Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Things Should Be Falling Into Place By Now...But They're Not

I thought I had lost my blogging mojo for a while there.  It wasn't an issue with the lack of potential content...quite the opposite.  So much to write about, so much I wish I had the energy to record and share.  So much going on that I can barely keep up with it all, much less find the time to edit it all into a wry anecdote.

Not only that but I appear to have lost my sense of humour.  I have a vague memory of being able to see the funny side of life during our recent Easter trip to the UK...but since returning to Chicago I have been Ms Glum of Glumville.  This combination of being homesick and feeling isolated does not make me the happiest camper.  It's not really that I have hated returning to Chicago, it's more the return to my situation.  The prospect of facing up to the divorce finally.  

Ex is now backtracking over the decision for me to move back to England with the boys in the summer (big surprise), so that is once again a big hurdle to face, while the sands of time continue to race through the hourglass.  Just the thought of pushing forward makes me feel exhausted, as if I am being forced to trudge my way through thigh deep (slow cooker) sludge.  Progress seems to be inexorably slow.  I have all the cumbersome baggage of the tortoise to weigh me down, when I typically prefer to race my way through life like the free-spirited hare.


We all know who was the winner of that race in the end.

So maybe going against my nature and sticking with the painstakingly slow and dull plod through this emotional, financial and legal minefield will yield results in the end.

I took the boys back to the UK over Easter for a short, action-packed 11 day trip.  I visited Subversive Mum's flat, took a tour of the school I would like the boys to attend, hung out with my MIL and her other half, persuaded my own mother to purchase vast quantities of the M&S chocolate and confectionary section for me to consume, celebrated my dad's wife's 60th birthday with a fantastic family party, caught up with cousins I haven't seen for years and watched with intense satisfaction as our children played happily for hour and hours and hours.

The trip was a welcome break and it was incredible to be surrounded by the love and support of my family, but it was still stressful all the same.  I finally had to face what a mountain I am going to have to climb simply to return home.  And how essential it is that Ex and I work as a team to effectively make it happen, which is a little depressing because on reflection teamwork has never been a cornerstone of our marriage.

While I was busy researching living / education options for his sons, Ex was enjoying a week long break in Berlin, visiting one of our oldest friends, with his New Girlfriend.  He hadn't shared with me that she was going with him, so it came as a bit of a shock to come face-to-face with her on Skype during one of the boy's video calls with daddy.  All shiny hair, sparkly eyes, youthful unblemished skin and large toothy smile flaunting a mouthful of brilliant white perfect teeth.  The all American girl on the next stop of her whirlwind European tour.  I didn't expect to feel so fazed, so intensely jealous, so sick to my stomach.  The idea of her I can handle with acceptance and understanding.  The reality of her is a little harder to take for some reason.  It wasn't the most sensitive move by my Ex to pull her in front of the camera to talk to the boys, knowing full well I was part of the call.  What can I say...I'm pretty sure it's just a not-really-thinking man thing, rather than an attempt to rub my nose right in it.  Didn't stop it smarting for a few days though.

Mind you, it also didn't stop me encouraging the boys to choose her an Easter egg to take home, along with Daddy's.  I know, I know.  The new patron saint of amicable separation, that's me.  Might as well start as I mean to carry on.  It's not as if ignoring the fact that she is now in their lives is going to make her disappear, so I am trying to find a way to accommodate her presence with a generosity that seems beyond me at times.  Oh well.  Practice what you preach and all that.  I'm sure there will be a Blue Peter badge ready and waiting for me at some point.  Or maybe just some peace and a reduction in the jealousy factor, which would be far more satisfying.

I'm not sure what I expected to achieve in this trip but, as it turned out, it was just as well my expectations were low, because I managed to achieve very little.

It's not going to be feasible to rent Subversive Mum's flat because I really need to make a contractual and financial commitment now (which translates to: Ex needs to get his finger out, sign on the dotted line and pony up some cash), which isn't going to happen just yet.  I was hoping my dad would agree to be my guarantor, but he has pretty much nixed that idea with the sound argument that Ex or Ex's company/family really need to be the one's securing my short term financial future.  This makes complete sense but still leaves me with a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach.  This feeling of continued dependency on my Ex makes me feel more than a little vulnerable - I thoroughly resent the fact that he is effectively in control of my future and has the final Nay/Yay on my decisions.  Can I really trust that he will act in MY best interests in this situation?  He is a man of morals and I would go as far to say that he will try to act's just that his version of honorable might be on a whole other planet to mine.  Only time will tell.

I also tried to open a bank account, because I no longer have an account in the UK after First Direct had the audacity to close ours three years ago.  The fresh faced manager in the local branch of my dad's bank (where he has banked for a gazzillion years or more) was confident this would be water off a duck's back.  "Do you have a British Passport?" he enquired.  "Oh - that should be no problem at all then."  These proved to be famous last words.

