This is a really difficult post for me to write, and has been deleted, started again, edited, scrapped and reworded more times that I can be bothered to count.
I’ve hit a bump in the road called life. Well less of a bump, more of a spurting angry volcano, spewing its molten guts up all over my existence. Over dramatic? Maybe. Or maybe not. It’s definitely easy to say I am currently going through the worst time of my life.
My marriage has come to a devastating end, I’m homeless and financially screwed. The details are long and tedious but since my husband and I have been together we have moved home seven times. Oh and we’ve been together 6 years by the way. From one rental property to another we’ve had to pack up and restart our lives and our current landlord has decided to put his house up for sale. However on this occasion his timing is catastrophic. My husband and I have not been getting along for well over a year now, and for months and months we have argued, cried, made empty promises, papered over the cracks, tried to start afresh and then argued. Round and round and round.
So now we’ve all had enough. Lately I have noticed my once bubbly, confident, happy four year old boy has become withdrawn, insecure and emotional, testing and pushing boundaries and driving me insane. He’s not stupid. He can see how damaging his parent’s relationship is. He can sense the lost love and its breaking him. And that fact is breaking me. How can I call myself a good mother by remaining in a broken marriage “for the sake of the children”? I can see this is destroying my poor little boy, and yet I’ve carried on dragging this nightmare out for over a year, waiting for things to change.
I have been making the decision each day to surround my son with hatred, resentment, bitterness and I haven’t taken him away from it because I don’t want to hurt him? He’s already hurt.
And so fate has done all the hard work for us. He has made us homeless. He has forced us to leave this house that is brimming with negativity at a time when we have absolutely no money. We have no money to rent and no money to buy and there is no other choice but to move me and the children in with my mum, into her two bed little flat. It means I need to share one room and one bed with the kids, but I will be away from the very thing that is making me desperately unhappy – my marriage. My husband has found himself somewhere to rent on his own.
It’s not ideal. I don’t want to live in one room with my two children.
As a child I dreamt of one day being married to the man of my dreams, my best friend. A supportive, funny, confident man eager to make me happy, to make me a priority, to make me feel special. Someone I could spoil and who would appreciate my gestures, someone I could laugh with. I dreamt of having children, lots of them, and we would all live in a beautiful period cottage with loads of garden for our dogs in a picturesque village. (To be honest, who doesn’t have this same dream?!)
Instead I’m unhappy, moving out of a tiny town centre property that is covered in mould, into one room with my two sad children in tow, leaving behind a disastrous marriage and facing financial ruin.
How has this happened? Why has this happened? I can’t raise my beautiful children to be strong, happy and independent kids when we’re living out of boxes, sharing a bed and our future is one of uncertainty.
I was a police officer for 8 years. In a career. I was confident, happy and excited about life. I had my dreams for a secure happy family, firmly situated in my mind and I was focused on being successful and working my way towards my goals. I’m now working for the NHS, having very recently left the police, taking a £13,000 pay cut, so that I could be more present for my children. A safer job, a more positive environment and the ability to be around for my children which came with the end of working shifts. Money is not important to me. My children are important to me. But now, we have nothing, no home, no money and I’m in a job that is now costing me more to do than I get paid! (Childcare, travel etc etc)
I have left the house we bought our daughter home to when she was first born, the house I lived in and got ready in on my wedding day in order to live in one room, taking up my poor mum’s space
It honestly feels as though things cannot possibly get worse, but lessons have been learnt.
I now understand how hugely important quality time with your partner is, and a quote to sum this up nicely? This…
Work to live, do not live to work.
Work is something we all must do to earn money, but what good is that money if family do not spend time together? It becomes pointless, a huge amount of stress and effort and precious time wasted. My husband works incredibly hard, something I really admire and a quality some people would wish for in their own husbands, but it became a burden as I felt like a single parent and raised our children alone. He will be the first to agree. I myself felt lonely and resentful as I found I never had time to myself, or with my husband. Of course the time with my children is beautiful, but there are times when we all need to have conversations with adults and let off steam.
I suppose that was the second thing that ruined us, the fact the husband had a social life and I didn’t. Always at home, always alone and with very little other support my social life disintegrated into nothing. As I write this I can recall my last night out, my best friend’s hen do in July 2014, over two years ago. And my last evening spent with the hubby, just us two without children, 2013.
I think you’ll agree, it is not possible to sustain a relationship with such little quality time. We are not lucky enough to have baby sitters on tap, ready to jump in at the click of a finger like some couples, and guilt was a large part of our reluctance to ask family to have the children whilst we escape reality, feeling that our choice to have children means we must sacrifice a life.
