Divorce: The Death of Hope and Romantic Illusion


 

Divorce is a death experience, a sundering of far more than a relationship. It is a preview of some aspects of that final walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in that it strips artifice from you and forces you to face dark and unwelcome truths. It is a severance, a wound, a move from one state to another, very different, one – analogous, in many respects, to that final move into an entirely new, and mysterious, realm.

‘Reader, I married him!’ I noted, in stunned joy, on July 28th 1997 as, five months pregnant and garlanded with freesias, I sat down to complete my diary account of the wedding. Did I entertain hopes? Of course I did! What bride doesn’t? Was I labouring under the romantic illusion of perfect love and soul-mate togetherness? Of course I was! How else was I to ignore the dark streaks already edging their way onto the canvas of the relationship? I was not the first woman to think that marriage and a child would fill in the gaps with love’s cement, nor will I be the last.

Unlike many, however, I kept hope alive and some semblance of romantic illusion simmering far longer than was healthy, constantly casting myself in the role of mad, dysfunctional, nasty witch in order to preserve the specious perfection, to believe in the wounded innocence, to empathise with the damaged soul, of the man I had married. I needed to see him as Mr. Rochester, blinded and hurt by a previous marital fire and scorching, because I did not want to admit that there was far more – and, ironically, far less! – to it than that.

Now, nine months after the Decree Absolute, I am numb, mourning, dulled, yet sparking – at some very deep level – with a strange form of grief. I do not miss the man himself, but I do miss the foolish, girlish hope and excitement (for it was, in its own way, addictive); I do miss the romantic-novel-inspired illusions; I do miss what could have been – even though I now know that it couldn’t.

But also I am saddened by a sense of failure – because I went into that marriage thinking it was for life, determined to make it work, committed to this man and, for reasons I won’t go into now, absolutely determined that I would never be unfaithful to him. It wasn’t for life. I could not, ultimately, make it work. My commitment to him wavered as a result of repeated emotional and mental abuse. And yet, and yet, for all that I could have taken other men as lovers, I never did. I couldn’t bring myself to cross that particular line, never even came close to it.

I do blame myself, though I am not quite sure why – except that the habit of self-blame goes so deep and is so pervasive that it has become like a default setting. I suppose I blame myself for not being the right kind of woman for him; for allowing behaviour which he claims I provoked; for being half of a situation which our child had to grow up in; for not being perfect, good enough, able to stand up for myself.

I had, in the end, to go No Contact – as the saying goes. It was the only way. And this I have adhered to: In the three months since I moved here, I have had no dealings with this man.

Perhaps the death of innocence has been the most wounding aspect of this whole sorry affair – and the knowledge that I read someone close to me so disastrously wrong; that I allowed good looks and charm to hypnotise me to such an extent.

But still it hurts. Still I feel that I have failed – as a woman, as a wife, as a sister, an in-law, a mother – because those fairy-tale words, ‘And they lived happily ever after…’ still have such sway over the silly, sweet, sugary imaginations of young girls, don’t they? And, as girls, I think we do feel that we have to be the cement that keeps the marital edifice in one strong piece: That it is up to us to make sure that our men do not stray, or get bored, or get angry or find anything to distract them from that which they promised as rings were exchanged and Holy Wedlock celebrated. And, as girls, I think too many of us are still brought up to believe that any crack in a relationship is our fault for being too wilful, insufficiently obedient and submissive; that we bring disaster upon ourselves by aping, at whatever level, the masculine role.

So: I mourn. I question myself. I ask whether I was too lively and loud, too fiery and frantic, too this, too that to be pleasing to a man. And I wonder, privately (as, I am sure, all abused women do at some point), whether I deserved to have my wings clipped; whether some defect in my character meant that I merited emotional punishment and constant control.

Parts of me are now fluttering uncertainly back to life. Other parts remain in deep hibernation, a kind of wintry faux-death. The tombstone of the marriage, with its dates of birth and death etched raw in the grey surface, taunts me. Its sad ghost haunts. I weep.

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This phase hurts…


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I have no words of wisdom today. My world is painful and sad and I am not going to put a bright and cheerful gloss on the walls of true feelings.

My move, which has now been dragging on for four months and more, is in serious jeopardy. I am terrified and upset – and powerless to do anything to reverse the current negative trend.

