The First Week of School
September 18, 2018
As every year, the first week of school is fucking stressful. Kids are already tired and cranky in the afternoons, the traffic is driving me ballistic, and the money goes out in doubles. There are the arts and crafts lessons, singing, music, Spanish … and the shoes and the wellies and the raincoats and anything and everything else you can think of we, the parents, most likely have to pay for in September.
Of course, I don’t mind investing in my kid’s education, quite the opposite. I believe every penny spend on education is worth it. But I would still like to know why everything must be so bloody expensive when it comes to kids and their education?!? Anyone, anyone with answers?
Jim, my husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm about investment in education. His educational belief system is pretty limited. According to him, kids ought to work hard at school and learn everything there, not at the after-school classes or during extra tutorials or activities. He believes that a child should show some interest in a particular subject before extra help, or additional classes are provided.
In reality, education is just one of many fundamental values we disagree on. At the start of any relationship, no one wants to see how fundamental values can break that relationship. Even once you’re married, you still believe that the other person will change or see through your eyes. But unfortunately, it does matter more than everyone wants to, or cares to admit.
Another “frustration he constantly experiences with me” – these are his words, not mine, is the fact that I bring zero money in. He quickly forgot that it was his idea for me to stay at home with the girls.
Instead of paying someone else to look after our kids, I was going to look after them. Apparently, it was cheaper than having a nanny and a cleaner and pay for my travel to work. Yeah, that was a huge mistake, to put it mildly… Somehow he had forgotten that I was the breadwinner before we had kids. I used to support his crazy business ideas and always believed and knew that one would have worked out someday.
I still don’t understand how insane I must have been to think it was a good idea to give up my life and my career in my prime to become… a perfect nobody. Unfortunately, after having two kids, I’m not considered a valuable asset to most companies. They look at me and think that I’m a liability. Yes, our modern, advanced society seems to believe that the moment a woman becomes a mother, she loses all abilities to think, work, and be productive. The small fact that dudes run most companies doesn’t help our cause. The prejudice against working mothers is massive and still growing.
Every single year during the first week of school Jim and I argue a ton. The tension between us doesn’t help with my exhaustion leaving me to drain and wishing I could dissolve into nothingness every evening. He always knows how to make me feel small, which buttons to push and words to use. The sad thing is that I have only realised this recently, but he has been working on lowering my self-esteem for years. Yes, most of the days I feel small and insignificant. Long-time relationships usually take the heavy toll on people but there is a sacrifice you are willing to make, and there is a complete loss of your own self just to please someone who doesn’t even sees you as a person any longer.
The positive thing about the first week back to school is that the girls seemed to be happy and to see all their friends. I’m glad they are so merry. It is always nice to see other mums and get back to our coffee mornings. We usually don’t see each other over the summer. The community takes a break from being a community; maybe it is for the best as we don’t get at each other nerves. Both of my girls go to an independent school, which for now I believe is the perfect fit for their needs. It does cost shit lots of money, but in the case of education, money is irrelevant to me. The girls like the school, love their teachers and friends and each morning are happy to put their shoes on, take their lunches and go off.
I love the freedom the summer holidays offer and late nights and lazy mornings. But there is nothing like a quiet house after a hot, humid, and sticky summer. I treasure the space and the quietness that falls upon the house when September arrives.
I know that if you asked Jim about what I do during the time the girls are at school, he would most likely tell you that I do nothing. The reality is very different. I cook, clean, do the shopping, do the laundry, look after the garden, sell stuff we don’t need any more on eBay and most importantly I’m a writer. Or I should rather say that I try to write. Words don’t come to me as quickly as they used to.
My previous job BC (before children) involved lots of writing. I was a senior copywriter in a fancy ad agency which didn’t believe my motherhood could add any value to their company once my maternity leave was over. Fuck them and the dude in charge. Sorry, the creep would love that so no. I’m just gonna fuck his narrow-minded teeny-tiny brain.
But I’m back to writing, or at least I’m trying to write again and in the process try to get my working life back. I didn’t tell anyone that I was writing again. First of all, I don’t need more pressure than I already have; secondly, I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. It is writing, and I’m kind of starting from scratch. With creativity and creative life, you can’t plan that much ahead.
At the moment it feels that I’m starting a new life in the middle of my old life.
My Knee Is In Pain Again
September 25, 2018
After weeks of resting and a half a dozen physiotherapy sessions, my knee, in theory at least, should be as good as new. I didn’t exercise or go to the gym over the summer as much as I would like to. I wanted my knee to be ready for all the physical activities a new school year always throws at me or any other parent in that matter.
However, the moment I started driving a little bit more than I did during the summer my knee gave in. I honestly don’t know if this was the driving, the colder weather, or more physical activity, but my knee was screaming for attention. As soon as I could, I made yet another appointment with Jim’s friend, a physiotherapist whom I went to see over the summer. I had no particular problems with him before that last session, or maybe I simply was unaware what kind of fucking moron he was.
His asshole-like attitude was visible from the moment I arrived. I was two minutes late; It happens, it’s London. Sometimes you can’t get on time to places regardless of how early you leave. Besides, the moment school is back in session, driving across the capital becomes pretty challenging.
Of course, I was apologetic and explained that I got stuck in traffic. I do not know what he was trying to say or what he meant, but he just said that I got stuck in the pipe (Anyone knows what that means in the assholes’ lingo?). It could have been a joke that I didn’t understand. His odd behaviour didn’t end there, it continued, and he started bombarding me with pretty personal questions, which made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. After that, the rest of the visit was just the ride downhill.
The previous time I came for a session with him, he gave me a strengthening exercise, which I did on a daily basis for few weeks but it turned out that I was doing the whole exercise wrong. Even though it was precisely the way, he showed me to do.
After pointing out that I just wasted my time doing the exercise, he proceeded with more criticism, but this time he decided to insult my diet. Believe me; he knows very little about food. After he was done with pointing out how my vegan diet was unhealthy, he couldn’t stop himself from suggesting that going to the gym is stupid and pointless really. According to him, I should be interacting with my environment, and the gym doesn’t offer that. I live in London, and the pollution is so fucking high at times that I have hard times breathing while I’m in the car, not even mentioning running alongside South Circular. But the most out of place and in some respect humiliating was when he announced that I was getting old and I could be going through early menopause because I had a heat stroke over the summer. Since he is an expert and knows all about heat strokes and menopause, he couldn’t spare me his opinion. He just blurted it out with no consideration of how it could make me feel, his paying client. I don’t give a fuck that he is Jim’s mate. The chauvinistic pig will see none of my money ever again.
I should have left right then and there, but I didn’t. I guess being a “nice girl” sticks to grown women, as much as it does to the young girls. This is undoubtedly not the way I’m going to bring up my daughters. If someone or something makes them uncomfortable, they will need to speak up or leave. Life is too short for accepting and putting up with other’s bullshit. Since I don’t like leaving things on a negative note with people. At the end of the session, I asked him about specific exercise I could do as a part of my training. He quickly scanned the front page of my training program and looked at his wall clock. He didn’t even know how to answer my question and was in such a rush to get me out that it made me feel like I didn’t matter the moment the hour was over. What kind of customer service is that? How dare he or anyone else judge me by my age, pains or family history. Who does that?
After my session with the asshole, I headed off to pick up the girls. I was trying to calm myself down; I didn’t cry, no asshole of such a small proportion can make me cry, but I was unkind to my girls and didn’t allow them to play in the park with their friends. I was so pre-occupied with my inner anger that I didn’t even listen to their stories on our way back.
Women put up with a lot of that kind passive-aggressive bullshit behaviour from blokes who feel entitled to give us their opinions about ourselves, and our life choices. That one was just one of many. However, I have to say that on that very day, something has changed in me. I can’t even put my finger on what that was, but I’m more than sure that I will never again allow any man make me feel uncomfortable, walk all over me, or make me feel like I don’t matter. I didn’t say anything to Jim. I doubt he would have understood. Most likely he would laugh it off and put it down to my vivid imagination and me seeing problems where they do not exist. Besides, I haven’t spoken to him for at least a week. I know he is around, but he gets in when I’m already asleep. And in the morning he is the first one to leave. He must be working on something big, I guess.
Until next week.
So The Drama Begins
October, 4th, 2018
It just occurred to me that I’ve been pretty unhappy recently. Might be that my dissatisfaction with life has always been there, I just never saw it up close like that. The constant anger I carry around is consuming every muscle of my body and every cell of my brain.
I’ve been trying to find the reason for my unhappiness for weeks, and the only thing I can come up with is the fact that the girls are growing up fast and fairly soon they won’t need me as much as they used to. I guess that, subconsciously, I have started wondering what I shall do now with my life and how I can accommodate the fact that both of my girls are at school. I need to decide fairly soon how I want my life to look like.
Jim has been working so late in the past week; the wine keeps me company when the house is all quiet. On the one hand, it is nice to have evenings to myself but on the other, the pickups from the afternoon activities, homework, play dates and bedtime fall all on me, which at times is overwhelming, especially when the girls had a bad day at school and are unsettled.
Luckily, tomorrow I’m seeing my girlfriends. Would you believe if I told you that I hadn’t had a chance to have a morning coffee with them since we started school and already a month has gone by? The four of us have known each other since our kids were in the playgroup together. We like to call ourselves The Kids and the City gang, you know like the Sex and the City but with much less sex and nearly non-existing social life, which has been taken over by the kid’s activities and their birthday parties.
I love my friends; I love spending time with them. It always fills me with positive and refreshing energy that allows me to carry on with whatever shit I have going on in my life.
October, 5th, 2018
My little monsters decided that having a tantrum over who is wearing what to school is the best way to start the day. I wonder if they do it just to see how much they can piss me off.
Jim left when I was in the shower before the tantrum took over our morning. I’ve always found it hard to handle the screaming kids. Jim is so much better at calming them down. But the positive outcome of the morning drama was that neither of them spoke in the car, which gave me a bit of a breather to collect my thoughts.
In comparison to the morning drama, the drop off felt unusually uneventful. For a change, even the gate was opened on time. I didn’t see Christina, which is always nice. She is the leader of the “mean girls club”. School parental politics are very much like the high school political landscape. You must belong to a group and immune yourself to the waterfall of gossips, talking behind people’s back and countless passive-aggressive behaviour parental communities engage in.
Since I didn’t feel like waiting by the gate for everyone to arrive, I made my way to the cafe. Over the summer the cafe had a makeover. There is a new owner and a new menu. I like the newly updated cafe as much as I loved the old one (The only local cafe I don’t like is the one that served me a latte with a hair in it. When I asked for a new one, it wasn’t well received, oh hell no…).
I was so ready to talk, gossip, drink coffee and eat brownies.
The moment I sat down, I started thinking about our life stories and how our current lives seem to be alike. Before we had kids, we all had careers and highly paid jobs. But after kids and maternity leaves, it has been hard for most of us to get back to work and keep our pre-kids high paid jobs.
Currently, most of us either have part times jobs, freelance or started our businesses in hope to turn a profit at some time in the future, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
The whole experience of shunting mothers aside is humiliating and painful. We are all resourceful, creative problem solvers, who can multitask but most of us can’t seem to be able to find well-paid full-time employment because apparently being a mother makes you for some reason unemployable, especially in the higher positions.
I do try to stay positive and not get influenced by the negativity of our situation, but pretty often I feel uneasy, sick, and resentful. My girlfriends and I are real-life examples of inequality.
I was halfway through my brownie when my girls arrived. The moment I saw them, I knew something was seriously off; all three of them were… distressed, the way I haven’t seen them in a long time.
I didn’t even manage to ask what happened when Jenny blurred out “We were late… because… we… love you… and… you need to know…that…that…that…”
“That what Jenny? Spill it out!!!” I hurried her up; I was getting this sick feeling in my stomach. It happens every time I feel something terrible is about to happen.
She took a deep breath and finally said: “Jim… Jim… has been seen a couple of times cosying up to Christina in the city in the past week”.
