Remove the expectation

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I haven’t written anything since my birthday, at the end of March. I couldn’t and I am still struggling. It’s not lack of ideas or stories. It’s simply that I am incapable of sitting still with my thoughts, and putting them down makes them somehow more real. I am not scared of real, but right now I can almost feel myself changing from week to week, from day to day, sometimes from the morning to the afternoon and it is all real but it’s ever-changing. This is probably what people describe as an emotional journey. I wouldn’t know because even though I have gone through change before I don’t remember being aware of me changing with the external situation.

I don’t run away or hide from my thoughts, on the contrary, I think all the time but find it easier to keep some sort of perspective by being on the move, therefore I am always doing something (not that I lack of stuff to do between the girls, the house, the activities, the school run and all the other errands). And I am always listening to music, teenager style: I fall in and out of love with songs on a daily basis and am capable of putting the same song(s) on repeat for a number of hours without realising how many times it plays. It’s a coping mechanism, not a permanent state: I crave immobility and silence but don’t know how to deal with them right now.

I am not the same person I was in March, when I wrote my last post and I am not the same person I was at the beginning of the year, last October, last August or a year ago. I will also add I wouldn’t go back to any of those versions of me. Ever.

A year ago I was drowning and I didn’t even realise it. In August-September I figured out I was deep down underwater. In October I managed to surface for air. Gasped until the end of the year and in January I was just above the water level. It was horrible but it was better than a whole year before and that’s what made my self preservation kick in: I was determined to survive and I knew I was a strong enough swimmer to be able to, I just had no idea how to.

I still have no idea on what comes next but in the last 4 or 5 months I’ve learned that a lot of what we think matters to be able to move forwards doesn’t. Not really. They are excuses we make for ourselves.

I thought I needed an explanation from Tom. I thought I needed an apology, from him and (possibly) from vitto. I thought vitto’s husband should’ve done something, anything to solve things at his end. I thought Tom and I needed to keep on talking things through. I thought the world needed to know how I felt, why I filed for divorce and at the same time tried to find a different way forwards. I wanted people to understand, I wanted Tom to understand his actions and the consequences. I talked to him a lot. I wrote endless texts, messages, letters. And guess what? NOTHING of what I thought I needed came back.

What I did get was more shit:

  • I got a list of the type of men I should be with and that would be able to satisfy my unreasonable need for a connection with the partner I chose to be with
  • being married I didn’t have a right to be my own persona unless this could fit in 100% with my husband’s needs (I did not have the right to chose where to live or the kind of job that suited me, I should have a “normal” job that allows his company to relocate me as and when needed)
  • I didn’t have the right to want a third child
  • I don’t have the right to have dreams because I come across as someone who always sees the glass half empty
  • I am unfit for today’s world because deep down I crave stability for my daughters and for me
  • I am to blame for tearing apart our family, for destroying him financially, for not teaching the girls Italian properly AND for his betrayal.
  • I am a horrible person because I contacted a stranger to dig up dirt on him (the stranger being his mistress’ husband), because I spoke to my friends about what was really going on, because I was ruining his reputation and image, because I decided to take out my anger on vitto when the blame is mine and mine alone.

Around mid March my heart froze all of a sudden. I remember the exact moment this happened: it was a Saturday afternoon and I was driving to the pet hospital with Evie to pick up our cat GinGin who had been very ill for the past 10 days and was well enough to come home. The other two were at home with Tom. We were chatting, stuck in traffic because of the Arsenal fans heading home after the match when I received an iMessage from my friend asking me how things were going and if I was still willing to have Tom back. My friend asked me this question at regular intervals and I always had a reason to say “yes”, “maybe”, “if” … That time I simply said “no”. I couldn’t find a single reason to say “yes”. Even the girls had become a lame excuse because I realised I would not be able to give them what children need within a “normal family”: happiness and security. I wouldn’t even be able to fake it until “one day when…”.

One single text and my whole emotional world changed. Completely and all of a sudden. I removed every single expectation on how things should be according to me and what I believed what was right.

