Tom sent me another email today. . .
“I have wondered how I would feel when you finally start to see someone else and now I know. . . Absolutely devastated. There is no preparation for news such as this. I feel like you have treated me like absolute shit since Christmas. I have been walking on eggshells around you trying to make sure I don’t upset things. Your actions affect a lot of people and you should have had the basic courtesy to have a chat with me about how you wanted things to go. I’m worthy of that aren’t I? So, here we are. You’ve got a new bloke. I do think we should set some ground rules though, not just you deciding what will happen because you say so. Knowing me, as I’m sure you do in this respect at least, the thoughts of another man having anything to do with my daughter is, well, I can’t even think about it. Please bear in mind that Annie, our darling daughter, is traumatised by our split. I’m sure you realise that as you’re a great Mummy. The fact is, she is and probably even more so than we realise. She and all the kids, come before anything else in my book. It’s deeply ingrained in my nature and I can’t help it. In fact, I’m proud to see that part of my character coming through when I didn’t even know it existed. Please think of the bigger picture. To produce a man and kiss and cuddle in front of Annie would possibly be a devastating blow for her, it would be a devastating blow for me too, but what do I matter? Regardless of the past and of the future, I hope we can get on reasonably well. I’m always here for you if and when you want to talk to someone other than your family or friends, remember that in the heady days of a new romance. Summing up, I’m absolutely devastated you have a new man, at the same time I’m not stupid and have been expecting it for a while now. I wish things were different, but they aren’t. We now need to be ultra adult and think of the kids.”
I read it in disbelief. Annie is not traumatised at all, admittedly, it hasn’t been easy for her but she’s certainly not traumatised. She’s a very happy, well adjusted little girl and clearly Tom is just trying to manipulate me still. I replied, but instead of attacking, I tried to do so with as much kindness as I could muster. . .
“I’m sorry you are devastated but isn’t it a case of too little too late? Sadly, your email feels like little more than truth built on lies. From the moment our relationship started to have problems I felt I did EVERYTHING that I possibly could to fix it. In fact, I am proud to be able to say that I didn’t walk away without giving it my all. I have no regrets about not trying hard enough because I know I did. I often tried to talk to you, it always got met with anger or silence. I tried arranging time alone for the two of us such as nights out but you weren’t interested, you didn’t want to leave Annie. I tried to revive our sex life, nothing. I asked you to go to couple’s counselling with me, you refused. I went anyway and tried to fix two people’s problems on my own. Months later, I again went to counselling to try once more to sort us out, at that point taking all responsibility for the relationship failing, on my shoulders. During the counselling I learnt that actually it wasn’t all my fault that it was failing and it wasn’t all my responsibility to try and fix it and that if you weren’t prepared to put in as much effort as I was doing then it was never going to work anyway. It was that realisation that led me to eventually leave you. It was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I ever did. I cried endlessly because I didn’t want us to end, I desperately wanted us to work it out but it appeared to me that you didn’t want the same thing. You never once, in the last nine months of our relationship, said that you loved me, didn’t want me to go or that you wanted to work it out. In fact, you told me you wished I was going sooner. We have talked on numerous occasions about trying again but you never once said that you even wanted that. You’ve shown no verbal commitment to us working things out. You’ve never said you miss me or that you love me. Nothing. You’ve said that you’re not sure you do want it and you’re not sure that you even love me and all the old wounds that we’d never healed got re-opened every time. And then the rabbits died and you hit rock bottom and I was there to support you and for the first time ever you did something special. You sat at my kitchen table and you actually took some of the responsibility for our relationship failing, you said you’d been a shit ‘husband’ to me, that you were prone to frustration and extreme self criticism which makes you angry and unable to forgive yourself and others. That meant the world to me, not because I wanted you to take the blame, but because if you could see it wasn’t all me then maybe, just maybe, we had a very tiny glimmer of hope and something to work on because when two people take personal responsibility for their own actions then things have a chance to change. With that in mind, I asked you once again to go to couples counselling with me. I said lets go, talk about everything, thrash it out and see once and for all if we have a future together or if we need to be mature about this and just be grateful for what we had together and move on with our lives separately. I offered you yet another olive branch, another chance for us and you turned it down. You deemed your needs to be greater than ours and decided to have some counselling for you and I’m not denying that it was important for you to see someone at that time, but even a couple of months in, when she suggested to you that maybe now I come to a couple of sessions, you refused. Look at that objectively for a minute. Does it not look to you like someone that doesn’t want to make it work? Was I expected to think from all that rejection (I haven’t even really started on all the times I felt unloved and rejected by you, this is just a very small amount) that you did actually love me and did want a future with me? And I’m talking ME, not Annie, not the family thing. ME. Not once, in the last two years or so, did I ever think or feel that you loved ME, it was always that by being with me, you could be with Annie or the family unit that I know is so precious to you. You actually said to me around the autumn time,”How could I ever love you as much as I love Annie? She’s my flesh and blood.” That killed me because I love my kids so much and yet I’d managed to feel that amount of love for you too. There was NO difference in how much I loved my flesh and blood and how much I loved you, but you didn’t feel that for me. Around the same time, I also hit my absolute rock bottom, I was in the doctors and ended up sobbing my way through the appointment and being told that the last few years has clearly had a damaging effect and it had finally caught up with me. This was the point I went back to a counsellor and that was the point the change started to happen. My counsellor helped me start to rationalise the last few years together and our time apart and to see that if you weren’t prepared to ever take the chances I offered you and work with me, then it was never going to work. I also realised during my sessions that actually, you didn’t and don’t love me. I can be loud, silly, I swear, I have an inappropriate sense of humour, I like junk food and chocolate – all the things you hated about me. When you truly love someone, you accept everything about them and you don’t try and change it but you always tried to change the way I was, the person that I am. Even from our very first few weeks together you were trying to change me and it worked but it made me very depressed because I wasn’t living with integrity. I wasn’t being me. You weren’t telling me you loved me, because you didn’t. If you loved anything, you loved the person you wanted me to be. You loved a figment of your imagination and nothing else.
