I am trying to make sense of my new life change. Another ending means a new phase of life. For me – a less chaotic, more “in control” one. Something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. Normally I spend my time running through life at a pace trying to catch the next wave. Now I’m just sitting on the beach, observing. It’s a challenge. This sitting still thing. Not what I’m used to at all….
I was 25 I got married. Some would argue that we were too young. I was the youngest of all my friends and they were all a little bit surprised. I think they thought it might affect my career, but I didn’t care. I had a high flying job then. Marketing and Promotions Manager for EMI music International Department which meant lots of travel to exotic destinations with the likes of Duran Duran and The Pet Shop Boys. I was in heaven. Great job. In love with an intelligent, capable, kind, loyal, good looking man and it felt like completely the right thing to do. I had no doubts whatsoever.
A year after we got married, I willingly gave up my job and we relocated to Australia where we lived for three years. I worked for the first year and then fell pregnant with Baby Number One. Happy times.
Baby Number Two and Three arrived back in the UK some years later. By then I had been out of the job market for an exceptionally long time and whilst I loved my time at home with the children, the perspective you have on life changes dramatically. I have always loved being a mother – unbelievably hard though it is and I certainly don’t profess to be very good at it – we muddled through and still do. But school playgrounds and nursery groups don’t do much for your global thought processes. All I wanted was for my children to be happy and safe. I threw myself into that job with great gusto. I put frozen mixed vegetable gloop into ice cubes for goodness sake. You don’t get more committed than that.
However, at some point, in amongst all the busyness and miscommunication it all went wrong. We took our eye off the bigger picture. Big house. Big pressures. Big blow up. After several years of desperately trying to glue it all back together I came to the conclusion that it was broken beyond repair. We had lost everything that we had built up together. Trust and respect. We were both battered and bruised and unable to sympathise with each other so the question of whether we were about to make the biggest mistake of our lives was not a consideration. Such an immensely sad situation, but after 15 years of marriage that is where I found myself.
The period that followed the initial decline of our marriage was awful. Being on my own was simply not an option I could cope with. I was utterly devastated, barely ate, lost two stone, sobbed all the time, smoked, drank, went out with a virtual sticker on my head saying “Love me, I’m vulnerable” and very nearly fell apart. I was terrified of life beyond the walls of my marriage. My safe cloak of respectability and security. I had forgotten how to be an individual. Had lost my own voice amongst all the mothering and soft furnishings and had no idea how to start again. I had always been crap on my own, moving from one boyfriend to another with just days (if that) in between, prior to marriage so the aim was to meet someone else as quickly as possible and start a new phase of “we”. I remember wailing one day with my father and saying “I just don’t want end up like my Grandmother – all alone” and he reassured me that that would never happen. It was inconceivable.
So here I am. A number of years down the line now. With the inconceivable, being entirely conceivable moving forward. My children, my family, my friends, a very significant other and indeed my blog saved me and made me feel loved and whole again, although it has all certainly taken time. I’ve been divorced six years now. Today I am not young enough to start again, but I have three amazing children who I am immensely proud of – I just hope that we haven’t messed up their lives too dramatically in making the decisions we made. Only time will tell.
A very cryptic post recently gave some indication of yet more decisions. Last year I got a job!!! Unbelievable I know. But I was very proud. I’m working part time which is perfect for me at the moment, as I have the flexibility to be around for the children on certain days or for school events. This change has meant that I have very little time for anything else, least of all a grown up relationship. Attending to my children, working, running a household (albeit very haphazardly – I’d hardly call it “running” a household, more like “limping” a household) I have changed my priorities. I don’t want to be focusing on what happens to me next. I want to focus on other things. I want a calm household with no distractions. I have chosen to be single. Both for my children’s sake and for my own.
The difference is that this time, making that decision has been easier in some ways because I don’t believe I was able to offer enough to the relationship and so now I find I have the space that I have never had before to find a little bit of peace. I have come to the long, slow acceptance that being alone is not the end of the world. When I told my son that I had split up with my boyfriend he told me that I was too old to start again, that he was the best I was ever going to get and that it was sad to think that I’d be on my own for the remainder of my life (thanks for that). I get what he means, because I too thought the same thing, but as I get older, being in a relationship, lovely though it is in many ways is not the be all and end all of what I now want for my life – I told him that I didn’t feel the need to be defined by being in a relationship and wanted to be on my own (how grown up is that? Although lets face it when you live with your children you are very rarely actually alone). That it was something I actually needed to do. I am lucky to be living in a world that accepts single parents (even if the Conservatives still want to highlight the benefits of being married) and today over 40% of children are born to single mothers.
I am trying to stop forward planning my life quite so much and to just try and live one day at a time, in the present, not waiting for something round the corner so that I can focus on my priorities – my children. Being single is the way a lot of people choose to live today and our pre-conceived ideas of what is “normal” is changing every day. I have a lot of single female friends now – some divorced, some separated, some doing their own thing under the same roof, some with much younger boyfriends, some who have already remarried and frankly, if Jemima Khan can go out with Russell Brand, then anything can happen.
So there we are. A brief summary of where I sort of am. A little bit wobbly but most certainly a whole lot stronger than I was when I had to pick myself up from the gutter and dust myself off after my marriage. I have a lot of people to thank for getting me out of that place – you all know who you are.
Be warned though – having more time = more blog posts about life.
For the next phase I’m going to re-name the blog “No Sex In The City” and take it from there. Yup, maybe it’s a little bit dull, but I feel the need to spend time with my children and concentrate on my job and my interests and that is a total first for me. I may well live to regret the decision, but as I said in my last blog post, it’s my decision and that must count for something.