It was so long ago that it’s impossible to remember how the argument began.
She remembers words like priority being tossed about. He felt he wasn’t a priority in her life. His career was coming to an end, changing. His identity would also change and she guessed that he feared that. It was implied that her focus was misguided, that his needs were the priority now.
The children were young. In her mind, they were the priority still. They were a constant for her. After raising them almost single-handed for so many years no one in the house was comfortable with this man. He was looked upon as more of an occasional visitor than the husband or father the outside world predicted him to be. If she was honest, it almost felt like an interference – the coming months when he would be a part of their life, play a role that he was so unaccustomed to playing.
“You’ve changed,” he said to her. His voice came across the darkness. “You have all those feminist friends now.”
That sentence said with such contempt and disdain. Those words, voiced in the darkness and meant to convey a message that haunts her years later.
She chose to ignore the call to action that night. She wanted her children to finally know their father.
Now, so many years later, she wonders what they know of him. What they think of him.
Who is the man they see?
What he will never realize is that she hadn’t changed. He had chosen, just like she had chosen so early in their relationship, to see only select aspects of the other person. She assumed that she could, and would continue to accept him and find a way to move forward.
She was wrong.
A doorway opened that night. Both he and she were afforded a glimpse of the whole person on the other side. She now knows in her heart that something began to change just then, at least for her. Emotions clouded and optimism turned to hints of defeat.
She can only wonder what he saw or if he felt the heaviness begin to pull at their life as well in those moments. He gave no hints of a turning point, but neither did she.
Now…now she wants to ask but needs to go beyond. Changes real or imagined, changes that never were, changes that must be recognized.
Life altering changes that should have happened many years ago.