“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!”

H and I argued last night (a pointless, fruitless, miserable sort of argument – ‘how could you do this to us? To me?’ ‘I don’t know.’). Actually, I was fighting because I am so very, very sad and no one can hug me or make it better. Well, H could, if he found a spare TARDIS and nipped back a few years and told his younger self not to be such an appalling bell-end, but the BBC is very careful about not leaving evidence of alien technology about, and it’s not really going to have happened.

After said stupid exhausting business, at about two am, H went to bed, and I went to the bathroom to ablute. And of course, because it was two am and I was doolally with tired crying, the lavatory blocked. And I looked at it, and seriously contemplated leaving it and maybe burning the flat down on my way out, and then I went to get the rubber gloves.

Because it was now 2:10 am and I was doolally with tired crying and the stupid thing was thoroughly blocked, the rubber glove turned out not to be long enough and in a moment of comedy nauseating horror, the contents of the bowl flowed down inside it.

After unblocking the toilet, throwing the glove out with extreme prejudice, and scrubbing my arm and hand down with soap and water so hot it turned me scarlet three times in a row, I got into my own bed.

H, in one of his regular fits of benevolence, had put a hot-water-bottle in it earlier, before the stupid row. I stretched out my cold feet to embrace it and tried to relax. And, the water being warm, it took me several minutes to realise my feet were in a puddle.

I scrambled out of bed, flung the punctured and widdling hot-water-bottle in the kitchen sink, and rushed back with armfuls of clean towels. The water had soaked right into the mattress. Of course it had. It was 2:30 am and I was tired and miserable and had just had my unwillingly naked arm up a u-bend.

I found the spare hot-water-bottle in the bathroom, covered in dust and fluff, and remembered belatedly that it was spare because the stopper was broken and needed to be screwed and unscrewed with pliers and/or brute manly force. I subdued it eventually, scrubbed the dust off, filled it, and re-retired to bed, freezing cold and stiff as a freshly excavated mammoth calf, at 3 am.

I slept on what had been H’s side of the bed, which was weird. I say slept. I dozed, irritably, on H’s side of the bed. When I woke at 7 am (why 7 am, you bastard internal body clock? WHY?), I was lying right on the edge of the mattress, as if aware that I was in someone else’s space. Even though H was safely ensconced on the futon in the study.

And it dawned on me, again (this sort of thing is always dawning on me these days) that this was it, now. Any sort of stupid middle-of-the-night problem was entirely mine and mine alone to deal with. No more unblocking the loo while H dealt with the wet bed. No more having someone to whine to about it all and then cuddle up against. The only reason I needed a hot-water-bottle in the first place is because the backs of H’s knees are no longer available for feet-warming duties.

And I had a little cry before I dozed off again.


Kittens

Well, I have no idea at all how to gracefully get off this high horse I have vaulted onto, so I shall just trot behind this hedge and err, fall off with a resounding crash.

Nothing to see here! I’m not limping!

Hello! I like chocolate! And daffodils! Sunshine is nice! I want a kitten!

Hunting for a flat or wee housie in this very big and massively overpriced city is bringing me out in hives, though. Hives! I can live in a place with, um, room in its rooms about seven hours’ commute from work, or I can live in a biscuit-tin about an hour from work. No, I can’t live closer to work, I haven’t robbed a bank recently. Oy vey.

And you can’t fit a kitten in a biscuit tin.


House Rules

Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon. — Alexander Pope.

I think I ought to remind my Gentle Readers that, as I said here:

I can see you, Gentle Readers, practically bouncing on your seats in your eagerness to type ‘but what the hell happened? What did you do? What did H do? WHAT? WHAT?’ And I am going to cheerfully piss you all off by not telling. H, as furious as I am with him, as shattered as my heart is, nevertheless deserves both his privacy and the right to tell his story his way, should he ever want to tell his story.

Therefore, I would be grateful if you would all stop speculating and asking me. Please. Thank you. Your speculations would either be wildly innaccurate and therefore either silly and/or hurtful, or uncomfortably close to the knuckle, and therefore really hurtful and difficult to deal with, as I promised H his privacy on this, and I am not the sort of person who breaks promises, and it would be unworthy of you, Gentle Readers, to force me into a position where I might have to.

