I had a trigger event yesterday. Here’s what happened.

I bought a cutlery holder for the drainer, the reason being we get through a lot of teaspoons and if I put them in the dishwasher we run out so I rinse them and put them on the drainer, but felt a cutlery holder would be better.  Hardly revolutionary stuff!

I was sitting in my daughter’s room when husband stormed in, waving the aforementioned cutlery holder and shouting “What the f*** is this?  You’re an f****** eejit”.

After he’d gone to bed, I went down to the kitchen and the holder had gone. I looked it the cupboards – no sign.

I found it in the bin.  And I kicked myself for buying it and making him angry.

And then I stopped.  That was what my life WAS like: weighing up my actions and trying to gauge his response and beating myself up when I made the wrong decision.  Over something as insignificant as a cutlery holder. And now I can clearly see the craziness of the situation and wonder why on earth I ever went along with it.  But then I admire myself; I admire myself for my dedication to trying to make the marriage work. However, I can see that no matter what I’d done, it would have been wrong and I was right to call it a day and file for divorce.

Needless to say, he blames me for everything. “I can’t believe what you’ve done to me” is what I frequently hear.  He’s trying to make me feel guilty but I know how hard I tried and I don’t care what his reality is because I know the truth.

Soon I will be shot of him and I’ll have my own house and as many cutlery holders as I want.

And I can’t wait.

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Four months after filing for divorce, I had a letter from my solicitor saying that husband hadn’t replied to the Particulars of Divorce, so there I was thinking the end was in sight when I discovered that I was no further forward than I had been in November last year [sigh].

So I had to speak to him about this and his response: “Anyone else would have tried to make a go of this, but not you”. What?  Does he honestly think I haven’t tried?  All those times when I tried to sit down and talk to him…  Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. But I do know that I am doing the right thing.

He’s now responded and things are progressing. The house is on the market. Every time I take a major step like this, I wait for the feelings of uncertainty to hit; those ‘am I doing the right thing?’ doubts to come and trouble me in the darkness of the night. But they don’t. Every step has seemed like a major obstacle to be overcome; consequently it’s taken me quite a long time to build up to some of them.  However, once I’ve taken the step and look back, it seems easy and I wonder what I was afraid of.

My biggest fear of late was how I would feel when the house went up for sale and I suppose that even though I wanted it, I was also dreading it. I was certain that the doubts would hit me.  But even this was easy. I’ve been looking at houses further out from London where I will be able to afford the three bedrooms that the girls and I need. This will mean moving away from the area in which I’ve lived all my life.  But I’m ok about that, I’m looking forward to a change, and I’m seeing our future, our new life, the life we want, and it looks good, very, very good.

And I wake up now, not feeling dread and anxiety, but with the feeling that everything will be all right.

As the saying goes “everything will be all right in the end and if it’s not all right, it’s not the end”.

It’s difficult at home as we’re all still living under the same roof but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel might be long.

But the light is there.

When I was a child, I used to feel sad when Christmas and the New Year were over. For some strange reason, I also used to feel afraid. Although I can understand why a child would feel sad that the fun and festivities had come to an end, the feeling of fear doesn’t quite make sense. It was a fear of a whole blank year stretching out ahead; it was a fear of the unknown; it was a fear that the happiness wouldn’t return; it was mourning the loss of an oasis, when the ordinary, everyday could be forgotten.  But wasn’t it strange for a child to experience that fear?

Then I grew up, got married, became a mother, took on more and more responsibility, especially that of making Christmas special for everybody (alone, as husband just sat back), and it became stressful. There was a pressure to get it perfect, that I was responsible for everyone else’s enjoyment; irrational, but there all the same.  And that took away the pleasure for me and I always breathed a sigh of relief when I took down the Christmas cards and put away the tree. Now I only had the normal, everyday pressures to deal with – alone.

Today I’ve started thinking about that childhood mourning. Why? Why for the first time since my early teens has it come into my head?

Because I’ve just removed all signs of Christmas and instead of feeling the normal relief, I feel sad and afraid and I’m mourning the loss of the oasis that has been the past two weeks. Why? Why this return of those childhood feelings?

