Charlie Kaufman: There was this time in high school. I was watching you out the library window. You were talking to Sarah Marsh.
Donald Kaufman: Oh, God. I was so in love with her.
Charlie Kaufman: I know. And you were flirting with her. And she was being really sweet to you.
Donald Kaufman: I remember that.
Charlie Kaufman: Then, when you walked away, she started making fun of you with Kim Canetti. And it was like they were laughing at *me*. You didn’t know at all. You seemed so happy.
Donald Kaufman: I knew. I heard them.
Charlie Kaufman: How come you looked so happy?
Donald Kaufman: I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn’t have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.
Charlie Kaufman: But she thought you were pathetic.
Donald Kaufman: That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That’s what I decided a long time ago.
~from Charlie Kaufman’s 2002 screenplay Adaptation
My wife left me on our 7th anniversary. In the year and a half that has since passed, I have watched as my life fell apart, not a participant but a willing observer. I lost all will to live. Not long after my rapid deterioration began, my wife packed up our children and moved out of state and everything I cared about and loved was so far removed that nothing mattered. I consistently fantasized about all manner of suicide. I was in a constant state of depair and self-loathing, guilt-wracked and ultimately alone.
But what was just a much a part of my inner devestation as any of the above was the feeling of complete abandonment and utter betrayal. It was a humiliation the likes of which dwarfed anything I had ever known. How could it be that I could love so thoroughly and completely only to be dropped like a 2 dollar whore? There was no recompense. There was no bottom. There was no solace or redemption or sanctuary anywhere–only a recurrent and ongoing state of anguish; and a knowledge that I could never actually go through with murdering myself because the effects this act would have on my children were immeasurable.
From the moment my son came into this world I made the decision that I would dedicate my life to making his life better than mine had been. This determination was only made stronger when my daughter was born 4 years later. But after this seismic disturbance of everything I had built my life around, I was left with little but the clothes on my back and self-hatred that could fill a football stadium. I spent all of my time pursuing a never-ending state of intoxication and self-destruction–suicide by tiny increments. It wasn’t being found hanging from a tree or with the back of my head blown off, but in just as complete a dedication to ruin as both of those endeavors, I was ending it all.
But this shit has to stop. I have to remember what got me to where I am and know that my self-worth cannot be determined by whether or not the woman I dedicated my life to has abandoned me or shacked up with some grocery clerk, or any of the things that have consistently pushed me closer and closer to the brink of utter insanity.
I have been working on a memoir about the toll chasing a dream takes on a person and those he loves. It has been incredibly trying for me to write this book. In it I have been recalling meeting my wife and our falling in love and establishing our life together, as well as our slow descent into ruin: spiritual, financial, emotional. But the anguish I’ve been putting myself through while writing this book is not a satisfactory reaction to the life I once led with this woman. She literally ceased loving me, and there was not a goddam thing I could do about it. Fuck feeling abandoned, fuck feeling betrayed, fuck feeling humiliated around everyone to whom I had proclaimed my undying love for my wife. None of that really mattered. What matters is that I loved her and nothing can ever take that away. What matters is that I have been given a gift, an opportunity to reach out to thousands of people through my words, through my writing–I mean, motherfuck, I am in a position so many would envy. I am able to make a living as a writer, pursuing art as a means of survival. How many can claim they’ve had such an opportunity?
So when I see articles like this, I am no longer going to scoff at the very possibility of something as absurd and unlikely as true love. True love does exist. Nothing will ever be able to crush that belief from my heart. If for whatever reason my wife no longer felt such overwhelming feelings for me as I still felt for her, it was her problem, not mine.
That being said, I want to thank all of you who have stood by me through this trial, the most trying time I have ever endured. I know I have dropped the ball in many ways. So many of you came to me after reading the original P.O.D. version of my book–people from around the country and all over the face of the earth telling me how my words had helped them get through similarly trying times. I have been absent for too long. I have abandoned my duties to you and to myself. But no longer. Hit me up. Pass my book around, make this movement that we started 3 years ago bigger than it ever was before. Because this is far larger than me or some fucking book. This is about a slew of broken, wounded people finding eachother and becoming empowered to continue on despite the obstacles.
“I hope that you are a disaster. I’m sorry, but I do. I hope that you are thunder and lightning. I hope you are a forest fire, I hope you kill the dead wood and burn off the rotting leaves. With the canopy gone, the sun can get in. You need new growth. I hope you’re terrible and broken and perfect.”