Today, I took my Christmas tree down.
I managed every bauble, bit of tinsel, special decoration, and the fairy lights, which seem to have the ability to become entangled even when on the tree.
I looked up to the top of our seven foot tree and noticed the star sitting atop it.
I couldn’t reach. As much as I tried – tippy toes, jumping, I couldn’t reach.
I reached up and started to lean the tree towards me. Bring that tree down to my level. But I lost my balance and it fell on top of me.
I sat on the floor. And burst into tears. As I saw the star lying on the ground.
It didn’t hurt. At least not physically.
It hurt because, this is my life now.
I’ll always have to reach on tippy toes. Struggle with jam jars. And remember to lock the doors at night.
On Boxing Day, after months of trying, Stephen and I called it a day and ended our relationship.
I’m a single mum.
I’ve hidden away for the past few days. Preferring not to talk about it. Choosing to hide from it. Choosing pyjamas over anything else. Watching the dark circles emerge and my skin break-out from stress.
Turning up to my grandparents’ Boxing Day festivities, minus one, was one of the most daunting things I’ve ever had to do. I barely made it there. Needing a friend on the phone to coax me on my way. Taking deep breaths on the pavement and trying not to panic.
My family were nothing but supportive. Consistent as always.
My friends have been the people I’ve turned to the most, because their worry and concern are simpler.
Sometimes, the love I feel from people leaves me scratching at the walls. Claustrophobic.
Because I’ve found it hard to talk about. I don’t really want to discuss my feelings too much. I don’t want to break down and cry. I don’t want to be pitied. Or worried about. Or cared for. That’s usually my role in situations like this.
The mutual decision makes it a small blessing. At least hearts weren’t broken in a traditional way.
I suppose I’m heartbroken all the same though.
I let my son down.
I’ve robbed him of a family. A family that I assumed was so important to a happy childhood, up until recently.
I wanted him to have a father to run around a football pitch with, with a mother who would scoop him up if he tripped and fell. We’d walk home, him between us, swinging him in the air. And I’d make us a roast dinner, which we eat around the table together, laughing.
I know, deep down, that having two parents, in love, doesn’t equal a happy family by default. As plenty of people have told me. But I still feel like I’ve robbed him of something.
I’m frightened that I won’t manage the mortgage on my own. That I’ll have to ask for help. I’m worried that I’ll struggle with William, and I’ll find the transition hard, even though work has always meant that Stephen and I spent a lot of time singularly parenting anyway. I worry that I can’t give William jam on toast for breakfast, if i can’t open the jar.
I worry I’ll be alone.
I’m sad for the children I might not have. I’m sad for the love I might not find.
And I hope my son knows that his parents didn’t do this to hurt him, steal from him, or ruin his life. I hope he knows that I wish his father well, and I’ll never stand between them.
I hope he knows that, even when I’m as frightened as anything, I’ll always love him and I’ll always put him first.