Friday, 17 June 2011

Blood, Snot and Broken Biscuits

Its been a hard old year…

Over the last couple of months, following receipt of my Decree Absolute, I have been reflecting on all the things that have gone on over the last couple of years.  I have found myself feeling quite weepy, getting emotional about silly little things. 

I think it’s because during the process I had to just try and quell my emotions and get on with it.  I moved house, which broke my heart.  Then I had builders in to do up the house I’d bought.  Having builders in your house is stressful at any time, let alone when you’re struggling to cope with traumatized kids and finalizing financial settlements.  

And now, as I start again, my suppressed emotions are beginning to re-surface. 

That’s when I stumbled across the following, which I wrote when in the middle of my divorce proceedings… 

Blood, Snot and Broken Biscuits

I sat there in the courtroom, staring at the judge – a spinster-like woman in her 50’s, her grey hair in a tight bun, peering over her half moon glasses, making judgements about me.  During the course of that horrific day, she did not once address me directly or even look me in the eye.  I couldn’t help thinking that it was probably a good thing that my precious Swiss Army penknife had been confiscated on arrival at court!  Who knows what use I may have found for it….

As the day progressed, the discussion turned to what work I would be able to do in the future to help support myself.  This for me was a very sore point.  I had given up my career nearly 10 years before, when I had my first child. 

My barrister addressed the judge with my plans to study photography and become a self-employed photographer, which would enable me to have control over my working hours and fit round the kids’ schedule.  These were plans that I had only been told I had to produce that morning.  In the barristers chamber, with half an hour to go before we were due in court, I could think of nothing else. The Judge scoffed at the idea, “there are far too many photographers out there…. You should be a teacher or do book keeping” she declared.  I nearly fell off my chair.

How dare she decree what I should do for a living.  She didn’t even know whether I could add up!

I found myself in the place that so many women must have visited before me.  In the early days of my marriage, I had a career path.  I worked my socks off to be successful in what I did and by the time I had children, I had achieved something that I was proud of. 

The conversation went round in circles.  The crux of the matter is, like all women in my situation, I am between a rock and a hard place. 

- No one wants to employ a 40yr old woman who hasn’t worked for 10 years.
- Full time employment requires childcare – the cost of which would probably negate any earnings.
- Part time jobs, which coincide with kids’ school days, are as common as hen’s teeth.

In reality the best possible chance I have of being able to balance life as a single mother and work, is to be self-employed.  Unless there is something out there that I don’t yet know about.

Compounding these issues is the harsh reality that over the years of my marriage I had had my confidence knocked out of me.  The whole point of my leaving my husband and getting divorced was to get “me” back.  The “me” that couldn’t cope with the unreasonable constraints my mother put on me; the “me” that left home at 17 years of age, my personal belongings unceremoniously rammed into two black bin bags, caught a train to London and never looked back.  This is the “me” that had been drained away leaving me depressed, frustrated and desperate to rehabilitate myself. 

But what do you do when you’re a forty-something single mother?  And who is there out there to help you?

That’s when I had this plan… to get a blog going.  I know there are thousands of women out there going through the same as me, so I have decided that I should get out there and explain how I feel, in the hope that it will help other women going through it. 

I don’t know if it’s going to help… but here I go…..

It brought a lump to my throat as I re-read it.  I hope I never go through anything like this again.

But I have got my blog going.  I hope it will help others.  It has certainly been cathartic for me to write.  And if I have enough of a following, I hope it will give me the credibility to get back to work. 

Oh!   And I case you’re wondering…  the court did eventually return my precious Swiss Army knife - and there were no bloodstains on it! 

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