My life didn’t turn out the way I planned.
Life rarely does.
But I didn’t expect it to go quite so pear-shaped as it did two years ago, when my partner walked out on our 23-year relationship.
I was in deep denial about how untenable our marriage had become.
My ex was miserable and tired of papering over the cracks.
I was miserable, but still clutching the wallpaper glue …
I gave up my job – a month before he left – to be a full-time mum and focus on my family.
We’d just inherited a little money. I thought we could take the kids overseas on an extended holiday before the eldest started high school.
I wanted to move back to Newcastle so we could live a more relaxed life, be closer to our families.
Life there would have been so much easier and cheaper. We could have owned our own home, close to beautiful beaches.
But it was too late.
Instead, I became a single mother, stuck in Sydney so the kids could be close to both their parents.
I got a job, sold the family home and moved into a dodgy rental.
I cried for months – in the shower, in bed, on the couch – about the shitty hand life had dealt me.
I spammed my ex with articles I found on Huffington Post Divorce that insisted he’d made a terrible mistake, would rue the day he left me and come crawling back.
He’s living happily ever after with SSF. They’ve bought an apartment together. Later this year she’ll move in with my kids.
Occasionally, the youngest will mention that SSF took her out for cake or she’ll gripe about having to share a bed with her sister on holidays because SSF will be sharing Dad’s bed.
Each time SSF’s name is mentioned it bothers me a little bit less because I’ve moved on a little more.
Do I wish it was anyone but her spending time with my kids? Yes.
Do I wish she wasn’t moving in with my kids? Oh yes!
Do I wish life didn’t feel so unrelentingly hard sometimes? YES!!!
Do I want that old life back? No.
It was broken. It couldn’t be fixed.
I had more money, but less fun.
I’d resigned myself to expecting less and convinced myself I didn’t deserve more.
I was wrong.
I got a job.
I bought a house – it was basic and on a busy road, but it was mine.
I started dating.
I often wonder what my life would be like if I’d chosen to focus on my anger instead.
Life has its challenges – it threw me a couple of curve balls last week that thwacked me in the head – but many rewards.
I have two great kids, a house with a warm vibe, a lovely boyfriend, brilliant friends.
My ex screwed up at being a husband, but he’s a great dad and co-parent.
I like that we can go to school functions together, support the kids and chat amiably. We can even go to dinner together as a family.
The alternative would be a lesser life for me, for him, for the kids.
I could make his life sooooooo difficult and find a thousand ways to justify it.
But why would anyone choose THAT when there’s another way?
Sure, it rankles that my children spend time with his partner, but that’s the reality of life after separation.
Around one in three first marriages end in divorce. ONE in THREE!
It’s a sharp, awful reminder that my situation is far from unique.
I’ve had to suck a few lemons and pretend they’re sweet for the sake of my kids, but it’s been worth it to see them so happy and well adjusted.
And it’s helped me heal.
You can decide “Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone” or believe “It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) sunshiny day.”
I choose the later.
Song of the day: Jimmy Cliff “I can see clearly now”
Great piece. Glad you’re getting your life back on track.
Thank you Ms Mayhem. Yes, it does seem to be forming some semblance of an on-track life. There are a few kinks to iron out but a lot of good stuff.
Having seen my Uncle (who is more like an older brother) go through a horrific divorce where there was fault on both sides but ultimately he was denied the ability to be able to co-parent. He would arrive to get the kids to discover his ex had gone away the night before (or in some case hours before), so that he couldn’t see them, it got harder and harder for him to see my cousins. There was a family fracture and my cousin’s were fed a very warped sense of reality.
My Uncle did move in the dead of night 1000kms away partly because he was so devastated and he had been worn down. No amount of time in court it seemed would enable him to see his kids. More importantly even if he could get forced access nothing could stop the lies they were told.
My Uncle definitely made some terrible choices and made the situation worse at times, but mostly he tried. There was such a warped reality of so much being told to my cousins. It has taken nearly 20yrs but mostly those rifts have been healed and as much as possible they have a relationship he and his wife (of 20yrs married longer to her than the ex!) have a good relationship with their grandchildren something that was once never envisaged as being possible.
But the wounds will never fully heal between him and his kids. They were all terribly hurt by things that were said and in lots of ways we can often still see that control still happening.
I understand that marriages fail and that people are hurt goodness marriage is bloody hard work and most of the time I think giving up is actually way easier than staying married but like you have said there comes a point that no amount of work to hold it together will make it happy for anyone.
I am so glad for you that you and the ex have found a way through the hurt to see that no matter how much it wasn’t working for you. You share two beautiful incredible children together and it needs to be about them.
You really are a great example of how to make it work no matter how hurt you are
I think it’s this overlooked crisis that so many good men are denied proper access to their kids because of embittered ex wives. As you said, faults on both sides, but it really hurts the children. I feel so sorry for your uncle. Awful thing to happen, but I’m glad to hear he has a good relationship with his grandchildren. That’s one of the things that gutted me – I thought my husband and I would get to enjoy our grandchildren together.
You will (and hopefully in a very long time!) just in a different way and because you are setting such a great example now it will be great then too I just know it!
Good on you for choosing to have an amiable divorce – for your sake, and the kids’. I know it’s not easy, have watched a couple of my siblings go through breakups and it is very hard not to let the bitterness rub off on the kids! I wish my mother had done the same …
I have seen far too many people choose the bitter path and their kids are so messed up by it.
Bravo Alana. So worth it. Spoken both as a child (well, teenager) of divorce and fellow “divorcee”! Truly admirable to choose the high road and be wonderful co-parents to your children and embrace the good in life. Hugs to you.xo
Thanks Alex, hope Canberra life is treating you well.