The Beginning, the Middle, the End. In Short.

For me to write about my experience of divorce and co-parenting, I guess I should give you some history?

It all began way back in January 2004. I was 24 and had been happily single for two years but had come to the decision that it was time to think about meeting someone to share the fun with. Nothing serious. I was heading out with K and casually joked to The Mothership that I was off to find a husband. Little did I know…

Later on that very evening I slipped over on the dance floor and landed right in front of him! He was out with a couple of mates and we spent the next few hours chatting, dancing, laughing and drinking, then all went back to K’s house in the wee small hours. The party carried on and we had secret sex on the sofa.

{Note to Children – If you read this when you are older, don’t ever sleep with someone on the first night that you meet them. It’s very bad behaviour.}

The morning after we swapped numbers and arranged to meet up a couple of weeks later. Now, despite being a sensible girl, we didn’t use a condom. I was on the pill, it didn’t matter, right? Well, I thought to be doubly sure I’d get myself the morning after pill, Just In Case. Life went on, we met up a few times, things were going well! Until a few weeks later. Yep, you guessed it, no period. Shit. What??? Oh. My. God!!! I was so careful!

I told RB and he was a dream. From that moment on we were thick as thieves and quickly fell in love. We had made the decision to terminate the pregnancy very early on, but then that decision was taken out of our hands anyway. The foetus wasn’t growing properly and I had a lot of pain. I had a miscarriage at about the 6 weeks mark.

Had we not had this massive emotional journey at the very beginning of our relationship, who knows what would’ve happened. Maybe we would’ve stayed together, maybe not. It may sound odd, but I’m glad I had that very early pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, as it meant that we stayed together and now have two beautiful children who we both adore.

Skip forward a few years…

2007 – Marriage

img_3216

2008 – Baby Emilia

2248_75268761832_3944_n

2012 – Baby Ella

577532_10151000223759328_82932450_n

And that’s how it all began.

About a year after Ella was born, the cracks began to appear. If were are honest with ourselves they were probably always there, but life moved so quickly that we didn’t notice the flaws in our relationship. Small nuances in each others characters that were previously accepted, gradually became very clear differences in our personalities. We ignored it, we didn’t really discuss it, just hoped it would go away. But it didn’t.

Over time it became glaringly obvious that we just weren’t compatible. I feel pretty emotional writing this down, as I’m really proud of how great our relationship now is, compared what it would’ve undoubtedly descended into had we stayed together.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share a more in-depth explanation of the process that we went through. I call it a process because thats what it was like. Once I had made the final decision to end our marriage, things just happened. It was devastating, emotional, terrifying, and guilt ridden. However, we both made it to the other side of our personal Armageddon. And, although we both sometimes have to bite our tongues, and there are usually a few incidences a month where either one of us will quietly tolerate a gripe, things are good.

I am not an expert on ‘how to leave your husband’, nor am I a psychologist. I appreciate that everyone’s relationships are different, so I hope my stories don’t come across in any way other than the way that they are intended – as honest tales of my personal experience of marriage breakdown, and how we make co-parenting work.

Dating – The Story So Far: Part 4

After my reckless night with Anthony, and somewhat disappointing experience with Paul, I binned Plenty of Fish and decided to try another ‘grown-up’ dating site. Eharmony.

The sign up was pretty simple, as it is for all the dating sites. Within about three hours of me signing up, I get a message from a sweet looking guy. Eharmony makes you go through various compatibility tests before you are allowed to directly message someone. This is great because you get to figure out very quickly if a guy is a knob or not. Or indeed if you have anything in common.

We started chatting after the initial filters had been deemed acceptable and we got on really well. He wasn’t like the others. Not cocky, not remotely shallow, a genuinely lovely bloke. After several days of messaging we arranged to go on a date, I’ll never forget that moment when our eyes first met, it was raw and intense. I think that because he had been so gentle, and genuine, I was half expecting not to fancy him. This, thankfully, was not the case…

We drank and ate, and drank some more. It felt like we’d known each other for years. We went for dinner at a local Italian and the staff totally forgot about us, but it didn’t matter. He was just as laid back as me, and we were having such a great time, neither of us cared. Then we went to a bar, then another bar. As the night went on it became clear that neither of us wanted to leave, so we went back to mine and watched a couple of films. Well, we didn’t ACTUALLY watch them, we were too busy chatting, and kissing and generally having a very nice time. All Night Long.

I’d already expressly told him that there was a ‘no sex on the first date’ rule. In any case, he wasn’t really that kind of guy, much more of a gentleman. However, I can categorically say that he was THE BEST KISSER EVER.

Andy, I salute you.

giphy (1)

 

 

Dating – The Story So Far: Part 3

 

Dating, the story so far : Part 3

So after The Beast, I started to feel a little bit more positive about meeting someone. He had been funny, smart and a total gentleman, well, most of the time…

After some wine, one summer evening, I was chatting with a friend and we decided to set me up a Plenty of Fish account.

Plenty of Fish is a bit like the Tesco of online dating. One site fits all.

I was apprehensive at first, after my first attempt at this internet dating game went so badly, but thought, what the hell…

POF is a minefield of tattooed biceps, ripped torsos, cyber dweebs and guys who have zero idea of what a good photograph looks like, bless ’em. They lie about their age, occupation, marital status; the works. Or so I have learned.

But I digress. I thought, I’ll take this with pinch of salt, let’s just see what happens. I had loads of messages – I was the obvious newbie.

