After Christmas and New Year, we had reached a kind of impasse. On the occasions he was home, E barely spoke to me. I was just unable to say anything at all. I don’t know how (and if we ever work it out, I’m sure the kids would pay good money for the secret), but I was silenced.
Maybe it was because I didn’t want was about to happen. I desperately wanted to keep the life that E and I had worked so hard, for so many years, to build. I wanted to treasure the family life and the family home we’d made. I didn’t want to lose something so utterly precious to me.
Even though I knew that the end of the relationship was now inevitable, I think I was still hoping that E would apologise, that he would try, that he would want, to mend things. Perhaps I hoped that he valued the last 25 years as much as I did. Maybe I wanted an expression of regret from him for what he’d done or just an acknowledgement of how much the last 25 years had meant. I might just have wanted a final expression of love from him. I don’t know. I’m not sure what I wanted.
E continued to come home after midnight every night. He continued to refuse to even mention P, or the affairs, or what he wanted to do. I just felt paralysed.
On our last Sunday together, our last proper day as ‘Us’, we took the kids to visit our new nephew. This was E’s sister and her partner’s son, a beautiful, long awaited, little boy, born just before Christmas. We hadn’t seen them, or E’s parents, since Oldest Daughter’s 18th when E’s sister had been very pregnant and (as this was just four days after I’d opened the laptop) I’d been very drunk. The kids were excited and happy about seeing the baby and E’s family, but at the back of my mind was the fact that this might be the last time I’d ever see four people that had been a part of my life for most of my life and might be the only time I’d ever see the baby.
The journey there was totally silent. I don’t think, in 25 years, that E and I had ever not just chatted easily to each other whilst we were in the car, but he said nothing and I couldn’t say anything either. My head was whirling with ‘what if’s’ and thoughts of where and with whom E had been the night before. I couldn’t speak.
When we were with E’s family I was wondering what they’d all say when they found out we’d split up. I wondered how the kids would feel visiting E’s family without me. I wondered what E’s family would say about me when we split up and how E would explain why and how he’d found someone else. I wondered how I’d compare to P. I made the most of every cuddle with my nephew, all the time wondering if he would really be someone else’s nephew when E and I split up.
When we got home, after another silent journey, E sat staring at his laptop in the dining room, and I sat staring at the TV in the living room. We drank our way through more wine. The silence was suffocating.
On Monday the kids came home from school, full of the usual chat and stories about their days but their words were muffled and unclear to me. I felt like I was standing watching everything from somewhere very high up, like I was waiting to jump from a impossibly high diving board. E went to work on Tuesday without saying a word. My whole world was silence.
Then, later on Tuesday, E texted me. His text was all about another financial crisis. This time it was a pay cut. A big pay cut. Just five weeks ago, I’d have immediately come up with a plan, worked out away that we could weather this next storm together. Over the years we’d had many troubled times financially, but I’d always stuck by E and we’d always managed.
I started to reply with the basics of a plan (we could cut back on various expenses, I could find a local job, if need be we could sell the house, we’d manage), when I realised that I just didn’t have the will, or the ability, to help him anymore. I literally couldn’t do this. He was expecting me to support him through yet another problem, when he was still seeing another woman, when he had no intention of changing anything about how he was living his life.
So I took a deep breath and texted back saying that, yes we could manage and there were lots of things we could do but, given that he was still seeing another woman, maybe now was the time to sell up and go our separate ways.
I know I should have been braver and spoken to him. I know I should at least have ended things face to face, but I just had no words left.
I waited and waited. I felt like the ground had disappeared from under my feet. Every time my phone notified me of a text or an email my stomach plunged. I think maybe I still had one last hope that he would call or ask for us to try and work things out.
He didn’t reply that day. He came home at 3am. He went to work the next day without speaking to me.
He didn’t reply for over 24 hours.
Late Wednesday morning I received his reply. It said: “all things considered, I think that would be best.”