Postponing the inevitable

My brain has been whirring today, churning through my feelings and thoughts.

I let myself be upset for a while over the whole boyfriend thing. I think I’ve probably been a little harsh there. Or maybe not, I don’t know, but the boyfriend issue isn’t even really the issue.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been on the edge of tears almost constantly. It hasn’t taken much to push me over the edge, but still, I haven’t let myself have a really big cry. I’ve been telling myself I wanted to, but it just hasn’t happened.

I think I’ve needed the boyfriend issue as a catalyst. Admittedly, there are aspects of that situation that have got me down too, but I’ve kind of used that as an excuse instead of dealing with the actual issues. 

That is to say, my grief over the dissolution of my relationship. 20 years. Gone.

I’ve spent most of today crying. Earlier it was brokenhearted weeping, but now it is more resigned sadness. And I’ve needed to do this; it’s a step of the grief process I haven’t permitted myself to take so far and it’s been cathartic and oddly productive. Because I feel like I’m getting somewhere and because today I’ve managed to achieve a few things, in between bouts of crying.

I realised today I’ve been putting off this step of the grief process for a while. Looking back at some of my earlier posts, I was clearly quite distraught. But instead of letting myself feel that way, I decided I needed to start dating. To distract myself from my feelings of sadness. Because if some guy thought I was pretty, I’d feel better, right?? And then the boyfriend came along and I got caught up in the fantasy of our infatuation with one another. But, as I said, reality caught up with us, and it came to a crashing halt. And my postponed grief has come bubbling to the surface, and I’ve overreacted to things which are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

So, today I’ve finally acknowledged my grief, and more importantly,  allowed myself to experience it for what it is. 

Today I also lugged a big heavy hall table that I bought for $15 on Gumtree up the stairs to my flat all by myself. I rearranged the bedroom I share with my daughter. I put up a few more pictures around the flat and decided that my new ‘thing’ is to buy quirky pictures from op shops. I spent some time on Meetup, joined a few groups and committed to a couple of upcoming events, because I seriously, desperately need to get out more, especially on the weeks that the kids aren’t here. 

So, like I said, oddly productive day.

And now I miss my boyfriend.  

Naive. Or, why I’m no good at relationships.

So, in my last post I alluded to a boyfriend. I think we just broke up. But I’m not really sure. And I’m also not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

So, we met (as everyone does these days) online. Dating site. He sent me a ‘like’ or whatever it is. I checked him out, he seemed okay, I gave him the go-ahead. He was a little older than me – 53 to my 45 – but I reasoned that he was within my specified age range (I think I had 42 – 55 or something), sonit was okay.

So we chatted back and forth. And it was good. He was charming, made me laugh, we had a lot in common. We exchanged phone numbers, sent loads and loads of texts to one another. Pretty much in love before we even met (this is where the ‘naive’ bit comes in).

On our first date, he had a confession to make. He wasn’t 53. He was 58. He had put his age down because … I don’t really understand why. He asked me to forgive him, and I did. I figured he was still the same person after all, and age is just a number, right?

So, we had a few dates. We had sex. And it was still good. We were infatuated, madly, passionately in love. We couldn’t believe we had found one another. And yes, we said we loved each other. Repeatedly, in person and by text. We wanted to be with each other. We even talked about the possibility of relocating (at least, me relocating) so we could be together. He talked about a wedding. He asked me what stone I would want in a ring. He sent me pictures of wedding dresses.

We met each other’s kids. He wanted to go public. Wanted me to tell my family. This was tough for me; my natural instinct was to just keep it quiet – I had only been separated a couple of months,  after all. But I did. This looked like it was going to be a Big Thing, so why not? I told my sisters. I told my mother. I changed my Facebook status from ‘single’. This was actually agonisingly hard for me, because I am almost pathologically private.

And then reality happened.

First, he got sick. Really quite sick through no fault of his own, and we didn’t see so much of each other. And school went back and we were busy being parents. 

I noticed we weren’t sending many cute texts to each other. There was no mention of love any more, not from him, anyway. I would still send a ‘Love you’ text, but he didn’t respond in kind.

I started thinking about it, and it struck me that those early days were not real. Maybe there was no love. Maybe it was all just talk. But I couldnt understand how it could not be true. I was being genuine, after all. 

