Friday, 31 January 2014

I'm so the ex-wife you want to have!

If I do say so myself. And in no particular order, here's why:

What I sometimes fantasised about doing
What I actually did
·    Posting on FB my (sarcastic) congratulations to my ex in meeting his soul mate (insert name here), for all our mutual friends to see.

·    Bit my tongue. Kept my anger/pain/upset/honest thoughts and feelings to a trusted small circle.

·    Cut up his clothing
·    Scratch his extensive collection of CDs and DVDs
·    Rip random pages out of his books

·    Ripped off some buttons from some good shirts and jackets.
·    Answering my eldest son’s question of “why did you and daddy separate”, with “ask your father, it was his idea”.
·    Calmly explained that we still cared for each other but not like we used to at the beginning of our relationship, and that we want to continue being good friends for the rest of our lives and not end up disliking each other.

·    Give her a piece of my mind when I saw her at the gym
·    Worked out even harder. Then proceeded to send nasty texts to my ex about her. Think the lines “I could easily snap her” and “typical, she’s the kind of person who wears make up and jewellery at the gym” were among some of the gems. (note, I really don’t judge you if you wear make up and jewellery to the gym. Unless you are her, and then I will judge her for pretty much anything!)

·      Answering questions from friends/colleagues/acquaintances about the separation with details such as “he didn’t want to work on our marriage” or “he met his soul mate”.
·    Was honest about how I was feeling, but didn’t go into gory detail, or say anything I would regret a little later on.

And now I've given myself a pat on the back, I should explain - it wasn't easy. It was bloody hard. Hard biting my tongue. Hard sometimes fighting back the tears. Hard to word my sentences so I would answer the questions, tastefully. Hard to know when to seek out company (which I find hard anyway) and when to be by myself.

And I'm glad I was able to. Sure I had my moments when I totally lost my shite, but I was either by myself, with a dear trusted friend, or with my ex. And now, a couple of months on I can hold my head up and be proud of how I handled myself.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not going to judge anyone for how they process this kind of grief. But I   know I wanted to minimise the pain for the kids and myself. I started to realise that by continuing to hit out at my ex and hold onto the pain, I was only hurting myself. It wasn't going to change what happened, stop him seeing her or make me feel any better. It's been a tough couple of months, but on the whole I'm in a much better place than I was in the beginning and have learned so much about myself. Most importantly - how strong I actually am! We have no idea of what we are made of until we are tested, and this was my biggest test to date. And if I had held onto the pain, I wouldn't have gone on this journey.

But the other ex - her husband - is reacting like a lot of people would. He's hurting. From what I hear he's saying all sorts of hurtful and inappropriate things around town, to his friends and family, and worse, to their young kids. He hasn't called me in a while, but he did send me a text after midnight a couple of nights ago. And I can really feel the pain he is in. But I can also see he is not accepting the reality of the situation, and is actually making it worse by making things up to make him feel better, when all it's going to do is make it harder for him to get through this. But that's his journey.

So yes, I can give myself a pat on the back and tell myself "I'm so the ex-wife you want to have!", because on the whole I've helped this separation be a lot less painful and messy than it could have been. But more importantly I'm going to give myself a pat on the back and remind myself "I'm so going to be a better and stronger person, because that's what I deserve!"

And they are words I will need to keep reminding myself, as the new milestones come up. We survived Christmas and our anniversary, then this weekend comes his birthday. I will be going back to work soon, so I will be seeing him at work, plus there will be other work colleagues to deal with over time. There'll be more chances of seeing him down the street, and ultimately having her more present in my life and the children's life. But I'll just need to take those milestones one step at a time.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Universe is a Funny Thing...

I'm agnostic.

The reason for the rather blunt opening, is that is says a bit about me. Part of me would like to believe that there is a higher power at play and sometimes I see a glimpse of this, but on the whole I need some hard evidence or a pretty amazing experience to turn me around.
Having said that, I haven't quite got the commitment to be an atheist.

