Friday, 1 October 2010

And Now For a Little Foolishness

Wish I'd read your comments earlier before I plunged straight into another relationship. Well, almost but not quite a relationship. And with someone I've written about here before: my Photographer Boyfriend from 28 years ago.

You see, I received an email from a mutual friend on Sept. 2 saying PB would love to hear from me. We have been asking about each other for years -- 28 years to be exact. So I emailed him. And he emailed back. And I emailed back, etc. And we skyped, sometimes for hours at a time. Oh, I had the most marvelous 26 days. We giddily, foolishly told each other how much we loved each other then and still do. And we opened up to each other in ways we never did all those years ago.

Oh yes, I fell into that marvellous abyss called love. And so did he. And then my old insecurities about him resurfaced when he wouldn't commit to us meeting up at the end of October. He has legitimate reasons. But I thought somehow they would magically disappear. And I was uncomfortable with how he was or wasn't letting his daughter know about me. Never mind that I haven't told my children about him. So I sent him an email spelling out all my insecurities, which triggered all of his. And then I panicked that he wanted out of my life just as he was coming back into it.

To cut a long story short, we have decided to step back a bit. Well, he decided and I have no choice but to go along with it. Otherwise, I risk being branded a bunny boiler. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that he is right about so many things. And so are those of you who left comments on my previous post. Why plunge straightaway into another relationship? The relationships I should be working on are with my children. They just aren't interested in a relationship with me right now.

PB worries that I am using him as an escape from my dreary reality. And I must admit that might be true to some extent. But my reality is about to change for the better, I hope. I am about to complete the purchase of a new home and should be moving within a week and a half, with any luck. I have been living in a bedroom for the past year and I am sick of it. My divorce is final. Nearly all the money has been split. It is time to move on.

Will PB be a part of my future? I am praying that he is. It amazes me how much I remember of our 18-month, on-and-off relationship. And how much he remembers as well. We have gone over the ugly bits -- him cheating on me, my reaction, which was to bring 3 men back to his apartment to sleep with me in his bed, our final break-up, and our last meeting in 1988. He thought I was indifferent to him, that I had no feelings for him. No, I had too many feelings. I considered reconnecting with him in 1990-91, when I was single again. But he wasn't single yet. I considered emailing him 10 years ago when I first googled him. But I didn't. I wrote about him here two years ago. And then I did email him. He never replied and I assumed he was not interested in hearing from an old girlfriend. He says he never received the email and I believe him.

So for 26 days it was very hot and heavy. So wonderfully absorbing. But we were neglecting the practical sides of our lives. He has a book project to complete by the end of the year. He has taxes to file. He has other assignments. I have to move and all that entails. I have to allow myself to adjust to my new status, and to work out how my relationship with my children will change. And where they will live and when.

So we will stay in touch, but not as ardently or frequently. It doesn't mean it's over. Just that we have to put other things first right now before we tackle the very real problems of geography and children and money to see if this will work. I hope it does. I am so thankful to have him back in my life. He has changed, of course. Physically but also emotionally. He has grown up, and so have I. But I also have to remain realistic. For now.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

I'm Almost Out of Breath

Ah, so much has been going on in Wakeup's world, it's hard to keep up.

First of all, I made an offer on a house that has been accepted. Now I go into buying-house-fast mode. Secondly, although I love my new job as a support worker for autistic adults to bits, it doesn't pay well and there's no security. I could go for a permanent position that pays better but that means shifts, nights, and weekends. I'm not ready for that at this point in time. I have a job interview on Wednesday for a fund raising position.

And I've been thinking about the next relationship I want to be in. Because I'm not sure how soon I want to be in a relationship. I realise one reason I love my job so much is that I am treated well by my co-workers and the clients. I don't get that at home at all. I am the mother who ruined my children's lives. I am the woman who spurned such a loyal and faithful husband. I am shit at home. But not at work. At work I am the person who gets a client who supposedly doesn't like to be touched to put his arms around her and to play games with her. At work I have men (fellow workers) telling me I have a stunning figure and look nothing like my age. At home I have a daughter who uses guilt and extortion to get me to buy things I can ill afford for her. A daughter who is resentful if I buy myself something at all. A daughter who thinks I don't even deserve a new bed after 15 years of sleeping on old ones (actually longer). A son who curses me out behind my back because I made him come home to eat the meal I prepared. At home I have a soon-to-be ex-husband who to my face seems ever so reasonable but sticks the knife in the moment my back is turned.

So the next relationship I'm in will have to be something really fantastic. Something that puts a spring in my step. With someone who respects me. Who doesn't treat me like an idiot or a harlot.

But in the meantime I am waiting to move. And then I will exhale. And exhale. And exhale. For I've been holding my breath for a very long time.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I Need To Wake Up and Make Up My Mind

I've been invited to apply for a permanent post where I work. Should I do it? It involves shifts and sleepovers. It means a 75p/hour pay rise, though with some perks. It also means I'd work with some individuals I quite like in a house I quite like. But I would lose my independence. As it is, I can determine my hours, though not where I work. So I could have a boring 9-4:30 job or a very interesting, fulfilling one with hours all over the place.

I feel paralyzed by indecision. I've been frantically househunting because I want to get out of here pronto. And I've found three properties I really like. But I keep finding fault with each of them. I am so afraid of making the wrong decision. I took a friend with me on Sunday to look at six houses but soon regretted it. I know she was trying to be my advocate, but I felt like she took over. So I'm going solo or with the kids.

And I wonder if I should report FEX for supplying underage teens with alcohol. He bought an alcopop for Daughter's friends tonight. I am strongly opposed to this teen-age drinking though I'm a total hypocrite. Just because I did it doesn't make it right. And Daughter lied to me about it and tried to make out that it was her dad lying. My relationship with her is very rocky.

So, back to these houses. One is actually a two-floor three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with views of the beach and the golf course. I love it, but the outside needs some attention. The two others I like are Edwardian semis: spacious rooms. One has been decorated very nicely. And it's a bit beyond my price range. I am torn between going for the cheaper option (the apartment) and paying to have the exterior refurbed or buying something I don't need to do anything to. The apartment comes with a garage. The two semis don't. The apartment doesn't have a garden (yard) though it has the potential for one. The two semis have small, manageable gardens (yards). My kids want a house with a party room. The apartment has just enough space but nothing spare. The semis have a bit of leeway. My kids will be out the door in four years' time and I don't know how much time they will spend with me before then. I have to think about taxes (lower for the apartment), upkeep, utility bills, resellability, and how I would feel being there all by myself. I keep asking for advice but don't know if that's the right thing to do either. Everyone has an opinion and sometimes it's colored by what they want, not what I need.

The kids have found lots of excuses for not coming with me to look at these houses. I know I should be more understanding of them. This must be so hard for them. But it is so hurtful to me. FEX says he doesn't know if he's going to keep the house on the market or not. He keeps going in the back garden and taking out some shrub. I now think he is trying to show me and the garden who's boss. I imagine this is how it will be for the rest of his or my life: him trying to prove to me what a bad decision I made to leave him. I still feel no regrets though I am very sad about my relationship with my kids.

I must focus on other things: job and house. Make a decision, wakeup!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The End Is Nigh

We had our day in court. And we reached a settlement. I was not leaving till we had an agreement. On gray, rainy day in a non-descript 60s courthouse, we came to the agreement that I get 55% of the assets and 40% of his pension. It's not an overly generous settlement. I could have fought for more money. And I would still be here next year. FEX is buying me out. He has a mortgage in place and is ready to transfer the money any day now. I came down £30,000 and 5% of the pension share. But it's only money and it's worth my freedom.

That night FEX and I sat and watched TV in the same room and had a reasonably civil conversation. FEX said if I wanted he would look after my money. Then today I did some weeding in the garden that soon will no longer be mine. FEX came out and demolished a poor, innocent forsythia. At first I thought he was showing me and the garden who's the boss. Then as I saw him hacking away I realised he was working out his anger, despair, or whatever emotion he might be feeling. Tonight, the phone rang and I answered it. Someone sounding suspiciously like Lurch said, "FEX please." It was one of FEX's two friends, the one who's been through a bitter divorce, the one whose ex-wife had him thrown in jail, the one who's been advising FEX to be so aggressive. I could hear FEX re-enacting our day in court, only making himself and his lawyer out to be the heroes. And of course that's not what happened at all. What happened was two barristers doing a lot of math and going back and forth with offers and counter offers. We were there from 9 a.m. till 2:30. It was a long, exhausting day.

I had hoped the settlement would put an end to this bitching about me on the phone. But obviously it hasn't. So, FEX, no you may not manage my money. I don't want your filthy hands on it.

