My decree absolute landed on my doorstep today. I am officially divorced. I used to have a wife but haven’t got one now. I had a great house in south west London but I haven’t got that now either.
What do people do when their divorce comes through? I didn’t know whether to celebrate or cry. In the end I just changed my facebook status to single and went to work.
Despite my divorce, the world seems to be proceeding as usual. It is raining, the Russians and Ukrainians are arguing, the northern line was packed and my fellow commuters were determined to get to work before me. Most managed it too.
Work was a bit of a blur. I spent most of the day staring at my monitor whilst contemplating life. What will life look like for a 42 year old newly divorced man with two kids? Am I destined to grow old alone, bitter and twisted with only the telly for company?
I could just about cope with my own introspection but when I got back to my parents’ house after work (yes I’m living with my parents, and in Morden – a double whammy if ever there was one), they weighed in too. Suggestions such as ‘you should have paid more attention to her whilst you had her’ and ‘you need to pull yourself together for the sake of your children’ weren’t easy to stomach, especially after a few beers.
Now anyone over the age of two would probably be capable of picking my life apart but my parents were social workers in a former life so they consider themselves uniquely qualified to do the job with a forensic precision. They say things like “we are really worried about the children,” and “oh, those poor boys”.
Missing Jack and Sean, my children, is the hardest part of all of this for me. On the days they aren’t with me, i.e. most days, the first thing I think of when I wake up is what are they up to? Are they out of bed yet? What are they watching on the telly? What are they having for breakfast? Particularly at weekends I wonder whether they are out with their mates having fun or sitting at home bored and thinking about their dad.
Like most parents divorcing, I had my fair share of heart-breaking conversations with the kids about how things were going to be different going forward. Their concerns ranged from anger at both their parents to frustration that their mum and dad weren’t both going to be there to put them to bed at night.
Sean in particular was worried that I would take the fact that he and his brother were spending more time with their mum than with me as an indication that they loved her more than they loved me. And to be honest I do struggle with this. I try not to keep score but it is hard.
People say that children naturally need their mother more than their father. In my family’s case, their mother is certainly better at touchy-feely things like being sympathetic when the kids are ill or giving them a cuddle when things don’t go their way. But Jack and Sean need their dad. Although not tonight as it turns out. They weren’t bothered about talking to me on the phone. When my ex did manage to get Jack to talk to me, all I got from him was a sarcastic comment about me being a 42 year old man living with my parents.
On my first night as a divorced man, I went to bed feeling quite sorry for myself.
Graham Hope a work of fiction – the lead character in my forthcoming book ‘Six Months To Get A Life’. Over the coming months this blog will follow Graham as he strives to forge a new life for himself and his children. He will be grappling with a variety of issues familiar to all divorced couples, as well as a few a bit less familiar. Next week’s blog will look at the impact of divorce upon Graham’s social life.
If you have any comments on this blog, or want to share your experiences, I would love to hear from you.