I’ve talked a lot on this blog about how I’ve moved on from E and how happy I am that he’s no longer a part of my personal life. Every day gets better and every day I’m happier. However, hand in hand with this, or a side effect of getting emotionally so much better, is the fact that, as well as feeling happier I can also feel hurt again. I realised the other day, that whilst I have moved on in probably the most important way – I don’t love E anymore, and I certainly don’t care much about what happens to him – in others I’m dealing with fresh hurt which makes it difficult to move on completely.
If the initial split created a tsunami of emotions that I had to survive somehow, it’s almost like I’ve recently experienced a second wave, one that was waiting behind the first one all along and I’m feeling new hurt and new betrayal all these months after I thought I’d worked my way through what initially happened.
As my sister pointed out to me, this is probably because E’s actions since he left have actually been worse than the way he behaved when he was with me. It’s mad isn’t it? Who’d have thought that he could do anything that would hurt me more than having several affairs, lying to me, lying about me to these other women, using my Mum’s cancer to try a keep a girlfriend (actually, this one has never yet been topped, and whilst I’ve tried very hard to let things go, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive him for this). And yet, somehow, since leaving he has actually managed to create even more pain, more hurt and more difficulties not just for me, but for his children and his wider family.
Looking back over the last couple of years, I can see how, in the first 18 months or so after E left, I was a bit punch drunk from and numb to his behaviour. Things he did/didn’t do that made people gasp in horror, just didn’t affect me in the same way. I had a shell around me that protected me somehow. Even when we found out he’d got married, just months after leaving me and without even telling his children, I didn’t really feel anything. Whilst I knew it was a really nasty, horribly selfish, thing to do, I was in so much pain from everything else that it just didn’t really cause me any more hurt. His complete lack of interest in, or response to Youngest Daughter’s problems (which were as a direct result of finding out about his marriage and his lack of care for her), was another thing I just accepted – to everyone else it was incomprehensible that a father could care so little about his child, but I was so involved in trying to help my daughter that I didn’t really have the time, or the extra emotional capacity, to actually feel anything about him or his actions.
I think this numbness began to dissipate around the time that E emailed demanding that I sell the house, without any explanation as to why, or and suggestions as to how we’d organise everything, what we’d do, and how we’d ensure that the children and I had a home. At the time, I was so involved in making sure Youngest Daughter was ok (she’d been devastated by her GSCE results just a week or so before), moving Oldest Daughter to her new home at University and looking after the boys, that I made a conscious decision to not think about it. When he sent two more, increasingly curt, emails on the same subject, I did something I’ve never done before – I blocked him – I just couldn’t face his emails. Before I blocked him, every time I got an email notification my heart would race and my stomach would clench. I was in such a state of high alert that it was making me ill, but I guess that I was also beginning to feel the pain of what E was doing and had done since he left for the first time.
Of course, his reaction to being ignored by me (for the first time in all the years I’d known him), was to show his true colours and withdraw all financial support, not just for me, but for his children. When this happened I felt two things: first, complete and utter disbelief, I honestly never thought he could ever sink low enough to deliberately hurt his kids; secondly, I felt complete personal devastation. Stupidly, I hadn’t understood that I, and the twenty-five years E and I had spent together meant absolutely nothing to him. I think I’d held onto a belief that, even though he didnt love me and even though he’d acted appallingly, that he still had some sort of respect left for me as the mother of his children, as the person who’d stood by his side through think and thin (mostly thin) for 25 years. Realising that this wasn’t the case, realising the he just didn’t care at all was probably the most hurtful thing of all and that was when the second wave began to hit me.
Since November last year, E’s actions have more reckless, more extreme and, unbelievably, even nastier. He’s paid me nothing all year, which has forced me deeply in to debt, he’s defaulted on the mortgage, and ignored all attempts by the motgage company to contact him, meaning that I’ve had to deal with threats of baliffs and I’ve been the person who’s under pressure to pay them to protect our children’s home (after all, his home with P isn’t under threat, he’s ok). He’s put me in a position where I’ve had to choose between clothes for our children or food for them. He’s left his children without Christmas or birthday presents (or even cards) without so much as a shrug. He’s cut himself off from his former family to such an extent that when told Oldest Daughter was in hospital in New York, his first response was to tell me not to ask him for money, not to ask how she was. And, all of a suddent, it really really hurts. If I’d somehow protected myself in the early days of the split, all of a suddent, I can feel everything and there are times I’d give almost anything to not feel again. It’s so hard to come to terms with the fact that you mean so little to someone, or that they have so much contempt for you, that they can treat you in the way E has treated, and is treating, me.
This renewed ability to feel things keenly again has meant that I’m really struggling with anxiety – the kind of heart-stopping panic that makes it hard to leave the house some days, and means that I spend most nights tearing myself into peices over all the things I’ve done wrong or could have done better. In some ways it’s like a big step back, but I’ve realised that being drawn backwards by the force of a wave, is inevitably followed by being propelled forwards. I know that if its pulled me back this same wave will carry me onwards.
As per my previous post, my life is great, I’m surrounded by amazing friends and family and, apart from the money situation, I am in a really good place. It’s just that feeling so much better has meant that I can feel the bad stuff again too, and feeling stuff again means I’m kind of hurt all over again. I think that this is a good thing (in as far as any hurt can be good). I’ve accepted know that E doesn’t care about the effect of what he’s doing on the kids or I, I know that he will have to be legally forced into providing any financial support for his children, and that there is no way he’ll ever support me. I can only hope that P is watching all of this and has the mental capacity to look at what her husband doing and wonder if it ties up with what he’s saying. Maybe she’ll even have some concerns re how he’ll treat her one day?
In the meantime though, at least I’m swimming with this second wave, not being overwhelmed by it. Two, nearly three years on, I think I can even see the shore.