Let’s take a walk up Fairhead M said. The views will be magnificent. Let’s take the dog! I drive up. Our relationship is in it’s infancy and I didn’t want Z to puke in his immaculate car just yet. We get to the car park after Z whines most of the way – such an anxious traveller. The man tells us dogs aren’t really encouraged as he glances at my red saltwater sandals disapprovingly. But the cows shouldn’t go for a wee dog like him and they’re certainly used to people. If they start to chase let go of the lead – save yourselves! M asks if he can pick him up and run with him? The car park attendant, mounting a muddy quad, reiterates: No, drop the lead and let the dog run. He will find his way back to you.
We start to walk. I squelch into what I hope optimistically is just mud, not dung. It’s not entirely unpleasant I have to say. Fellow saltwater sandal-wearers will know that they are just as comfortable and practical as the most expensive walking shoes and I can’t abide the feel of wet socks on my feet. The views are indeed magical. The weather is perfect as we take our first selfie together above intrepid climbers far braver than us. I remind M that the reason Z was handed into the dog pound was because he was found in a field with sheep; the farmer had threatened to kill him…we walk on.
We reach a gully, I step gingerly across the stream. M is a gentleman lending a hand and lifting Z over numerous stiles. We come across sheep on either side of the trail. One has curled horns. They look at us with interest. Z strains on the lead excited to see his old enemies – funnily enough I have kept him away from livestock for the 6 months I’ve had him – but M has a tight grip on Z. I’m not panicking. Yet.
In the distance I see cows and calves. I can feel my heart racing. As we pass a large black beast he starts to follow us at a slow trot, I start to speed up as M scoops Z into his arms like a baby and starts to jog. Another starts to moo loudly; a warning call, gathering up the troops. Z rather unhelpfully starts to bark as if to draw attention to himself – small dog syndrome. I’ve started to run, my wet muddy feet slipping around in my sandals, following the man I have known for just over 3 weeks cradling my badly behaved dog in his arms. And soon we are out of the cow-danger zone. The car park is in sight. I start to giggle as I look towards M thanking him profusely for not dropping the dog, in fact doing the complete opposite and protecting Z at all costs as if he were his own. My lovely, twinkly-eyed, grey-bearded hero.
I reward M with a delicious fillet steak for dinner, cooked medium rare. I give Z a bit of mine as he waits expectantly at my feet. The irony isn’t lost on me.
Saturday. My son brings me a cup of tea in bed and a slice of toast with butter and passion fruit curd. He snuggles in beside me (and the dog) and we have the following exchange:
A: I licked the butter knife.
ME: Did you rinse it before putting it in the curd?
A (with a raised eyebrow): Come on, it’s a mother and son thing…can you taste my saliva?
We then proceeded to have an America/North Korea discussion.
Sunday. Spoiled with breakfast in bed again. This time with both son and daughter. I can hear A being the foreman, directing the proceedings. My daughter H comes upstairs to announce the first slice of toast is burnt but she ate it as that’s how she likes it (who knew?) then the tea and toast come up again and the two of them (plus dog) get in to snuggle up and remark on the dog licking his ‘willard’. Not the peaceful breakfast in bed I’ve longed for for so long but do you know what? Near bloody perfect in my mind.
I would have been married 11 years ago today. And whilst I have been separated for nearly 4 years this date tends to creep up on me; ambush me and leaves me so emotional and teary that I have to sit with a tissue at my desk at work and dab my eyes frequently so I’m not left with mascara tracks down my face and I can have some semblance of professionalism. I think about how it would have been had we still been together these last 4 years. If, instead of leaving me, he left his mistress and really focused on our flaws. Attending counselling as I’d suggested and working on our marriage. I wonder if there would be a third baby by now or whether we would have decided against it, counting ourselves lucky and focusing all our energies into bringing up the two precious amazing kids we have already.
And then I think would I have thrown in the towel a year or two down the line? Would I have broken the habit of being a doormat – keeping the peace for somebody who clearly had zero respect for me and still to this day thinks he can walk all over me and I will just take it.
He has been so all over the place lately that it makes me think I should have just arranged alternative childcare for the summer holidays. Texting me saying he’s going to the gym when I’m about to drop the kids down or bringing them back late when he’s been texting me all day asking when I’m picking them up. I mean the holidays are always chaotic, routine gets thrown out of the window but this year, with his new son, it seems to be worse and I feel sorry for our two. I’m sure they feel that they’re not welcome anywhere which is hardly fair on them.
In other news I started dating again and the guy I’m seeing is lovely! I was reluctant to write this as it has only been a fortnight but I guess I see this as a record of my life so if things go wrong and it’s not as amazing and romantic as I believe it to be now well this is how I felt at the time and it’s good to record things – good and bad.