At first, I had no idea what Jenny was all about, and I just looked at her for a few seconds, trying to figure out how could Jim see Christina if he was working late. But soon enough I understood.
October 9th, 2018
I still don’t know if I feel sad, perhaps shocked, or merely disappointed that Jim has been seeing someone behind my back. I know I should be outraged but it’s not in me, I can’t find it. I knew I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t realise that we, as a couple, weren’t happy either. In reality, I don’t think we have spoken in… I can’t even remember when was the last time we did talk about something else than the school runs, children, and the school community.
I guess the romance dies down at some point but dating Christina was a humiliating slap to me and our life together. He knew how much I hated that woman. He knew all about her petty conflicts, unkindness, and general bitchiness. She is everything I wasn’t. She is focused on her own career and social progress, something Jim repetitively said he didn’t like women focusing on once they become mothers. In Jim’s book on motherhood, there was never anything in the middle; everything was either black or white.
He always kept bragging to anyone who would listen that he worked hard so I could be home with the children. Of course, that was only for the appearances because at home the increased pressure from me having to bring in the income was growing steadily. He wasn’t always money and status driven. He used to be supportive, especially when he was starting out and we had to live off my single salary. However, over the past two years, he has changed; he became easily irritated, demanding and unforgiving when it came to making mistakes. I put this outrageous behaviour on pressure and work-related stress, but maybe there was something much more to it than that.
I don’t think I can point out to one moment when we drifted apart. I guess there have been many small moments that added up. But seeing other people isn’t something I had in mind for the spectacular end to our relationship.
I cannot understand why, from all the people, all the women on planet Earth, he decided to go out with her. She is fucking the worst, patronising and superior to the rest of us. I HATE HER; I HATE HER, I HATE HER!!!
I’ve always tried to be nice, accommodating and kind when it came to our school community. Of course, it wasn’t always possible, and at times I was a cow, but I was never mean for my personal amusement. Katy suggested that I should spy on Jim. According to her, I should investigate (believe me she has heaps of experience investigating her partners) what that thing between the two of them is. Is it a beginning of romance or a full blown up affair? And what that means for us: a divorce, a separation?
As for me, I don’t know what I should do. On the one hand, I surely should and must confront him. On the other hand, I’m scared to hear the truth, and I’m scared that I don’t have a job and won’t be able to provide for the girls. I’m entirely and fully dependent on him financially. How did I get myself into that I still don’t know? I was always so independent, pioneering women in every place I worked and now… my best guess is that I’ll have to start all over again.
How does one start all over again after turning 40 and being out of the workforce for years?
October 10th, 2018
Since Jim was “working late” yet again last night, I’ve decided to take Katy’s advice and investigate how far that “thing” with Christina has gone. How long the two of them have been making a fool of me and how long I have been a laughing stock of the whole school. This is so humiliating on every possible level.
When I don’t analyse “the situation” for too long, I feel pretty good, but the moment I start thinking about the humiliation, I can feel my anger growing. When the anger subsides, it makes room for the agonising pain that follows right after. I don’t know if the pain is caused by the realisation that our relationship may be over or by the fact that my pride has taken a serious hit.
Every time I go through emotional upheaval, I stop eating, but I guess losing a bit of weight will do me good. Maybe I’ll be able to fit into some of my fancy pre-pregnancy clothes and skinny jeans. Skinny jeans and heels would be nice for starting all over again.
Jim didn’t know that I was still awake when he got back last night. I could hear his every move. It’s sickening to know that your partner is lying to you every morning when he leaves the house and every night when he gets back. It is not even the fear that our lives together are coming to an end; it is the blatant lying, the fact that after all those years together he has no respect for me and chooses to be with someone who is opposite to who I am and to what I represent.
I know myself well enough to know that the odds of me being able to carry on our relationship the way it was before I found out are non-existing, despite all the fear and anxiety I experience regarding the financial aspect of my new life. Throughout my whole childhood, I had to witness my mother’s desperate attempts to please my father who cheated on her all the time. He had no respect for her, and she had no respect for herself. Ever since I could understand what was going on between the two of them, I knew I wasn’t going to follow in her footsteps.
However, before I make any long-term, life revolting decisions, I just need to know for sure what he has been doing, how far the thing has gone, and why he is doing it with her!!! Christina and I never got on, and this surely won’t improve our relationship, and he can certainly forget about seeing his kids if she is around.
I also won’t allow her to make me feel like a victim. I’m not a victim; I’m choosing… I’m choosing me. She wants him, she can have him, but not before I’m done taking every single bit of what is mine.
But I do need to investigate to stop the anxiety from spreading and taking over my body and mind.
My girlfriends have always been supportive. This morning I told them that I was ready to investigate Jim and Christina and whatever is going on between them. But we didn’t get a chance to continue because at that very moment my mortal enemy came in. Christina and the rest of her mean girls’ gang strode in. She took enough of what’s mine already, and she is surely not going to take my cafe. The fight is on.
The Brief History
30. October 2018
It’s a day before yet another Halloween, which usually marks the end of the warm weather and the start of the frantic Christmas preparation. Jim is “working late” again tonight. I still haven’t found enough courage to confront him. I’m just scared, and the longer I think about having to talk to him, the bigger my anxiety becomes. What if he is in a relationship with her and has been sleeping with her behind my back for months? What then, what do I do after `I know the truth?
I wasn’t always scared; there were times when I was brave, willing to talk, ask and experiment but it all seems like another lifetime, or rather like a life that belonged to someone else, of which I was just a passive observer. Before I became a mum, and I love being a mum, I had a successful career in the corporate world. I started as a journalist, but within a few years, I moved onto writing for corporations and working with PR teams. The job wasn’t as fulfilling as being a journalist, but the money was much better, and since we only had one income, Jim was still building his company, it was a logical step for me to take to make our future together better.
The moment Jim’s company started making a profit, and he was able to pay himself, we decided it was time for us to have children. We already had a lovely house in a good neighbourhood with good private and governmental schools around. Besides, I knew that my company was planning to ship my job over to India. So now I just needed to get pregnant. The plan for me was to work for as long as I could and then have freelance jobs once on maternity leave. Well, the plan was perfect on paper and what possibly could go wrong with a perfect plan, right?
While pregnant, I was sick all the time. There were days I couldn’t even go outside because all the smells were making me throw up and I needed to stop working earlier than I planned. I did try to be upbeat, regardless of pregnancy sickness, but some days it was hard to even get out of bed. Not to lose my mind completely, I was reading a lot of books, staying in bed late, and trying to move as little as I possibly could.
As soon as my daughter was out, I wanted to go back to work and decided that by the time she is three months old, I will be working again. True to myself, within three months after giving birth, I was already going back at work. My new, exciting job wasn’t as well paid as the one that shipped to India, but I had an income coming in, and the company seemed much less rigorous than the previous one. However, soon I found out that I was pregnant again. It was a mixture of happiness and fear. I wanted to have another child but not so soon.
I stayed with this company for as long as I could before having to go on maternity leave again. After I had my second daughter, I decided that I was going to stay home for at least a year before going back to work.
I loved every moment and every minute of being home with the girls. Jim loved it too; we used to have long breakfasts or go for a long lunch or coffee in the middle of the day. It was so much fun. But I guess something, somehow went wrong for us.
Passive Aggressive Parents
07th November 2018
Since I’m really tired of feeling sorry for myself and obsessing about what to do about Jim, let me tell you a little bit more about the parents that go to our school, the passive aggressive type that Christina is the Queen Bee of.
We chose this independent school for our girls because we liked the school’s approach to a child’s development. I particularly liked that there were no exams and no grades. Back then we both thought that this kind of environment was going to be perfect for our girls to become independent thinkers.
We started school when our oldest turned four. From the first moment we entered the school community, the caring for the school and wellbeing of the teachers and the children became my new calling in life. I sacrificed a lot to be there for my girls and the school, not something the school ever appreciated. But that is a different story. As long as the girls were happy, I didn’t care that much about my professional life and commitment to my career, neither the only commodity I cannot buy, my precious time.
With time I learnt that parents’ judgment, gossips, and recurring passive aggressive behaviour is more than acceptable and more than common, even amongst the most enlightened school community in London. Ok. that is a big fat lie; they are not that enlightened, even though they strongly desire to be. Over the first weeks and months at school, I discovered that not all parents were nice and even wanted to be nice. Some were plain straight horrible bullies, with some sick “political” agendas attached to their names. And to progress their agenda, those parents used passive aggressive behaviour as part of their game.
I knew that kind of behaviour very well from my time at the corporation, but I didn’t realise that it was also popular amongst the parents at the school, which motto was to care for child’s wellbeing most of all. Those freaking bullies were trying to take control, regardless of the implications and costs to the school. I still have a tough time understanding why such a blunt aggressiveness to play those games to become trustees, to take over the managing positions, or in some cases just to take a plain pleasure in making other parents as uncomfortable as possible.
Christina has always been one of those passive-aggressive parents who tormented others just for pure pleasure. At times, she would pretend to be overly friendly and attentive, then the next morning she would cross the road to avoid saying good morning to me. It has become a pattern with her.
I still don’t know the root of her meanness towards me, but I guess she has always had her eyes on Jim and simply treated me as her competition, even though I was married to Jim, and still am, regardless of what they are doing together.
With each passing year, she was becoming more unpleasant and rude. For instance, she saw no problems in interrupting me and hijacking the conversation, while I was talking to someone. If we were in the same group of people, she would talk to anyone and greet everyone but me. The only time she acknowledged me was when I was with Jim, and she was talking to him. At first, I tried not to pay attention to her behaviour, but the longer we were at school, the more unbearable it became to me. I’m not going to lie to you; she got to me more often than I would like to admit.
Of course, she wasn’t the only one playing this game. Especially when you disagreed with one of the parents; disagreeing was not an option. If you did on any social, emotional, or even cooking issues, that person would and was going to shunt you away for good, making sure that others also knew you were merely a savage and knew nothing or very little, even if you were an expert at that subject.
However, in my eyes, Christina has always been the Queen Bee of meanness, and she has exercised her passive-aggressive technics over me and other mums (she was always annoyingly sweet to the dads) as much and as often as she could.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m also mad and furious at Jim beyond furious. He always knew how I felt about Christina. She always tried her hardest to make my school runs and school community outings and gatherings as hard as possible, and somehow she was always at the top of her game. Ready to attack when I didn’t expect her to. Now, it turns out that she is also good at sleeping with other people’s husbands.
PS. I need to get my shit together. I cannot keep on being so miserable and indecisive for so long.
PS2. I looked at my pre-pregnancy clothes today and decided to fit in them once again.
PS3. I signed up to my local gym. That will show him… or maybe help me find someone for revenge sex. Either way, I’ll be happy.
November 14th, 2018
I’ve been really good this week and went to the gym every morning after the drop-off. Jim doesn’t know I’m exercising and juicing. I have done juicing before. It is really hard, but the cleansing is always a good start in my case before I start eating less crap and carbs, and more veggies and fruits.
I also think my latte needs to go. The milk is killing our planet, plus it makes me feel bloated (I know, not a very politically correct thing to say for a woman but guess what; we are far from perfect).
I know it may look like I’m doing all this for Jim, but I’m doing it for me and the skinny jeans and for getting my shattered confidence back. My looks have always influenced my confidence. Ever since I was a teenager and started understanding that supermodels were something else altogether (in my teenage eyes they were immortal goddesses), I became ashamed of how I looked and hated every bit of food I put in my mouth.
After having my second child, my body became so hideous that I started hiding in buggy, sexless clothes. In time I even stopped feeling like having sex and some time ago we stopped even trying to pretend that we want to do it. I don’t think our marriage is savable. But whatever he is doing is beyond disrespectful to our past together and to our kids.
The school runs are becoming more challenging with each day, and Christina is making sure I despise the place more and more. She is becoming more cocky and unpleasant towards me with each day. She has always been a bully, but now she took her bullying tactics to an entirely new level.
