‘We’re sold a story of empowerment’
The First Wives Club, Columbia Pictures, 1996
Last year, my husband abruptly left me for another woman—moving across the country and very publicly crafting a new life that didn’t include me. Predictably, I was devastated.
He’d confessed he was in love with someone else the day after he’d returned from a too-long business trip. I’ve since tried to erase that scene from my mind, but it’s stubbornly stuck, saved somewhere in the coils of my brain for whenever I want to recall it, which isn’t often. Him, mostly naked because we’ve just had welcome-back sex, hugging a pillow I’ve had since university. His arms have always struck me as too short, like a T-Rex, pinned absurdly on a big, barrel-chested body. This is what I remember with Technicolor clarity: that his arms seemed all wrong. His face wasn’t right either: pulled down at the corners, like a fish caught on a hook, an old woman’s ear heavy with jewelry, a broken ventriloquist’s puppet.
Surely, it couldn’t have been him talking.
The next day, my body was the Grand Canyon, vast and hollowed out. My mind obsessed over a dead narrative: wife, mother. Me, who was never quite sure I wanted to be a wife. Me, who hadn’t decided whether or not I wanted children. Me, undone. With him gone, who am I? With him gone, I’ll never have a baby. With him gone. As if I’d wanted one. As if he was my only chance to become whatever I was supposed to be.
Maybe I wasn’t the canyon. Maybe I was the hole in the sandbox from Robert Munsch’s Murmel, Murmel, Murmel, only impossibly deeper and assuredly empty. No babies here. No story. No life. Gone. Gone. Gone. Maybe I was both. Or maybe I was a thunderstorm—loudly inconsolable, pelting tears, taking up more space than I ever had before.
The day after that one, I bought new pillows.