First off he has been so open and honest. He has nothing to hide and although his past relationships have been rocky he will not let the past define his outlook for the future and how he embarks on new relationships. His attitude is so refreshing and positive for somebody that has been through so much. He showed me his driving licence to prove his age (5 years older than me). I didn’t ask for it but he knows I won’t tolerate lies and deceit and is willing to open up to me in order to put me at ease.
Anyway, it’s early days. I’m trying not to get carried away. Date 4/5 (they merged into one weekend) went really well. Date 6 last night was lovely (although he’s a bit poorly at the moment but he muddled through). Date 7 won’t be until next week as this weekend is all about me and the kids…oh and a 3 hours life drawing class that a dear friend bought me for my birthday. Can’t wait!
Counselling is so different this time round. It seems to be more about affirming that my ex did behave appallingly and that I’m right to still feel hurt and still be working through things. It’s about managing my feelings so that I can remain neutral and almost detached for the kids in terms of how I feel about their new little brother. We have started working on building my self-esteem and my need to be more assertive in all aspects of my life and she has set me some homework this week. She believes if I learn how to say no and train myself not to apologise for things that aren’t my fault that I will feel better. I will have more energy, more head space for me and anxiety levels will reduce. Here’s hoping.
H & I were sitting watching TV. Between 8 and 9 is our TV time. Favourites include don’t tell the bride, anything dog-related, bake off and masterchef. She asked me if I preferred chocolate or strawberry milk. I told her that whilst pregnant with her brother I was majorly addicted to the latter. I told her these were called cravings. Did C have cravings? She was unsure. I omitted the fact that I was consistently told off by midwives because of the extent of my craving, my pee was 90% yazoo at all times.
An ad break came on and she got off the sofa. 5 minutes later she returned with a mug of strawberry milk. Such a sweet, sweet girl.
When I was raped (that’s basically what it was) he rolled over on top of me and opened my legs and forced his penis inside me. I shoved his chest and said ‘it hurts’ and he said ‘oh baby, does it?’ and continued. I chose not to say anything else but from my body language he knew; how couldn’t he?
I let him finish. I lost most of my respect for him. I felt angry, scared, confused, used and ultimately disappointed but we remained as a couple for some time afterwards. This wasn’t the last time.
I’ve written this down so as to leave it in the past. I will never let this happen again.
I’ve had an amazing family holiday in Center Parcs and an absolutely fantastic early 40th birthday party in my home village with friends and family and now I’m back to work feeling sorry for myself. Since I changed my name in work I’ve been unable to get work emails on my phone which, although annoying, turned out to be an absolute blessing when I was on leave. I could completely switch off and enjoy time with the kids, my parents and my brother without worrying over emails that always seem urgent but in reality can absolutely wait until you’re back at your desk.
We spent five days or so cycling, swimming, eating, drinking, laughing, spotting squirrels and rabbits and ducks and ducklings and generally switching off from everyday life. Me and my mum spent a few blissful hours in the spa where I actually nodded off in the Forest Meditation room and woke myself up with a snort! I then had an awesome party in the local cricket club. The fizz was flowing, the DJ was immense and the night was filled with hugs and dancing and catching up with relatives that I really should make more of an effort to keep in touch with. I have so many bottles of fizz (what does that say about me?) and other amazing gifts. My parents will load up their car in September and bring these over to me and I can celebrate my 40’s all over again.
Now back to reality with a thud. It was great picking the dog up from the kennels. He had made friends with a female pooch, Bubbles, and they were apparently getting on like a house on fire…ahem :). It gave me faith in my decision to rescue this lovable yet crazy escape artist of a dog. He is our reason for returning home. After we had been home for a few hours, Daddy came to see the kids with the new baby in the pram and I wanted to go and look in the pram but I thought that would be strange and awkward and how would I be left feeling? Yesterday morning when I dropped the kids off he answered the door with the baby smooshed up on his shoulders. All I could see was his tiny,soft fluffy head and his cute little socks and as I imagined breathing in the scent of freshly washed baby I felt like I was being stabbed in the womb. The pain was intense. I quickly walked away blinking back tears. I guess my next counselling session will be about exploring my thoughts and feelings around this baby. I met my daughter’s friend’s new wee brother yesterday. I held him in my arms as the girls got their stuff together for an arts and crafts class that I was dropping them off at. As I was cradling the baby in my arms I felt nothing but love for this new mum and affection for the wee baby (he’s actually fairly sizeable 9lbs 13 at birth) – no jealousy, no stabbing pain – so what is it about my ex’s baby?
Last night my son got into my bed and restlessly slept by my side. I was the same. I felt like I was feverish. Intense dreams, stomach cramps and I pretty much saw every hour on the clock. I don’t want to feel like this as my two good friends (one heavily pregnant, what is it about this time of year and my life; baby season much?) are taking me out for an early birthday lunch tomorrow and I don’t want to be sick – I need to be on good form.
