TOO FABULOUS TO BE SINGLE……..
On 10th November 2015, nearly a year on from my husband of 23 years, Andy, walking out on me without any warning, I had cause to contact an old school friend with whom I had re-connected, thirty years on from leaving our very ordinary Comprehensive in Wollaton, Nottingham, by the wonderful tool which is Facebook Messenger.
This friend had been a source of great support to me over the previous eleven months, having been through a marriage which ended badly and an acrimonious divorce herself. Many a conspiratorial conversation had taken place, mostly in the wee small hours, when the world is at it’s darkest and thus mirroring your own miserable existence, reviling the male psyche, the many and varied disadvantages of having a man in your life, and bewailing the unfairness of the situation in which we both found ourselves. A bit like meeting behind the gymnasium to discuss the latest gossip from Maths at morning break time, except this time the consequences of our joint misery, thirty years on, were far more serious than who had missed the session on quadratic equations because they were smoking behind (or on) the dustbins. It was the proverbial ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth’ carried out in the comfort of our respective homes in that ‘darkest hour before the dawn’ time when the only people who are awake are divorced school chums, shop workers in 24 hour supermarkets, milkmen, and birds.
During the ensuing conversation via Facebook Messenger in November 2015, however, she informed me that, unexpectedly and out of the blue, she had been contacted by a ‘boy’ from our school days (even though we’re all now the wrong side of a half century, it still seems easier to refer to school friends and acquaintances as ‘girls’ and ‘boys’, as we did ‘back then’) and they had begun dating.
I jokingly messaged back, with my best self-deprecating head on: ‘Oh well, it’s just me then, collecting dust on the shelf, on my own.’
Her reply was instantaneous. ‘You won’t be on your own for long, Rosie. You’re too fabulous to be single’.
My response was to ‘unfollow her’. Not only because of that basic human need in times like this, ‘revenge’ (pressing that button, for some strange reason, gave me a great sense of satisfaction) but because this was a person who had wept down the phone with me at our unfair treatment at the hands of our respective ex-es and, more importantly, had joined with me in unconditional condemnation of folk who think that the best ‘there there’ cream they can administer in this situation is to tell you that you’ll soon be hooked up with someone else and therefore can re-enter the human race as a whole being. Plus, I knew what the next step was; selfies on Facebook of her and the ‘boy’, resplendent in woolly scarves and fingerless gloves, clutching hot chocolates riddled with synthetic swirly cream in styrofoam cups, the Nottingham Market Square Ice Rink in the background, snuggled up together in front of the phone in a haze of Christmas cheer and smug, self satisfied grins.
Of course, she was absolutely right about one thing.
I am too fabulous to be single.
Yet here I am, inexplicably, unaccountably, incomprehensibly, unfathomably, single.
On my own.
On my lonesome.
The sole proprietor of Me.com.
Still on that shelf.
Still collecting dust.
This article is going to explore the very painful and visceral issues surrounding new relationships, society’s perception of people who have been left alone, why being in a relationship should not define you, and how upsetting and patronising it is to have friends and relatives dismiss what you’ve been through as an event which can be remedied by walking straight into another partnership, which apparently is going to appear like magic from some unspecified parallel universe known as ‘When You Least Expect It Land’.
In particular, I shall be discussing the matter of a new relationship with specific reference to my own circumstances, in the hope that it will resonate with people in a similar situation, and will demonstrate to those friends and relatives who are ‘loved up’ and who wish to proffer some grains of comfort by telling us to ‘get back on the horse’, that that is just about the worst advice which you could possibly offer.
Right. Let’s get one thing straight at the start. I am not interested in a new relationship, and never will be.
Many people, particularly those of you who are married or in a partnership, will find this unfathomable. ‘Yeah, right’ you’ll be saying. ‘Oh, it’s just a knee jerk reaction, give her a few months/years, she’ll change her mind.’
For two reasons.
The first reason is that my experience has proved one thing; no-one knows what is going on in someone else’s mind. This has been a frightening and sobering revelation to me. In the past, when friends and acquaintances have said to me that their partner has done something which has surprised them, I have sat in smug silence, thinking to myself: “Poor sod. At least I know Andy would never do anything like that.”. Dear Lord, how wrong could I have been? I feel ashamed that I ever sat in judgement on these poor folk.
Because I did not know, did I?