I am also having to face an excruciating truth, one which I have avoided for months: For reasons which I have, in some cases, alluded to, and in others, not, I am having to make the awful decision to end certain relationships in my life, to cut several people out of the Alienora Present Incarnation tapestry and to move on, somehow, though my heart fills with grief and my eyes with a deluge of tears.

It is so sad – and seems so unfair – that, on top of divorce and moving, I am having to make such a heart-rending series of choices about friends and, in some cases, family members. Frankly, I could do without this additional stress and distress. But I cannot ignore the signs. I cannot keep this pointless hope that those lost during, and after, the divorce are just biding their time and will return eventually; nor can I continue to duck the agonising reality that those who were not able to stretch out a hand spontaneously during the past year do not have any intention of doing so now – and that those who have ignored my emails are suddenly going to write back. They aren’t.

I am, in my own way, an optimist – and do not give up on people, or situations, easily. I did everything I could to keep my marriage going. And, over the past year, I have tried my utmost to keep in touch with those with whom I have ties of kinship or a history of affection. But eventually I had to face something painfully obvious: The effort was coming from me. If I didn’t communicate, none of them would bother.

Oddly enough, I had a tarot card reading a couple of weeks ago – and the lady said to me that I was going to have to cut a fair few people out of my life before the process was finished.

I weep because it is so sad. I tremble because it is so hard to let go; to banish that tiny ‘Maybe’ of hope; to admit to myself that there is nothing more I can do to make these relationships work; that I have, in fact, exhausted myself on a series of fruitless quests.

The awful part of this whole culling process is that I never know who is going to pop up, and show the need for my scythe’s action, next. I keep thinking I have cleared the garden of all weeds and poisonous plants, and then another one rears its hideous head and I have to hack that one down to the ground as well.

I know this is an essential part of the next chapter, the next phase – and that, when all is said and done and axed, I will be left with my true and loving circle. I just wish that day, and moving day, would hurry up because, I confess, I am tired of being hurt and disappointed and frightened that it’ll all fall through; I am sick of having to face those I cannot trust in my life and strike an axe through connections which have, in the past, meant a great deal to me.

Denial would be so much easier. But I cannot go back to that room of unconsciousness and vain hope.

I just want to feel my feet firmly on new ground.

I want this long Dark Year of the Soul to be over.

As I say, I have no words of wisdom today.

Social Nightmare – and true friends…


Yesterday was HORRIBLE: Wet, grey and weepy. Today has dawned with a feeling of Red Mist Anger upon me. I have always had a fiery temper, though in the past two decades have managed to control it for the most part. But rage is boiling. The physical pain, which has been low-key/not present, is back with a vengeance. It is all linked; I can see that: My emotions are on high, and so my body is doing its usual somatic trick. Thanks, Body. Now stop!

There is much to be furious about. My need to rant and rage is legitimate and unavoidable: I simply cannot keep it all inside anymore. It has got to come out. Fury stored becomes bitterness, sourness, sniping nastiness and corrupting envy. I don’t want any of those, thank you very much! I would rather unleash a tempest of temper and then, having calmed down, pick up anything knocked over as collateral damage!

I think, in the current climate of uncertainty (no idea when I am going to move; sharing house with my ex; the emotional roller-coaster the past year has been) there has been a deep fear, not even admitted by me until today, that everyone I loved would go over to my ex’s side – and, for all that I know how illogical this is, the terror it inspired was very real.

A nightmare, from which I awoke this morning shaking and tearful, expressed this current wave of acute insecurity very clearly: For some reason (which only the weird dream logic could explain), I fetched up at a social event arranged, by his previous ex, for my ex-husband – and saw many people I knew and loved mingling and laughing and celebrating in a sunny garden. My entry was greeted with utter silence and then, in a movement I would have seen as wonderfully balletic and synchronised under different circumstances, every single person turned his or her back upon me and shut me out.

Instead of being adult and sensible about it (and getting the hell out), my inner scared child came out and I ran around this garden, grabbing people by the arm and saying, ‘Won’t you talk to me? Please?’ – and being shaken off and ignored. Stony visages glared from all corners.

In the dream, I drove home, sobbing – and found, to my horror, that an outpost of the party was taking place in my current house and garden. Again, like a little girl, I stood on tip-toe and gazed longingly through the Living Room windows at the joy and laughter within.