But over the past several months, there have been some little occurrences that have started me thinking that if there isn't a god, then maybe there is some kind of universal life force gently steering us in a certain direction, or at least giving us some hope when it starts to feel a little desperate.

I may have mentioned some of these before - for example meeting a woman who would become my best friend here where I live who has helped and listened to me a lot over the past several months. She came into my life at just the right time.
That my baby I is a lovely, chilled out, healthy baby. Without sounding terrible, if she had been ill, upset, a bad sleeper, it may have been enough to tip me right over the edge.
And other little signs.

Recently I was down the street with the kids and my friend and her kids, when I began to feel a little melancholy. BS (before separation), I would have called P to say hi, see if he wanted to catch up for a lunch/coffee or see if he wanted me to bring him anything while he worked. But that day I didn't feel like I could. I'm sure he would not have minded, but I'm still working out this new territory, and don't want to do anything which makes me seem over bearing and pushes me outside my comfort zone, but I also don't want to give the impression I'm being rude or deliberately ignoring him. So I didn't call him.

He called to see how the boys were going that afternoon, and he found out I was metres from his work. So of course, I brought the boys in for a quick hello.

So we walked to his work. The place that I had visited many many times before. To meet him there after work when we shared the one car, when I would take the kids to visit him when he worked on a weekend, sometimes bearing coffee or lunch, where I would pop in sometimes on my lunch break bearing lunch or just to say hello. But on this day, I approached with a little bit of dread.

And then when he came out to see us, I started feeling sick. Anxious. Uncomfortable. And I started breathing quickly. I hard to deliberately breathe deeply to calm down.

We made chit chat. I found it difficult to make eye contact. I breathed deeply. He could appreciate how I felt, so he offered to walk us up to our car. Or that may have been a nice way of making sure I didn't hang around!

And then at a time when I was feeling out of control and out of my depth, I bumped into a friend who I was planning to catch up with in a couple of weeks. We chatted in front of P, and I thanked the universe for reminding me that I'm capable of making other new connections who will help pull me through, whereas BS I would have been solely reliant on P, being my husband and best friend...

But then as we left, I dropped again, and cried in the car, with the kids in the back seat. They rarely see me upset, and while I feel bad for them to see me sad, I also think it's good for them to see that yes, I do find the separation upsetting. My little boy asked me again and again "What's wrong Mumma?" and my eldest explained wisely "Mum gets sad sometimes when she sees Dad".

So I pulled out of the car park, the tears in my eyes clearing, my eldest pointed out that my favourite song was playing on the radio. So I cranked it up, and we sang about Happiness is the Truth all the way home.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The night my husband's special friend's husband called me up

Say What?

Firstly, I don't know how to refer to her. Special Friend can do for now.

So I knew that she had left her husband. A friend had inadvertently told me it had happened a couple of months ago (placing it around the same time as P had left me). But when questioned on it, P said told me to my face that it only happened in December and that he had no idea about it until she told him, after she left him.

But then last night when the boys were with their dad and baby I was sleeping, her husband called me on my home number. I still don't know how he got my number. I've only met him briefly once, and to be honest I don't even remember (probably because I was pregnant at the time!) All the feelings came flooding back while he talked - the sickness in the pit of my stomach, the cotton feeling in my head, the feeling that the floor is slipping away, the energy draining away from my body. To be honest I didn't have the focus to explain my side of the story or question him too much about events. I mainly listened.

So apparently she left her husband basically around the same time that P left me. Maybe a couple of weeks later.

He had called her one morning this week to discuss the kids, and she didn't answer, and then got really nervous when she thought he was at her new place. It turned out this was the morning that P badly scratched his car while driving out of his driveway (something he never does, he is an excellent driver). It looks very likely that they have already been spending nights together.

And then when asked about it continuously, she finally admitted to her husband that yes, they have just started up an 'intimate relationship'.

