Sunday, 6 January 2013

Day 21: Mediation

Today is our first mediation meeting. I am not looking forward to it, in fact I am dreading it:- not the meeting itself, more that I am fully aware attending our first meeting is yet another definitive step toward the end and I have to admit to myself, however much I now say -and believe- that even I wouldn't go back... I don't actually want to go forward either. Battling with these emotions makes me particularly cranky and stroppy to H in the morning, earning another round of condescending "if only you could behave like a grown up" comment... Our mediation lady doesn't look like a lawyer (which she is) more like a civil servant crossed with a secondary school teacher, which I find unsettling:- I had hoped for a more familiar super sleek and professional environment and interlocutor. Nonetheless, she turns out to be pretty good and seems to get the measure of the 2 of us quite quickly. It doesn't start terribly well though:- as soon as we sit down, she browses through our little pre-interview questionnaire and only has to ask us one question for me to lose the stern composure I d been working on very hard and break down in tears: "ahhh, she says, I see this is a very long relationship... when did you decide to do this?" "2 weeks ago" I cry out noticing how she doesn't quite manage to suppress the look of surprise -even shock- flashing in her eyes... An hour and a half later, we're coming out of her office, me feeling faint from the effort to hold my shit together -H looking flushed but relieved. In the car on the way back I try and make a mental note of key points to take away:- - this is not going to be done and dusted within 2 weeks. It will take months for us to complete this process. I must therefore find a way to operate 'normally' in the meantime - I am not fit yet emotionally to have constructive discussions/negotiations. I was 'strongly advised' (and I entirely agree) that I need help:- I must go and see a counsellor - We have been given a 'to do' plan and are meeting again in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we absolutely should not do anything or make any decision. It is therefore with a great sense of relief that I immediately call the estate agents I contacted yesterday and cancel the three viewings I had already lined up for this afternoon. When we finally get home, it suddenly hits me:- today is day 21 -and, whilst the process is indeed going to take a while longer, today we attended or first mediation meeting -not counselling to see if we can work things through -mediation, to arrange the terms of our separation. Not merely a fancy title for a tentative blog started just over two weeks ago then... more a sadly eerily accurate prediction:- our 21 year marriage has come to an end in the course of the last 21 days.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Days 19 and 20: 2 steps forward 3 steps back

We're getting stuck now into a bit of a vicious circle, which, as a true consultant, I can depict as a four step pattern:- Step 1. we are nice and polite to each other -clearly making an effort in this slightly strained but actually pretty positive manner Step 2. strong of our feeling we're making good progress, we start discussing more details of our upcoming separation:- chid care arrangements, housing, finances, etc... and seem to reach a few important agreements Step 3. and then H says something which completely sounds to me like -just because we've been 'getting on' and I've been 'behaving' he s suddenly forgotten how momentous this really is, how big an impact this is likely to have on us and the children and how hurt and upset and angry I must still be. For instance he suddenly announces how flexible he is being given I was originally facing the prospect of losing custody of the children. Or he has misplaced his credit cards and immediately assumes/accuses me of having taken them away. So I have a go. He complains that I should really be more grown up about things "it would be so much easier Bob if you stopped the hurt and angry comments". I explode:- "Well forgive me for not making it any easier for you. Fact is You've dropped this on me less than 2 weeks. You are refusing to even talk about it. You have caused the situation -You live with the consequences -part of which will be that I am hurt, and I upset and I am angry" And so the argument escalates... Step 4. One of us (usually H) walks out. I cry... for several hours (I never realised I could cry so much!!..even during the worse of my depression, I was crying a lot, but nothing like this). Then we pussy-footy around each other until one of us (also usually H) offers an olive branch ("would you like a cup of tea Bob?") and we slowly, wearily, get back to Step 1. In the process, we have several rounds at discussing the key issues:- 1. Childcare. At east H seems to have agreed now that sharing the care of the boys is probably best all around. He could have them Mon-Wed, they would be with me Thur & Fridays and we would alternate week-ends. Not quite 50-50 but in truth most akin to how we are currently running things. 2. Habitation. H seems set on staying put in our house and comes up with all sorts of financial and emotional arguments what I should be the one to move out. We go through the numbers and he convinces me we can afford for him and the boys to stay here and me to rent a nice enough place. We even get on Righmove and start looking at options. Problem is, there is absolutely nothing suitable for me and the boys. The conversation deteriorates when H suggest maybe I should be more willing to "compromise"! 3. Money. Even more contentious than habitation. I am the earner. I have the pension. H tells me he doesn't expect me to look after him yet in the same sentence tells me I need to pay for him to stay in the house with the boys, need to keep on paying for the boys school etc.. & need to share rest of my income and pension with him so he can carry on looking after the boys. The sickly knot in my stomach tightens ever so slightly each time we have these conversations:- H asks me to trust him, assures me that he only has the boys best interests at heart and is not out to screw him (as I put it). Am I being completely paranoid or stupidly naive?? You see I have always been proud of one of my greatest qualities (and sometimes downfall):- I am very sensitive, in touch with my and other's emotions and most astute in reading people and situations... But now I find myself completely clueless:- I have no idea really what is going on, am unable to gauge what is real and what isn't and feel incapable of making sound judgements let alone taking any decision. Yet we are pressing on at pace:- tomorrow we are going to our first mediation meeting. God help me.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Days 17 and 18:- Not a happy new Year