And then someone spotted me.

The chant, when it started, was like something out of ‘Lord of the Flies‘. Some of you may recall the syllabic sound of a taunt from childhood – ‘Naa Na, Na Naa Na!’

To the rhythm of this, the guests were all-but-singing, ‘You are Crazy!‘ at me (giving ‘are’ two syllables) and laughing uproariously at their own wit.

But waking up showed me something else: Those who were NOT at the party. Those who had either not been invited or had made their excuses. Those, in a word, who would never ignore me out of spite or enjoy a childhood taunt directed against me through malice. Those, and several of them read my posts (and comment), who have remained loyal and loving, supportive and kind throughout. Those who have never believed that madness caused me to divorce my ex, or that my behaviour in turfing him out of my life was indicative of Early Onset Alzheimer’s.

This next bit may well make some of you laugh, or shake your heads, but I needed to do it: I actually named my loved ones out loud, and the sound of their familiar names (and the mental image of their faces smiling) gave me much comfort and helped to ward off the clingy tendrils of the nightmare.

So, thank you so much to those people who did not attend the party in my dream* – and would not dream of so-doing in real life. Between you, you have held me up and mopped me up and held my hand and comforted me whenever I have faltered – and will, I know, remain in my life when all this is over…

…and, I hope, for the rest of my life.

*Obviously, It was my subconscious at work, so the guest list came from me – but the fact that you were not there shows that, at a very deep level, I trust you implicitly.

Marital Cynicism versus Open-Hearted Love!


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At present, having recently got divorced, I am feeling somewhat cynical, even world-weary, about marriage…

…though not, interestingly enough, about love.

I have kept my bright optimism concerning love, I think because I can see it outside the narrow context of marriage and recognise that it can burn as fiercely for a parent, a child, a sibling, a close friend as it does for a spouse.

Mine was not a marriage which included the diamond. I had no engagement ring to jettison at the end of the process because we did not actually get engaged. Nor did I get married in flowing white. Nor in a church.

My wedding band has now gone. I assume our wedding certificate, from Weston-super-Mare’s Registry Office, lurks in the house somewhere. Neither of us, in the gradual de-cluttering of the place, has either mentioned or claimed this document. Our nineteenth anniversary, which would have happened two days ago, passed with as little comment as the previous eighteen had done.

I am, currently, in limbo; so, to be fair, is my ex. We continue to share the same house, though not the same bed or room. It is an uneasy truce, an uneasy time. We try our hardest to keep things as civil as we can, both for our own emotional well-being and, more importantly, for our son.

We have very different ideas when it comes to de-junking. This has not given rise to any overt conflict – though there is a kind of passive-aggressive simmering, a Summer of Discontent – but, for me, the symbolic chain it creates drags the boat perilously close to capsizing.

You see, and to continue my boat metaphor started yesterday, the shared vessel has to be cleared of all baggage – all those shipping containers full of goods from countries all over the world which make the boat so heavy – before the passengers can disembark, take their own coracles and paddle up a new stretch of the river or explore a previously unknown part of the ocean.

I seem to have floated far from marital cynicism, don’t I? But, perhaps, the distance is less than it appears; perhaps it is, in fact, a mirage!

The reason we did not get married in a church was because my ex already was, and had, an ex! He now has two ex-wives! Bags battered from Marriage One took up residence in Marriage Two. They will now accompany him, along with the baggage from Marriage Two, into whatever emotional ties he takes on in the future. Marriage Three? Who knows! Not my business! But Wife Three conforms with the trio motif which so litters our fairy stories and folk tales. Third Time Lucky and all that!

Me? Once was more than enough, frankly. I have unlimited capacity for love; but my desire for, and patience with, the formal State of Marriage, is very limited, and I very much doubt that I will be collecting Husband Two (no matter how much I may come to love any man I get involved with in the future!)…

It could be argued – and probably has been by those who have chosen to take my ex’s side – that he was very unlucky to pick two rotten apples from the Uxorial Barrel, and from two different countries/decades to boot. Poor chap!

I am also not going to claim that I was the perfect wife. I wasn’t. Who is? I’ve never met her myself – other than within the pages of fiction, that is! – have you? But I was not, and am not, a rotten apple. A bit bruised, maybe, and withered from age – but not worm-infested or purulent within!

