becoming a self in history, becoming a self in my street

Annette Gordon

The day after the Twin Towers had been destroyed, some friends came to stay. As we were sitting together having a meal and sharing news, I began to tell my friends about a difficult situation in my life. I had been friends with a woman who had exhausted me by her extreme demands for attention. In the end I had tried to end the friendship because I felt unable to be who she needed me to be. As I talked about this my husband began to speak about what I was saying in a cold and detached way. There seemed to be no connection between what I was sharing and his response to it. My friends, however, tried to understand and enter my experience. I felt on the one hand invisible and on the other truly seen. I had been married for sixteen years and in that moment when I was listened to with openness by my friends I found myself thinking, ĎLife can actually be like this, I am understandable and I donít have to always feel I canít communicate.í I also knew consciously, for the first time, just how lonely my marriage was.

I am so puzzled that after sixteen years it was this one conversation that changed my whole life. I began to speak to my husband and ask for more connection, but I was unable to inspire him to come towards me. Finally, because I couldnít stop needing more closeness, he left and I found myself physically alone. I lost my husband and all the security of our marriage. I was very scared and at times overwhelmed. I have now moved nearer to people who share my deepest values and I have rebuilt my life from the ground up. Now I am single and I have a lot to work through as a consequence of my marriage failing, but I am surrounded by people who really want to know me. I am also doing work that I really love. When I look back, I realise that I used to blot out my whole feeling life in order to survive, and in the process I lost myself. I risked everything to ask for closeness with my husband and through that I lost him. I do feel though that I have found myself and that although I am sometimes still lonely it is a creative loneliness and that I am truly alive.