I’ve always stepped a careful pathway. I’ve always been someone who considers consequences. Frankly, it drives me nuts.
I’d like to make a rash, damn-the-consequences choice, but I don’t. It’s just not in me. And true to form, over a period of a few days, a few different occurrences happened, leading me to make the most horrible ‘right’ decision I’d ever made.
I’d come to a point in the journey where the decision became essential. It wasn’t about bravery or sadness or frustration or freedom. It was about necessity.
It was about me supporting our children, getting me through a God-awful situation. It became, nearly, about survival. I don’t quite feel comfortable with that last sentence, it’s too melodramatic, but it was certainly about survival of my sanity. Survival of my ability to function, to look after our children, to work and create finances for our wellbeing.
I was asked by a friend, what I’d advise our daughter if she’d been on the same journey as me. It was simple.
In that terrible moment, I could see a dim light through the knotted and tangled trees. I needed to head towards it. I needed to protect myself to protect our children. Too many times had I been confused by the anger and frustration of MrP. Too many times had the children seen me distraught. Too many times had they comforted me. Too many days had the insults shocked me, curling me into a ball of sadness. Too many days had I spent not being able to think straight, to take positive steps, to take action that would help us. The situation wasn’t getting better and I needed to do that for us.
In fact, MrP came to the same conclusion at nearly the same time. He told his neuro psychiatrist that he didn’t think there was much left in our marriage. At our counsellors visit the next morning, a conversation he taped without anyone’s knowledge, we agreed to separate.
Trying to change his views would be like trying to convince a far right wing preacher that God didn’t exist.
He’s a staunch believer in his own truths, he’s angrily shaken ‘evidence’ at me, he’s tried to convert other people to his religion, and sadly some now believe. (I simply can’t understand why people who have known me for years would think I would have such a major personality change to do all the things MrP believes I do. From one admitttedly dodgy, jokey Tweet and some normal work lunch meetings, I feel I am now evil personified.)
It was a terrible decision to separate. But really there was no choice at all. I could not keep going down the other pathway. Overall, I was grateful, if not a tiny bit infuriated, that MrP wants to separate from me too, when I’m doing no wrong. But it makes the separation better for the children, for him, for me. He can hold his head high, get on with what he needs to do.
Yet, conversely, if our marriage had been strong beforehand, I would have stayed, even through this. Separating was not about Parkinson’s. His anger and unkindness, after all the things he’s presented to our relationship, was just the end of the line.
All I truly wanted, in all our years, was a safe place to fall. I’ve not needed it a lot, but just to know someone was there, is a pretty big deal for me. My marriage never provided me with a safety harness (I’m sure I didn’t provide all the things that MrP needed either).
The decision became about catching myself, creating my own safety harness. Before the fall was from too high of a mountain.
I know that it would have taken something truly, truly dreadful for me to feel separating was the right decision. Our marriage had gone through redundancies, financial problems, an emotional affair, friendship problems, the diagnosis of a chronic illness. And after all that, I would have stayed, I still would have been there for him.
That is, after all, who I am, and one of the things I want to teach our kids. But equally, I don’t want our wonderful children to learn that it’s ok to keep taking unkind, disrespectful knocks, even if they’re down and out.
Loyalty is a wonderful thing, but not if the receiver doesn’t appreciate it.
I write this in hindsight. It was too awful to put onto a blog at the time. My thoughts were a whirl and sorting our family was the most important thing.
MrP is currently sleeping on a makeshift bed in the living room until he finds a flat. Mostly, he is calmer. His anxiety levels have decreased hugely. He seems happier which I am glad about (on many levels). It won’t be an easy pathway ahead, I worry about that. After sadness, our children see the sense of this separation. I thank my lucky stars.
There have been a handful of horrible moments, but they aren’t every other day like before. On one particularly lovely Sunday morning, I was called a sociopath, in earshot of the kids. I know he’d thought it through because I saw an Internet printout of its meaning in his ‘evidence’ folder while we were at the counsellors. I should have known that insult was coming). I was also told that I’m part of a sex circle, involved in telephone sex, and it’s not clear, but it seems it could be with both males and females. And you know what? I don’t mind if that’s what other people do. To each their own, and all that. It just isn’t me.
I’m hoping, at the end of our anger and frustration, we can be friends. I would like to still be around for MrP, but he completely distrusts me, so we’ll have to see.
I hear that the UK medical system doesn’t recognise The Othello Syndrome, or ‘suspicions of partner infidelity’ found on a Parkinson’s forum. This angers and saddens me. I know, through this blog and reaching out to people, that it, without doubt, exists.
I worry that people in our community think I’m awful for separating from MrP. How could I do such a thing to him? But they don’t know our past, what’s happening behind closed doors. They see MrP number one, and a glimpse of MrP two. Just a few people I trust know the situation more fully. I have to let the others go – no mean feat for someone like me, who has always buoyed herself up on people’s good thoughts.
I would like to scream out in frustration at times, I would dearly love to be angry with MrP, even now when things are calm. But I can’t. After the sadness and shock dies down from one of our sessions, I am left with the fact that MrP is not himself when he chucks a grenade.
Our counsellor thinks separation was the natural course – with or without this situation. The problems and our different values before Parkinson’s were a mountain range not easily surmountable. In fact it galls me that if I had left MrP beforehand, people would have got it, they’d have understood. It galls me that throughout his obsession with our neighbour, that I was discreet. Once again, I spoke to only certain people. Now, after trying so hard and for such a long time, I’m seen as the crap one, when I’m not doing anything, yet MrP isn’t discreet. This annoys me intensely, yet going against that would also go against my values. Would I be proud of myself, of my handling of this, if I went out bleating about it all, making MrP feel small?
Our separation isn’t about the shiny bright lights of freedom. It’s about two people who grew apart, who found that life together just wasn’t right. This decision came, when there really wasn’t any other decision at all. At the end of it, I wish us both well. I actually think we are better off apart. I think – and I don’t know this for sure – that MrP is happier for it. In his words, ‘it is what it is’. Now it’s time to move forward.