I’ve been sending out lots of Christmas cards this year. I’ve never written out so many. It’s all for a client, of course. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.
Of the 80 or so cards I’ve sent out, I’ve got back four. One from colleagues, one from a supplier, one from my mobile service provider and one from my ex-husband. It arrived in my inbox at around 3.30am and I found it this morning.
I don’t know why he sent it to me. I never get messages from him. Our last communication, after I mailed him to meet up in Sydney and get something approaching closure, was less than cordial. I wrote a long letter where I vented all the frustration of the last few years; he never wrote back and I assumed that was that.
Is it an olive branch? A fuck you, look how great my life is? I don’t know. He looks happy. He has everything he wants: the family, the life out of South Africa, the wife who is blonde and petite. Although he always said he wanted one child, not two, and a girl, not a boy. And his mother is not there to see his new life. She died in front of us, and she remains the one bond we will always have no matter what, because I knew her and Ang did not. (I see my parents all the time, because I pretty much live with them. Keeping overheads low while I start up an agency and all that.)
I think of all sorts of things while I look at this card.
I think of how, a week after we got married, he ranted on about the Wits School of Architecture and Lindsay Bremner and how he’d have to move overseas next week and I thought: my god, I’ve made a horrible mistake. A horrible, horrible mistake.
I think of my mother, who was close to him, and who will never forgive him for physically ejecting her from our rented townhouse that day in August 2009.
I think of my brother, who was with her that day, and who has been scarred by my fucked up marriage in ways I will never really know.
I think of one of my best friends who witnessed what happened, and who is still friends with him.
I think of the people who were our friends when we were married, people who probably hate and despise me, and who I can no longer bear to have anything to do with.
I think of how – yet again! – my life revolved around the moods of an angry man.
I think of what it is like to be loved by someone who loves the idea of you, not who you are, and how he always loved the idea of me more than I loved the reality of him.
I think of how right we seemed for each other, and how utterly, profoundly wrong we were. And how he is ok, and I am broken in ways that can never be fixed. (Just one example: the stress from the divorce and the medication I took for it has left me severe
I think of how I am on holiday with another single woman, a friend who, like me, has been badly hurt, and how the life we are supposed to have has not materialized, and how lonely this can be in a town filled with kids and bikes and dads and bland prosperity. (The poverty and misery is just over the hill, as it is everywhere in this country, but we blank that out.)
I also think of how, though I’m on my way to weaning myself off his abrasive presence in my life, I will never be able to separate myself from him. Every time I lose something or do something stupid, he is in my head, lecturing me, yelling at me. I can’t let go of him because he is a part of me now. He is me.
This is the thing with angry people who tell you all the time in lots of ways, both big and small, that you are not good enough. They erode you into a shape that slots into the puzzle of their lives, and when they are gone, you find you don’t fit anywhere at all.