At Christmas I made an innocent comment to you. I said, ‘This is just like last Christmas.’ When I said it, I meant it in a very nice way, that I liked it, but something happened inside of me at the exact same moment, it was like a switch had been flicked. I actually felt it physically. With the words came the realisation that NOTHING in my life has changed in a year. A whole year. I realised how mad that is because life is always moving, always changing and unless you change with it, you become stagnant. I had done that, we had done that. We hadn’t moved on separately nor had we moved on together and the likelihood was that we weren’t going to. My attitude towards you since then may have been unpleasant for you but I haven’t been unkind or nasty, just distant – putting much needed distance between us because I find it so hard to say the words I should have said. ‘It’s over, once and for all.’ It was easier for me to just be distant and unfriendly.
We had something very lovely in the beginning. I will never deny that. I loved you deeply and for a very long time but it’s time to let all of that go. Not because I have met someone else but because it’s just time. We didn’t manage to make it work for whatever reasons. You hurt me, you treated me terribly, we became stale, we stopped moving and growing together. Whether I’d met Phil or not, I’d be feeling and saying this because it happened for me before I met him and I wonder if it’s happening for you too but that you are merely clinging on to the stagnant waters because they feel safe because lets face it, the unknown is very scary. If you let go of me, where will you ‘go’ next? On a positive note, the possibilities are endless. They may bring you great joy and happiness, they may not, but you’ll only find out by trying and you’re not happy now anyway so why hold on? All I ever wanted for you was happiness, but I didn’t make you happy. Maybe now you can find happiness in yourself. I don’t necessarily mean with another woman, I just mean by letting go and moving on. With friends, old and new, with family and with Annie and maybe one day, with a new love.
Now the important bit. Annie and the other kids. I understand and appreciate what you must be feeling right now in regards to Annie. The reason you know about Phil now is because when the time is right to tell Annie about him, I felt it would be better if you already had awareness of him and maybe had come to terms with it a little so that we can both support Annie in anything she may feel when she finds out. As far as I’m concerned, nothing changes. Phil wants nothing more than to maybe be friends with the kids one day – down the line. Annie has a Daddy and nothing will come between that. I will always ensure nothing will change that because do I not always try my hardest to ensure that my children have their Dad in their lives? I promise you, I will always be respectful to how you’re feeling about how this may impact Annie. If and when any major changes occur, ie,she meets him, I will discuss it with you first. If you want to meet Phil before Annie does, that’s fine, but I’ll understand if you don’t. I will always try my best to reassure you and ease your mind. I don’t want to cause you any pain, upset or stress nor to Annie ,although it’s inevitable to some degree, kids always want their Mum and Dad together but it can’t always be the way. However, we can help her through this by being sensitive and mature (separately and together) about how we deal with it all. Lets cross each bridge as we come to it. First thing is you processing it all in your mind. In time, and there’s no rush, I or we, will tell Annie. Anything after that, we’ll see. The same goes should you find yourself with a new partner one day. I’ve always tried my hardest to put the kids needs first, I’ll do everything I can to continue doing that for Annie and the other kids too but you and me are over. I gave you more than enough chances, I tried everything I possibly could to save a broken and sinking ship and now I’m letting go and moving on. Please do the same.”
Tom replied just to say that he never treated me badly and that he’s one of the ‘good ones’!