One of the things I’ve noticed so far about the process of separation and divorce are the never-ending questions. Questions between my ex and I, questions from friends and family, questions I ask myself.
How often do you want the kids? How much should I be working? What sort of divorce shall we get?
How are you and Will getting on? Are the kids OK? Do they miss their Daddy (duh)?
Am I working too much? Have I made the right decision? Will my children hate me forever for this?
But the question that haunts me the most is this: am I too happy?
I’ve been feeling massive guilt over the last few weeks for this exact reason.
The truth is, on the day that Will and I decided to end our marriage I felt a huge weight lifted. This decision ended 6 months of heartache, 6 months of misery for both of us not quite knowing whether our future was with each other. We spent that time going backwards and forwards: him spending 3 nights a week in London, me spending my evenings alone feeling lost, scared and overwhelmed. I didn’t cope well at all with two children and retreated into myself, working because it made me feel more worthy and provided a small bit of excitement, an escape.
And then the split happened. There was a while when life was hell, of course there was. I felt absolutely awful. But I pushed on with life and began to take pleasure in the small things again, things I hadn’t been able to enjoy for years. I finally for the first time began enjoying motherhood and felt capable, a bit like the person I have always wanted to be. The children came on in leaps and bounds and were visibly happier, too.
I went out with friends, let my hair down. Cried on a few shoulders and poured my heart out on others. But ultimately the undercurrent of sadness was replaced by a feeling of euphoria.
It was such a weird feeling to me that I actually thought it would be a short-lived post-separation thing. I fully expected the happiness to last a couple of weeks before it retreated back into the temple of doom that was my brain. But it didn’t: it’s still there. Despite the early mornings I could never cope with before, the busy schedule of toddler groups, creche and playdates that used to terrify me, the daunting prospect of paying bills and having to manage our household’s finances… it remains. On most days I feel like there is a sunbeam coming out of my face and it is awesome.
A while into the split I started seeing someone new. I didn’t go looking for a relationship, I went looking to meet some new and interesting people having feelt like I hadn’t spoken to a man I wasn’t related or married to in years. But I did and he is becoming somewhat of a permanent fixture. What is brilliant about this new relationship is that he is so very happy all the time. With my new found state of mind we bounce positivity off each other and it is just so natural and easy.
I know the fact that this has happened has set tongues wagging. But when my relationship ended it didn’t feel like the beginning of a split, it felt like the end. The finality of those six months brought so much relief that moving on as I have done was completely natural. Should I have resisted moving on to another relationship just because it might not have seemed ‘right’ to people who know only snippets of what went on in my marriage?
Let’s face it: I’m the primary carer for two lovely little children who need their mummy more than ever right now, there really was no other way. The alternative to being happy would have been unthinkable when I am now so responsible for them. I couldn’t afford to fall apart when I had their well-being at stake; doing the best thing for me is also doing the best thing for them.
It’s not that I’m not sad, of course I am. I’m very sad that my marriage has ended and my children will spend their life with parents who live apart, possibly with other partners and fragmented families. They will never had the childhood I wanted for them and that breaks my heart. It kills me that I didn’t have it in me to make it work.
But really, the best thing for me and for Elfie and Hux at the moment is to be happy. I’ll still be feeling bloody guilty about it, but trying to enjoy it all the same.