen year old chest as I walked down the aisle of a country church to marry the gentle, kind soul who had fallen in love with me. Our first seven years were no less than perfect as we travelled with his work, learned new sports together, met new people and enjoyed one another’s company more than anyone else.
Late in the 10th year of this magnet residing in my heart, the little baby growing inside me managed the impossible – she doubled the strength of my magnet. This magnet intensified my love for my husband and also extended to somebody else – our baby. I swam in the exquisite sense of meaning and purpose that suddenly enveloped our lives.
Sleep deprivation; anxiety; motherly work; guilt and self-hatred for having to go back to paid work when she was just nine weeks old made me emotionally unavailable to hear the complaints of the gentle soul I had married. Our life had changed and he felt powerless in his quest to win me back from the parenting magnet.
Two and a half years and a little more travel passed before our magnets regained some strength. The Gentle Soul’s job moved us to a house by the sea, which was therapeutic and gave us the link of togetherness that we had been hoping for.
During the 14th year of the beautiful and powerful magnet residing in my heart we decided our three year old should have a sister. The magnets in both of our hearts swelled and strengthened as we pulled together as a family and went through sleep deprivation and anxieties again. Again, he expressed frustration and powerlessness as the parenting magnet demanded I tend to a crying baby instead of staying by his side to nurture one another’s magnets.
Babies grew to toddlers, who grew to children, who grew to teenagers and we both felt the powerful charge of our magnets had weakened a little. The perfect relationship we had shared in the beginning had become filled with negative emotions, words and events that can’t be written about in a list of weakness and intolerances because they are personal, private and painful. We both continued to work hard at tolerating one another but the damage had been done. We pushed forward one day at a time, holding a good day close and putting a bad day behind us, always hoping the next day might be better.
During the 24th year I realised that the beautiful magnet in my chest had faded along with The Gentle Soul’s interest in our everyday life. I wondered, “How did this happen? How do other people have families and grow together?” but I couldn’t find the answers. Somehow I knew he wondered the same thing and he found no answers either. He had become a bundle of resentment and I had become a bundle of anger and despair.
During the 24th year I decided that life doesn’t always turn out the way you hope it will and that now was time to say goodbye. There was no shouting, no hate, just resignation to the fact we couldn’t find our way back.
In what would have been our 30th year we had been divorced for five years when I realised that my magnet had finally lost its strength. The joyful, sweet, dancing love that we felt so intensely in those first years had now shifted to friendship. The magnet had gone.
This would have been our 35th year together and I now wonder if our early days is how love feels for everyone? My 51 year old self wonders, can love be that intense the second time around, and do people fall in love like that at my age? Once the beautiful magnet has been through this – can it ever recover?
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