I went to a party last night and spoke to a friend I hadn't seen for a while. He and his wife, both lovely people, are separated (again) and divorcing. I can't take sides because I can see both sides so clearly. And I know firsthand the hurt they each are feeling. I advised my friend to try not to demonise his wife, that it will accomplish nothing. I suggested he find a counsellor to talk to about any negative feelings he might have. This couple separated last year when the wife moved in with another man. The guilt was too much, and she came back to try to make a go of it. But she couldn't do it. And I know how she feels. She is the sort of person who is always taking care of other people's needs. Her husband had a near-fatal brain tumour many years ago. It left him unable to work so she had to go back to work. And still manage the home because it also meant her husband has no short-term memory. I can understand her position. And I can understand his too. But so far neither one has gone around trashing the other. No nasty emails. No trying to get friends on their side. Unlike FEX.

People can be civilised and go through divorce. I've tried. I'm still trying.

So what about the kids? I think they're in a bit of shock. I think they didn't believe this would actually happen, that their father is basically kicking me out. Not that I'm fighting it. Not that I want to stay. I can't believe FEX wants to stay here. It will be so empty when I've gone. I wonder if he's thought about that.

Oh well. That's his problem. I have so many things to think about and do. I'd better get busy and start doing them.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

So Close and Yet...

Well, my new job is getting under way. I'm just shadowing at the moment, but I am seeing close up how varied the autism spectrum is. I have seen people at either ends of the spectrum. from extremely unable to very able yet still in need of support. It fascinates me. I have so much respect for the people who do this work. On the face of it it doesn't seem demanding, but it can be extremely challenging. And you never know how your day is going to go. I'm very tired. It's not demanding -- at least not now, but there is so much to take in.

And FEX has made a financial settlement offer. On the face of it it looks ok. But I worry because he has made me close out two accounts in my name and he says he's deposited the money in our joint savings account (making sure he can get his hands on it). But I can't see where the money from one account has gone. I am so close. Next Friday is the court hearing date for the financial dispute resolution. I've told my solicitor that come hell or high water I'm walking out of there with a settlement. She said she sincerely hopes I do. And perhaps FEX will buy out my share of the house. I can only hope.

My new job is not very well paid. I could try to get a permanent post, which pays better, but the hours are crap. So I am trying to find another part-time job, I'm cleaning a couple of houses a week (which pays far better than looking after autistic adults), and I'd like to do a few shifts a week in the support worker job. And I still need to get my massage therapist certification, and then could charge £20/hour for massages. I had a job interview on Tuesday. Of course I didn't get the job. But I made it to the final three. So close and yet...

Friday, 16 July 2010

So Here's What I've Been Doing

Does anybody who isn't Chinese read my blog anymore? Not that I have anything against the Chinese people but some comments in English are welcome as well.

Anyway, I have no room to complain as I have been an errant blogger. But much has been happening in my world. I started working. Yes, Wakeup has a job, actually two jobs and possibly a third on the way. I am a peripatetic support worker for people with autism. This is completely different to anything I've ever done, and yet it's not. I have been a carer for the past 18 years for FEX and my children. Now I get paid for it, and I get to work with autistic people. Yes, so far I enjoy it. Autism is an extremely complex disability. No two autistic people are alike, I've discovered. One may have highly developed verbal skills but has no concept of time and won't feed him or herself. Another may have no language skills and no toilet skills. All autistic people have a high level of anxiety. My heart goes out to them. Imagine trying to cope with daily living when you, through no fault of your own, have no coping skills and never will. Imagine being the parents of such a child. Imagine the hopes and dreams you had for your child and realising they will never happen. You can never relax because you never know what's going to happen, or you do know what's going to happen.

An interesting job, but not a highly paid one. That's why I'm also cleaning houses, which is far better paid. And I have an interview for a third job next week. Put them all together, though, and they add up to a decent wage. Not much free time, but who needs that? I am having a hard time adjusting to not being here for the family that don't want me here anyway. Well, I think my son does. And my daughter does on occasion. Who knows what FEX wants. Who cares?

The pension actuary's report came out today. I need to look at it in more detail but I'm leaning toward not going for a share of FEX's pension but a payout. That way I can invest it how I want, not how FEX wants. He has been a good money manager, but if I'm to have my independence, I must pull away completely. Also, who knows what could happen in the next 15 years. I could die. I could remarry. He could die. Life is full of uncertainty. FEX has been on the phone a lot with the kitchen door shut. I don't care who he's calling, but my dad has been trying to call me for several days because my stepmother has been in the hospital. And all he gets is a busy signal. I imagine FEX is on the phone with Julie16 and perhaps his two friends, five acquaintances, sister, and mother to update them on how wonderful he is and how horrible I am. My dad said he won't ever emerge from this negative state unless something really catastrophic happens to him. I don't wish that on him, but I do pray he one day stops this negativity and moves on. He's in danger, otherwise, of allowing our divorce to determine his reaction to everything and everyone in his life. And that's not a healthy way to be.

But I have no control over that. And meanwhile, I have so much to learn about autism.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Nightmare Continues

Just when I thought Daughter and I had gotten through the worst of times, we take 100 giant steps backward. On Friday Daughter had a party. I went to a friend's house. She texted to say the bathroom door had been broken. When I got home, she showed me the damage. It was only the lock. OK, I shrugged. That can be fixed. Then she asked if a boy could stay over because he had no way home. OK, I said. Then it turned into three boys. Then I went in my room and discovered someone had been in there and gone through my drawers and papers. Then I went in the bathroom and discovered someone had thrown away my contact lens case.

Then I lost my cool and Daughter and I said a few choice words to each other. She said it was my fault for using "her" bathroom and moving into the bedroom across from her bathroom. She said it was embarrassing because all her friends knew. I said if I could move out, I would. I decided to take back the shoes I'd bought her the day before. She went outside with her friends to cool down. The next morning they all left early. She sent a text to her dad saying she didn't want to be in the same house as me anymore, which he showed me. Oh, FEX was quite upset too for they'd gone into his study. Beer bottles were everywhere. There was more damage than just the broken lock. FEX and I decided to take away her laptop and phone.

Daughter did text to apologise, but I must admit I was devastated by the text she sent her dad. Like he needs any more evidence to add to his claim that she hates my fucking guts. I went to a friend's 25th anniversary party last night. Daughter showed up with her new boyfriend, whom she introduced to me. We danced together but later I saw her laughing at my dancing. I saw her hugging her friends' mothers, and it just tore me up. She stayed away all day yesterday and didn't come home till this afternoon.

I know this girl is hurting inside. I know part of her desperately wants a relationship with me, and part of her is very angry. I know she craves a normal family life and so hangs out with her friends who have one. But I can take the blame for only so long. Those friends of hers on Friday were way out of order but apparently I'm not allowed to be angry about it. And of course FEX was so reasonable about it with her. So once again I'm the screaming shrew and he's the reasonable dad. Did I mention that he was at home while all this mayhem was happening?

I told her that's all he needs to prove that she hates me, that he'll be on the phone telling people just that. She said nothing in response.

I wish I could wake up from this nightmare.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Falling Into a Depression

I feel so depressed. Why today more than any other day? Yesterday, I spent 5 hours cleaning the house to show to last-minute viewers. They came, they saw, they complimented. Today, they said the house is not for them. Oh despair! Will no one rescue me from this purgatory?

That's not the only reason. There are others. I got the terms and conditions of employment for my new job. Fantastic? I'm not sure. It's a locum position, meaning I fill in as and when needed. It's also not brilliantly paid. I got another rejection letter for another job I applied for. I just can't get motivated to get out there and work hard at looking for work.

FEX continues to be himself and I worry about the settlement if and when it happens.

And I have communication problems with other friends, to the point that one or some may be getting the boot. And maybe that's what they want but they aren't brave enough to come out and say it.

I realise I'm not the easiest person to be around right now. My natural insecurity and paranoia are having a bumper year, having been fed generously by FEX. And I'm so worried about money. I started writing down what I spend each day to try to get a handle on my outgoings so I can make up a personal survival budget in preparation for the day when I don't have much money. That is a day I'm actually looking forward to, but I want to be prepared for it.

And I'm scared of being alone. I haven't had sex in nearly a year. That is an all-time record for me. I've never gone that long since I became sexually active at the very young age of 15. I'm not even sure I know how anymore. I miss cuddling. But FEX was never good at that anyway. My kids were but they won't touch me now. I guess I'll be one of those women who sleeps with her cats. Wait! I AM one of those women. I can't really begin to have a single woman's social life because I'm not a single woman yet. And it would be awkward being in the same house as FEX. And I wonder what I'll call myself after the divorce. Will I be Mrs. still or Ms.? Does anyone know?

