I am divorced.
I write that sentence in disbelief. Wh
en I got the email I phoned my solicitor to check it was right and ask if it was really over, if I was finally free because I couldn't believe it! It’s been 2 weeks and still doesn’t feel real, maybe once I am in the new house it’ll finally hit me.
Divorce has changed me a bit. You thought I was sassy and stubborn before, this has definitely heightened that part of me! The defence barrier is up & I’m in protection mode.
So much of this process was about taking something back for myself. A chance to rebuild me in the deepest places. A chance to get full closure and a fresh start. It’s not like I am trying to forget Tom I just don’t want to think about it again. It’s exhausting. It feels like my soul has taken a beating. But I'm coming back stronger than before and I'm happy. Truly the happiest I have been in years. The stress has paid off and although there will always be some stress I'm learning to manage it. But it's been a long road to get here.
When our divorce took an unexpected and nasty turn I was devastated. I have tried so hard to keep things as civil as possible, I just wanted it over with. I was legally required to list 5 reasons for divorce so I listed the 5 things that had upset /hurt me the most. I chose not to write a lengthy statement or go into a lot of detail as I felt it was unnecessary and between Tom & I. It was simply part of the process so we could both get some closure and move on.
This divorce was about ending our marriage. It was never about parenting. The fact that my motherhood got questioned in the process quite frankly caused more damage than the divorce itself.The fact that I was judged and criticised for the amount of time I spent in NICU when Zak was first born is cruel & unjust. We now know I was extremely poorly at the time fighting sepsis myself and even if I wasn't, I had just birthed a human I was a new mother and had just experienced the trauma of watching my child be resuscitated! What I needed was my husband. Some emotional support to feel like we were in this together and when he made it very clear he had no intention of doing that by literally ignoring me, I turned to my parents. It was my mum that milked me, fed me, clothed & comforted me and I'll be forever grateful; but it was my husband I wanted.
I may have only been able to spend 30minutes at his bedside in those first few days and the guilt I feel at not being there will never go away but I just couldn't stand staring at my lifeless child covered in tubes & wires, I felt like I was drowning in emotion. The minute he was awake I never left his side, except to shower and I never missed a feed. In fact the first time I held Zak when he was 6 days old tears streamed from eyes and I felt like I could finally breathe, and Tom said 'what you crying for?' I should’ve punched him in the face there and then!
I have never questioned Tom’s love for Zak. From the minute he was born it was clear how Tom felt. What hurt is that Tom wasn’t there for me. I’d hoped and prayed for so long that when Zak was born it would snap Tom out of the dark place he was in and he would find a new purpose. He did. I just didn’t fit in that picture anymore. I had done my job and provided a child, I was no longer required.
Divorce so often becomes a blame game. Well it's your fault because you're too close to your parents; or you like camping & I don't; you chose rugby over our family; you're too house proud or you’re too lazy. In the end none of it matters but yet all of it matters. When we were married the only 2 things we argued about were money and family, I guess it’s no surprise they would be the 2 issues in our divorce.
I have always been myself. I've never changed. I've always been sassy & honest, I may have grown in confidence in the early years of our relationship but my personality hasn't changed. I was 18 when I met Tom and I told him my life plan, the career I wanted, the places I wanted to travel to and the things I wanted to do. Life's too short I've always wanted to just live it, I'm not a plodder, never have been & never will be. Sometimes now I question how we lasted 10 years because I don’t think he ever knew me and he certainly never understood me. I question all the time if Tom loved me. Some things have been said in the last 3 years that cannot be forgotten or forgiven. I cannot comment for Tom, only he knows how he feels. All I can tell you is I loved Tom whole heartedly. The man I fell in love with, loved our differences, we often compared our different experiences and opinions and talked through them. Perhaps I was young and naïve after all I am a romantic at heart but I thought our differences made us stronger. He has always been a man who makes his own decisions, that was proven the day he walked out. Mine and Toms relationship was between us, only we know what really went on and how we really felt. We clearly remember some things differently but something I think we both learned the hard way over the years was letting other people affect our relationship. It’s something we have had to learn through co-parenting too!
I am not silly enough to think that I am an innocent party in my marriage collapsing but I wanted to fight, I am not a quitter. Although, if my wrong doing was being true to myself & following my dreams then I make no apologies. I accepted years ago I’ll never get a full explanation or the answers I wished for. I don’t think Tom will ever understand the irreparable damage he caused when he left, there’s a part of my heart that will never recover from it.