A lot of my energy is going towards not fucking kicking her stupid skinny ass. The rest is going towards pretending that I still have some dignity left, which I’m not too sure I do.
However, not everything seems to be going down the hill for me. I started saying ‘no’ more often to parents, who asked me if I could have their kids over after the school for a playdate. I used to oblige to every single request and often the girls, and I, wouldn’t have a free afternoon together for weeks. But I can’t any more. I can’t pretend that I enjoy that. Looking after my own kids is exhausting enough. Besides I’m more than certain the whole school knows about my beloved and his new found love. It makes me even more angry that in a school that praises the community spirit so much, no one said anything to me.
Playdates have always been encouraged by the teachers at our school, and most parents have always gone along with that, giving a lot, and expecting very little in return. At first, I didn’t mind having kids I wanted my girls to be friends and connect with, especially outside the school setting. But with time I noticed that some parents simply took advantage of the whole concept and never had my girls over in return.
Since I wanted to be considered as a nice parent, I went along agreeing to every single playdate, even though I was getting angrier and angrier with myself for not being able to say “no”. However, since the start of the new school year, I have tried my hardest not to go out of my way to accommodate everyone’s requests. Besides, the girls have a solid small group of friends and those people are important. I must teach them that doing stuff for others just to be liked is wrong on so many levels.
Small steps usually lead to a big change, so, hopefully, the change will happen in my case soon.
November 16th, 2018
Today, right after the pick-up, the girls and I decided to go out for tea. The daily routine of school runs, shopping, cleaning, writing just for a bit, and cooking is driving me crazy. There is only so much of that boring daily reality that one person can take.
I know that I have only been exercising for a week, but that has given me a strength to want to do more outside of the house. Breaking with the routine is my new motto. Both of my girls are big pizza fans, so we ended up going for pizza just off Covent Garden.
We took our time eating; as a family, we usually rush with everything, but there was no time pressure. Jim kept calling me, but I didn’t care. I didn’t pick up the phone, neither texted him to let him know where I was with the girls. He always tells lies anyway.
Halfway mid through our ice cream, Emily, our younger daughter, who is turning nine next year asked: “Are you going to divorce daddy?”
I was caught off guard, and since I didn’t know what to say, I just dismissed her concerns with a stupid: “Don’t be silly, dear”.
I wonder what she knows. Does it show that we are together but not really together, or maybe Christina’s monster child has been saying some kind of shitty stupid bullshit around the school?
I’ll need to talk to both of them at some point and see what they know but definitely not tonight.
Once a month “we”, by that I mean I, organise a networking event in our house. Jim came up with this neat idea years ago when his business was just a startup. The idea was to have a monthly networking event in our house, instead of going out weekly or even at times daily (BC – before children).
I thought it was a splendid idea and as a supportive wife, I was all for it until the networking events became my thing. According to Jim, he couldn’t do anything more than he was already doing and couldn’t also be in charge of organising the party, having too much on his plate as it was.
So, willing or not, I became the sole organiser of the networking events that my “beloved husband” is a sole beneficiary of.
It takes me about a month to get the party ready. First of all, I need to track all the guests we want to invite. I try to rotate the guest list, so it’s not the same people every time; I design or sometimes hand make the invitations myself, I set the menu and the drink list as well as come up with exciting ideas to keep the kids busy and occupied.
Oh, did I say that the budget for those get-togethers is tiny? To save money, I usually do all the cooking and baking myself in advance; it takes me days to have all the food ready. Looking after the kids, the house, the school community and be the head of the networking party for Jim has become my reality.
At first, I didn’t mind; I wanted to be involved in his business, and I have always been very proud of him and his achievements, but the circumstances have changed so dramatically that I’m finding it really hard to master the strength to get anything done for that bloody party.
You will never believe what happened!
Yesterday morning Jim refused to help me pick up the food for the party and with rearranging our living space for the guests to arrive. He announced that he was too tired and needed to relax a bit more before the evening event. He also promised the girls to take them out to the park and for cakes after the walk, but he made some lame excuse for not doing that too, which made me mad beyond mad and the girls very sad.
As an emergency, I had to arrange for a playmate at Kiara’s. However, even while talking to her, I could feel that under the surface I was fucking boiling.
I’ve been patient; I’ve waited for only God knows what to happen. But after not seeing the girls for a week, he couldn’t even find a couple of hours for them? That was unacceptable for me as a mother, or maybe that was merely my breaking point. I will never know.
I dropped the girls with Kiara, who as always was kind and understanding; then I went to pick up the party food. Two weeks ago I decided to indulge myself in overspending on food for a change, and I ordered every single thing in Waitrose. While putting the food in the car, somehow I swung one of the boxes, and my car keys flew few stores down landing somewhere in the bushes. Having no other choice, I unpacked all the food and went to look for the car keys. Of course, I couldn’t find them.
I called Jim. At first, he didn’t pick up the phone. Then I called again, and he turned my call off. While I was on my way up to the car, Jim butt called me. I picked up the phone, but all I could hear was her fucking high-pitched shroud voice, which I would be able to recognise even from Mars. That very moment something broke in me. He didn’t want to take his kids out to the park but had no problems spending the morning with her? What kind of person does that?
I called the mini-cab. The driver was kind enough to help me put all the food inside and helped me carry the food back to the house. I tipped him generously.
When I got home, I called Kiara and told her what happened. She suggested that the girls should stay with her for the sleepover. When I put the phone down, I felt sad thinking about the past fifteen years of our lives and how that meant very little to Jim. I left all the unpacked and unwrapped food on the kitchen table. The first guests were supposed to arrive in two hours. Jim still wasn’t home. I went to have a shower, and I got ready for a night out. He got back half an hour before the party was supposed to start.
When he came upstairs, I was writing. He looked at me and was about to say something, but I got in first.
– “I want separation, and I want you to move out tomorrow the latest.”
– “Why is the food not ready?” – he ignored me, completely ignored me. “You know I have been crazed all day for you and the girls.”
– “Oh, have you?” – I passed him the phone, showing him the time and the length of the call. “I guess Christina is one of your clients now, right?”
– “I…I…” he started, but I didn’t let him finish. I was done with being the “good wife”.
– “You have until tomorrow to get the fuck out from my house. Have an awesome party.” I said and banged the bedroom door behind him.
I went out to the city. I had a drink on my own, went to dinner on my own and I booked a hotel room. Kiara said the girls were doing fine and didn’t suspect anything. Christina attended the party and how I know this? She fucking posted the pictures all over her bloody FB. I will either have to burn down the house or redecorate.
He didn’t text or call me even once to find out if I was all right and where the three of us were. This is how a marriage ends with no champagne and picking China Patterns.
I made Jim tell the girls that he is moving out and why. He wanted to talk to me and explain, but I said ‘no’. Everything has happened so fast that I’m still digesting; the massive change and my bravery. In all honesty, I didn’t think I had it in me. Now I need to focus on my girls and finding a job that could support the three of us.
The Different Groups of Parents
30 Nov. 2018
When you are a parent, dutifully fulfilling your daily school runs and obligations over the years, you will inevitably encounter various groups of parents. In my school runs career I’ve managed to identify the following groups:
• Mean parents (Christina being the queen bee of that group) – they take enormous pleasure at making other parents feel uncomfortable. They usually try to be the best at everything a parent can compete at, such as cooking, arts and crafts, organising the best playdates and B-day parties, the best friend, and the most devoted parent in the school community, etc., etc. While doing all these important jobs, the mean parents are fucking bloody judgmental towards others, and unless you do everything they want you to do, they won’t even give you a second look. Sometimes, even when you do your best, it is not good enough for them. They will judge you and then talk about you behind your back.
• Passive-aggressive parents (I already covered that extensively) – a lot of them are proud members of the mean parents’ group. It’s easy to recognise a passive-aggressive parent; they can often be seen in the mornings not replying to the morning greetings. So, I say “Good morning”, but nothing comes back. However, at times, as if by the touch of a magic wand, they reply as nothing has ever happened. It’s always hard to say when that will happen and what triggers it.
• ‘Poor me’ parents – those parents are fucking draining. Life is always just one big drama for them. Whatever happens, they take it all out of proportion, often turning all their daily events and encounters into a big monstrous catastrophe. Some of them stay ‘friends’ with you for as long as you are giving; when you stop giving, they move on to another victim.
• Wealthy parents with shit lots of money that everyone wants to be friends with. Of course, there are many mystical gossips about them circling around the school. The school management usually tries to “encourage” them to help out the school financially as much as possible. At times it works, and at times it doesn’t.
• Parents who like to mix it up and are pretty dishonest towards other parents, often using them for their sick petty political games. They usually want to become more “influential”; yes, you read that right, influential in the school community. You would be surprised how many parents practice politics at the drop-offs and pick-ups. You cannot trust those people, because they are internally dishonest and unethical, and represent only their own interest, whatever that interest may be. However, they are not as mean as the mean parents, because they have to keep up appearances. They try to be helpful and nice, but it is all interest led not compassion led.
• ‘The school and the community comes first’ parents, who are ready and willing to do a lot for the school community. I think I tried to be a part of this group. Let me tell you; this is a fucking time-consuming job that is very undervalued and underappreciated. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to try to aspire to be part of this group. Not worth it. Your life, aspirations and ambitions are put aside because you are so consumed with everything that goes on in the school that very little energy is left to devote to your career or life outside of the school.
• The parents who don’t give a shit – usually the parents with high-flying careers, who just come and go, and don’t really talk to anyone ‘cos they don’t give a shit or simply feel too important to talk to the little folks.
• The selfish parents – talk only about themselves and pay attention to their own needs only, disregarding everyone else; at times even put their own needs ahead of their children’s’. You would be surprised to see how many of those people exist within the school community. I am.
• Attention seekers – those parents behave erratically and try to be as controversial as possible, often getting involved in other people’s business, sometimes even breaking relationships. They are willing to do anything for the sake of getting a bit of attention.
• The helpful parents – usually try to help as much as possible, often attracting the “poor me parents” who feed of their good, upbeat, positive attitude and energy. Those poor souls are simply givers, asking very little if anything in return.
I bet that there are more groups of parents and these groups mentioned above are divided into smaller sub-groups. All of them mix together, trying to “peacefully” co-exist in the school community, while at the same time trying to gain in importance and prominence (I’m telling you that the high school is back in session the moment you enter the school runs game).
I must say that, at various times in my life, I have been “friends” with parents from different groups. It took me a long time to settle at mine ‘The school and the community come first’ parents group, which I decided to leave anyway.
Since Jim moved out and officially started dating my mortal enemy, I lost heart for the school and the school community. The fact that my life, as I knew it, is over and not even one of the so-called community members asked me if I was ok. Or perhaps if I needed some help. It all makes me realise that most of those people are fucking full of shit.
Luckily, I still have my girls, and we are a very exclusive club that no one else is allowed in.
The Christmas Preparation
The girls somehow found out that their dad has already moved on and is seeing another mum from our school community. I surely didn’t say anything to them. However, they are both intelligent beasts and can add two and two. I’m a bit worried that they haven’t asked me any questions so far; I know I need to talk to them but don’t know how to begin, where to start, or what to say.
How do I go about explaining the end of our marriage to the people that are going to be affected by that the most? I have been trying to write a perfect script for that, but no such thing exists. Andrea, one of my girlfriends, has been helping me enormously by having the girls over for the sleepovers at least once a week.
I was supposed to be using this time to think constructively and creatively about what I want and what steps I need to take to get that. However, the chaos and confusion in my head are not making me productive even one bit. Instead, I decided to clean the house from top to bottom. And, to my greatest surprise, while I was cleaning the office, I discovered that my successful husband’s company was going down (welcome to the Brexit UK).
