I or We?

One of the earliest and most difficult lessons I had to learn following separation and divorce from my husband of 35 years was to say “I” instead of “we”. I married soon after graduation from university, and never had a please-yourself-what-you-do bachelor girl period, so after all those years together there was shock and surprise at finding myself alone for the first time, and not having to consider anyone but myself in my decisions. The freedom to decide anything, from what to make for lunch to where and when to go on holiday, was initially a burden. As ee cummings succinctly put it, “One’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one.”  

It took some time, but I finally got used to being first person singular, and possibly became even more singular as time went on, but then I found I was enjoying pleasing myself, living at my own pace, discovering my own interests, tastes and beliefs, rather than simply being half of a couple with all the cheerful compromises that a happy relationship requires.

Has that made me selfish, or at best self-centred, having no one but myself to consult? I am certainly a much more independent person, and at least one of my old friends bemoans the fact that I am more critical and less easy-going than I used to be a dozen years ago – though that could also be a symptom of ageing! Don’t we all get a bit hedgehoggy as the years go by?

To those who are going through the pain of separation, I’d like to say that closure is possible if you work through it. The process is in itself not easy, but if you can learn to be honest with yourself and face the hurt, forgive the other person, yourself and God, healing is possible.


I need to see and speak to you again,
Just one last time: a chance to wish you well.
There is not much to say to you; it’s plain
The unsaid words that never fell
Between us now will ever so remain.

 And yet I need to close the open door
That sometimes has let in residual pain.
I must make sure before
It is too late, and not complain
Of things undone and wish I had done more.

Now you are free of me: broken the chain
That linked our lives. And I am free of you.
No debt, no burden’s strain
To weigh us down, and no more payment due
On anything we suffered for in vain.

I do not need to banish any spell
Or settle any score. There’s no need to explain.
We have moved on, there’s nothing more to tell.
That’s why I need to see you once again:
I need to say goodbye and wish you well.


6 thoughts on “I or We?

  1. Despite the simplicity this is a very profound poem. True that time heals th elittle (and big) wounds. Yet, for me there always remained that “little something of unfinished business.” Or perhaps it is my personal need to say the last words I never said. After two decades I should know. Perhaps I will take some time to write about it.
    As always – I love you writing and reflections. You seem to hit on some topics I have struggled with and thought of lately. thanks

  2. True forgiveness is hard, yet not impossible, and quite necessary for one’s own peace. You can forgive without the other person ever even knowing.
    Moving on to closure by that one last conversation would be more difficult and probably not on the agenda for me for a long time. Did you ever do that, or is this a poem of wishful thinking?

    • Somewhere on this blog I have a post called “The heaviest burden to bear is a grudge” – yes, forgiveness is more beneficial to the forgiver than to the forgiven. We had the conversation and I was going to give him the poem, but then realised it was superfluous. This was after about 7 years so I had definitely moved on by then.

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comments. I am glad that you reached the point of having ‘the conversation’ and reaching what you call a ‘balanced’ view. Many people do not. Whilst I think I have forgiven, the balance is certainly not there yet. I hope, in time, that I also reach that place. Thanks again.

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