We picked up GinGin and went home. On the drive back I set myself two goals:

  • stop asking Tom for answers, which meant stop all discussions, conversations, fights, provocations and reactions to provocations
  • make him accept his responsibilities as a dad, because the girls need one even if he doesn’t happen to be with their mother as a couple

And I acted on both:

  • almost two months later and we haven’t had a single fight: I limit conversations to what requires an answer from him (regarding the girls, the house or other logistic matters), and we are now at the point where he has tried various times to initiate some sort of discussion on our diverging points of view and I have stonewalled him by replying that I am not in the mood for it because it’s too soon.
  • whenever I can I just leave him to it with the girls: it’s still not enough and he is still a long way away from me trusting him blindly with the girls, mainly because he doesn’t understand that us going separate ways also means that when he is with them HE is the one responsible for all of their needs: it’s too convenient to rely on me just because I am around.

As a consequence I have had some time off (not a lot), I have started doing little things I used to love, and most importantly I have started to rediscover myself, what I like, what I need, what I am like when I am just being “me”.

The mistake I take responsibility for is putting myself in a corner and letting everyone else’s needs come first. I hid behind the girls. I hid behind the reality of the continuous moves demanded by Tom’s job. I hid from myself and from everything I didn’t want to see. I hid because it was easier than admitting that a lot of things were wrong. And I struggle big time to acknowledge that it is not my fault. We were together for a very long time. We were a match once. Then we grew up. And we started seeing life differently. I tried to want what Tom wanted. It wasn’t me but I thought it would be ok, until I got to the point when I couldn’t feel guilty for wanting to be me any more, just like I finally realised it wasn’t fair for him to be someone he is not. I tried to have a conversation about it. He chose to look for instant gratification elsewhere. At the beginning of our relationship he made me promise that the day things weren’t working any more we would sort it out decently. My thought at the time? Yeah, right …

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Remember to Forget Birthdays

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Up until last Christmas, Evie had been kissed good night by no other than me except for the night her sister Tilly was born, when she was a few months short of turning 4,  and the night her baby sister Mia was born, when she had just turned 6. She is 7 years old.

Up until last Christmas, Tilly had been away from me only for a handful of hours and had never been put to bed by anyone but me. When her baby sister Kai was born she demanded Tom change her nappy and get her bottle of milk ready; she then read herself her favourite Christmas book, despite it being only the end of August, and put herself to bed. She is a few months short of turning 4.

To this day, baby Mia, almost 18 months old, has never been away from me for longer than an hour (a couple of times a week I allow myself the luxury of an hour at the gym).

Tom loves the girls. Always has. There is no denying his feelings towards them. But… he has never had any interest in taking care of them and certainly doesn’t try to see the world with their eyes. His relationship with them is about him: about what he needs, what he feels they should do, what he needs them to do, what his parents tell him he should do, what his work colleagues advise him to do.

Evie and Tilly will happily play the Wii or grab hold of one of his many electronic devices (iPad, iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPhone 3GS, Blackberry) when he’s around. Mia is heading in that direction too. I am not that nice: my phone is off limits (unless it’s a situation that requires it, like a hygienist visit: hand iPad to Mia and phone to Tilly in order to get the job done) and I limit their time in front of the tv or playing with any of that stuff.

They are also crazy about climbing all over him when he is lying on the sofa…

I made the huge mistake of only letting him do what he felt comfortable doing, from the day Evie was born. He was disgusted by nappies? He only got to change them in an emergency. He didn’t have the patience to spoon feed them? He wasn’t even invited at the kids dinner table. He needed to sleep so he could work the next day? He was never asked to do any sort of night shift. He got bored at the playground? I always tagged along so he could sit on a bench and get lost in his phone instead.

I always thought that one day he would realise, he would see that he wasn’t doing much with them or for them. That meant I had to do it all. And it made me angry to feel like I was invading his personal space, not caring about his personal need to wind down on the rare occasions when I needed an extra pair of hands. I learned to do it all, with the girls and with no help.

The only thing I didn’t do was bring home a pay check. That’s the “only” thing he did for us: he supported us, financially. Emotional and physical support are now being defined as always seeing the glass half empty. I had no right to complain about him not being there, because he worked for us. I had no right to complain about mention missing a hug (not a hug that lead to sex), not feeling any human touch or emotional connection: he was doing everything that was expected from him. I was simply “unsatisfiable”.