And I'm bone tired. Too many late nights and early mornings.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Oooh, I'm So Tired

Sometimes, and this is one of them, I am so tired I can't see straight. I went to sleep last night around 1, woke up at 4:30 when I heard one of the cats meowing to be let in, went downstairs thinking it was about 7, and discovered Son and his friends up playing on the Playstation. I thought they'd gone to bed and got up early. Silly me.

FEX and I have been getting along of late. And then he was on his phone tonight with door shut. That usually means he's on the phone trashing me. I didn't hear anything specific but I also didn't try that hard to hear. Just as I made a conscious decision to stop going through FEX's rubbish and other stuff, so I've decided not to try to hear anything he says anymore. It's counterproductive and ego-destroying. And I need all the ego I can get. I'm still looking for other jobs so I need to keep my confidence up.

One of those jobs is with the BBC. They're moving some of their operations up north and I thought I might as well send a CV. Well, I must have put some of the right keywords on because I got an email saying they liked my CV and would I now take an assessment exam? This consisted of watching a bunch of videos about office-related dilemmas and what I thought would be the most effective and lease effective solutions. Then there was a reading comprehension part. Then the psychological profile, which I worry that I messed up on. So I'll probably never hear from them again,but it was an interesting exercise. I felt pretty tired after it.

Yes, I have the other job, but it's only filling in for people who are ill or on holiday. I need something a bit more steady than that. I'm going to have to stop. I'm so tired I can't even see the keyboard.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

A Dog and a Vibrator

What more does a woman need in life? Oh, a job. Got that. Just need the dog and vibrator.

Oh yes. Wakeup is very nearly an employed woman. I've worked very hard at looking for a job. And the one I got is low-paying with irregular hours. I will be working as a support worker for autistic adults on an ad hoc basis. I think it's disgraceful that gardeners and cleaners get paid more than I will be. But I might be starting a cleaning/gardening business with a friend as well anyway. And it's a start. That's what I keep telling myself. I think it could be a very fulfilling job.

I've gone off in a million different directions since last year, but it might be that things are starting to all come together. And if you believe that there is some greater plan, as I do, then the pieces of the puzzle might be coming together.

I am finishing up my ECDL course. I need to do more work on my Adobe Dreamweaver course. I am finishing up my Swedish massage coursework and need to book a time for my assessment and tests (the real reason I've put it off). With my pending job, I feel I need to tie up the loose ends. And that CV (resume) is just getting more and more fleshed out.

And did I mention that my college boyfriend and I are in touch? I don't wish to reignite our relationship, but it's nice that we can be friends after all these years. And of course, there's the dog and vibrator to look forward to...

Monday, 7 June 2010

Enough of the Drama

I cleaned two bathrooms today and discovered toiletries I couldn't remember buying the kids. A few months ago it would have been enough to send me into a rage against FEX and I probably would have thrown out said toiletries. Because it's MY job to buy them toiletries. And I thought, "This is how low we've gotten: battling over toiletries." Then the mail didn't arrive. In fact we haven't seemed to have had mail delivered in a few days. What's happened to the mail? Could he had redirected my mail?

I thought about those toiletries a while. And eventually I remembered that I had bought them. Then I phoned the post office. No record of mail from this address being redirected. My paranoia thus defeated or indulged, depending on how you look at it, I felt an overwhelming sadness. For FEX. For the kids. For myself.

Yesterday I revisited copies of emails FEX sent my parents and friends in November with the intention of posting excerpts here. But that would only perpetuate what's going on. It is a very, very sad situation. And it won't have a happy outcome. It will have a satisfactory outcome, but happiness? I'm not sure. You see, we've been through some very dark times in the last year, FEX and I. He's behaved appallingly at times and so have I. I've bored the pants off my friends, or maybe shocked them, with tales of our marital demise. And FEX has done similar with his small set of supporters.

And now I am just so very, very tired of the drama. I just want it to end. I want us both to move on and stop using the kids. I like to think I'm not using them as FEX is. But I am. I just want them to know I love them. I'm sorry I caused them so much pain. I always want them in my life and I hope they always want me. I try to talk to them but they really don't want to talk about it. Maybe in time. So I do the next best thing. I just carry on being me, being their mother. I give them a cheerful good morning. I wish them well in their day. I smile at their grumpiness. That is a small step toward reuniting with them. And if FEX doesn't like it, tough.

I expended so much energy on needless worries that I totally forgot what I learned in my Dreamweaver class. And the young guy didn't flirt with me today. What a pity. However, the washing machine repairman, who has been to my house a fair few times over the years, said I'm one of those people who gets better looking as they get older. I'd have kissed him but he's married.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Scary Stories

FEX is downstairs on the phone. Talking about me. Again. How do I know? My bedroom is right above the kitchen. I can hear all sorts of conversations.

I think he is unhappy because lately the kids and I have been getting along better. That is not part of the fiction he's created. They are supposed to be loyal to him and hate me.

Anyway, to occupy myself I decided to reread the letter he wrote me in October, the letter that was supposed to convince me to stay.

Here's an excerpt: "If you run with divorce proceedings, the lawyers and courts will not give a toss about your emotions or your feelings or indeed mine."

And another: "Since (my lawyers) consider the house to be big enough for all of us, I will not move out of the family home until it is sold, and I don't want you to move out either."

And yet another: "But once the gloves are off you will be 'on your own.'"

"There will be no ... financial risks if we reconnect as a couple and stay as a family unit."

He goes on about how little of his pension I would be entitled to, how his lawyer advised him to rewrite his will before the divorce was final, how if I stayed with him I wouldn't have to work, etc. All figures were presented in pounds and dollars. Then he wrote about how my financial assets will erode over time without benefit of inheritance from my parents. Huh?

Here's another quote: "But I cannot be held responsible once the courts start."

He even mentioned the cats being upset. He was a desperate man. But not a smart man. I found the whole letter very threatening and condescending in tone. I took it to my solicitor, who thought the same thing. He lied about his lawyer telling him to change his will. I found the email in which she specifically told him not to do so till the divorce is final.

He mentioned that the whole process could take as long as 2-3 years if the house doesn't sell. Well, it could if he makes it last long. By the way, he does very little to prepare the house for showings. The last time he sat out on the patio reading the paper while I was cleaning frantically from top to bottom.

Here's another quote, not from FEX but from Daughter: "Mum, I can't believe you haven't learnt not to trust dad with what he says."

That last quote is the most meaningful. I must learn to take everything FEX says and does with a grain of salt. It's very scary to be in my position. But staying in this marriage would be even scarier.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

I Need A Break, God

I had a job interview today. How did it go? I have no idea. It was over and done with in 15 minutes. Does that make it good or bad? Were we all efficient at saying what we wanted to say? Or did they make their mind up about me and decide to move on?

I wasn't sure I wanted this job. It doesn't pay that well and it's only cover work for people on holiday or sick. I need a full-time job with a pension. But I told myself it could be a beginning. And at the end of the interview I decided I did want the job. But we shall see.

I have so many irons in the fire. I would just like one of them to get hot. Then I could relax a bit.

I also would like FEX to just lighten up. He treats this whole process as a personal attack. To me it's just a process, an unpleasant one, but not a personal attack. I certainly have not gloated to my mother about keeping our children away from his mother. And I suspect his mother has tried to get him to calm down and see reason. I really am trying so hard not see him as the monster he appears to be. I know there's a lot of anger there. And even more hurt. And, yes, I would say he deserves to feel that way. To a point. And he's gone beyond that point. Using the kids is going beyond that point. He says he never says anything negative about me to the kids, that he sticks up for me. It's not what he says, though (and he's certainly said plenty of negative things about me to others). It's how he acts. Like I'm not there. Like he's a single parent. Like he's the only parent they want or need. And they see that. And he buys them too. Well, he can afford to now. Daughter is quite materialistic at this stage in her life. She thinks only money can bring her happiness. Sadly, she's wrong. I remember being that age and wanting a flash car and nice clothes. I thought that would define me to the world as someone to be reckoned with, a success. But it doesn't. If you are married to your possessions, you better hope you never lose them.

One thing I have learned at my advanced age. It's trite but true: The best things in life are free. Friendship. Integrity. Money is not bad, and I am not looking forward to having less of it. But it's your attitude about money that matters. And FEX has a very strange one.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Oh, What a Nasty Man

Fex is on the phone with his mother. I can hear most of what he's saying. He is railing against me. He is saying I will not be able to get a credit card. He is saying he could cancel the credit card tomorrow and I'd be stuffed. He is saying if the kids live with him, as he seems to think they will, I won't be able to get benefits. He is talking about a figure of £2,500 a month and that I won't be able to take the kids to see my parents on that. And I won't be able to get plane tickets without a credit card. He is saying how he warned me in his infamous letter how difficult life would be for me financially. He is saying I've lived the life of "bloody Riley." He is making a joke about me being a "golddigger." He says "MY kids are really loyal to me." He says all the parents of the kids' friends are aware of what's going on and are on his side. He is saying how much he admires Julie16 How late in life, apparently, Julie16 is pursuing a degree.