An apology from Tom might have helped. It's too late now, I’d probably laugh in his face but it's the principal isn't it? He asked me to marry him. He begged me for a baby. He told me he was leaving right after Xmas whilst I was trying to feed our baby. Any decent human being would have apologised surely?
Part of me knew my marriage was over the day Tom told me he didn't know if he loved me. If your husband can't love you when you're 8 months pregnant after fertility struggles I’m pretty sure the marriage is doomed. I was just in denial. I ignored my gut & didn't follow my instincts and to this day I’m angry at myself for staying. I made a promise to myself that I’d never let myself get that low again. I begged Tom to stay, literally begged him. I sat there feeding my son, begging him to go to therapy, to try anything to just not leave me. I remember sobbing and apologising for the state of my body (Zak was 3 months old at this point) and saying I would get in shape and I cringe now looking back. I am ashamed I let myself sink that low. I have always been a confident person and not needed anyone else to validate my existence but my marriage failing put cracks in that. I felt vulnerable and desperate but also so hurt. I’d been so strong and gone through my whole pregnancy alone and I just wanted him to try. Tom and I had always talked about having kids and the family we would have and I never doubted he would be an incredible support. How wrong was I.
I'm an emotional person, I don't feel things by halves and yes there were times I've been petty and not acted rationally but who can blame me? The last 3 years have been long, stressful and exhausting. It's no wonder I need therapy is it really? I told my therapist I feel like my soul is tired, like I could sleep for a week but still be tired. I've been strong for so god damn long, so focused and positive but I'm exhausted. It’s like I haven't slept properly since Tom left. Like I can't switch my mind off, so many different things to think about and it's so much to be on one person's shoulders.
A lot of people think I don't want to have more children because of what happened to Zak and that's not the case. I know what happened to Zak was an extremely unfortunate one off, a result of serious clinical errors none of which will happen again because for any future pregnancies I'll be so closely monitored. But the truth is I'm scared to have more children because I think my next partner will leave me. That needs addressing, that's not healthy or helpful so in therapy I need to do some work on my emotions around divorce and Tom leaving. I went into survival mode, squashed the emotion down, battened the hatches and just took one day at a time.
This divorce has shattered me, as it’s opened all the old wounds again. It’s like I’ve been so worn down over the years with all the trauma that now it’s finally over it just seems so surreal. I’m tired of being the strong one, the responsible adult. I have survived some of the loneliest and longest days but I am very selective with who I let see my vulnerability. I’m an open book in so many ways and what you see is what you get, I can talk about the topics a lot of people can’t. But I keep a very small part of me back, the part where the negative thoughts and the deepest pain lives. A part of me I don’t like to visit very often, where I question everything and my fears find their voices. I have so many thoughts and opinions on Tom and so many more nasty things I could say, but I choose not to put out there because I don’t believe in airing dirty laundry. I save those moments for when I am with my innermost trustworthy circle, when Zak is at Toms and I let it all out. It’s not healthy to hang onto but I also have a child to consider. A child who adores his dad and deserves a relationship with him. I do these blog posts to encourage others to open up and realise they are not alone, not to slate my ex-husband.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years; I know what I like and don’t like in a relationship now. I know what I want in a partner. I’ve always been so stubbornly independent and never ‘needed’ a boyfriend. Some of my happiest times in the last few years have been whilst I was single and it’s allowed me time to think and process. No one is perfect and you have to find a compromise when in a relationship but it should be an even split, give and take, not just one doing all the work, not just one trying. Its taught me that my ideas of what life will be, what you imagine and hope for are a waste of time. It’s taught me to go with the flow more, to not worry about having my ducks in a row. I was so adamant when I met Tom I wanted to be married before children but I definitely wouldn’t rush to get married again. If I chose to have more children, for me that would be the biggest test of a relationship because that’s when I am the most vulnerable, that’s when I want someone to share it with. I’ve done it by myself before I don’t want to do it again. I want them to love me and not just the child. The fear of just being a baby machine again is so real; hence needing therapy…..
Fear is something I didn't expect to come out of divorce. Fear to trust again. Fear to love again. The fear of the unknown because I thought I knew him. I thought I knew us and I knew nothing. The fear is so real that sometimes I can't decide if the fear is more or equal to the hurt. I want to live. I want to love again. I nearly let the fear stop me with Jay. I started pulling back, I started letting the doubt & fear win. Now I'm looking it dead in the eyes & stepping towards it, listening to my gut, terrified & clinging to Jay; but determined. My rational side says I've survived worse, so I'll survive again. My gut tells me Jay is it. My heart tells me I could love him more than Tom and that makes my fear go into over drive, but I'm still stepping forward...so watch this space I guess...
