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Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

And then, after a really looooooong time....

So, being a single mother for 10 years was tough. It was also one of the most rewarding and satisfying times of my life.
For angels ( who silent notes may be taking) this does not mean I ever want to do it again. I have done it, I survived it, my children survived it and that time is over, thank Heaven.
I was thrown into that particular episode of my life in the most heartless and painful of ways, if there is ever a right time for a man to leave his wife and children, that was most certainly not it.

I thought, when I was married to the first one, that I had the upper hand, that he loved me way more than I loved him. That I married him whilst still so completely in love with the one that got away was true. Most of our married life the first one was compared to the only one. And came out lacking. When I was pregnant with Sophie ( who was conceived immediately after losing a baby who was conceived despite every effort not to conceive, have I lost you yet?) I realised that the one that got away had got away and wasn't coming back ( except he did, sort of, later) and that the first one was here and was very nice to me and our 2 little boys, it would be a good idea to stop hankering after the one that got away and transfer those feelings to the one that was here.
So I did.
Every tiny thing he did that was good, or happy or cute or positive in any way, I pounced on it, I enlarged it, I pondered it and I hugged it. I was out one day and whilst waiting for the first one, looked across the road and saw someone so handsome, so tall and good looking and strong looking my whole being leaped.... I was mesmerized and kept watching this beautiful man, as he got closer I realised, with a jolt that it was my husband, imagine THAT! Wow.
I began to look out of the window when he was due home, I started to take such notice of him when he was home and quite quickly, I was caught, hook, line and sinker. I loved the first one, a whole lot. It felt very, very good.
How extraordinary then that as I feel deeper in love with him, he began to become more distant with me. He stopped pestering me for my attention, he stopped being funny, he stopped being nice, he stopped being anything for a while, then he stopped not being anything and he started being mean. Really mean. He was so disinterested in the pregnancy, totally bored with me and everything about me. He sneered when he looked at me, he made snide remarks, he turned his back on me and he said the most cruel and soul destroying things.
For 3 days before Sophie was born he ignored me, he and his mother, they turned their backs on me if I walked into a room, they ate without me, they went out without me and they didn't say a word to me, for 3 whole days. When she was born he came to visit twice, bringing neighbours and friends ( of his) with him and then left after 15 minutes.
When I came home with her he dropped me off and then he left, he didn't really come back after that. When she was 10 weeks old me left for good, leaving me with 3 tiny children and not an ounce of self esteem.
The months following his departure were the loneliest and the most frightening times of my life. Those months were filled with such sorrow and misery that I am amazed that I survived, emotionally I don't think I did, I was so changed by the events of that time that I am now unrecognisable to myself. I used to be so strong, feisty, self assured. I was unafraid of anything right up until that time.
The first one changed too and I have never seen that man I was married to again.
I can remember exactly how I felt at that time, though I fought so hard to rid myself of those feelings. When I cried as he left it was an almost animal cry, a howling from so deep inside me that I am sure it scarred as it ripped it's way out. At the same time as feeling that emptiness and abandonment, as I was trying to work out how I was going to carry on without him, I was physically ill, having had major surgery, complications that meant I had a huge, gaping wound right across my stomach, I had to give Sophie to my mum, it was 4 months before she came home.
As I struggled to look after 2 little boys, who missed their daddy, as I tried not to think about everything I was missing with my new baby, as I was being convinced that I was ugly, useless, vile, stupid, as I went back and forth to hospitals and doctors and having the wound re-opened ( 4 times) while I was at one of these appointments my sons were snatched and abused. Pile on that agony some more.
The first one showed his true colours then, his stupidity and his selfishness and his total lack of understanding and compassion came forth so blatantly that it became easier to stop loving him. What he was doing was less important, what he needed was insignificant, where he was was very far down my list of things that mattered.
I moved with the boys back down to Plymouth where my family was. I had a home that I made beautiful for my children and me and soon afterward Sophie came home and my wound healed. I got stronger and I became happier.
Then came the time that is much akin to any woman who has been dumped by a man who has no clue. Those years of wondering what the hell had been going on in my head that had made me give this man the time of day, never mind my heart and three children. Those years of watching him let down his children, of broken promises, forgotten birthdays, little faces waiting for a daddy who called to late to say that he couldn't make it. Little boys asking how come their daddy didn't live here anymore. Christmases with fake smiles trying to hide that feeling of such loneliness as year after year I had to be Santa and provider and entertainer to all, years of scraping together every spare penny to buy dreams and memories and then watching him arrive with expensive toys and taking them away for days out to places I would never be able to afford. Watching him arrive in his new car, with his latest girlfriend and waiting for them to play happy families with MY children.
For him it was big houses and new cars and foreign holidays, flashy clothes and broad grins, while for me it was hand outs and second hand, picnics by the river, appointments with doctors and child psychologists, teachers and more doctors, night terrors, eplilepsy, parent teacher conferences, more doctors, criminal injury tribunals, worry and more worry and yet more worry.
I hated the first one for longer than I had loved him, such resentment and fury I felt for him. Through all those miserable feelings, I had such splendid years with those children. I will always remember those years where they were mine. Just mine and we fought the demons and the world and we won.
When I met H, the loneliness was gone. Worry stayed because we had a whole new set of worries but I have never been lonely again. The first one was a little put out by my finding a new man. He was surprised because for years he had been sure to tell me that he'd had to leave, so many reasons why he could never stay and let's face it, if HE couldn't stand to stick with me, no-one else ever would. I was ruined, inside and out and the damage was irreparable, maybe I would meet another man but, sorry to have to tell me as he was, he had to tell me that once any man got to know me the way HE did, he would leave, it's just the way it is.
All the years that I looked after my children, bought them shoes and clothes and fed the, while I worried about keeping the electricity switched on and fixing washing machines, while he had his foreign holidays and flash cars, I knew that I had the real treasure, I knew that I wouldn't, for even a second trade places with him but dear Lord how it hurt. How awful it was to be in that position, I truly hated every time he would show up with another new car, every time the boys would come back and tell me about daddy's new house and cool stuff.
I forget when it all got better. I know it was way before I met H, I don't remember the day when he turned up and I felt nothing, not rage, or sadness, not longing or bitterness. Nothing. I don't remember when it happened by it was so good.
I haven't had much to do with the first one for a long time. Every now and then he calls and says how great it is that we are such good friends, sometimes he calls just to chat although I think he knows now that I am merely polite.
I haven't had to see him since we came back to England because the kids are old enough to arrange for themselves whether they see him or not.
I have seen him briefly once or twice and it was fine, no big deal, he would come to the door to pick up one or the other child and I would say hello and that was that.
He has had another marriage, another child, another divorce. He has had homes and more girlfriends, more holidays, more cars. He has also lost everything. He now lives in a rented 2 bed house somewhere not near here but I don't really know where.
He hasn't seen the kids much, I think he sees Dan because Dan lives near where the first one collects his youngest child for visits once a month ( same story, different lives) HE saw Jordan and Sophie I think 2 years ago.
Jordan has been talking to his dad more because he is about to be a dad and today, the first one called. He was at Jordan's house and did I want to go and pick him up and have coffee somewhere ( even though he was married to me and knows that I have never had a cup of coffee in my life!)
I felt what? I don't know what I felt but I thought it might be a good idea and certainly couldn't hurt.
I woke Sophie ( who turned up here at 7am to cook everyone bacon and egg, bless her heart.....not that she had been out all night and was starving or anything) she was happy enough walking to Jordan's house and when we got there, angry Sophie came back, swearing, dark Sophie who doesn't give a f*** about anyone and shut your f****** mouth, you woke me up arsehole. She didn't look at her dad, didn't say hello, didn't do anything but glare and then do this

