We had issues, she and I. I'd never been in love, and had only fairly recently emerged from a decade-long struggle with crippling depression. So when things were good with us, I felt something akin to ecstasy, and I never wanted the high to end. Consequently, every little spat, every minor issue, felt like it could bring everything tumbling down. I was confused a lot, and the confusion tended to manifest itself as anger. She was bipolar, only she hadn't been diagnosed as such, and in fact wouldn't be until after we split. She acknowledged she had issues, but never wanted to admit they were as serious and deep as they very clearly were. At her worst moments she would lash out at me, claiming I was intentionally trying to make her believe she was crazy, but I knew I just wanted her to feel better. But even in that, I was selfish--I wanted her to feel better so my life would be easier.
Time passed. Most days were status quo. Issues were dealt with my ignoring them, hoping they'd go away. When they didn't, they would reemerge at the worst possible times, leading to evenings resembling a badly improvised take on Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? The rest of our time was spent like something out of a nineties sitcom, all snappy one-liners and random pop cultural references, which in a way was more exhausting than fighting.
Either way, we were always on, always performing. Our emotions were kept on the surface, operatic and overwrought, and we fed off each other, in good ways and bad. There were more good days than bad, but the bad ones stood out, and tended to skew the curve. We kept going even after it should have been obvious the marriage had ended. And then it ended for real.
The thing is, we were only together for five years, and yet it felt like it went on forever. Not in a bad way--I lived an entire life in time with her. I've had my beloved cat Staley for five years, and I still think of her as "the new cat". But time moves differently now, more slowly, it seems. Or maybe I've just finally learned how to relax.
I'm happy now with Janie, with the dog and cats and the odd little life I've made for myself. But I'm grateful for the journey that brought me here, and the defining moment of that trip occurred nineteen years ago when I met Sue Ellen. Until that moment, I could never imagine myself getting married. After that moment, I could never imagine myself getting divorced. But then, nothing about life is ever what we imagine.