Like P, she has admitted to her husband that she has met someone who has made her feel alive and amazing. Like me, this man knew that something was changing around the time they met and started working together.
Like me, this man feels like a fool.

And P had looked me in the eye and said he was not going to be rushing into anything.

It all just feels like a huge slap in the face. To say the least.

How do I ever trust a man again?
And how do I continue to deflect when our oldest asks me why we separated?

* Disclaimer. Referring to her as his partner is premature, when they have just started seeing each other. It is however more succinct than "the woman my husband basically left me for as he believes that she is his soulmate."

Thursday, 9 January 2014

No relationships were destroyed in the making of this relationship!

Would that make a catchy t-shirt?

Despite my relatively new status as "separated", I feel no awkwardness or 'jealousy' around my coupled friends. And I've had so much to process that I hadn't even thought about how my new status may over time change how some people may see me. That is until I read this.

I honestly don't think my coupled friends will stop inviting me to their kids parties. But an innocent comment made in jest by my girlfriend the other night made me think. The father of one of my children's good friends had popped around for a cup of coffee one afternoon when P had the boys, and had brought his daughter along. I mentioned this in passing while recounting my day to my girlfriend, and she joked to be careful as people might start talking about me and this man. I quipped back that it would indeed be a stupid person to bring along their young daughter if they wanted to keep the visit on the sly. Especially as she had fallen in love with some new Christmas presents and would no doubt have regaled her mum with all the details of the sounds and flashing lights she had encountered.

But this led me to think - is there another reason why some coupled friends avoid the odd numbered guest - are some women potentially threatened by someone who is now 'available'?

As I was punishing myself  doing a cycling class last night, this popped into my head. I know you can't help where your heart leads you, but for me I've never been interested in anyone who was in a relationship. Maybe I've just been lucky? Maybe there are many normally good, honest people who who end up in this position.

For me, whether someone is dating or married, that person is 'out of bounds'.

I know this doesn't apply to everyone. My husband for one who fell in love with a married woman. (Who in turn has 'co-incidentally' recently separated from her husband.) And I believed you couldn't get a more honest, decent person than my husband. Well I still believe..but it gets a little complicated and depends on how vulnerable I'm feeling...

So as you can imagine, I've got some major issues coming up re trusting another bloke again.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Plan versus Reality

Another chestnut from Marc and Angel today....

I think it says it all really...not sure what part of the journey I'm at! But it's good to remember that no matter how challenging life feels, it generally is heading in an upward and forwards direction.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Word Porn

I love language. I love reading a good article or book. Growing up as an only child with loads of free time on my hands (wouldn't we love to be able to moan about how bored we are again!) I read loads. In the back of a car, in bed, while on the bus when travelling in to my job at the photo lab while I was at high school.

I loved going to the library, the bookshop, the newsagent. I loved the smell of new books and I still do. I literally smell one when I open it up.

But as I've gotten older, the reading for pleasure became less, and reading became more about school work and studying. And now with zero free time I can count on two fingers the number of books I read in a year that wasn't pulled from the children's section in the library or previously wrapped up in pirate themed wrapping paper.

I also used to love writing, but again with the passage of time, this has fallen by the wayside. My writing now is related to work and so I am more comfortable in writing ministerial briefings, letters to residents complaining about pot holes, procedure manuals or another email to staff members about not leaving their dirty crockery in the kitchen sink (anyone got any good ideas on how to solve this problem?)

So when I came across Word Porn on Facebook, I got a bit excited. When I realised it wasn't about talking dirty, I still thought it was brilliant. I love learning new words, and how concise a word can be when you think about the complexity of its meaning.

I've discovered lots of descriptive words like orenda, induratize, gezellig, silage. Whether I remember them at the right time (or pronounce them properly) is something else entirely.

Today's word was:

And I think a lot of us strive for this when the proverbial hits the fan. We don't always hit the mark, but we try. We try and keep our cool when we're with our kids so their world stays as normal as possible. We keep our focus when driving, getting the groceries or bumping into someone down the street we don't know very well. 