I should not have to hear this. I should not have to live this life. I went away one night with friends on Saturday to celebrate the 50th birthday of one. I had such a good time. I cried when we were leaving because I didn't want to come back to this nightmare. And I knew he would find a way to twist it round that he's the only parent in their lives.

Does he not realise that he wouldn't have any kids if it weren't me? No other women were queuing up to sleep with him, believe me.

I have been trying to find an amicable solution to this. But it's so difficult. He makes no attempt at discretion. I think he wants me to hear these hurtful conversations. But I do have the text from my daughter.

He's going on about buying me out now. And he plans to phone the Home Office and get me shipped out. And I've apparently been "very, very nasty." And my lawyer apparently wasn't on the ball about looking at his contract of employment because it wasn't even dated.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Angio What?

I decided to put my educator hat on and alert you all to what is a somewhat rare but nonetheless alarming condition: Angiokeratoma of Fordyce. This is what I have in my nether regions. Apparently, it's seen far more often in men on their scrotum. If I were you, I wouldn't Google images of it. Not a pretty sight. Believe me.

Here is what it isn't: it isn't a sexually transmitted disease and it isn't cancer. What it is are red, purple or black dots or small growths similar to blood blisters. They don't itch. They don't hurt. I have four -- two the size of pin pricks, two a bit larger. They might go away but probably not. It's unclear, at least to me, what causes them.

Here's what I thought they were: melanoma of the vulva. Yep, you can get skin cancer even where the sun don't shine. Vulval cancer is the fourth most common type of genital cancer. It's ugly; it's awful. Symptoms are an itch that won't go away, pain that won't go away, unusual growths (hence my concern). Apparently, ladies, we are meant to check our vulvas like we check our breasts. Melanoma is but one of the cancers that can afflict this area. Vulval cancer is seen most frequently in women over 70 but it is on the rise in younger women, partly because of HPV. It is slow-growing so the survival rate if caught in time is quite high. Except for the melanoma because that is fast-growing.

I will admit I still have a nagging doubt that these angiokeratomas are a bit more sinister than the doctor led me to believe. But if they are, I should know fairly soon.

Now, isn't that a nice break from reading about my disintegrating marriage and relationship with my children?

The latest on that is Daughter and FEX had another sign language conversation in the kitchen. They think I'm so stupid. I've decided to rise above it. If that's what they want to do, let them. The kids informed me today that they'll be working in their dad's office during the half term. Doing what? I asked. Dunno, they replied. That should be fun! I shall be job-seeking and going on another interview and writing and doing my computer homework.

I won't be researching angiokeratoma of Fordyce. I did that today.

Monday, 24 May 2010

And the Good News Is...

I don't have cancer. Yes, I've been sitting on that one for a few days. You see, a few weeks ago I discovered some growths in a place where there shouldn't be any. I thought they were sweat pimples. Then I looked at them one day. They are black. And there are at least four of them. I did what all self-respecting hypochondriacs do.I googled them. And discovered they could be a rare form of genital cancer that's usually only seen in women over 70. But there are cases of younger women getting it.

So it was with much trepidation that I went to see my doctor today. I was in tears before I'd even stripped off. This doctor is usually quite remote, but today she hugged me. I must have been quite a sight.

I moved on from the doctor's to my websight design class, which I started today (to go with the other computer class I'm taking). And folks, I nearly cried again because a nice 30-something-year-old flirted with me. He probably didn't know it was flirting. I definitely was flirting with him.

I felt like I'd been rescued from the dead by both the doctor and the younger man. I need this too because Future Ex-Hubby (whom I have reason to believe reads this) has been so vile to me and about me.

I finally said something to Daughter about how FEX keeps telling me how much she hates me. She said hate is a strong word and she only hates one person and it isn't me. She also said I should know by now not to trust anything FEX says. I feel so much better now. They know he lies. They know he lies to me about them. They don't hate me.

All is definitely still not right in my world. But it's getting better. Just need to get a job.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

He Is Such A Fucking Liar

I try so hard to remain positive and to try to think of things from Future Ex-Hubby's perspective.

And then I come home and the kitchen door is shut. That is a sure indicator that he's on the phone railing against me. And so he was with Julie16, his new internet girlfriend (has she seen him, several of my friends have asked). According to the fictional life this liar lives, the kids are very loyal to him. Daughter called him at work asking him to come home the other day because there was trouble at home, according to him. I asked her about this. She said she called him because she wanted a lift to her friend's house and I couldn't take her. Daughter hit son's nose with her ankle accidentally on Sunday. I just found out about it today. According to Future Ex-Hubby, they didn't say anything till today because they were afraid I'd shout at them. I asked Daughter. She said she wanted to tell me but son didn't. I didn't shout, for the record. The one who would have shouted, the one whose reaction Daughter was so keen to see, is Future Ex-Hubby.

We got our Decree Nisi yesterday. In 6 weeks I could apply for the Decree Absolute and be divorced. But I won't till the financial settlement is completed. And since Future Ex-Hubby is lying about that as well, that may take some time.

As I said, I do try. But he makes it bloody difficult with his lies. Should I tell the kids what he says? I'm afraid they'd just stick up for him and be even more down on me.

Whenever anyone shows me a modicum of kindness, I just about grovel at their feet in gratitude. That's because it's so bad here. Daughter's friend gave her a Pandora bracelet and three charms today. Just because. I'd planned to give that to her for her birthday. Don't need to bother now.

Maybe Future Ex-Hubby is feeling insecure because he sees that the kids and I get along better. And of course he doesn't want that. Maybe I should spit in his food every night (I still cook his meals). Or rub his shirts in cat litter. That's not really me but he makes me so angry with his lies.

Friday, 14 May 2010

To Walk In Another's Shoes

Sometimes in order to understand another person's behaviour, it's useful to try to imagine the world from their perspective. This is something I've been trying to do with Future Ex-Hubby. What would I do if I were him? What would I do if I discovered he was becoming emotionally involved with another woman.

Would I email his sister and tell her to tell him to get his act together? Most definitely not. Would I email his parents and say they would be unlikely to see their grandchildren again? No. Would I collect a three-inch-thick file of evidence against him to "save" the marriage? Nah, couldn't be bothered. Would I work on the kids in turning them against him? Possibly.

My reaction would be more direct. I would rant and rave perhaps. I would suggest counselling (which I did this time but really my heart wasn't in it). I would suggest he move to greener pastures. I would be perhaps a bit more ruthless about what I wanted financially from the breakup.

I usually have been the one to initiate a breakup, but I have been cheated on. And not just emotionally. And, yes, it hurt. And, yes, I wanted to hurt that person back, and ultimately I did. But not by destroying his privacy. I did it by moving on and refusing to get back together. No shouting. No power games. No tyranny. No bullying. Of course, it wasn't a marriage or even a particularly long-term relationship so perhaps it doesn't merit a comparison.

I'm trying to understand Future Ex-Hubby's behaviour becausing understanding can lead to an easier relationship. Or not. Not if he won't try to understand me. He views every step in the process as a personal attack. He was hurt, outraged and infuriated by the divorce petition. Well, of course, because it was all from my point of view. Then he calmed down. Til the financial disclosure form. Oh, he didn't like that part of the process at all. But he was scrupulous about it. Then there was the first financial disclosure court hearing. I don't know what he expected. Did he think the judge would side with him? He thought wrong if he did. Next is the Decree Nisi hearing. I expect some bad behaviour from him after that. And then there's the pension actuary's report to come. I expect loads of nastiness to come out of that.

I just don't have that much nastiness inside me. I know I've hurt him but I have not set out deliberately to hurt him. Really, I haven't. I don't want to hurt him, but I realise I have. I just wonder when he will feel fully avenged.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Ya Gotta Accentuate the Positive

I have been trying to think of positive things about future Ex-Hubby. Why? Well, it would make living with him at least somewhat bearable. And really that's what I've been doing for 18 years.

So here's one: he usually pours me one glass of wine from the bottle or two that he consumes every night. He then presents it to me with a flourish, as a master might to a favourite servant.

Here's another: he says he has been collecting information for my income tax return.

Here's a third: he has thought about if "my" car will need new tires for its MOT.

So he's not all bad, I suppose. Even if he shouted at me tonight because he says I didn't tell him in time about my latest solicitor's bill. Oh yes, I have to seek his permission to pay my solicitor's bills because he still controls the money. ALL the money because he more or less forced me to close the one account in my name. He threatened to get an injunction against me if I didn't sign the letter asking the funds to be transferred into a joint account. Of course, he could have then funneled it into his own account. Girls, never give up your careers. Never allow your partners to be the sole breadwinners. It gives them far too much control.