I am also not entirely pleased that I have to write this next bit:

When I refer to ‘dinosaurs’, as a metaphor for deal-breaking shit, I am referring to things that are immoral, wrong, cruel, bad, and possibly illegal. I am referring to things like addiction, abuse, larceny, lies, grand theft auto, and voting for UKIP. I most certainly am fucking not referring to such matters as H being gay, or bi. Being gay or bi is not, I repeat not, a dinosaur.

Say H were bi – why is bi a problem? I’m fucking bi, for fuck’s sake, and I’ve been a good and faithful partner then wife for SEVENTEEN FUCKING YEARS (and H has known I was bi since we were both 19). ‘Bi’ does not equal ‘two-timer’ or ‘sexually incontinent’, and to suggest it does is seriously not on. At all. Do not any of you ever make me have to repeat this.

Say H were gay – well, yes, it would be a tragedy for me that he could no longer keep doing heteronormativity and had to leave me. It would be fucking awful for me, because I love him. But it would not, in any way, shape or form, be a dinosaur. It is not immoral, wrong, cruel or illegal to be gay. It would suck that he felt he had to hide it even from me. It would suck that he felt pressured into living a lie. I would be very very angry with him. But it would not be a dinosaur.

Fortunately, H’s family and friends are not ridiculous bigots, quite a few of them are happily and openly gay, and if he had ever realised he was gay and decided to come out, he’d’ve been loved and accepted. So the whole ‘he’s secretly gay/bi’ is just not a thing. He isn’t, and if he were, he’d’ve been fine, and we would never be in a ‘sudden dealbreaker reveal’ situation.

I repeat, H asked me to respect his privacy and his right to his own story. I am respecting his request. I owe him, and myself, that kind of respect and self-respect. That promise is, I’m afraid, more important to me than gratifying the casual reader’s casual curiosity.


The strength of innocent victimhood.

Gentle Readers, how kind and supportive you are all being. So very kind. I read my comments and feel like I’m having the most glorious group hug. Thank you.

I am moving out, you know. Just… not very fast. I want to get all my ducks in a row (pecky little fuckers) and move out in one graceful and majestic step, into my own place that I actually own. The thought of short-term renting makes me feel ill, as does the thought of moving in with family while commuting a trillion miles a day. Both are indeed possibilities, yes, and are emergency back-up plans should things hit a critical mass of mutual displeasure. Meanwhile, I don’t want to leave my stuff, my home for the past ten years (my entire married life) and, frankly, I don’t want to leave my husband.

Don’t get me wrong. I am nevertheless going to leave my husband. The particular nature of the Velociraptor made that completely non-negotiable.

But I regret it horribly. H and I started dating in our teens. He’s been part of my life for more than half of it. There were bits, great long bits, chunks even, where our relationship was pretty bloody wonderful. He really was my best friend, I adore him. I love his company, his quiet slightly daft sense of humour, his everyday thoughtfulness (the cups of tea, the dinners cooked, the bunches of daffodils just because). There will be a hole torn in my heart the size of the Taj Mahal when I do move out, and I don’t know how long, how painfully long, it will take for the frayed edges to knit together again.

I worry about being lonely. I worry a great deal about money, and budgeting, and dealing with mortgages. I worry about H being on his own, and going back to play with his Velociraptors. I worry I will panic and buy a flat I hate. I worry I won’t find a flat I don’t hate. I worry I won’t be able to have a cat. I worry about slipping when getting out of the bath, breaking my neck, and being eaten by the sodding cat before anyone finds me. I worry that I am being a pathetic cliché, and any of my Gentle Readers who do live alone are curling their lip at me right now.

As for H, well, as for H. This weekend I ended up crying like a toddler who has lost his Irreplaceable Blankie – great, wracking, purple-faced, open-mouthed, howling sobs (It was not fun. It was not good. I had such a headache afterwards). And yet, H was crying too. It would be simple and easy to set fire to his clothes, tell all his friends and family exactly what he has done, burn bridges, change locks, and deep-fry his amaryllis. Even he would probably agree he deserved it. But, and this is an important but, a very important but, he has to be H for the rest of his life.

