Shortly before I announced to the world that I was leaving my marriage, I had a bizarre conversation with my then-best girlfriend. We were in my kitchen, one evening during a dinner party I was hosting, and she was helping me tidy up after the meal. We were talking about the second home my husband and I had purchased and how much fun it would be to have weekends away — all of us together — up in the mountains during the coming winter. And then, with a smile, she said it: “You know, y’all are the Jones. You’re the ones that have it all. The rest of us are just lucky to keep up with you.”
The air left my lungs as I bent over to the load the dishwasher and I mumbled some attempt at a witty reply, but my head spun with her pronouncement. Was that really what she thought? Could she really not see how terribly unhappy I was? Did my husband and I really seem that right for each other? God, couldn’t she see that I was dying inside??
True, I hadn’t told anyone how I felt. At that point, I wasn’t even sure myself. I hadn’t yet determined that my marriage was the reason for my depression and grief. I hadn’t yet admitted to myself that I’d been mourning a relationship that was still on life support. But I did know that something was terribly wrong and that I felt like anyone who glanced at me could see it written plainly on my face, and yet she — my closest friend — did not.
In that moment, I saw my first glimpse of what would unfold months later: the utter shock on my friends’ faces as I told them I was leaving, the complete shunning I received from some acquaintances, the gossip that analyzed my “sudden” action. To them, it would seem like I was upending perfection, tossing away all the good stuff we all want and strive for. To me, it felt like the final, gasping breath of a woman flinging herself from her gilded cage in a desperate attempt to save her soul from a quiet, silent death.
I never wanted to be the mythical Jones’ whom everyone struggled to match and keep pace with, and I don’t think that my ex did either. But somehow that’s where we found ourselves, performing the roles of the couple who seemed to have it all, when in fact, we were missing everything that really mattered.