Monday, October 17, 2005

D.I.V.O.R.C.E (part the first)

I met the Ex for the second time in 1996. I was twenty-three and had spent the two years since my twenty-first birthday in a beer-soaked, drug-addled haze. I had had a pretty traumatic relationship with someone who had consistently played on my insecurities, exploited my advantages and subsequently dumped me and I was in a fairly raw emotional state. I first met the Ex on a bike rally in 1994 but he was with his then-long-term girlfriend and we had done nothing more than flirt. When my friend subsequently brought him down to visit one weekend two years later, the beer and pot combined to make both he and I feel as if we had found our destiny, and Small Person's future fate was sealed. In the beginning it was all as you'd expect. He was attentive, courteous and funny. I was damaged, needy and vulnerable and the rest is, sadly, history. Within two months we had moved in together, sharing a room in a friend's flat. It soon became apparent, due to my debt and lack of regular work and his ongoing relationship with a girl he knew before he met me that things were not sustainable and, shortly after buying a house together, I found myself summarily dismissed. It was a desparate, awful time and during it I convinced myself that he was the love of my life and that I simply couldn't live without him. I eventually began to recover and it was around the time that I embarked on a new relationship (which can only be comfortably described in the company of a log fire and a scotch or three due to its just-plain-weirdness) that he, somewhat predictably, became "I've Made a Terrible Mistake" man and I agreed to give things another go. In retrospect I knew at the time that I was making a mistake. Within six weeks we were engaged and within three months we had variously moved in to "our" house, arranged a wedding and weathered the storm of a nervous breakdown (his). If we were both brutally honest we would have agreed to cut our respective losses and make a clean break. The spectre of his past infidelity hung over us - I knew he had cheated but to disclose the evidence (a cinema ticket found in his wallet, among other things) would have led to accusations of snooping and potential all-out war and by this stage all I wanted was to settle down to a "normal" life. We married and began to adjust. I was never really happy - prone to bouts of depression that manifested themselves in weeping fits and irrational anger - but the one thing I was determined to prove was that I was capable of a normal, happy relationship. Eventually we were financially sound enough to consider starting a family and six months later I was expecting Small Person. I was horribly ill during my pregnancy and the labour (all sixty hours of it) was hard work. But the end result was more than worth it and I tried very hard over the ensuing weeks, months and years to convince myself that everything in the garden was rosy. All this time I was fighting depression and our relationship was deteriorating. I have vivid recollections of being late for work in Small Person's first year (I returned doing thirty hours a week when she was five months old) as the Ex would come home from his shift and an almighty row would invariably kick off. The feeling of suffocation was permanent and my only small peace came some time later when I made a deliberate decision to put my fears and unresolved desires aside and simply knuckle down to the day-to-day business of sustaining a marriage. I figured that I was no worse off than a lot of people and to this day I wonder how many out there are telling themselves the same thing.

In October of 2002 I started work at my present company. Within two weeks I found myself in Southampton on an overnight trip, which was part of my working responsibilities. A few of us from the office were there and I spent the evening in the company of various relative strangers, one of whom I felt an immediate connection with. Over the following weeks and months I was in the grip of what I can only liken to a schoolgirl crush. As is the way of these things I got control of it - we were both married and it was unlikely that things would ever progress. I continued to make a superficial go of my marriage but found myself concocting ever-more exotic imaginary downfalls for the Ex that would free me to live life as I wanted to. At that point my dreams amounted to nothing more than a small home of my own and some peace, as things were becoming increasingly fraught. And then in August of last year I was on a work trip. We have these every year where I work - a chance for us to experience the product first-hand, and for me in particular a chance to escape day-to-day life and live a little. Occasionally other staff members are travelling as well and this particular trip found myself and the colleague I had previously been attracted to thrown together. On the second night, rather too many cocktails lent me the courage I perhaps needed and I (apparently - never trust a Filipino waiter with a cocktail recipe book and and endless supply of Woo-Woo's) laid my cards on the table. I left the trip three days later with a whole new perspective on life. On arriving home my worst fears were realised and I knew that I simply couldn't go on with my marriage. At this stage there was nothing concrete to link my decision to what had happened on my trip - all that my colleague had done was to, in some small way, show me that there was more to life than I was currently enduring. So I found the courage somehow, said what I'd waited years to say and three days later the Ex and I separated for good.

I feel at this point that I've rambled on a bit too long and I'm not even nearly done. If anyone is interested in what happened next (and there's subterfuge, trauma and a near-death experience still to come) I'll continue tomorrow.

Carry on.


Blogger Whinger chimed in with...

Continue, please.

What a horrible existence for you, but I'm glad you have Small Person out of the awfulness as she sounds dear.

It is indeed fascinating what we can convince ourselves of.

17 October, 2005 20:41  
Blogger S.I.D. chimed in with...

Captivated...continue please

Brought to you by nlovp

17 October, 2005 21:18  
Blogger spindleshanks chimed in with...

yes me too. small people manage to spring from strange and unhappy unions - which makes me cross when people get high-horsed and moral about marriage and commitment and single mothers. what's best for you is invariably best for them. who wants to bring up a kid in misery?

17 October, 2005 21:25  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

the weirdest thing of all is how perfectly fabulous small person is. she knows me and her dad are miles apart but somehow in her five-year-old mind it's all assimilated. she is way more well-adjusted than me and that is comforting in a scary way....

17 October, 2005 21:35  
Blogger LC chimed in with...

Not having kids of my own, and therefore speaking from an entirely uninformed perspective, I'd say the most important thing is just to make sure children have a happy, supportive environment, regardless of which parents may or may not be around.

That, and a few years of compulsory military service once they turn 13, obviously...

(This comment bought to you courtest of 'husrp' - the noise people make when they are suddenly woken from an afternoon nap on the sofa by the phone ringing.)

17 October, 2005 21:53  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

no, YOU please carry on

i want to know more...

17 October, 2005 22:05  
Blogger elvira black chimed in with...

You tale of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation is riveting! Please, miss, may we have some more?

18 October, 2005 03:33  
Blogger MinCat chimed in with...

see, now i know better and i'll never do that. so please do continue.

18 October, 2005 06:14  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

This all sounds very much like my marriage so please do continue. It's clear your part 2 is going to turn out to have a much happier ending than mine has so far although one continues to hope.

18 October, 2005 10:06  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

I'm kinda intrigued to find out how it all ends too !!!

18 October, 2005 10:17  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

Having once been one of her best friends (i.e. the buyer of My Little Ponies) I can assure you that Small Person is very dear and immensely talented - at the age of five and a half she can paint in the style of Turner and has mastered the art of withering sarcasm. A prodigy.

18 October, 2005 13:07  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

Please do carry on sg.
Having survived my own miserable first marriage and all the traumas it entails, I have a great deal of empathy for you and the mental anguish you suffered.
I am riveted and waiting to hear more when you're ready.


18 October, 2005 15:17  

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