I left my husband soon after I turned fifty. I hadn’t planned it. I’d thought about it, obsessed and agonized over it. I spent hours with my therapists and even more with my girlfriends. I had anxiety and panic attacks. A few near flings. I wept from time to time with my husband, and I gulped down anti-depressants. But I never thought I would have the strength, after 18 years, with three teenage children, and a marriage that wasn’t even actually that bad, to leave. But then, one night, out of the blue, I did. A BOOM, BANG, KAPOW moment. A little madness. It came out on a Wednesday night, 10 pm, while Man U played Man City. ”I can’t do this anymore”, I stated. “I can’t be married”.
My timing was not good. It was during the final of the Barclays Premier League. Possibly the most important thing in my soon to be ex-husband’s life. It was also our 18th anniversary. Initially, my husband didn’t take his eyes off the TV screen. But, when I said it again, this time with a catch in my throat, he looked at me. I could see he was torn between the soccer and my very important statement. To his credit, he switched the television off. ”I thought we were so much better than we’ve ever been,” he said, clearly in shock. ”I thought so too. But I’m pretending. We’re pretending. You have some egg yolk on your beard.”
He wiped it off with his sleeve, while he tried to take in what I’d just said. Accusations followed. Tears, shock and fury. All the things that happen when a marriage ends happened. We yelled, cried, slammed doors and threw things. But we never tried to fix anything. We’d tried before, and I was adamant that I did not want to try again. My husband insisted we met with a counselor. I was adamant I did not want counseling. Again. I wanted out.
And so, with him feeling bewildered, and me being bitchy about the egg yolk that always seemed to be on his beard, we agreed, together, over swollen eyes and snotty noses, out was the way to go. And we decided (after more discussions, meetings, accusations, and some almost understandings) to tell the children. That wasn’t so well-timed either. Valentine’s Day. Again, unplanned, and while I probably ruined their idea of romance for ever more, we had to tell them the truth. There and then.
The disbelief, the fury, the wrath of the children all followed. Getting used to my older son calling me “SHE” , and not talking to me for a week, was hard. Holding my daughter while she sobbed and told me she was never falling in love – heartbreaking. Almost as hard as telling my mother. Whose immediate response was “It’s your fault, you know…” And telling my father, whose response, was “You’re a brave woman, I wish I’d had the courage to leave your mother years ago.”
And then, finally, the splitting of possessions, working out finances and working out time with the children. We were both fair. And calm. Remarkably so. I gave up everything that I knew. Everything that was safe and comfortable. I gave up a husband who thought he loved me (but didn’t), and one from whom I had grown apart.
So, after five years of blissful ‘fuck-me-immediately-please’ marriage, six years of ‘oh-shit-I-have-a-headache-and-the-kids-are-outside-the-door-marriage, three years of bland sitting-in-front-of-the-TV marriage, two blocked out years, and a couple with one-of-us-in-huge-crisis marriage, my husband moved out. And then it was me. In a large house. With three teenage kids who spoke in grunts. Four dogs. A housekeeper with OCD. A gardener with HIV. No money. And a lot of time. And a tingling between my thighs that needed filling.