When I thought he was ‘surfing the net’ looking at holidays/motorbikes/rescue dogs for sale/sets of adjustable spanners, he was, in fact, surfing the net for chat rooms and seedy sexual ‘partners’ to exchange erotic filth with.
When we were out with friends discussing Spring city breaks to Tallinn at the annual Christmas get together, sporting thin paper hats, munching dry turkey, frozen roast potatoes and slurping prosecco, he was impatiently watching the clock run down to the time when he could get back home and continue his lurid love trysts across the airwaves.
Three hours before he orchestrated the argument which led to him walking out, we were pouring over the menu for the Wetherspoons at Birmingham International Airport, deciding whether a Jack Daniels Tennessee burger and curly fries would be the right thing to have before our 4 and a half hour flight to Tenerife South on New Year’s Day. The expensive, fancy holiday which was booked in September, when the internet ‘love affair’ was already well under way.
So, you can see my point.
What has also really struck home on this point is how devious and cunning a person can be. Andy literally lived a double life for at least four months to my knowledge (but I suspect it was much longer) and there was no hint of any it. Again, I am embarrassed to say this, but when friends used to announce their own catastrophes and the unfathomable things which they had discovered their partners had been involved in, I would sit silently thinking ‘Surely they must have known?’. Now, people must think that of my situation, and a few have actually hinted at it. I can only vehemently deny it but I suspect that it ends up being a ‘the lady does protest too much, methinks’ scenario; I can tell by the shrugs of the shoulders and the glances passed between those present that no-one really believes that I was completely duped, that somehow I must have had an inkling what he was ‘up to’.
But I was duped.
I didn’t know what he was up to.
The second reason is that I came within a fag paper’s width of losing everything because of what Andy did. In our position, both with a career and without children, the law expects a half and half split of the assets and a clean break. Therein lay the problem for me; as I teach music from home, I needed to remain in the family home to continue to earn my livelihood. Andy had said from day one that he wished that to be the case; all through the Financial Mediation and through the various stages of the divorce proceedings, that is what he maintained. The mediator and my solicitor both said that this was highly unusual but as Andy and I both stuck to our guns, and ultimately that was the main thrust of the settlement within the Financial Consent Order, which went forward to the Court for approval, attached to the Decree Absolute.
Which was then, incomprehensibly, thrown out of the Family Court and referred to the Crown Court.
Just why this was remains a mystery to this day. My solicitor was, and still is, convinced it was because the settlement was deemed ‘too generous’ in my favour. When I telephoned the court myself, in a blind panic, the slightly bored sounding individual I spoke to informed me, in a vague voice which proffered neither comfort nor impending doom, that a ‘new system was in place’, divorces were now ‘routinely referred to the Crown court’ and ‘they were behind due to staff shortages and it would be a bit of a wait’.
Whichever was true, I spent six weeks not knowing whether I had a home and ergo, a livelihood, or not.
As if that wasn’t bad enough already, my entire future now lay in the hands of a County Court judge. A faceless bureaucrat who did not know me, Andy, the mediator, or our circumstances. However, I cannot add my solicitor’s name to that list of people who awaited the Judge’s ruling, because, curiously the judge did know her and I am therefore still unaware whether, indeed, that that was the reason it was eventually granted in my favour, which is even more scary; had my solicitor’s name not been on any of the documents, I cannot know for certain whether the Order would have been thrown out of court a second time and my life completely wrecked. Although Andy had indirectly caused this, by walking out, the ultimate decision was in the hands of a complete stranger. A third party. Someone who, with a stroke of a pen and no thought other than how quickly they could sign off their mountain of paperwork and get to All Bar One for that midday lunch appointment, could have robbed me of my home and my ability to earn my living.
Let me try and put that in context for you. Imagine that you get up one morning and do all the usual things that you do; have a shower, get dressed, have some bran flakes with semi skimmed milk, maybe walk your dog, kiss your partner goodbye and remind not them to be late home as you’re meeting Pat and Joe from next door for a drink at the local and to watch the football, then head off to work. When you arrive there, instead of finding your office/supermarket/doctors surgery/school/dental practice (whatever your usual place of work is), you find a sink hole with your place of work lying at the bottom, or you find an empty piece of land with nothing on it at all and your place of work has been mysteriously spirited away to an alien planet, all of which leads you to being immediately unemployed with no further income. You then drive back home, already in a daze, to tell your partner what has happened, only to find that when you arrive there, your partner has changed the locks and put all your possessions outside on the front lawn for you.
