Separation Journal #2: Becalmed

Posted by on 31 Aug, 2011 in Lifenotes, Movie Reviews, Relationships | 4 comments

This is the second in a continuing series of personal journal entries. If you don’t know me well you may wish to skip this and visit some of the other categories such as Technology & Society, Travel or Canada.

Steve Carell as Cal in the movie Crazy Stupid Love

Steve Carell as Cal in the movie Crazy Stupid Love

Well, looks like I didn’t manage to keep to my two-week blogging schedule. I did start something two weeks ago, but it was getting long, and life got busy and I didn’t finish it. Still, here I am now, and four weeks is better than seven. I will try and keep it at two weeks next time.

Lately, people ask me how I’m doing and I say half-jokingly “Fine.. apart from separating from my wife”. But that doesn’t really describe how I feel. If I had to sum up how I’ve felt most of this month, in one word, I would say “calm”.

In my day-to-day life, I am happy. I enjoy my job, and I’ve been keeping very busy with all the activities at weekends and weeknights. In fact I hardly spend much time at home these days. (I should do something about that, and especially I should get back into cooking – I love cooking but have been mainly eating out or having snack food/takeaway food lately. Tut tut.)

But I am getting on with life, and given I have a decent salary and small outgoings, it’s pretty easy to do what I want, when I want. Which definitely has its upsides. But it’s also a bit flat. Sometimes on a weekend day when the apartment is quiet I’ll just have a lie down and snooze on the sofa, because while there are plenty of things I could do, I can’t quite get inspired about any of them.

The thing that looms over me though, at the back of my mind, is the uncertainty about the future. I imagined I would have children by now and be starting to settle down. And yet here I am, no further along the “find a girl, build financial stability, settle down, raise a family” ladder than I was at 18. Well, I suppose I’ve got the financial stability, and a lot of years of experience of relationships. But having kids seems a long way off all of a sudden. And I’m 34. That’s the thing that scares me most. Still, I keep telling myself, all I can do is make the best of the present, maximize opportunities and seize every one of them that life throws at me.

So I have started online dating again. Which has been really good fun. And actually it’s made me a lot happier. Meeting someone who is actually interested in you makes a world of difference to your state of mind. I began to walk around feeling a lot more optimistic about the future – Life is good, I can do this. I even went out clubbing one night, to an 80’s night. Something I haven’t done probably since my stag night but always used to love! At first, I felt old and out of place… but I managed to shake that feeling and have a really good time. Maybe there’s still some youthful virility left in me yet :-)

But in the last couple of weeks, the confusion has set in. Of course I won’t say too much because there are other people involved. But it’s only once you spend time with someone else and consider getting involved that you really feel emotions about what you are leaving behind and also realise how you feel about going forward.

And now I don’t know what I want anymore. Usually, I have a vision in my mind, and I just dedicate myself towards that vision. But now I’m not sure what the right path is – the hard path towards winning back the wife who left me, or the equally hard and uncertain path towards finding someone else I could fall in love with and feel that sure about. And how do I figure it out without hurting anyone’s feelings along the way?

So this is how separating from someone messes with your head. Am I really “damaged” by what’s happened? I don’t feel like it, but the lack of clarity would suggest maybe I am.

And it’s funny how when you are in a tough spot, everything seems to resonate with your situation. By coincidence I’ve seen three films in the last month which all of which affected me because of the way they portrayed relationships:

“Crazy Stupid Love” is a funny but heartfelt tale about a divorced man who, with the aid of a “pick-up artist”, re-asserts himself as a man, meets (in the Biblical sense) various women and ultimately wins his wife back (that’s not really a spoiler because you can see it coming a mile off). Very well written though. And of course, watching this, I wondered if maybe I have lost something of myself through the marriage.. Do I need to rediscover myself as a man? It’s food for thought.

