Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sucking Lemons

I have days when I am so consumed with bitterness towards my Ex that I can barely function.

I never thought I would feel like this.  Particularly after being separated for two years.  Especially because we are so amicable for the most part.

Maybe that's the problem.

I'm so busy putting on a brave face and 'doing the right thing' for our children - that I have effectively swallowed all the hurt and anger that I genuinely feel and yet have never expressed.  To him at least.  It is all so unsatisfying.

I focus on my adorable children.  I focus on the wonderful life I have (honest to God, I have so many things to be grateful for and KNOW that compared to many others I live the life of bloody riley).  I am grateful that this whole separation and divorce has not been a traumatic shitstorm.  It could have all been so much worse.

Still.  It doesn't stop me from wanting to smash his bloody head in sometimes.  Like a couple of weeks ago when we Skyped daddy at the weekend and I discovered he was on a weekend getaway in Miami with AG.  From out of nowhere a tidal wave of acid erupted from my abdomen and crashed through my chest.  This surge of resentment and envy - and downright hate - coursed through my body with such intensity that I had to walk out into the garden and physically cover my mouth to stop myself from screaming in bitterness and anger.  My whole body was shaking - and yet all this pent up energy had nowhere to go.  It seethed and writhed within me, while my head swam with vicious, venomous thoughts.

You see, sometimes when Ex is nice to me...I forget.  I forget that he has moved on.  I forget that when he says in an email 'I never stopped loving you' that he doesn't mean 'I never stopped being in love with you' (world of difference, isn't there?) and that actually, he has totally moved on and is IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE.  And if we are talking Life of Riley...well, sometimes his lifestyle makes me want to chew my own socks with frustration.


How on earth did it turn out this way?

Yet the biggest, most urgent question is, why am I still unable to come to terms with all this over 2 years later?

Why do I let this bitterness consume me at times?  Why can't I just Let.  It.  Go?  Please, dear God, I really do want to be free of it.  I am so sick of being side-swiped by destructive emotions, that knock me out for days on end.  And I know I am the only one who can choose not to allow his life to impact me emotionally.  Which just makes it worse.  It's not him, per se, it's me.  Bleugh.

Despite my best efforts to be a spiritual, enlightened human being, it turns out that deep down, I am still like a sulking, self-absorbed child...

"But you told me you would ALWAYS love me...I trusted YOU!  And I don't want you to be nice to me any more.  I don't want anything to do with you any more.   You lied to me.  You spent years lying to me.  And I can't forgive you for it.  In fact, I hate you for it.  Truly hate you for it.  Because I trusted you more than I have ever trusted anyone in my life.  And, whatever you might believe, you are not my friend - because friends don't betray each other like that.  Ever.  So I will smile at you and be nice in front of the children.  I will pass on daily titbits about their day and ensure you feel constantly involved and updated on their lives.  But really?  Deep down?  I would just prefer it if you would just Fuck Off and I never, ever had to see or talk to you, ever again."

Oh my.  So much still to deal with.  Thank God I don't feel like this every day.  If it was constant, how on earth would you live with yourself?  The random days here and there are bad enough as it is.

Of course, I would love to express all this to Ex - to dump it out there and just walk away.  But I know it would just sit there in the middle of us...and it would definitely impact our boys.  And once the words are said - well, they can never be retracted.  And they would always be remembered, of that I am sure.  So instead I will just say them here - and feel all the better for it.  And I will push thoughts of him to the back of my mind and replace them with thoughts of my brave and beautiful boys.

Because really, they are two of the most incredible brave and beautiful boys that you would ever have the good fortune to come across.

I am astounded at how well they have settled in the UK.  They are loving their new school and have made so many friends.  Many of the parents have remarked what happy children they are, and how quickly they have adapted.  I am so very proud of them.  They really don't seem to hanker or yearn for their old life in Chicago at all - they are so immersed in the present moment and enjoying the freedom of their new life.

Things are working out really well with Johnny Drama - the consistent application of rules is working bloody wonders and his behaviour has improved beyond measure.  I have also found that getting him to take on extra responsibility and tasks around the house serves to make him even better behaved, which is a bit of a result.  And the more that I resist bringing Mummy Shouty Knickers into the equation, the less resistance and retaliation I encounter.

Honestly, the boys are a complete joy right now and I am, more or less, loving every minute that I spend with them.

As I said, I truly am very lucky.  I have a lot to be grateful for.  The Ex bitch slap will have to be consigned to my parallel world, where I have it on good authority that I am a total bitch and couldn't give two hoots about being nice...


  1. Jesus, Nicola. I am in total awe of your self control. (And have you ever thought about taking up boxing? You never know, might have therapeutic properties, hitting a bag as hard as you can and getting all your frustration out that way...)

  2. If he sends mails that say 'I never stopped loving you' how can you not get bitter days when he swans off with AG. He is holding you by a thread. That's his needyness not yours. But it is selfish. I think Potty Mummmy's idea is fantastic, it may help you release it some more. I have been out of your blog for a while (*waves*) sorry. And I'm back again with an opinion (nothing changes), tell me to MMOB if it annoys xx

  3. I agree with Potty. Or better still, kick boxing. Stick his picture on the pad and kick the shit out of it.

    I'd also consider getting a therapist if only to have someone to shout all this at to get it out of your system. Because you are doing an amazing job of being brilliant for your boys, but don't forget about you in the equation. Keeping stuff in makes it fester. Better out than in.

  4. I would so let it out and let him have it. I think you're amazing, taking the high road the way you are. It would be impossible not to have those feelings, but it's quite a feat not expressing them.

  5. I think you are doing a wonderful job -it must be so hard to remain on speaking terms. (I remember my sister saying similar; that if it wasn't for her boys, she would never want to speak to her ex again, but instead she has to carry on having a relationship with someone she despises). I agree with Home Office Mum, maybe someone professional to vent to might help?

  6. Like the suggestions above, especially having a professional at whom you can vent and who can be constructive about how to deal with the anger.

    I think you are doing amazingly. I'd never be able to let it go.

    BTW how did I miss that YOU ARE BACK! So excited about that. Any time you want to get all the boys together, outside in mud and wellies, then give me a shout!

  7. Not being a therapist as you know, I have no authority to say this, but its OK to feel bitter and angry. I know I would and I've only met him once! You didn't want the marriage to end, you hoped for a long time that perhaps it might be salvageable but he had different ideas. He has thrown your life so far off the path you had envisaged that your feelings are entirely normal at the moment.
    I agree that a therapist would probably help with all of this, but it's not cheap. How about the Kabbalah people?

  8. It is SO HARD to keep that stuff in, isn't it? It's still hard for me, and I don't have the lingering emotional stuff that you're also dealing with, so I know it's even harder for you. It sounds to me like, as a couple of other people have said, he's keeping you on a string. It's not that he wants you (sorry, but this is patently true), but he does want to keep you willing to bend over backwards for him. Which your arrangement when he visits obviously shows.

    So my suggestion? Stay civil, yes, but don't be so damn accommodating. I KNOW (dear god I know) how hard it is to draw that line in the sand when years and years of habit dictate otherwise and the bastard will try to turn it around on you. Having a backbone is not the same as being a bitch. I've learned that the hard way, and am still learning it.

    Ultimately, you're spot on when you say that keeping it stuffed down inside has turned it to bitterness. I think you need a therapist, stat, and taking up some kick-boxing on the side isn't a bad idea at all. You need an outlet. You're right that shoving it in his face won't be productive in the long run, and you are SO strong to keep your self-control. But you need to let it out. Please. Because you will reach your breaking point, and that too often happens at the worst possible moment--like in front of the boys.

    And here's the wonderful thing that you WILL realize one day: yes, you are the one who has to choose to let go and move on and all that. But here's what that also means: YOU ARE THE ONE IN CONTROL OF YOU. I have a feeling that he's been very much in control for years, even if it's in passive-aggressive ways. God knows that was true for me and my ex. I'm only now realizing to what an extent that is true, and I'm starting to work through my growing anger and bitterness in therapy so that I can continue being civil with him.

    Sorry, long post. But as you know, I've BEEN THERE in so many ways, and I get what you're feeling. I'm still there, sometimes.

    Sending virtual hugs over the ocean!

  9. Therapist. Yes. Listen, I have one. Do I strike you as the kind of person who would find it easy to cross that "I need a therapist" barrier? Do I? If I can do it, so can anyone.

    I really look forward to seeing her. It's great. And I feel that, along with Hallowe'en and holding a garage sale, it's all part of the American experience.

    Expat Mum says not cheap, but doesn't the NHS provide that kind of thing? (Or have I been away from the NHS for too long?)

    You have no voice, because you want to be civilised for the sake of the boys, but you need one. Repressed anger can cause depression, so get it out there. Please.

  10. Seriously, you need a place to vent. He hasn't been nice, he still isn't playing nice, and he's left you to deal with all the crap he doesn't feel like while he goes off and plays lovey-dovey with someone new.
    This is just not okay and you are totally entitled to feel the way you do.
    It's just crappy. You can't be nice all the time, it's not healthy.
    I'm with the others on finding a therapist or a group, getting the anger out and only then will you be ready to move on. It will happen one day but there's no way out of this rage but through it.
    You're doing a STELLAR job with your life and your boys. Be proud. Look after yourself. And I'm with the previous commenter who thinks you can be civil/nice without being too accommodating or letting him push you around which will just make you more angry and feel more powerless. I know you're afraid he will use that as an excuse to let the boys down, but you know what? You can't control that. If he's going to do it, it will be HIM. Not you. You're a great mum and you're there for them. That's all that counts and when you stand up for yourself, make him work a bit harder and get some much-deserved support and help this will start to heal. So sorry. We're all with you. xoxo .
    I think I have to stop before I come over and bash your ex

  11. Will it really depress you to know that I still feel like that on a regular basis? Even further down the line? I couldn't let go for years. Think I thought we could/should be friends. In the end, actually it felt much better to let it all go. We are not friends. He betrayed me. I will not forgive him. End of.

    Your rant is SO exactly the same way that I feel - so be civil in front of the kids but you don't have to try harder than that and you don't have to accept that he's moved on - at least not when it's thrown in your face.....

    You've got to sort the bloody access arrangements. That is going to drive you mad.

    Great that your kids are happy - you're doing a great job there. Lx

  12. HUgs hun. I will send you an email.

    And might I say I am bloody pissed (I sound like a brit saying that no? lol). Why? Becuause I may be flying into chicago for a few days in a month or so and you won't be there. Ach! Talk about lousy timing.

  13. I have also found that getting him to take on extra responsibility and tasks around the house serve to make him even better behaved, which is a bit of a result.

  14. It's so hard to have all that hate floating around just under the surface isn't it? Take a deep breath, remember this will be over soon and keep doing what you're doing... so hard I know. Taking the high road is always the better thing to do and you're doing it amazingly.

    Big hugs, this will pass.


  15. Ex hatred is perfectly normal and should be encouraged. Being noble sucks. LET IT OUT!!!! (but only on the blog)

  16. This comment is long overdue. Oh yes, and our internet is back :o)

    I watch you doing a fantastic job of holding it all together and being such a great Mum to the boys.

    With everything that you've said, it's clear that you know what the issue is - you need to let these feelings go, because the only person being hurt is you.

    And I'm not saying this to minimise what you are going through. Jeez - look at my issues - they've been nothing by comparison. Nothing.

    If anything I think you are more frustrated by the fact that you know that you need to let it go and can't, than by the continuing anger itself.

    Stop weighing yourself up as a good or bad person and wondering what action you are meant to be taking given that you've done this and he said that and all you want is this.

    It's easier than that. You have the anger but the anger isn't actually a part of you. Ask for help for it to be removed. Use the tools. And I can highly (highly) recommend the mikveh.

    And in the meantime, go and kick the shit out of something. And let's find something really funny to watch on TV...

  17. Thumping and kicking are good sytems to let it all out. Also diogging holes and filling them with rage is good as you can have the satisfactionof shoveling shitinhtem too. Get a therapist if you can even if it is only for a short while think of it as a way of truly letting go and gettng on with life it's worth will be priceless. HUGE HUGS!

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  19. Hello - I stumbled across your blog and as I have been feeling crazy homesick for England for a while, I was interested to learn about your move back with your boys. Sorry that it has been under difficult circumstances - have a number of friends who have gone through similar things and it's never easy, but time does seem to heal. Therapy seems to be a great tool too if you able to do it, at least for a bit. I hope that being back in the UK helps. I am really aching to be back there - somehow just not enjoying the USA at all right now. Interested to see how the continuing reality of moving back is....maybe I've just got rose-tinted spectacles?

  20. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  21. I feel for you, I really do. All I can say is grief (and yes, anger is part of it) isn't linear. It sucks ass (or lemons - whatev) at strange intervals.

    Hang in there!

    PS: I'm currently in the sad as fuck stage of my break up. Can't wait for that shit to be over with...

  22. Thanks for posting this. i really had good time reading this.

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  24. Is there any harm in just saying to him, 'actually I'm really angry about what you've done, and we can't be friends and you mustn't email and say you will always love me or I will forward the mails to your new woman.' That ought to save you 2 years of therapy! I've done therapy and found it boring as f***k, though a lot of people do swear by it. But it is expensive and you only get 6 sessions on the NHS. Good luck with whatever you choose and I'm sure you will make wise decisions for yourself xx

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