But, for all my faults – and they are many and, by and large, recognised by Yours Truly! – I am now filling sacks with rubbish as fast and efficiently as I can and bunging it overboard at a rate of knots. My rule of thumb: If I had no idea it still lurked within the corners of the garage/hadn’t played with it for decades/had forgotten I had ever bought it, why keep it?! If it wasn’t important enough to remember, it certainly is not important enough to take up valuable space in a down-sizing exercise!

Was I ever tempted to get out the club, give my ex a terminal bang on the occiput and then use the spade to lob him under the patio? No, of course not! I’d never have got the bloodstains out, for starters, and the smell would have precluded any hope of a successful sale of the house. More seriously, for all that he and I have parted, he remains our son’s loving father – and I would venture to suggest that a Kit- Form/Soggy Dad is neither use nor ornament.

Besides, for all that I can be a cynical and sarcastic old trout, I do not have that much hatred or violence within me – and I did love the bugger once upon a long time ago!

Oddly enough, I wish my ex well in his new phase. I hope he will be happy and successful, that his life will be the way he wants it to be.

Revenge is corrosive and pointless. I would far rather tip vengeful thoughts over the side with all the rest of the unwanted baggage – and only keep small cases containing forgiveness, creativity, love and light.

Divorce: The Hidden Punishment


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The punishment – be it censorious comments, cutting off all communication, spreading vicious rumours or even outright rejection – meted out to those of us who have no option but to start divorce proceedings can make an already awful choice even more traumatic.

When I got married, nearly nineteen years ago, in my mind it was for life (not being the kind of person to wander, or to want more than one man at a time – and being keen on both commitment and security for our then-unborn child). Besides, having gone into marriage late, and loving the man I married, an ending was not something I gave any serious thought to.

But endings happen.

When I realised, nine years ago, that there were significant problems in the relationship, divorce was still the very last thought on my mind. All marriages go through difficult patches, I told myself. No couples live in heavenly perfection all day every day. My husband had had traumas in his early life which aroused my maternal sympathy. I made excuses for the way he sometimes behaved as a result. Besides, my long-established habit of shouldering the blame for everything prevented me from seeing the bigger picture.

In a word, I procrastinated. Even when I knew, post counselling (back in May 2014), that the marriage was not just dead, but, in decomposing, releasing harmful gases, I refused to let go – because I did not want to hurt our son; because one wife had already left this man and I had always vowed I would not do the same; because I did not want to sell our house; because I kept hoping for a Lazarus-type miracle; because I was terrified of the response from family and friends (few of whom knew the full story: People who have been in a partnership which has behavioural issues will understand the difficulty those affected have when it comes to confiding in others, even close family); because I was scared of starting afresh in my late fifties.

The truth: There is no perfect time to divorce, or leave, someone. I waited, hoping to see Son’s education ending before I made my move. Events prevented this. Yet, some people have condemned me, have asked if I thought about the Lad before starting the divorce process. The temptation to get sarcastic and say, ‘No, of course not! I decided on a whim, apropos of nothing, and have never considered anyone else’s needs in my life!’ is, at times, overwhelming. It shocks me to think that those self-righteous individuals, apprised of my reasons for instituting divorce proceedings, cannot see that the scenarios described would, inevitably, have had an impact upon offspring involved too; it wounds me to think that there are those who are unable to see that ending a bad marriage benefits everyone and that, as someone criticised in the past for being over-protective as a mother, I was highly unlikely to take any step in life without fully considering its likely consequences for Son.

Part of the reason I gave up teaching was because our son was not getting enough stress-free mother time; because I was spending every evening, and most weekends, marking books, was constantly fraught and unhappy, he and I passed like ships in the night. One of the many benefits of retiring early has been the blossoming of the early bond between me and the lad. I now have the time, and the emotional space, to talk with him, listen to him, go places, have fun, laugh, discuss important matters such as the divorce, help him with this next phase of his life, guide him in matters both moral and of the heart.

Those who condemned me for financial reasons failed to see that money is not the only thing in life and that, sometimes, children need proper parental engagement and emotional security far more than the luxuries a decent salary brings. What use was it earning the money I did each month when quality of life was so poor? When time with my child was so brief and impoverished?

