Looking back, I don’t know why I married my first wife! I was successful, I suppose, but more by luck than strategy: a case of ability meeting opportunity rather than flaws meeting the unstoppable, which is what happened later in my career.
I could afford almost anything but happiness, and cared for almost nothing apart from my children and the household pets, working all hours god gave me to maintain the status quo, though normally without awareness of my efforts, or their effect on my wellbeing!
It is the material signs of success which are admired rather than ourselves and so it was that I, lost in the midst of my apparent plentitude, looked for understanding among my fellow man and discovered nothing but clichés in their eyes.
I had the cars, house and servants and so must be happy because others dreamed these were the keys to paradise: they are not.
My wife, imperious, selfish and proud, organised my life as if I was incapable of doing do, but always with the sense that, mysteriously, I had deciphered the holy grail and gained a place in material superiority, which was the address she had sought for her entire life.
After dark, alone in bed with her, I sought a moment of understanding but in vain: she didn’t deal in intimacy but in the concrete demonstrations of ability which were the only language she recognised.
The concept of emotional exhaustion is not often empathised or understood but with her, who loved my circumstances rather than myself, and form more than substance, I discovered I was more alone than I have ever been till maintaining my façade became my sole reason for being.
Inevitably I exhausted my emotional reserves and had a nervous breakdown as the company I started went bankrupt. I became the observer, watching the charade which were my circumstances disintegrate around me.
She left me for another man, of course. Some business rival I had crossed swords with on occasion but otherwise hardly knew: took my children with her, naturally, because that is the modern way, and resumed her pampered lifestyle but with another man
However luck was on my side, though not obviously, and I met a lady, gentle in all things, who loved me for who I was and not what I had and made me whole again: healed my life and offered me stability.
One day, while staying at my lodgings, and enduring the pleasures of a meal I had cooked for her, she pointed at an eighteenth century oil painting, my last possession from that tortured period and a favourite of my children, hanging on my wall, and asked me where that came from.
“I was wealthy once” I explained and she shook her head and said, “Were you ever !” and perhaps she was right, because in her gaze I saw more riches than I had ever known.