Image by bburky via Flickr

I am woken up from a deep slumber by urgent shouts of “Maman! Maman!”.

I remember who I am, check the time (7.52),Β  drag myself out of bed and into my daughter’s bedroom with a cheery “Good morning sweetheart”.

The response is a categorical “No!”, which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the day. Changing a nappy turns into a wrestling match, a bottle of milk is no, getting dressed is no, and our entire 16-storey building is now aware that my daughter disapproves of shoes.

Meanwhile, her brother doesn’t like the cereals we have, and follows me around, repeating about 2 cm away from my right ear that it’s so unfair he cannot watch telly and have a lolly pop for breakfast.

By 8.23, I am fantasising about a very large bin where I could deposit my children, before crawling back under the covers for another four hours.

Unfortunately, we have some shopping to do instead, and the stares of some appalled shoppers burn a whole through my unbrushed hair in our wake. When we finally get home, I fight my daughter for the keys, get the mail, and absent-mindedly open the first envelope in the lift.

Ignoring my daughter’s howls because she wants the keys, and son’s whingeing because it’s not fair he has to clean his guinea pig’s cage, I skim over the letter. Blood starts to pound in my ears, and my vision starts to blur…

On a glorious Wednesday morning, inside a suffocating lift, I am divorced.


36 thoughts on “Mail

  1. I guess it was going to land in your mail one of these days. At least you are surrounded by all the normality of life during what in actual fact is a very surreal experience. But the lift door opens, fresh air floods into your lungs and your life and things move on. As do you. Good luck.


    • You are right, I am somewhat reluctantly moving on…And the whole seeing it in black and white is totally surreal. Onwards and upwards as they say. Lots of Alpine sunshine you way, x

  2. And so you move into a new life, free of the person who caused you so much pain.

    The new life includes a new house…a very quiet one until you go back to the apartment building and retrieve the youngsters from that very large bin. πŸ™‚

    I’m really not sure whether to be pleased for you over this or not. It simifies your life but doesn’t wind back the clock to a happy time. My best wishes of whatever kind are needed.

    Cheers, SD xx.

    • Hey SD, my freedom is all relative bearing in mind that for the next 16 years, I will need his written authorisation to move to a different part of France, but yes, I get the sentiment…
      Thanks for your wishes and transatlantic hugs for you, x

      • Really? You need his *approval* to move elsewhere in France? Screw that! Go back to the job in the UK — Jo would love to have you nearby again! With that restriction totally broken, T might be a little more accommodating on any other points you want to negotiate…

        • To be more precise, I would need his signed authorisation to move anywhere which would affect our current custody agreement, so that definitely rules out the UK.
          Of course, I could always seek written approval from a judge if T were to turn me down, but judges here tend to be quite negative about living arrangements which would lessen access to the children for one of the parents.
          So yeah, basically I’m screwed. x

          • It is like this everywhere, not only in France. However if you proved to the court that this is where your job is and it is a necessary choice you had to make, the court should agree. UK wouldn’t be so bad, there is Eurostar, it could be worse if you wanted to move to Australia. Or US, for example πŸ™‚

            • Thanks SG, I thought it might be the same elsewhere. It kind of makes sense, really: You cannot just move your kids as you please and make it more difficult for the other parent to have access to them.
              Even with the Eurostar, or the plane form here, it would make T’s access to our daughter every other weekend very complicated. And even though I still have a job in the UK, I also have one in France now, so it would be very difficult to get a judge to agree to letting me move, even if it’s potentially better for my career…
              Sometimes I just wish life wasn’t so complicated πŸ˜‰ !

    • Dear Pat, stunned is a good word for it, thank you.
      I am stunned that exactly two year and a week ago, on a glorious Tuesday morning, in the stiff and rather grand local tribunal, I got PACSed, and now this…The speed of it all is just stunning.
      Thank you so much for the positive thoughts. xx

  3. As much as I cannot wait for the day that I open that letter…I get the bittersweetness of it all and my heart goes out to you. That’s the funny thing about life, it just keeps spinning and moving forward whether or not you’re opening a letter in the elevator stating it’s really all over, amongst the kids and their chaos. My hugs to you Lady E… for you, tonight…and really good french pastries that I can’t eat because of my Celiac Disease…..

    • Thank you for the hugs 35 maple Street, I need them today…yes, life has this way of keeping going regardless, too fast when you want it to slow down, and too slowly when you you want to fast forward.

  4. It takes forever, you think you know how you will feel when it arrives, and when you are standing there reading it, you realize that nothing prepared you for it. However, it does bring some closure. Mine was all of this and I hope that the closure more than anything comes to you as well.

    • Mine didn’t take forever, as with the rest it was lightning fast (a PACS,which is what we had, is easier to break than a marriage). I hope that the closure comes soon… Take care x

    • I know, isn’t it weird? I knew it was gonna happen, yet part of me didn’t believe it wouldn’t and is still shocked. All this for that…
      Thanks for your kind words LFBA. x

  5. How sudden and swift yours has been.

    I could give you loads of things that my LC would say. Focus on the future. Concentrate on your values and your goals…….

