Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holding Back the Tears

I have been feeling so introspective and weepy today - although the tears are as yet unshed.  They seem to be stored like a giant weight behind my eyeballs and in the back of my throat, making it difficult to focus and hard to breath.

Subversive Mum, who only arrived in Chicago in August and who became my new BFF in September, is leaving in just over 2 weeks to return to the UK and I cannot bear the thought of having to say goodbye to her.  She has been a saving grace these past few months.  What am I going to do without her?  Who am I going to play hookey with after school drop off?  Who will make me inhale cappucino foam through my nostrils while debating Dirty Cock/Clean Cock over the latest barista / shopper / celebrity / comedian?  Who is going to make me hoot loudly with insane laughter from her incisive, snarky wit and a second later cause me to nod my head sagely at our shared views on motherhood, love, life, the universe, everything?

I so don't want her to go.  I don't want to be left.  Again.

I am also feeling incredibly nostalgic about my ex right now.  Is this just the knock on effect of Christmas looming, or is this real?

He invited me to go to the circus with him, the boys and his mum on Sunday and we had a fantastic day.  For the first half of the show ex and I sat together and shared the bliss of watching the delight and incredulity flit across our sons' faces as they sat enthralled by acrobats, elephants, horses and clowns.  It was all I could do to stop myself draping my hand across his knee, as I used to do, and I had to fight the urge to hold his hand.

Afterwards we took the boys to see the Santa Express - a special underground train where every carriage is lavishly decorated in tinsel and lights and one of the carriages is a flatbed which holds Santa on his sleigh, with several life-size model reindeer.  There is a strategy to riding the Santa Express, as I discovered from ex.  At every stop you change carriages, collecting striped candy canes from Santa's helpers along the way.  By the time you have reached your destination you are in the carriage next to Santa - so when you alight you are able to stand by Santa and wave him goodbye.  It was fun.  Ex was lighthearted.  We laughed and all had a good time.

And then the boys and I went home.  Alone.

I can't work out if I am still in love with him.  Or just in love with our family.  Which is a completely different thing.  At this moment in time it feels as if I am still in love with him.  Part of me still can't see a future with any other man in my life - in my children's lives.  But I can't trust my emotions, my judgement where he is concerned.  I am seeing fleeting snippets of the man that I fell in love with all those years ago yet can't be sure if I am looking on with rose-tinted glasses, rather than the magnifying glass of mistrust and judgement and criticism that I used just before I left.

When we separated last year, ex wanted to make one last go of it.  Just before we were about to move into our separate houses he wrote me a long letter, asking for one last chance.  And I said no.

At that time, I was exhausted from the ups and downs of the previous two years.  I felt I loved him, but was not in love with him.  Knew I still had love for him but that we had been so incredibly miserable for such a long time that love no longer seemed to be enough.  Was sure that he was just scared of losing his children and would say anything at that point to keep them with him.

I wanted him to be dreading losing me...not just his children.

And here we are, just over 12 months later.  The magnifying glass of mistrust, judgement and criticism has gone and all I can see is a man who has become the most amazing father.  Who has forged the most incredible bond with his sons and who exudes a confidence in being a dad that he didn't have before.  A man who is still breathtakingly smart and a bit of a wise-arse.   A man whose wardrobe has come on leaps and bounds.  A man who could have been a complete git where I was concerned, but by and large hasn't.  A man I have come to respect and admire all over again.

Do I love him?  Or don't I?

And does that really make any difference anyway?

It seems way too big a step to tell him how I feel.

What if I am wrong?  What if I am just deluded by nostalgia and Christmas and clowns?  What if he feels the same way...and we try again...and fail again?  I don't think I could put our children through that.  We have so many issues that I am still not convinced we have the ability to tackle, much least resolve.

So I will admit here, to a bunch of strangers, that I still love him.  And miss him.  And that the thought of us not sharing a life together still makes me weep with a longing that continues to take me by surprise.  But this isn't some Mills & Boon romance.  I am not living in a Hollywood RomCom where True Love wins out every time.  

