“We are rarely proud when we are alone”

Item – H is away for a few days, and I am practicing solo living. I am supposing we will have quite a few of these practice runs up until we finally split. Which is a very good idea. We’ve been living together since we were 23. We have rarely spent even a night apart. I am very bad at being on my own. Shameful, but true. Practice runs. Can but help.

Item – I had a successful and productive meeting with my bank. There was no reason to suspect it wouldn’t be. I am a successful and productive adult. I can talk to my bank about savings and mortgage assessments. Why on earth shouldn’t I? Of course I wasn’t so nervous and freaked out that I forgot to eat breakfast and then forgot my mobile phone at home and for one brief moment of existential nihilism forgot my birthdate.

Item – Having successfully Dealt With Bank, in the form of charming young man in slightly crooked tie, I had no one to ramble on and on about it all at. Normally I’d call or text or email H about it – ‘Hey! H! I unlocked Adult Achievement Level Talking To The Bank!’ I felt all weird and ‘off’ until I remembered the internets. Hi Internets! I went to the bank! Like a grown-up! And talked about money! It was actually not that hard! I’d rather slam my hand in a door than do it again!

Item – Cooking for one sucks arse. I did it successfully on Saturday and on Sunday, nourishing tasty meals with vegetables in them and everything. Tonight? Left over polenta and bacon. Even the bacon failed to rescue it from mere adequacy. I am disappoint.

Item – Undignified panic attack in the supermarket on Sunday, when I was half-way through the shopping and realised just how much groceries cost every month. Oh, I did actually know this, on account of not being a flaming idiot, but the holy fucknuts food is expensive aspect struck me with sudden and frankly unattractive force. That, combined with Looming Talking To The Bank, had me hyperventilating behind the mushroom display. Go me!

Item – I startled awake at about 2am, because there was a noise, a noise, in the other room. A noise. I held my breath. It did not repeat itself. I spent ten minutes nerving myself, then crept to the door, holding a knitting needle as a weapon. I flung myself into the lounge, and discovered! That! A noise like a book sliding off a pile of other books! Is caused! By! A book sliding off a pile of other books! I poked the culprit with the knitting needle on principle, and went back to bed to dream of… things… trying to open the window from the outside. And I damn well know if I’d been woken by a muffled slither and thump from the other room if H had been beside me, I’d’ve listened for maybe 30 seconds, said ‘meh’ to myself and gone back to sleep.

Item – Some friends took me out on Saturday and I was light-hearted and amusing about The Dividing of the Saucepans, and then I went home and cried because I was all alone and didn’t want to divide the saucepans at all. And then I cried because it was warm and sunny and couples were out and about holding hands and everything. And then I cried because I should be so very bloody hugely pregnant I could barely move, let alone prance up and down the city centre, drinking coffee and giving up my seat on the bus to others. And then I did the washing up.

Item – I also did laundry. So there.


The tedium, it is grinding

Item – Oh, look, a whole month, more than a month, since H’s Great Reveal. Huh. Well. That went by far faster than expected. I wonder why – surely normally agonising crapfests drag on and on and every minute feels like a week with one’s arse-cheek caught in a badger-trap?

Item – I am very slowly doing grown-up things re: finances and savings accounts and such. It all makes me want to lie on the floor and cry. I hate doing it alone. I am not a finance-minded person, and I infinitely prefer to have another adult who can do mental arithmetic about the place when dealing with such matters. Steep learning curve.

Item – H and I are still living together, in separate bedrooms, and we are being elaborately polite and considerate towards each other. H is still doing things like making me tea and cooking me dinner, which makes me feel grateful, faintly guilty, weird, conflicted, and did I mention weird? all at once. But it’s hard. We don’t hug or cuddle or go about sans nuddings on as we used to. We’re like house-mates. It’s all very civilised and calm and friendly. It’s horrible. It’s like having the embalmed corpse of our relationship permanently propped up at the dining-table. It’s embalmed, it doesn’t smell at all, and it’s wearing a nice suit and blusher, but Jesus Christ it ain’t half creepy.

Item – I concede that this is considerably better than having the raging bullet-impervious rotting zombie of our relationship mindlessly tearing at our flesh.

Item – I can’t really get started on more than speculative ‘I wonder if I can afford this area?’ flat-hunting, as I don’t know how much money I have to play with. My mother wants to give me some, but I don’t know when or how much or if it’ll be a lump sum or in bits, so I can’t actually work out what sort of a mortgage I could afford, so I can’t look seriously at a place and say ‘that one!’. I need to, carefully, lovingly, scoop my mother up into a bowl, saran-wrap said bowl to a desk and interrogate her with a desk lamp on these matters, for she is the proverbial jelly I cannot nail to a wall.

Item – I do spend pretty much every evening online staring at other people’s bedrooms and wondering why on earth no one seems to need a shower or even a showerhead in the bath – how the hell are they all washing their hair?

Item – Being miserable and furious for a month inevitably leads to Cold of Filth, which I have now had for an unrelenting week. I have coughed so hard my ribs hurt, and I sound exactly like Bela Lugosi’s favourite door-hinge. (And I don’t sleep well, and am permanently tired and cranky, and I have eczema in my armpits (the fuck? Really? Why?) and all over my hands. Especially, beGad, on my ring-finger, which is hilarious ho ho ho).

Item – Being told constantly that I am brave and resilient and strong and this’ll be the greatest thing ever for me and I’ll be fine and more than fine is all very nice, at first. And then you realise your family are basically denying you permission to cry and wig out and lie on the sofa sobbing into your cocoa. Because you don’t do that. You’re strong and brave and resilient and this divorce will be very good for you.

Item – And yet I feel like a weak and feeble train-wreck who can’t even work out how to calculate mortgage payments and who really doesn’t want to anyway and it’s not FAIR I don’t WANT to be single I HATE this I HATE it I HATE it and now I’m going to cry again.

Item – I went to see my family for a few days and came away with the distinct and somewhat grubby feeling that I had come fourth in the Pain Olympics to my sister, who managed to own All The Suffering. I am slightly confused, as I thought I was the one in the middle of a marriage break-down, but chronology I am given to understand means a giant fuck-all, because I’m not the one on antidepressants, and anyway, I’m naive, idealistic, bourgeoise, narrow-minded and conventional, so I can’t possibly suffer with the same intensity as the truly screwed up. I think. It was 3am and I was getting a little confused, so I just nodded and the Positive Thinking Fairy and I thought about cats for a bit while Bitter McTwisted had a fit of hysterics and flung furniture about.

Item – Bitter McTwisted actually rocks. Every time I think about caving in or lying down and forgetting about it all or pretending none of it happened, she flings my mental furniture about. Hurrah for Bitter McTwisted!


“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.


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