I’ll never forget that trip to the supermarket when for the first time in years, I was no longer shopping for two.
I’d just moved in to a unit on the other side of town, a short stroll from the beautiful tourist beaches of Manly. And I was shopping for food and supplies.
Little did I know, aged twenty-seven, this was the first solo shop in a long line of more of the same.
Felt like I’d almost forgotten what I wanted. Cringing as I looked at those things we’d buy together – stuff my ex-fiancé liked/needed.
Suddenly, I was free of planning meals that were always a compromise. He, a meat eater who wasn’t big on vegetables, and I, a strict vegetarian at the time.
I didn’t want to plan meals any more, so I just bought whatever! Such sorrowful freedom, I made a point of each difference as I noticed.
Most stuff I’d left behind – spices, sauces, soap, toilet paper. All of that had to be purchased again.
Really, it felt so weird. Shopping alone, no one to argue with about the home brand and if it was really worth the extra ten cents to buy something else.
Nothing says you’re alone quite like the contents of your shopping trolley.
In that brightly light Safeway (or Woolworths?) on the Corso, it felt like I was rolling my trolley on broken eggshells, crushed rocks and seashells.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
No, wait. That was my heart crumbling.
Okay, I left him. Well, that’s how it looked from one point of view. But emotionally, things had been putrefying for a while. Felt very much like he’d left me six months earlier. Did I even have a choice, in the end?
The night before my move, boxes were all packed, removal truck was booked… and he breaks down and says Don’t go. Don’t go, I’ll change. We’ll make it work. Sleep in our bed tonight and not the front room.
Is that just the pain of separation talking? Not wanting to lose something that’s already almost slipped away? Sentimentality? Fear of change? Or did he really mean it?
Look, I said, I’m tired. I’ve tried for so long to make this work with us. And you kept saying things would get better, but that never happened. So I have to go right now. But if you want to try, then here’s the deal. I’m still moving out. But we’ll try to get things back on track. We’ll date. I’m afraid if I stay here right now, things won’t change. They haven’t before. Why should this time be any different?
He didn’t like that, not at all.
No, if you move out then it’s over!
His way or the highway. The story of my life – men wanting me to bend this way or that. Do things like this and it’ll be great, they’d say or imply, or both.
So, my choices were – stay in what had become a loveless and passionless engagement, with no concrete plans to actually get married any more. Or leave.
Stay, where I’d repeatedly tried to discuss and work out our issues. Or leave, and see what happens.
Stay, and watch him constantly say I understand, only to never work with me to resolve problems. Or leave, and create real change.
He hadn’t given me much to hope for.
Saying I love you in those circumstances is a hollow phrase. A threat, an attempt to justify or manipulate. It’s not really saying I love you. Its saying – how can you leave me?
Well, I did. Had to, for my own peace of mind and mental health.
Doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell. Or that I wasn’t supremely lonely in that supermarket.