And so the person most entitled to this information will remain in the dark.

And I will remain feeling tearful and pretend that this isn't on my mind, as I continue to get on with my life.


  1. Phew, Christmas is going to be an emotional one this year. I want to give some wise advice, but I've got none to give. I've never been separated, so don't really know of all the agonies that that entails. My pre marriage mantra used to be if you split up, you do so for a reason and don't go back. But the happiest couple that I know split up for a year and then got back together and are blissfully happy together. Actually, that happened to another friend too.

    All I can suggest is that you obviously do still love him. If you can build a life together it would be much less complicated than one apart. But there are an awful lot of ifs. I think if I was in your position I would want to talk to him. Get it all into the open. And then you would be able to make a decision about what to do knowing all the factors. But, not sure if I would have the guts.

    Good luck hon, I'll be thinking of you. xx

  2. What a tough time. My girlfriend left a few months ago, and it hasn't been the same. As for the husband, I hope you make the right decision for all of you. x

  3. God, Nicola. I have no words to help, I'm afraid; in your situation I would have no idea what to do either. Although - and this is easy to say, never having been where you are right now - I have found that taking action is usually the best way to go, for me at any rate. Even if things don't always work out the way I wanted, at least then I know I tried. Then again, as you say, there are the boys to consider too. So what do I know?

    Considering I said I had no words, that was rather a long comment. PM x

  4. Oh Nicola, you poor thing. Life can be so complicated, can't it. I think only you can make the right decision, but I hope you come to the best one for YOU. And make sure your friend is all hooked up in cyberspace so you can talk to her online - that's the way I keep gossiping with my friends back in the UK.

  5. I hate being an expat sometimes - you make friends and they all bugger off again. Pah!
    As for your ex, I would definitely wait till after the whole Xmas thing is over, just in case you've been swept up in the whole magic of it. If you still feel the same in January, or better yet, February when it's really cold, then perhaps you should open up. All he can say is "Thanks but no thanks". It won't be the first time two people have re-united. Better to have loved and lost...etc.

  6. darling,
    I agree with expat mum.
    Get through this holiday season, enjoy the moments together with him and see how you feel in the New Year. You've come this far, so hang on a bit longer.
    I'm sorry that SM is coming home, but I have my fingers crossed that you will be too, very soon.
    Much love......xxx

  7. Hon, Hon, Hon. I'm sitting here blinking tears back for you. Losing a good friend is a horrendous bereavement, especially as an expat. The distance makes the separation all the worse, and good friends who 'get' you are so few and far between.

    I think the advice of the previous 2 comments of waiting till Christmas is good and over is very sound. This is your first 'proper' Christmas apart from ex, really, since I imagine that last year it was all so fresh and new that you were just getting through it and didn't have time to reflect. You're bound to feel nostalgia, and love, and lots of other confusing emotions. It would be surprising if you didn't. Plus there are the other two men in your life, and they must be making your emotions a bit wild. It's all very scary, I'm sure.

    I think your best bet is to hunker down, live in the moment, commit yourself to giving the boys a fabulous Christmas but without any complications, and re-visit the whole issue of feelings in Feb. Feelings are very fickle things - we all know that. These ones might seem like a distant blip in your memory by Feb, or they might still be tugging at you. Either way will be revealing.

    Wish, wish, wish I could do more. I'm an hour away on an aeroplane from you, and I have a large spare room, lots of small boy toys, and 3 kids who would (with a little bribery) love to entertain two small boys. AND a supply Sainsbury's Red Label tea bags. Just bear me in mind if you need a week-end away from it all in the New Year. I really mean it.

  8. It is a sign of how distressed you are that you didn't add any labels to this post!

  9. Given that my comment has generally been hailed as brilliant, (OK, a few others agreed with me),we should probably meet for a coffee. I'm not moving for a while yet!

  10. Brilliant advice here and all I add is take up the opportunities offered. You will be surprised where they take you! Big Hug from this side of the pond!

  11. Fraught Mummy - thank you so much. It is nice to know other couples have got back together successfully. It's a big step for me even admitting that I feel this way.