To begin with, although Christmas was sad, because we weren’t together as the proper family we should be, which is my fault because I’m ‘the one who is splitting up the family’, it was also happy. Happy because I spent time with my children, and my sister, and my friends, and a special friend. And I didn’t even attempt to make anything perfect because there was no way it could be made perfect so why bother trying?  And in a funny kind of way, that made it better. I didn’t have to do everything alone, I didn’t have to slave away feeling resentful while husband sat there with his feet up, I didn’t have to persuade him to come out with us or join in, I didn’t have to put up with his drinking or sitting miserably with my family and wanting to go home. I forgot all about him and got on with my life.

I spent time with people who want to be with me. I went walking with my sister and her dog and a friend on more than one occasion, ending up in cosy pubs, drinking mulled wine.  I went to London with my daughter, visited Covent Garden, saw the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square and had lunch.  I went to the theatre with a friend, heading to the West End on the off chance we’d get tickets for something, and we did and I had a great spontaneous evening. I went out for breakfast and lunch with my daughters and we talked about our lives and our hopes.

And it was an oasis in a difficult time and I could forget about my problems for a couple of weeks. But now it’s back to reality and the year ahead contains so much uncertainty and husband doesn’t want to discuss things so communication is impossible and it’s always down to me to instigate difficult conversations and I’m mourning the limbo land of the holiday season.

But when I took down the tree, I thought: hopefully, next year, this tree will be going up in my new place: a place where family and friends will be welcome, and laughter and fun will be allowed.

So, despite my circumstances being difficult, I had a much happier, better Christmas and New Year than I’ve had for a long time.  I spent time with people who mean a lot to me and I went…

dancing with another.

It’s my birthday today. A time for celebration?  Well, yes, but…

I feel sad. I feel happy too, but I also feel like crying.

I feel like crying because I’ve been thinking about my birthdays over the past few years.  In 2011, a significant birthday, I went to a London show, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, with my husband and daughters.  I got a deal for a meal and best available price tickets and, would you believe it, they gave us a box!  It was a great night, but I organised it and paid for it and had to persuade husband to come, but who cares?  It was good.

In 2012, it my birthday fell on the day of the Christmas party at the dance studio where husband and I had been having ballroom lessons.  By this time, husband had stopped attending the lessons, but I was hooked and kept going on my own.  He very, very reluctantly agreed to come to the party. He sat in the same seat all night, looking miserable, and refusing to socialise, making it quite obvious that he didn’t want to be there and had only come because it was my birthday. I enjoyed myself because I’m that kind of person but it’s not a good feeling to be out with someone who obviously isn’t enjoying themself. It darkens the evening.

Last year we were supposed to be going out, where I don’t know. But a couple of days before he started making noises about him having to finish work early and the expense.  The expense!  I don’t need money lavished on me to have a good time. Anyway, to put him out of his misery, I told him not to bother. So he didn’t.  I had lunch with a friend and went dancing with another friend in the evening.  Husband didn’t even ask me what I’d done or if I’d had a good time. When I raised that with him later, he said he hadn’t asked because he didn’t care.

And presents?  He asks my daughter to get me something from him.  My daughter and I went along with this charade of her buying me something and us both pretending it was from him.  Until last year.  Last year, she gave me ‘his’ present of lacy underwear and I knew this wasn’t from him because the last time I put on lacy underwear, he asked me what the f**k I was doing and switched on Sky Sport (that was on a weekend away!). Then later on he saw the bag from the shop where she’d bought the gift and asked me who’d been shopping there. You, I told him, for my birthday present. He later chastised my daughter for not warning him. Should we laugh or cry?  Who knows.

So these are my past few birthdays.  Yet I am responsible and completely to blame for the failure of this relationship.

Little wonder I feel like crying.

But I’m also happy.  Friends who know about my situation have sent me cards and I know the messages have been chosen especially to show me their love and support.  And people I’ve only known for a short space of time show me such kindness when they really don’t have to at all, they have no obligation to, but they do it because they care.

And who knows when my divorce will come through and what I’ll be doing this time next year.