I retreated to my room after his shouting fit and nearly broke down in tears. So frustrating. We need to drop the price on the house but I'm afraid to approach him about it. Just as I was afraid to tell him about the solicitor's bill. I think he would have shouted at me anyway no matter when I told him. He's given me a hard time in the past about the bills. Anyway, we'll be sitting here a year from now if we don't drop the price. But future Ex-Hubby has his head in the sand about it.

I've been thinking about my parents lately and not in a good way. On Sunday my mother said she planned to get future Ex-Hubby a birthday present. I said I didn't know why she bothered since his family didn't get me anything (nothing new there). She said, "He's never done anything to me."

I will allow what few readers I have a moment to digest that statement. Are those the words of a mother supporting her daughter? Yet both my parents stuck up for the bastard all the 17 years we were married. They were so enamoured of the man I believe they cared more for him than they did for me. That's why he felt free to email them and say such terrible things about me. Because he knew they were never completely on my side. I don't know if my relationship with my father will recover. My mother is just nuts, I decided. Both spoke to him behind my back.

Where is the loyalty? Or the love? I rely heavily on my friends, and thank God I have them for my family have been completely useless in siding with me and supporting me through the terrible ordeal this marital breakup has been.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A Bit of a Break

Hubby had a good week at long last. And so did I. He started his new job and was out of the house for 10 blissful hours for each of four days. He has his own office, his own parking spot, someone to bring him tea and biscuits, a new Blackberry phone, and dozens to prop up that huge ego of his.

The kids and I returned to almost normal with each other. We ate together. We joked. We talked. Son revealed his very poor Maths exam score. We haven't told his dad yet. Daughter wants to go to a music festival and we discussed the pros and cons of it. And how we would approach her dad with the idea. Gone was the oppressive atmosphere. Till the key turned in the door. Then I retreated to my room, the kids to their rooms. They are pleasant to him and don't sound sorry to see him. But it made me wonder. Could the problems I've been having with them be completely attributable to their dad? Could they feel his tyranny as much as I do? Are they afraid of his disapproval? And they're not afraid of mine?

They must feel so confused. I know I do at times.

With Hubby out of the house, I feel I can breathe. I feel like I can take my house back from his oppressive influence. For the first time in months, I've used the family computer (not for this, of course, but for job-seeking). And I did wonder briefly if we'd be where we are if he'd gotten this job two years ago. But I realise that his spying began a decade ago. I remember him coming home about 10 years ago and going through the Sent Mail file. Why? He said he was looking for something. What he found was an innocent email I'd sent to a former (male) colleague. He asked me about it in a strange way, and I never contacted the colleague again.

I remember other instances. They seemed trivial at the time, but perhaps I stored them up in my subconscious. I certainly started feeling unhappy every year at the same time -- near our anniversary. But I kept telling myself how could I be unhappy? I didn't deserve to be unhappy. Look what he provided for me. Look at the life we had together.

Well, let's look at it. It was a life he provided. I had nothing to do with it, being that I was only a stay-at-home mother. I always thought Hubby had a misogynist streak. I even gave him a book called The Natural Inferiority of Woman, which was a tongue-in-cheek look at the misogyny of men. He was proud of me, it's true. Proud of the way I looked. Proud of the way I could cook and entertain (though he never actually wanted me to entertain anyone other than him). But anytime I raised the subject (weakly, it's true) of going back to work, he would say, "You don't need to work." I didn't have to worry about bills as they were all in his name. Do you get what was going on? I was treated as a Victorian housewife. I don't want to be a Victorian housewife. I want to be myself. And I couldn't be that in this marriage and I couldn't pretend anymore.

And so we're having this very nasty split because he wanted things to remain the same and I didn't.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I Hate Him So (Well, I Had to Say It Sooner or Later)

I heard Hubby talking about me on the phone again tonight. I always have to think about who he's talking about because the person he describes just doesn't sound like me at all. Tonight, again, he said he doubts the kids will want anything to do with me once the divorce is final. That could be wishful thinking on his part. Then again, the way the kids are to me, maybe not. And apparently Hubby has a fledgeling relationship. The woman in question wants it to be just friends for now. But, he told whoever, what if in the future they get together and what if I come back and demand more of his pension? Because the salary I'll be on once I get a job will be so low I'll probably have to. Or so he said.

This seems to be a recurrent theme with him: me trying to get my hands on all his money. That, however, is not the uppermost concern for me. The uppermost concern, my biggest fear, is that I won't have a relationship with my kids. I wonder if when he took them out last Sunday he said he took this job so he could work from home and they could live with him. The properties he's looking at certainly suggest he plans to have a family living with him. My kids won't even talk to me about what will happen afterwards or where they will live. No one will talk about anything.

I wonder if I shouldn't just ask my daughter outright if she plans to live with her father. I may not like the answer but at least I'll know where I stand. I don't like Hubby making the children collude with him in screwing me. I think it's wrong. I think he's actually fucking them up because I haven't done anything to my kids to make them hate me this much. I haven't run out on them. I haven't abused them. I hate their father, but who wouldn't if they were in my shoes? And I manage to hold my tongue and temper most of the time. When I've lost it, it's because I've been pushed into losing it.

But I bet they don't see it that way.

So Hubby's greatest fear is that I'll take him to the cleaners and he will lose his pension. And he treats me in a way that makes me want to do just that. My biggest fear is I will lose my kids. I would gladly trade my pension rights for my kids any day. I'm just astounded at how little Hubby knows me. After 18 years together he thinks my priority is the money. But that's his. Always has been. Mine has always been the family. Suddenly, the workaholic husband is a family man who has to work from home because of his kids. Who treats me like I'm invisible. On Sunday, for example, I said I would call Son to find out when he was coming home. Hubby then told Daughter, in front of me, to text her brother to find out where he was because Hubby was leaving the house. I said I could do that as I'm still one of Son's parents. Why does he do that? To further demean me in the eyes of my children. To make them think he's the only parent they can count on. He's their best friend and they are his. Or so he thinks.

I. Hate. The. Man. So. Very. Much.

Friday, 30 April 2010

The Green Green Grass of Home

I had a job interview with the NHS today, my first in a very long time. I spent all week preparing for it. I was made for that job. That job was made for me. Or so I told myself. I refused to think I wouldn't get it. I bought a new suit, researched the company, thought of answers to questions they would ask me, thought of questions to ask them.

And I didn't get the job. I interviewed quite well, the would-be boss told me, but there was a stronger candidate with more recent experience who had worked in the NHS. It hit me hard, of course, because I had allowed myself to take ownership of that job. And I thought what more could I have done? Nothing, the woman said. But there must be a way around this 18-year gap in employment. Yes, I put down all my volunteer experience. But how am I to get more recent experience if no one will hire me?

That job was going to be the ticket out of my misery. It was going to allow me a new life. Never mind that it didn't pay that much. I was all set to go out and buy new work clothes (from Tesco and Asda, being the spendthrift that my future ex-husband accuses me of being). I was going to be a working woman again. Maybe I could even afford to move out.

Tonight, while watching TV (by myself of course), I had a few revelations.

One is that I'm a "grass is always greener on the other side" sort of person. Always have been. Job not going great? Get another one and move on. Unhappy relationship? Leave it and move on. Life is always better on the other side. Except it's not. I have done this before with potential jobs, expecting my life to be magically changed by the mere fact of a different set of employers.

Another revelation I had is that I like to make grand gestures to show my love for someone. I move countries and give up my career. I give up a marriage and cause serious ructions in my relationship with my children. And do you think I get the same grand gestures back? Of course not because not everyone is as stupidly naive as I am. Not everyone is as willing to fuck up their lives. Hubby refused to give up his job and move to America for me. So I moved here, and then felt seriously homesick and depressed for at least 10 years.

The third revelation is that I expect the men in my life to fill a void. As I sat there on my own (my kids won't watch TV with me anymore), I realised that this was what I did every night even before the split with Hubby. There has been an emptiness and a gnawing hunger inside me for a deeply fulfilling relationship. I am lonely, but I've been lonely for years. Hubby just couldn't or wouldn't fill that void. He wasn't the first man in my life who couldn't do that though.

So what to do about these revelations? I don't know. I don't know what the next step is after revelation. I will continue to look for a job. And if I'm lucky enough to get another interview I will try that bit harder. I have to shine. I thought I did today, but evidently not enough to overcome 18 years of sitting on the sidelines. I have to work harder and longer. Somehow I will get there. Someday I will get there.

And the grass will be lush and green.

