I’m not sure exactly when idea crystallises into intention, but it does. I decide that today will be the day that I tell him. I expect to feel more fear, and the lack of it makes me wonder if I am simply kidding myself. Will I actually go through with it? I do not trust myself, and I’m sure that the answer is no.
We drop our son off at my mother’s and head back home in the growing dark. In my car’s CD player is an album that I have listened to for most of this experience: Joshua Radin, We Were Here. I discovered a song of his when watching Ellen and Portia’s wedding video. His gentle, whispery syllables cradle my soul into silence; listening to the songs on continuous repeat gives me some fleeting sense of peace that is addictive. As D. tries to make conversation, I turn the music up, clinging to the snatches that come through between his sentences.
‘Isn’t it weird how –’
So we’re alone again
‘ – I can watch footy and Match of the Day –’
I wish we were over
‘ – better on your laptop than on our TV – ’
we seem to never end
‘ – because of that bloody satellite, we really need to sort it –’
only get closer to the point
where I can take no more
‘So what shall we have for tea?’
the clouds in your eyes
down your face they pour
When we get home, I find a million and one reasons not to speak. He softens onions in oil and makes soy burgers with salad and chips; we eat quietly, side-by-side on the sofa. He asks if I want to watch a DVD, and against my better judgment, I tell him yes. I curl with my head in his lap, and as always, he combs his gentle fingers through my hair. Hours pass, and the fear begins to rise. It is the kind of fear I have felt only a handful of times before: the kind that comes from your core and makes your gut shudder, the kind that slowly eats at your bones until you are rendered immobile.
The living room somehow seems too benign for my admission. It is the place of habit, the place of routine, the place we come to eat and love and rest our week-weary bodies. It feels somehow sacrilegious to fling a dramatic and life-altering truth into this room. And so I wait until we are in bed. What is the bed, after all, if not a place for sharing?
He knows something is wrong, and when he tells me that he loves me, I stare at the ceiling as tears slide down my temples. They thump gently onto the mattress, a stuttering heartbeat that breaks the silence. He wipes them away, but they come so fast that he cannot catch them all. Still, he says nothing, and neither do I. I stare and stare at the ceiling, trying to find in its blurred white pattern some shred of courage. None comes. He wraps his whole body around me, and I know he is trying to comfort me, but his arm is across my throat and I feel strangled. I work my throat, my mouth, my lips, and still nothing comes. I expect him to ask, but he does not: he only watches me quietly, waiting, knowing. This makes it harder.
I am not sure how long we stay like this, each offering comfort to the other without ever saying a word. Perhaps it is an hour, perhaps more, perhaps less. Eventually, I whisper to him that I am sorry. He only shakes his head sadly, and scoops me back into his arms.
‘I’m sorry I can’t make you happy.’
No. No. I cannot let him walk away thinking this is his fault.
‘D.’ My voice is barely audible, and I feel him go still. ‘I think…I’m gay.’
I burst, and the sobs come so hard and fast I feel I might choke. Between them, I can hear a litany that is soft and broken and I realise it is coming from me.
‘I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m so sorry oh god I’m sorry I’m sorry please don’t hate me I’m sorry.’
He only holds me tighter, sweet man, and shushes me, and strokes my face and back and hair and tells me it will be alright. Oh, I thought the truth would break him, but instead it has broken me. I am in pieces that are razor-sharp and he picks me up with his bare fingers even though it makes him bleed. His love is everywhere, everything, and it is all that keeps me from drowning.
I thought I would never say it out loud. I thought I would never be able to know myself. Oh, it is so beautiful that it hurts my eyes to look at it, but look at it I do, and I have never felt pain like this, I will never again feel pain like this. It is pain that comes from relief, the kind that radiates through your aching limbs when, after pushing them beyond all endurance, you finally get to lay them down.
When calm descends upon me, he asks me questions. He weeps quietly at the thought of what is to come, and turns his face away so that I cannot see his tears even when I tell him not to. Eventually, he tells me he feels empty. I grope beneath the duvet for his hand and grip it tight. He squeezes my fingers until they are numb but I do not let go.
‘Maybe we should hire a lesbian au pair,’ he says, and I turn to look at him and burst out laughing. For a moment, I see in his soft green gaze a microcosm of the future: the point where our relationship has transcended our mutual pain and become something simpler, more honest. Hope flutters shyly in my chest.
‘I love you,’ I say, and he smiles through his tears.
‘I know.’ His hand reaches out to cup my cheek. ‘I love you too.’