I started to feel empty and alone. How could I feel this way, when I had a boyfriend who loves me? I talked to him about it. He reasoned it away, saying it’s just the busy-ness of our lives, and the illness. We just needed to make time for one another again. And I agreed.

But then I started thinking that part of the aloneness is because of the about turn.  That we had gone from having everything, being wildly in love, to having nothing. So I sent him an email, trying to explain that. Saying that if he has decided, somewhere along the line, that I’m not in his future, that I needed to know.  Because my ultimate goal is to settle down with someone. If he could see there was no future for us,  I wanted to know.

He responded with

“We’ve been a couple for 2.5 months so it’s too early to be certain about things. If you want me to commit to marriage right now, it’s a bit much don’t you think? You’d be crazy to say yes at this early stage anyway.”

And you know, in principle, I agree with him. It is a bit much.

But I wasn’t asking for a commitment. I just wanted to understand the about-face. Why had he talked love, marriage, commitment before?  I really just don’t get it. I feel like an absolute fucking idiot.

Anyway. The outcome now is that I have told him we should take a break from each other this weekend. He agreed, and said to contact him when I’m in a better place. 

So. I’m not really sure if that means we are broken up or not. Perhaps? And I’m not sure how I feel about it. Am I sad or relieved? Do I need to update my Facebook status again? Have I been played? Have I overreacted to what is pretty normal guy behaviour?

One thing is for sure,  I suck at this relationship bullshit. I feel like such an idiot. 

Progress/Update/News

Given that my most recent post dates back to November, obviously a lot has happened since then.

I’m still divorced/separated. The legal process has progressed a fair bit, to the point that we are now undergoing the formal valuation of the house for the purposes of settlement. We are splitting 50/50, even though my solicitor has advised I could go for more if I chose, due to having been the stay at home parent for several years, reduced earning capacity and whatnot.

The kids still do 50/50 with us.  As of last year, the boys were doing a week about, while my daughter was splitting her weeks. I’ve now got them all on week about so they are all together. Last night was the swap over, when their father came to pick them up for the week. My heart breaks every time. I think theirs might too, because even my boys, who are now 17 and almost 14, come and give me a lengthy hug, and they are not very hug-gy children. I miss them so much when they are not around.

But I’m sitting on tenterhooks this week, wondering what the valuation will bring. I had the house valued by estate agents last week, but those, I realise, are very optimistic appraisals. I expect a significantly lower amount from the formal valuation, and it’s kind of depressing that 20 years in a relationship can mean so little, when you have to bring it down to the purely mercenary aspects.  

And now my ex is just full of resentment for me, because I am trying to take *his* money. Never mind that I have left behind the life I have been living for the past 20 years. My stuff. The nick nacks that mean nothing to anyone but me but that I’ve chosen to leave behind because they form part of the fabric of my kids’ lives; it’s all part of their home. At this point all I want is a fair sum, and he is trying to make sure I get as little as possible. He can’t even see that I already have as little as possible.

Anyway.

In other news, I have a boyfriend. I met him online. I can hardly believe it looking back now on some of the posts I had written here, but towards mid-November I became extremely .. shall we say, amorous?? I thought I’d join an online dating site and find a bloke or two to date and perhaps have sex with. And then I met this guy and we’ve been dating since early December. 

And at first it was really good. I think we were both delighted to meet someone who liked us and seemed to want to spend time with us (as opposed to our respective most recent relationships) and infatuation hit us both pretty hot and heavy. 

But of course reality sets in. We both have kids. We live a fair way away from each other. He’s told me he has no intentions of moving near me because of his kids and I’m not sure I am prepared to uproot my kids to move near him, although for a while, in that first flush of infatuation, I contemplated it as a possibility. So I can’t see that there is a future in it. 

He’s also been quite sick recently, and I’m trying, I’m really trying, to be the supportive girlfriend. But we only see each other once a week, max. So I’m dealing with this kind of futureless relationship with a guy who is always sick and therefore necessarily self-focused, and when he’s not focused on his health is focused on his kids and there’s not really room for me. I just don’t have the reserves at the moment. I’m not sure I’m ready for this kind of stuff, and I’m not sure our relationship is ready for it. And what I need in a boyfriend is someone who is there to put his arms around me at the times my heart hurts, like Sunday nights when my kids have left, not to heal the hurt, but to help me through it. And I’m just not getting that. I have this boyfriend, but I hardly see him and I’m still lonely. 

