Tuesday, 12 November 2013

He's my "ex"

P and I have not been broadcasting our separation to all and sundry. It's not something that is easily dropped into a conversation. It's not news that we're excited to talk about. And sometimes we're just not up for the well intended questioning or concerns that people have.

Up until now I have managed to refer to P by his name or as the father of my children - as in "the boys are with their dad this afternoon". While our separation has been constantly occupying my head, P hadn't yet taken on the title of the "ex". But today I found myself needing to describe P's relationship to someone I had just met and the most appropriate way to explain it was "he's my…ex. We separated just recently."

For some reason using the word "ex" makes it sound a lot more final than "we've separated". Is that because it's a noun and not a verb? Or is separated an adjective?

In some ways it feels like normal. Like P is working his usual long days, or is out of town for several days for work. You see I'm used to dealing with the night time wakings from the kids by myself. To juggling after school commitments, dinner, bath and bed time unassisted. To get them all ready for the day while I'm fortified with coffee, porridge and a little sleep. Answering the boys questions of "is dad home for dinner tonight?" in some ways is just like before - no, he isn't. But instead, now P will not be coming home late from work tonight.

Now there is no one to chat in the morning with about what our days have in store for us.
No one to debrief with at the end of the day, share a glass of wine with, and wish each other good night.
The trivial conversations about housework, after school commitments, reminders about groceries to be bought and bills to be paid.

Instead today there was:
My own fly buys card arriving in the mail.
And the letter confirming how much child support my ex would need to pay me.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Dinner at the New Place

Three days ago I visited P's new home for the first time. I was picking up baby I after seeing my counsellor. It is a lovely older style unit with high tin pressed ceilings, wooden floorboards and flooded in natural light. But furnished like someone who had just moved out of home for the first time - some loaned furniture from a friend that had seen better days, a blow up mattress for a bed, a coffee table made out of a cardboard box. Our boys love the novelty of it all.

Just over a week ago, the thought of seeing him settling in somewhere else would have upset me too much. But, that day at least, I felt fine and calm. I'm sure I won't always feel that way, but something about the lovely afternoon sun on a Friday afternoon, the boys playing happily, and me gradually accepting that I would be strong some days and to enjoy those and get inspired from them, to help me see through the low days.

P invited me to stay for dinner, and we all ate sausages, mash and salad, with plates cradled in laps on the couch, or on the make shift coffee table. And it was sort of like a normal pre-seperation dinner, but not. P didn't make eye contact much that night because he was so tired with the stress of moving and working his usual long days.

There was something liberating about leaving with baby I, knowing I would not be woken up at 5am the next morning by A. And even more liberating when P informed me he would drop the boys off at 10 after tennis so he could go back into work, when I told him I was going to a 10.30 gym class, and could it actually be noon? He paused for a moment, unused to me setting boundaries around my own needs, and quickly agreed.

That night, after I was asleep in bed I opened a beer for the first time in goodness knows how long and allowed myself to just watch some TV without also doing housework at the same time or catching up on emails or working on another task on my separation to do list. And it was kind of nice. And it's the nice moments in painful journeys you need to hold on to, to remind you it will all be ok and that things will head in the right direction.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hiding the Hurt

Tonight while readying the boys for bed, our eldest boy burst out with resentment at the hours his dad worked. P often worked 12 hour days and at least half of the weekend, which upset our boys long before we separated.

But tonight T railed against the unfairness. The unfairness of having a dad who chose to work long hours. The unfairness of having parents who are now separated.

I understand his pain. He has a right to be angry, especially when he has been such a trooper about the new living arrangements, finding excitement in all that is new about it.

I understand the unfairness of it. We have all been placed in this situation that none of us, except P, wanted.

