Sarah steps out into the cold January night air, takes a sip of her coffee and lights a cigarette. As she searches for the moonlight hidden by the cloudy sky, she wonders why she is not happy. She wonders if she even knows what happiness is and recalls someone telling her once that he thought she was afraid to be happy. So she stands there, looking up at the night sky, wishing she could see the stars, wondering if she really is afraid to be happy, sipping her coffee and smoking her cigarette.
Collin is a good man; the best Sarah has ever known. He works hard to pay the bills so she doesn’t have to. Aside from managing the household, her time is her own. She can write, take on creative projects, go shopping or meet a friend for lunch without having to ask permission. Sarah tries to be a good wife but she struggles with the realization that she resents doing so. She wants for nothing material. She can go out and buy anything she may desire. Collin doesn’t as much as wince when she speaks of her latest purchases or sudden desire for some new gadget or toy. However, she’s miserable in her current existence. None of her shopping endeavors brings her happiness. None of the pricey gifts that Collin bestows on her at Christmas, their wedding anniversary or on her birthday make her happy, nor do they hold much meaning for her. No amount of spending can fill the emptiness and despair that she awakens with every day and falls to sleep with every night; no matter how hard she tries to make it so.
Maybe she’s living in the past.
Sarah spends a lot of time playing “remember when?” in her head. She remembers when Collin would leave her with little gifts, cards or hand drawn cartoons by her coffee cup on the kitchen counter. She remembers when he would call her in the middle of the day just to tell her that he loved her. She remembers when there was an extra Christmas card tucked underneath her bed pillow. She remembers a time when she felt important to Collin; they’d hold hands as they watched television and sit outside under the night sky and talk about their love, their life and the future they wanted together. They kept no secrets. Sarah remembers and longs for that time when she felt so loved, so appreciated, so special and significant that she questioned nothing.
Sarah and Collin are living an emotional divorce.
Collin arises every day before dawn and goes to work, while Sarah awakens alone. She spends her days wrapped up in her misery, wondering why she is there. What purpose does she serve; other than as the cook, housekeeper and childcare worker? All that material stuff does not make her happy. It does not bring her love, warmth or appreciation. It does not make her feel significant. What she needs is time. She needs time from Collin. She needs time expressed in moments shared—alone—having dinner, sipping a mocha, or going to a movie. She needs the time it takes to pick out a card, or to seek out a token gift.
Maybe she expects too much.
A part of Sarah thinks that she should be grateful for what she has; a spouse, who works hard to provide for his family, helps with the dishes occasionally, accepts her bag fetish, puts his own laundry away, reads to their daughter, cooks breakfast on Sundays, makes the coffee pot, brings home the milk and allows her space when she needs it. However, at the same time, Collin puts their future at risk with his unethical business practices, neglects her expressed need for his time, believes that all he has to do in their marriage is go to work and return home and that some gift dictated by the calendar will make up for it all.
Maybe she should give up.
Sarah has brought her concerns, fears and needs to Collin’s attention on more than one occasion. They’ve discussed them on more than one occasion. They’ve had agreements on more than one occasion. Sarah has threatened divorce on more than one occasion. Collin does not seem to realize that they’re living an emotional divorce, nor does he seem interested in doing anything about it. Sarah is tired of feeling empty, neglected and alone. She’s tired of the vicious cycle that has taken over their relationship. She doesn’t know what else to do or how long she can live like this.
Maybe she has other options.
In realizing that her happiness is her own responsibility, Sarah has tried creating it, finding her own fulfillment through creative hobbies, writing, and volunteer work at her daughter’s school. But, it’s all in vain. She needs to know that she’s important to her husband, that she is loved, valued and appreciated. But she doesn’t.
Maybe she should go shopping.