I’ve had a few days this week where I’ve felt really down about everything.
It’s so frustrating when these days hit – it’s bad enough what E did, but the fact that it’s still hurting and upsetting me 18 months on just feels unfair and makes me feel like I’m being self-indulgent – surely I ‘shouldn’t’ have days like this anymore? I feel I should be ‘over it’ and have ‘moved on’. I don’t want to still be reduced to tears by what he did. I don’t want it to affect me anymore.
The most annoying thing about them for me, is that I am completely over E as a person. I don’t love him, I don’t want him back and, far from missing him, I dislike him intensely. I’m very glad he’s not my partner anymore. I’m just not over what he did to me. The fact is that, apart from my children, the years I spent with E were the biggest mistake of my life. I’m deeply embarrassed by, and ashamed of, the fact that I trusted him so much and for so long and on the bad days I feel so stupid for trusting him and so humiliated by what he did that I really struggle emotionally.
Most of the time I’m a pretty positive person, but on these days I can feel myself starting to sink. I’m aware that it’s happening but I just can’t claw myself back to the surface. On these days I feel an overwhelming sense of defeat and a completely diminishing sense of sadness and regret. Days like this leave me exhausted and feeling unable to leave my house or face anyone or anything, I just want to hide. Of course, I can’t do that, I have to get on with things – I have four kids, two jobs and a houseful of foster cats to look after – but on these days it feels like I’m walking through treacle and everything is a just harder than it should be.
Quite often these days are prompted by a reminder of what I thought would be happening now, as opposed to what is actually happening. This time it was the fact that it’s Youngest Daughter’s Prom tonight and the fact that this was always something I thought we’d experience as a couple.
Just two years ago E was negotiating the legal settlement (the one he promised the proceeds of to O and doubtless to P too) and I really felt that, after a couple of years of stress and struggling, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I felt that once the settlement had been sorted we would be able to breathe again, we’d clear E’s debts and actually have some money for once. My plan was that I would start building my freelance work and we’d be able to have time as a family, and spend more time together as a couple.
Of course, there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel (it was probably P with a fucking massive torch, and a plan of her own) and I know now that E didn’t care a jot about me or about our family life and he certainly didn’t want to spend any time at all as a couple, but that doesn’t help. Because I was so committed to us as a couple, and to the beautiful family we’d created, because the 25 years we spent together had created such a strong sense of ‘us’ in me, I still have such a clear picture of what I thought our life would be that it’s really hard to process the fact that that life just doesn’t exist anymore. For me, try as I might to ignore it, there’s still a sort of parallel world running alongside the real one.
In this parallel world, the one where I didn’t discover E’s infidelities, we’d probably still be together (I can’t imagine he would have left, there would certainly have been no secret Florida wedding, but I assume there would still have been lots of increasingly late nights that I would have believed were due to ‘work’). The six of us would have had a lovely break in Singapore last year and visited all our old haunts together. We’d have bought champagne and maybe gone out as a family to celebrate Oldest Daughter’s A Level results. We’d have taken Oldest Daughter up to Durham together, laughing at the overloaded car and she’d have rolled her eyes at us as we shared memories with her of our time at University. We’d have picked her up together at the end of her first year and met her friends. We’d have seen Youngest Daughter through her GCSEs and tonight we would have had a picture taken standing together in our garden with her looking beautiful in her prom dress. We’d have laughed at Youngest Son’s antics and felt slightly nervous before his parents’ evenings. We’d have watched Oldest Son play in the samba band in the local gala day. There would have been family meals, days in the garden and family holidays in Norfolk and Centre Parcs. I’d have confided in him about how worried I was about my Mum and my Uncle and shared stories of my new job with him. Maybe we’d even have started sorting out all the stuff that needed doing in the house. We’d have been able to pop to the pub together at weekends or on weekdays and perhaps we’d have started to plan a move to the coast (I have always wanted to live near the sea).
Of course, even in the parallel world, E would still have been having affairs. He might have moved on from P and found a new student to sleep with, or he might have stuck with the one guaranteed to give him sex and flattery (the two most important things in his life), but he would still have been betraying me. In this version of reality the devastation I felt in November 2016 would still have happened, it would just have happened later. I would have been deceived for even longer and the consequences would probably have been worse, so I don’t want this reality, it’s just that it was so firmly entrenched in my mind that it’s really, really, hard to get the image of it out of my head.
Fortunately these days are a relative rarity, and they’re getting rarer – I have to remind myself that when it all first happened, every day was like this – but unfortunately, when they happen they tend to cast a long, heavy, shadow over me. I guess it would be easier for me if E had just explained why he did what he did, why he lied for so long and so often, if he’d acknowledged the amount of love I’d put into our relationship, or even (we’re really in cloud cuckoo land now) apologised for the pain he’s caused. Of course, none of that is ever going to happen and I accept that, and I’ll be fine, I just wish life could be fairer sometimes.