Monday, 26 April 2010

The Bad Mother

Hubby has a job. I should be jumping up and down for joy. I am not and here is why:

Hubby had three job offers last week (a bit like buses -- you wait ages for one then they all come at once): one on very good money, one with lots of benefits, and one with lots of risks but he likes the people. He took the third. He took the kids out to lunch yesterday to celebrate/explain (depends on who you talk to). Only he didn't tell me he was taking the kids out so I came home to an empty house and defrosted pork joint I'd planned to cook after church. Miffed is not strong enough to describe how I felt. Why? Not because of the empty house or defrosted pork joint. Because he wss sneaky and underhanded about taking the kids out. Because the only family role I am allowed to have anymore is cook/cleaner. It felt like and was probably meant to be a slap in my face. Here he is, Beneficent Dad Who Does Everything For His Kids. I do nothing. I've done nothing for 16 years. I don't wash, iron, and mend their clothes. I don't cook their meals. I don't take them anywhere. I don't help with their homework (actually, I'm not allowed because of my inferior American education). I am a Bad Wife and Mother. And I do not deserve to partake of any enjoyment with my family.

When I discovered where they were (after texting my son and daughter), I decided I wasn't going to cook the defrosted pork joint. I cleaned the house I no longer love. I weeded the garden I no longer love. When they got home, hubby went to the store and bought chicken to cook on the grill I bought him for his birthday one year. Only he lied about it. About 6 p.m. I came in from the garden and decided to make myself a baked potato. I offered to make one for my son as well but he said his dad was going to cook for them. News to me. I came down and asked Hubby (who hadn't offered to include me) and he said it was chicken he'd bought for Daughter's barbecue last week. I said that was in the freezer; he said he'd taken it out earlier and would either cook it for the kids or for his lunch. I said there was no way it would be defrosted in time. I let him know I was unhappy because he'd seen that I'd taken out the pork roast. I looked at the chicken. It was boneless chicken breasts. He'd bought bone-in thighs for Daughter's barbecue, which are still in the freezer. A small lie? Certainly, a stupid one. And why? To undermine me yet again in my children's eyes. I am the Petty Mother who refused to cook when she found out he'd taken the kids out. Need I remind you that we are all still living in the same house?

I am in a no-win situation. If I stand up for myself, as my friends urge me, I look like a Bad Mother. Certainly, Hubby twists it around that way. If I do nothing, Daughter treats me like the doormat I deserve to be. I don't have conversations with my children anymore but I can hear them talking to their dad. In a way I understand. They feel like they don't know me anymore. I am the Evil Mother who broke up their happy home. Except I wasn't happy. And now I really am not happy.

Yesterday, my mother let slip details of a conversation she and Hubby had in October. He apparently told her I spent the $600 she gave us last summer while we were in Florida. Now, again miffed doesn't begin to describe how I felt. My own mother talking about me behind my back to this hateful man. She tried to backtrack and say it was back in October and it didn't matter anymore. This from the woman who still gets mad about incidents that happened when she was 4. She tried to make out that her living situation is as bad or worse than mine. Then went into a long, detailed monologue about how my stepmother had insulted her a few years ago. I told her I wasn't in a fit state to talk to her anymore and hung up.

I know the solution to this situation. I need to get a job. I need to get the hell out of this house. I so wanted a family life, but my family life was shattered long before I got interested in another man. If I had been married to a lovely man, he would still be a lovely man. He wouldn't be a Machiavellian freak who's trying to destroy me every way he can.

I went to a friend's house yesterday and vented. Tears of rage, frustration, and sadness poured down my face. My next court date for the financial settlement is July 30. That seems so far off. We got an offer for the house last week that was £120,00 less than the asking price. Hubby turned it down before I even heard about it. The estate agents rang him first. Typical. Even estate agents know that my opinions have no value.

I hang out in my bedroom a lot with the cats. They still love me. I used to watch TV with Daughter and Son but they have made it clear they don't appreciate my company.

Do I deserve all this? And when will Hubby tire of getting his revenge on me?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I Am Not A Monster

I'm not a bad person. Really, I'm not. Yes, I have my peccadilloes just like anyone else. But I'm a people pleaser. I like people and I want them to like me. I had a few knocks in life. You don't get to my age without them. There are a few things I believe in passionately. Or did.

One was couples should stay together for the sake of the children. This was almost a religion to me. Stay together and your children will turn out better. Look at me. My parents split when I was 15. It was a horrible, nasty divorce. My mother threatened to kill herself, my dad, me. She was committed to a mental hospital, wrongly diagnosed as schizophrenic, put on anti-schizophrenia medication that turned her into a zombie. I moved in with my dad, and she moved 4,000 miles away when I was 16. My dad immediately started up with the woman who became (and still is) his wife. They didn't treat me too well. I became a wild child, but I graduated from high school, college, and had a career.

Then I moved here, and marriage and the family became my career. That career is shattered now by my own actions (and Hubby's too to be fair). I really, really wish I'd never given up my career. After seeing my mother struggle to get work at the age of 50, I swore I would never allow myself to be financially dependant on a man and risk being in the same boat. And guess what I did? And what a man to be financially dependant on. Oh, he took care of me financially. On his terms of course. See, it's all his money, and he lets me spend some of it on food, etc. Then complains. So I said let's have a budget. He said we didn't need a budget. I could go on and on in this vein. But what good would it do?

The URL for this blog is restinpeacedearabby. The title of the blog is wakeupandsmellthecoffee. For those who don't know, Dear Abby and her twin sister Ann Landers were America's premier agony aunts. They dished out advice to people like "Wake up and smell the coffee." And "Ask yourself if you're better off with him or without him." Well, that was at the forefront of my mind when I created this blog. I was deeply depressed. I had started to go through menopause, Hubby worked away all week and was a bastard basically all weekend, I felt like my life was meaningless. I thought of cutting myself just to make myself feel something. Even pain would be better. Then other things happened. We got a dog. He got hip dysplasia. He had surgeries. Hubby lost his job. Kids moved on to secondary school. Hubby and I were going to buy a business. Deal fell apart. We were going to buy second business. Deal fell apart. Dog had to be put down when he became unpredictable and violent.

And one day I woke up and really did smell the coffee. And the answer to the question would I be better with or without him changed. Because I got brave. I didn't listen to his lies anymore. I can't be the passive housewife anymore. It's like I've been a 60s housewife but now we're in the 70s and I'm breaking free. It's Stepford Wives all over again. I am learning so many new things. I am changing. I didn't realise what a passive mouse I'd become over these last 18 years. Passive at home, that is. I quit voicing my opinions on certain subjects with Hubby years ago. He never listened to them anyway. He did listen to me about the children, but now he treats me like a shadow, and encourages them to do the same. Not directly but in a subtle way. I caught him doing it just tonight. He's accused me of wanting to get my hands on the kids' trust funds. I don't know what I have done or said that would ever suggest I wanted to steal from my children.

But maybe that's what he would do if he were in my shoes. And that's why I can't stay in this marriage. We are poles apart in what we value and value in each other. Hubby has been a good provider and money manager. He would say he's done it all for us. But I disagree with that. He's done it for us, but he's also done it for his own ego gratification. He has no hobbies or outside interests. That's why he got so depressed when he lost his job. He says he's a family man, but he didn't actually do much with the family. He got deeply involved in son's running career but as an extension of himself. He showed no interest in daughter's dancing till last October. I took the kids on ski holiday after ski holiday. He wouldn't go because he'd been told not to ski and it would "be a waste of a holiday." A waste to spend time with his children, to watch them develop a skill they so enjoyed. A waste to spend time with his wife and support her in ensuring their children had a fun holiday. One year he took time off while we were gone to build a fence. I think the point I'm making is that this so-called family man actually prefers to do solitary things.

During the breakdown of my first marriage, I listened to Frank Sinatra a lot -- "Regrets. I've had a few..." I still have regrets, different ones. I can't regret the marriage because there were good moments, particularly in the early years with the kids. And I don't regret having my children. I do regret the horrible way this marriage has fallen apart. I would like to have remained friends with Hubby. I have to be civil because of the kids. But I have some strong negative feelings about him. I don't know if they'll ever go away.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Piano and Dancing

I am eating my breakfast and reading yesterday's paper. In another room Daughter is practicing her piano. Her playing sounds beautiful, and as I listen I reminisce about when she started. She had tried the violin and didn't like it. With her long fingers, I thought she'd do well with the piano. I asked around and found a teacher. A friend offered to sell me her piano. Hubby was dead against it. "Why spend so much on a piano that she'll drop after a month or two?" I persisted. Hubby said, "How are you going to get it here?" I looked in the Yellow Pages under piano removals and found someone.

And so Daughter started her lessons and did well. Now on her third teacher, she practices every day.

When I finish breakfast I walk in to compliment her. She looks up at me. "Can I help you?" she says in a voice that would freeze hell. "I just wanted to say how good you sound." She frowns. "Can you close the door please," she commands.

