August 2019 has finally arrived. TJ’s dad and I will be applying for a divorce this month. I say finally but really the last two years have absolutely and incredibly flown by. August 2019 seemed a lifetime away when my husband and I went our separate ways two years ago with plans to file for a no-fault divorce. That legislation (annoyingly) demands that a couple must have lived apart for two years rather than apportioning blame. We decided that this was the best option for us. I guess that it has been, in practical terms. The divorce will now be just a paper exercise to cut the legal ties we still have to each other. The division of assets and the long journey to recovery following the breakdown of that relationship has largely been dealt with. But, it still feels like something horrible is about to happen.
It has been well-documented that I have a lot of opinions about having to wait two years before applying for a divorce, particularly under our circumstances. I have gone through periods when I thought it was the best possible thing in the world. I have been through the true exhilaration of freedom … but also the crushing blows of being alone. Not necessarily alone in terms of a relationship but living alone for the first time, being without our three-year-old son TJ and feeling isolated as a single mum in a sea of ‘happy families’. I am over much of that now – the only constant being the cutting feeling of true and physical pain as soon as TJ is no longer in my arms. But, I have learnt to be grateful for my co-parenting arrangement as so many children don’t have a dad who wants to be as present and part of their life as TJ’s dad wants to be.
Right now, I am not quite where I thought I would be when I walked away from my marriage two years ago. I bought my two-bed flat viewing it as very much a temporary base as I went on to meet someone else to rebuild the suburban dream with. That didn’t quite go to plan … and that’s something I am really grateful for, actually. Living on my own is ace. I relish it more than I ever thought I would. I am not sure I want to share a home with any other grown-ups in the (near-ish) future. If I hadn’t had this time alone, the chances are that I would have rushed into something else for all of the wrong reasons. I have dated, I have ‘seen’ people and I have dumped people in the process because I refuse to settle for just anyone. I want the complete dream and I will always keep going until I find it.
Life isn’t a competition
…Until it is. Or maybe it isn’t but it still feels like one. When you break up with someone, there’s always a little bit of an unspoken race to see who reaches those life goals all over again. TJ’s dad has smashed it – and even before applying for a divorce was possible for us. He met someone within weeks of our separation, she moved into the flat he bought as a bachelor pad and they are now buying their own actual house together. Complete with a cute little garden. Not one bit of me wants the life that I walked away from with him. But, I wouldn’t mind that garden. I also wouldn’t mind steps which led somewhere other than the communal car park. Flat-life isn’t for me and I long for the end to come. Summer nights on the first floor are sweaty for all of the wrong reasons!
I could do it on my own. Financially speaking, I chose to forsake a full-time salary in order to spend more time with TJ. We have a few week days together in addition to our alternate weekends, and that’s something which I would never give up for anything. That may change when he starts school in September 2020 and I can hopefully dial up the hours of my employment … maybe enough to afford a little house of my own. Maybe. A girl can dream.
A house made of straw
A house isn’t a home without love inside of it. My two-bed flat of a home is full of largely positive emotions all of the time. I adore my own space, I am proud of the personality I injected into it by decorating it all to my own tastes and I am proud that I can do this on my own.
The three-storey townhouse which I used to share with TJ’s dad never felt like a home. It felt like the setting for a battle, fraught with tension and an inescapable feeling of being trapped. I was walking on eggshells almost every day to avoid a clash or an argument over something silly or pointless. So, I have no regrets for the life decisions I have made and the compromises which I have selected when I decided that applying for a divorce was our best option. My faith for the present and the future will never falter. This time last year that may have been about finding a boyfriend – that’s not the case any more. I have seen a much bigger picture of life solo and whatever that may bring. I may meet someone, I may not. Or, I may have more children, I may not. In fact, I don’t need a man if I do want another baby – just a more healthy bank balance!
Anyway … back to D-Day. I have been told by others that the divorce will take around six months to be finalised. Ah, six months from now will land just before my 37th birthday. This is either awful or brilliant. I don’t know how I will feel when that happens – only time will tell on that one.
Back in January 2017, when I first told my closest friends that TJ’s dad and I would be applying for a divorce, we raised a glass to toast a happier future. We joked about divorce parties. There was plenty of laughter about dying my wedding dress black. We giggled about it all, really. But, it’s not actually that funny at all. Yes, the relationship has been over for a while and neither of us want to reconcile that in any way. But, divorce is the true ending to what was once a promising beginning.
Yes, we rushed into a marriage which, given more time to stop and think, maybe wouldn’t have happened. But, we loved each other – despite all the drama that we acted out between us. That love is now gone – and in its place is a strained co-parenting relationship, bitterness, sadness and a lot of pain which may never go away. That’s nothing to celebrate. Applying for a divorce is never fun.
What I know is worth celebrating is all the great stuff which has happened in the last two years. Friends have become firmer and new friendships have been made. Life has been rich with fresh experience and previously undiscovered adventures. I have been truly happy and incredibly sad – sometimes within such short spaces of time that I didn’t even know it was possible. I have changed and I am proud of the personal growth that I have been through to get me here, right now, today, writing these words.
And, the best thing of all which we can both take away from our marriage is TJ. Beautiful, wonderful, hilarious TJ – that’s one ray of sunshine which we will always be thankful for.