I bore myself. Almost 17 months after my marriage ended I still feel like I am rattling on about it. Still trying to find a way to come to terms with it. Some days I like to try to fathom what went wrong; others I feel like fist bumping strangers with glee of being out of an unhappy relationship. Others I berate myself for not trying harder to make it work.
And some days I just feel sad, boringly, stupidly sad.
I liken it to one of my first break ups.
I was in primary school, around nine years old, and was someone’s GIRLFRIEND. Admittedly this was a role in name only (I was nine!) but I had been asked and I had said yes.
Then one day, a few days later, I walked into the playground and his mate ran up to me and yelled,
“He has packed you in.”
Then ran off laughing leaving me cradling my book bag and broken heart in my little arms.
When my husband left he didn’t use those words, and it was all done with a bit more sophistication and possibly more heart-break.
But the end result was the same.
I was single, alone, and having to see the person who left on a regular basis…..
Comprehension school couldn’t come quick enough for me when I was nine and finally the boy who dumped me so publicly was no longer in my view daily as we finally had different classrooms to frequent.
But there is no escaping your ex husband when you share three small people who have a long time to go before they are grown up…
Which is right, and proper, and hard….
You see, the things we all know about getting divorced and ending a marriage, and becoming a single mum – the stereotypes – well, they are all true. And each one stings a bit as you encounter it….
Your friendship and family circle reduces…. It’s awkward being friends with a couple who are splitting up… The plus side is you have less Christmas cards to write when you finally accept you are out of their lives, the down side is when friends and relatives disappear from your world it doesn’t feel nice, I imagine this to be true for both people in the divorce.
Your friendship circle reduces even more as you assume the role of single mum, mainly through your own fault. Babysitters are expensive and life is manic mixing work and kids and only one parent. I have lost count of the times I have had to bail on friends because of a deadline that needed to be met, because I couldn’t find/afford a sitter, because a child was ill or because the process of doing homework, making packed lunches, cooking, cleaning and trying to maintain normality just leaves you shagged at the end of the day. Eventually people stop asking.
You live in fear of dying alone. Trying to meet someone as a single parent is close to trying to climb Everest armed with only a toothpick.
Remember what I said about struggling to meet up with friends? Well trying to meet strangers that you have met in the dubious world of online dating can be even tougher.
If they have their own children you simply have to pray the Gods of divorce have managed to ensure that your weekends are in sync… If not, he may be the man of your dreams but it isn’t going to work if you are purely online buddies.
Dying alone often looks like a very real possibility.
Similarly you live in fear of having nothing to do on the weekend when you don’t have the children.
If you are a parent reading this, do you remember the last time you sat and did nothing and had nothing to do?
No – I thought not.
Suddenly having every other weekend off can at first seem appealing. But when you realise most other people are out with their kids, and yours are with their Dad. Those weekends can seem longer than a Catholic wedding.
My advice to anyone who finds themselves in this situation is to fill those weekends to bursting. The last weekend I had where I failed to book up something to do left me with an empty bottle of Prosecco, several chocolate bar wrappers and Bridget Jones diary on repeat. I have one coming up, I have stocked up on tissues and an ironic family sized box of Celebrations.
And the saddest thing?
The one that gets me every now and then. That sneaks up when I think I am doing fine…..
It’s when the kids do something cool, cute or funny and you forget. You go to your phone to dial a number you know by heart, or you drive home re telling the story in your head preparing to make someone else smile.
Then you pause before you press the green button on the phone to connect the call, or you hesitate before you walk in the door.
You remember the person who loves the kids as much as you do isn’t there anymore, you remember that in the messy process that is divorce it is unlikely they will want to speak to you on the phone. Most days you don’t want to speak to each other at all.
You retell the memory to yourself and smile a little. But inside you remember the day the kids were born and you committed to the family life together with a signature of happiness.
And it is those days, and the days when you wonder what happened to your life. When you remember you used to go out with other couples for dinner, and not spend nights swiping left and right on Tinder. It is on days such as this that you know you should be over it…. But you realise you have a long bloody way to go before the shoes for this new journey start to feel less like killer heels and more like slippers.
These are the days that no matter how many months have passed you can’t help having a moment, of sadness, of worry for the future, a tantrum of when will this get better, when does the shittiness go away?
But those days come less and less, so perhaps there is hope that one day I won’t need to write about them anymore…..