(Adult) toddler wrangling and #sidepussy

It is 8.30 on a Saturday morning. The Husband is due to have the children from 5pm tomorrow afternoon (why from 5? Go figure, I guess he must have other plans for his day). He just text me saying “Any chance I could have the children today?”. Now, the previous incarnation of me would have jumped at the chance – other than taking the kids to my parents house later on we have no plans and when we have no plans things inevitably go bad because my eldest becomes quite the horror if he isn’t kept continually entertained!

However, I am on a sharp learning curve right now having discovered the potential cost of court involvement in formalising child contact arrangements. Without the resources to pursue that course of action I have no one to count on but myself. I need to begin acting like the responsible adult which means learning how to say no and dealing with the fallout.

I went through this with my son last year. I realised what a soft touch I am as a parent, how I was letting him walk all over me, unable to put a stop to the back chat and the defiance. And all because I never ever followed through with consequences.

The day I followed through he had what’s known as “an extinction burst” which is essentially the one thing that had me ready to run for the hills.

When someone who has been letting you get away with unacceptable behaviour suddenly changes and stands firm and proves that they are actually capable of making the harsh decisions and standing by them, it’s going to provoke outrage and rage and that person is going to put you right in the eye of their storm.

That day my son picked up a plastic bottle full of shampoo and hurled it across the room. He yelled abuse in my face and picked up my laptop threatening to throw it at me. He hit me on the arm with the full force he could muster and it hurt.

That was his extinction burst. He’s never behaved as badly before or since.

I knew that it would be bad and I prepared myself for it. I managed to remain calm and talk to him in a reasoned manner despite his behaviour. I told him he would be grounded this time and I stuck to it.

I’m using this as an analogy. His father is not going to like me withdrawing the flexibility he’s become used to. It might make him angry and verbally abusive. However the fact of the matter is that he’s been angry and verbally abusive to me on a fairly regular basis over the course of the past 20 months anyway, culminating in police involvement. I really feel like I have nothing to lose by standing firm from here on in, so wish me luck!

On a completely different note, I went out to see the comedienne Katherine Ryan the other day and was taken aback to find out that a lot of her show was taken up talking about being a single mum, co parenting, feelings about men (just about as intelligent as dolphins apparently) and being really happy with her single status.

She asked if there were any single mums in the audience and a few of us called out. She struck up a chat with another woman (no not me sorry, guess I wasn’t vocal enough!) and found out this woman had been single (and celebate) for six years. She applauded the single status but told her she should get herself some “side pussy”. We didn’t really know what she was on about but I think she meant get a fuck buddy – someone you can sleep with but not commit to. That’s something traditionally gendered I guess. And not in favour of the woman. It then occurred to me that I spent a significant amount of this year as someone’s “side pussy”. I thought I was ok with it but it unravelled.

After about 8 weeks having no contact with the ex he suddenly tried to call me about one am on Wednesday morning, sent me a dick pic and told me he could come over (after 2pm) and stay the night Friday. Before I had time to compose a response which suitably conveyed what a knob he was being he dialled it in and apologised for his inappropriate behaviour. I never even touched my phone.

I read a meme the other day that said something like, “girlfriend, he’s not missing you, he’s either horny, drunk or he heard you were moving on”. Seems about right and actually my attitude to the ex becomes more and more cynical with every bad decision he makes to the extent that this latest incarnation leaves me cold. I think I’m finally done with him in my mind.

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Same shit, different year

I can’t believe that on this weekend last year I met my ex for the first time. I remember vividly how excited and nervous and hopeful I felt as I headed out the door knowing that it was the start of the rest of my life – a chance to start over. I didn’t know I’d fall in love.

This might be the first time in my life I’ve had such a marker to look back on – a whole year and here I am today feeling like a light has been extinguished – things actually got darker. The hope I had went away.

I know divorce is always going to be a rough place to be and time will heal these wounds and things will change. I still believe that out there somewhere is a lover, a best friend, the person I need in my life. Until the day I’m destined to meet that person I just have to keep on fighting the fight, drying my own tears, finding every single way I can to live life to the full, laugh and soak up any joy the world sees fit to offer me.

As Paolo Nutini sings in Let Me Down Easy: “we are broken by others, but we mend ourselves”…

Sharing the misery

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being single. I watch a lot of dating shows and occasionally chat to a 20-something friend at work about dating disasters, short lived relationships and Tinder.

It’s always on my mind. I realised the other day that I’ve only been truly single three times since I was 22 – all three times for around 8 months (must be some kind of magic number..)