When Zoe died I promised myself I would keep living for the here and now, I would keep pushing my boundaries and do things that scare me. Love scares the shit out of me. But I don’t hate Love, I hate Tom. I cannot punish myself or shut myself off from love because I got burned once. Yes I got really badly burned, yes it hurt more than anyone can imagine but I got past it. I learned from it. I believe in Love. I believe in marriage. I just married the wrong person. I married someone who didn’t know themselves and didn’t know what they wanted. I won’t make the same mistake twice.
When I was first dating Jay I struggled with my identity I felt like 2 different people – mum Tash and then just Tasha. I struggled for them to coexist and I couldn’t see how they would ever merge, I questioned everything I did. Now I feel a bit more relaxed about it. I don’t need a plan necessarily. I can just go with the flow and decide how I feel at the time. I need to follow my gut more. I trust my gut and I’ve ignored it too much in the past.
I think the biggest misconception I had about divorce is that I should be sad and yet it was the one emotion I didn't feel. I felt angry, frustrated, hurt, tired and relieved but not sad. When I used to think about divorced women I thought they were sad & lonely because their marriage had ended, I had no idea it could be so liberating. It just proves the stereotypes we have in our minds or that we are taught are so warped. When I think of a divorced woman I think of a sad woman in her 40’s or when I think of single mums I think of teenagers who didn’t use contraception. Both scenarios are desperate and lonely in my perception. I couldn’t be more wrong could I?! I am both divorced and a single mum and I am happy!
Time is a great healer, it gets easier each day often without you realising. There were days where I would put Zak to bed and lie on the floor next to his cot and cry. There were days where I couldn’t stop laughing at the situation. I drank a lot, I exercised a lot, I talked a lot and step by step I fumbled my way through.
So my feelings towards Tom now? I still dream about punching him in the face sometimes. Sometimes out of nowhere my blood boils with anger. But mostly I feel lucky & relieved. I got a lucky escape. I'm too loyal & too committed to leave, so I'm glad he did. I deserve to be loved entirely, to not be judged, to be encouraged & supported. Mostly I’m relieved that it's all over & I can finally move on and this can be my last blog post about it all!
We both now work hard to co-parent amicably as we support and guide Zak the way we think is best, we communicate freely and maturely. We are his parents and we discuss and decide everything together. There will always be bumps in the road, but I think we have learned to talk through them and actually both got better at seeing things from the other person’s point of view. Now Tom has a whole new family dynamic (the irony is not lost on me) and I support Tom’s relationship with his girlfriend so we can work together to ensure Zak has the most solid foundation possible. Zak is the innocent party, my little miracle and he deserves all the love in the world, he brings so much joy into everyone’s life and remains my main focus. One of the biggest blessings has to be that Zak knows no different. He doesn’t remember Mummy & Daddy together, he’s never seen any of the negativity or hurt from either Tom or I. We work really hard at make sure Zak is happy and supported, particularly with all the extra support he is going to need.
My advice for co-parenting is make sure every decision is about the child. Sounds obvious but it’s so much easier to say it than do it. You might not always agree but if you can always think of the innocent child first you will become a better parent. We both treat Zak with the respect he deserves and treat him like an adult, answering any questions he has, explaining situations so he can understand. It’s NEVER easy. I won’t sugar coat it. It’s so hard ignoring your own feelings and reactions to a situation but it benefits the child hugely. It’s also accepting the child will always have different experiences at each house. For example at home with me it’s very calm and quiet and Zak gets lots of dedicated one on one time. At Toms it’s loud, noisy and there are always lots of people there. But neither of them do him any harm. It teaches him to adapt to different situations and learn from them. Since Zak became a big brother we have seen such a loving, caring side come out of him and it’s a joy to see!
I really believe positivity is power because life is what you make it. I am just over the drama, I set myself a goal in 2021 to have a drama free year. I will not cry anymore. This is me shutting the door on the drama and jumping into the future. I am still standing and I’m smiling. I’m embracing my thirties and I’m ready to live for me. This tastes like freedom and it feels like the world has been lifted from my shoulders.
Now someone please Pass the champagne because I've fucking earned it !