Not that I am counting, but it is now four weeks since my marriage ended.
It has not been, and still isn’t, easy.
For one thing, I have been ill for the past two weeks. I have no doubt that this is post-long-half-term illness amplified with a large dose of post-separation stress. I hate being off work – the fact that I took myself to the doctors not once, not twice, but three times in the last two weeks just highlights how unwell I have been.
Being ill has created the first hurdle in my new marital status. What do you do when your ex offers you help but you are determined to prove that you really don’t need him (and that your choice to end the marriage was correct)? Stubbornness won the battle; illness won the war. I did refuse at first. But the way I had to see it in the end, was that they are still his children and so it is only right that he helps out with their care when I am unable to.
Please do not think I am dwelling in self pity here. This last few weeks have given me a glimpse of what a single parent has to face. I consider myself a strong person, but I have no idea how single parents cope with serious illness particularly if their other half is not in the picture at all. I haven’t coped with a virus.
I feel like I am on the edge of a precipice, looking at a wonderful but strange world that I am desperate to discover. But my own fear -and something else – is pulling me back to the familiar place I have come from.
The desire to change my life, to live without the constraints of the unhappy marriage I was in, is strong right now. But where do I start? When do I start?
My children’s happiness and security is the most important thing for me at the moment. And so, I have to check my desire for urgent change. I am trying to keep some sense of normality for them because, being honest, no matter how amicable this split is, they are not coping. My daughter is intermittently emotional and bitter; my eldest son passive aggressive to aggressive. My youngest just regularly asks for his dad. I don’t know which is worse.
And so, the wedding pictures are still in their frames, still on the shelf. I allow myself the private pleasure of mentally rearranging all the furniture in the living space and my bedroom but I won’t be changing anything yet. Is this some weird type of nesting? The strange thing is, my husband had very little input into how the house was decorated/looked although there were some minor things he insisted upon.
The desire to change is even stronger as I am back in work on Monday. I have missed work in many ways – I am a different version of me there. I have also missed the structure and routine of the day. Yet I know that things have to change here too. This time off has made me realise how much I was hiding my unhappiness in my career. I don’t want to hide anymore – I want that coveted work life balance. Well, as much as a teacher can have that, but that is for another post.
So, what can I do? My first priority has been the finances. I believe honesty is best and so I had a frank conversation with my other half. I have truly thought about his circumstances too and have aimed for fairness for the both of us. Not easy, but necessary. I have then spent the weekend on the net and on the phone. By shopping around, I think I have managed to save a significant amount on my monthly outgoings. Whilst I am not going to endorse comparison websites, I do believe that you can get a good deal on a number of household bills by comparing and swapping.
And so it is a start. I am financial independent and secure. This has given me some peace and confidence. Next stage is me. I can’t change how my house looks, but I can certainly change how I look. No more comfort eating. Somehow, bartering a better deal for my mobile phone tariff seems a lot easier.