The same goes for the divorce itself. It took me years to pluck up the courage – and, had I seen any alternative, I would have pursued that with the determination I gave to counselling.

People WILL take sides. That is, unfortunately, human nature. And, sadly, those of us who do have to go down the divorce road are likely to find that we also end up estranged from some, if not all, of the members of our ex-partner’s birth family. Why? Because blood loyalty is a hard thing to break – and often it is easier to believe the stories of a relative than to look at evidence and hard, cold reality. Sad to relate, a small collection of people (both family and friends) have chosen to believe the fiction that I am either clinically insane or in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. The logic appears to go that I must be to get divorced!

Some people WILL try to put pressure on the one who has instigated the divorce. This is a particularly unpleasant part of the whole thing which I had not fully prepared myself for. This pressure, in one case, crossed the line into outright bullying and was both shocking and deeply distressing.

Divorce is expensive, both financially and emotionally. It takes its toll, to say the least. I have wept oceans over the past ten months – and, for all the huge relief and liberation I experienced when the marriage was, finally, dissolved, I cried long and hard too because it has been a harrowing year; because I have lost people in the process; because I tried as hard as I could to prevent this outcome;  because I did love my ex once; because I was, and am, emotionally exhausted and battered by it all; because those who have taken my ex’s side refuse to see that only true desperation, and an unworkable relationship, would drive anyone into the miseries of divorce; because some people still seem to think that I have rushed into this for no reason at all; because, perhaps above all, some relatives, despite knowing the deep love I feel for my son, have still asked me, overtly or covertly, whether I considered his welfare at all.

To put it bluntly, behaviours which lead to a divorce decision typically have a deleterious effect on the young people/children as well. That some relatives/friends could possibly believe that I would deliberately harm the lad, and bail out of a marriage for my own selfish (or mad) pleasure, has hurt almost more than the long nightmare of divorce itself.

I was thirty-nine when I got married. I was brought up to believe that marriage was a sacred state, a binding commitment, and, as previously stated, for life. For me to go against these early teachings indicated the scale of the problem with which I was confronted. I loved my husband, as previously stated – or I would never have married him in the first place.

Those who started the madness rumours have no medical or psychiatric training. They are not qualified to make such a judgement, implied or otherwise. None of those who have agreed with the whisperers concerning my alleged mental state have any training in this area either! My doctor – who is trained and whom I asked, very bluntly, a few months ago – can see NO signs of insanity in me, merely situational anxiety.

Eccentric? Yes, probably! Mad? No! Alzheimer’s Disease? Who knows what ills our old age will bring (if we are lucky to survive that long)? But, at present, any small incidents of memory loss are the result of severe and continuous stress over the past ten months and more. This judgement comes from medics and not ill-informed, prejudiced members of the general public!

Divorce WILL bring out the ugliness in other people’s natures. It WILL involve mud-slinging and character assassination. It WILL allow those with an axe to grind (through unexpressed jealousy, sheer dislike or a personal agenda involving one’s ex) to get grinding away. It is unlikely to be an easy ride at any level – and, anyone who goes into it thinking it will be is going to get a huge shock very quickly.

But sometimes it is necessary – and procrastinating, no matter how well-meant, can make things worse.

Divorce will also reveal those who are loyal, loving, supportive and true. I have been blessed because, starting with sheer statistics, my well-wishers have far outnumbered my detractors. I have also been blessed because the quality of the support and love I have received (especially from my very close circle) has been both outstandingly high and wonderfully constant.

Our son has been at the centre of all my thoughts, plans and decisions from the start. Of course he has. What loving mother would dismiss a young person’s needs and wishes at any time, let alone a time of crisis? What loving mother would ever deviate from the path of doing the absolute best for the fruit of her womb?

He will survive this, as will I, as will my ex – and I firmly believe that a life in which we are not married(to one another) is to everyone’s benefit in the long term. I firmly believe that a life in which Son is sharing time with independently-living parents – and without all the unpleasantness and fear which so marked life until very recently – can only be an improvement.

Sometimes in life, we all have to make unpopular and difficult decisions – but such times can be made infinitely worse by the snide comments and outright condemnation of a small minority of others!

I am now divorced – and, for all the pain of the long labour and birth, I do not regret it, anymore than I could EVER regret the lovely boy who arrived in my thirty-nine-year-old life after such a long physical labour and miraculously wonderful birth nearly nineteen years ago.

