Today marks two weeks since my marriage reached its conclusion. It was two weeks ago at six o'clock in the morning that I left the house for an uncharacteristic morning walk, and I did not return until mid-afternoon. Over these fourteen days I've given a lot of thought to that first weekend when everything fell apart. The day before saw several wholly unnecessary arguments followed by a five-hour "discussion" while the boy slept. The question of divorce came up, and I agreed that it was the most logical way forward for both of us. Regardless of the effort put into the relationship, Reiko and I have become incompatible … and I am uninterested in trying to resolve matters further. As I said on that Thursday night, "I'm absolutely exhausted."
The first few days were pretty rough. I felt incredibly uncomfortable being at the house, so would spend most of the daylight hours moving between parks or sitting in a high stairwell, out of sight and completely off the grid. My devices were all left at home to ensure that I could not be tracked. However, by Monday afternoon, I had finally come down from the anxiety and returned home. I needed to communicate with my employer and with family. I needed to regain a little bit of routine in order to bury the suicidal tendencies enough that they could be ignored once again. By Wednesday it was possible to feel somewhat normal in the house. By Friday I could comfortably interact with neighbours and answer some of their questions about the missing car and absent dog1.
Oddly enough, things feel relatively normal now. The house is much too large for a single person and I do miss Nozomi's near-constant presence in the office, not to mention the lack of playing with the boy, but still … things feel normal now. Music is openly playing for most of the day to push away the silence and there's no doubt the house is cleaner now than at any point in the last three years. Thinking about it, this is very similar to the sort of life that I lead in Vancouver … except there's less human interaction.
In Vancouver I would occasionally work from home, as a great deal of my work could be done on my trusty HP and the boss was quite accommodating so long as productivity remained steady. On those days I would walk over to the nearby coffee shop in the morning for some caffeine and walk around the neighbourhood mid-afternoon. These where short periods of exercise and human interaction in the day. Interestingly, a similar pattern is playing out now nearly 15 years later. In the mornings I head out for a power walk that is about 4 km in length then head out again around 5 o'clock in the afternoon on a shorter 3.5 km trek. During these outings neighbours will occasionally greet me and engage in some small talk. Exercise and human interaction. What's old is new again.
There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the future, but one thing is for certain: there will be a lot less sustained stress and anxiety going forward. Until recently it was necessary to forever think very carefully about what words I spoke, what body language I presented, and what requests I would make. The goal was to reduce the number of arguments and complaints that I would hear in a day. Unfortunately, this resulted in a persistent state of anxiety that would occasionally transform into passive-aggressive communication. As it's no longer necessary for me to walk on eggshells, I'm able to relax and communicate with people without worrying about listening to arguments later. It's really quite liberating. People have even commented on the change, saying that it's nice to see me relax.
The price for this state of calm is proving to be incredibly high, but not insurmountable. It's unfortunate that I cannot communicate with the boy. It's disheartening that Nozomi is not at home. If this is the cost of sanity, though, then I can bear the burden for the time being. I will continue to ask to speak to my son and for Nozomi to be returned to me. I just hope that they can be patient enough while Reiko and I reach agreements and file paperwork.
The neighbours are quite accustomed to seeing me, which is not surprising given my foreignness, and Nozomi. The neighbours did not see Reiko very often and, while the boy enjoyed playing in the yard, he was generally not allowed to for "reasons" that I stopped debating long ago. As a result, people noticed that there was no car and no Nozomi; not an absence of people.