At the moment, I’m out having breakfast on my own and thinking about the past and thinking about the future and feeling sad and feeling happy and feeling…

Alive.

 

It’s 10 days since I instructed my solicitor to proceed with my divorce.  It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make in my life: it’s final, there’s no going back once the wheels are set in motion.

I was afraid: afraid of what I might unleash, afraid of the impact on my children, afraid that I was being selfish and thinking only of myself, afraid that I would regret it. So I kept postponing the inevitable. Even though I knew it was inevitable.

And then the moment came when it couldn’t be postponed anymore. I’d kept waiting for me ‘to come to my senses’ as I referred to it; to take up the fight for my relationship once again, to try harder, better, stronger to make it work. But it takes TWO, and there was only one, me.

I felt sick at what I was doing but there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough.

And so I did.

I felt lousy and I expected this feeling to continue and get worse.

But so far it hasn’t.

How do I feel?  Relief, strength, excitement for the future.  I feel as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders, a shackle has been removed from my leg, chains that were holding me back have been cut. And now I keep waiting for these feelings to pass and for fear and dread and despair to replace them.  But they haven’t so far and perhaps they never will.  And if they do, then I will remember what led me to my decision, and how I did not make it lightly, and I will take responsibility for my life and my happiness.  And I know I have the resources and the resilience to do this. So I needn’t worry.

And now I’m wondering why I was so scared and why I waited so long.

When I knew it was inevitable.

The letter arrived yesterday. I went out for the day: gym, coffee shop, park. If I’d had my passport on me, I would have booked a flight to my holiday home because I was scared to go home.

But in the end I did. And he didn’t say anything, which I’m realising is typical of the way he deals with things.  He ignores them and hopes they’ll go away.

He went out for the evening, I went out for the evening.

I didn’t sleep well last night but finally I dropped off for a few hours.

And when I woke up, it was just like any other day: the sun rose, my daughter got ready for work, I prepared breakfast for her and saw her off, my other daughter texted me, my sister texted me, I had breakfast, I got ready for the day.  Everything was normal, the same as it always is.

And I realise…

Life goes on.

And life will continue to go on.

I tried to have (yet another) discussion about how we move forward.  But he doesn’t want to talk. And I’m starting to realise that all my attempts to repair our relationship were doomed because he can’t or won’t face up to the issues and discuss them. He avoids them, closes down.  It’s like talking to a rock.

There was a classic from him today:

“I know I don’t want a physical relationship or to socialise with you but I haven’t treated you badly.”

And he honestly believes that this is acceptable and I should be satisfied with..what exactly?  Just his presence in the room as he stares at the TV screen.  I find it incredibly difficult to understand how anyone could expect to treat someone like this and then be surprised when they protest.

Each interaction with him makes me realise how futile this has been. And each interaction makes my next step a little bit easier.

I’ve instructed my solicitor.

And although it’s scary because the future has become so uncertain and the life I thought I was going to lead has evaporated into the ether, it’s perhaps not quite as frightening as continuing as I am.

Making such a decision has not been easy, and it’s not something I’ve taken lightly.  I read an article saying that making decisions can be incredibly difficult because whilst we are delaying, all options remain open and possible.  But once a decision is made, certain avenues are closed off.

Now I have made my decision and must focus on the future.

And it’s hard.

But I can do it.

I’ve said all I have to say. I’ve told him how I feel, I’ve explained why I feel like I do, I’ve asked him why he’s shown me no affection or companionship for years and yet doesn’t want us to part, I’ve told him I just want to be able to understand.

His response: he doesn’t know.

So if he doesn’t know, then how can I understand?  There’s no more I can do or say and so finally I feel I’m ready to let go of that need to understand. What’s the point?  It won’t change the situation and so I’m wasting no more time analysing it and seeking explanations. It is what it is.

My daughter’s been on holiday and so we decided (me, older daughter and younger daughter) to go out for a drink and a catch-up. I told a friend I was doing this. Why can’t you just sitting in the living room and open a bottle of wine, he asked. Good question. Why can’t we?  I put that to older daughter.  She looked at me like I was crazy and laughed. Sad but true.  But it was a wake-up call – it’s what ‘normal’ people do.  Yet it would be so abnormal for us that it doesn’t even enter our heads as an option. And I got to thinking how nice it would be if I could just invite my friends over for coffee, or lunch, or dinner, and if the girls could have their friends round, and I imagined a house full of friendship, and love, and laughter.  And I know that’s what the girls and I want – an open house, which although poor financially, would be rich in love.

I told the girls I couldn’t live like this anymore, that I’d been to a solicitor and was going to take action, that my priority is to care for them. ‘Don’t worry about me.  I’ll be ok,’ said older daughter. ‘I want to move out,’ said younger daughter. She hates the arguments. But I’m not wasting no more time on pointless arguments. I showed older daughter the list of unreasonable behaviours; ‘100% true’ was her verdict.  I’ve been so uncertain at times, wondering if I’m making too much of things, imagining them.  They almost seem trivial. But they’re not: their impact is immensely damaging. The one that had the biggest impact on me when I saw it in front of me in black-and-white was that he doesn’t appreciate what I do for him and the family. I didn’t say that to the solicitor; she took that from other things I said. And it brought tears to my eyes, and I hadn’t even realised I felt like that or how important it is too feel appreciated for putting everyone else first and ignoring yourself, and yet being called selfish. I’d dismissed it as being trivial.  But it isn’t. It most definitely isn’t.

Yesterday he blamed me for ‘wrecking’ the relationship. I pointed out that you can’t wreck what is already a wreck.  I also stated emphatically that I wasn’t accepting the blame because I knew what I had done to try and keep things on track. He’s going to blame me – so be it. Deep down I know how hard and for how long I’ve tried.  And if he searches deep inside himself and confronts the truth, he’ll know that too.  But if he doesn’t, so be it.

Yesterday I picked up my new glasses.

And now I can see so much more clearly.

I’m not wasting no more time.

I went away for the weekend on a dance holiday with a friend. It gave me the opportunity to stop living in my current situation and forget about it for a while. I thought that might have been a bad thing, that a few days of escape would make the return worse.

But it hasn’t.

Instead I feel much, much stronger, clearer and in control of my life.

Before I went, I found a letter I wrote to him over two years ago, expressing my concern at the things that were going wrong in our relationship and trying to appeal to his better nature to help me get things back on track.  I’d written the letter because when I tried to talk to him, he wouldn’t listen.

So today I emailed the letter to him, I suppose in an attempt to get him to acknowledge that this is not some whim of mine but something I’ve been trying to remedy for a long time.

He wasn’t happy.

But now he’s asking me to give him one more chance.  And I’m mad!  I’ve spent years trying and now that I’ve given up because its too late, he thinks I’m being unreasonable because he’s prepared to make a go of it but I’m not.

But, like I said, I’m strong.

And I’m almost ready to instruct the solicitor.

Every time I’m about to take a step, I agonise and hesitate and get afraid but I’ve come to realise that if I sit with these feelings, eventually the time will feel right for me to make that next move.

So I’m sitting with it.

And I don’t think it will be long.

I saw the solicitor. She’s drawn up the divorce papers. So I had to tell him but it’s so hard.

Nobody gets married to get divorced. And I’ve tried so hard, so very, very hard. And I hate giving up because I truly believe that there’s no problem that can’t be resolved if you just work hard enough on the solution.

But it takes two.

Not one.

And I need to feel that the other person wants Me, wants me emotionally, physically, socially, and not just the service I provide. And I’ve seen no sign of that, no sign at all in the past four or five years.

And when I try to explain how I’ve arrived at this decision, when I remind him of all the hurtful things he’s said to me, and the crushing blow each hurtful comment has dealt me, what is his response?

That he doesn’t remember saying it.

How can he casually dismiss something that has had such an impact on my confidence, self-worth, self-esteem?  That has resulted in my being in a position that I didn’t want to be in?

That has left me with no choice?

And now he says he wants things to work and that I don’t and that I’m am breaking up the family.  Which is true, I can’t argue with that.  But I’ve got nothing left to give him, I’m empty, void, depleted.

And I feel so awful.

And unreasonable.

And responsible.

And horrible.

And mean.

And small.