Well, that’s it. It’s done. After 8 and a bit years in Holland it finally did for me. I couldn’t take it any more. I’ve hated it here for many of the years I’ve been here, probably about 5, as I came to realise that there were just things here that I intrinsically couldn’t wrap my head around. I thought I was strong enough to ignore X Y and Z and sadly I was wrong. There were indications within the first few weeks of being here that perhaps I’d made a mistake, but I’m bloody minded. Stubborn. Obstinate. I would fight to make this work.
So I did. I gave me. My life, my friends, my food, my drink, work, and my way of life. Me in my entirety. And it was eaten here. Swallowed, some in gulps, some in bite sized chunks. And the worms ate into my brain. My principles ceased to count for anything. I ceased to be me to the point where every day I awoke hating the sight of the light encroaching into the darkness where at least I was safe. But, my protestations fell on deaf ears, and life continued, and nothing changed, because that’s what it does and why would it?
They say you forge relationships. usually that is used within the context of making something. Constructing it. Taking the base materials and turning out a product which is exactly how you wanted it to be. Tailored to a specific requirement. It’s a good descriptive. It shows how things should be, everything melded together with effort resulting in something strong. Sadly though, forge has two meanings. it also means “To fake”. To reproduce something which looks like the real thing to someone not in the know… but is intrinsically worthless.. and the forger knows it. It appears that it is this definition that can be attributed here regarding the Us which was Esther and I.
The me which was ignoring principles is not me. The me that stayed quiet at the treatment of Esther by others, family and so called friends, was not me. I could go on, but it’s pointless. For the sake of a relationship, I sacrificed all of me, and it took me to the edge of suicide, And then it hit me. I have nothing in common with the woman I’m sat next to. I objected to people’s treatment of her, more than she did. She accepted it and I hated it. She was OK with the fact that, in 8 years, my sister who lives in Sweden, has visited her house, physically driven up to the door, more times than any of her family and more times than all of her friends put together! 1500km for my sis to travel. 2-10km for her friends and 20 for her family. It’s utterly disgusting, but she was, and still is, fine with being treated like that. I’m not. But more to the point, I’m not OK with her being OK with it. But.. by saying nothing, doing nothing, I was as guilty of enabling her to be like this to herself as much as her family and “friends” are. And my conscience and principles ate at me, or what was left of me, until time and again the day came round and I could see myself disappearing.
Disappearing. Over a balcony. Under a train. If I’d’ve lived in the USA I’d be dead. It’s that simple. Living in this environment with an easy access out? I would’ve taken it. Probably a year ago. But instead.. I forged ahead. Until it became a straight choice : Get out of here, or just get out. I’ve chosen the former.
To a large degree, none of this is Esther’s fault. Living here is all she’s known. Her life here with me not in it will be the same as with me. The same job, the same house, the same food (give or take some eggs) . But there in lay another problem for me. As my resentment of Holland and its idiosyncrasies grew, it was inevitable I would eventually transpose some of it onto her. I moved country, culture and even technically through time for her. The balance, was out of kilter. I gave up the very essence of me, and then attempted to recreate something else that would be capable of existing in her world. I failed, but… at least I tried. It’s horrible to say but.. I don’t see any evidence of her having tried. A week after I’d asked for the divorce, a conversation was struck up about my reasons, and dripping with incredulity I was posed the question “What do you expect me to do? Move country or something?”.. to which I replied.. “Well.. I’ve done it twice now to be with someone I want to be with.”.
And so it boils down to this. We really do have nothing in common. I tried to change who and what I was in order to be with someone who actually wasn’t the person I was trying to be with. My version of the woman I married wasn’t real. I forged her while underneath knowing she wasn’t real, and then proceeded to try and accommodate something/someone which didn’t exist by becoming something which… didn’t/doesn’t exist.
It was doomed from the start, obviously looking at that, and if I hadn’t have wanted it so much to be, I would’ve stopped it 8 years ago. All of this.. is on me. Not Esther. And my leaving, and subsequent happenings. They’re all on me too. But so is my health. So is my life. I cannot take responsibility for her and her world, but I can take responsibility for mine. There is so much that living in Leiden has eaten at me that is probably meaningless to most people but has driven me to the edge of sanity. The ledge I’m balancing on in leaving here is scary. I’m terrified. Utterly terrified, but at least I know there’s an option not to jump. That option would not exist if I were to stay. I’ve stared into the abyss and the abyss has stared into me, and it knows.. there isn’t enough left of me to resist it here.
So I leave, again through choice, a house, a life, friends, a culture, 8 years worth of fighting, and a wife. Because it’s the right thing to do.