In more positive news, my little house is almost set up. We have pretty much everything we need, thanks to some careful shopping and freecycling. I had eBayed a bunch of stuff last year so I had a little spare cash, but have now chewed my way through that, so I’m struggling to make ends meet some weeks, but we get by. I have some more stuff to sell and this week while the kids are away my focus will be on getting it all listed and generating some more spare cash. It’s my middle son’s birthday coming up and I need to be able to buy him something decent.

I got a promotion at work and in the next couple of weeks will commence a postgrad course that will assist with that.

So life is busy and, overall, good. 

I have more to say but let’s leave it that for now. There are things I wish I’d done differently over the past few months, lessons I’ve learned, things I should share in case they help someone who’s in the position I was a few months ago.

Till next time.

This sucks

As I mentioned in my last post, this week we started our coparenting arrangement. The boys decided to stay with their dad for the week, and are meant to be coming with me next week. My daughter decided she wanted split weeks, so on Sunday night she came over, and slept last night as well.

I picked her up from school today and we came straight back here, rather than going back to the family home and collecting some more of my stuff (which feels like it is taking forever).  She had some afternoon tea and computer time and did some clarinet practice, and then she came to me to tell me she wanted to go back home. I asked her why and she said she just did.

This is devastating to me. I’ve already been feeling as though the boys are avoiding coming here, and now my daughter doesn’t want to be here either.

So we packed up her things and took her home to her father’s.

And I get it. I get that it’s still all new and unfamiliar here. I get that her brothers and her toys and her pets and her stuff and everything that is familiar is not here.

But I’m still incredibly hurt because I have always been the one the kids come to, the one who did stuff for them, the loving, caring one, the nurturing one, the chauffeur, the cook, the cleaner, the planner, the buyer of gifts and surprises, the one they come to when they’re scared or sad or have done something great or something bad or just need a hug or comfort.

And yet they’re preferring their dad. Who yells, and has no patience or time for them and won’t pick them up from their activities if it takes him out of his way.

I thought I was the heart and soul of this family, but perhaps my kids are too much like their father and see me as merely a commodity. One they can do without.

And I know that this, too, shall pass, but still. I feel like such a failure.

Broken family

Yesterday the kids and I sat down with my ex-partner to discuss the way ahead. Who was going to be staying where, and when.

My older son (who is nearly 17 and will be studying for his HSC next year) had said to me in conversation on Saturday that he thought a week with each parent would work better for him. I discussed it with the other two and then my second son agreed that he would do the same thing. My daughter wants to do half a week with each.

I didn’t really want this because it seems to me that the kids would be better all being together, even if it means not seeing the kids for a week at a time. But my daughter and ex were insistent that this was what they wanted.

So last night it was my daughter and me alone in the house. I feel utterly devastated that I don’t have the boys and everyone is off at school this morning and I can’t stop crying.My ex is back in angry mode again and yesterday we all met up for my eldest’s band performance at a local community event and he was snapping at all of the kids too, not just me. This continued through to the family conversation yesterday evening. I had asked if I could take the kids with me for the afternoon as I hadn’t seen them all for any length of time for a few days. I told him we’d be back at his place at 5 for the talk.

I was running a bit late as I was attempting to put together the bed that I had bought of eBay for my daughter. It is an Ikea bed but it turns out that the people who sold it to me didn’t supply any of the bolts to hold the thing together. So I was a little stressed trying to figure out what to do and lost track of time. We got there at 10 past 5 and my ex was doing stuff in the kitchen and basically just pretending as though I didn’t exist, meanwhile I am just loitering in the front room waiting for permission to come in. In the end I went and sat out on the front steps for 10 minutes in the rain.

So we had the conversation with m ex rolling his eyes and generally being contemptuous of me the whole time. The hatred is palpable, and fair enough I guess. I just would prefer he didn’t do it in front of the kids. I stupidly mentioned in front of the children that I would prefer if my daughter didn’t go sailing on the weekends she is meant to be with me as it takes a whole day out of my time with her. He is a mad keen sailor and has insisted that each of the kids try sailing. The boys both hated it but my daughter tolerates it and has been going along with him for the past year or so. His response was that he can’t believe I would be so selfish as to insist that she give up an activity she enjoys for my own reasons.