    MWA - Sorry to hear about your mate too. My friendship has almost been like an intense 5 month love affair...I am going to feel like a limb is missing when she goes.

    Potty Mummy - You're right. I do need to take action. At some point. And your words always help. xx

    NVG - Thank you for your kind words. And yes, I guess I will be getting my fair use of skype once the new year comes around...

    Expat - I do agree with you (yes, of course you are quite brilliant - and absolutely for that coffee.). Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    Lulu - I really value your opinion because obviously you know ex - knew us before all the trouble began and were there with me through all of it. Thank you for always being there for me x

    Iota - I would LOVE to come visit. Let's set something up for the New Year. And thank you for being such a caring, thoughtful blogging friend.

  12. Tattie - Thank you and I do intend to. What an incredibly supportive environment this blogging lark has turned out to be.

  13. It's completely crap when people leave especially when you're so far away from home.

    There is some great advice from everyone and yes, it's fantastic to have an expat community online supporting you. At least we know what it's like for you, to a certain degree.

    Enjoy the festive season and hope the New Year brings you joy.

  14. Oh Nicola, sometimes love really isn't enough, honey xx

    It's a crap attempt to cheer you up, but there is an award for you here http://morethanjustamother.blogspot.com/2009/12/so-whaddya-wanna-know.html

  15. I often visit but rarely comment. Read this and felt I had to comment, but then what to say?
    I just hope that writing this down and sharing has somehow helped. Horrid horrid situation. Wishing you all the very very best x

  16. Lorna - thanks, me too x

    MTJAM - Oh God, I know you are talking the truth. But sometimes the truth is just too hard to face. You are right tho. 100%. And gee! Thanks for my award! I will have to get morose and teary more often ;-))

    Tara - Thank you so much Tara. Glad you still pop by. I always check in with you too - you were one of the first people I followed and were so encouraging when I started back in Jan. I am still so grateful for that. Such kind words. I really appreciate them x

  17. Am coming late to this because I've had a very busy no blogging week. But wanted to say that it sucks that your friend is leaving. I long to find a friend like the one you describe, and if I did find one and then she left, I'd be devastated too.

    As for ex, I agree about waiting till the new year. Let the emotion of Christmas get out of the way and then assess if you still feel the same. Maybe the solution isn't confessing your feelings, but doing what he did - invite him to come out with you and the boys on more outings. Spend more time together as 'separates' and see if the feelings grow, see if you start to get on better, see if the things that were the problem areas before look more manageable now.

    Then if it looks good, confess. And see what happens. Life is too short to think 'what if'.

    thinking of you

  18. Hi, I've just stumbled across your blog and felt I ought to say hello at least:-) Obviously I've no idea of the history of your relationship but here's another 2p worth to look at, ignore or whatever you wish:-) Life is too short to be miserable. You say what if you get back together again and then it fails again, but what if you get back together again and it turns out to be wonderful, better than before? I wish you all the best!

  19. You've had so much good advice already, I don't feel I can really add anything here. I think a good sign is how articulate and realistic you are about your situation - I would be a gibbering, incoherent wreck I think! If thoughts count for anything, I'll be thinking of you! Although your bloggy friends aren't in the same city as you (well, with a couple of exceptions) it doesn't mean we can't care about you, and I hope it helps a little to know that!

  20. HOM - I have been thinking of ways to wangle more time together as a family over Xmas and get more of a sense of whether there truly is a sense of togetherness or not. Until then I feel a bit like a lovelorn teenager in the midst of unrequited love...not very becoming in a 42 year old!

    Sam - Thanks for visiting and for commenting! And you are right - once the xmas shennanigans are over I will broach it with ex if this is still how I feel.

    Almost American - Thank you for your thoughts - you're right, it helps tremendously to know that people care. It is amazing in fact.

  21. Hi, I too read you but don't often comment, but wnted to say I'm so sorry you're having such a rough time; and these things do tend to take on an extra emotional power of their own round this time of year. Hope you gain some clarity, perspective & equilibrium soon. Best wishes.