One year ago today, i.e. the Sunday of the May half term week, and not long after my parents had left after staying to help with the children, David told me he was thinking of leaving.
The weather had been lovely: I had got out on my bike several times. However I had cycled with a black weight of resentment on my back: resentment that I felt I was doing most of the housework and that David seemed detached not only from me but from the children. I have a clear memory of cycling in a vaguely northerly direction and thinking that perhaps I should just keep going; that I should run away from home.
My initial reaction when he told me he was thinking of leaving was a mixture of anger, hurt and incredulity. Yes, we had spoken about living parallel lives; yes I was aware that we spoke of little to each other than the children; yes I was conscious that when we had gone out together I had ended up feeling as if I was reaching out in the dark to someone whom I could only dimly see. But surely, I thought and hoped, this was a common situation for many people with young children, and it would improve as the children got older and we had more time for each other again.
One year ago we started going to marriage guidance counselling. I wanted to save my marriage. David had been brave and honest enough to express clearly how dire the situation was; I could see that I had grown distant to him but hoped that together we could repair the damage. Each counselling session I sat there with tears rolling down my face, trying to reach out: guilty and sad that I had not given him the love he craved. I went for a lunchtime run one day and ended up crying: one of my best friends phoned me and I chatted to her whilst I stood in the sun at one of my favourite spots, the trees in the field behind Talkin Tarn where you can gaze up at Talkin Fell.
In July my efforts seemed to pay off and we had a couple of lovely weekends where it was like having a new relationship. However it was not to be: shortly afterwards David said he could not switch his feelings back on; shortly after that, having been out for lunch with a female, single (divorced) friend, he told me he was moving out. Alex, my beautiful but sensitive older son, not having been bidden farewell by his father on the day David actually moved out, stood at the door and howled for his father and I felt his agony almost physically. For a couple of months anger – anger that he could treat my son like that, and anger that he could make it all up with me and then toss me aside again – gave me a new energy and I loved my new, single life, making the most of being able to go away at weekends without the children in tow.
Then the financial reality hit and by November I was highly stressed. Alex again was the one who suffered, becoming deeply unhappy and tearful: unhappy that I was stressed and unhappy; unhappy that Isabella was spikey (and probably unhappy). My letters to the Child Tax Credits office – and then to the Adjudicator’s Office when the CTC proved totally incompetent – became increasingly desperate. I went on a spa weekend and was violently sick: Caroline is still convinced that it was a psychological ‘cleansing’ and I think she may well be right.
By Christmas we were beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. My tax credits finally came through and I could sort out things like the mortgage, and see what my monthly income and expenditure were; I seemed to have some male interest in me; and every-so-often someone would make a pertinent comment which would help me with whichever particular aspect of the separation was bugging me at the time.
We now seem to have settled into our new routine, the children and I. David’s words that he thought I wanted to save our marriage because I was afraid of being on my own, which I knew were untrue, have been proved untrue. After years of feeling unattractive – a household drudge – I feel attractive and, what’s more, free, again. 2014 might have had good weather but it was the year of broken things. Next time I start to complain about the cold, wet, almost wintery weather we are still having – on the eve of June 2015 – I must just remind myself that whatever the weather, I am happy, and enjoying enormously re-establishing contact with friends, many of whom I had hardly seen since meeting David.
Sadly, I have not lost through my separation, but gained: rewon part of myself. But I also have the added bonus of three lovely children.