I get to suffer the pain of betrayal, and the shock (I thought things were looking up! I really did!) and losing my chance of having a biological child (do not fucking argue with me on this one. I am 39 this year and have had ten miscarriages and the last one very nearly killed me. I am not going to be having biological children now, and it’s cruel and silly to pretend otherwise, and not in the least bit comforting). I get to suffer a loss of income, and the loss of my home, and my marriage, the loss of a good and much loved husband. I lose my identity as wife, as the half of a whole, as Life President of Federation H&May.

But H has the burden of being the Bad Guy. He too has lost his marriage, his beloved wife (I don’t doubt he did and does love me. Just… not enough, and certainly not wisely and thoughtfully enough). He too will lose income, and his home of the past ten years. As he is only 39 and healthy, he may still have a chance of children (if he can find a woman dumb or brave enough to not mind about the Velociraptor, but, yes, he has to find a woman who is either spectacularly stupid or suffering from some kind of St Teresa complex and won’t that be fun for the pair of them?). He is going through all the grief I am, of loss and abandonment and his whole life falling apart around him, but whereas I get righteous indignation and the golden burning knowledge that I did my utmost to make this marriage work, he gets guilt, shame, the ugly reminders that he did this to himself. And to me. When I weep, he knows exactly who just stabbed me to the heart.

So, yes, H is the Bad Guy. It very much is that simple, which I agree sounds unlikely, but there it is. And he will have to live with that knowledge for the rest of his life. I can afford to be civil, and patient, and kind to him on occasion, for exactly that simple reason: He is to blame, and I am not.


Scenes from the beginning of the end of a marriage

May and H, sitting side-by-side in the living-room, watching the ice-dancing at Sochi, gleefully discussing the relative merits of sequins, frills, and little black gloves in costuming. H has just made May a cup of tea. Anyone would think they were going to eventually die aged respectively 87 and 88, holding hands in bed. 30 minutes earlier, May was shrieking ‘A Velociraptor, for fuck’s sake! In my house! In my house!’ while H sat with his head in his hands and wept.

May, at the end of her evening commute, standing outside the house in the dark, looking up at the stars, longing to go home, for minute after minute, because there is no home anymore.

H, weeping after finally telling his parents about the impending divorce, and May, automatically, unthinkingly, putting her arms around him.

‘I’ll have the Claudia Roden cook books and the Elizabeth David ones.’
‘What about the Madhur Jaffrey ones?’
‘One of them’s yours. I gave it to you.’ Pause ‘You can totally have the Complete Potato book as well.’
‘OK, what about Nigel Slater?’
‘I’ll arm-wrestle you for him.’

H is watching The Voice while May cooks dinner, and May dances about the kitchen area, singing along, suddenly happy. Suddenly actually happy. About what? Foolish woman.

May is sitting in the lavatories at work, stifling her sobs in case someone comes in and kindly asks who is that sobbing in the cubicle? And can she come out so we can have a wee now?

H is troubled. He’ll be seeing some of his family face-to-face, and doesn’t really want to tell them about the true nature of the Velociraptor, for verily, no one likes a Velociraptor-owner. ‘Don’t tell them then,’ says May.
‘But they’ll ask, and I don’t like lying to them.’
‘But you had no problem at all with lying to me for four fucking years?’
May storms into the kitchen and starts rage-making coffee. H follows her, looking pathetic, to apologise. ‘Look,’ says May, depressing the cafetière plunger, ‘Just tell them it’s too painful to talk about. And then if they push it, they’re the ones being awful.’ H looks relieved, both because of the advice, and because May hasn’t hit him with the kettle.

May spends a few minutes spitefully hoping H’s family do winkle it out of him, and the whole episode ruins lunch, before roping in Bitter McTwisted and setting her to googling divorce blogs.

May goes to brunch with a good friend, but has cried so often she just sort of sits there like a waxwork while her friend’s eyes fill with tears on the reciting of the Tale of the Incipient Divorcening. In any group of friends there is one who, hopefully only for a few months at a time, takes on the role of That One To Whom All The Shit Happens. For now, this friend is May. May drinks entirely too much coffee and talks energetically about Shakespeare instead.

H makes a couple of pitiful attempts at blaming the Velociraptor on the miscarriages. ‘I always thought I’d’ve been able to get rid of it if we’d had a living child…’ he begins, before May erupts in a painfully ugly fury. Because May herself wasn’t worth remaining dinosaur-free for? Now H is channelling Henry VIII? The fuck? A few days later, H uses the unwise phrase ‘well, you weren’t entirely to blame…’ and comes within a whisker of having his entire wardrobe left out in the middle of the road.