Others are not so concerned and happily call upon the cavalry to jump to their assistance so they can carry on the life they enjoyed before children. We did not think like this, but maybe we should have. Maybe we wouldn’t be here if we had been given the chance to let our hair down together, or insisted on help without feeling guilt or being made to feel inconvenient.
The love was lost as we parented hard and worked harder and again I resented my husband for his continued social life. And even though he had a social life, he still felt he did not get enough time with his friends. Previous to us meeting he would be out 3 or 4 times a week, and since having children this has reduced dramatically and he was never happy about this. He always wanted that bit more freedom, and felt like a victim when he missed out on anything his friends got up to, all the while completely oblivious to my absent life. Along with this, any time he wasn’t working hard he was with friends, or laid out on the sofa exhausted and the children and I became an annoyance, interfering with his rest periods.
And of course I’m not perfect, I hated the fact he still had friends and a social life where I had lost all the things I had pre children, and each time he went out and had a good time I felt furious. Half the time I didn’t know where he was, he wouldn’t come home from his nights out and when he did he was so hungover that he might as well have not been present; can I be blamed for feeling angry?
I became bitter, jealous, angry, short tempered and made his life hell. I made him feel guilty for working, guilty for being with his friends and guilty for needing rest. He has spent the last year sleeping on the sofa as I bed share with our daughter (which makes breastfeeding so much easier) and I asked him time and time again to come into bed with us but he refused. I began to feel guilty about the way I had chosen to parent our daughter (which was very different from the way we parented our son) and deep down I knew that the husband wasn’t in agreement with my mothering choices.
Some may accept this behavior and others feel ‘it’s just what men are like’, and this is not my opinion. My opinion is that responsibility as a parent is equal, shared and something to be cherished. “Boys will be boys” is a ridiculous concept and should never be used to excuse irresponsible behavior. I am not the sort of person who believes a woman’s place is in the home with the children and never will be. I expect to receive the same respect I offer.
So I felt down, alone and unhappy and began wondering what life would be like with a partner who was happy to stay home whilst I went out, a partner who would offer to drive so I could have a glass of wine, a partner who would go on a night out and remain in control, come home and be of some use the following day. I questioned what life would be like if I didn’t feel angry at my husband’s social life, how it would feel to happily wave my husband out the door and genuinely hope he enjoys himself rather than sit at home stewing over the fact I hadn’t been out in years. I heard of other men who embraced attachment parenting and encouraged it, rather than saying “you’ve changed since we met” whilst rolling his eyes at my eagerness to use cloth nappies.
So enough is enough. Enough anger. Enough resentment. Enough questioning what an alternative life would be like. Enough of the lack of respect. Enough of the arguing and swearing. Enough with the screwed up priorities. Enough with the sadness. Enough with the back stabbing and gossip.
I hope that in separating we can show our children that it is better to make a difficult choice for the benefit of others and themselves, than to remain unhappy through fear of the unknown. I hope my children will see that the choices we made were for their benefit, and in seeing us meet new more compatible people that true happiness can be achieved, and they will know what that looks like so they themselves can make the right choices.
I do not place blame on anyone, and through reading a self-help book know that forgiving and forgetting is healthy and will help the healing process, rather than dwelling on a past that cannot be changed. I no longer need to surround myself with negativity and will live in the present, loving each day with my children and view this new chapter as an adventure. I hope to continue focusing on the future and all the fun it holds, I would certainly like more children one day, I have always wanted 3 or more and that hasn’t changed but I will ensure that I am in a loving healthy, fun and balanced relationship full of positive and happy experiences where neither of us need to question each other’s love. But there is time for this, until then I intend to enjoy every minute with my beautiful babies.
Of course the children will still see their dad, they love him and he loves them and preventing them from sharing their love is damaging. It’s not about me, or him, it’s about them. He is a loving father and I know that from now his time with the children will be quality and full of memories. I love him, I always will, feelings cannot be switched off at the drop of a hat.
And finally, for the first time in 5 years I can get my life back! I can make friends again, let my hair down, let off steam and enjoy life and have much needed me time, something that never happened during our marriage. And I won’t feel guilty because before I had children I was an adult and I still need adult time. Why should mothers feel guilty for wanting time away from the sprogs? I’ll never stop knowing what my responsibilities are and I’ll never switch off from being a parent but maybe some alone time to be me will make me a better mother? Who knows, I’ve never tried it before so let’s see!
On to the next chapter!
I’d love to hear from others who have been through such a difficult time, knowing that this will pass and one day I will again be happy will really help me heal, so please get in touch with your positivity and experiences.
And if you’re experiencing some difficulties and it’s not too late, spend some time with your partner alone. Get some help, ask for baby sitters like everyone else does and don’t feel guilty for it. You owe it to yourselves and your relationship.