“My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” is an intriguing B-movie about a divorced girl who falls for a writer who is struggling to differentiate himself. But she has a big part of her life she is hiding from him. The rest, well, has to be watched as I don’t want to spoil it.. but again I saw parallels to my situation. In fact one line rang incredibly true for me. The leading lady said:

“Divorce has a funny way of making you feel like you’ll never be certain about anything again.”

It’s something that’s probably hard to identify with unless you’re in this situation, but the thing is that if marriage is the ultimate declaration of certainty, that this is your one true love and that you will spend your life together.. what does that say about you when it doesn’t pan out? Were you wrong to be that certain? Will there always be doubt now?

Finally “One Day” is a very non-standard romantic drama/comedy – actually you might even consider it a tragedy, in the Shakespearean sense – about a couple who almost get together at University, but fate conspires against them, and instead they have a very strange unrequited love that stays with them throughout their lives, alongside their other more “normal” relationships. And of course I thought about missed opportunities, and what-ifs, and “how will you ever really know if you’re with the right person?”. But also it reassured me that there is place in the world for relationships that don’t follow the standard “one couple that becomes a happy family and stays together forever” model that I have grown up knowing as the only true way to live a happy life.

It makes me realize that we’re all just as clueless as each other; we wander through life, making and breaking connections, some of them stick, some of them don’t, but the important people who really make an impact to your life are never really forgotten or left behind. They’re a part of who you are.

Well, it seems this journal entry got a lot more philosophical and personal than I intended it to be. But again, I hope that my openness does some good – if not to me then maybe to somebody else out there in the same situation.

Anyway, I’ll write more next time about what activities I’ve been up to, but this is long enough for now. I am in a strange, peaceful no-mans land, not quite sure what the future holds, but it is not without promise. Onwards and upwards, eh…?


  1. Once again I find myself close to tears reading your blog. What happened to ‘the alexes’?
    Where did that amazing couple who were so happy and seemed to lead an exciting life, making the most of every situation, lose the way? I feel scared, if it can happen to you what hope have the rest of got?
    It’s great that you are starting to feel calmer and more optimistic, hopefully the confusion will lessen and you will realise which path is right for you. The last 7 years may not have got you where you expected them to but they have given you many many experiences and memories and ultimately shaped who you are.
    Now I’ve written an essay!
    Thinking of you

  2. Hey it’s Vanessa.. a lot of what you wrote here resonates with me, especially since my long-term partner and I separated last year, and me and you are the same age. What can I say? Everybody’s different. I found it easy to meet new people but much more complicated to get into a serious relationship, the thing about uncertainty really rings a bell with me. It took awhile before I started feeling myself again and maybe now I have a bit of a better understanding my deeper motivations which quiet often unconsciously drives my personal decisions. Anyway, good luck to you :) V.

  3. To Alex… I admire your ability to step back from your situation and analyze it so thoughtfully. I hope it helps you to heal and move forward.

    To Anna… I think it’s important not to romanticize other people’s relationships, no matter how idyllic they may appear. All relationships have their issues and they aren’t always visible to others. Some relationships can overcome those issues and grow stronger for it, and others just can’t – and perhaps aren’t meant to.

  4. Alex, I am a total stranger living in the US for last 18 years. I am a male, Indian by birth, 48, and happily married for half the life to my high school sweetheart. Most people in India, regardless of their financial poverty, appear happy probably because the divorce rate is tiny (although that is changing fast, thanks to the western influence). 3 or more generations of family reside in the same apartment which has often only 1 or 2 tiny bedrooms. People there have a high degree of tolerance (determination to make the marriage work). Spouses don’t (and often can’t) fight with each other out of respect for elders in the family they cohabit with. While there is less privacy, the environment is conducive to giving the marriage time to make it work. Patience and determination (by BOTH spouses) will almost always make a marriage work. Love and respect for each other, if not present, can develop with time (like they do in most “parent-arranged” marriages in India).

    Don’t give up, please. Every pot has a lid. You just have to find yours – persistently. Good luck.

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