May goes back to googling properties within commuting distance of her place of work. Shamelessly, in the middle of the living-room, where H can see her.


The Paradise of Fools

So I am living in limbo right now.

I think, I think, with my mother’s help and my savings, I will be able to get a mortgage on a very small flat. My mother, however, is smack in the middle of an insanely large (and gloriously insane) project right now and is communicating mostly 48-hourly text messages saying, basically, ‘thinking of you, speak to you when Project Insanity is over’. I don’t want to start flat-hunting until I know exactly what I can afford. I call this ‘being quite sensible’, but my sense of what is sensible has taken such a smacking it has demagnetised and occasionally points to the Faroe Islands.

The Velociraptor is, I suppose you could say, in a cage in the middle of the kitchen. It’s no longer chewing holes in the marriage/floor joists, but every time I have another quick peek at the damage, I find something else shredded, sagging off its hinges, or barely held together with duct tape and white-wash. And the cage is taking up rather a lot of room. And it’s still in my house.

The thing is, at least one of us is stuck here until the end of May, as that’s how long the lease is for. H and I are being very adult, civilized, and polite to each other. And, vitally, there are two bedrooms, and H is now sleeping in the other one. Technically, I could stay here until the lease runs out. It’s not horrible. It’s just miserable.

It is so miserable. I already miss H so much. Well, I miss the person I thought H was. As I was coming out of the station this evening on my way home, I bumped into H going the other way (he had a thing to go to), and my poor stupid Golden Retriever of a heart leapt up with happiness – it’s my favourite human! There he is! My human! – and I actually trotted over to him, smiling and pleased, to say hi. And put my hand on his arm, and had him smile back at me. And walked home leaking tears because he wasn’t my human after all and I was going to have to leave him soon.

I loved him so.

My H, who brought me tea every morning we woke up in the same building. Who gave me Doctor Who DVDs for birthdays and Christmas. Who would empty and wash out washing-up basins for me when I was vomiting uncontrollably every stupid month. Who would run me a bath if I was tired and cranky of an evening. Who would text me at work to let me know if the trains were running late. Who took on most of the housework uncomplainingly when my chronic pain and constant miscarriages turned me into a sofa-dwelling slug for weeks and weeks on end. My H, my kind, sweet, affectionate H.

And all the time, he had this catastrophic secret.

Back in, I think, November? H and I had an ugly fight, in which, eventually, I broke down in tears and asked him why he had said so few nice things to me since the miscarriage/DVT/PE debacle? He always used to be verbally affectionate, saying he loved me or that I looked cute in that dress or some such lovely remark every few days. And this had stopped but completely. (In fact, the first time I brought it up, a few weeks earlier, the next day H stopped in the middle of the pavement, cupped my face in his hand, gazed upon me with a faint smile for some seconds, and said, I quote, ‘these last couple of years have really aged you.’ Holy fuck, H, what the hell?). Anyway, we had a row, and I, having ranted at length at how yes I did mind his never saying he loved me any more, asked him why he’d stopped? And he answered, very irritably, ‘It’s never a good time.’

There, that there, should have been the enormous great screaming claxon of THIS RELATIONSHIP IS APPROACHING THE DEATH ZONE.

But instead we were hunting for a counsellor and planning an FET (an FET, incidentally, I should be right in the middle of right now this minute) and I was starting to feel optimistic that maybe this would be OK (the marriage, that is, not the FET, because I was not utterly lost to the pink clouds of delusion).

And then I found out about the Velociraptor.


On the care and feeding of dinosaurs

When I was a very little May indeed, I lived in a home, a variety of homes, all bang-full of dinosaurs. They were very obvious dinosaurs, mind. My parents, bless them, did many a time and oft play the Dinosaur Denial Hopscotch, the whole standing in front of the house door to talk to a visitor, trying to hide the torn sleeve and smear of dinosaur drool down the chest, ‘the thumping noise inside? What thumping noise? Oh, that thumping noise… Oh, I’m sure the children are playing a game… umm, my husband is playing a game… is a little tired… and angry…’ while the windows rattled and brick dust fell from the walls.

