As I’ve said several times, I am hugely lucky to have the most incredible family and friends. I’ve never been so conscious of this as I was in those first few weeks of January 2017.
Whilst everything was happening with E, as they have been for my my entire life, my Mum, Dad and sister were all standing firmly in the background supporting me and giving me the strength to keep going. I honestly don’t know where I would be without their quiet support and their absolute belief in me. Also, as my sister is well known for the fact that as a kid, she’d often take Direct Action if someone upset me (once getting into trouble at school for kicking someone, who’d nicked my tennis ball, in the bum), I guess E should watch his buttocks if he’s ever in the same room as my sister.
A week or so after E left, Mum and Dad came up to see me. We had a lovely lunch, and I mostly kept the tears back – although there was a moment in the (very quiet) restaurant, where I was telling them about Youngest Son’s reaction to his Dad leaving, and I just broke down. It was all Terribly British: Mum patted my hand, the other diners pretended not to notice my sobs and the waiter, who was coming over to see if we were ready to to order, did a sort of bouncy u-turn as he reached our table, clocked what was happening, and tried to pretend he was heading for another table altogether.
We got home in time for the kids to come home from school and I opened another bottle of wine. I can’t remember what I did for the kids’ tea that night, but I suspect it involved a pizza delivery (with this, plus Grandparents visiting, and no nagging re homework, the kids were beginning to think this parents-breaking-up thing was a win-win for them).
Mum and I continued to talk, and, wine-brave, I showed her the Wanker File. This was a (beautifully organised) file of emails, photographs and screenshots detailing E’s various infidelities. I’d put all of this together before Christmas because, whilst I couldn’t face the facts at the time, I knew that one day I’d need to take a cold hard look at what he’d done. I also knew from what had happened after his first affair, that time tends to soften memories. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I knew I needed to keep the image of what he’d done sharp and clear because so much of it was incomprehensible and incompatible with the person I thought I’d known. The sheer scale and volume of his deceptions and the number of years they’d happened over were all too much for me to process, so I’d done what I always do in a crisis – I’d got organised. I’d filed everything – colour coded, obviously. Each woman had her own section in the file, and each section was sorted into emails, photos and ‘other’ (I’m still not sure what to file that pic of E’s *you know what* under). I didn’t make the Wanker File it for anyone else (as my lovely solicitor friend pointed out, if it ever go to court, family courts are all about agreement and reconciliation, so it would not be much use as ‘evidence’ ), I made it for me, so that I could process the information there in my own time and so that, if I ever doubted my decisions, I could use it to confirm I’d been right.
By this stage of the proceedings, Mum and I had worked our way through another bottle of wine. I’d had most of it and was now pleasantly numb and cheery, but, thanks to her cancer medication affecting her alcohol absorbtion, Mum was a teensy bit squiffy. My Mum is even more fabulous on the very rare occasions when she’s tipsy – she’s funny, she’s honest and all her maternal protectiveness comes to the fore. She’s also magnificent when she’s cross.
As she read that file, it was as if all of the outrage that I should have been feeling manifested itself in her. She was was so angry. I can’t remember exactly what she said as she read it, but every sentence she uttered was very sweary and very loud. I’m quite proud of the fact that I’m a pioneer of the artform that is the sweary-sentence, but listening to Mum in action, I could see where I got my talent from.
My Dad (driving home that evening, and so very sober), quietly mentioned that the kids might overhear what Mum was saying. I reassured him that they’d heard far worse from me, but that they probably hadn’t noticed because they were in their rooms and oblivious. But Mum was in full flow and E was in her sights – this was over a year ago, but if I was E I’d still be very nervous re passing my mum in a dark alley.
After they’d left, and I was clearing up, I found the boys in the living room.
Youngest son looked at Oldest Son and I with with a delighted grin: “Did you HEAR what Grandma said about Dad?”.
Youngest son then repeated, verbatim, every word Mum had spoken, complete with emphasis and inflections.
Oldest son paused for thought, grinned, and answered; “Yeah! Grandma’s cool. I don’t blame her. I’d feel the same if it was my daughter.”
Youngest son replied: “True. We definitely learned something new today.”
Oldest son, with note of pride in his voice: “Yeah. Don’t fuck with Grandma!”