The Ache

He said my name when he left Sunday morning.

“Bye, Britt.  I’ll see you on Tuesday.”

He never says my name.  Unless he’s mad at me or has been trying unsuccessfully to get my attention, he never uses my actual name.  Babe.  Honey.  Hey.  But never Britt.

Britt always stops me in my tracks.

This time, he wasn’t saying it out of anger or frustration.  It got my attention completely on accident.  He was simply going through the motions of The Changing of The Guard, when the kids go from my care to his and back again.  He was, I know, just walking out of the house without the familiar routines of a kiss and a hug and a “call me when you get there”.  We have no idea how to do this, either of us, and so we try on new etiquettes and polite phrases just to have something to fill the void.

The most polite thing to call me now is Britt.

And for a little while, the polite things keep the rest at bay.  As do the angry things, and the exhausting things, and the round and round and circular things.

I can go hours, days even, seeing no more than this new polite person with cold eyes and a straight back.

Or the faceless person.  The one who doesn’t listen, who doesn’t hear, who doesn’t get it – no matter how many words I use.  The one who says the wrong things and doesn’t do the right things.  The faceless him who flips my head around and ties my stomach in knots.

And the him makes me forget about Jared.

And then he says my name.

And hours later, I’m sitting alone at a glass patio table, and the whisps of Jared that have been haunting me all day can no longer be held at arm’s length.  I’ve been resisting the deep breath since noon, and my lungs are tired from holding it off.  So I breathe, finally, completely.

And Jared comes rushing in.

His face relaxes and his eyes warm.  The tension in his shoulders is gone, and his arms are mine again.  He smiles.  I lay my head against his chest and I breathe in and out as quickly as I can, pushing out all the confusion and replacing it with love and comfort and security.

The phone rings.

“I can’t talk to you right now,” I say.

I can’t stand to hear anyone’s voice but Jared’s.  I want to be alone with my memories and with the familiarity I haven’t dared to let myself feel.

I want to feel whole, if only for a moment.

Except that I’m not.  Because I am still sitting on my patio, on our patio, alone.  And the more vivid the memories become, the stronger the ache.  I’m leaning against a ghost, oddly comforted and tortured at the same time.

I lay down in my bed, in our bed, and the ghost of him lays beside me.  He is in the room with me, and not at all with me.  I close my eyes and lose myself in the pit of my chest.  The ache is strongest there.  And my God, while it hurts so god damn bad, I’ve missed this man so much that I cannot help but let myself get lost in him.  In even just the sense of him.

How have I forgotten this?

How has this not been enough?

I want nothing more in the world than to send for him, to beg him to come home and make the ache stop.  Surely if he was here we could make all the questions and doubts and anger and little, stupid things disappear.

I close my eyes and drown myself, wanting to squash the ache and be rocked to sleep in the love.  And when I can’t do both, I endure the pain for my moment with the peace.

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  1. avitable says:

    Beautifully expressed, Britt. You make it easy to have empathy with you just based on your words.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @avitable, empathy, while not the same as sympathy, is always a good thing, I think.

      • avitable says:

        @Miss Britt, I think it is always a good thing. It’s easy to have sympathy, but empathy requires being able to step into your shoes and feel what you’re feeling, and with your writing, empathizing with you is easy.

  2. Hilly says:

    Whenever Shawn calls me “Hilary”, all of the same thoughts and emotions rush through me. Like Jared, he’s never called me by my full name until now.

    Remember how I told you I never cry when I read blog posts? Today I did. I still am.

    I get this and feel this even today. And I won’t lie…my heart aches and burns with so much sadness right now that I wonder all of the same things.

    Just for now, at least.

  3. nakedjen says:

    Or the faceless person. The one who doesn’t listen, who doesn’t hear, who doesn’t get it – no matter how many words I use. The one who says the wrong things and doesn’t do the right things. The faceless him who flips my head around and ties my stomach in knots.

    I know, only too well, that none of us can possibly know what truly happens/exists in someone else’s marriage. No matter how naked they are on their blog. No matter how much they share. We fill in the blanks with our own stuff, our own stories, and so…we might believe we “know”, but we do not.