At Christmas he asked to have Evie and Tilly on his own with his mother (because the girls are sort of comfortable around her) for a few days so that they could go to Turin, where he works and “lives”. HE had the need for them to start having an image of him as a dad. HE had the need to prove that they would be fine all on their own, with him, without the overpowering controlling mother. He didn’t care that maybe for the first time 5 days were a little too much. He didn’t realise it all went ok because I prepared them. He wasn’t with us on the night we all got back to Nanna’s house and all they wanted to do was wear their fairy nighties and tell me all about their trip behind locked doors: they refused to leave our bedroom and wouldn’t allow Nanna or Pops to join us. He never heard Evie say: “it was ok, but I am not sure I wan’t to do this every year, I missed you and i hated them trying to comb my hair every day”. He never heard Tilly say that she is never going back unless I go too.

Little do they know…

Today I got a text in which Tom informs me that he would like to take the girls back to Italy from the 12th to the 19th of April. Mia is too small and in any case he would just hand her over to his mother. He expected an immediate approval so he could book tickets and sort out his holiday requests. I was fuming: the Easter holidays are almost 3 weeks long and he chose the week of Tilly’s 4th birthday. He knows birthdays are a big big deal for me: I don’t believe in not celebrating a birthday, no matter what the reason (too old, not in the mood, don’t care about them….). I texted back, demanding an explanation and making it clear that next year her birthday is with me, regardless of where Easter falls: her birthday will always be in the middle of the holidays.

He said we should talk, that there is no point in texting and that he doesn’t want to argue about everything.

Because… he didn’t plan it that way on purpose, he FORGOT all about Tilly’s birthday being on the 15th of April.

My phone’s battery died around 3pm today, I didn’t recharge it.

Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl No More

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I survived the first month of 2014. Truth to be told it’s been overall a good month. I kind of know how to “fix” me when things are wrong. Little things, which make a huge difference, based on a self imposed change of attitude. I started running. I made sure I got back into the gym (not necessarily for the exercise, more for the sense of belonging, for seeing people I know, for having the girls taken care of in the crèche), Tilly started ballet and Evie started Street Dance (again a double catch, the local dance school waiting room is the place to be for all the local gossip), I said yes to every single coffee invite from all the mums I really like but never make time for because I’d rather make sure Tilly and Mia steam off at the park, I went on a couple of girly nights out. Normal stuff normal people do. Except that I’d put it all off because I was feeling miserable, because I was “holding on to my life”, because I wasn’t up for any of it for a long time.

I have also forced certain thoughts out of my mind. By forced I really mean “forced”. vitto haunts me. There is nothing I can do about it, but I’ve learned how to kick her out of my mind. When I can’t I just let myself be really really angry. And go for a run. Or rant with a friend. But I don’t let her be alone with me in my thoughts. If Tom is around and the conversation leads to her I will happily insult her, and let him know how disappointed I am that he brought her in my life (and that so far he has done nothing to get her out of my life either, which is even worse). But that’s about it. I decided I don’t have time for her. And I made sure I don’t have the energy for her, because by the time the girls are in bed I am exhausted. I still manage to spend a couple of hours reading, browsing, sorting out photos, texting or chatting to friends but I don’t wake up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep because of all the horrible thoughts I used to get. I sleep well. Really really well. I wake up in a good mood. I wear a little make up every single day. And people around me have noticed something is different. Which makes me want to keep on doing what I am doing.

Tom was here for two week ends in a row. And as much as I try to be in control and walk the “it’s all fine and I don’t care that you are sending us to the point of no return” talk I do have a hard time knowing that there is no point in initiating any sort of insightful conversation. Interestingly enough his reaction to this is repressed anger, which always lashes out at some point, in a ridiculous sort of way (YOU didn’t teach the girls Italian properly, YOU don’t let them be themselves, YOU wanted the cat, YOU YOU YOU….). All I’ve ever replied to that apart from stating the facts is that his only huge mistake was to withdraw. To make it look like certain things were ok for him and never say they weren’t. You can’t be lazy and speak Italian to your eldest child for 7 years and then decide her Italian is bad and it’s all my fault. And you can’t promise a 5 year old she can have a cat for Xmas and two years later say you didn’t really want such cat (and no, I never pushed for the cat. And yes I did find her, buy her and go pick her up after he made that promise to Evie).

On Monday afternoon I was finally alone for a couple of hours: Evie at school, Tilly at nursery, Mia asleep, Tom still in London visiting his lawyer. I sit at the computer and listen to a song a good friend sent me via Spotify.

I broke down. I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Because that’s exactly it. I don’t want to be in this kind of relationship any more. Even if I still want my marriage to survive. It makes no sense, I know. But that was exactly it. I had a good month on my own. I had a couple of bad week ends with Tom around. And I realised that enough is enough.