I walk away, tail between legs. Again. Another attempt at engaging with her. Another slap in the face.

So it has been since last summer. To recap: Last year I reconnected with an old schoolmate. Our correspondence seemed to awaken something in me and I found myself fantasising about a life with this man. I wrote my feelings down in a draft email Draft is the key word here. I never intended to send it. But Hubby found it. Quite how he found it is subject to debate. What isn't was his reaction: swift and brutal. He wrote an email to my sister (not a draft) telling her to tell me to get my act together and that he was cancelling our holiday to America and that I would have to tell the kids and my parents why. He attached the draft email. He printed out a copy of the email to my sister, stamped it "copy" so there would be no mistake, put it in brown envelope with my name on it and left it on my dressing table while I was in the shower. Then he left the house. I did what I was told: I called my parents and told them what was going on and later on I told the kids. Daughter left the house in floods of tears. Son retreated to his bedroom.

Did Hubby and I discuss this? Not really. Let me make something clear: there is a difference between fantasy and reality. This person and I were and are separated by an ocean and 4,000 miles. We did not have sex. We didn't even see each other. In a desperate move to salvage the trip to America, I suggested marriage counselling. I found a counsellor. I made the appointment. We went twice. Hubby managed to charm and impress the counsellor. I said I thought Hubby was a control freak. He said he was just careful. I melted into the couch. I said initially I would cease contact with my friend. And I did. We had planned to meet up but that obviously was cancelled. The trip was back on though.

But after a few days of being treated like a Jezebel by Hubby, I contacted my friend again. Why couldn't we have a friendship? Why couldn't we see each other in America? And so we made plans. And kept in touch. And I got caught by Hubby the day before we were to see each other. Again, just how he found out is subject to debate. For Hubby lies and I don't know what's true and what isn't with him anymore. So my friend and I didn't see each other. We had agreed that it had to be platonic, just friends. Hubby didn't believe this and began a nightmare campaign to rip to shreds every bit of privacy I might have had or wanted.

He also began to work on the kids. And I made a very wrong assumption, which was that my kids would forgive me and still love me. But they took his side. Why and how are subject to debate. I think he showed Daughter some of the evidence he amassed against me (to "save" the marriage, he said.). I think Daughter told Son. He certainly started to have conversations with her in the kitchen with the door closed. I overheard a few. Brochures for holidays to the Caribbean started arriving at the house. Daughter and I have been on a roller coaster ever since. I think sometimes she forgets how angry she is at me and acts almost normal with me. Then something happens to remind her. I say the wrong thing. I do the wrong thing. I spent October and November either in tears or on the brink of tears. Things seemed to ease up in December, then they treated me very badly on Christmas Day. I know it was hard for all of them, and I tried really hard to make it normal. I went up to my room and cried, then squared my shoulders and made Christmas dinner. By New Year's I'd pretty well recovered. Till I discovered my birthday card from my mother had been ripped open and the money inside taken. I had an almighty fit about that.

I think Hubby took it. Why? What would you say to a woman screaming that someone in the house had stolen her birthday money? You would say the postman probably took it. He didn't. He said, "I'm not surprised; you're so untidy." The unopened card had arrived early so I left it downstairs in the kitchen to open on my birthday. On New Year's Day I spoke to my mother and she said to put it in a safe place. Now, with Hubby's history of spying on me, maybe I should have been more careful. But I wasn't. Spying and stealing are two different things. Or so I thought. But I also know that in his diary he had made a note of how much American money I'd given back to him after our trip with a question about what happened to his share of the money my mother had given us when we had visited her. Yes, I held back some money. I held back $100 that I'd held back the year before as well. And I held back what I figured was left over of my share of what my mother gave us.

Daughter thought and thinks I overreacted. It was the postman, she told me later during another argument. Ah yes, that argument. She was to appear in four dance shows at her dance school's annual prizegiving last month. "I want to go to all of them," I had told her. She didn't want me to, then said she didn't care. I took the information sheet up to my room so I could book tickets for everyone. She waited till I went out then ordered tickets for her dad, her brother, and her friends. How did I find out? I found a print-out next to the computer that said "Thank you for ordering tickets." I asked Hubby about it and he said she'd said I could sort myself out.

I don't know if I can express accurately what this made me feel. That girl has been dancing since she was 2 and a half, when I started taking her to ballet lessons. I'd found her one day dancing on the dining room table and watching herself in the mirror and I thought she'd enjoy it. And so she has. I have taken her to lesson after lesson, exam after exam, dance competition after dance competition. I have taken her for ballet shoe fittings. I have done her hair, her makeup. That day that I found the printout I was due to meet her at a beauty salon to pay for her eyebrow wax, then take her to the hairdresser's to get her hair coloured (and pay for that too). I texted her that she could sort herself out. Then I felt guilty about those working women with whom I'd made the appointments. So I turned up at the beauty salon and I paid. I cried the whole way there though. Then I took her to the hairdresser. But first I stopped at the carwash. As the car was being washed, she and I had it out. She even cried a bit, something she rarely does.

Did things improve? A bit. And then not. Just last night I heard her downstairs talking to her father about his two job possibilities (oh yes, Hubby's unemployed streak looks set to end). "Too bad Mum won't get to enjoy it," I heard her say.

I don't know what the end will be to this story. Just last year she sobbed to me that she didn't want her dad coming in her room when he'd been drinking. So I got him to give up drinking during the week. I hate Hubby for his part in this. "It's all your own fault," he would sneer back. Yes, I suppose I am at fault for much of this. And what I think about that would be a whole other post. Some of this is just teen-age girl rebellion, I suppose.

One positive thing is I have apologised to my own mother for the way I treated her when I was 15. Perhaps one day Daughter may do the same.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Working on Getting Work

Divorce is a nasty business, and it brings out the nasty side of many people. Yesterday, I had an appointment at my local job centre to tell them how I'm getting on with my job search (more on that later). The woman I saw and I are both going through marital breakups, but hers seems far worse than mine. So far, Hubby has shown a vindictive, picky, nasty side. But he hasn't physically harmed me -- yet. This woman's husband in a fit of pique threw her to the floor when they were arguing over money. She has bruises. She said she never in a million years thought he would get violent. Then he called the police on HER. She sneaked a peek at her son's texts and discovered he has been telling lies about her to his dad. Now that, I think, is the hardest part of divorce: your children rejecting and betraying you to your other half. I explained that her son has done this because he's afraid of losing his dad's love. I suggested she look up the five stages of divorce on the internet. I told her I won't even buy a lottery ticket till my divorce is final.

And then I looked at this woman and thought, "You have a job and you don't even know all this. How come I can't get a job?"

And that, for me, is the biggest challenge. Yes, divorce is nasty and negative. But it can also unlock doors that have been shut for years. I am on a journey to employment. I started off very naive. Times have changed since I last updated my resume. I've found professional people to help me do it for free. Job seeking is also different. The internet has made it so much easier. Doesn't mean I'm getting employed though. I started off looking for receptionist and business admin jobs, figuring that I would have to start over in the working world. But I didn't even get an interview in all the 50-plus applications I sent off. The woman who helped me with my resume suggested I start looking in journalism and related fields because that's my background. Well, duh. Why didn't I think of that? Then she referred me to a program being run by the local college for getting longterm unemployed people back to work. I'm taking a computer course as well. It's all a learning curve, and it gets my mind off the more negative aspects of this divorce.

One thing my counsellor suggested I do was develop a relationship with myself. I think that's exactly what's happening here. I'm thinking about my positive qualities and how they can be put to use in the working world. And maybe one day an employer will agree with me.

Doesn't hurt to try.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Lies, Damned Lies

I'm trying to decide whether to use this blog as a sort of blowing-off-steam, getting-it-off-my-chest space in which I tell all about the demise of my marriage or as a space to talk about getting my new life off the ground. Perhaps a bit of both.

So much has happened in the months since I last blogged. Not much of it positive. I could blog on and on about Hubby and the lies he's told (and probably continues to tell). Small lies. Big lies. Needless lies. And I know them all. How? The man who sneeringly told me I should never write anything down wrote everything down himself. Then threw it in the bin. Passwords for Passwords for his email account. Passwords for his googlemail account he opened to send me a fake email from my paramour. Passwords for the real list of assets (as opposed to the one he showed me). Did he not know that years of doing jigsaw puzzles with my children made me a dab hand at piecing together his rubbish? And then there was his diary. He felt compelled to write everything in it too. When my daughter texted him to tell him she saw me coming out of his study (I don't remember why I was in there -- either to read the diary or to get a copy of a utility bill so I could open a bank account in my own name). When he told our son's cross-country coach that we were splitting up (in October, but he lied about it in December). I got quite obsessed with all the subterfuge for a while. Then, I decided I was better off not knowing. I just assume now that he comes in my room and goes through my stuff (and every now and again I find telltale signs). I just assume that he continues to lie. I believe nothing he tells me. If he says it's dark outside, I go outside just to check it's true. But I don't go through bins. I don't read his diary. I don't go in his study. I don't care anymore.