    That said…your bit above felt so very true, so very real. I described David in quite the same way when my marriage fell apart. He started calling me JENNIFER. It was so foreign to me. He hadn’t called me JENNIFER in our entire 10 years together. Suddenly, it was the only thing I was called and he was a robot. Just a non-feeling, automaton, robot.

    I realized, much later, that while the ending of our marriage was his decision, he was living in as much pain as I was and that calling me JENNNIFER, the robot motions, the coldness was his own emotional boundary.

    I’m sending you all kinds of love right now. Both of you. This is just so very hard. Really hard. I understand the ache and the sadness and the questions. I also know that you both must truly love each other if you’re willing to take this road.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @nakedjen, having quite possible been on his side, I think I would agree that it was an emotional boundary.

      Walking away, while never the story you read about, is hard.

  4. Robin says:

    Beautifully, my heart aches for you.

  5. Mariau. says:

    Oh lady. I’m thinking of you.

  6. Finn says:


  7. Kim says:

    I’m sorry you’re hurting. I hope there is a way that will lead to happiness
    for you both, together or whatever may come.

    I know it sounds stupid coming from me, of all people, but keep having these moments. They might be what helps you and Jared find your clear path.

    Good luck. ( hugs)

  8. Poppy says:

    I’m afraid my comment to this would seem like I was choosing a side. Just know that I understand and empathize your pain.

    It must be hard to be in the home where all your memories happened. I lasted 1 month in our married home and then I had to leave, too painful. I know you don’t have that luxury for a sustainable period of time, so you’ll have a more difficult time sorting your feelings out while you’re there… no easy answers.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Poppy, I have never felt a single time that you were on any side but the side that leads to me being happy.

      Your unwavering honesty has been a life line, Poppy.

  9. stephanie says:

    Nothing I can say will matter, I know.

    Just know that you expressed yourself so perfectly in this post.

    My heart aches for you, for all 4 of you.

    Prayers for you and the family, Britters.

  10. Chibi Jeebs says:

    I don’t quite know what to say, but I want you to know that you’re in my thoughts. Sending love your way.

  11. wish there was some awesome and insightful comment that i could make, but i don’t have a clue as to what to say.
    where’s that damn hug smilie when i need it…

  12. Kay says:

    Right now, without him – all those other “little, stupid things” disappear, and seem so unimportant. But when those things are happening, when they’re tearing you apart inside, they’re not so little and stupid. They’re huge.
    I know that right now, no matter which way you turn, there’s pain. I wish I knew what to say to make it better, but I haven’t figured that out yet.
    You did an amazing job of putting it into words, though – something I haven’t been able to do yet.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Kay, “You did an amazing job of putting it into words, though – something I haven’t been able to do yet.”

      Thank you for reminding me why I do this oh so inappropriate business of putting personal into public words.

  13. bad mummy says:

    For me, when it became apparent that the man I had married was not the man I wanted to be with, I looked for a separate space. I thought that distance would do us good. But – because I was paying the mortgage and he refused to go anywhere – the separation meant I crashed in my kidlet’s room. Instead of a subleased apartment where I could do some thinking without the presence of the burden of being his wife.

    Distance is good. It reminds us.

    When you say “The one who says the wrong things and doesn’t do the right things” I nod and nod and agree. Too often it is the people we love the most who say the wrong things and don’t do the right things. We expect them to know us just as well as we know ourselves. Shouldn’t they know the right thing to say? Why do they do the wrong things?

  14. Marinka says:

    This is beautiful.

  15. lceel says:

    A little more than 33 years ago, my first wife and I divorced. So I think I understand a little of what you’re dealing with. All I can tell you is to follow your heart. Now is the one time in your life when your heart, and the direction it wants to go, is the most important thing for you to know and understand. Not your head. Not your mind. But your heart. It’s up, then, to your head and mind to make the decisions of your heart, work.

  16. I’m aching for you. Wish I could say more, do more, be there to hug you and comfort you. I love you darlin’. I wish you peace and strength.

  17. Ms Batman says:

    I heard a rabbi explain ‘sitting shiva’ with a family after a death. The idea is to go visit the family who is ‘sitting shiva’ and just sit with them. Don’t do or say anything until they speak first. After all you’re not there to make it better, provide answers, take away the sadness or the pain.
    And so it is, we the readers are sitting shiva with you. We know that there is nothing we can do or say to explain, fix, heal, answer anything you are experiencing. We don’t have the luxury of not saying anything because we say things in our comments to let you know that you are not alone. We are here with you.
    We have all form our own opinions right or wrong about the truth behind the story, very very few have offered any kind of support to Jared. Regardless of his role in any of this, he is in pain as well. We have all come to love him like we have Brit, and there are four people weathering this storm. We are here as friends and observers and shouldn’t chose sides without all the facts.
    I will sit with you, allowing my presence to be enough, knowing there is nothing more I can give.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Ms Batman, that sitting shiva you described is something my mom and I have talked about a lot over the years.

      The greatest gift you can give someone is to be willing to sit with them in their darkest moments.

      “We have all form our own opinions right or wrong about the truth behind the story”

      Man, that is so weird for me. I try not to think about that part. LOL

      But yes, thank you. There are, really, no sides to choose here.

      We both want the exact same thing – for us to find what is best for each of us. For all of us to, ultimately, be happy.

      Thank you for sitting with me.

  18. Dawn says:

    I know that feeling — when anyone in my family or Jeremy call me Dawn, I panic. Oh no. Why are they mad at me? What did I do? If it’s not Dawnie or baby or sweetie or lovey or something like that, I must be in trouble.

    And even when that’s not the case, when they’re not angry, when they just look at me stumped and say “But that’s your NAME!” after I call them on calling me by my name, my heart feels heavy for hours afterwards.

    Anyway. That’s not the point. This isn’t about me.

    This post = WOW! There’s no doubt that the love is still there… in abundance.

    Is Jared reading your blog these days?

  19. Robin says:

    I am with Ms. Batman. I can’t wait to see you next month… :)

  20. Aw hon, this post is heartbreaking. I love that you have this amazing ability to write so heartfelt. I love what Ms Batman said.

  21. Oh God. I hate it when he calls me by my given name. It means we are in desperate trouble, or there is something gravely wrong.

    You can write about it, and that has to help somehow….. this is so beautiful.

  22. I don’t know what to say, except I’m sorry and I love you and I’m here for you. *hugs*

  23. Peggy says:

    I don’t think I could write anything on here that you do not already know. I just wanted to tell you that I realize that you are going through a lot right now and I am thinking of you, Jared, and the kids.

  24. Tonz says:

    It’s funny how much we can say with just a name. But it’s so true.

    This was an achingly beautiful post. I have no words for how I felt reading it or all the comments.

    I know I only know you through this blog and that I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but know that I am thinking of you and your family.

    But I think Ms Batman has it right…

  25. Laura says:

    Our separation lasted for 10 months and by far, the hardest times were the days that he had the kids and all I had to do was sit there and think. And remember. I wanted nothing more than to just curl up in bed and feel his arms around me. Instead I curled up in bed alone and cried. And remembered.

    Eventually it made me remember what I loved so much about him instead of just the things that had been driving me insane.

  26. Your post was sad, tearful, beautiful, heartbreaking and heartwarming, all at the same time. You have a way with your words and I can tell how much you DO love him with all your heart, it’s your words, the simple breaks of a paragraph, the simple 5 words of a sentence. The way you mesh it all together, you are doing this for the best… this is your true test, and for you and Jared to be doing this civilly TOO? Even more amazing; you two love each other and whether you’ll continue loving each other together or apart; time will obviously tell but right now, what you’re doing is right. It’s really allowing you to see and feel, how you’ve needed to see and feel for a long time.

    Hugs. Huge big ones.

  27. Darla says:

    Damn, I hate this decoder ring. I think mine’s defective.

    I am praying for you both, Britt. This cannot be easy.


  28. Sybil Law says:

    Sending hugs and lovely thoughts for everyone involved, because I have no words of wisdom.

  29. The pit.

    I’ve known it.

    I’m sorry you do, too.

