She turns it again and again inside her head and for the thousandth time she is unable to reach a conclusion. Rather, she feels unable to decide. Her life hangs in the balance and she has no clue about what she will do next. She knows what she wants to do, what she would like to do, but then she thinks of the unsurmountable obstacles and she falters. She cannot do it. But how can she not do it, and lose her last hope of being happy? But will she be happy if she leaves her whole life behind her, to start anew?
She’s torn between two lives, and she cannot begin to decide which one she will choose.
When it all began
It all seemed so simple when it began. Trapped in a marriage that had been loveless for quite some time now, the brilliant, handsome scientist she met at a conference literally swept her off her feet. He was so different from her much older, so conventional, uninteresting husband of many years. Just listening to his speech made her heart beat faster, let alone talk to him over a drink, after the first day was over…
She tries to reason with herself, so as not to feel as guilty as she does. No one destroys a marriage. People are only allowed to come in when the marriage is already finished, when people no longer have feelings for each other, but still keep a façade for convenience’s sake…in her case, mostly for her children, but also because they live in a small country own, a very well-known and traditional family, what would people say if she left her husband…there she has her veterinarian practice, everyone knows her and she knows everyone, people count on her…she is happy in her work, she adores her children, so she has kept on, even after meeting that man and feeling attracted by him. The problem is, he was also attracted by her and looked for her, wanted to meet her again. She knew he was married too, but at the time, when they forgot all conventions and began a relationship, it was very clear for both that it would not mess with their orderly lives. They would meet and enjoy each other from time to time, and that would be all.
Time went by. Time flies, especially when you’re no longer as young as you were. They kept in touch, alternatively spending months, even years, without knowing anything about each other. But then something would happen, bringing them together again; sometimes it was just the fact that one of them felt lonely and reached out to the other. No strings attached.
Until one day, early last year, they realised they wanted to be together, and consequently had to make a choice.
Easy for him. Or perhaps not, but he went ahead and told his wife of almost forty years he wanted a divorce, because he was in love with someone else. His son, in his twenties, did not like the surprise but grudgingly accepted the situation. Big city life makes this sort of things easier.
Difficult, so difficult for her. Maybe it’s different for a mother. They are in their twenties too, she thinks, but a mother will not leave her children. When they finally go away from home to study, she feels she may make her choice, but there are all the other factors: to choose her new love she will have to forsake everything else, including her practice, that she has slowly, but lovingly built over the years. It would be unthinkable, utterly impossible to leave her husband, the family mansion, and remain in the small town by herself, let alone with another man. Because this man is willing to move to a new city, move heaven and earth, just to be with her; he only waits for a word from her and he will come and fetch her, mas somehow, she cannot say it. Not just yet.
She made a try, before Christmas. Told her husband she wants a divorce; told her children she is leaving their father. Bad timing, it’s true, but her lover is putting a lot of pressure on her. He is lonely, he feels he has done everything on his side and expects her to do the same. He is impatient, saying he will not wait forever. But her children beg her not to leave their father before Christmas and she simply cannot do it…and then it’s New Year’s Eve, and she doesn’t have the courage to leave either. And now it’s January and still she lingers.
Torn. She remembers a song of many years ago by Natalie Imbruglia, called “Torn”. She doesn’t remember the lyrics, but the word, a strong, powerful, terrible one, has stuck with her. Now she understands what if feels like to be torn. Not so much between two men, but between two lives. The orderly, uninteresting but safe and predictable, life she has, devoid of any emotion but the one she feels for her for her children. For the rest, she is dead inside. And another, so much more promising, exciting, dangerously unpredictable, with the man she passionately loves, the man who has done everything on his side so that they may be together. But if this happiness is going to cost her the love of her children, then she will not do it because it will be only half-happiness, as no mother is completely happy without the love of the beings she loves most in this world.
There I go again, she thinks. I’m torn, this is an impossible situation. It’s driving me crazy. In her hand, her phone beeps. Yet another message, insistent, demanding, giving her an ultimatum. Downstairs, she hears the voice of her husband, this man who means nothing to her, mixed with those of her children, young grown-ups but still very attached to their mother and father, their family, their house, their town. They sound happy, relaxed. How can she destroy their happiness, how can she break up their family, their home?
She leaves the phone on her bed, the messages unanswered. She opens the door to the balcony and steps outside to the cold night air. She looks at the full moon and thinks about making a wish. Only, she doesn’t know which one to make, because she doesn’t know what she really wants, which life she will decide to live. Torn, uncertain, undecided, she bangs the balcony door, throws herself onto the bed and cries disconsolately. Tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, I will be able to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.