“If I can survive this hell I can survive anything.”
-Dr. Sarah Neustadter
Jeff Anon’s Journal Entry
As Jack hears Sarah say this in a web interview he looks back to this breakup a year ago. Survival has occurred, but barely. He thinks what she says is probably true, though is a year’s survival enough? Is surviving as good as living? Does “survive” have a time limit? Kicking and screaming, Jack has been dragged by his friends into a puzzling existence. He is here but he doesn’t know what for. He is no longer suicidal but wouldn’t mind dying. He has friends who care about him but feels he betrays them with every thought of death.
“I’ve come to realize a broken heart opens you up to so much more love.” Sarah
Jack hears Sarah say this and is angered. That has not happened to him nor does he foresee it ever happening. Jack thinks, “My broken heart is broken. It doesn’t understand what love is or how it feels. It only feels broken. There is not enough time to pass to heal me.” Jack continues to listen to the interview but is distracted by his own thoughts. “We have both been badly hurt by someone too close to us that made a selfish decision. Though that is not how Sarah would characterize it, it is how I see it.”
Am I angry because she has figured it out and I have not? Or am I worried that she wanted to figure it out and I do not?
His suspension between life and death has worn on him. The psychologist in him marvels at the convoluted complexity of his own mind. He wonders if he has given up or is this existence success? If it is success, it is not enough and if it is not enough what other choices might rear their ugly heads? “Shit, I still can’t figure this out.”
Jack remembers how his personal hell started, the day, location, hour it took place. He is on his marriage bed, waiting for his wife, Jennifer, to come upstairs.
He is anticipating.
He is worried.
He is confused.
Jennifer is now talking to Larissa, their daughter.
Jennifer has just returned from two weeks “Alone time” trying to make a decision.
That is what Jack is worried about. He knows it’s going to be bad. Jack hears nothing from his daughter’s room below. No clue to betray or comfort what is to come. He tries to figure it out, as he always does, reviewing the past, what she said, what he said, trying to anticipate the future. His reverie is interrupted by the sound of steps on the stairs. He hears Jennifer coming and holds his breath.
She walks into the bedroom stone-faced, with lips pressed together and begins with, “I’ve been unhappy for four years.” With that sentence, he knows he is doomed. He is four years behind. She is not telling him this to fix it, she is telling him this to end it.
“And I’ve been seeing someone else for the past few months,” she says
Jack returns to his body, his eyes looking at the screen listening to Sarah’s reconciliation with her past and forgiveness for her fiancé.
Jack goes over it again, “Yes, I know she was unhappy. I know she was sad when Larissa left the house. I know she was not getting along with mom.”
“Menopause, depression, personality change, midlife crisis? Does it matter?”
“I have always worked the problems before me so that we could live happily together. At some point, Jennifer must have decided NOT to stay with me, or that she didn’t like her life, or that she didn’t like me or all of the above.”
“Why she didn’t say anything, or come to me when she started having these feelings is the part I do not understand. The part when she started seeing someone else is the part I do not understand. The part when it was all out in the open and she REALLY didn’t want to work on it and stay together is the part I don’t understand. The part where she was willing to give up everything we were together, best friends, companions, lovers, is the part I don’t understand.”
“I can’t figure any of it out.”
Jack thought, “I will never figure it out. How about I stop trying and forgive her.” With that thought Jack jumps out of his skin. “No! I do not forgive her, what are you talking about?”
But it was then that Jack realized something deeper than his thoughts had spoken. He had just forgiven her, even if he didn’t know why.
With a puzzled, then pained look on his face, Jack closed his laptop and started crying.