But, ultimately, if you have an Apatosaurus of Alcoholism, you can’t hide it from the people inside the house. It will knock over furniture, stagger into walls, bellow, step on feet, shit on guests, and occasionally crush small children against walls. It is ultimately bigger than the house. It is certainly bigger than a frightened child, and frankly incapable of seeing said frightened child from its lofty and pea-brained view-point, head wedged in the attic while its feet flail about in the kitchen.

Or say you have a Giganotosaurus of Domestic Violence and Emotional Abuse. The damn thing is 40 feet tall and also, therefore, doesn’t really fit in the house. It has eight-inch teeth, and it bites. Or threatens to bite. Or stands over you, drooling bloody remnants of its previous victim into your hair while it watches you pee yourself in terror at the prospect of a biting. When it finally leaves, it rips the doorframe out with it. It has already destroyed the floors.

I would recognise a dinosaur like that if it turned up in my house now. I have an anti-tank rocket launcher in the wardrobe for just that eventuality.

However, growing up in a house of dinosaurs has done damage to my sense of smell. Or my faith in my sense of smell. Is this dinosaur I smell? It smells like dinosaur. But there are no dinosaurs in here. I’d know if there were dinosaurs, because there would be noise and damage and claw-marks, right? And a howling great thing stampeding about the living-room, making it seriously unwise to go in there. It’s just a funny smell, right? H, can you smell dinosaur? No? Are you sure? Well, you must be right, because I haven’t got bloody saliva in my hair. I’m paranoid because of my childhood.

No dinosaurs. Nuh-uh.

Only, I hadn’t considered velociraptors. They’re about the size of labradors, they fit under beds quite comfortably. They have feathers, and it is possible to pick one up, especially in its infancy, and say ‘this here is actually a chicken. A chicken. That is what it is’ and be quite convincing. Moderately convincing. Certainly convincing to someone who has been trained to think of dinosaurs as unignorably fucking enormous (but still, that persistent smell of theropods in the morning. Birds are descended from theropods, right?).

And the terrible thing about velociraptors is, they can still rip your jugular vein out through your spine. Just because they haven’t destroyed the bathroom and broken through the neighbour’s fence, it doesn’t mean they’re not dinosaurs. That they’re not quietly ripping the joists out from the bedroom floor, splinter by splinter. That the one who brought them into the house isn’t lying and hiding them and insisting they’re not there and not a problem and who the hell needs floor joists and unlacerated ankles anyway?

Acting, basically, just like the proud owners of the unbearably obvious Apatosaurus or Giganotosaurus.

Grief and loss come to us all, the persistent little shits. Most of us deal with it by weeping and howling and going catatonic for a few days and being horribly depressed and over-eating or under-eating and getting drunk and not sleeping and maybe taking antidepressants or sleeping pills as needed until we can get our balance back. Some few damaged souls, whose childhoods were… unfortunate (in any of a trillion ways, vide Tolstoy), and who learned all the wrong lessons from that, take up dinosaur-wrangling instead.

Which of course they can handle, while the fucking little horror is still in the egg at least.

(Imagine how differently this would’ve all played out if H had come to me four years ago and said ‘so, May, I’ve got this velociraptor egg, and I don’t know what to do…’)

I come from a dinosaur-owning family, I am a prime candidate for a dinosaur all of my own, and yet I dealt with grief, loss, physical agony and near-death experiences by weeping, vomiting, ranting at you my noble Gentle Readers, and eating expensive chocolate in unhealthy quantities from time to time. I rarely drank. I was absurdly careful about even taking prescribed drugs like codeine and tramadol, because I knew therein lay a tiny, tiny, pretty little pterodactyl egg all of my own I could inadvertently nurture. I have never smoked, because I knew if I did I wouldn’t ever stop. I have a hot, hot temper, but I fought it down, over and over, and made it behave. Actually made it into a new evolved pecky budgerigar of a temper (possibly went a bit far in turning it into a budgerigar. Should’ve kept it at raven level. Ravens eat eyeballs occasionally. Eyeballs need eating occasionally).

H also comes from a dinosaur-owning family. But, oh, they were so very, very much better at denial than my lot. Possibly because they kept to smaller dinosaurs.

And it breaks my heart, that I dragged myself onwards, pterodactyl-free, adamant about the importance of remaining pterodactyl-free for H’s sake if nothing else, while H hid a velociraptor in our home.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers