Have you ever looked back at your life and wondered how... how you made such a fucking mess of it all? When I got engaged to Tom, Gran was cautiously happy for me. She saw that I was happy, and loved that I was happy, because... well because it was so rare for me to be happy in those days. But I know... I think... she saw what a mistake it was.
I love my husband. But if we'd spent some time apart when we were young, lived more of our lives, come back to each other as fully formed people... maybe our lives wouldn't be so bloody broken right now.
I miss him but I'm not ready for him to be back. And even with Frankie visiting, I feel incredibly lonely. And I know I did this to myself.
The little details of my life don't matter in the grand scheme of things, I know this. But I feel I have to talk about them regardless, because otherwise I might go mad.
Tom is still staying with his sponsor. The two week mark for him to evaluate things was last Sunday, and none of us were quite ready. Today it's been three weeks, and today in particular things have been a lot harder, what with it being Father's Day. The kids are... they're almost ready to trust him. But him knowing they still don't breaks his heart. I can hear it in his voice and see it in his face when he talks with them on their video calls. He says he's doing better, and he looks better. But both his sponsor and his therapist think he needs more time away, and he's trying to be okay with it.
Today was hard. Wednesday- Caleb's birthday- will be hard. Even though I'm still not particularly comfortable with the idea of him being around... because I'm still getting over the trauma of it myself... I don't want it to be the end of our family. Maybe I'm weak, maybe I should want to file for divorce and be done with my marriage... but I still love the idiot. He's never truly gotten over his own traumas, and I really do believe if he starts working through them... the stressors that trigger him being an asshole won't be as dangerous.
All I want is my family back. Some mild sense of stability in this incredibly unstable world. I know, that's what everyone wants. I know I'm lucky to have what I have. I'm sorry.
The other night... after everything, once Tom was gone, everyone was uneasy. My sweet Katie wanted to stay in bed with me, which she hasn't done since she was probably 5 or 6. Caleb was desperate to talk with someone, he called Matt. He didn't tell him what happened, because I asked him not to tell people, and he understands that... even though it scared him, it's my story to tell. But he did tell Matt something happened, and he told him that Tom was going to be gone for 2 weeks.
Matt didn't really know what to tell him, or how to comfort him, so he asked if Caleb thought it might help to have someone else around for a little while, for us to talk to, and just as someone to be around the house in case I needed a break from being the only adult in the house. Caleb accepted the offer and told me later. The person Matt asked to drop by was an old friend of his, one I met on several occasions.
At first I was angry and annoyed that Matt did this. I don't need a stranger in my house, I don't need a man's looking after. But he's been coming by for a week now. He doesn't come in the house, because there is still a pandemic on and he's out and about quite a lot due to his job. But he comes in through the back garden. We set up chairs, we sit and talk. Sometimes it's just him and me, sometimes it's just him and the kids, sometimes it's all of us. Parts of him have changed over the past 16 years, but he was always a very affable man, and that hasn't changed. The kids really like him.
And before anyone gets any ideas- because my husband already has due to our nosy neighbour- there is nothing going on between us. Neither of us has any desire to be anything more than friends. He's a kind soul. He went with the kids to the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday afternoon. They went with Cami's daughter and her father.
I'm becoming a little less frayed around the edges. There are nights I don't sleep well, I've been prone to panic attacks during the day. But by around 7 Frankie shows up, and the air feels easier to breathe.
I had to take time off work. I got an earful from Peter about it, about how in this time our clients need us more than ever and how can you put that added pressure on your colleagues?
For the first time, I was honest with him. I don't know how to cope right now. My husband is living with his sponsor for a few weeks, because we don't want to put him in rehab during the middle of a pandemic. His drinking very well may have torn our family apart. The children are still so hurt and angry and scared and I'm trying to help them but I'm not... how can I help them when I don't know how to help myself?
I am hurting physically and emotionally and I feel so alone.
You know those fears... the ones that flaunt themselves in your face but that you can't bring yourself to speak out loud? I couldn't say this to my therapist, so she encouraged me to say it somewhere.
The mayor issued the stay-at-home order five weeks ago. On occasion, I still go into the office for clients who don't have video conferencing capabilities. Granted, those are few and far between. The people who utilize private social services tend to have more means than others. But they are still, nonetheless, struggling. We don't have home office space. The kids are doing their schooling from their rooms. For privacy purposes, I work in the bedroom. Tom works in the kitchen.
Several of Tom's projects were scrapped when all this happened. Restaurants and airlines needed different messaging than they had agreed upon back in January. It was shaky ground at first, but most of the companies are staying positive, staying committed to Tom's firm. One of the higher value accounts, with more money to spend, sent out care packages for everyone on the project team. A box of spirits and mixers for the happy hours they have at the end of the week. They get on their video calls and mix their drinks together and laugh at who made it the worst.
They didn't ask if anyone on the team couldn't drink. So everyone is. It's camaraderie, for fucks sake, Lora. It's how we're all getting through this. That was what he said when I asked if he could simply not participate. If a drink at the end of the day keeps this company happy, it keeps me employed, and it keeps this family safe. That was what he said when I asked if he'd spoken to his sponsor.
The boxes keep coming. Week after week. There are full bottles that are delivered, even though it's supposed to be one drink at the end of Thursday and Friday. But it has to be a new drink every week, you see. So even when there is no video happy hour, the bottles have to get emptied. I have been offered a drink from them twice. The bottles still get emptied.
When I asked, he said Caleb must be sampling while we were asleep. He didn't confront him about it, though. He said it wasn't worth confronting him, he's nearly 16 now and it's not like he can leave the house. I asked him anyway. Not in an angry way, because if he's going to be drinking any, it's true, he's stuck in the house with the rest of us. He can't get into trouble. And he told me he tried a bit of the gin and hated it, wanted to try some of the rum but it was gone before he could, and said really Mum, I'd rather have beer, or at least some of the wine you kept around.
