“He’s moved in with P.”
I had already learned to dread Saturdays. All four kids would be over-emotional and highly strung before E arrived and after the boys had gone the house felt resentfully quiet. Then, when they got home, not only would Youngest Son be unsettled and prone to tears but the inevitable comments about E would create tiny little pin-pricks of fresh pain for me. From what the boys said, on their Saturdays, E acted like nothing had happened. Until today he hadn’t even mentioned P to them at all. He had never said anything to them about what had happened. It seemed that, in exactly the same way he had imposed silence upon me, he had rendered the boys unable to say anything either.
Oldest Son was clearly really embarrassed that he had to tell me and very concerned about how I’d react. I tried to keep my face straight, but the shock must have shown and he kept asking if I was ok. He was also clearly in shock himself – it was huge news to him and he was trying to process it as well as dealing with the responsibility of telling me and his sisters.
I tried to be as reassuring as I could, but, even as I was speaking, all I could think was that it had been less than six months since he’d left. That just seven months ago, he was telling me he wanted to be with me (albeit half-heartedly). That he would probably still be here if I hadn’t asked him to leave. That I was still getting my head around a major life change and felt emotionally paralysed whilst he was marching on, forging ahead, changing everything without a thought for the people he’d left behind. I knew we’d split up. I knew it was his life. I knew he owned me no explanations (other than from a basic sense of decency, which it increasingly seemed he lacked). But still, the shock I felt was almost as intense as when I found out about the affairs.
I explained to the kids that whilst I would rather they met P and knew they were comfortable with her before they stayed at her flat, I was ok with them going there if they wanted. All four immediately shook their heads. Youngest Son solomnly explained that he didn’t want to go, but that his Dad had told him they had a flat in Canary Wharf with two bedrooms and a view of the river. I asked him how he’d feel about staying there with E and P sharing a bedroom – he looked horrified, then grinned, and said ‘I don’t think they share a bedroom Mum!’.
This latest news added another layer to my fears about money. Whilst, to his credit, since leaving, E had always paid what I’d asked him to pay (eventually – I almost always have to ask for the money at the beginning of every month), I knew how much debt he had and was I worried about how long he’d be able to continue to pay for his old life and his new one. Now he’d moved in with P he have rent to pay and a whole new world of financial commitments. I was guessing that I, and promises made to me, wouldn’t come anywhere near the top of his priority list.
In addition, the kids were still very much still in shock about him leaving in the first place. Oldest Daughter had managed to get through her A levels, despite her her back problems and the emotional worry and stress that her father leaving had created at home, but she was also worrying over me. Obviously, I told her again and again that she shouldn’t, but she still felt that she had to make sure I was ok. Youngest Daughter was increasingly withdrawing from everyone and struggling with friendships at school. She was also prone to angry outbursts at home, and whilst I mostly dealt with them calmly, sometimes she really hurt my feelings. On one awful occasion she had screamed at me that it was my fault her Dad had left and I had screamed back at her telling her what a nasty thing that was to say. We always made it up and I always apologised if I’d shouted, but it was painful and very hard to see her hurting so much. Oldest Son was calm, but very keen to keep the peace – Youngest Daughter wanted to confront her Dad and Oldest Son made it clear he thought this wasn’t ok – it caused massive arguments between them, with me trying to mediate and explain to Oldest Son that Youngest Daughter needed to express herself and to Youngest Daughter that Oldest Son wasn’t ‘on her Dad’s side against her’. Youngest Son seemed ok on the surface, but he was increasingly over-sensitive and tearful about things that he would have laughed at just a few months ago.
On top of this, I was becoming increasingly anxious and panicky about things. I was reacting to situations far more emotionally, than I usually would. I was quicker to anger than normal. I cried on the way to work every morning – it was like waves of emotion and anger would hit me as walked in, every thought I had would lead to what E had done and the situation I was in. I was also not sleeping very well and I felt like I was in constant ‘flight or fight’ mode during the day. I just couldn’t seem to settle into ‘normal’ mode. I was ok at work, ‘work face’ came in very handy, but once I was home, my introverted self took control. I just wanted to retreat. I cancelled evenings out, and increasingly sought comfort within the four walls of my house. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. It took every ounce of self control that I possessed to get up and face the world every day. This news was yet another psychological blow for me and I felt like I’d almost gone back to square one emotionally.
E’s news had created a new ‘new normal’ for us to contemplate when we were still struggling to process the implications of the first one.