Waking up next to Victor Meldrew

Like a lot of the girls I went to school with, many moons ago, all I wanted to do was leave school, meet the ‘man of my dreams’ settle down and have babies.  I used to tell my friends that I couldnt wait to ‘start my life.’
I was 18 years old when I met the man I was going to be married to for over half of my life!  In fact, our first date was on my 18th birthday and I was completely smitten, a condition I was happily ‘suffering’ from for the first 9 years of our relationship.
We bought a house and moved in together when I was 19, we were married three weeks after my 21st birthday and we had our first son when I was just 22.  Things were going exactly to plan.  Three years later we had our second son and things were really good for us.  Looking back on those days I would never want to change a thing.
Reality hit for me after a trip to my country of birth – which a lot of you know is Canada.  I found it very difficult coming back to my life in England and it was at that point that I made the decision that I wanted to live some of my life, if not the rest of it in Canada.  I voiced this to my husband, with whom I was still very much in love, who simply laughed at me and told me that it was never going to happen – his life was in England and my life was with him!  
Over night things changed for me – it had taken 9 years but the rose-tinted glasses had been – I felt – viciously ripped from my eyes.  I obviously still loved my husband but it was beginning to occur to me that whilst I would have followed him anywhere and everywhere, he possibly didnt feel the same about me.  What was I going to do?  My sons were 6 and 4 years of age – did I remove them from a financially secure situation because I had suddenly realised that perhaps this wasnt the man of my dreams, more a controlling, money-driven and, as it turns out, quite a negative man?  I made the decision that my happiness was not as important as my sons’ financial security.
It is amazing what you can live with on a day-to-day basis for the sake of your children.  Obviously, we weren’t in a violent situation at any point.
The four of us carried on this way for quite a few more years, nice cars, nice holidays, moving house.  To look at us from the outside you would honestly have thought we were your average ‘happy’ family.  What people couldn’t see was that one member of that family was slowly dying inside.  It is difficult to remain your natural positive, happy self when you are bereft of any emotional support, understanding and consideration.
By the time our sons were 15 and 12 years, I did think of leaving and actually looked around for somewhere else to live.  Unfortunately, my timing was not perfect as at the same time, my now ex husband was made redundant after 26 years in the same job.  So once again, I shelved my feelings and needs and carried on the supportive wife act that was my life.  It is really what marriage is all about as far as I was concerned and it was natural for me to take on the supportive role, and life did change for the better for a little while – he was less stressed with his job and actually became a little more positive about things – now that he had had the time to think about what was really important.  He was spending more ‘real’ time with his family and the earning of large amounts of money seemed to be less important to him.  This lasted for three months!!  He soon got another job and before long was his usual negative self, no time for anyone and inconsiderate towards others’ needs.
The catalyst for me was my 40th birthday in September 2007.  I found myself going to sleep and waking up every day in a negative mood.  I was married to someone who never saw the good in people, someone who would nag and moan about the little things – things such as a 17 year old who stayed up into the early hours, a 15 year old who never took him seriously.  He nicknamed me and our sons ‘the three musketeers’ and moaned that we were all ‘ganging up on him.’!!!  His whole attitude to life in general was that the world was against him.
It was beginning to tell on the boys.  Their attitude towards their lives was changing.  They hated spending time at home and would go around to friends or girlfriends until they absolutely had to come home to go to bed.  They would hate to sit around the table to eat dinner because they would be bombarded with questions about why they were such miserable teenagers and ‘didnt they understand how hard he worked to give them everything they wanted?’
I would sit there looking at him and I would feel nothing.  I was devoid of all feeling.  I actually found myself sitting at the dinner table one day sticking a fork into my hand and when asked by my 17 year old what I thought I was doing, I simply replied that I was making sure I wasnt dead!!
In November 2007, I had been 40 for three months.  I woke up one morning and just lay there thinking ‘is this it for the rest of my life?’  Was this really what I had signed up for.  I mean, what was it going to be like when the boys left home?  I would be living on my own with a man I had nothing in common with.  What was I gonna do?  End up burying him under the patio no doubt!!!
A part of me wonder what on earth had happened to the man I fell in love with.  Where had the man I married gone and who had made the decision to replace him with Victor Meldrew?  A larger part of me just didnt want to stay around to find out!!
And so here I am, 9 months into my single life during which time I have experienced laughter and tears in equal measures, a couple of footprints on my heart where it has been trampled on and a whole bunch of new friends that I love with all of my heart.  During my time as a single woman, I have been hurt a couple of times – if you don’t put yourself out there and live your life then you are just settling and whilst having your heart trampled on hurts for a while, my very humble opinion is that it is better to feel that occasionally than to feel nothing at all!!

By Bex

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