So. Tom is drinking, lying, and not talking to his sponsor. Aside from accusing our son of taking some of his alcohol, it hasn't had any impact with how he acts around the kids.
That is where I will leave this. I am not in physical danger, and this is not a cry for help. It is remembering the years before when he came home from happy hour with an incredibly grateful client. And it is fear at what could come.
Prince Harry has yet again broken my poor Katie's heart. She's old enough now that her childhood affections weren't what really hurt her. In fact, it's not really his fault at all that she's in a state right now. She'd gotten swept up in the fanfare of the announcement that they're leaving and made some comment to Sienna about how It's all her fault, taking him away from us.
well, Katie got a harsh, unexpected lesson in race relations in Britain. You don't have any idea how hard it is being black in this country, do you? She came home crying because now she's sure her best friend hates her. I've had to spend the day explaining privilege. Honestly I should've done it sooner. I apologized to Cami for my part in my daughter's lack of education on the matter.
We're trying to arrange a conversation between the two girls before school on Monday. Hopefully they'll get things sorted.
I realized something today, while having a fairly innocuous conversation with Tom. I have been apologizing for my existence pretty much as long as I can remember. Yes, we Brits have a reputation of saying sorry more often than most. But Tom, Cami, people at work. Everyone has noticed how much more frequently I say it.
When I thought about it, I nearly started crying. I cried for my children, for my husband, for... everyone in my life. I cried for myself. On a professional level, if a person told me they were apologizing for their existence it would break my heart. But I can't feel that same way about myself. I see too much pain and suffering brought about by everything I've done. I feel for the people in my life. A person living with this feeling is exhausting to be around. Mum was the same way.
I can't wind up like Mum. I can't do that kind of harm to my children. I know Mum didn't realize the damage she would be doing, she was just tired of feeling like she needed to apologize to the world for being in it. She was tired of the guilt she imposed upon herself. My own isn't new. But it was today that I truly felt the reality of it.
I don't know if I can get over this feeling. It's going to take so much... but even if I fail, I can't get out of it. I'll be stuck living with this.
Caleb hasn't even been home a week yet, but the mood in the house has changed. Katie has glommed on to her brother and won't stop pestering him for stories. My incredibly intuitive son has known to keep those stories away from his father's ears, while also making sure to spend time with Tom. On Saturday he even asked Tom to take him shopping for supplies for school that he'd forgotten he needed. After they had lunch and went to a movie, and Tom was in an infinitely better mood.
While they were out, though, my little girl sat me down to tell me how much her brother is struggling. "He didn't know how he was supposed to feel while he was there, and now he feels like he has no one to talk to about it" were just about her exact words. I tried asking him privately if he needed my help to find someone impartial to talk to, because I knew he didn't feel comfortable talking with us. He got very frustrated and snapped back at me that he was fine he didn't need anything.
I even went so far as to reach out to Matt to ask him if anything happened that I needed to know about. He didn't have any definitive moments, just a general sense off unease from time to time, particularly when they were around Matt's parents. His father drank a little too much some nights and his tongue got a little too lose with his opinions about how he acquired each of his grandchildren. It was meant to be slights at Matt, because that's how he's always spoken to him. But Marshall hadn't been able to understand what his Grandfather was saying, or the implications that weren't being said. He wasn't used to any of his grandchildren being able to comprehend his cruelty.
So I'm not sure what to do. He needs to talk to someone. I've been trying to orchestrate a plan for getting him that help, but I'm not quite solid on it, yet.
But something not so ominous... Katie told me there was a girl Caleb fancied. Supposedly he'd met her over the summer when he went to visit, but they saw each other again this time around as well. I'll have to ask Matt about that next time I talk to him. It warms my heart a bit, though.
My son is on the other side of the world, and it's making it hard to breathe. He's having a wonderful time. But of course he would- Matt's parents invited him and the family to visit for New Years. They rented a house near the beach somewhere near Sydney. It's a burst of summer in the middle of winter. It's sitting outside on a warm night, listening and watching the ocean as you ring in the New Year. I want him to be happy. I want him to get along with Matt's family. He deserves that kind of open loving embrace.
Back here, in frigid London, Katie is stewing in jealousy and Tom is morose. We are a portrait, really... the lights on the tree give this soft glow that would, and has in the past, been warm and comforting, but it catches our faces long, filled with unhappiness. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. I haven't read Tolstoy since I was in school, but that line keeps returning to me, looking at us here.
At night Tom sits on the edge of the bed staring out the window in total silence until he says "I can't compete." He is sure that now Caleb's affections for him will wane, that he will cease thinking of him as his father, that at the first chance he gets he'll leave his cold, modest home for warmth and sunshine and.... well, New Years on the ocean in Australia.
My chest hurts. The family I have with me is miserable. My son is happy, but will be forced into a position where he'll have to walk on eggshells so no one gets hurt. Tom will always be his Dad, but now he'll feel like he has to prove his love. It's unfair for a child to have to coddle his parents. Already there are things I know he keeps from us because he thinks it will spare our feelings.
There is, somewhere in my bones, in my soul, hope that this situation will smooth over. That we will figure out how to live in this new reality. Katie won't wallow in her jealousy when he does something we would never have a chance to do. He'll share his stories and she'll just be excited for him. Tom will get over his insecurity and his inferiority complex. He'll stop comparing himself to Matt, stop thinking Matt is going to steal everything in his life... But right now, that possibility seems... like a fantasy.