It s a bit like being in that (brilliant) movie:- groundhog day. Every morning is the same: Husband comes into my bedroom, gives out a cheery "good morning" and asks me if I would like a coffee (something he hasn't done in the past...10 years!) I mutter a shy yes, whilst trying to work out what is real and what I might have dreamt. Sadly, I am fully conscious again by the time he comes back with the coffee and know therefore he must have something to tell me... and he does:- he s been doing some thinking. Maybe I am right. Maybe my going away to London and leaving the care to him is not the best option for the boys... maybe we can explore co-parenting, as I suggested last night. So, that's progress, and I try and compose myself to look and sound as positive as I can muster. But from that point onwards, I can t shake the uncomfortable feeling that either he really is confused/clueless and hasn't thought about anything OR I am being craftfully manipulated to his end. And I m struggling to believe it is the former, purely because he's instigated this, and as he has told me, he's been thinking about it for a long time, even sought counselling and advice. So surely he knows what he's doing..? We have to put all this on hold as we go out for dinner on Saturday with the boys and to the Theater to watch a pantomime on Sunday (all these things we were going to do with my family for our New Year celebrations) The Pantomime is actually really funny and we all laugh out loud for over two hours which then only makes me feel awkward if not guilty... How can we, how can I be laughing about when I know what we're just about to do to our children? Shame on me. Finally we have a big argument over what we should do with the boys over New Years eve... H's invited himself to go to his siblings for a party and is trying to get the boys to agree to join him. But I m not invited. What does he think the children will make of it - how naive not to realise that, even before we've told them what s going on, we're putting them in a position where they have to choose who they want to be with! Of course, H doesn't see it like that. In the end, we agree he goes with Big Son and I stay home with Little Son. And that turns out OK. Little Son and I have a lovely evening in front of the telly. Only when it is midnight and I hug and kiss him Happy New Year does the nausea come back, accompanied by a little voice in the back of my head:- "how can you lie to him like this..." it says, "when we both know this is not going to be a happy year, don't we". -

