Last week I received the paperwork to say I was finally divorced. Again. My second divorce. My second failure.
I was relieved to have a legal end to a marriage that in reality ended four years ago, but I was not up for celebrating, there were no champagne corks popping, no divorce party, in fact I didn't even mention it to anyone, not even Mr Totsy at first. He is still the only person I have told.
I am so much happier than I have ever been right now, Mr Totsy is truly everything I've ever wanted and I honestly thank my lucky stars for him every single day (sorry, should have mentioned you'd need a sick bucket!) If my marriage hadn't failed we would not be together now and I can't imagine that life.
But that still doesn't mean I think divorce is something to celebrate. I am now divorced twice over. It is nothing to be proud of. It is of course not something I had planned, but life takes us by surprise.
Of course when I got married divorce was the last thing on my mind, I was full of hopes and dreams of happy ever after and never imagined that it would end in such a depressing way.
I was a child bride the first time around, just sixteen and pregnant (yes, I know, it sounds utter madness to me now, too!) I was naive, determined that the teenage bride/mother statistics would not apply to me. I was married for thirteen years before I faced the fact that my husband would never be honest or faithful. Divorce was not something I took lightly but it was now the only option. I thought we would be civilised adults about it, put the kids first, somehow stay friends. This could not have been further from the truth. It was messy, damaging, ugly, scarring and painful. I was reeling, desperately trying to keep things together for the kids, while working full time to pay the bills, exhausted, emotionally fragile but all the while refusing to crumble and pretending everything was fine. I was not fine. The kids were not fine. Despite my best efforts I could not shield them from all of it. I made mistakes but I always, always did my best and put the kids first. My ex husband was only interested in money and revenge (he was the cheat, but I was the one who called time on our marriage). He wanted me to sell the house, he didn't care where we lived (yes, he actually said those words, 'I couldn't care less where you and the kids live' I could not believe I was married to this man, I didn't know him at all) he called me a bitch and worse in front of the kids. He was nasty. He refused to pay maintenance. He was a total stranger.
I managed to remortgage the house to pay him a lot more than he was entitled to. I couldn't face going to court. No one understood why I was giving him so much money, my solicitor advised me against it. I just wanted it over. I like to think I am a strong person but by then I was weak. I pretended to everyone I was coping, even those closest to me. But inside I was a wreck. If I knew he was coming to the house I felt sick with utter dread. I was painfully thin. It might sound overly dramatic but I was traumatised. It took a long time to get better. It will never be fine. I still find it difficult to talk about some of the things that happened. I am certainly not ready to talk about them here.
I recovered. I moved on. It was a black mark on my life and my children, the scars were deep and we were all changed by it. But we moved forward. I felt strong again. For a long time I felt almost invincible. It felt like I had made it through something so horrible and nothing scared me anymore. I came out stronger.
Marrying again was not something I took lightly. After all, I still considered myself a total failure at marriage, but I have never allowed myself to be bitter or let the past affect my future. I thought I was older, wiser, knew better. I was wrong.
After a whirlwind romance, we moved in together, he proposed in New York at the top of the Empire State Building, we planned a wedding and a baby. We announced I was pregnant on our wedding day. I thought this was my happy ever after. Only a few months after our daughter was born it became apparent that I had once again chosen a husband who couldn't (or wouldn't) be honest with me. He wasn't actually 'working late'. We were an embarrassing cliche. The stark reality I was faced with was that he preferred the company of a colleague to coming home to me and the kids. Even though I knew how horrific divorce could be I also knew I could not stay in this marriage. We agreed he would move out after our daughters first birthday. I had failed again.
Divorce is never painless, and there were many difficult times ahead. I don't think anyone ever makes it through unscathed and I was stressed, worried about everything, painfully thin again. Thankfully we made it through and although there were a few bumps in the road we managed to keep everything reasonably civilised, put the kids first and now have a decent relationship for the sake of our daughter (Tinker). It is of course far from ideal but it works.
Life after divorce is a bit like trying to do a jigsaw with half the pieces missing. You don't just lose a husband, you lose friends, in-laws, family life as you knew it. Accepting that your children now have to spend time without you in their 'other' home is utterly soul destroying. It takes time, but it gets better.
Two failed marriages are now part of my life story. I am lucky to have moved on and found happiness and now I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I honestly believe Mr Totsy and me will make it through. We might even get married one day, who knows! Without those divorce experiences I wouldn't be the person I am today. There is no doubt my first divorce made me a stronger person. So in a funny sort of way I am grateful for it.
Divorce these days is part of everyday life. So much so we can forget how tough it is on those involved. If you know someone going through a divorce right now, whatever the circumstances, be kind to them. Even if they seem fine, be kind. Even if they seem like a complete bitch, be extra kind. Even if they are driving you crazy with their neediness and ranting about their ex, be kind. Just be there for them. Believe me, they need it. They are going through hell.