Do I regret the marriage itself? Yes – and, no! But I do wish I had been more pro-active and ended it earlier, as soon as I realised that there was no solution to the problem.

It is one of the most difficult, traumatic things one can face in this life, and not to be taken lightly. I read of those celebrities who notch up divorces as if it were some kind of ghastly game – and I think, ‘Once was quite bad enough. How can anyone put him/herself through that multiple times?’

I have done it. I am battered and bruised emotionally, but I have kept my sanity, my sense of humour, my humanity, my love for significant others and my basic optimism regarding a post-divorce future. I never deserved punishment for my decision. Doing the deed was sufficiently punitive in and of itself!

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Terror and Temptation: The Green Girdle


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It has come, as I knew it would. My ability to hold firm is wavering. The slithering seductress of temptation leans over my bed and whispers words of apparent comfort in my ears. I know that, if I give in to her honeyed rhetoric, the pain will go away and I will be, in material ways, safe once more. I know that, if I take that shimmering and beautiful green girdle from her hands, and hide it beneath my armour, the axe may nick my exposed neck but it will not sever my head – and droplets of blood upon snowy ground will be minimal.

I am not Sir Gawain. I am Alienora. This is not the lovely Silent Eye ‘Foliate Man’ weekend. It is my life. I am not about to meet The Green Knight at the Green Chapel for the return blow. I am in the closing stages of divorce. But the principal is the same and the urge to defend myself (and others), to keep from harm, is almost unbearably strong today.

The snake sibilants susurrate over the silken bed coverings.

‘Stay where you are,’ they say. ‘You cannot afford to live any other way. You know this. Mathematician, you may not be, but even you can add two and two and make four. The sums do not add up and you are in danger of plunging everyone into serious peril. Desist! Accept this tiny gift, this green symbol of sustenance and hope…’

And, five months to the day from the moment when the chronic endless pain started, I am almost overwhelmed by a longing to call a halt, to allow the chains of severance in a marriage to clatter noisily to the ground, but to keep the super-structure of life-as-I-have-known-it intact.

The Green Girdle, for me, is the dwelling in which I live – or, rather, the absolute childlike terror that, beyond it, lies an excruciating landscape of pain, blood, hardship, loss and ruin.

The Green Girdle is singing a lilting lullaby – but, if you listen carefully (and I do), it uses childhood’s bogeymen, and other beings sequestered under the bed, to warn and cramp and trap, to fear that the slightest step out of the tried-and-tested will bring cataclysm, suffering and death.

‘You will not survive,’ the inanimate green temptress says. ‘The pain will kill you, or the lack of structures will. My way is the only way. You are not deserting your principles, simply accepting a compromise, a way of doing things which would make it easier for everyone The cost of freedom is beyond you. Do not wallow in the toxic lakes of intransigence…’

I feel tears puddling on my pillow. The voice is so loving, so convincing, so sensible – like the ideal mother we all long for. It tells me that, if I leave this castle, I will only be able to find shelter in rude huts, shacks abandoned by shepherds, echoing caves cut into inhospitable hillsides. That I will be potential prey for wild animals and wilder men and women. That walking over the drawbridge and setting off alone will cause untold damage and suffering to those who also inhabit the village-world of castle life.

I rock in my bed. Fingers and wrists, ribs and back, hips and neck all feel swollen with anguish and agony. My hands are not big enough to soothe and contain this amount of pain, nor can they make a cup sufficiently large to catch the river of tears.

I am, to use expressions coined long before I slipped from my mother’s womb, between the devil and the deep blue sea, a rock and a hard place. There is no decision I can make which will not hurt someone. There is no way that this next part of the path is going to be anything but ripping of the soles, a back thrumming with pain and bowed down by responsibility’s heavy baggage and a palsied hand trembling upon a thick carven staff.

I am no longer afraid of the wolves. They are warm and steadfast, loyal and simple in their needs. No. I am afraid that the threadbare and rotting home I dreamed of so often as a little girl is all I will find as shelter in the coming months and years. I am afraid that a flat landscape of unrelenting snow, an endless winter with no hope of spring, summer or autumn, will be the season and colour of my life to come.