And other times, when the kids have just gone to bed and Facebook suggests that her and I become friends it is hard to remain equanimous. But at least I now have a word for "keeping my shit together". 

5 years ago

Today, five years ago, P, our eldest son, and I woke up in a hotel room in a new city that we now call home. P had accepted a job up here and on another sweltering hot day we were discovering a new place and finding a new home.

I hadn't told my boss that I was moving as P had been offered the job on Christmas eve and my work was closed for a couple more days. Over breakfast that morning while reading a major newspaper, there was an article in there that referenced P's new job. What a way for her to find out, we had laughed! My boss and I would later joke about this as it was the one morning she hadn't read the paper.

In the five years since, we forged the next chapter in our lives together. New city, new homes, new jobs, new friends, renovations, two more children, an overseas holiday.

And now on our fifth anniversary in this city, we are each forging our own new chapter in our lives, our lives which will always be woven together, but now becoming more separate.

He has a new home, new furnishings and most likely a new partner with children on the very near horizon.

And I am piecing together a new chapter in a life that looks very familiar in the same home, but feels very different. I find myself with some new friends and some wobbly new confidence in this new journey.

And I think that deserves another toast. But I've already had two coffees, and at 9.30 in the morning, it's a little early for a glass of wine, so I'll reach for the chocolate instead!

Happy Anniversary

11 years ago on a sweltering hot day, P and I exchanged vows and rings and drank champagne with our friends and family. It was so hot that my bouquet started wilting while walking from the car to the venue.

Today, 11 years on, it's another sweltering hot day but we haven't worn our rings for nearly three months. This morning I'm with baby I, while my boys are having their last swim at the beach with their dad before they begin the drive back home.

Is there a card I can buy my ex for such an occasion? Do we even acknowledge it when I see him later today? My mother-in-law called early this morning just to say hi. But I know it was her way of acknowledging it, of showing her support.

Today instead of primping with my bridesmaid, I'll be reviewing my budget, made even tighter by the recent news that my government payments are being cut by more than half, due to a delay with the department's internal processing.

The news of the cut came just before Christmas and this is the first time I've had to sit down and try and make sense of it. Well, the first time once the procrastination wore off. I like a good spreadsheet, and the one I have has all sorts of great macros and formulas, but nothing that easily fixes the message I get that my budget is in deficit each month. I've cut the foxtel and reduced incidental spending to almost nothing, but still it shows up with the deficit.

Because now even with the child support and the family payments, the reality is I have three kids and a house to support. And as a lot of women in my position know, it's much easier to do with someone else by your side.

Someone else who can help with the bills, pour you a glass of wine at the end of a long day, rub your neck when it gets sore, tell you that your bum doesn't look big in those pants.

I know I'm lucky enough to have someone who pays child support. Who will come around to mow the lawns. There are other women who don't have this support. But there are no guarantees this will last. There were no guarantees with "'till death us do part".

So today, I'll get dressed, make myself another coffee and raise a toast to myself.


Friday, 3 January 2014

My World Implodes Again

Have you been unlucky enough to have had that feeling like your world is imploding? That there's so much pain you don't know how to cope so you find yourself hurtling between despair, anger, sadness and feeling just dead inside? Well the feeling I had here happened all over again yesterday.

So the short version if you're just catching up, is that my husband decided our marriage was over without entering into any conversation about it or wanting to work on it. A month after I gave birth to our third child, and we finished the recent renovations on our house.  He had fallen in love with a married woman with 2 young kids, who he had recently directed as Maria in The Sound of Music (can I hear a collective 'awwww, how sweet'?).

I knew it would be a matter of time before he would confess his feelings to her, but really she would have to have been brain dead not to have worked it out anyway. She knows he left me a month after the birth of our third child, plus they talk regularly and get along really well and I can imagine their conversations would have been loaded with innuendo and flirtation, just as ours used to be in the early days of courtship (yes, I used that word!). But I believed him when he told me time and time again that he cares for me and she doesn't know. And a small part of me hoped that she wouldn't feel the same way about him. Not so he would come back to me, but just to make things awkward for him.