So tonight I sat on the couch reminding T that his mum and dad loved him very much. Defending P's decision to end our marriage, when it still breaks my heart. Watching T slam the door on me as he runs out of the room. There are times I want to be honest with people. To say that P didn't want to work on our marriage. That it was P who wanted to end the marriage. That P had fallen out of love with me, and in love with someone else. But I don't. I bite my tongue. And tonight I did that again. Because I love my kids.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A House Warming Present

"How well adjusted am I? I just put together a house warming present for P" I jokingly boasted to a friend two days ago.

I pulled out a large collage photo frame that we had bought ages ago but never had gotten around to filling, and printed out several photos so P could have something of our kids at his new place.

In there were photos of our three children together, of the older two doting over baby I shortly after she was born (she is now 8 weeks), of his mum and dad with our children, of him with his brother and dad one Christmas. But there are no photos of me in there. Or us. No wedding photo, no photo taken in the early days of our relationship where the happiness beamed through our smiles and our eyes, no photo of me with any of our children. 

I don't want to be there on his wall, a reminder to our kids when they are there, that I am not. I don't want to be a witness when one day he brings someone else back to his place. 

But also because it has been a long time since we had any photos taken together. Because there are only a few photos of me with our children. And that makes me a little upset. No matter how many times I brought this to his attention, nothing changed. And I remind myself of the occasionally annoying, hurtful things he did. Not to be mean, but to help counter balance the good guy image he has. To remind myself that while he was lovely, generous, thoughtful, he was not perfect. That he was often more helpful to others, than those at home waiting for him. To help me cope.

But as I put this frame together it felt good. It felt good that I was doing something nice for our kids, and that even though it still hurt, that I was able to do something nice for P.

Three Weeks from Ground Zero

It's been a big three weeks.

Three weeks ago you confirmed something I had been hoping you wouldn't. That you wanted out. Since then, between the tears and the pain, I have focused on growing from this experience and becoming a stronger person. Some key things that have happened:

I had my first meeting with a solicitor, started to put together a budget, spent hours putting in a claim for government benefits and child support, wrote a parenting plan, typed up a list to help work out who gets what in the house, met with real estate agents about possible selling our house and trialled a couple of apps to help with our shared care arrangements.

I have thought a lot on the things in me I need to be aware of.
I have found a supportive and steadfast friend in someone I had previously thought of as a good acquaintance.
I have started to reach out to other people - to make contact, to ask for little favours.
I wrote a letter to my parents saying some home truths about our relationship, and how my mother upsets me in her lack of support for me.
I have thought a lot on how supportive and accommodating I had been as a wife. I've also thought a lot about what I will not compromise on again in future relationships. That essentially I will always be honest, and will not sell myself short.

And I can now say "P and I are separated" without crying. And that in itself is pretty big.

Moving Out

Over the last couple of days, he's been moving out. Gradually setting up his new life in his new place.

His half of the wardrobe is getting emptier.

Some of our crockery, glasses, cutlery is being emptied from drawers and packed into boxes.

The lovely collage artwork we were given as a wedding present has been taken off the wall.

The first night he slept at his new home, our eldest boy left with him. He's finding it very exciting - he loves helping his dad set up his new place. The novelty of the blow up bed, eating breakfast using a box as a table, opening up new doors and playing in a new backyard.

As they left I couldn't look at him. I didn't want my eldest to see my eyes well up with tears.

I could feel him try to reach out to me a couple of times before he left, but I turned my back. I find myself occasionally saying something hurtful, or blocking out any attempt he makes to reach out as a way of trying to control the situation. To maybe hurt him a little in response for all the hurt he has caused me.

That night we spoke on the phone.
"You know this is really weird for me too" he had said.
I kind of believe him because he doesn't lie. But I find it hard to believe him. He created this situation. I didn't. He has the power in this situation, I don't. He has put me in this situation, and he feels weird? I don't believe it. But if he does, I'm fucking glad.

Over the last couple of days, he's been packing the car, slowly removing traces of himself from the house. Each visit gets easier. And the desire to cut the shirts that still hang in the wardrobe ebbs away a little more.