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I sit on a bench and breathe in the damp air. The sound of rain hitting my umbrella becomes grating. It adds a drumbeat to my anger. I want to stand up again, but my energy is fading as my emotions rise, causing this pent-up feeling, a tightness in my chest, a build-up of fury in this frail body. I thought I was over this. My friends all commended me on how well I’d handled things. They said I’d risen above it all, but I felt like I’d been buried in an early grave.
What choice did I have, really? I guess I could have shouted, and screamed, cut up his clothes and given away his possessions. I knew that none of those things would hurt him in the same way that he’d hurt me. All I had was his guilt, and I knew those actions would assuage it. It’s not that I enjoy playing the victim, but I hoped he thought of me at least occasionally, and that those thoughts tainted his new life.
I have a new life too, but it’s in an old setting. What’s familiar to me is unfriendly. Until the divorce goes through, it’s difficult to sell the house. Those rooms are minefields unless I drown out all the thoughts with noise, whether from the television or the radio. When I’m not at work, I watch programme after programme. All those reality TV shows he used to hate; I turn up the volume and immerse myself in other people’s lives and problems. My unhappiness is numbed and abated until it’s time to turn off the TV and go to bed.
It’s difficult to sleep, so I read until my head feels heavy. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. Being alone hurts like toothache. I roll between the sheets, trying to shake off the pain. I must get at least some sleep, because the alarm clock always jerks me into consciousness, reminding me that life goes on as normal and that my misery is inconsequential to everyone else. I have to get ready for work.
I sold the car to make ends meet, so now I travel by bus. Observing public transport etiquette, I studiously keep my eyes on my book (borrowed from the local library, actually supporting authors comes second to being able to afford food,) to avoid catching the gaze of another passenger. Sometimes this makes me feel a little sick, so I look out of the window and watch the world go by, wondering how many people out there are hurting just like me.