The Lady, with her beauty and blandishments, is my mind – though its words and thoughts have been primed by an expert teacher. Her dizzying temptation bites deep into my most insecure places and brings forth the wail of the abandoned child, the night-time horror of a collapsing home and the primeval human fear of a life alone in the Wasteland.

I am sore afraid.

Divorce, Trust and Loyalty


The past year has been difficult. Life since October has, at times, felt unbearable, so painful and frightening that I have not known how to get through the next hour let alone the full day.

For reasons which will be obvious to most, I can divulge no details – other, that is, to say that, back in the Autumn, I finally had to make the sad and hurtful decision to divorce my partner.

The reasons, the ongoing legal proceedings and the likely outcome must remain confidential – and are not my purpose in this post.

It is the unexpected emotional fall-out with which I wish to concern myself today: Massive loss of trust, and a terror that others would condemn me (because they cannot see the full picture), dismiss my concerns or, even worse, blame and turn against me for doing this hugely difficult thing.

I was not, to cut a long and weeping story short, sure who, if anyone, would remain my friend, on my side, still loving me.

This is probably a very common by-product of divorce. I wouldn’t know. When I got married, it was, in my eyes, for life – and I had no intention, no future vision, of my world containing a severance of this nature. So, for all that I know that there was no other decision I could have made, I do feel a sense of failure.

There is something deeply, and atavistically, wounding about having to face the fact that some people you thought loyal, you had always seen as friends, are not, in the final analysis, prepared to support you in your long and desperate journey of deliverance; that there are those who judge you for what you are doing or, in sitting on the fence, condone all that has led to a decision no one actively wants to take.

However, it is not with these thin friendships that I wish to engage today (or ever: They have proved a point I now have to act upon); it is with the band of true friends who have been with me every step of the journey – and who have given me such love, support, care, respite and even joy during possibly the most difficult year of my life.

These people, knowing who I am, have seen, with utter clarity, that I had to do what I have done. They have never doubted my testimony or tried to argue me out of this lonely, sharp-stoned path. They have never once used emotional blackmail to wither me with guilt – and, for all these reasons, I thank them profoundly.

But there is more than that: This group of souls have, by loving and caring about me, allowed me to see glimpses of the person I had forgotten I was, have shown me that I am lovable and worthy to be a friend of others, that I do have good qualities – and, most importantly, that, when this nightmare ends (as end it must, eventually), I will still have people in my life.

I am not going to name names, though some of you will know who you are. But: To my friends in Scotland (with whom I have had such lovely stays, who have always been there for me and who gave me a lovely, exciting stocking full of presents for Christmas); to the family who live nearby (and who have been so supportive and gave me a wonderful party and gorgeous presents on my birthday, amongst many other acts of care and kindness); to people I have met through Silent Eye weekends (who have kept in touch, made me laugh, met up with me and been there to help); to relatives who have phoned at the right moment or sent a caring email; to the doctors at the local surgery who have dealt so patiently and kindly with the painful physical reaction to what’s going on; to the new friend in Weston, and to so many ex-pupils, who have lifted me above my misery and made me smile; to all of you, my sincerest thankfulness that I have such gems of friendship in my life – and that, when the road is dark and pitted with nails, you are there to light each section, hold my hand and make sure I don’t fall too often.

It is a truism, is it not? That the distressing events of our lives teach us who our real friends are (be they blood-kin or people we have befriended along the way); that divorce, like bereavement, is a great divider – and not everyone can cope; that such times bring out both the absolute best and the worst in all humans.

I am not sure whether this situation has brought out the best in me or not – and I will not know for sure until it is all over. What I do know is that I have been surprised and humbled, touched and reduced to tears of loving emotion on many an occasion – and, sad to relate, tears of probable rejection (certainly a luke-warm willingness to offer a hand) on others.

Ironically, my heart, during this long war of attrition, has both thawed and hardened. My sense of my own sanity has never been stronger or clearer – because no one goes through the financial and emotional devastation of divorce without a damn good reason. It is not something to be enacted on a whim, on the back of a trifling moment of marital discontent. Sadly, there are people in my life who choose not to believe this self-evident fact, and who judge me as if I were a capricious and spoilt madwoman, willing to destroy all at the touch of a legal button.

But, thanks to strengths I never knew I had (and which I am increasingly able to call upon) and the loving kindness of my Inner Circle, I will survive.