Vignette 18: Love Is Not Her Cup of Tea!

From Heartbreak, Mourning, Loss. Volume One, Detach or Die

The polluted fishbowl

At the beginning of my marriage to Elise, three years ago, I asked her to reserve her vacation time to travel with me in Italy. Traveling is my most intense source of pleasure. I am interested in other cultures, other climates, and traveling is my main motivation to make money.

Elise always says she wants to travel with me, loves me, and wants to be with me. Yet when the time comes to buy our tickets, she has other projects. The first time she said she needed to visit her mother in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Her mother, according to Elise, was having a very difficult time with her health and was under great stress because of the drama of the divorce of her other daughter (Elise’s sister.)

Something similar happened the second year of our marriage, and again this spring. Last week, she informed me that her summer vacation would again be spent in Tuscaloosa, not Tuscany.

Elise’s mother has endless claims on Elise’s free time, money, vacation time, attention and emotions. Elise does not have the strength to put any kind of limit. Her mom calls every day, sometimes twice a day, and talks about her problems.

She is never happy with Elise’s contribution, and rages at her. Elise is not free to be my partner, not open to anything but the influence of her sanctimonious, controlling, invasive, egocentric mother. I understand and appreciate Elise’s desire to help her family, and I would contribute, if not for the fact that Elise’s efforts are futile because her mom, as well as her sister, are vampiristic takers.

These two women have denied themselves so much, they will take all they can from Elise but won’t give her the love and respect she craves. Elise’s mother expects her daughter to serve her like the queen bee, to sacrifice her (our) vacation, year after year; I am never part of the equation.

My irreversible disconnection from Elise happened over something that may seem like a detail. After work, I had bought a CD of a musician I like, and I was looking forward to a pleasant evening of music. Just as we settled down to listen, her mother called, with another episode of her ongoing drama.

Elise began listening to her mother’s litany of complaints. After twenty minutes of waiting, I had lost the desire to listen to the music and felt a huge let down. I had a sudden certitude: Elise is incapable of grasping the meaning of “us,” the importance of our vacation, of our evenings. Her psyche lives in a polluted fishbowl, with her neurotic mom and her neurotic sister. I will suffocate if I stay.

I left the CD on the coffee table, went out for a walk, and knew, there and then, that I was ready to ask for a divorce.