Trying to find a few minutes to put my thoughts on paper over the last few months has been a bit like cleaning the house while kids are at home, or cleaning your teeth while eating Oreos…. Impossible and slightly stupid to even try as it just gets frustrating! Finally though I have some time to sit and collect my thoughts so I figured I’d put them down on paper (or at least a computer screen).
It’s been a year of ups and downs and now we’ve come through the summer holidays again and started a new school year, I can reflect on the past year and on where I am now, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The big question is ‘Who exactly am I?’ I know that sounds a bit random but it’s more of a practical question…. Married name or Maiden name??? What exactly is your surname meant to be once everything is sorted? I actually don’t know at the moment….. It’s a question that I kinda figure will have a natural conclusion as time goes on.
The last few months have seen our divorce finalised and while it was something I instigated (even though it was the last thing in the entire world I wanted) and have been working for for what feels like forever, it hit me harder than I ever imagined it would. I knew it was coming and to see that piece of paper with a few words written on it was very difficult but what was harder was what led up to it. We’d been doing the paperwork for so long now that there were times I actually never thought it would end. The letters went backwards and forwards between the solicitors with R being difficult about this and then that, although he’d probably say it was me being stubborn that held it all up because I wasn’t gonna get pushed into agreeing things just to pacify him! There were certain points I just wanted to give him a really big shake and yell that it was him who walked out and had the affair causing us all to be in this mess in the first place and yet it was him attempting to throw his weight around about things he didn’t even want in the first place and holding up the process of us all moving on! Having reflected on it since I firmly believe it was about control. R would never admit it but he has a problem with the strong person I’ve become as I’m not controllable anymore. No longer can he do what he likes and not get any comeback as I will happily challenge him now on his behaviour toward both myself and the children. The divorce was the last bit of control he had over me and he dragged it out for as long as possible. Yes some of it was his solicitor (because they are special) but much of it was down to the fact that things were not getting signed or sent back with any urgency. Yes it was frustrating and I definitely had days when I just wanted to shout and scream at him to just get himself sorted, but looking back I believe that it was Gods way of getting me in the right place to deal with the flood of emotions that hit when things are finally final!
Ironically it was R who told me that everything was over. He called about something and to be honest I forget what that something was, but at the end of the conversation he just said, like he was talking about the weather, that he’d heard from his solicitor and the decree absolute was in. It hit me like a brick…. Stood in the kitchen, multi tasking as usual so I was emptying the dishwasher, the voice of the man I had promised to spend my life with was casually telling me our marriage was officially over. Well I lost it. I can’t even put into words the flood of emotions that swept through me at that moment. I very calmly told him that it was never something I wanted, that it was something he had caused and that I hoped he was not only proud of who he was but that he was happy with the mess he had created by not being able to stick to any commitment he ever makes. Once I put the phone down I just cried…. Luckily I was alone in the house as the boys were at school and Miss 3 was at nursery so I could have my breakdown, pick myself up and carry on with life, having put all the emotions back in their little box to be dealt with at a time when I actually had a moment to process them.
That was the Friday and that Sunday he was having the children. 9am he appeared in my house and because of the situation with the girlfriend (they’d split briefly at this point) he was using my house to see the children. I left very quickly that morning as i just couldn’t be in the same place as him. People expect you to have dealt with all the emotions after nearly 3 years but it’s rubbish. You watch TV or read books etc and relationships come and go and the characters just seem to move onto the next one without any of the emotional fall out. In reality that just isn’t the case, or it wasn’t for me. There are always complicated emotions to work through, both good and bad, and those emotions change over time but they can still come back to bite you when you least expect it. It doesn’t mean you’re not happy with life as it is or that you would go back to what it was before, but sometimes things happen that just make you remember. To be honest a lot of what I miss isn’t what we actually had but what I thought we had. I’m beginning to learn the difference and the more he lets the children down and the more he lies openly to me and to them I’m realising he isn’t the man I thought he was. I’m seeing how easy the lies fall from his lips without a second thought as if it’s the most natural thing in the world and it just confirms in my head that moving on without him is absolutely the right thing for me.
