While my ex-husband and I were hitting the nail in the coffin of our marriage and making a messy muck of it, we would often use the term “now or never”.
I started it, I think. I started it on the drive out to him, where I told him it was his girlfriend or me. He had to make a decision immediately as I didn’t want to waste any more time driving. Perhaps it makes sense why I issued that ultimatum, but it was still a manipulation ploy.
I also used it when I was stuck in my hometown with nowhere else to go after that long drive. I used it under the context that kids would be in school, I would get a job because I had to, and I needed to know where to settle. “Make up your mind now, you have about two weeks, and then we’re stuck in this town,” I told him desperately. It was the truth, but the truth can still manipulate. I was hoping to press him to get what I wanted.
We reconciled a few times in the Spring, if reconciling meant fucking up each other’s minds and occasionally fucking. So many tears, so much confusion. We would lash out and hurt each other just to keep some distance, come back and apologize between sobs and blame. We didn’t see each other all that frequently, and the few times were in secret.
Clearly, while I spoke the truth, it wasn’t now or never, as I kept pushing back the timeline. Over the summer, surely I could change schools, find another job. Yes, it was even more complicated, but wasn’t it worth it? We really committed over the summer, broke up with our partners and attempted to work towards us. If committed meant throwing ultimatums, mostly from him this time: give up the blog, only write fiction, delete the past lovers, move to me, give me writing assignments, work on your issues – I don’t have any; now or never.
I tried to compromise the most I was ever willing to over the summer, being so heartbroken and lost in life by then that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I wasn’t willing to give up the blog but compromised what it looked like, catered to all the other whims. After just a short time, he changed his mind when I complained that I was only one changing. Summer didn’t see us together for more than a few days without changing our minds, but it was a few days scattered once a week for the duration of it.
We had sucked the vitality of our love in our attempt to keep our relationship together; we were dry and empty. We should’ve known better, but fall saw us trying again. Now or never, I again stated, but this time he was compromising location – after all, by this point I was settled into the school year and just couldn’t do that to my family. We still worked out the terms of our reconciliation, but we were shaky.
This reconciliation lasted the longest – a whole two weeks. He procrastinated finding a job, I was helping him. Now or never, I echoed that so much, so desperate for what I felt was the last time. He visited me for a weekend, I visited him for a weekend.
I think that last weekend was truly our now or never. I was visiting my daughter, making her a priority, and plans in trying to work around her social calendar kept interfering with my ex and myself. Or perhaps our daughters’ schedule weren’t working out the way we planned – but the passion was gone, the desperation – from both of us. I think we both felt it. We were well and truly tired.
As I drove away from visiting him, he called me and stated that he didn’t think he wanted to continue. It wasn’t a new statement by any means, the difference being that I also didn’t want to continue. We wished each other the best, felt that we would support each other if needed but space was needed far more for the time being, and went our separate ways.
A month later, my baby sister died. I called him hysterical and he seemed amazingly sympathetic, but while I was out there dealing with her body and possessions he became callous and self-centered. I couldn’t understand how he could make demands and requests of me in my grief – though to be fair at any other time I would have responded at least neutrally on what he asked of me. But it wasn’t any other time, it was a tragic heart-ripping moment.