    Be the amazing person you are – for you and those lovely (if somewhat noisy) children of yours.

    Remember you are a special and an amazing person

    Hugs I’m thinking of you – lots.


  6. And so begins the rest of your life. You are strong enough to move forward and make a new life for the three of you. I really cant imagine how hard that will be.
    And don’t leave those two in the bin for too long – you will miss them soon and you will need their help in moving forward.
    Hugs from across the world. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, and so it begins indeed, daunting but exciting I guess, but this will be tomorrow. For today, I am allowed to be sad :)…
      Thank you so much for the antipodean hugs !! xx

  7. I’m sorry. I’m hoping that the actual divorce bit isn’t too bad for me. In Australia, you cannot commence divorce proceedings until you’ve been separated for a year which at first just seemed like an awful drawing out of the process but now I can see that it does give you a nice amount of time to come to terms with the change.

    I think selling this house is going to be a the really really hard part for me. I try not to think about it (she says as she packs her life into boxes!)

    • BRD….I think selling the house would have been hard for me too….and I tried to sell it. But the market is soft and so I’m still here…making 2 house payments. The financial strain of being here I think is a big part of the emotional strain right now. Is X contributing??Nooooooo.
      So, although I think for all of us, leaving that “shared” space is tough, staying is sometimes tough too — for a number of reasons.

    • Hey BRD, well, I think this one year rule is really sensible. It gives people a chance to catch their breath after the initial shock and adjustments of separation before launching into the always tricky negotiation of a divorce settlement. In our case, a PACS is easier to break than a divorce, it’s almost insultingly easy in fact, and the speed is another slap in my face.
      Good luck with the packing, I whole-heartedly sympathise!

  8. How familiar the scenario you described sounded- the madness of juggling so much- 2 children carrying on their daily business oblivious to what you are going through…and then bam- the letter stops you dead in your tracks. When you say it was only 2 years ago that you got “married” that does show how fast indeed this has all happened and I guess- if I were in your shoes I would wonder how on earth it had come to that. But remember- you didn’t change- your feelings remained(and remain) constant but somewhere along the line “he” changed and not for the better. I hope you were able to have some quiet time yday evening….and yes, as someone else said, a nice relaxing glass of wine was certainly in order. As I said before- you are indeed wonderwoman (as are all single parents)- juggling all that you do and keeping it all together….Big hugs from here too xxx

    • Hey Emma,
      Sooo, did you eventually shift that big translation?
      You’re absolutely right, the speed of it all is just astonishing, from start to finish, and I am wondering how on earth things have come to this.
      Funnily enough, I didn’t have any wine last night, but my life coaching thing, which basically made the same point as you: That he was the one who let the relationship down, who changed and did not see us through counseling despite the commitment we’d made. And whatever some people say, that is wrong, however unhappy he may have been.
      Thanks for the hugs and good luck with your own juggling πŸ™‚ xx

  9. What a way and what a day to get this news. Still, the good thing is it is behind you. You have my sympathy n every front but that song “It can only get better” is running through my brain, and I hope it does for you very on

    • Yes, one more hurdle behind me. For the last 9 months, there hasn’t seemed to be a week going by without one of those dreadful times, and I’m just so plain tired of it, of being knocked back down every time I get back up. Oh how I hope that it DOES get better from now on ;)…
      Thank you for your kindness and sympathy x

    • Thank you so much Caroline. Yes, the life coaching did take my thoughts in a different, more constructive direction. It’s all great stuff, but I’d probably need a daily booster shot just to keep sane at the moment ;). I’m all stressed out and strong emotions keep going through me like mad gusts of wind.

  10. It’s so perfunctory, isn’t it? That piece of paper, the fall of the judge’s gavel, the official stamp of over-and-done-forever-and-ever-amen. It’s just … erased. It shouldn’t be that easy. It shouldn’t be so hard.

    Big hugs to you. My only consolation is: it’s one more step toward being in a better place with the whole damn thing, and it’s just one more awful part of it that you’ve passed and won’t have to go through again.

    • Hey Meredith,
      Yup, once again, it was rammed down my throat when I wasn’t ready for it but it’s over now. The stamp’s there to prove to the still incredulous, no-this-cannot-be-happening-this-time-last-year-we-were-planning-for-a-baby part of my brain that yes, actually even the law says there is nothing left now.
      On a lighter note, been thinking about you as I’m about to move into our new house, new place, new start, all mine, bring it on πŸ™‚ !!! x

      • Meredith is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel for a lot of us, isn’t she? She’s been there and is succeeding. That means there’s a way forward.

        Note: Are you trying to set a world record for the most comments on a single posts?!! You’re almost there!

  11. Pingback: Why I Do What I Do « Falling Down the Stairway of Life

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