To my most profound horror, I found piles of unpaid bills and invoices. I think I know what all that means, but I don’t really know what to do with it. I surely will have to confront him about whatever that mess means to our girls. I haven’t said anything to any of my girlfriends, neither to my brother; I can’t deal with this now.
I do have some savings and a couple of small investments I made before we were married. I’m not as helpless as Jim thought I was, but I’m scared of what will happen next. All this chaos is surely not helping with my Christmas shopping. I haven’t done any so far and I have no idea what I should get for the girls. I have also been considering not cooking at all. We will have to wait and see how that pans out.
In the past few weeks, I have become disillusioned by the school community. As a protest against their selfishness, I didn’t get involved in helping out during the Christmas Fair, neither even went to the fair with my girls. Seeing Jim with her all over him would be just too much for me now.
I’m trying to keep the girls as busy as I possibly can. We go for walks; nature does have soothing effects on broken souls, and we watch a lot of old, new, scary and funny movies. Stories seem to have bonding effects on us in some mystical way.
Since Jim and I still haven’t even started talking about co-parenting, or rather my parenting, as I do not agree to any bloody kind of parenting by her. I’m fake in trying to be accommodating towards him. One never knows what one may need for her divorce proceedings. Secretly, in the darkest parts of my soul, I want him to keep away from us. Currently, lots of my life energy and life force goes towards playing cool and being cool, so I’m not seen as “this angry woman”, who is seeking revenge. I’ll get my revenge on my terms, and in my own time. It will happen, I know it will.
For the Christmas period, I’m putting my revenge plans on hold and focusing on writing my 2019 wishlist, where I put my hopes, wishes and dreams on paper so the Goddess of 2019 can hear me.
New Year, new me and new life.
New Year New Me
10 Jan. 2019
I’m so glad that the Christmas break is over. I always find this time both: mentally and financially exhausting. Life seems to be getting more and more expensive every year and it always feels that Christmas time is an epicentre for consumerism and spending.
Looking at my current financial situation, I have started seriously wondering, if we should stay in this country. The UK doesn’t seem to be family friendly lately, and it surely isn’t friendly for mother’s wanting to go back to work. Childcare became unaffordable for the majority of the population, and it doesn’t even matter if you are a single parent or a couple.
Taking my own some of my girlfriends’ experience into consideration I know that becoming a single parent means daily financial insecurity and anxiety related to money. Unless you kept your high profile and high paying job after having kids, you would not have financial stability. But, as a mother, you wouldn’t spend much time with your child(ren) (not all companies in the UK heard about maternity leave). It’s a catch 22.
Unfortunately, many of us, women, don’t go back to our full-time jobs, wanting to be there for our kids. Sometimes we have one child after another in the hope that somehow that could help our careers in the long run, but it hardly ever works this way. I left my full-time job to care for my kids, and I shouldn’t be punished for that in the market place now.
As you can imagine, the last few months have been pretty intense on my end, which resulted in me getting sick over the Christmas break with the virus lasting well past the New Year’s. Girls and I decided to celebrate Christmas with pizza, sweets, and a lot of Netflix, while I was trying to fight off a headache, cough and the tiredness that overwhelmed my body like the monsoon rain overwhelms the lands and rivers when it finally arrives.
I celebrated the New Years with my girls. It was important to me for the three of us to be together, even though we had a lot of sleepover invitations. I wanted the start of the New Year to make the New Me.
My commitment to me in 2019 is to get as far away from perfect as I possibly can, regardless of how far that will be or will take me. I cannot waste my life’s precious energy any longer on pretending that I am something I am not.
The first step is always the finances; financially dependent women cannot make their own, fully independent decisions. My local library is running workshops for women, who want to and need to start all over again and who are in the process of rebuilding their own lives from the ashes up.
Since Jim’s financial troubles keep me awake in the middle of the night, I thought to myself that starting a year with a better understanding of finances would be a good start. Jim still hasn’t said anything to me about business going under, but at the same time, he also didn’t say that he was going to spend Christmas holidays with his “new lady love” in the Austrian Alps. He didn’t see the girls over the Christmas and New Year. I’m having a really hard time understanding why he stopped caring for his kids so quickly and gave up on them without a fight. I guess this is another question in my life that will go unanswered. Next week I have made appointments with my bank manager and my lawyer to find out what kind of financial mess Jim got me into. My only hope at this point is that he at least has been paying for the girls’ school.
PS. I have managed to lose some weight, both because I was sick and because I stopped eating crappy food and drinking tons of coffee with milk. Part of my 2019 reinvention plan is to fit in my pre-pregnancy skinny-jeans. Yes, I still keep those, just in case I need to rediscover the fun-loving me I once was.
Jan 22nd, 2019
Well, what can I say? My big scary meetings didn’t go well for me at all. I don’t know what I expected but whatever it was, it was so farfetched from reality that even my layer asked me where I was hiding for all those years. To answer his very subtle question I was looking after the kids while playing the role of a loving mother and supportive wife that I took upon myself after I lost my working woman’s identity.
The accountant didn’t have much better news for me than the lawyer, regarding Jim’s company. Even though I’m not financially involved in his business, I will still need to fork off thousands and thousands of pounds for unpaid credit cards bills.
In reality, Jim’s successful company was never that successful, and he never was earning as much money as he was bragging he was. For years, he was operating under the profit margin. The best part is that he filed for bankruptcy a few months ago, when we were still together, without even telling me that small tiny detail. According to my accountant, it was my well-paid full-time job that allowed Jim to take business loans and from the moment I left my full-time position, we started living on borrowed money and borrowed time.
The accountant said that I would have to pay my credit card debts off since most of them were also in my name. Once again, I thought that Jim was taking care of our credit cards, but for the past year every month he only paid the bare minimum while continually asking for a larger credit allowance or moving the money around from one credit card to another.
I never checked my bank account, I fully trusted him. He had unlimited access to my account and could apply for personal loans, personal credit cards, and even for higher limits on my existing credit cards. Everything is done online, and the bank doesn’t know who is applying on your behalf.
Even though I had my meetings in the morning and it’s well after 10.00 pm, I’m still struggling to understand why and how I didn’t see what he was up to. I wonder what made me so detached from the reality of our financial and family life? Is it possible that wanting to be a “perfect” wife and a “perfect” mother for the outside world, I lost the sight of my day to day reality?
If any young woman is reading this blog, please think twice and think hard before you give any man in your life total control over your finances. If you are a working woman, you need your own bank account that only you can access, regardless of how much you think you love your partner. Money gives independence, which allows you to make your own decisions and choices.
Luckily, the house was bought in my name only (he wasn’t earning much back then and having just my name on the mortgage was easier), and he couldn’t remortgage the property without me signing tones of documents. All the mortgage payments have been made on time but not by Jim, only by my parents. Why and how? I need to get to the bottom of this and find out what they know and why none of them said anything to me.
I can handle the credit card debts. I can always sell the house and buy something smaller, but when our accountant told me that Jim has not paid for the school in over a year, I was horrified. The shame attached to not paying for the school, while living such a lavish, middle-class life is just fucking wrong. I would judge any family that didn’t pay the school fee but at the same time spend thousands on Christmas Holiday get away. I know I will be judged and gossiped about behind my back too in the school community if I’m not already.
The meetings left me empty and sad; just the sinking realization that so much of my life with Jim was merely a lie. For now, I know that going back to that lifestyle, which as I know now, was not real, for the girls and me will be impossible, at least not for a very, very long time.
The first thing I did after walking through my front door was to make myself double gin and tonic, which I finished in one go. In none of my 5-year and 10-year plans, I thought I would have to start all over again at the ripe age of 40 with two kids, piles of debts and a pending divorce. I am so happy about the financial workshop in the library coming up soon. Maybe some answers, ideas and solution will present themselves.
PS. I’m so delighted that my house will not be repossessed. I guess the car will go, but I won’t be financially eligible to pay off Jim’s companies debts. At least this is what my lawyer said, or maybe this is the way I understood. Perhaps I should sell the house as soon as possible.
PS.2. I’m filing for divorce as soon as I have the energy to deal with it.
PS.3. I will not give up and give in; it is a New Year, and New Me and the New Me doesn’t despair and give up easily.
It is already February and another half term is just around the corner. Where does the time go? Do I live in some time speeding capsule? I was just shopping for Christmas, for Pete’s sake. That’s life, I guess, and the time doesn’t slow down for anyone.
I still haven’t challenged Jim about the state of his mess, neither I faced the school’s financial department. I need to be much stronger; I don’t want to cry the moment I open my mouth.
Christina the Destroyer, is bouncing around the school like there is no tomorrow, and no karma is coming after her. Oh, stupid girl, you can’t even imagine how hard Karma is going to kick your skinny ass, because it always does at the end. The other day she even tried to talk to my girls before I told her in my nicest and the sweetest possible voice I could master to “Fuck off and never come back”. She seemed surprised and shocked that I was able to stand up to her. Even I didn’t think I had it in me. But I guess people change.
I never liked standing up to bullies; I always tried to avoid confrontation, but she rubs me the wrong way. I bet sleeping with my husband behind my back surely isn’t going to help our relationship grow. She is trying her hardest to make my life in the school community hard and unbearable so that I would finally give up and leave the school, which I have been thinking about after too many gin and tonics.
On the positive side, I attended my local library financial workshops this week and that day was just awesome. Lesley, the lady who runs the workshops, was what I needed. She was honest, to the point and wasn’t sugarcoating it for us. She said that it wasn’t going to be easy to come back from the debt, that it would take a lot of hard work and sacrifices, cutting down on shopping at Waitrose and going to Lidl instead, no take away coffees and expensive outings. She kept repeating to us that we need to stay focused on our career path, find paid jobs and be, or become, financially independent.
After a very harsh, but very much needed introduction, she took each participant’s case individually, analyzed it and gave each one of us in the room some ideas about how to start moving forward. There were lots of tears, but at the same time, we all were all able to support one another.
When I shared my situation with Lesley and when I told her what all my assets were, she had an idea to divide my house; yes, it is still my house, to either rooms or two studio flats that I would rent out. In theory that would give me enough money to cover the basics, plus allow me to pay off the minimum payments on all the credit cards and loans. I have been so distressed with all the money that I don’t even know how much I would need to pay back to the bank monthly.
She also suggested that to boost my confidence I should find a job, part-time if possible, even if it’s low-paid, to put me back on the job market. That will allow me to meet people from outside of our circle and will free up the anxiety of looking for a job, because my brain will know that I have one already and now I’m not looking for a job, just moving up.
The downside of the workshops was my realization that I wouldn’t be able to pay for the school, neither for the mortgage. I guess, until I’m in full-time employment I will need to talk to my parents about covering my mortgage. To get money to divide my house into two studios, Lesley suggested that I should sell all the crap my husband collected over the years and is taking up space in my garage and the loft. I think it’s a brilliant idea; he has lots of shit lying around, and also lots of high-end stuff that he left behind, which I’d be delighted to sell.
I will ask my baby brother to help me out with the renovation work. This way I won’t have to pay for the labour, just for the building materials.
The New Me loved Lesley and her robust love approach; no more sitting around and waiting for something magical to happen.
PS. Last week I changed my bank account and blocked Jim’s access to the other one. That felt fantastically good.
The Change Is Coming
This week the spring made a very much welcome return to London. After days of heavy greyness, even half an hour of the sunny sky makes such a huge difference. I love spring and this fresh spring morning smell. Even in the winter time, it gets my senses all perked up.
At the weekend I started cleaning up the house. All the unwanted and unused stuff is going to be sold, and all the money made from that is going to my renovation budget.
I started with my closet. Everything I haven’t been wearing for two years goes; everything that I hate in my closet also goes. The cleaning feels like I’m finally taking back control of my life. And it feels like I’m doing it in a positive way, not taking control back the Brexit way. This weekend I have my first car boot sale. I can’t wait to lift myself from that cold and dark place I somehow ended up in. I’m also putting Jim’s high-end stuff on eBay this week; and that includes all of his expensive designer’s clothes, his two bikes (yes, he needed two bikes), skiing and snowboarding gear. Whatever is going to get me to my £10000 mark, I will sell.
