Thursday, February 19, 2009

Separation Anxiety

So I think the emotional fall-out from the marital separation is finally hitting home. For me at least, anyway. I have no other reason to explain why I am struggling so much. Feeling hopeless and helpless and lonely.

Of course, I was cripplingly lonely in the last two years of the marriage. It was like living in an emotional abyss. We lived predominantly separate lives - held together by the fragilest of threads with our enormous love for the boys and memories of happier times. It was nigh on impossible to have anything resembling a normal social life because to expose others to our toxic situation was painful for everyone concerned. So we withdrew. From friends. Even further from each other. And tried to avoid the unavoidable. Until the unavoidable, for me, became the inevitable. The only solution to having the remotest chance of living a happy life.

So why am I so miserable now?

My ex and I have a very amicable relationship - there are no more dramatic emotional outbursts or painfully tense weekends skirting around each other on egg shells. The kids seem to be more or less OK. But I'm not.

I don't miss my ex. Well, how can I...we talk everyday so he can speak to the kids and I see him several days a week (assuming he is in the country) when he is here for bath and bedtime. We are getting on as well, if not better, than to be expected. But I don't feel any emotional pull or nostalgic longing for him to be in my life on any deeper level or with any greater intimacy.

So what is it then?

I don't think I realised just how much I would miss having another adult around. It's not really the company, because we didn't really talk much apart from snipe at one another or be excessively and awkwardly cordial. I think it was just having someone else's presence who reaches past my navel. Someone taking up more than 40lbs of space. Someone there to back me up if I am having a hard day and the kids are winning the ongoing battle for who is really in control. Someone who I can rely on to help protect the kids if we ever get attacked by the knife and gun-wielding members of my new neighbourhood.

Suddenly there is no backup whatsoever. And that feels very lonely.

And not content with keeping all this misery to myself, I seem to be intent on reflecting it back to the only people that I spend all my time with...the boys.

How is this for bad parenting? I have told them, on at least three occasions over the past two weeks, that I can't deal with them waking so early any more. That I am exhausted. That no other children I know wake at this time. That I just want to leave and have them live with someone else so that I no longer have to deal with it. And if they don't start sleeping till a reasonable hour sometime soon then I will go.

Even typing that feels pretty horrific. How can I say that to them? They are emotionally fragile as it is. Dad has already gone. Now mum is threatening to walk away too. I can't believe I even think it, far less spit it out at them with a hiss through pursed lips.

I made a promise yesterday to NEVER say this to them again. And I have of course assured them that I do not mean a word of it. That I will ALWAYS be here for them. But it doesn't make me feel any better, feel any less guilt, feel any more equipped to be something resembling a whole human being capable of attending to all their needs right now.

I know this will pass. That I will adapt and get acclimitised and all that good stuff. That I will become emotionally adapted to this new stage in my life and it will feel less like I am having to fight against a strong undercurrent just to get through the days. If only that knowledge made it easier today and tomorrow and the lonely weeks ahead.


  1. I wish there was something more that I could do to help.
    Pack the boys up and bring them here, I'll have them for a week and you can sleep.
    Just remember it all takes time.

  2. You're not a bad mum for saying those things, you are simply exhausted. We say things we often regret when exhaustion takes over. But you are right to reassure the children that you will always be there for them - they really need to hear that from you.

    I do know about the situation you find yourself in - except I'm further along than you. My husband left 6 years ago and I think the first year is the toughest. After that things start to fall into place and you take on new routines. I wish I could say the loneliness gets better. It doesn't but I've learned to deal with it better.

    Do you have a friend or relative who could have the children for a couple of days while you rest and catch up with some sleep? Call in any favours you are owed and ask someone. Don't feel guilty about it, someone will probably jump at the chance to help you. The important thing is to look after yourself so that you can take care of the children.

    Sending virtual hugs and best wishes to you xxxx

  3. Mums the word - thank you sweetie. I know you would be here for me if you could x

    Not Supermum - Thank you. I think the problem is that I don't have anyone here that I could ask. All my friends and relatives are 4,000 miles away. I do have a sitter who will happily have them overnight but it costs me $200 and I don't have the money right now to pay for it that often! Of course, ex does help when he is in town. Sad to think the loneliness doesn't get any better tho...

  4. So sorry this is hard. And what a searingly honest post, thanks for writing it. I'm sure it's made a million times harder by being so far away from your family and old friends. I am also far from mine and although I'm not separated I can certainly relate to the utter loneliness you describe.
    I think you do have to do whatever you can to get the rest you need. How old are your boys? Can you find other parents who'll do sleepover swaps with you?
    And I don't think you are necessarily condemned to years of loneliness. You may well find someone else when the dust settles. Plenty of people do, stay hopeful!
    Sending hugs. I think you're very brave. xoxo
    ps i changed my feed which is why my posts aren't updating in your blogroll. too stupid to find the url for you now..

  5. I'm so sorry. I so know how you feel. I felt like that for ages. Still do sometimes. I'm not sure it ever goes away that feeling of aching for a happy family life, for normality and stability and happiness for the children. At least you know you can't go back which is a huge step. I felt lost and confused about what I wanted to do. Make sure you get some time for yourself and go out with some girlfriends to take the pressure off and remind yourself that there is a life beyond your four walls. . . and as you say try NOT to say that stuff to the kids, they will feel too insecure and need to know you are there for them and as a stark warning a woman I know in a more advanced divorce than mine warned me against it - she told her son to go and live somewhere else and he did! With his dad. and that's it for her and consequently I remember this and know that I will never say that to them - as they grow up they might take you seriously. Big hugs Lx

  6. I can't think of anything to say that doesn't sound patronising or smug or just feeble.

    Children are hugely demanding, and we all have our times when we feel we fail them. So long as they know you love them and are doing your best, the rest will follow.

  7. I so feel for you and agree exactly about aching for someone to take some of the strain. It is so not easy! Didn't realise quite what I was doing to my treasures until I overheard the elder saying to the younger, 'You're making me feel very, very, very, very tired.' At the time they were 5 and 3! And have never felt so bad about my own mothering after hearing a friend tell her daughter, as we drove along a motorway, that she was going to pull over on the hard shoulder and leave her behind. They know you love them and you won't leave and that's the important bit xx