This is a difficult post to write.
Some may say an unusual thing to have on a list of 50 things to achieve in my 50th year. But it has been a long, hard haul to this point, and the final rubber stamp of Decree Absolute has been something I’ve been keen to achieve so that a line in the sand can finally be drawn.
It was September 14th 2014 when my husband walked out after an argument and chose to stay with a friend rather than come home. He never came home.
I’m not going to pretend to you that we had a marriage made in heaven. I would never claim to have been the ‘perfect wife’. We had had our ups and downs, our crises. I’m perfectly willing to be corrected on this, but I think we were at a point in our marriage that many couples reach – financial pressures, busy kids that we spent a lot of time running round after, constant niggles of keeping the house ticking over (not helped by the recent completion of an extension), a feeling at times that there must be more to life… But I always believed that beneath it all, and despite the volatile nature of our relationship, we were solid and we were going to ‘go the distance’.
Seems he didn’t feel the same.
The last three months of 2014 were hideous. I cried. A lot. I took weeks and weeks off work, which was stressful in itself as I was on a temporary cover contract. My colleagues and the school I was working at were terrifically supportive. My friends (and God knows you get to know who your real friends are) were amazing. Thank you Kate for cleaning my house; thank you Jacky for taking the glass of wine off me at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and giving me a good talking to; thank you Cath for scraping me up off the floor/sofa/breakfast bar and standing me back on my feet; thank you Heather for constantly assuring me that I could and would be ok, and for all your help in the financial negotiations; thank you to the friends who have walked my dog, looked after my kids, taken my blood pressure (!), got drunk with me… I can’t mention everyone by name, but you have all made my life worth living and helped me to be strong enough to make it this far.
2015. I worked bloody hard to broker a settlement that would allow us to divorce and that would have minimal impact on the kids. Frankly, it seemed he was not really up for negotiating, and boy was it frustrating. The solicitors bills were mounting, and despite achieving Decree Nisi in August, we arrived at the end of the year seemingly no closer to sorting everything out.
And then, 2016 arrived and with it a determination and urgency to reach closure. In a nutshell, he capitulated over finances, agreeing to a deal that had been on the table since about September 2015. The paperwork was drawn up and sent to the courts. It seemed to take forever for the stamp of approval on the Consent Order (damn you District Judges for taking Easter holidays), but all of a sudden the approval came through. Then the final step – Decree Absolute. Confirmation of which arrived in my inbox yesterday.
So, how do I feel?
Yesterday was a mixture of relief, sadness and excitement. I wanted to shout out loud (not really appropriate in the office) and tell everyone (including the Asda employee who fetched more champagne for me to buy)! I sang with my kids, I celebrated with my friends, and today I woke up with a banging champagne hangover!
I am excited – for a new chapter of my life, full of possibilities. Challenges too. But I think I’m ready for them.
I am sad – I gave 23 years of my life to a man I loved. My wedding day was, and still is, the most perfect day I could have wished for. We may not have been a match made in heaven, but we worked together. I miss that man. But I know he doesn’t exist any more, and I have consoled myself with that during the tough times. The man I married, the man I loved, the father of my children – the man I see today is not that man. Mike, I loved you the best I could. I hope you find whatever it is you are looking for. Whatever became so unbearable about our life together that you needed to leave, I hope you can remember that there were good times. I hope for everyone’s sake that both you and I can now find some stability and some happiness and move forward. The end of an era.
And now I’m off. To be brave….
[13 down, 37 to go]