  30. Oh my sweet, sweet Britt. I’m so sorry honey.
    This is beautiful and painful and wonderful and I’m tearing up and … honey.

    Just giant hugs, I know that I can’t say anything that’ll make it better or less painful but, I just send you hugs and strength from a friend.

  31. Bre says:

    I am (not-so-) secretly rooting for you and Jared. I believe in your strength, love, and hopefulness together. That being said, things will be as they are supposed to. In my young (but dysfunctional) life I have learned this. Much love being sent your way from Iowa City, Iowa…
    <3 <3 <3

  32. *bawling* Oh Britt. I could have written this post and my husband’s still here… in the other room.

    I LOVE you. I want nothing more than for you to have that love back in your life. I want everything to be right again.


  33. SciFi Dad says:

    That was heartbreaking. I cannot imagine what emotions you are going though, the conflict and the uncertainty. I hope you can work it out and find your way back to each other. Time changes people, but (at least in my experience) not so much that they become a completely different person. You loved him once; you love him now. I just hope that it’s enough for things to work out.

  34. Lee says:

    you always inspire me in your strength regardless of the situation and your words and emotion under duress and strain.

    I hope however things turn out you end happy

  35. donna says:

    Oh dear, this sucks ass.

    Right now, my husband is upstairs giving our daughter a bath and it’s killing me because I know that in about 30 minutes, after she’s tucked in bed, he’s going to leave and I’m going to be all alone again. All I want in the world right now is to get in bed and be wrapped up in his arms. But it can’t be that way right now. Or to sit on the couch with our legs all tangled together as we watch some crap TV and laugh at the stupid jokes.

    I hope that your separation brings the answers you seek. I know it’s hard. It’s more than hard, but there are no words to express how hard.

  36. The Demigod says:

    I can’t stop crying. :(

  37. Crystal says:

    I have never commented on your posts but have been a reader for a while now. I am so sorry you are in such pain. I will be keeping you in my thoughts.

  38. Hockeyman says:

    hugs darlin….just hugs and hope.

  39. Rachael says:

    There is something beautifully sad about the way you wrote this. I know there’s not much I can say,but I’m sorry. And I hope that the path becomes clear for both of you, and that wherever it leads there is peace.

  40. muskrat says:

    I hope (and assume) these posts are helpful to write, ’cause they’re certainly hard to read for those of us who want all to be right and okay again (whatever that’s supposed to mean or be).

    • Miss Britt says:

      @muskrat, ummmmm…. I don’t know if they are helpful to write. LOL They just – are. I don’t know how to explain it.

      But I do know they are hard to read. I’m kind of a pain in the ass like that.

  41. My husband calling me Sheila is akin to my mother calling me by my full name. It never fails to make me pause and wonder what the hell is going on.

    Somehow I’ve managed to avoid this point in my marriage but we were oh so close at many points over the last year. To the point of me telling him to get the fuck out of my house.

    I wish nothing but the best for you, Jared and the kids. Much love, thoughts and prayers being sent your way babe.

  42. marielle says:

    You know, reading this I couldn’t help but cry a little.

    In January I hit the road to put the miles between me and the only man I’ve ever trusted fully. With my life, my secrets, my everything.

    The man who I loved as soon as I met him, even though I never thought that was possible. I love him to tiny bits and pieces even when I hate how he’s acting. He’s just my other piece. And I wasn’t the one who said it, either, it was evident in the way we were when we were always together.

    Nothing seems right when that’s out of place, and months later, I still can’t say that I don’t feel that horrible ache you’re referring to.

    We talk, and there’s hope that we may reconcile one day and perhaps let it grow into something amazing. But every day I wake up and he’s not there….

    What I can say is that I hope you do decide to let your friends in. I know it’s hard, and it’s a dark place and you don’t feel like anyone getting close to you…some days all i want is him but I can’t bring myself to burden anyone with how I feel…
    But your friends and family will help.

    Thank you for writing this. It lets me know I’m not alone. That someone else feels that ache.

    I wish there was something I could actually do to help, but know that it’s ok that you feel this way. Never let anyone belittle you for it.

