I always thought he would be able to love me if I could lose weight. Be thin. And trim. But the one he loves has thunder-thighs and a poochy tummy. She’s not as heavy as I was toward the end of our marriage, the time of ultimate despair and self-loathing. But she’s not even close to small. She has substance and heft. Casts a shadow you can’t miss. Certainly isn’t close to ideal societal standards. She doesn’t puke up what she puts in her mouth. She eats.
I thought if I could be pretty enough…so he could feel good about people seeing him holding my hand…he could find a way to love me. I wasn’t pretty, but I did what I could to look nice for him. Fixed my makeup and hair. Did what I could to make myself presentable. Yet she, the one he loves, she is not what one would call pretty. She’s okay. Kind of on the plain side. Normal. Average. Not the “arm candy” type. Not the type who possesses beauty that would inspire such great devotion. And yet. He is. Devoted. To her.
I thought if I worked hard enough and made enough money to take care of us, he would find value in me. Appreciate me and what I “brought to the table.” But the one he loves works for a non-profit. She’s not a big earner in any sense. She lets him take care of her. And he inherited a fortune from his parents. So he takes care of her in ways he never even thought about with me. Because he loves her. And he never loved me. No matter how hard I tried to give him reasons to love me. No matter how much I tried to make things easy…or at least easier.
I thought if I dressed well, colored away the gray, looked put together, acted normal and was stylish, he would love me and be proud of me. Or at the very least, be accepting. Yet, the one he loves is sloppy. Her hair is salt and pepper…mostly salt. Frizzy, unstyled. She wears no makeup. Her clothes are haphazard and mismatched. She looks anything but put together. But he loves her. The unfashionable and frumpy. Because she doesn’t have to act normal. She doesn’t have to try to have worth. She just is. She just does.
I thought if I was successful, he would see that there was more to being a good wife than cooking a meal every night (at which I failed miserably) and cleaning the toilets or dusting (yep, failed at that too). He was the one with the low paying job and easy hours. I was the one who was paying our bills and providing opportunities for him to enjoy and indulge. I was working myself to death in an attempt to make something of myself. But he left me. And married her. The one he loved and loves still. Because she doesn’t have to do anything to deserve it. She doesn’t have to earn acceptance. She is cherished. She brings a smile to his face. No matter what she does…or doesn’t do.
That face once looked at me with utter disdain. It was painted clearly across his disapproving features and reflected in those disappointed eyes. What I was…it was never enough. I wasn’t good enough. Or enough. Because I wasn’t someone like her.
The one he loves is accepted. Cared for. Appreciated. Wanted. Valued. Important. Beautiful in his eyes. Everything I always wanted to be, but never could become.
Being thin, successful, hardworking, loyal, intelligent…none of it made a difference. Because I was me. And he really didn’t like me at all.
I wasn’t able to live up to his expectations. I wasn’t able to change who I was inside. I couldn’t make feelings I felt and thoughts that played endlessly through my weary brain go away. I couldn’t fix the broken places. I couldn’t be a different person. I couldn’t change everything that was shattered and damaged. I couldn’t stop being…me.
I’m glad he found her. Truly I am. But I do so wish he could have found something to love in me.