Of course, what followed was a farcical illustration of the state of computerised banking management.  The manager diligently entered pages of personal details into his trusted computer and then appeared to be retyping several copies of War and Peace as he tapped, tapped, tapped away on the keyboard.  Big silent pause while the computer digested and assessed my eligibility....until finally, "Computer Says No".  He re-entered the information again, pausing only to add my inner leg measurement, with an enthusiastic tap, tap, tap.  "Computer Says No".   He tried again, adding my shoe size and the fact that I still eat Heinz beans and Marmite on a regular basis, but yet again the computer assessed me as a dubious prospect in banking terms.  Thank God I am a fan of Little Britain, or I might have experienced a complete sense of humour meltdown and delicately inserted the keyboard through the computer screen.  Instead I inwardly rolled my eyes and mused nostalgically for the days when bank managers were trusted with an element of authority and decision making - rather than Big Brother making all the decisions for them.  I only wanted an opportunity to deposit money in the UK after all.  But you can't argue with "Computer Says No" apparently these days.  

I attempted to cheer myself up with a quick trip to Next, only to encounter a shop filled to the brim with the largest selection of tat that I have had the misfortune to peruse for some time.  Oh dear.  Somewhere along the line I seem to have been irretrievably influenced by the casual elegance of Banana Republic and the inherent bohemian quality of Anthropology.  This does not bode well for a move home.  Even Monsoon has lost its allure.  

It wasn't all bad though.  The boys absolutely thrived on being around family and didn't want to leave.

"When can we move to England mummy?" was a question repeated time and time again.

Hmmm.  Good question lads.  The mediator meetings start next week.  I'll keep you posted.


  1. Well I think that was a pretty good summary to cover where the bloody hell you have been for the past few weeks :o)
    Loved the recount of 'Computer Says No' - eating marmite and heinz beans on a regular basis - but no mention of the fact that your accent is still more British than mine, an' I bleedin' live 'ere, dunni!
    Keep plodding. You will get there. Or here.
    Love you x x

  2. You really have it all going on at the moment. Like kabbalah rookie says, keep on plodding, you know about the tortoise. They get there in the end. Big hugs. xxx

  3. Oy. Yeah. We two have our stress. I applaud your decision to take the higher road, however, because it really will be worth it in the end. I'm a little farther down that road than you are, and trust me, it is worth it. Even when you feel like wrapping your hands around his neck and choking the life out of his bulging veins, because that will come too.

    I'm sending hugs. Lots of them.

  4. Sounds incredibly stressful - but good news that the boys now want to go and live in England (that was one of your major worries before, wasn't it?). I hope your Ex sees sense and smooths the path. Be brave....xx

  5. We're in the middle of a 'computer says "feed me lots more information to keep the bureaucrats in work"' situation. It's one of life's hugest frustrations, isn't it? I'm sure they used to make sci fi movies about how faceless machines would take over the world. They'd order us about, and we'd have no choice but to do their bidding. And now it's become our reality. Sigh.

    At least getting your boys to choose an Easter egg for the New Woman means that she will get fat and spotty.

  6. Good luck with the mediation! I feel a bit tired on your behalf. Must be awful to have to deal with that much at the same time.

  7. I think he's just flexing his muscles. He can't let you get this far and back track. Pah.

  8. Keep going, keep smiling and keep feeding HER chocolate! You're doing brilliantly!

  9. Lending you my shoulders to lean on because it sounds as though you have a lot going on and it sounds mostly shitty.

  10. Did you buy her an Easter egg in an attempt to make her fat and spotty? How big was it...?

  11. KR - plod, plod, plod. procrastination. plod. Getting back to the UK literally feels MILES away

    Fraught Mummy - yes, I will get there in the end...tho where the 'end' is exactly is anyone's guess right now.

    TM - Oh I experience the desire to wrap my hands around his neck on a daily basis, believe me.

    NVG - This whole experience is teaching me that there are many things that I am not particularly brave about - and tackling my ex is right up there at the top of the list. How bizarre that my once partner in life, with whom I have faced so many things, is now my biggest adversary.

    Iota - I wish 'fat and spotty' were the case. Actually, she has celiac disease apparently, so doesn't eat dairy, so the easter egg present was a pretty pointless one.

    MWA - Yes, I am knackered and dreary. This long drawn out plod up hill is exhausting.

    Expat mum - And they're pretty unimpressive muscles you'd think I'd have nothing to worry about.

    Tattie Weasle - oh, how kind!

    HOM - Oh how we will all laugh about this situation in a couple of years time...I hope.

    MTJAM - Oh it was a small Peppa Pig egg - no point going all out because she doesn't eat chocolate apparently, it being dairy and her being an alien from another planet...