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Sad little girl who really just wanted her dad to love her, be happy to see her and who knows what else but the way she behaved ( as usual) made sure that she didn't get what she wanted.

While we were at Jordan's house, my time came.
All those years when I did the crappy stuff, while I fought for those children and I got the shitty end of the stick, I saw the reason I did it today.
I saw this man who seemed to have it all, way back when, realise exactly what he has.
He was like a fish out of water, not a trace of that Jack the Lad, just a man who didn't know where he belonged. I didn't feel any triumph because there are no winners in a story like this. I felt sad for him because all those years ago he left to find treasure, 18 years later he is still looking for it and all the time it was right in front of his face. All along the most precious of prizes was right where he was.

He is still a handsome man,
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Still tall and sturdy
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But he isn't happy and I wonder how he felt today while I laughed with my children and they laughed back with me, while he stood on the outside and looked in, he had his hands in his pockets and he was nervous. Can you imagine being nervous around your own children? He was shy and wanted me there to make him feel better. So I left. I told them to have a good time and I left to go to my friends house for lunch. I took with me a bottle of delicious sparkling non alcoholic spritzer that the lovely H had bought and put on the driver's seat of the car as a treat to enjoy at lunch.
I had a lovely time with Jane, Julie and Debs

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When I came home I looked at H who has never been anything like the first one, not the center of attention, not a striking figure with the most up to date fashion sense, never a jack the lad. I saw him sitting here with Seth and I knew again that I have the greatest treasure, my prize is right here in front of me.
It took a really, really long time but I see the rewards of sticking with it, of not rushing about trying to find what I already have. I saw the beauty of simplicity.
I have everything I need right here. I never did feel I would trade what I have for any material possession, today I saw that I was right all along. I am surrounded by priceless treasures.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know that I have been reading your blog daily but I have never left you a comment!

Well, my dear Helen, after reading this one with tears streaming down my face I had to tell you that if I can be half the mother you are to your children I will be grateful!

Off to explain to Brian why I'm crying at a computer screen.

Hugs.....
Cathy(BZ)

3:44 am  
Blogger LosingSanity said...

Very beautiful post. It is sad that he missed out on so much and was too blind to see the prize was his...but he let it go. True, there are no winners, but in the end, you surely got the better end of the stick!

3:44 am  
Blogger justLacey said...

I love your stories! Funny how things are sort of parallel with our lives, but my daughter turned to the man who didn't want to be bothered for all those years and away from me. Seems like such a waste of time now, all that sacrifice and having to force him to see her turned against me. I wish Sophie could find some way to get what she wants from him, perhaps this is the time he is ready to give it. It would be a hard road though.

10:45 am  
Anonymous pennyjar said...

Helen. Goodness. Your fantastic writing takes me right back through my own story, my own feelings about my first marriage... I wasn't left, I was the leaver, but it was no less painful. And the divorce was ugly, soul-sucking, and debilitating. My children were damaged. And then they were damaged more by the subsequent and gradual disinterest of their biological father. I pray for your lost little girl, and for the lost little girl inside you and me and so many others...

3:52 pm  
Blogger Clara....in TN said...

Helen, your post certainly moved me today. The first one is the loser, I know that for a fact. You have had so many heartaches in you life....my HEART goes out to you. I think you are a wonderful person, a fantastic MOTHER and wife. I have learned a lot from you! Thanks.

4:14 pm  
Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

you are infinitely wise my friend.

8:42 pm  

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