But last night, my neighbours who have known her since before she was born, let it slip that she separated from her husband a couple of months ago.

Co-incidence? I think not.

So while I stood on the street, doubled over and hyperventilating and holding onto the pram to keep me from falling over, they comforted me, escorted me back into their home, talked me off the ledge and fed me. And made it clear their loyalties to my husband and her were over.

So yes, even in that shit storm, I can find something to be appreciative for.

And then a good friend came over to spend the night, and we had some drinks, and talked crassly like only women can when they have nothing to lose except a whole lotta pain.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Appreciation Journal

Last week P went to Sydney for some well deserved R&R with 2 dear friends of his. I say well deserved R&R because you can appreciate how stressful it is, leaving your wife and three kids and also the waiting to begin screwing someone else starting a wonderful grand romance with your soul mate must be.

But I digress, these dear friends, are actually both very lovely people.

When P returned, he brought back 2 gifts they had given me - a pot of divine jam, and a journal.

I knew the plans for this journal straight away. I had read about them, and a friend does something similar.

An Appreciation Journal.

I think even if I was still living with my husband, being more appreciative of the bounty that life brings us would still be a valuable exercise. However, more so now when I can have periods where things just feel so dark/hopeless/sad/frustrating/lonely/tiring.

So last night I started. And it felt good. Because despite the heart break and the tough lonely times, I am lucky enough to live in a country where my right to function in the society is not determined by my marital status. There really is much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A Family Holiday San(d)s Mum

This morning I packed some clothes for the boys, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, toys to make sand castles with, a frisbee, the beach hut, their scooters and helmets.

Tomorrow they're going to the beach for a couple of days with their dad and they can't wait to get there. Now that we live in the country and the beach is more than 3 hours away, we rarely go. So the boys are excited, but the news stories they hear about shark attacks are leading them both to ask lots of questions about sharks.

Tomorrow will be the first time we will be apart for more than one night, and I've only had about 2 of those before. I won't be there with them, encouraging our oldest into the water, cursing the sand getting all through the car, seeing my boys squeal with delight as they play on the beach, rubbing sunscreen on their bodies while they squirm away. And that hurts.

If you asked my ex and I the kind of holiday we like, apart from offering New York or Paris (if money were no object!) it would be something relaxing involving the beach.

Our honeymoon was a leisurely drive up the coast to Queensland. We liked going to the beach in Newcastle when visiting the in-laws. We went to Port Stephens shortly before moving from Sydney. Two years ago we took the boys to Fiji.

"Why can't you come" my oldest pleaded with me this morning as I packed their bags.
"You and your brother will have such a good time having dad to yourself. You'll have so much fun on the beach" I responded cheerily.
"But why can't you come?", not letting it go.
I stopped to look at him."Well, things are different now, and we don't holiday together. Maybe later that will change, but not right now."
"But I'll miss my baby sis" he persisted.
"I'm sorry. But it won't be for long. I'll miss you both, but you'll have such a good time."

Then the tone changed.
"It's your fault you're separated", the familiar furrow appearing on his brow. I don't mind when he throws me this barb. It's his way of making sense of things. It's not often, but familiar at the same time.
I bite my tongue.
"It's not my fault, it's not your father's fault. We both love you and Alex very much." But he was already moving away from me, focusing back on the television. My heart wasn't in it this morning. I had had a dark night last night, being the first New Years Eve I hadn't spent with P for 13 years. We hadn't kissed at midnight, hadn't watched fireworks together, hadn't toasted each other, or even packed it in and gone to bed before the stroke of midnight, together.

Instead he spent it with friends, including her.

Instead, despite promising me that he would call, he didn't. Instead I received a text after midnight.