I wiped my face, woke baby Mia up with a hug and we headed out in the rain to pick up the other two, looking horrible, feeling worse and knowing that people noticed the mascara. This song in my heart.

I don’t wanna be your girl no more
No more
I just wanna see your face at home
Home

You can’t do me right
So I decide that

I don’t wanna be your girl no more
No more
I just wanna see you up and out
Out of the door

I’m not living right
So I decide that

I don’t wanna be your girl no more
No more

I won’t hide the ways I’ve tried
It’s just not right
It’s killing me tonight

So…

Mixed Up

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I feel calmer. Gone are the non stop shaking and the freezing sensation which never abandoned me for a couple of weeks at least after the bomb dropped, at the end of October.

I have only just realised I haven’t been able to write about what happened in the last four weeks. Only in the last couple of days I have started feeling like I must try to get out of my own head. I am still not able to process the truth for what it is. I am not letting myself think clearly because I am so confused I have no idea what I should even be thinking. I know I am still in shock and I am now grateful for this reaction because I am scared of the pain that will come next. I know it’s there waiting for me to be ready to deal with it. And I am scared of losing myself in it. And making wrong decisions.

Right now I KNOW Tom and I can never be the same together again. If we both wanted it maybe we could climb out of this hole. Maybe. And maybe we would be stronger than ever together. Right now I know I can’t be with him because of what he’s become, because of the way he’s been treating me, because he has shown no remorse, no regret, nothing that shows that he even understands why having a double life for a year was wrong. He does’t see that his behaviour is tearing our family apart. Yes, we had problems we needed to deal with, but nothing as big as this. Nothing that could justify his cheating and lying.

Not that I would advocate staying together for the sake of the girls, but I find it surreal that he doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that we TRYING to see if there is anything we can salvage. We are both hurt. And by being in another relationship he sabotaged any chance we had of even trying to sort “us” out. We both have a lot to lose. That should be enough for us to want to try. And if we don’t get through it as a couple maybe we will have a better ground for being parents to our girls together. But, yet again, it is all wrong: I shouldn’t be pleading the man that cheated on me to give us a chance. He is lucky to even get this chance. And has no clue.

At the same time I want Tom back. I want us back. I want my girls to have a father. I want Tom to want me back. And I also know that, given the circumstances, all want, or think I want is probably very wrong for me. Because the foundations aren’t there any more..

I’ve gone from frustrated, to angry, to the depths of desperation, to sadness, to numbness, to accepting there is nothing I can change or do to change things, only to start with the same cycle over  again. And again. And again.

I’ve had endless talks with a few good friends. I’ve had useless discussions with Tom. I’ve heard so many lies I don’t even know why I feel the need to try and bring us to a level where we can try and communicate.

My mood is still wild and my head can’t stop thinking. I feel like I’ve been hit so hard I have no idea how it even happened.

I am a mixed up lady to say it with Tilly’s words: that’s what she called me after I fed her Mia’s baby food by mistake (I was spoon feeding them both at the same time). She has no idea how close to the truth she is. I am the queen of the mixed up ladies!

We cannot make decisions for those we love

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Beautiful words in reply to the message I sent C yesterday .

K, I don’t remember what I wrote to you, but it was probably unfiltered, raw, and as honest as I could have been at the time, just knowing me. It is nice that words can have impact a decade along, once we’ve lived more.

I don’t know what you are specifically going through but whatever it is specifically, it’s likely not the specifics that are the issue anyway–the evidence so to speak. I too am now a father. I’m a coach. I’m a husband. If there is anything I’ve learned since our lives brushed and we very clearly loved each other for who each was; what I’ve learned is that we can make decisions for ourselves and we can make decisions for the good of those we love, but we cannot make decisions for those we love. All we can do is hope that love prevails–that love conquers all that is poor, dark, and gray in the imperfection that is being human. When someone is sad that they hurt loved ones, there is always hope. But when that is out asunder, I truly don’t know what to make of that. I am thankful that I have never experienced it. But I can see how selfishness is all around, as our personal time gets eaten at the service of those we love–those who make a family what a family is and should be.

I don’t have answers to how to work around deceit. All I can say is love your children. Love them so that no matter what, they grow knowing what truth and love are.

I wish you love and courage.

Sincerely,

C