My brother is coming over on Friday to measure the upstairs and see what building materials I will need to buy. He seemed pretty excited about the project. He always liked doing stuff with his hands and was always good at this. The new addition to the house means that I’ll have to move my bedroom downstairs, leaving level one for the girls’ bedrooms and level two for the two studios I will be renting out. I need time and space to figure out what I want to do with my life and the rental money will give me some piece of mind. I’ve also decided that once Jim’s shit is gone from our garage, I’m going to turn it into a shared space for freelancers working from home and looking for a cosy studio space that isn’t a coffee shop.
I can’t wait for the ball to start rolling. I’m so tired of feeling helpless.
After two days of solid cleaning and trying out clothes, I put aside four boxes of unwanted clothing that I will never wear again in my life. I should surely label it with: “What was I thinking?” While looking at Jim’s half of the closet, I can surely say it will be more than four boxes. I have no idea why he still hasn’t picked up his shit. It’s my house, and his crap is invading and polluting my space.
One of the teachers from the girls’ school suggested that I should look into Marisa Peer and her method. Her hypnotherapy helped her sister to move on from a very nasty divorce. So I guess it’s worth a try. In fact, from the whole school community, that teacher seems to be the only person, who truly wants to know how I’m doing. Literally every time she sees, me she offers help. Everyone else, including my girlfriends, the women I have shared the past five years with, don’t want to be around me that much. Every day I try to do my best to leave my struggles behind the closed doors of my house. But for the school community, it doesn’t seem to be enough. I guess that only now I’m able to see what is hiding behind all those masks of pretending kindness and it is surely not pretty.
I know that in this new reality I cannot afford to have coffee with the gang every morning, but being pushed aside this way is simply cruel. I may not have much money, but I am still the same me.
Since I told Christina to fuck off and leave my girls alone, she has not approached them again (I am certain that she is already working on a plan to make them like her). However, as a punishment for my “emotionally overcharged outburst of an ex-wife” (his words, not mine), Jim cancelled the weekend with the girls. I can’t say they were terribly disappointed. They had fun tidying up their bedrooms and getting rid of all the things they don’t wear or use anymore. I promised that they could keep all the money for whatever they sold at the car boot sale. Since we are busy for the next two weekends, I have no idea when Jim will see the girls again. So far we have been managing pretty well without him around, so he can go and do whatever he wants with his new family.
PS. Since I am on a roll, I have also decided to add up all of the debts to see how much money I need monthly to start slowly paying it all off.
PS.2 I need to go dancing. I badly need to go dancing.
My Baby Brother to The Rescue
5th March 2019
I’m so very sorry that I have been silent for such a long time. I got sick just before the half-term hit us. Being sick and trying to entertain two kids, while having your head down the toilet, is not an experience I would recommend to anyone.
Luckily for me, the girls attended some last minute half-term workshops, which turned out to be a lifesaver for me. Also, my brother had to postpone the building works for a week because I was sick as a cat.
Dave was also sweet enough to offer to pay for all the materials and appliances if he didn’t have them already (he tends to collect a lot of junk). He told me that I didn’t have to repay him at all. But of course, I will, as soon as I can find my feet couple of inches above the ground.
I was 11 when Dave was born, so we never had the real chance to bond. At that age, I already had my friends, my school, my hobbies and all the gazillion after school activities I had to attend.
To me, he will always be my baby brother, who would wake me up in the middle of the night or walk into my bedroom without knocking, while I was having a super secret meeting with my girlfriends.
I left home when I was nineteen. I did go back to visit them at least once a month but when my parents decided to retire and move to New Zealand; yep, you heard that right, and now we hardly ever see each other.
Our lives were very different with different lifestyles and very different groups of friends. For him, my life was always politically correct, and very PG-13 and I have to agree with him. My life with Jim, especially once we had the girls, was as boring as it can get. However, the moment I told Dave what happened, he wanted to kick Jim’s ass all the way back up North. In all honesty, I won’t stop Dave, if this is what he chooses to do at some point.
Luckily for me, Dave made all the plans and all the measurements, bought everything he needed for the renovation, and of course, helped me and the girls move our stuff downstairs before demolishing the upstairs.
I must say that the change is happening pretty fast and when I can’t sleep at night, and my mind keeps wondering, I find all this irreversible change terrifying. As for my baby brother, he’s never scared of change; he welcomes and thrives on change. He runs his own gaming company. I don’t know much about gaming business but from what I understand, a lot of people play his games. He came up with his first gaming idea when he was 15 and because I was the grown-up earning money, I was his early seed investor. From that point, his business simply took off.
His job allows him to travel around the world, meet interesting people and live his life to the fullest, just like he always wanted. He is a pretty charming and genuine guy, which is a huge bonus when you’re meeting new people. When he’s not travelling or coming up with new crazy game ideas, Dave does a lot of work for small charities all over the world, teaching kids how to code and make games.
Maybe one day I’ll teach kids storytelling, that would be something, yeah?
The works at the house started over a week ago. It is going fine from what I can tell and the friend, who is helping him is … is… so fucking hot. If it wasn’t for the fact that he is so young, I think he is even younger then Dave, I would so do him. I’m in my early forties and I certainly have my needs. I know I need to stay focused, I just recovered from feeling thoroughly washed down, I’m moving on and … and… I’m so bloody horny.
PS. Our car boot sale was super successful, and in one weekend I managed to sell stuff for £500. Jim’s stuff on eBay is also flying off like hot buns. I am probably selling everything too cheap, but I don’t care. I want his shit out of my house! I did get a couple of abusively angry texts from Mr Jim but told him to fuck off in the nicest possible way. He really believed that I was going to store all of his crap, while he was looking for a new place with his new love. He really is out of his mind. I surely hope not all men are as deluded as he is
PS. 2 Jim still hasn’t told me anything about the company going under and the piling up debts. I wonder what his end game with this one is.
20th March 2019
Since my separation from Jim, the school runs became increasingly stressful. It’s not the public transport that gets on my nerves, which honestly is much better than it was some 20 years ago; back then you never even knew if the bus was going to arrive or not. But the sheer stress and pressure of facing all those parents, who just love whispering, gossiping, and pointing fingers at others is what drives me insane.
The isolation I have been served within the school community is especially painful when I think of how much energy, time, and money I had devoted to caring for this community.
The problem the school community seems to be having with me is the unpaid tuition fees. Jim has not paid the school fees for over a year. Believe me, many other school families don’t pay the school fees on time or sometimes don’t pay at all. I helped the school on many occasions to close the gap with fundraising and reaching out to suppliers for donations. But thanks to Christina’s sickening spin on reality and her highly successful black PR, I’m the one who spends all the school tuition money on our over the top lifestyle. This sneaky little cunt is so obsessed with ruining my life, and my girl’s life, that she will stop at nothing to reach her goal.
All friends I had in the school community (community BUAHAHAHA!!!! – what a fancy word for a bunch of cockroaches, who suck every last drop of your blood, until you are left bleeding out and struggling to breath), even my ‘girlfriends’ turned away from me without ever asking what happened and if the lies Christina conceived had any base in reality. Instead, four of my, who I used to consider best friends, based their judgement on one woman’s made up opinion of me and my life.
At first it seemed like my girlfriends did support me with the initial upheavals of Jim’s affair, his moving out, my difficult (but not unusual for a woman, who decided to stay with kids at home instead of searching for a career fulfilment) financial situation or my daughters being unusually quiet about the whole massive change that was befalling on our family. But this support and years of friendship are forever gone.
For some reason, in all this story I’m the bad guy. I’m the one, who didn’t want to go back to work and help my husband (fuck… he never said anything, so how was I supposed to know that he was having any financial hardships). In Christina’s spin, I was the one chasing upper-middle-class lifestyle, which is not true; my Instagram feed has no pictures of my breakfast, lunch or dinner in fancy places or long shopping trips. I can’t even remember when the last time was I ate out or spent more than £20 on clothes for myself. Jim wanted and needed that kind of lifestyle more than anything else, I wanted and needed a family and a good education for the girls.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel sorry for myself, quite the opposite actually. I’m making all the positive changes and 2019 is supposed to be my year. I guess getting rid of the energy-sucking narcissistic vampires is one way of celebrating. But I feel heartbroken about my girls losing their friends. They have known some of the kids since they all started in the KG or even earlier from various parent-child groups. All those friendships and relationships had been taken away from them because of one insecure, controlling cow that couldn’t stomach that a father should stay a father always and forever.
The morning drop-offs are most painful, especially when we come a tad too early, and the gate is still closed. I always try to get there a bit later to avoid all the discomfort the righteous group of holy cows but sometimes it’s just unavoidable. Girls can feel it too, even though they don’t really talk about this.
For the pickups, I learned to come later, much later than everyone else does. Once again, to avoid the waiting and staring. I need to protect myself, I’m not made of stone, and I do have feelings. I’m still trying to scramble my shattered life back, and I don’t need negativity, name calling and general hostility from the community that got so much out of me and was so willing to take as long as I was giving without limits.
I have no idea, how much longer we will be able to keep going to that school before they kick us out, but for now, since I cannot think of any alternative, we are sticking with what is familiar because I feel that another massive unplanned change could tip me over in the wrong direction.
April 2nd, 2019
The exciting news this week is that my studio flats are ready and I have already started looking for tenants. I feel a mixture of thrill and nervousness since I’ve never been a landlady before and, in reality, I’ll be admitting strangers into my own house. But what must be done, must be done.
When Jim found out, what I was doing, he went ballistic, yelling at me over the phone, telling me how much value I had knocked off his house, when he was just about to put it on the market. Yes, you heard it right; a person I was married to for so long and had two kids with was about to put my house, for which my parents are still paying, on the market. We almost never see each other face to face any more, but I have a feeling he is disappointed that I didn’t crawl back in and I’m able to find ways to look after myself. Finally, when the yelling stopped, I harshly reminded him that his name is not near the house ownership and as long as I own it, I can do with it whatever I feel like. I also added casually that if there is something he doesn’t understand, he should take it up with his attorney. I quickly put the phone down, not wanting to get dragged into another screaming session. My heart was racing fast; I was scared and nervous, but happy.
For me personally, this was a small victory, which I treasure and cherish. However, I know that Jim will get his revenge in the lowest possible way: by the school gate. By now I’m used to being ignored and talked about at the school if this is how petty those people are. I surely don’t want and need them in my life, which I keep realising more and more each day.
Since I’m still incredibly horny (I’m not doing Tinder or anything else like that, at least not at the moment), to control my longings and keep away from my brother’s friend, I decided to go out dancing. I nearly forgot how much I loved dancing. I had not been clubbing or just gone to a dance class for years. This is how much money I wanted to spend on myself. Not doing stuff for yourself, while being married and focusing solely on either your kids or your husband, is a recipe for everything but happiness.
So, since now I’m single, I decided to go dancing to one of those dancing get-togethers, where you can dance for as long as you want. Those raves can last a whole day, and for £20 you can join for that long, half a day, or only an hour. I danced for the whole Saturday with a short break for lunch; I haven’t felt that good in years. It was nice to be anonymous and surrounded by strangers, who knew nothing about me and my past, but at the same time, I was fully relaxed, without having my every move observed and judged.
To my delight, I met a lovely woman, who just like me, has recently separated from her husband, but unlike me, she never left her job while she had had her kids. We arranged to have lunch together on Friday. Her name is Annie, and I can’t wait to get to know someone outside of the miserable group of people I already know.
This week is the last week of the Spring term, and I should find out soon if the girls are going to be allowed to come back to school or not for the Summer term. I received a very strongly worded letter and email demanding that I make all the back payments immediately and a failure to do so will result in the girls being expelled. OMG, I’m sooo disillusioned with this bullshit misleading concept of the community this school is trying to force on the families and parents. From my experience, when you fall on hard times, the community that should be supporting you, leaves you to rot. Especially if you dared to do something unusual or crazy by their standards. Maybe being kicked out of the school wouldn’t be such a terrible thing after all.
