The 2 D's: Divorce & Dating
Divorce is just an ugly word isn’t it? It took me a few months to get used to the term single mum but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the word Divorce. It sounds cold & heartless and like I gave up. I’m pretty sure most people don’t get married to get divorced and at least it is easier to get a divorce these days, but I still hate being part of that statistic. I meant those vows when I got married and I took that shit seriously, clearly Tom did not. Often, I say I wish I never got married for this reason exactly and people try to correct me and say don’t regret the relationship because you got Zak out of it. To be clear I do NOT regret the relationship as clearly Tom was everything, I wanted at one point and yes I did get Zak out of it and he is 50% of Tom. But I do regret getting married. I hate that I now have to get a divorce, that I have to sell my house and deal with all this bullshit. The irony is not lost on me that Tom begged me for a baby for the best part of 7 years and yet here I am left holding the baby. And the dog.
Selling the house makes it a much easier process to divorce as its really the only financial tie we have and it would mean I can move into a new house, set me and Zak up for life and be financially independent. But selling a house is an emotional process and trying to get the house immaculate for viewings with a toddler and a Labrador at 9am on a Saturday raises my stress levels to an unhealthy level! It makes it really difficult not to hate Tom when I am the one who has to pick up the pieces, be the adult and carry on otherwise we would be stuck in limbo forever. Its hard enough seeing him twice a week! Selling the house feels so painful because it was what I thought would be our forever home, I could see the potential it offered and it was so important to me to raise my family in Cricklade so when we moved back I felt so at peace and so excited. Its always felt like my home never OUR home because Tom was never here. He moved in to the spare bedroom when I was 4 months pregnant which was only 6 months after we moved in, so its not like I have tonnes of happy memories here with Tom. All my happy memories here are with Zak & Bongo. I know its just bricks and mortar and its just a house and I’ll find a new home for us but it doesn’t make it any less shit.
It may be me pushing the divorce because I’m keen to move on but it doesn’t take the feeling of failure away. I get so touchy when people say I didn’t know you and Tom had split up – takes all my willpower not to scream HE LEFT ME! I have also found it hard to relate to other peoples situations and I am not the most empathetic person at the best of times but divorce has definitely brought out a bitter side in me! When a good friend of mine recently went through a marriage breakdown I didn’t get it, I couldn’t understand why she wanted to give up on her marriage and at first I thought she wasn;t trying hard enough. Now I know it’s the best thing for her and them and I can’t compare her relationship to mine but I hate that I didn’t have a say in my marriage ending. Please do not think I want Tom back because I absolutely do not and in this year I feel so genuinely happy with where I am at, even with all the stress. Now I realise it was the best thing that he left when he did because I am not a quitter and I could have been miserable for years trying to make my marriage work to ultimately end up in the same situation and Zak is too young to know any different.
Once the house sells and we get the divorce papers signed I feel like I can finally relax, all that’s left to sort then is what to do about my name. I don’t want to change it because it’s the same as Zak and at least I’m not just Natasha Lee but it still feels odd. When I was at the doctors the other day and they called out Mrs Milican-Lee I winced. But yet it seems odd to change back to Miss like that’s what teenage girls are called and Ms is just for pompous divorcees isn’t it?!
I am so looking forward to turning 30 and I definitely get some funny looks for saying that but I am soo ready for a new decade, a new chapter and a new life. I’m so proud of how far I have come in the last 18 months and how I am now finding a new path. Although I was desperate to be divorced and moved into a new house by my birthday I realise that’s probably unrealistic now but I am determined to achieve both this year! So watch this space and I’ll be calling in the troops when moving day comes!
Dating. Another horrible word. It sounds fun and exciting and you imagine it to be like sex and the city. And its so not. It can be fun and exciting, and I’ve definitely learned that depending on your mood and headspace depends on how you find dating. Some days I loved having a scroll through Tinder, other times I wouldn’t look at it for days. Dating when you have come out of a 10-year relationship is terrifying. Dating when you’ve only ever had 1 serious relationship is terrifying. Dating when you are a single mum is terrifying. In a nutshell I had no idea what I was doing and every corner seemed to bring more questions!
I’m not great at dealing with change in my personal life and I like to plan so I can be prepared but dating hinders that somehow. Suddenly I had new challenges like having to shave my legs (literally hadn’t done it months), staying up past 9:15pm and finding something to wear other than leggings! Now I have learned to love my body after years of hating it for not being able to get pregnant, but once Zak was in my tummy I embraced every flaw and change because it gave me Zak. But there’s absolutely no denying my boobs sag, I have to tuck the bottom half of my tummy into my knickers and I’m riddled with stretch marks and that may not be everyone’s cup of tea! Not to mention nothing had gone down there since something came out of there….
Then there is what to talk about on dates. We all know I can talk the hind legs off a donkey but I chat utter crap most of the time and now I was suddenly wondering how do you flirt? How do I give someone the vibe of I’d like to rip your clothes off without saying it so bluntly (cos most men don’t seem to know what to do when I’m that direct) and what are taboo subjects on a date – was talking about Zak’s bowel movements a step too far?
