I woke up this morning in a foriegn country. Staring at a wardrobe where there should only have been a window. For the first time since he left I found myself lying on Marks side of the bed, finally allowing myself the bliss of filling the gap where he used to be, all by myself. (I had thought I was going to have to rent it out: Room in kingsize bed to let. Suitable for professional male. All mod con’s provided.)
It was the strangest thing. Instead of waking to a body stiff with making space for a man who doesn’t exist, I woke up with tingly toes. Arms flung above my head. Legs sprawled diagonally across my paisley eiderdown. Relaxed. Accepting. Ready to face the morning.
Next week will be a year to the day that Mark left. Next week I will celebrate one year of single parenthood, with all the tears, grief and loneliness it has entailed alongside occasional moments of sheer exhilaration, pride and quietly spoken contentment. Where did that year go? There are I think, moments of it I have obliterated from my mind.
Last Friday I found myself standing in line at Mcdonalds with one of my teenage sweethearts. Micheal is his name. No longer a gangly teenager but a solid, reassuring looking man with a wife and a scrumptious little babba of his own. We chatted about our respective families. Behaved in an astonished manner to find ourselves living on each others doorstep again. Laughed about the way we were and finally into the comfortable silence I told him that Mark had left us. Me and my frizzy haired babba. The child currently to be seen shoving french fries into his mouth like he’d never been fed.
Like everybody who ever knew us, Micheal was visibly surprised. And after the “whys”, and the “was there someone elses?”, he took my hand, and staring at nails bitten to the quick, said, well if it’s only been a year, I suppose the mourning has only just begun.”
Has it? Have the past twelve months been nothing other than a period of necessary shock? Is that why supermarkets make me cry lately? Because families wander up and down the aisles and I’m only just beginning to understand that from now on it’s just me and Finn? That there isn’t a bored looking Daddy wandering behind us throwing cans of baby carrots I would never dream of buying into the trolley? That he isn’t coming home merely so I can sub-exist in an idyll both of us were suffocated by?
I have, I think, made a lot of mistakes since he left. Read through the archives and you will find me convincing myself that I am ok. That life is fine and there is no room for suggesting otherwise. It just wouldn’t do, and so instead you will trace moments of self obsession. A torrid affair I hardly began to describe to you but certainly wasn’t emotionally ready to handle. Scott, oh Scott, oh Scott. Mild depression draped in damask and vintage velvet and a web of gentle deceit spun for my own survival.
And if you know me like so many of you do, if you have the kind of empathy so many women are blessed with, you will have marked this and forgiven me. Held my hand and let me talk my way out of one more date with one more man with ulterior motives or more baggage than I can handle. Reminded me to get up, smudge on my lip gloss, bake cakes and keep watering my seeds. To live in the day, not in the past and to believe. Yes, mostly to believe.
And I do. Last night I ate tapas with a friend. A man who doesn’t make my tummy tingle but who reminds me what life is about. He laughs too much. Consumes food and life with equal pleasure. Gestures wildly and is slowly teaching me the art of being happy for happinesses sake. Because he sings to me. On the phone and in the car. Cheery bellowed tunes sung so loud I have to hold the phone away from my ear. And he makes no promises and tells no lies because I am not the love of his life and he isn’t the love of mine, and that is ok. I don’t have to be head over heels. I don’t have to find a replacement Daddy for my babba. Don’t have to hold Scott up as the measure of all my dreams. Want to but don’t have to. Don’t have to, don’t have to, don’t have to…
I can instead dance around my living room with a man who makes me giggle, I can throw a party next week in celebration of survival and independance (Wanna come??) and above all else, I can wake up facing my wardrobe and see life, in all its messy painted glory, from another new point of view…
One year on. Whole new horizons. And a boat only slightly splintered…