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Days 15&16: No turning back

After a very surreal Boxing Day drinks party (something else I asked to cancel which H refused) at last every one has gone; not just party guests, but also granny, auntie, uncle, children, dogs... all gone and the house is eerily quiet -just the four of us. We re so exhausted by then, emotionally as well as physically i suspect, that we can hardly move. H seems intent on doing nothing but watch TV -film after film after documentary and firmly determined not to look at me or have anything to do with me. So I sit here, mostly in silence, occasionally offering a comment, even a cup of tea... wondering how long the calm before the storm will last. When I can't bare it any longer I finally ask: so shall we speak then? OK. he says. you start. "What the hell does he mean... I start?! he's the one supposed to be doing the bloody thinking" I tell him so (not the most eloquent or inviting way of putting it I realise) But that doesn't seem to put him off and he has a ready response for me: "I'm not sure I've any more thinking to do. I made my decision and do not intend to change my mind. We just need to agree the details: when you can leave, our financial arrangements and how we tell the boys.." I am stunned. "What's happened to your being confused, and not being sure you re doing the right thing and our agreeing to leave it for a week and then start talking" I cry out. "That was then" he says, "but I m clear. I don t want to be with you. I want a divorce". Now I know this sounds self indulgent, but at that point I felt so... used/abused. I thought we'd made a deal. I was the supporting wife at the funeral, I agreed to the pretense with granny et al over Xmas. I agreed to the drinks party on the basis that we had a deal, but he never meant it. Didn't reconsider anything. did speak to his mother. Incidentally, also found out he spoke to our friends -who he asked me not to talk to on the basis they re both our friends. So I see red, and latch out:- "You bastard, you ask me to trust you you say you care and then you screw me". "You re drunk" he says with disdain, and he s probably right. I have drunk nearly a bottle of wine tonight. But I tell him, it's not the alcohol speaking: it is what I think:- he's a bastard. and a bully. Trying to intimidate into agreeing stuff. Trying to shame me into submission. I will not let him screw me over. I will not let him send me away from my children. I will fight him. I will stay with my children. And that's when he strikes the worse blow yet:- you are not fit to look after them. I have been the prime carer for them for the past 10 years. So we can do this nicely and find you a flat in London and have the children visit you or we can go to court and I will get custody. Clearly I gave as good as I got:- you have looked after them because you were never able to provide for us/your family. I provided for your lifestyle as well as our children, including financing your several failed businesses over the years. We moved to where you wanted to be - not once not twice but about 5 times I have followed with what you decided we should do next and what you wanted. You are lazy ans selfish, and yet again you are taking the most lazy and selfish option -i.e. to get out).etc. etc.. In summary, a big old ugly fight. And as I fought back I saw flickers of doubt in his eyes maybe even fear (of what, I m not sure... that it wasn't going to be as easy as he had hoped? what did he think??). More concerning was the realisation even as I we were arguing, that I wasn't fighting to save my marriage any longer; I too wanted this over. And if H suddenly stopped and turned around and said:- you are right, I am making a stupid mistake, let's start again, I could not bring myself to forgive him for what he had done.. Nor could I ignore the years of built up unhappiness and resentment that was now pouring out of both of us. There was, as they say, no turning back.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Days 10 to 14: It's Christmas!

Between Saturday to Wed, my feet didn't touch the ground. Hence I didn't get round to writing every day. Partly because we're now fulfilling our 'deal' of waiting until after Xmas to talk again, partly because the best way I've found to cope with this whole situation is to keep busy. And busy I am... ridiculously so:-Xmas decorations, tidying, putting pictures up, Xmas shopping everyday, taking Granny out (oh yes I forgot to say -although I cancelled my family for NY, H wouldn't cancel his mother -so now we've got her to pretend to too -but H assures me:- she knows we've been struggling recently but nothing else. I have not told her anything).. So I carry on with the pretense, telling myself it s the best thing for the boys. And it probably is... ironically, because we re in this weird deal, we are behaving like 2 house guests, very polite with each other, very gentle but undeniably (especially in H's case) very distant -cold. so as a quick summary/pick of my top 5 moments of the past 4 days: 1. Taking the opportunity that H was back in our marital bed ( because of granny in the spare room) to make a move on him and offer sex. The astonishing things about this little fact are that i. I actually felt horny and wanted it ii. I never usually initiate it (a very sore point in our marriage) and iii H always wants (or at least wanted) it. Yet, humiliatingly, he turns me away. 2. Having mother in law take me a apart and deliver a solemn: 'I know what is going on -I want you to know I will not judge you and whatever you will always be the mother of my grandchildren' speech. I was so enraged. How could he have lied to me me about not telling her- how could she think this was an appropriate thing to tell me?! 3. Spending Xmas eve running around in shops because H forgot all about the stockings -not just mine, the boys too! 4. Opening the (only) present I got on Christmas day. A beautiful picture of my boys from H and pretending to be surprised when I already knew that's what I was getting (I read it in his inbox when looking for evidence he might be having an affair) and ii. pretending not to realise this was the ultimate breakup present 5. H being very stressed and pretty horrible over Xmas lunch and me getting drunk throughout the day and pretending not to see his disdain and righteous look of disapproval... All in all... not the best Xmas I've ever spent. let's just hope it is the worse I ever have to endure.