My First Date In Years
April 22., 2019
Over the Easter Break in between the CV re-writing, job search, and preparing my best writing pieces, I have tried my best to keep the girls busy and occupied. Again, last minute I managed to sign them up to the arts and crafts Easter classes. It came with a price, but it was worth it, giving me some breathing time and keeping them busy. As always the girls loved it, giving me enough extra time to keep up with the job search and ideas brainstorming. Yes, job searching is my priority at the moment and finding something that fits my current unpredictably crazy life is not as easy as I hoped.
I have to admit that ever since I have two tenants living upstairs, the financial pressure of providing the basics has been eliminated. The girls are still adjusting to this totally new circumstances, but so far they have been previously good about all the latest changes and challenges.
I have finally heard back from the school and to my biggest surprise, or maybe I knew it was coming, but as always preferred to exist in my favourite space of denial, the school told us to go. Yes, you heard it right; because we cannot pay the back fees at the moment, we are just taking up space for the people who could be paying the school fees. This is what the school letter said in the more politically correct manner. The so-called management team (our school’s structure isn’t like the mainstream structure. Gosh I have to stop using word “our”.) didn’t even have the guts to tell me that in person. I felt like shit when I finished reading the letter. After all these years, all this work and time invested in building the “community”, I’m told to go because I’m financially struggling. What kind of signal does that send to kids? What kind of supportive community is that supposed to be?
Of course, my brother suggested that he would pay the fees off, but I couldn’t agree to that. He has already helped me out enough with the flats, with the loan for paying off all the debts and credit cards; I cannot take more from him. It’s going to take me most of the rest of my life to pay him back. I know we are a family, but still, I should be grown up enough to take care of myself and my family.
Besides, I don’t want to be a part of the community that isn’t really a community but only prays on people’s vulnerabilities, enthusiasm, and kindness, while betraying the school’s ethos the moment it does suit their agenda. So we are out of school, out of the community, and hopefully embracing a new life that has been presented to me and my girls unexpectedly and with very little working signs.
I’ve already told the girls that they are not going back to school and we will have to do homeschooling until we figure out what is next for us. We have lots of projects to catch up on, and this term will be all about projects, museums, and all the fun stuff London has to offer for kids. Getting out of SE for a change should be fun. The three of us will manage. Women are all about multitasking, right?
For now, as I can see it, I have two choices. First is to move out of London and sell the house to pay off all the debts I have. I’ll keep the two small flats for the girls as their inheritance. They need some security and independence in life. Or another choice is to try to get a corporate job and try to find the best state school for the girls I can find. That will mean that I would hardly ever see them while struggling to pay all the debts off (a bit of a daunting future).
The little money I would have left over from the sale of the house would allow us to start over somewhere else and maybe this somewhere else is what we need. A fresh start, new place, new people and build from the ground up.
My new friend Annie is so much fun. We had a long lunch the other week and made plans for our kids to play. She is on top of things much more than I am so I have a lot to learn from her. I need someone like her in my life. I need a doer, who is not afraid of trying.
My brother’s friend, the one who helped him with my flats asked me out. It was very unexpected, but it made me feel good about myself and excited that someone can find me attractive, even though I don’t feel I am.
Ben is hot, kind and much younger than me. Besides, I haven’t been on a date for years. I don’t even know when was the last time I was on a date with Jim without the kids or friends or other people continually hanging around with us. I should have known back then that things weren’t moving in the right direction. If your other half avoids spending time alone with you, something must be in the air.
I said ‘yes’ to the date and I can’t wait!. I also can’t wait to put my skinny jeans back on because my walking has finally paid off.
The Date and Other Things on My Mind
May 15th, 2019
My date with Ben was fantastic. Oh My God, I sooooo needed to relax, leave the confusing everyday reality behind, and have a little bit of fun that didn’t involve the usual family activities.
I have almost forgotten how awesome it feels to be wined and dined. Jim and I stopped making an effort a long time ago. We focused solely on ‘family’ life and business, in his case. Yeah, ‘family life’ my ass. Spending time together stopped being important at some point or maybe we both have changed so much that this part of our lives stopped being part of our life together. Growing apart so much and so quick is never a good sign.
But Ben is fun, full of energy, and so, so young ?. He is hot, looks after himself and enjoys life’s simple pleasures. Sitting across the table from him, hearing his enthusiasm made me feel like I was 25 again, full of dreams and with “can do’ attitude that I thought was never going to expire.
I didn’t end up taking him home, even though I wanted, and sex was on my mind most of the night. We did a bit of kissing, but I couldn’t go any further than that. Well, maybe next time with someone more of a stranger, so that I wouldn’t feel so self-conscious of myself, and of the fact how much he already knows about my family and me.
I think, damn I hope (!) Ben was a bit disappointed at the end of the evening, but you know what? I stopped caring what men think and want. The break-up with Jim made me more selfish and self-focused (my recommendation for every woman, especially a mother, is one daily selfishness act). I was way too giving in my previous wife-mother reincarnation. However, life and people can change in an instant, and one terrible break-up can change you so much that sometimes you don’t even recognise yourself in the mirror.
I have been reading a lot about basic income recently and started wondering how much effort it will require for me to create basic income for us right here, in London. On the other hand, being outside of London scares me to bits. But in reality, what choice will I have? Maybe life in a slow lane won’t be that scary after getting used the slow lane.
I have been having a tough time sleeping. I don’t have problems falling asleep, but then, all of a sudden, I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep until early morning hours. I keep tossing and turning before finally putting the light on. Unfortunately, reading doesn’t put me to sleep, nor does listening to calming music or meditation. I have been trying to figure out what keeps me awake, but there is so much on my mind that pinning one major issue seems like an impossible task.
I have sent a lot of CV and sample work to every publication I could think of. Now the waiting game is on. I’m not the most patient person on the planet, and if I don’t know what is happening and I can’t plan, I feel lost. So, this particular exercise in waiting is draining my energy resources.
I finally managed to watch the Brene Brown talk on Netflix. I forgot how much I loved her. So much she was saying made sense. However, the implementation of the stuff she talked about will take me ages. I spend a lot of my life trying to be in control or trying to have the illusion of control, so a mere thought of having none of that freaks me out.
For quite some time now, I have tried my best to convince myself that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. However, it’s hard to comprehend that I could be in such a mess so late in life.
None of the people I had known in the girls’ school has been in touch with me. Once again, I hoped that at least Jenny (I have known her the longest, and we always seemed to be connected on a different level) was going to be different and not allow the crowd to dictate what to do. But I guess, being part of the group is more important than relationships and friendships. Just thinking about all this makes me very sad.
Since I needed to cut off from the school (I felt I was suffocated just thinking about this bloody place), I had to borrow more money from my brother to pay off all the fees. I closed the door on this failed experiment, and the three of us can finally embrace the home-schooling for as long as I have the energy for it.
I have already started researching schools for the girls, and we may go and visit a couple before the half term. Yes, another half-term is just around the corner. Parent life is all about manoeuvring around half-terms and holidays. Truly, if you don’t have a good support system or enough money to pay for that support system to help you, on all those off days you are royally fucked.
May 24th, 2019
Since I didn’t have much time to plan our home-schooling curriculum and couldn’t get prepared as well as I would like, I decided to focus mainly on doing various projects with the girls. Last minute (that seems to be my mantra in the past few months) I signed up my girls to arts and crafts classes, as well as coding and animation. All are taking place once a week and luckily in the same place. Both like coding and coming up with different ideas and artistic solutions to human problems. I have always encouraged their entrepreneur but artistic nature. They both focus a lot on the environment and eco-friendly solutions in their creative and coding projects, which I feel the grown-ups don’t do enough.
The girls’ previous school wasn’t that keen on field trips (London is a mecca for field trips that one can take – so many places to visit and so most of that for free!), so we decided that our other focus for this term would be learning about all London attractions, thus focusing on what the girls like and enjoy doing. Of course, we have a few books that we are planning to read together and a huge list of documentaries to watch. So, as you can see, the plan is simple and easy to follow.
I guess having a child-led education for a while won’t harm them. Hopefully, it will open their minds and teach them how to research, look for information, find what they need, and most importantly follow their passion.
The girls understand perfectly well that once we are done with schooling, I need to dive into work. I have been getting small jobs consistently for the past month, which makes me not only happy but also my confidence levels are going up. To be honest, I didn’t know how I was going to pull this off, even IF I was going to pull anything off. It’s hard to believe in yourself and your abilities after years of not sitting on the sidelines.
I’m still trying to figure out what would be and could be the best for the girls and me in the long run. In all honesty, it’s not an easy decision. On the one hand, all my adult life has been spent in London; on the other hand, the political ugliness and how the country is turning out at the moment isn’t something I want my girls to be a part of.
If I could just figure out how to make everything come together and work for us. I guess this is a part of the game called being a responsible adult and I’m genuinely determined to be one.
Taking A Break
May 31st, 2019
Girls and I have decided to take a well-deserved half term break from our current unpredictable London life. I’ve decided to be spontaneous for a change and stop worrying about the money, the job, CV sending and simply disappear for a week. Feeling somehow liberated from following Jim’s timetable, which was always packed with meetings, some more meetings and projects that often took forever to finish, I finally realized that I’m the boss of me and I’m entirely able to decide what to do and when to do it.
Luckily for my finances, Ryanair had a flash sale. As I said, I was spontaneous, so we went to a place I’ve never been to before. Of course, the price of the ticket was a huge bonus but also this nagging longing for something different played a massive part in my decision. So, the girls and I ended up in Poland.
We flew to Bydgoszcz, which has the tiniest airport I’ve ever seen. The airport is surrounded by forest, and I swear to God I could smell the cow manure when we got off. Going through the customs and picking up our bag didn’t take longer than 15 minutes. What a great experience, right?
From the airport, I arranged a taxi collection, which dropped us off at the train station. The train station was newly decorated with shiny, freshly painted walls and just like the airport, it was small and compact. I must be having some sort of London syndrome and expect everything to be gigantic and packed with thousands of people.
We managed to catch an earlier train to a small town called Wabrzezno. This word is unpronounceable, just like a lot of other Polish words; luckily, I booked the tickets online. The train journey took us only under 90 minutes. At Wabrzezno, the B&B’s owner’s daughter picked us up. On the way there, I learnt that she was also visiting for the half term with her ten-year-old son.
After 15 minutes of driving, she took the sharp left turn and immediately we ended up on a country dirt road surrounded by fields. I do have to say that I was a bit scared for a second or two, wondering ”What the fuck have I done?”, but the moment the small brick building surrounded by flowers emerged, my anxiety vanished. When we approached the driveway, I knew it was just in the place I wanted to be in.
The B&B is a mixture of old and new, it has two small ponds (if anyone fancy finishing), very tall trees everywhere you look, a bonfire place and amongst many things, a colourful wooden tree house.
The owners also run an organic garden from where most of the ingredients for their divine home cooking come from.
We are literarily in the middle of nowhere; the nearest shop is about a mile away. We have no transport, no TV and only the nature that surrounds us to keep the three of us entertained. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about running out of things to do. Quite the opposite, I have managed to learn how to make bread, jam and sour pickles and cabbage. The owner runs cooking classes, which I happily joined. I finished reading two books and started on the third one (I must have been at the Uni. the last time I read two books in a week).
The girls are in and out, mostly playing with the owner’s grandson, who also lives in London, so there are no language issues between the three of them, only occasional power struggle issues, which are so far solved diplomatically.
I don’t even feel my usual fear that something may happen to the girls; the place is secure and hardly any cars pass by. That’s how remotely located this place is.