After what felt like hours of reading though messages, and studiously getting back to prospective suitors (you do not need to do this, just delete them, no one will be offended so I found out), I whittled them down to a couple of potential beaus.

There was the wayward business owner, Paul, and the investment entrepreneur, Anthony.

Paul looked like a fun-loving guy. He had two kids, tick.  His profile showed lots of larking around and general mayhem, tick. He could spell, tick. Why wouldn’t I go out with a guy like that? He loved to talk about his many weird and wonderful experiences of digital dating, it was interesting to hear the other side of the story. When we met, he was charming and interesting. Less handsome in real life if I’m being brutally honest, but he was kind and funny which is far more important in my book. Anyway, we had a couple of drinks and parted ways with date two arranged for a few days later. And thats when it changed. The jovial banter was replaced by some serious sex chat, I mean eye-watering stuff. I went along with it for a bit as it was quite entertaining, and I was a bit bored. Then he recorded himself having a wank and sent me the audio. And that was the end of that.

wtf.gif

 

And then there was Anthony. My date with Anthony is what I suspect most people use Tinder for. We had been chatting for a few days and he seemed like a very intelligent chap. He was fit, really beyond buff fit. Think Adonis. And he had money, a self made millionaire. Now I’ve never been out with anyone like that before, I’d feel way too self conscious and under-achieving. However, I’d had a pretty rough day at work and we were chatting away on whatsapp when he suggested I come and meet him for a drink to cheer me up. It was about 10pm and I had had some wine at this point. That’s no excuse for what I did, but it did help. God, I hope my parents don’t read this…

He said, “I’m calling you a cab, get in it and we’ll go for dinner”.

{Safety Tip: This is what you definitely do not do}

I still can’t believe I actually trusted him enough to drag myself off the sofa, get ready, get in his cab, drive to Manchester and meet a total stranger. As it happens it was fine. We had a lovely time drinking champagne and nibbling on canapés. The staff were closing up around us, it was actually quite romantic. I’ll spare you the details of what happened next, but it involved a very expensive hotel room and the most outrageous walk of shame the next day…

 

Dating – The Story So Far: Part 2

A few months later…

After my disastrous first date with match.com man, I cancelled all online dating subscriptions and ran away into a dark hole with my single self.

In the meantime I’d started a new job, it was sociable and loads of fun! The company I worked for had sent some training managers up from London to ease our team into some new systems. And thats where I met Luke*

He was 27, big and bearded. The life and soul of the party and totally hilarious. We got on like the proverbial burning house. We bonded over Disney after he told me I looked like Belle from Beauty and The Beast one day.

I am a total sucker for a flirty chat up line

There was laughter, flirting, cuddles, drinking and more laughter. Nothing was ever going to come of it because, frankly, he was 27 and we were in totally different stages in our lives. Me, a single mother of two and him, a carefree youth with the travel bug. But that didn’t stop us having a wild 24 hours of hot sex and gin. Man, that boy had some skills!

He went back to London after his two week hiatus up North and that was that. Well, apart from one hot date we arranged when I had a work trip to London, but, hey, who can blame me?

*Names have been changed

Dating – The Story So Far : Part 1

So, it all began back in January…

After months of badgering from the girl gang, I joined the weird and wonderful world of online dating. I was NOT talking the likes of Tinder, Plenty of Fish etc, but a ‘grown up’ dating site. So off I trotted to match.com. Before long, I met a guy called Mark*. Mark was a witty, chatty kinda chap who sent me little quizzes so we could get to know each other. Pretty tame stuff:

Batman or Superman?
Favourite holiday destination?
Cats or Dogs?

You get the picture. This went on for a few days, then, he gained my trust and I gave him my number. And, it appears, that’s where things in this game change. The air quickly turned blue. We were now discussing sexual positions, domination and S&M.

So, you’d think I’d terminate the conversation at this point, but NO! Muggins here decided it would be fun to meet this guy!! The rest of the people on match.com were pretty uninspiring, so I thought ‘why that hell not?’. He was attractive, had a similar backstory to me, I’ll give hime the benefit of the doubt. I was new to this after all.

I was safe, followed the rules.

Meet in a public place.
Tell someone where you are going.
Find out real name of online dating avatar.

So, I walked nervously to the bar that we had arranged to meet in. It was in my hometown where I know a lot of people. The bar was packed full of recognisable faces and a feeling of dread came over me. What happens if I’m bringing a total weirdo into my personal space, and everybody sees?? I’d be devastated to be embarrassed in front of loads of people who I know. What happens if he is 65, with a greasy combover and a long mac? I quickly dashed away from the door and messaged him to change venue. And then I heard my name, he was in front of me; 6’2”, dark, brooding and handsome. As I looked up he was 5” from me and planted a smacker right on my lips, tongue and all! Um, OK. That was unexpected…

So after the strangest ‘hello’ I’ve ever had, I explained that I wanted to go elsewhere and suggested a bar in the next town along. A very quiet bar with no one else in it. We chatted, and had a couple of drinks. It turned out that he was far more confident talking dirty on whatsapp than he was face to face. We didn’t have very much in common and it was excruciatingly awkward. After a long couple of hours, we walked back to his car (yep, broke that rule), did a bit more uninspiring kissing (I’m not sure why, I guess I felt obliged?) and then he dropped me off at home. And didn’t come in.

match.com was sacked, and so was online dating.

NB. *Names have been changed