Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Towering Inferno

I'm not very good at angst. Weeping delicately into a handkerchief is really not my style and a tendency to see the funny side* of any situation may give the impression that I am being glib and flippant about a momentous decision; that of ending my marriage of nearly 13 years.

'Ending a marriage' sounds so calm and measured but let's be brutally honest - in doing so I am irreversibly changing the course of my children's lives; destroying the world of a good, kind, decent man. Dismantling the lives of those closest to me - for what? Pursuit of my own happiness - or more accurately - a release from my unhappiness. If I wasn't me I'd slap me. Stupid cow.

With only the tiniest bit of hindsight, I can best describe my marriage in recent years like being trapped in a burning building. As the flames of misery & despair start to burn (yes it's one of those corny, crap analogies) I've made my way up to the next floor (a bigger house, another baby, a holiday perhaps) where the air is clear and I could still breathe for a little while.

A week ago I reached the top of that building and guess what - there's nowhere to go. My choice - slow & painful or quicker but very messy. I know I had to jump but nothing prepared me for the horror of it all. Never before have I felt physically sick with the sheer terror of the unknown. I look down, into the future. There's no-one to catch me, no safety net; just other people milling around as best they can - friends and family looking up at me 'WTF is she doing?' written all over their faces.

So, if you see a 42 yr old mother of two face down on the pavement, splattered with self-doubt and self-loathing, that'll be me. If you see me on Twitter talking my usual rubbish it's not that I'm not desperately sad; I'm just distracting myself from the undoubted wretchedness the next few months will bring.

*My favourite post-Armageddon comedy moment so far is a text from a wonderful friend who expressed her shock, concern and love followed by the words 'you've really fucked up our dinner party seating plan though'. Brilliant! Made me laugh out loud and helped me ignore the huge hole I've bitten in my lip to prevent myself collapsing in floods of tears in the supermarket.


  1. Gosh, wondered why you hadn't blogged for ages, you must have had a lot going on. I wish you well for the future. You wouldn't have made this decision without giving it a lot of thought, so I hope everything works out well for you and the kids.

  2. I'm thinking of you. Very much. As the daughter of parents divorcing at 68 & 64, let me tell you, far better for them now than in twenty years time...LLGxx

  3. I am so very, very sorry to hear this and that you are of course in Hell at the moment and have been suffering for a very, very long time. I will DM you my e-mail address and maybe we could go out and get rat-arsed together next time I'm in your neck of the woods. And although this will be of no comfort - this is a bloody good post. Fx

  4. Dearest Clare,

    I have enjoyed your Twitter persona throughout the months and have found you to be a tremendously kind, personable, intelligent, interesting woman. Of course, in the Twitter world we can only know so much in so few words, in so little time. Obviously, not being your nearest and dearest, I had no idea the struggle you were suffering through. You never showed a sign of strain or pause when it came to a laugh or witty banter. I believe that you have an excellent head on your shoulders and you are making a sound decision. This is not 1880. Divorce is not frowned upon or looked at as a failure. I understand the feeling of guilt and fear. The lack of a safety net when he has been yours for so long. But believe me, YOU, have made this decision so you have spun your own net in many ways. Also, and this is very superficial, you are extremely attractive and young, and I have no doubt that in time, you will find another net spun with stronger netting that suits you better. I believe that your inferno is not as hot as you believe to be. The smoke is clouding your vision. Just remember, when the fire cools and the air clears you will be safe and not burnt. Maybe slightly scarred, but not in any danger. I hope to see you blogging more now and reaching out. It will be wonderful to hear of your progress. With many warm regards and admiration for your strength---xoxoxox---One of 365

  5. Going through a divorce is something like hitting turbulence on a flight. When you're in the middle of it you wonder if you're going to come out the other side alive, but you keep a stiff upper lip (whilst biting the trembling lower one) and try to focus on your book/crossword/work/inflight movie to hide the turmoil going on inside.

    But once you're through the bumpy bits, you sigh with relief, smile a little wearily, and look forward to your new destination.

    Hang on in there - we're all rooting for you.

  6. Dear Clare,

    You are lovely and brave to write all of this and you know you have friends out here even you can turn to.

    My parents lived unhappily together for most of my childhood and it was horrible. I am sure you're doing the right thing. And if you are happy, your children will be happy. It goes without saying.

    Much love being sent across the oceans toward you,

    Bumble x

  7. Good luck Clare. Keep strong and it will all work out. Hopefully the hardest part will soon be over and you can move on with sorting out the details.

  8. Hi Clare,
    I don't know you at all, but I think you've got the "I'm over forty and is this going to be it?"-bug. Within the last two years I've seen two close friends wreck their outwardly picture-perfect marriages being 43 and 44 years of age. They both have changed their lives for the better and you certainly seem to be the kind of woman who can do so as well.

  9. Clare

    So shocked. Your world must be upside down at the moment. I am sure you are making the right decision, and have the wit and compassion to carry on making the right decisions as the weeks pass.

    My closest friend has did the same last year (her version of escaping to the next floor of the burning building was a move from Australia to England, no less, which just removed all the fog from a marriage that was truely over, so in effect brought the end closer). She is now so much happier and says divorce is like taking-off a very heavy back pack.

    And better still I get to chat with her about other stuff, not just variations on 'why my husband is crap'.

    So best of luck. Angela.

  10. Having been through a divorce myself, albeit a much shorter marriage and only 1 child, and at the tender age of just 30, I can totally empathise with you. In my niaive thoughts, everything would be much better once I was out. Except it wasn't once the initial euphoria wore off. It was just slightly different as I still had the daily childcare to do except now I really was doing it on my own!

    Although I know I made the right decision I wish sometimes that we'd both have tried to work things out. In a cruel irony getting divorced taught me so much about relationships, marriage and myself that if it were now we wouldn't split up! That's a kicker!

    It has taken me 4 years of wound licking (even though it was my decision), intense therapy and self discovery to feel whole again and meet a wonderful man I feel able to make a life with.

    You will discover who your friends are in the next weeks and months and it may not always be who you think.

    Good luck and keep blogging.

  11. This is very hard, very scary and I think you are very brave.
    I know you must be worrying about the future and but as one of my favourite writers once said "Your old life is like a car crash that you are walking away from. All you can see is the wreck and the flames. But you will be just fine. Just keep walking"
    We are all rooting for you.
    I also don't think you need to worry about the 42 thing. You are beautiful (we can all see that!) and clever and kind and funny. You've just been locked away in a tower and you need to come out and play - you'll find there are lots of lovely people out there who'll appreciate you.


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