A couple of days ago, a friend at work asked me if I was writing this blog for E to read. My answer was a rather surprised ‘no’.
There were a few reasons I started writing this blog. The first was to explore what had happened to me, to pull at strands of the tangled knot of emotions swirling round my head and see if I could start to untangle it and work out exactly how I was feeling and why I was feeling it. The second was to do something positive and reassure other people going through the same thing that they weren’t alone. The third was to claim the voice that had been denied to me by E’s lies about me. It was never written with the intention of E (or P or any of the women he had affairs with) reading it. In fact, until the bar-based conversation with C and M a couple of weeks ago, it never occurred to me that E might read it or be remotely interested in it.
But, thinking about it, whilst I certainly didn’t write this blog for E, I think that there is an element of it that’s being written in lieu of a conversation we never had. As I’ve mentioned before, E has imposed a kind of silence on us all about what he did. None of us have been able to talk about it or raise it with him (not even the boys, who see him regularly). So, in a way this blog is a reaction to that – it’s addressing all the things he didn’t want to confront or face up to.
He never once apologised for, or even explained, what he’d done. He never had the courtesy or the courage to sit down with me and admit to the affairs. He has never once acknowledged the 25 years we spent together, the children we raised, the home we made, the life we lived together and all the resulting things we shared, aspired to, dreamed about, laughed about, struggled though and achieved. I suppose that, therefore, in one limited sense, this whole blog is a sort of reply to E – a reply he’ll never understand, never read and never face up to – half of a conversation that will never be had. In that sense it’s an attempt to right a wrong and to restore fairness.
Fairness really matters to me. Eight years ago I began a different blog (https://fourkidsandacat.livejournal.com/) and a quick look through it will show that nothing has changed. I began blogging because I was horrified at an unfairness at Oldest Son’s school, it then documented E and my (disastrous) struggle with the kids’ first school in Singapore and their implementation of a compulsory (parent purchased) mac-book scheme for Oldest Daughter’s year group. For most of my life, I’ve tried to fight the good fight and stand up for what’s ‘right’. For years my most muttered phrase was ‘it’s the principle of the thing’. As you’ll see if you read my first blog, this occasionally got me into trouble (quite a lot of trouble in Singapore), and I think I’ve now learned to pick my battles more wisely, but I still care deeply about things being fair.
What has happened with E has been massively unfair and that’s something that I still find hard to live with. The problem is that it’s unfair and there’s nothing I can do, or will ever be able to do, to change that. What he did was unfair, the reasons he did it were unfair. It was unfair that he never told me he was unhappy in our relationship and never gave us a chance. It’s unfair that his life seems to be getting better and better, whilst I’m struggling financially and facing working until the day I die to just survive. It feels deeply, hurtfully, unfair that, having spent years with E planning how we could move back to Singapore, because we loved it so very much, that he’s currently there with P, probably planning the same thing. It feels like he is being rewarded for what he’s done, whilst I’m being punished for doing nothing wrong. It’s not fair, life’s not fair, and, counter-intuitive as it is to me, I have to learn to live with this and this blog is sort of helping me to do that.
Despite what that sounds like, I’m not feeling remotely sorry for myself. I have four wonderful children and I am surrounded by family and friends who I love and who love me. My life is richer, fuller and more honest than his will ever be. He’s also missing out on the beautiful chaos that is bringing up four children. In the 18 months since he’s gone I’ve seen them through so many things, experienced so many special moments with them, laughed and cried with them and been prouder and prouder of them every single day. He’s missing seeing his children grow up, he’s missing all those precious moments that make a family a family – the shared jokes, the irritations, the conversations and debates that endure across the years. He didn’t get to take Oldest Daughter to University and then watch her blossom during her first year there and he didn’t see Youngest Daughter’s face light up when she chose her Prom dress (in fact he’s not set eyes on Oldest Daughter since the day he left and he last saw Youngest Daughter over a year ago). He’s missed laughing at Oldest Son’s emails to the education office regarding the possibility of creating a GCSE in Tea and Youngest Son’s (extremely brave) witticisms re ‘a woman’s place being in the kitchen’. He’s already missed his daughters becoming young women and he’s now missing his sons gradually changing from boys to young men. He’ll never be part of all those funny conversations and remarks that will make the kids and I laugh for the rest of our lives. He’s missed the ups and downs, the hugs, the slammed doors, the tears, the laughter and the joy that are part of the life of the family he helped create. I can’t imagine his life is better for it.
So, I guess the blog is a sort of reply to a question E never asked, but the reason it has never been addressed to him is because of the saddest and unfairest thing of all; if I had written any of this for E’s eyes, it would simply have no impact on him. If E, or P ever do read this, they just won’t care. I don’t think that the kind of person who is prepared to conduct a 30 month affair knowing her lover had a partner and four kids (and then marry him without telling his children), is the sort of person who would be remotely interested in what her partner’s ex has to say. As for E, I don’t think he is capable of understanding the emotional impact he has had on the kids and I. I don’t think he really understands what ‘love’ is, or has ever felt it. Apart from a deep and abiding passion for himself, he has never had strong feelings for anyone. For him ‘love’ is soothing to the ego and is about admiration, flattery and status, it’s not about the things most people understand as love – the give and take, the terrifying depth of how much you care, the consideration and the sacrifice that it involves. The truly terrible thing is that if E ever read this blog, he wouldn’t care what it says – which is precisely why it’s not written for him to read.