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August 14, 2021 5:04 pm  #1

Why don’t men ask for directions?

Almost thirty years to the day since she chose me. Of all the men who threw themselves at her,  she chose the one who didn’t, My own friends couldn’t understand what she saw in me, to be honest neither did I. After our first weekend together she asked me to go with her to her parents house for dinner. I asked her jokingly if she had “picked out a dress already”. Things moved so fast, as if her life depended on this relationship. She was stunning to behold and not like the other girls I had been with. Not overly feminine, but actually very shy and over anxious in general situations. The sex life was OK. A little perfunctory and sometimes it felt scripted, but I was happy enough and put it down to a lack of experience on both of our parts I suppose. Public displays of affection were outlawed as they made her feel very self conscious. My parents liked her as did the rest of my family. We lived together for ten years before she agreed to marry me. I wanted to be married before we started a family (bit of a traditional type of chap) which would be when she was ready. We had been married for five years when she said that we should try for a baby. I was so happy for both of us. The sex life had dropped off a lot since we got married, but now we were on a schedule and on a timetable. My son was born and we were now a family. Life was just right. I didn’t need to ask for directions, I knew exactly where we were going.
 A year after my son was born things started to change. There was no more affection from her at all. Like it had been switched off and replaced with hostility. I understood that the new baby was a huge responsibility and that this was having an effect on her. I supported her in every way I could while I was at home. I accepted that it was OK for me to play second fiddle in her affections, I was more than happy with the situation if this was the case. But there was not to be a second baby. Only more hostility and rejection. Never ending and only ever increasing. You try everything you can think of to put things right. You try to be more of this and less of that to no avail. The list of your own faults seems to grow ever larger day after day. You can’t do anything right anymore and the put downs and attacks become more personal and vehemently driven home. Every time you try to talk to your wife about these problems, it is met by more attacks and further lists of why you are no good. Before you know it, years of your life have passed away in an ever more futile search for happiness. You’ve stopped seeing your friends. You’ve stopped seeing your family. You go to work to escape the pain of being at home. When you arrive back from work in the evening, you cross yourself as you put your key in the lock as if you have suddenly found religion. The silent prayer you make is a selfish one “please don’t let it be too bad tonight”.
 After years and years of “advice” on how to be a better person, you just give up. These things that are said to you on a daily basis must be true. You are “hopeless, useless and in the way”. That is why your own wife hasn’t made physical contact with you in thirteen and a half years. Because you have become “hopeless, useless and in the way”, such is the self fulfilling prophecy of such abuse. How can you tell anyone what is going on? How do you tell your family that this what your life is? How do you ask for directions now? You don’t. You are a man. You take it and try as your Father did to keep your family together. In the end, the stress of it takes its toll on you and you have a heart attack. But you live, and you try to use this as the polarising event that brings you together. But even this can’t bring you closer. After a few weeks of calm, the attacks begin again in earnest.
 You lie down because you are tired. You are not a young man with a future anymore and the pain you experience everyday is cumulative and never ending. You lie down and let the cold steel rest gently against your ear and softly against your cheek. You look at the moon’s glow reflected on the track in front of you. You listen to the delicate singing of the steel as the train approaches from the distance somewhere behind you. You imagine there being a sudden light and perhaps the blaring of a horn and then no more pain. No more embarrassment. No more shame.
I told my therapist that men are obviously always more likely to kill themselves than women. They will exhaust themselves by trying to find solutions to their problems, and will never ever ask for directions even when they know they are lost. When they make a decision after rational thought, they will stick to it. I was lost, but I asked someone for directions. The directions finally brought me here to discover my truth and my wife’s truth. That we are both victims of something neither of us wants or understands. I just pathetically count off the days one at a time now. 4918 days since my wife reached out to physically touch me. I can never seem to give up hope, when that is all that I have left. Just one day at a time from now on.

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see clearly that which is essential is invisible to the eye.

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