Day Nine: The funeral

We buried my Husband's dad today. It was harrowing as I thought. A beautiful service actually, but god I found it so hard not to entirely break down. Exhausting...And very sad. Sad to see my Husband hold it all in (I suppose that's what he's always done about emotions and feelings) -looking like he was attending some else's father's funeral (in his own words..) Sad also to see how much care he took not to come anywhere near me -sat with the choir at church, stood with his siblings by the grave, avoided me for the whole wake. It was so sad... but my boys were there so I focused on them, ensuring they were fine, speaking with them and going along with the pretence of looking so heartbroken because Grandfather had just died...And I can't even get a bloody drink because I m driving everyone back (and H's clearly had a few already). Thankfully it's all over by 5 and I drive us back, in silence. H sleeps all the way back. In the darkness of the evening and the eery quiet of the car engine humming and the children's music thud thudding gently out of their earphones, I finally acknowledge to myself: this is all the more painful since I didn't just attend my father in law's funeral. I have just attended my Marriage's burial too. I turn the radio on to try and stop me from thinking -and feeling- too much or I fear my head will explode and my heart actually tear before I get us there. In that moment, I have a brief vision of us all crashed against the central reservation of the M6. But no, I quickly argue with myself, that is not the best way to end this nightmare -however tempting it fleetingly appeared. So it is with great relief (tinged with crushing shame) that I realise the love for my children is stronger than anything else I can ever experience and decide that I will fight this and that somehow, as unbelievable as it seems now, I will re-build a good and happy life for me and my boys. One day. I turn the radio up focusing on my driving

Days 6, 7 & 8- Life on hold


I am back in London and finding it hard to get into work mode. I feel myself snapping at people. they either don't notice, or they forgive me (they know I've got a funeral coming up -they probably think it s that). I send H a couple of messages a day, like I have always done -nothing heavy or deep just, "Hi, I am here at the moment, how are the boys?" sort of message, but he doesn't respond. I feel him slipping away from me more and more -like fading...the problem is that I also feel my children slipping. With no/limited contact from H I now realise I've stopped getting the regular news I'd become used to getting via him. "We've been there. We've done that. Big boy's being a pain. Small boy's been rude..." these little daily facts that made me feel connected to them -like I was there because through them I could completely picture the boys and imagine the scene. Now they're on school holidays, and I don't even know if they came to London for the film they wanted to see. I did ask H, but he didn't reply. THAT is what I don't want. I am not ready for that. Whatever H says I've been full part of their lives since they were born and I intend to stay that way for ever... well let s say until they leave home. Dear oh dear... the plot thickens:- if H doesn't love me any longer (and I don't him) but I do not want to leave the children, there's only one alternative:- stay together or go to court. If the former, will we ever be happy? If the latter, what if I don't win custody? and will the children hate me all the more for having tried and failed. Before I go completely mad, I meet up with my BF for dinner. Amazing how much I feel i need to overcome the shame of failure even when speaking with him! Thankfully he doesn't speak to me like that:- instead he's supportive and sympathetic. He even makes me laugh when he says he'd assumed H had finally decided to come out! (and then I panick:- god maybe that's it?!?) I get back home late enough to miss H (he's often in bed by 10 anyway... another incompatibility of ours!) but early enough to see the boys, which is so nice. I try not to hug them too hard and not to tell them too many times how much I love them for fear of alarming them and more simply, breaking down in front of them. I watch late TV with Small Boy. Then off to Bed... dreading the funeral tomorrow.