It was the strangest thing. Utter relief once I’d managed to boot an old laptop and found all Monkey’s baby pictures and video clips could be retrieved and transferred to a new hard drive as well as my current laptop, but once I looked through everything closer it was with emotions I can’t actually put into words. Along with all these photos that I’m so glad I could recover, were some other things I’d kept at the time and that I’d forgotten all about, namely, saved conversations from Messenger between me and my ex-husband. Who, at the time, was obviously my husband. There were four of those, and I know why I would have saved them just like I know why I saved every piece of communication between us. Especially once things started to turn from sour to seriously bad – I don’t think it was ever that sweet, to be honest, or at least I can’t now remember ever feeling he was in any way my partner or my friend, let alone my best friend.
It’s astounding to read. I know that those lines superceding “Anna Says” it is me who has written whatever is there, yet I don’t recognise that person. The tone between us is cold, hostile and impersonal. Was this really how we were? I guess it must have been. I left him because it was unbearable, of course I know and remember all of that (there was a reason why I dropped from my normal ten stone to barely eight – at the time, people wondered if I was suffering with some illness), but reading those words now was a revelation.
I only have to scroll through text messages and e-mails between B and I – littered with words of love, compliments and praise – to put into context how where I once was, was such a bad place. Sure, I’ve always been very cheerful and content and my marriage was an exception. Once I left I soon returned to the Anna people around me had missed and worried about. Gone was the stick thin wreck, and back was the cuddlier and sunny me.
In one of these chats, my ex said something that was neither harsh nor mean. He said he was thinking about me, adding that he loved me and put kisses on there. My response? I wondered what had got into him. Today, if B doesn’t grab me to kiss and hug me any time we pass each other, I wonder what’s up because being tactile and loving is our default, not the other way around. Not that we ever pass each other without smiling, kissing, hugging and grabbing each other. I don’t think we’ve ever woken up in the morning without immediately crawling on top of each other, holding each other close and telling each other all these loving words.
And it’s the same for B. We’ve talked about it many times, because when he tells me of his loveless marriage to someone he never really fancied and never felt was his best friend, I struggle to picture him in that situation – this affectionate, loving and engaging man I know. I just can’t see how that could have been the case. But then I look at the chat history in these documents I’d saved and see how I now can’t see myself in them, even though I wrote the words.
I’d kept them – along with all other correspondence – because I thought I’d lose my mind. I needed to show them to someone who might be able to tell me if I was as terrible as this tyrant would have me believe. I have no idea why I stayed for as long as I did. Perhaps I didn’t know any better, just like B says he’d just figured that being unhappy was his lot and had got on with it, living life with this person he didn’t particularly like.
So thank God for a new lease of life and finding love for real. Thank heavens for being able to share my every last secret no matter how embarrassing with my best friend who’ll share in return. And thank the Lord that both and B both got away from these awful people who made us so unhappy once.
B read the chats to and went to hug me, feeling sorry for me because it had been so bad. I got annoyed. Why feel sorry for me?! I put him straight and then he got it – high fived at being grateful over good riddance to bad rubbish just like he is. I shudder any time B shows me correspondence between him and his ex, just like he shuddered at these old exchanges that I showed him, but how could you be at anything but your worst when you’re with the wrong person?
B, if anyone, can relate, and Monday night we were lying in bed talking until 1am. Just on our sides, facing each other and talking about all of this for over two hours. An Ex-Exorcism, if you like. I feel we could both finally write them both off, even though I did with mine over eight years ago and B probably for the same length of time. Outline how awful our marriages were, how little we like the people we were married to and how grateful we are for the life we now have.
Sometimes you just need a little perspective, and more than ever before do I feel gratitude.