Quite, peace, nature and time to be with myself and for myself was what I needed. I never thought I would ever in my life be able to enjoy such a quiet in such a setting, far away from the city’s hustle. I’m a city girl, who loves the flashy lights, ambient noise, and the fact that the city never sleeps. I guess taking into consideration what I have been through in the past year that was surely what I needed.
Each morning chirping birds wake me up. I simply don’t think I pay that much attention to chirping birds when I’m in London. The delicious home cooking I’m exposed to daily, including the most heavenly pies, will make me put back on weight, which I have lost. But I don’t care anymore. Bring it on! Besides, I’m going to lose all those extra kilograms once I’m back in the hassle of my reality.
The quietness and peace that I have been immersed in for the past few days made my thoughts much clearer, which resulted in me applying for a teaching job. I haven’t done teaching for a very long time but maybe teaching abroad is what I need now. The girls said they wouldn’t mind moving to Tenerife and learning Spanish, making new friends, and learning new customs. Maybe that kind of compromise is the right solution for the three of us for the moment. It is to be seen what life brings. But for now, instead of my usual obsessing about the job, which I usually do after I send my CV out, I will just enjoy the quietness and stillness of the moment.
Jim Wants to Talk
June 7th, 2019
The half term is already gone and the three of us are back to our crazy, busy London life. While being away, I wasn’t concerned with job hunting, money stretching and imagining what the future had in store for us.
That short break had a healing effect on my mind, body, and spirit. Because I was so relaxed and wasn’t focusing on what I needed or didn’t have in life, the Universe did some pairing up for me, and I managed to pick up two more weekly content writing jobs, which was a pleasant surprise. The jobs are small, but it’s always some extra income.
Two days after our return from Poland, unexpectedly and entirely out of blue, Jim called me and wanted to meet up for a chat. I was gobsmacked to hear from him. He didn’t text me or asked to see the girls for weeks; he completely cut us out, when I challenged him about not paying for the school.
He suggested we meet without the girls and talk. My ex-hubby (we are not officially divorced, just officially seriously separated), who made sure that the past seven months were a nightmare for me, wants to talk all of a sudden. I have to admit that a part of me is pretty curious to find out what he wants, but another part wants to give him the silent treatment he deserves.
Since I don’t have anyone I could ask to look after the girls while we talk (he made sure I was left with no support system), I suggested we meet in the playground. Besides, if he tries to pull some shit (you never know what is brewing in his sick mind), he may think twice not to do it in front of the girls and other families (but with his recent thought processing you never know what to expect from him, even in public spaces).
I agreed to meet him because of the girls, not because I want to see him desperately. My kind and gentle nature believes that as a father he should have contact with his kids, regardless of how little I think of him.
June 8th, 2019
The weather hasn’t been the best for the playground exploration on that particular Saturday but at the same time not too unusual for the London summer. The four of us met in the Greenwich playground. The girls know that playground well and the place is big enough for them to explore for longer than five minutes before getting bored.
Jim was a bit late, very unlike Jim; he used to be always on time or way ahead of time. He looked nervous (not surprised after being a dickhead for months) and seemed to have a hard time knowing what to do with his hands. He wasn’t too sure whether he should kiss me, hug me, or just shake my hand. To rescue him from his misery, I moved far enough from him, so his embrace wouldn’t reach me. The girls gave him hugs, kids are so forgiving, before running off to play. Once they were gone, it became clear that the tension between the two of us was high.
Before the meeting, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to speak first. Why should I? As my little revenge, I was planning to make him feel as uncomfortable as I could. I also wore my skinny jeans (all the cakes I ate in Poland didn’t make such a huge difference). Of course, I wanted him to see that I look good and I have moved on from the mess he so graciously bestowed on me. After nearly eternal silence, he finally spoke and what he said made me utterly speechless.
My ex, the person who put me through hell, left me hanging on life support (without my family I don’t think I would manage), wants to get back together. When he said those words, my brain shut down and I stopped thinking for a moment before I started wondering “why”.
Fast enough, I reasoned with myself that I didn’t need to know his why’s and how’s and I surely didn’t want to get back together with him. I knew that deep down in my heart, but words failed me. As a woman, I have been trained pretty well to keep quiet, don’t express my opinions just in case my too opinionated views could hurt someone. The longer I was silent, the more impatient Jim was becoming. I tried to focus on catching a glimpse of girls’ jackets while composing my reply, but the girls moved too fast.
When, after a couple of minutes I still didn’t say anything (the reply turned out to be harder than I anticipated), Jim started talking again and telling me how much he has changed and grown and how much he misses the family and the girls and what a big mistake it was to leave us and be with Christina. I know I was listening, but something in me was broken, and he was the very reason that it was broken. I couldn’t believe anything of what he was saying. Finally, I stopped him and bluntly said “no, thank you, but no”; we are doing just fine without him.
I could see how angry he suddenly became. All the stuff he said about change and being a different person was just another lie. All of a sudden, I remembered that when we were still together, we always did what he wanted, because he could never stomach a refusal or someone having a different opinion than him.
The man that was standing next to me was not any different from the one I knew for years. He was still the same Jim, who always put his interest ahead of everyone else’s, which unfortunately I didn’t see until we split up. My best guess is that something had gone wrong between him and Christina and he was desperately trying to find a rescue boat. He wanted to be back because it is always more comfortable with someone than start your life all over again on your own.
Besides, I knew I needed to be strong for my girls, who must learn how to respect themselves and not let men walk all over them (I still have quite a lot of making up to do in the respect department). Jim’s startled, and he was visibly getting angrier and angrier, so I finally stopped him and, putting the good girl’s image aside, I blurted everything that I hold against him in my heart. At the end of my monologue, I simply asked him how on Earth, after putting us through the hell, he expected from the girls and me to take him back.
He tried to blame Christina and her possessive nature for not being in touch with the girls, but I didn’t care. His first responsibility in the event of a broken relationship should be his children, not other women and their fucking egos. He wasn’t happy with the way the conversation went. I guess he was expecting me to welcome him with open arms and heart. No way, that won’t ever happen. The woman he was married to doesn’t exist anymore.
He stayed at the playground for another few minutes before making some clumsy excuse to leave. The girls were a bit disappointed that dad didn’t hang around long enough to play with them. However, I can’t say I was surprised; dodging responsibility is one of his talents.
The girls and I stayed in the playground a little bit longer. While they were running around, I was trying to collect my thoughts and digest what has just happened. It was surely not what I expected at all, not in a million years.
Pushing Through the Comfort Zone
June 15th, 2019
The past two weeks have been interestingly intense. At first, I decided to let go of my need to control every single aspect of my life, which led me to some highly unexpected results. First of all, I travelled with the girls to a place I never thought I would and could enjoy. For a city girl like me, spending a week in a very rural countryside was surely pushing my comfort zone way out.
Last week Jim surprised me with a meet-up request and him asking me if we could get back together. I’m still having a hard time trying to figure out what he hoped was going to happen. But I try to devote as little time to this wondering as I humanly can. And just today I got an email from the teaching company I applied for a job, while in Poland. They want to hold a Skype interview with me. I know it’s excellent news, even though I still don’t know what my answer would be if they offered me the job.
In the past week, I have been thinking a lot about being afraid of making decisions, while cultivating the art of painfully prolonged periods of indecisiveness. Unfortunately, my indecisiveness has dominated most of the past ten years of my life, leading me to falsely hoping life or circumstances could swiftly decide for me, instead of making the conscious decision myself.
When I look back at my life, I can honestly admit that life has been deciding for me by putting me in situations that were familiar enough for me without activating my fear of the unknown and fear of not knowing what to do, if I was presented with an unknown. In reality, the anxiety and fear from expanding my comfort zone kept me safe and unchallenged in the same place for years.
Since I feel calmer on the inside and somehow rested, I can see that the answer to my prayers is not “magic beans” but pro-activity. I finally made a decision to stop doing the same stuff over and over again, which I have been stuck on repeat for years, and have redirected my focus into different activities.
In the past, I started a lot of projects, which I often abandoned halfway through, believing that because it didn’t work out right away, that particular idea was not working. Now I can see that the fear and anxiety were speaking through my actions.
The “safe” and “secure” ways of the old me wouldn’t even dream of pushing my comfort zone. The artificial busyness created by lists and tasks made my brain, soul and body believe in my pretend pro-activity and I made myself think I was championing. But whatever that was, it wasn’t real. At the beginning of this year, I promised myself to be my new me. My new me knows that I need to take risks and make decisions, even when it feels scary in the new, unfamiliar territory I am entering.
Taking a hard, critical look at my life and myself was way overdue. I have been caught up in the catch 22 for way too long. What the future will hold, I have no idea. Alas, for now, I feel that standing still while trying to absorb my new thought process and learning how to be brave daily and stick by my projects for longer than a month is what I need.
I got in touch with one of the schools I thought would be suitable for the girls. However, getting into a mainstream school is not as straightforward as I remembered from when I was young, or at least this is how I remember that time, maybe my parents see it differently.
The process seems unnecessarily long and bureaucratic. It feels disheartening and depressing in all honesty. The worst part for me is that I’m not even dealing with the school directly, but with the council and anyone who has ever had any dealings with any local authority will know that the process is painfully long and often one-sided.
The whole concept of going through the application process scares me immensely. But I guess this is where the new me should come in and not be afraid to step out of the comfort zone.
Saying Yes Is an Art Form
June 24th, 2019
I finally had my Skype interview with the teaching company in Tenerife. The interview went much better than I expected, and they offered me the job right away. The offer is perfect for now, and I wouldn’t have to sign a contract for longer than a year, which in our case is ideal. After a year, I could either move onto something else or come back to London.
I have to say I’m tempted. I would have some steady income and some financial security, something I have lacked for a long time. That would be a much welcome breather I feel my life desperately needs.
However, while thinking about the offer, my life and the girls, I have realized that it’s not easy to say ‘yes’. Even when it logically seems and feels like the right decision and an excellent opportunity. It appears that saying yes is much harder than I thought it ever was. It should be easy; you say ‘yes’ and move on. But in my case (I don’t know how other people are) so much fear and negative emotions are attached to this phrase that it almost feels like the worst-case scenario.
Over the years, I kept putting my needs at the back burner, always accommodating someone else’s instead.
Saying ‘yes’ normally feels very uncomfortable to me and inevitably pushes me out of my comfort zone. Even when it is to spending money on a new outfit or a pair of shoes doesn’t come easy. The spiritual leaders preach that until you start saying ‘yes’ to yourself, it might be incredibly hard to magic some magic into your life.
The magic word for me in 2019 is ‘yes’. I feel that I owe it to myself and need to try to better my life, even if it feels scary at times. The girls are on board with the move and admitted that they would like to meet new people, who could be maybe nicer and more honest.
The situation with the school and their friends touched them deeply, even if they don’t want to talk about this too much.
I certainly won’t ask Jim for permission to move. We are legally still married, but he has been absent from the girls’ lives for the past several months, so it doesn’t really matter for him where we are. It could be even better for him, if we are far enough, so he won’t feel the social pressure to be a father.
The move would allow me to rent our house out, which of course would additionally help with paying off some of the debts that unfortunately are this nagging voice in my head, keeping me awake in the middle of the night.
The other day, the three of us bumped into Christina and her nasty gang of cheerleaders in the park. She clearly didn’t know what to do with herself, when she saw us approaching. In reality, I didn’t expect anything from her.
To cover her embarrassment, she turned her head the other way. I found this most amusing. I guess this is what children do when they try to hide and believe that by turning away and looking they can be invisible themselves. Well, she was well visible and somehow not as self-confident as I remember her being; or maybe I have changed so much, and she stopped bothering me.
June 25th, 2019
After much deliberation, talking to my girls and to my brother, who promised to take care of the house and the flats, I decided to take the job by fully exercising the power of saying ‘yes’ to myself and to the new adventure that will await me.
I’m taking the job, which means that in the next month I will have to move my stuff out of the house, find new tenants and make a move overseas to start all over again. I do hope I won’t change my mind halfway through when things start getting harder.
