The Lone Tunnel
April 16, 2013 § 179 Comments
From yesterday’s Times (I am still here, see?):-
There are many downsides to being self-employed, but one great advantage is safety from ever being sacked. So it is with being a plankton. At least we’re spared being shafted by some bastard, and with the amount of stories currently abounding about marital breakdown, I am beginning to think my measly status is the safest, most sensible and secure.
I am lucky. I am out of the woods. Time has done its cliched but welcome healing. I remember all too well, of course, the torture. I saw it as this tunnel which I just had to get through; didn’t know how long it would take to emerge, but I always knew that emerge I eventually would. Logic dictated that no human brain could sustain that pitch of emotional agony for ever. There was total black at first but, after some weeks, a pin hole of light miraged at the end of the tunnel, and gradually increased in size and form and became (with a little nudge from Prozac) a reality. The scars remain but the searing has gone.
But all around me I see collapse. I hear story after story of marriages atrophying at the rate of shops closing down, and the emotional landscape seems as spent, derelict and desolate as the high street. The stories are all of men shutting up shop for the greener grass of the Other Woman, and my heart goes out to the wives graffitied all over with pain and rejection like metal roller shutters. They are thrust untimely, unwittingly (NB. I don’t say unjustly, though, in many cases, unjustly too) into their own tunnels through which, no choice, they are just going to have to travel; only in this case the travelling is a whole deal worse than arriving.
People say it takes two years but that is what they say about settling into a new house in a new town. No, the marital breakdown tunnel is different. It’s not just a question of “settling”, like shifting positions on a sofa to get more comfortable. It is not just getting used to the layout of new streets and kitchen and neighbours. It is re-forming the geography of the entire self and I reckon it takes a lot more than two years for the easing.
Yesterday I heard about Sally’s particular hurt; the day before it was Claire’s; today it is Harriet’s. Tomorrow, inevitably, it will be Milly’s, Molly’s or Mandy’s. This daily conveyor belt of middle-aged women entering their own, lone tunnel, each unhappy in her own way, has given me pause.
In a funny, perverse sort of way, plankton are safer. Maybe not the way we might choose to be, but safer all the same.