There is something so reassuring about having a love interest in my life and I have plenty of moments of obsessing over the lack of a potential mate. In fact I’d go as far as to say that I have moments of feeling blind panic at the thought of being alone.
On the whole though it is this fear that time is running out.

I find myself reassessing men that I’ve already discounted as potential mates for the simple reason that they are at least present in my life.

I look at my ex (not The Husband) and pine and consider every day how to reach back to him before coming to my senses.

I look at my friend, the one I briefly dated, the one I see often, chat to easily and share loads of stuff in common with but I still can’t quite see us as a couple.

I even briefly looked at the next door’s ex (remember the dodgy one?). I was letting him become really friendly (ok not *that* friendly!) for a couple of weeks until his behaviour started weirding me out a little and I gave myself a good talking to and cut him loose.

Now I feel just about as single as I’ve felt this side of March 2005.

The thing is I know I want someone who is good, kind, warm, generous, romantic and considerate (amongst gabillion other traits) but there is no way I would ever want to inflict the shit storm that is my life right now on someone that lovely (if, in fact, that person actually exists). And there’s the rub… I neither believe there is someone that good just lurking round the corner nor do I believe that sharing my misery would be either a problem halved in this case nor a fair trade off.

I look back at the posts I was writing this time last year and – oh my goodness – it’s like nothing has changed at all with the Husband. He’s still messing me around the same as ever although this year he has upped the ante with his over-blown allegations of my supposed abuse, control and coercion. Yes, that’s right – those are things he pins on me (whilst looking in the mirror?).

I know now that I need to make changes in myself – in the way I deal with him. I need to put my foot down about him giving me pre-agreed dates and sticking to them. No more flexibility, no more Mr (Mrs) nice guy, no more bending over backwards. I have a clear view of just where that gets me and it looks an awful lot like the inside of a police interview room right now.

One thing is certain: the status of my love life ain’t going to change in 2017. We have a court date in January 2018 and that is currently the light at the end of my never-ending divorce tunnel but I can tell you right now that by this time next year I will be done with the Husband. He will no longer be the ‘Husband’ – he will be the ex-nightmare – and I might actually be taking my first tentative steps on a path to becoming some kind of eligible bachelorette (albeit on the wrong side of 40).

In the meantime I shall try my very hardest to push aside the misery, enjoy the lovelier things about single life – making choices for myself, having platonic male friends to hang out with, spending time with lovely people doing fun stuff and getting to nurture my kids alone with undivided love and affection.

Shifting sands

Right now I am pretty numb with despair. Despair that my life seems to be dictated by the vindictive whims of one man. Despair that my children have to witness me breaking down in tears so often. Despair that they must be subjected to emotional abuse.

Things reached a critical mass a few weeks ago during a hand over at lunchtime one Saturday afternoon. He hadn’t had the children overnight for a month. I needed a break. Our five year old refused to go, screaming and crying whilst I told him he must go. If he didn’t go it would be setting a precedent that he never had to go to his dad if he didn’t want to. I would be accused of ‘poisoning’ him against his father.

His father started being unkind. In the street outside our jointly owned home (where he still lives) he began telling our child “Mummy doesn’t want to take you with her because she’d rather have her social life”. He approached me with bitterness and anger in his eyes and demanded to know where I was going, who I was going with, what I was doing. He demanded to know if I had a boyfriend, mentioned the name of my ex and kept repeating to the children the notion that I didn’t want them because I wanted to go out without them.

Maybe this doesn’t sound too bad to read it written down like this but I was desperate to get away. I was upset, frustrated, worried about the effects on the children, I felt harassed, provoked.

He leant in to my car where our five year old was still sitting and began saying something derogatory about me. I gave him a tap on the bum to ask him to move away from my car and our child.

Little did I know that 24 hours later he would have reported me to the police for assault.

I had to wait three weeks to be interviewed (voluntarily) and I won’t know the outcome for a few days yet but I get the impression that the matter will be dropped. It has been an enormous waste of police time and resources and left me reeling.

In the meantime I have had to chase my solicitor relentlessly to try and figure out just what on earth to do going forwards. I simply cannot be around my ex – I have started to show physical symptoms of stress and anxiety and when he is nearby I feel tearful and shaky.

I need to change the way we handle hand overs of the children. I need to find a way to force him to provide me with contact dates in advance and stick to them for the sake of us all.

However I have now discovered that pursuing a ‘Child Arrangements Order’ could cost up to £7500 in solicitors fees and I cannot pay that sort of money.

I have begun to feel as though I am trapped in my own life – at least until the children come of age, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen years from now.

These are supposed to be the precious days of our lives aren’t they? Not some kind of ordeal to live through.

I have so much sadness right now.