I went though a real time of wondering if this blog was something I wanted to continue writing. Do people really want to hear about me journey? I found myself wondering if I was just writing it for writing it’s sake and there is also a big big part of me that hates talking about myself. This thought was put to bed when I went into New Wine on the Thursday of the first week. We were all set to camp for a week the following week but on discovering Arianna Walker, the executive director of Mercy Ministries UK, was only speaking on that particular evening, myself and a friend decided to head in for the evening (one of the joys of living only up the road). Yet again my mum stepped in to help and having left the kids all happy with Nonna, off I went for an evening of worship and teaching. I find God uses a lot of people and different moments to point me in the right direction but He has used Arianna Walker to help me on my journey through this mine field of single parenthood and forgiveness every time I’ve heard her speak and this time was no different. There was so much in her talk that evening but the one thing that struck me was when she said we “go through and then we help through”. While talking she used the story of her experience doing tough muddier and the fact that at the end of each obstacle there was someone with there hand out for her to take. The fact was that it was expected that you got helped through and then you turned around and helped the person behind you. As she talked I found myself very much thinking about how that applies to my daily life. We all go through so much stuff, big and small. Maybe we have a responsibility to ourselves and the people around us to make ourselves a little bit vulnerable and share our stories and our experiences…. During that talk I felt God very clearly tell me to carry on writing this blog. I may feel at times that I’m just waffling on about myself and my children and the journey we are on but I have no idea who is really reading this and who, if anyone, this is helping. If you are reading this and going through something similar I just want to extend a hand and say it will get better. Things are tough but time does heal and there is always sunshine at the end of the storm….
Our week at New wine was incredible. R came and helped put the tent up, partly because it was his weekend to have the children and they only wanted to see him on the Saturday because they wanted to be on site for the beginning of the New Wine adventure and not after everything had started like they were last year and partly because I told him in no uncertain terms that we bought the tent as a family and due to his decision not to be part of the family I was unable to put it up on my own so I needed his help. He didn’t complain and actually did it in really good grace. I do wonder what he thought though as he left his family on a campsite, in a tent we chose together, to have a holiday he was in no way a part of, with people who are a huge part of our lives and not his…. Surely he has to feel something in that situation?!?! Or maybe not….
The week was just brilliant. A week of wonderful friends, fun and lots of God. It’s a week we all get so much from each year and I have a feeling it is a holiday we will be having for many many years to come.
The biggest achievement for me this summer though has to be actually getting on a plane without my children and having some time for me. At the beginning of the summer holidays R had the children for an extra 2 nights so giving me Saturday to Tuesday to do something fun that was just for myself. I’d like to say he offered and that he was finally showing signs of wanting to spend extra time with the kids but in truth I told him straight out I needed a break and wasn’t coming back till the Tuesday so he just needed to deal with it. My plan was to head to the coast and spend some time in Weymouth were I grew up. As I left on that Saturday morning I just wasn’t excited about it so by the time I got there I had come up with a different plan. I did a u-turn in my parents drive and as they weren’t there I booked tickets to fly and see them in Spain. This for me was HUGE as to quote my best friend, I only do spontaneous if I can plan it a week in advance. But I did it. I came home, repacked my bag, grabbed my passport, did a few bits and pieces and headed to the airport. I thought I’d hate it, being that far away from them but in all honesty it was the most fantastic 36hrs I’ve had in a long time. Yes I missed them like crazy but I’d have missed them if I’d been in the UK. This way I got some real sun, some real rest and although only short it felt like a million years. Just that short burst of time absolutely for me did me more good than I could have ever imagined and gave me the confidence to believe that although things go wrong and the kids get emotional (and they did) everyone survives. I firmly believe I was a better mummy for the rest of the summer holidays because of that few days.
We’ve had an amazing summer this year full of wonderful friends and family, making some truly spectacular memories. The thing that makes me sad is that R doesn’t seem to want that. He doesn’t seem in the slightest bit bothered about creating memories with his own children and up until about 24hrs ago that really bothered me. I have spent quite a lot of time in the last 2 weeks pondering why R isn’t desperate to call them and find out how the first few days back at school have been or what they’ve been up too and I’ve finally come to the conclusion it is just because he can’t put anyone before himself. I have also come to the conclusion that we are not and probably never will be co-parenting. As much as I want him to step up and parent our children he’s not going to. From now on I’m not gonna expect it…. Let’s be honest he babysits for 28hrs a fortnight and now I have accepted it for what it is I will no longer have expectations higher than that and therefore not get as frustrated!
Here’s to a new school year and another year of exciting adventures and building memories 🙂