  43. Kathy says:

    Sometimes the most beautiful and peace-filled places have the bumpiest and harrowing roads to get there. I am sorry the path is not smooth for you right now.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Kathy, “Sometimes the most beautiful and peace-filled places have the bumpiest and harrowing roads to get there.”

      And that is what I’m putting my faith in right now.

  44. Mary Jo says:

    What Ms Batman said about sitting shiva… wow that is exactly how I would put it. We are here, with you… but nothing we say can change your circumstance. We are just here, to be with you and support whatever decisions you make in life.

  45. As many others have said, this one was a heartbreaker. I know you don’t know me at all, and there’s not much I can say to offer comfort, but maybe knowing that so many people care about you and your family helps even a little. I, too, hope for the best for your family, whatever “best” turns out to mean.

  46. Lynda says:

    My ex started calling me Lynda before I even left him. It was always Love, or Lovie, and then one day, I started noticing the Lynda.

    Now he just doesn’t use my name at all. It like he wants to erase that I existed.

    I hope you can work through the angry things. I wasn’t able to, hard as I tried. Of course, my ex *always* had to be right, and was stubborn as mule, so that didn’t help matters. Hopefully you and Jared are more compromising with each other.

  47. Selma says:

    That ache that just crushes your heart to pieces.This is so hard to read. To live it – even harder. Sending you much love across the seas XXX

  48. Vic says:

    Hugs. Whatever happens, you’ll get through this, and we’ll be here holding your hand.

  49. ygraine says:

    “Surely if he was here we could make all the questions and doubts and anger and little, stupid things disappear.”

    britt…i’m coming out of lurkerville to say that i’m sending love your way (and to Jared). the line above hit me like a rock…someone already said it above, but i have to echo the sentiment…when we’re feeling lonely, nursing the ache, the hurtful things of the past (what was done, or wasn’t done that should have been) seem so insignificant… but it’s not insignificant at the time you’re actually dealing with it…over and over again. (yes, i’ve been there,i was married for 15 years) i think every man and every woman in every marriage, everywhere has these moments to some degree or another…only you two can decide if everything balances out enough to stay together. thank you for your openness, britt…

    • Miss Britt says:

      @ygraine, that’s almost exactly what my mom keeps saying to me.

      That’s one of the biggest reasons for the separation – to get some space from the moment to moment to maybe be able to see the balance better.

  50. Holding you – all 4 of you – in my heart as you stumble your way thru this.

  51. Jennifer says:

    Having been there with my first marriage I know what you are feeling. Your heart is hurt now but it will heal.That buzzing in your head,the constant tornado of what ifs and why nots will quiet. You will emerge stronger,smarter and whole.
    with love,

  52. Steve says:

    Been there, done that… What I didn’t have and you need is one or 2 close friends that have your best interest at heart close by. As long as they don’t just agree with you for the sake of appeasing your emotions, trust them in ways you wouldn’t normally. I made some bad choices simply because my emotions were so confused. Now’s the time to rely on close friends – ones who love you and Jared both.
    The name change is just the beginning… it gets worse. And it is not always the “good person” that “wins” (there never is a winner). Stand up for what you want. If it is Jared, use the 3 months to “force talk” (do it even though it may be the hardest thing).
    My 2 cents (I guess that is 3 in Canada.

  53. Sarcastica says:

    Oh Britt, I’m so sorry hun. I hope everything resolves soon, I hate seeing you ache :( I don’t really know what to say other then I’m here and I’m sending positive thoughts and hugs your way. I wish I could do more. xoxo


  54. I’m going to tell you the same thing I told you via e-mail the other day.

    I love you.

    Just that. I do.

  55. Al_Pal says:

    Gah. Just got to this and the ‘announcement’ post. *sadface*

    Add me to the Sitting Shiva list.

    & yes, it is amazing how little we are called by our given names.

    Wishing the best for you & your family.

  56. Cranky Sarah says:

    Britt, I’ve just come to your blog today. And I’m glad that it happened now instead of when you were going through this. I’m glad that I came here after you and Jared were able to figure some things out, work some things out and get back together. I’m glad to see – read – a marriage that has survived a really rough time at a time I am wondering if mine can. It’s not about lack of love and that may be the hardest part.

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