As I sat there bearing the brunt of his contempt, it occurred to me that it wasn’t so long ago that he was like that all the time. He was so cruel and mean to the kids and me for a long time there. That time I had told him he had to stop or get the fuck out of the house. It took a while but he stopped eventually. But it occurred to me that I haven’t been able to forgive him for that in all this time.

I guess it bothers me that contempt is all that’s left on his part now that he’s dropped the civility.

I had told the boys earlier in the day that I needed one of them to come and help me with a cabinet that I was picking up for my house. After the conversation with my ex was over, I asked which of them were helping and sat there listening to them both bickering over who it was going to be.

And I realised, I am really, truly all alone now. And I guess that emotionally speaking,  I have been for a while but at least while I was still with my ex I had someone to help me move the fucking furniture.

I am full of doubts in my own abilities this morning.

Nutshell

All the guilt, all the doubt, all the questioning of my feelings and beliefs about my relationship with my ex have always been due to my own self doubt. I have always had  difficulty trusting my own feelings.

I trust them jow, of course. The moments when I waver are passing, and usually come when I speak to someone (like my mum) who says ‘But he’s a nice guy!’, leading me to question that voice inside that has been screaming at me for years.

And he is nice. He’s perfectly adequate, as a partner/husband. I would read articles and blog posts and books, desperate for any piece of advice that would validate the voice inside and give me permission to go. I refused to trust myself enough to grant that permission. 

Yesterday I had a conversation with my ex that got on my nerves. I asked if he had spoken to a lawyer or the bank yet about getting advice on jow he shiuld proceed, because at the moment we are relying on goodwill and my own lawyer’s advice. No. He’s been too busy at work.

And that pissed me off a little, for no real reason than that it just did.

This morning when I woke up though, I realised why. Because even at the end of it, to protect his own interests, my ex is not prioritising the relationship. He never, ever has. Not that I want him to prioritise me at this point, but I would have thought he would prioritise his personal matters over work. Or over sailing. Or over cycling. Or over sitting on his arse in front of the tv.

And he hasn’t,  not even at this point. But I can’t even summon the slightest feeling of surprise because if he never prioritised us when we were together, why would he do it when we’re not? 

Strangely, this has crystallised things for me. Being repeatedly shown how unimportant I (and the kids) am to this man has worn me down over the years. And now, when I can see that the separation is not even important enough to make him stop and take action, I feel at peace saying ‘I’m not a priority. I never was.’

And it makes sense. I’ve been a little confused over his acceptance of the whole situation. As I’ve said before, he was angry at first when I said I wanted a separation, but soon came around. There has been no real anger since and we have been getting along quite civilly. And that’s because he’s not actually losing anything. I’m not a priority. I never was. Not exactly superfluous, but not a necessary part if his life either.

I’m not a priority. I never was. That’s it in a nutshell.

Learning to be single

In a twist or irony, this morning Facebook, always so keen to remind me if what I was doing on this day X years ago, informed me that on exactly this date 7 years ago my ex and I settled on our house. So it seems strangely apt that today I am officially starting to move out of it and into my new place. Seven being an auspicious number and all.

I am currently sitting at the train station waiting for a train to take me to the place I’ve hired a Ute from (for non Australians, a Ute is like a flat bed truck). Then I’ll come back and pick up one of my sons and we’ll go to a place where I can check out a range of secondhand washing machines and fridges (they deliver and install – phew!) Then we’ll go to pick up the bed I’ve bought for my daughter on eBay and take it back to my new place. Then to Ikea for mattresses. Then back to my old house to pack boxes of stuff to go.

There’s a sofa I’m thinking of making an offer on through eBay that I might pick up in the morning if I’m lucky.

My ex has offered to help, but I told him thanks, I really need to learn to do this on my own. I may end up needing his assistance with the sofa though – not sure if  the boys and I can handle it on our own.

Previously, all these logistical decisions would be my ex’s domain. I would tell him when and where, and expect him to arrange. Normally I would have packed and organised everything and the moving was his contribution. Now it’s all up to me.

I left my car at my new place and walked to the station. For all that it is in a noisier location, there’s a feeling of serenity at my new flat. Perhaps because it’s all mine. So with a  sense of peace, I left for the train station. 

As I walked along, I let myself feel single. Unattached. And it’s a feeling that gives me a sense of calm. I’m finally me. Just me.

And I know I have a lot to learn, and it won’t always be peace and harmony, but I’m still looking forward to getting to know myself again.