He's always been a liar, but I used to have nicer words for it. He embellished the truth. He exaggerated. I used to find excuses for his lying. Not anymore.

One of his acquaintances used to read this blog and told him about it. Zoe P, if you still read this, and I hope you don't, I hope you realise there is more than one side to the story of every marital breakdown. I noticed today that I have one less follower. Was it Zoe? Was it Hubby? Was it Hubby's sister?

Here's another lie I heard Hubby tell someone on the phone. According to him, my first marriage broke down when I got caught red-handed by first hubby having a one-night stand. Pure fiction. The one-night stand happened AFTER the marriage ended. First hubby never caught me red-handed at anything. And how do you think Hubby found out that there ever was a one-night stand? He read a diary I kept nearly 20 years ago. He read that diary 11 years ago but kept quiet about it. Till he read a diary I kept for about a week in September before he took it out of my handbag, read it, and made photocopies of it. I wrote private things that I never wanted anyone to read. I was trying to organise my thoughts and feelings, hoping against hope that I would "come to my senses" about staying in my marriage. More fool I for writing them down.

Hubby bragged to his friend that he would destroy me. He emailed my parents to say they would never see their grandchildren again because he had no intention of ever going on holiday to the US again (did he think I wouldn't take the kids to see their grandparents?). My mother had chest pains all night after reading that. He told Daughter he was going to take her and her brother on a Caribbean holiday, then told her "the lawyers" said he couldn't do it till the divorce was final. I don't know who "the lawyers" were, but my lawyer never said a word about it and I doubt his did either.

Sometimes marriages break down and the people involved don't have a clue why until the divorce proceedings start and it gets down and dirty. And that's what has happened in my case. I realise now that my marriage was in trouble before I even started this blog. It was in trouble before it even started. Hubby lied and I chose to believe his lies. I lied too, to myself mostly, because I didn't want to admit to myself that I'd given up so much for such an unsatisfactory relationship. I used to believe that we could tell each other anything, but the truth is we never told each other much of anything at all. For example, Hubby had a MAN problem that I didn't even know about. He went to the dr. and told me later that it was for something else. I think the dr. gave him some blue pills, which I think he took the night before he discovered the infamous draft email. I think that's why he reacted so extremely bad. I think all of his behaviour since then has been a result of his hurt manhood.

I can understand being hurt and being angry. But vowing to "destroy" me? Involving my family and telling them they won't see their grandchildren again? Lying to me and about me? That's just downright cruel. I didn't set out to deliberately hurt him or destroy him. I should feel guilty. But I don't. I did feel enormously bad for the kids, but after Christmas -- when I tried so hard to make it as pleasant as possible and they tried equally hard to hurt me -- I didn't feel so bad about them anymore. After all, I haven't run off with another man. I'm still here living in an extremely difficult situation. I still wash their clothes, cook their meals, give them money, take them places. I'm the same mother I was. I just don't love their father anymore. They don't know how hateful he's been to me. And I won't tell them either.

So here I am at 50, about to be single again and a lot poorer. Unable so far to find employment. I should be scared, so scared I don't want to leave my marriage. But I'm not. Instead, I'm excited by my pending independence. My mother has warned me that some of my friends might dump me along the way. Let them. If they do, they weren't very good friends in the first place and I'm better off not having to carry that baggage around.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Well, Here's All the Gossip

I was going to create a new blog and start over. And make sure hubby and his two friends and five acquaintances couldn't have access. And then I thought, "Fuck it." This is my blog, now three years old. I've enjoyed writing it. I've met great people through it. Hubby may mock my blog name, but he is ignorant of its origins. And of many other things as well.

So what is happening in my life? What isn't happening in my life? I am getting divorced, selling my house, searching in vain for a job, putting up with two very stroppy, self-absorbed teen-agers, taking a computer course, trying to finish up my massage coursework. Wow, I'm out of breath just writing that. I never pictured my life at the half-century mark as being like this.

And what about Hubby? Still hasn't found a job. Has been absolutely horrible to me at times and feels quite justified in that. I keep trying to put myself in his shoes. Would I treat him the same way if he had fallen for someone else? Nope, don't think so. He is incapable of discussing his feelings with me or in acknowledging that I might feel and think differently to him. And so we come to this chapter in our lives. I've sprouted quite a few grey hairs in the last few months. I can't trust anyone in my house. My personal papers have been gone through. Money my mother sent me for my birthday was stolen by someone in this house. I can't leave my laptop unattended. Do I deserve this? Hubby seems to think so. So does Daughter, for she has shown quite clearly whose side she is on. Hers, of course, but she favours whichever parent can give her something.

Do I cry? Oh yes. Usually in the morning. Then I buck up and get on with another day. I always have something to do. And what makes me happy? My friends, my cats, singing (I now belong to two choirs). Of course, I can't entertain my friends in my house at the moment. Hubby has said none of my friends are welcome here. I could say the same for him but he doesn't have any friends. Well, he has two. And some acquaintances. Don't come to this house, any of you. If my friends aren't welcome, neither are you.

I was seeing a counsellor but Hubby was noting down each time I went and how much money was being spent. So I stopped going. Money seems to be his main focus. The last time I dared to assert myself as being the mother of our two children and still having a right to a say in what they do or don't do, he sneeringly called me a spendthrift and said all my family are spendthrifts, bankrupts, and divorcees. And that our children would be inheriting quite a bit of money from his family. Now that surprises me because he's always told me what a mess his parents' finances are in. And his sister and brother are now unemployed as well. But I don't place the same emphasis on inheritance as he does. Yes, it's nice to inherit money, but isn't it nicer to earn your own? As for me being a spendthrift, well, that made me laugh -- it was much later on, but still I did laugh. He married me because SALE is my favourite four-letter word.

People, the man is pathetic in his cluelessness. I want to hate him, and sometimes I do, but really I feel sorry for him. First of all, he thinks he's given me a gold-plated lifestyle, but it's only brass. Comfortable, yes. But not luxurious. Never that. I drive a 9-year-old car. It's a good reliable car and I like it. But it's not a late-model Mercedes or Range Rover. Our house has been done up, but on the cheap. I haven't had to work, but I haven't had designer clothes like my friends who work can afford. I don't even have Marks and Spencer clothes. I have supermarket chic clothes.

Hubby has said he has no respect for me. He's called me a bitch and said our two children "fucking hate" my guts. Well, they probably do at times. And truth be told, there are times I'm not too fond of them. I've considered walking out on the lot of them (have I mentioned that we're all still living under the same roof?). But then my children would have only their father as the parental influence in their lives. And I can't allow that. They NEED me. They may not realise they do but in time they might. I can't allow a man whose sole motivation in life is money to be the only influence in my children's lives. Not that they want to be influenced by me. But deep, deep down, it will leave a mark on them. And when they turn 50, perhaps they will forgive me. And understand me.

Or perhaps not.

My first divorce was so much easier. No kids, no house to sell. Just split the possessions down the middle. First ex, I forgive you for I realise now that you actually behaved quite honourably. Unlike this one, who wants to know what I did with £40 I made in an attic sale (like a garage sale). For the record, I gave £13 to each of the children and kept £14 for myself since I did all the work. He also wanted to know what I did with £175 he gave me in lieu of going on a trip with him and the kids. For the record, I deposited it and haven't spent it. In 2008 I bought my family's Christmas presents at charity shops because Hubby had me thinking we were practically on the bread line. He went and spent the same amount of money on his family that he always has. In 2009 I paid for my family's Christmas presents with the credit card. He paid for his family's out of our joint account. He tried to make that credit card debt all mine and couldn't understand how unfair that is. He wanted to know what three cheques I wrote for the amounts of £300, £300, and £210 were for. For the record, two were paid to the courts and one was a deposit to my solicitor. Meanwhile, he opened a savings account in his name and promptly deposited £42,000 from our joint account into it. It now has £1000 in it and he appears to have returned the rest of the money.

Or maybe not.

He wants to know if I plan to remarry. For the record, none of your fucking business, bub. But not for five years at least.

I still believe in the institution of marriage. I just don't seem to be very good at it.

I've come up with several career path ideas, which I will write about further at another time. In fact I'm full of ideas. This split seems to have unlocked all my creativity. I can't wait to get on with the next chapter in my life.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Wakeup has gone to sleep

But she may reawaken one day with a new invitation-only blog. Look out for your invites, and let me know if you want one.