I decided I was ready to dip my toe in the dating pool around the time Zak turned 1 as I had a scratch that needed itching……if you get my drift (trying not to be too graphic as a mixed audience read this!) I was by no means looking for anything serious and literally was after someone who I could see once or twice a week when I don’t have Zak and I just wanted a bit of action, some laughter and maybe the odd pizza! Considering I wasn’t looking for love I thought Tinder would be the best option as I hear you’re only on there for 1 thing…
So, I had to create a profile – Jesus Christ just this part was hard! Finding a picture of me that was post baby but without Zak in it was tricky and then I had to think what to write! Somehow, I didn’t think 29, divorced single mum with saggy tits and stretch marks was going to attract the kind of person I would like and I wasn’t really even sure I wanted to advertise I had a baby. Don’t get me wrong I’m not ashamed of Zak or being a single mum but I wanted to keep these 2 worlds separate for as long as possible. Everyone must do what they believe in and what’s right for them but for me I do not want Zak to meet any new partners (Tom’s or mine) until I am sure that they are in it for the long haul. Children are not stupid; they don’t miss a trick and I don’t believe in confusing him by meeting lots of different partners who don’t stick around for long. I eventually decided on using a few emojis to indicate some of my likes and dislikes and in true Tash style put a quote up to see what responses I got. I was lucky and got a fair few matches straight away – I’m sure the profile pic of me dressed up and my cleavage looking on point had nothing to do with it!? But I quickly found Tinder was a world of surprises. Sooo many men match and then don’t message – wtf the point? Sooo many men start conversations with lewd comments or better yet a dick pic. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing those pics round the office and then blocking them. Men who asked for threesomes in their opening messages. Men that were polyamorous (had to google it!) Men who were married, men who were after one thing, men who had feet fetishes, men who had food fetishes, men who had no picture, men who were clearly catfishing and men who were full of shit. Their profiles were fascinating to me! Some of my favourite profiles (that I did not swipe right too) included a man advertising his drug dealing business, a man who offered to pay for plastic surgery and a man who put “not interested if you have kids, its your own mistake” I mean wow! With those lot to pick from what was a I worried about!? There’s also nothing more awkward than when you come across people you know, is it more awkward to swipe right or left? Like if you say yes then they get the wrong idea because you defo don’t want to date them but it you say no then its pretty brutal considering you see them at work or down the high street most days!
I did get chatting to a few men and in actual fact 3 men I arranged to go on dates with but all 3 ghosted me a few days before each date. Clearly a lot of men like the chase or as my boss put it are all talk no trousers! (my new fave saying) My rules for meeting up with someone were simple:
meet in public the first time and I don’t put out on the first date
No coming to my house
No meeting my child
I don’t do nudes and no dick pics
I thought these rules were pretty fair and not too demanding, but you’ll be amazed about the amount of men who had issues with it!
After a few weeks off Tinder and some other life stuff to sort out I decided to change my profile to a proper sassy Tash one – the side of Tash most of you see and know but I was watering it down on tinder and I didn’t know why. I think my new profile said something like: why is it one rule for men but another rule for women? Strong independent woman who doesn’t need a man to validate my existence, too much for most men to handle. No dick pics. And I left a couple of the emojis for good measure to ensure we had a conversation starter. I think that about summed up how I was now approaching the dating scene!
Again, I got quite a few matches but there was a lot of time wasters and I thought I’ll have one last swiping session then I’m deleting it cos I can’t be bothered. I don’t need anyone and I’m so bloody busy all the time anyways. Luckily on Sunday morning I matched with a rather beautiful man who I am now dating and have been seeing for a few months. I don’t want to go into too much detail because its still early days and he’s quite a private person but let’s just say I think I may have hit the jackpot?! He had only been on Tinder for 24 hours and I was his first match, he was the first guy I ever actually met for a date and if you don’t believe in fate what do you call that?! On our first date he sat across from me in the pub and said “I’m going to be straight up I want to have babies, settle down and get married and if that’s not what you want we shouldn’t pursue this” I nearly fell off my chair! But something made me stay sitting there and spend the whole evening chatting and laughing with him and then keep seeing him. Let’s face it the truth is I do want that, but I didn’t think I wanted it yet. He impressed me and I thought wow a man who has his shit together and knows what he wants.
Whilst we are by no means in a rush and enjoying taking things at our pace its nice to think what the future could hold. Jay is very different to any man I’ve ever dated, and I find him fascinating. He challenges my opinions but is incredibly respectful of my decisions (particularly regarding Zak) and he encourages me. For me the 2 biggest things that have really blown my mind are that he makes me feel beautiful and he makes me feel safe. I know it sounds corny and cheesy and 100% pass the sick bucket but its true. I have never been with a man that makes me feel beautiful. I’m not someone who takes my confidence from other people I take comfort in my own skin, I am who I am at the end of the day; but Jay looks at me in a way I’ve never seen, and its addictive. The safe feeling is not something I knew about or even realised I had missed out on, but there is a calm manner to him and when I’m with him I just switch off from the world, everything feels still and safe. The best way to describe it is it feels like I married a lad and now I am dating a man.
My rational brain tells me that if it doesn’t work out then I have survived worse. I need to push my comfort zone sometimes and nothing ventured means nothing gained. I may not have thought I was ready to risk getting my heart broken again but my eyes have been opened by Jay and although I absolutely do not know what the future holds, I am learning (slowly) to go with the flow. But I am excited and they say you don’t go looking for love, it comes to you w