Getting Ready to Move
July 1st, 2019
I feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety. I’m excited that we are going to try something new, but at the same time, the idea of such a significant change fills me with the usual anxiety. Of course, my mind wonders. What if the job doesn’t work out; what if I won’t be able to manage the job, the school, the new life; what if the girls don’t like it. My mind loves being preoccupied with the usual worst-case scenarios. However, despite all the “ifs” I’m still willing to try something new to push my boundaries to allow me to grow beyond who I was in my previous life. I was so over comfortable in that life that feeling a bit of discomfort should have a calming effect over my soul.
The girls have already started packing their bedrooms. I haven’t even started thinking about packing myself. In all honesty, I’m not even sure where to begin. Even after clearing my house and all car boot sales, I still have so much unwanted stuff. I genuinely hope this move will allow me to clear the house of the rest of all the shit I managed to accumulate over the years and was never intending on using (the bonus of living in small spaces is that you don’t buy what you don’t intend to use). Now, with the move and the new life, the new philosophy started slowly making its way into my life. The minimalistic lifestyle with a sustainable approach to every item that I’m going to buy has become much more important to me than it was in the past.
I want my life to be as simple as possible, and accumulating unnecessary shit isn’t going to help with that. Also, the state of our planet, the pollution, global warming, and melting ice troubles me deeply. I don’t want to be the reason why my kids have to live in the world devoid of beauty, clean water and food. I want to be the solution or at least give my girls an example of being able to lead a life that isn’t all about consumption. I want my life on this planet to be sustainable and respectful of nature. I do sincerely hope that the new me can pull such a change off.
The other day I had a specialist hospital appointment, and after waiting for an hour, my name was finally called. The appointment lasted the whole five minutes! Yes, five minutes of a blissful time with a doctor (I hope), who asked me series of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions, while copying notes from another doctor onto yet another piece of paper. It was thrilling to waste all that precious time.
This week I also got a letter from the council saying that the girls didn’t get into any of the schools I chose for them. Apparently, there are no spaces. Even though an email I got from the council a week before confirmed that at least one of the schools had spaces. Of course, the council didn’t offer any alternatives. Now I can either appeal their decision, or I can be added to the waiting list. The council’s “no space, no alternative” policy is quite surprising, taking into consideration how obsessive the authorities are in this country when it comes to school attendance. This is just another aspect of the hostile environment the Tory government has been implementing.
The hostile environment, when it comes to schooling, especially kids with educational needs (my both girls are dyslexic) has gotten out of hand. The schools can’t cope with the kids they already have, who require extra assistance and admitting more is simply too expensive for already stretched budgets. I’ve been reading about schools systematic “off-rolling” kids with learning difficulties.
Homeschooling for a lot of those parents became the only alternative to provide education for their kids. You either have enough money to send your child to a private school, or you have no other choice but to accept what is given to you and if the council gives you nothing, tough shit.
Luckily, we will be gone well before September starts, which means that I don’t have to deal with the council’s sluggish approach to solving problems and finding solutions.
It Is Finally Happening
July 14th, 2019
Last week I told Jim that girls and I were moving out of the UK. He was his “old” usual self and started screaming his head off. The conclusion at the end of his tantrum was that he won’t allow the move and was prepared to take me to court over that. As a father, he feels fully obliged to be a part of the girls’ upbringing. According to him, he should have been included in the decision-making process, before I agreed to take up any jobs and signed on the dotted line.
Over the years, I learned that the best way to deal with his tantrums is to let him scream. Once the screaming is over, kill him with arguments and reasoning.
I had lots of arguments up my sleeve to prove to anyone willing to listen that Jim left his family without caring what would happen to us once he decided to move on with his life.
What surprised me the most was that he didn’t even think that leaving us with no financial support was beyond wrong. For some reason he didn’t see that not paying for school or for all the loans he took up, nearly destroyed me and pushed me towards borrowing more money from my brother, dividing the house and finally taking up a teaching job. He didn’t want to understand that if it weren’t for my family, the girls and I would have been homeless and living in poverty now.
Somehow, he didn’t think any of this was his doing and he didn’t think it was any of his responsibilities to look after us when he decided to change his life while all of my life was wrapped up around him and the girls.
However, I’m still not convinced that my arguments weren’t lost on him. Finally, to my greatest astonishment, he said that in that case, he is going to move back to the house to look after the property. Somehow, he thought that living in my property rent-free was going to be his compensation for not being able to see the girls as often as he would like to (he hardly ever saw them before, so I doubt he would see more of them now).
I laughed long and hard at his daydream, I just couldn’t stop. His anger was growing, and I could almost see the invisible smoke coming out of his ears.
Once I composed myself and stopped laughing, I informed him that the house is in my name, reminded him that my parents have been paying the mortgage for years and it was already rented out. Of course, I didn’t miss the opportunity to mention that all the income from the house was going towards paying off his debts. Once again, he seemed not to hear what I was saying and tried really hard to ignore the facts. After the initial discontent, protest and tantrum, Jim had no choice but to accept my decision. He promised to girls that he would come and visit, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t count on that. His priorities are somewhere else now, surely not with his children.
A year ago, that kind of scenario wasn’t even an option in my wildest worst-case scenarios dreams. However, life tends to change rapidly, and one must either accept the changes and adjust, or allow life to walk all over you. I wasn’t prepared to be thrown under the bus under no circumstances. I needed to be strong for my girls. I desperately wanted them to see that being a woman doesn’t mean you should give up when life throws you lemons.
Once Jim knew we were off, I started furiously packing. I’ve started with my bedroom and once again I was terrified by the amount of stuff I still had. Some of the clothes I have I’m keeping for the girls but some others I’m not even sure any charity would be able to sell. So much money has been spent on all that unwanted stuff. Minimalistic lifestyle is the key to a sustainable lifestyle, and that is my aim for my girls and myself in our new life.
Since I’m renting the house unfurnished, all of our furniture will go to storage. Luckily we don’t have that many pieces of furniture I want to keep and the rest I’m giving away to a charity.
I didn’t manage to do our garage up enough to rent it out as an office space. But this is something I can do when/if we are back to London.
Our new start has to be clean, without the unwanted baggage from the past polluting our present and the future.
My girls have already packed up and put quite a lot of their childhood toys in boxes. I don’t think they are ready to let go of their childhood as yet.
I do have to admit that I’m in awe of them and how smoothly they are handling the whole move and the new start.
I need to be good as well and show them that moving on is good, exciting and nothing to fear.
We only have two more weeks left in London before the big day arrives. I’m going to see a few friends from my networking circle. I have joined one just to meet new, more pro-active people than the ones I knew from the girl’s school.
I’m planning to see Annie and her daughters. My girls had a couple of playdates with Annie’s daughters, and the girls seemed to be getting on pretty well together. It would be a good distraction for them, while we are waiting for the big day to arrive.
Dave is going to help with the move, and we will stay with him for a couple of days before taking off. I’m not too certain the girls will see Jim before we go; he really is unreliable and unpredictable in his current incarnation.
As for me, I am feeling a bit nostalgic and sad, and some part of me is scared of the move, but I try hard to focus on the exciting adventure the three of us are about to embark on.
One Door Closes Another Door Opens
July 22nd, 2019
The day of our moving out has finally arrived. I didn’t even realize how sad I was going to feel when I handed over the keys of my castle to another family. It was our family home for so many years, filled with countless happy and precious memories. A place where my girls did a lot of things for the first time: first steps, first words, first playdates, first homework.
I don’t think I believed it was really going to be the end of an era for the girls and me up until today. But life goes on, and we are moving on as graciously as we can under the circumstances we are in. I ended up giving away to different charities much more than I had originally anticipated. I’m still trying to process how much-unwanted stuff we managed to collect over all those years. Consumerism as a lifestyle is destructive on so many levels and overbuying while overspending does not give happiness at all.
The past ten days were busy with packing, arranging things such as billing address, forwarding mail and saying goodbye to the people I became close to over the past few months. I didn’t want to have a big goodbye party since it’s not a goodbye for good. I’ll come back to London at some point, or at least this is what I’m planning on doing, but I will see how I feel about that idea down the line. For now, or for at least another year, another family will live in our house, and I genuinely hope they will be happy.
The girls have been both excited and anxious. I could see from their behaviour and how fast they were able to wind each other up that they started feeling the pressure of moving to a totally unknown and unfamiliar environment. I did get the occasional questions about friends and the school, which for kids their age is of the highest importance. I tried to answer as well as I could, but a long time ago I promised to myself that, if I didn’t know something I would say so. In this case, there are so many unknowns that my answer often was simple “I don’t know.”
But what I know for sure is that their hearts have also been broken by Jim’s sudden disappearance and by the fact that people they grew up with vanished from their lives with no explanation. I think I’ve managed to move on from my failed school experiment and I learned my lessons. However, it’s easier for a grown-up to reason the unrealistic situations, than it is for young kids, who are still honest and don’t play politics when it comes to friendships.
A part of my heart is still broken, because of what my girls experienced; the other part is mad that grown women could have been so easily manipulated by someone as flaky and untrustworthy as Christina.
As predicted, Jim has been too busy with his new “business venture” to see the girls but did manage to give them one of his empty promises that he will come and visit. In all honesty, I don’t think I should be too surprised by Jim’s behaviour. Parenting became my job, and my job only.
I need to stop focusing on all those negativity, for now, what is important is that the three of us are just about to embark on an exciting adventure that could as well turn our lives upside down in the long run.
For the next two days, we are crashing at my brother’s house. I planned to make those two days fun and exciting for the girls. They don’t know, but I have arranged quite a lot of outings for them, which include two West End shows. They have been so wonderful and understanding; I don’t think I would have pulled it through all those dark moments without them by my side. So, the next two days are going to be days to remember, remember London as a fun place, not only a place that broke their hearts.
Before the house disappeared from our view, I turned around to look at it one last time, at least for a while. To my surprise, I didn’t cry; I guess I was ready to find my happiness somewhere else.
School Runs: Epilogue
From a distance, Rachel observes the girls carelessly jumping over the waves. The sand on the beach is overflowing with tourists. However, for the first time in her life, she doesn’t mind the crowds or the fact that the black sand will permanently stay in her bikini. African sellers try hard to push their merchandise. Now and then one of them asks Rachel if she would like to buy a blanket or a pair of fake designer sunglasses. But even those pushy sales can’t make her cranky. She is in a state of happiness and prepared to do whatever it takes to prolong that moment.
Luckily the middle of the summer heat isn’t as scorching hot as during the London recent summers. The breeze that comes from the Ocean turns the simple experience of sitting in the sun into a profoundly pleasurable one.
All of a sudden, Rachel’s phone beeps, bringing her back to reality. She finds the phone at the bottom of the basket. An email that just came through confirms another writing assignment she managed to book in the past week.
“Sometimes letting go of control is the only logical option.” – she thinks to herself. Once her phone is back in the basket, Rachel walks to the edge of the Ocean, where her girls are still immersed in their fun. As for Rachel, nothing else but that moment could exist for eternity.
Jim is unpacking. His new space is challenging, considering the number of boxes that took over every possible free spot on the floor. The task is overwhelming. With each unpacked item, he realizes that he genuinely is starting all over again and the door to his previous life is truly closed. He never thought that Rachel had enough strength and determination in her to become independent in such a short space of time.
Her newfound independence, confidence and determination impressed him enormously and reminded him why he fell in love with her all those years ago – something he quickly forgot when the reality of everyday life took over.
Of course, he doesn’t want to start all over again. He wants to go back to his old life, which turned into an impossible dream. All that was left from his previous life are all those boxes that wouldn’t be able to contain all his shame and immense regret of his thoughtless behaviour of the past.
He touches the picture of his girls with great tenderness when his phone starts to ring. He picks it up somewhat automatically, but after noticing that it is Christina, he lets it go to the voicemail.