This morning we were greeted by a different ex/daddy when I dropped the kids off. No baby on his shoulder and a grumpy looking face to boot. Sleep deprived? An argument with the girlfriend? Is she going through that dreaded fog of postnatal depression? I don’t know what’s going on and surely it’s none of my business but the kids were told to go up to their room immediately, no passing go. When I got into work I whatsapped my son (he has become a teenager at 10 with a new phone) telling him I loved him and his sister and I would see them later. He replied ‘cya later’ (yoof speech!). Couldn’t get much from that. I just hope they’re okay and the tension isn’t unbearable in their dad’s house.
I have never delivered quite so cruel a blow to another human being in my life. He turned up on my doorstep last night after two days of messaging me, asking me to reconsider, pleading and begging that we could work through things; surely clear communication is the only way forward? I held the dog under one arm as I held the door open. I know it seems bad but I couldn’t invite him in. This awful, end-of-the-line conversation needed to happen on my doorstep.
I know that I have made the right decision. Things haven’t been right for some time and I can’t wait until his daughters are at uni/he gets a better job/he wins the lottery/he moves in to my house for our relationship to progress. Crucially things weren’t great between us now; in the present, and I believe he has unresolved issues that are affecting his ability to be present, loving, communicative and generous with his time. He hinted at some childhood trauma that he had been on the verge of telling me a couple of times. But it’s all too late now. I gave him ample opportunities to open up to me, to be more loving and he closed down and pushed me away every time. With everything going on I needed emotional support, I needed to be heard and he just wasn’t willing to be there for me.
It’s going to take me a long time to forget the way his face crumpled when I told him I no longer loved him, that I had made my decision and that I needed to be on my own. It will take me a long time to forget of his please: We can try for another baby, I can move in tomorrow, we can get married as he dropped down onto one knee. But I stayed strong. I know I’ve made the right decision. I’d rather be on my own that feel anxious and uncertain about our partnership, about when and for how long I might see him next. And it’s awful and I feel terrible but I know I’ve done the right thing for both of us. I wouldn’t have been true to myself had we carried on. As I told him I need someone who is passionate about me, who shouts my name from the rooftops. I know it’s cheesy but that’s what I need. Sometimes I need someone to pick me up and comfort me and be the strong one and make decisions on my behalf. That someone is out there, I’ve just not found him yet.
The baby has arrived. Where do I start? I’ve never felt this way in my whole entire life. I can’t even make sense of this mix of emotions. When we were waiting for the baby to arrive I actually felt a strange sense of excitement. Like I was excited I was going into a new period of how we ‘co-parent’. That perhaps he wouldn’t be able to see the kids as much – i.e. he would quit turning up on my doorstep Mon-Wed of every week. The excitement was also very similar to the times I’ve been waiting to hear about a friend giving birth which gave me a false sense of security. I kind of thought, do you know what, I’m fine with this. When the baby arrives it’s actually going to be okay. I’m not going to be insanely jealous. I’m actually going to be fine. I won’t have to hide how I feel infront of the kids. I will be able to just carry on as I am now and sure I might feel sad sometimes but that’s just like now. How wrong could I be? How deluded was I about my own feelings?
He phones my daughter and I hear “ask mummy if I can send a photo”. How can you say no to such a request? I can’t make the kids feel guilty about how excited and delighted they are. But now I’m going to have to delete the photo as I can’t stop looking at it. And then I went into their house last night. I had come to pick up the kids who were meeting their wee brother for the first time. The door was wide open. I knocked and walked in. I could hear that distinct newborn cry. And I saw her and I felt nothing. No sadness, no jealousy; nothing. I actually felt a bit sorry for her. I remember that feeling of utter desperation when you bring your first born home and you actually have no idea what you’re doing; you’re in a state of complete bewilderment. I also wanted to say congratulations to the pair of them. And not even in a sarcastic fashion. And again I thought, I’m okay – things are going to be okay. So it’s like I’ve tripped myself up yet again because this morning when I dropped the kids off to him (‘why do you have to work during the summer mummy why can’t you be a teacher too?) I got back into the car and burst into tears and I actually said out loud ‘I can’t do this. I can’t handle this’. I cried in the car all the way to work. I cried sitting outside work and when I got into work my colleague asked if I was okay and I burst into tears again. I think it was the intimacy of the situation that got to me. When I dropped the kids to the door he was speaking in hushed tones. The midwife was in. My daughter looked concerned and he explained this was all normal. It was just a check and the baby wasn’t crying.
I don’t even know if I want another baby (or if I could have another baby) but I’ve made the decision that I actually need to be with somebody who has at least contemplated that having a baby with me is a possibility in the near future. So I made the decision to part ways with my partner of a year and a half. It wasn’t just this. It has been building for quite some time. So now I’m striding forward on my own into my 40’s which I’m actually feeling quite positive about. Counselling will start tomorrow and again I’m looking forward to meeting this new counsellor and trying to unpick my feelings and my emotions and working out if there are strategies that I can employ to enable me to handle everything that this life throws at me more efficiently.