"I thought you were asleep" he tried to reason.
"You could have called well before midnight" I retorted. The the silence, while he thinks of what he can say.
"I didn't know how you would respond, after you were so upset this afternoon.."he trailed off.
"But after I was upset, you said you would call me. And then you didn't. I know you were busy with your friends, so I wasn't expecting you too, but it would have been nice. You promised."
"I wasn't busy.."
"So you weren't busy, but you couldn't call me". I sound like a co-dependent teenager, wading her way through a first love, when I'm really a 38 woman navigating what this new relationship is. Listening to his words, seeing his actions, seeing that sometimes they don't fit and trying not to overanalyse.
But its another conversation going nowhere. And then we're interrupted with the boys fighting and I can sense his relief.

At least over the next couple of days I'll spend some uninterrupted time with the baby and tend to the ever growing list of life administration to do.

But for once I'll miss hearing the boys argue, miss them waking me up in the morning, miss comparing mosquito bites and being asked to play ball.

But I'm not going with them, and that feels weird.

And I wonder if for him, it will feel weird too. I know he won't miss me, but if only because he won't be able to leave the kids with me while has some quiet daddy time, having a drink by himself or getting a massage.
But now that he doesn't live with us, he can get his quiet daddy time whenever he damn well pleases. And with ever he damn well pleases.

Happy New Year!

New Years Day sees many people waking up with some foggy memories from the night before, others waking up declaring it to be just an ordinary day like scrooge scoffing at Christmas, while others wake up with anticipation and focus on the new year ahead and the promise it brings, like the smell of a newly opened book.

Which camp do you fall in?

Today I'm in the latter camp.

Today I find myself at home with my three kids, packing their bag before their father picks them up. I made it to midnight last night, but I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep - I wasn't on the harbour watching fireworks, I didn't have a loved one to kiss, I wasn't toasting in the new year. I had been lucky enough to spend the night with some friends and their children, before my kids packed it in at an impressive 10pm (pretty good for 3 kids under 7 if you ask me!)

Last night, lying in bed, I began to feel the familiar twangs of maudlin, reminiscing of New Years past, and trying not to think about what good things the new year may bring my ex and the woman he left me for.

Last night I posted this on Facebook, which got a lot of support from my friends:
At the beginning of 2013 I had no idea that this year would see me giving birth to our third child, becoming separated from my husband of 10 years and beginning a journey of self discovery. I have made some new friends, struck up some old friendships and been pleasantly surprised by random acts of kindness.

You never know what is around the corner, so enjoy as many moments as you can, even the apparently ordinary ones because ultimately that's what life is made of - a whole lot of moments pieced together. They are made good, bad or indifferent by our choice to be present and to learn. And that's my number one resolution. Oh, and maybe eat less carbs. (Maybe not the most poetic way of saying this, but you get my drift - I'm trying to keep this concise!)

I understand the news of our seperation will come as a surprise to most of you. It was devastating at first, and while still upsetting Peter and I are committed to our children and to remaining friends.

I wish you all the best for 2014 in health, friendship and happiness. 


So this morning I made a choice to try and start the new year more positively. My resolutions are big yet simple, and necessary for my health and journey to a better place:
  • To not let him, her and any other negative un-useful person rent space in my head. 
  • To be present in each moment.
  • To see challenges as learning opportunities.
  • Know that I am stronger than I was, and will be even stronger yet.
  • To be true to myself and be happy.
  • Keep an Appreciation Diary. In the week of Christmas I asked our family (ex, ex's in-laws and kids) what they were grateful for that day. This was a nice exercise in starting to find things to appreciate in a day. A friend of mine records this in a book, and I was fortunate to receive a lovely book from a friend recently which I will use for this.

That's as concise as I can make it. It is easier said than done, but it is the best and healthiest way forward for me and for my kids.

So I played some happy music, packed away Christmas, read some lovely supportive comments from friends on Facebook and adored Isabella.

And that's a pretty good way to start the new year.