As I’ve already mentioned on here, I still struggle a bit on the days that E sees the boys.
It has got easier as the months have gone on. But I still find myself feeling the contrast between what ‘was’ and what ‘is’ on Saturdays.
When E first left, Saturday mornings were incredibly hard. Everyone in the house would be overwrought. I’d be nervous and upset but trying to cover it up for the sake of the kids, Oldest Daughter would take to her room and Youngest Daughter would vacillate between angrily wanting to go outside and confront him, and tearfully trying to ignore him altogether. Dependent upon Youngest Daughter’s mood, Oldest Son would either pick a fight with her, or wind up Youngest Son, and Youngest Son would be over-sensitive and on the verge of tears all morning.
These days things are much calmer. The girls are still refusing to see their Dad, but the boys go along whenever he is free (he has always worked on Saturdays during exam seasons, but the number of weekends he teaches seem to have increased somewhat since he married P). However, I’ve noticed that Youngest Son is increasingly less keen on spending regular time with his Dad. It’s partly because they pretty much always do the same thing (Subway for lunch, bowling and/or cinema, McDonald’s on the way home), it’s partly because E is always late picking them, and it’s partly because Youngest Son is increasingly disillusioned with his Dad – he’s seen how Youngest Daughter has reacted, he’s spoken to Oldest Daughter, he’s watched how E has affected his family and, has decided that (in his words) he’s a ‘bit of a Dickhead’. There have been a couple of occasions recently when, the night before he’s been due to see E, he’s told me he thinks he ‘might be too tired’ to see his Dad the next day, but so far but he’s always trotted along with Oldest Son as planned. On one of the days when he’d been reluctant to go, I asked him if he’d had a nice time, and he grinned and said “I’m only in it for the Subway”. Funny though that was, it makes me sad so see how he’s gone from worshiping the ground his Dad walked on to viewing him with faint contempt. Oldest Son, as ever, doesn’t say much, but after E’s latest bombshell (more of which soon), even he is beginning to be a bit disillusioned.
I’m now miles better I was when E first left (in those early days, I just didn’t know what to do with myself on Saturdays), I use Saturdays to work, to pop into town, or to clean the house. Sometimes (if I’ve got the working and the cleaning done), I just sit and watch Amazon or Netflix (Grey’s Anatomy is my current favourite – I’m up to Season 8 and I strongly believe McDreamy should be renamed McWanker – seriously – what a selfish, arrogant, twat – what does Meredith see in him?). Whilst I’m sad that it’s not a family day anymore (either for our old family of six or my new family of five), I’m used to the quiet of the house without the boys and am starting to plan, and even enjoy a ‘day off’.
However, there are still two, roughly five minute, periods on each day that E sees the boys when I’m suddenly back to square one. As I’ve explained before, E has frozen me out and he’s refused to speak to me face to face, since he moved out. I’m too proud (and too concerned re how the kids will feel) to go and stand by the car and try to force him to speak to me, which means that now, when I hear the car outside, I can’t face going to the front door. I hug and kiss the boys in the hallway and tell them to have a nice day, but I can’t bring myself to go to the door and wave them off. When they return in the evening, I am usually in the living room so I close the curtains, even in summer, so nobody can see in. Whilst the car is there (he doesn’t even switch the engine off, he sits in the car with it running), whilst he waits in it to see the boys, whilst he makes clear that he has no intention of speaking to or even acknowledging me, I freeze. I can’t move. In those minutes, I can’t bear to see or be seen by E.
It’s awful and I get so cross with myself for it, but, in that moment, all the good work that I’ve done, everything I’ve achieved over the last 18 months, counts for nothing. I feel ashamed of myself, of my body for not being perfect, of my face for not being young, I feel ashamed of the fact that I wasn’t good enough, and that E had so little love and respect for me that he was unfaithful again and again and again. Most of the time, whilst the pain that E has caused me is intense, I’m too busy to really feel it, but in those ten minutes, I feel every razor sharp cut of it again. Suddenly, I am back to being the person who stared uncomprehending at E’s laptop, reading email after email and seeing picture after picture of his betrayal and then, somehow stumbled through the weeks before and after he left. Rabbit-in-the-headlights like I’m paralysed, I hold my breath until I hear the front door shut and the car departing.
I usually have time to paste a smile on my face before I speak to the boys and ask them how their day has been, but sometimes, Youngest Son (always the first to find me and give me a hug), catches me before I’ve had time to compose myself and, with his face pale and concerned, asks if I’m okay – which makes me feel even more guilty for what E and I splitting up has put him through. This, more than anything, is probably the hardest thing to bear. I know logically that it’s not my fault that the family split up, I know that it was E and no-one else who broke everything, but in the aftermath of those ten minutes I blame myself for the pain my kids feel, and for the effect E’s leaving has had on them. As normality returns to the house and the boys start up their laptops and eat their McDonald’s, I feel again that, if I was ‘better’, if I was somehow ‘more’ that none of this would have happened.
In the end, the intensity of the feeling does pass, and I’m always okay (especially if I have Bud asleep on my shoulder), but the sadness and the haunting sense of what *is* versus what *should have been* tends to linger for a few hours. I suspect this feeling is one of the last things that will pass, and I know, like everything else, that it will, it’s just frustrating that it’s taking so bloody long.