That is what I was braced for, for 6 weeks. I had no idea what the outcome was going to be and lived in a state of permanent panic for all that time, not knowing when the axe was going to fall.
So that explains why I shall never entertain another relationship. Why on earth would I put myself in that precarious position again? It’s a bit like the old saying; madness is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different outcome. I could do the same thing again, and, terrifyingly, experience the very same outcome, or worse (if that is possible). Which is more mad!
Which then brings us on to the matter of where these men who I am about to repel will appear from. I have lost count of the amount of people who have trotted out the hideous and mind numbingly glib statements which I used to level at people, shallow words which I was once embarrassingly guilty of articulating too.
‘You’ll find someone else to share your life with.’
(Have plenty of people in my life to share it with, thank you; why is it deemed that you have to have a partner to be ‘complete’, that the only real person to share your life with is another man/woman, and everyone else is just a poor substitute? I think the 200 people who came to my 50th birthday party, my 400 friends on Facebook and my wide circle of close friends, not to mention family, would take exception to this comment!)
‘You’ll find happiness again.’
(The inference being that I am unhappy and will never be happy until I have another pair of feet under the table, another set of smelly slippers in the lounge, another snoring mound in the bed next to me breaking up my sleep, another person to make sacrifices for and another person to put my home and livelihood in jeopardy.)
‘You’ll meet someone when you least expect it.’
(This one is particularly crass and annoying and, after the umpteenth person had levelled it at me, I challenged them on what they actually meant. ‘Oh, my boss met his second wife on a transatlantic flight.’ came the reply, with a vague waving of hands, a shrug of shoulders and a superior toss of the head. Wow, who knew? Who needs dating sites or singles groups? Clearly the answer is to buy shares in Virgin Atlantic and spend the next year flying to and from JFK Airport, chatting vainly to every man over the age of 18 and under the age of 80 who is on the same flight).
‘The right man is just round the corner.’
( Oh my God! Have you seen him too? I knew I was being stalked. Damn.).
‘You’ll meet your soul mate’.
(This one, actually, all joking aside, is very upsetting. The reason being that, quite simply, I have already met my soul mate. And, to put not too finer point on it, he buggered off. My soul mate was Andy. Yes, he “sure turned out disappointing” (to quote Scarlett ‘O’ Hara in ‘Gone With The Wind’) but he was my soul mate. He ‘got me’. I was fond of saying he was my rock and stay. Because he was. He was the calm, the port in the storm, the unruffled sense of composure when my mad whirlwind life got too much, the serene voice of reason whenever I needed a sounding board. He could make me laugh, shared my interests, provided well for me and I believed that I could rely on him for anything.
Clearly it turned out badly; he has been exposed as a lying, deceiving cheat who lived a double life and sneaked around behind my back for months, enjoying porn and other lurid pastimes, but that doesn’t alter the fact that I never looked at anyone else from the minute I met him. There was no-one like him before and I am certain that, if I was bothered about ‘looking’, I wouldn’t find anyone in the mould which first attracted me to him again.
So please, if you are thinking of trotting out this particularly bad platitude to someone, bear in mind that they had found their soul mate and are now without them. Saying this will just remind them that they are now on their own and have lost that person, and it will cause them untold pain. It will serve to underline what they have lost and will only reiterate that they are now completely on their own).
‘You need to get back out there.’
(Not exactly sure what ‘out there’ is actually a reference to, but it doesn’t sound a very appealing thing to ‘get back to’. Presumably it is a reference to going dating again . Pretty insensitive. A bit like telling someone who’s been hideously disfigured in a house fire to light the bonfire at the Annual Village Guy Fawkes Celebrations. You wouldn’t tell someone in that position to do that, so why would you tell someone who’d been lied to and cheated on to get hooked up again?).
‘Have you found a new man yet?’
(No, I’ve hunted everywhere. Under the stairs, in the wardrobe, in the drawers, in the shed, in the garage, everywhere I can think of. I must have put him in such a safe place that I’ve forgotten exactly where I’ve put him. I give up – where is he, because I can’t find him?).
‘You’re better off without him.’
(Undeniably. But that doesn’t stop you from panicking relentlessly about your financial future now it’s just one income, what will happen if the business falls through, who’s going to look after you if you fall sick, how will you manage on your own if the roof caves in? No-one wants to live a lie or be with someone who is lying and sneaking around, but equally all the worries, cares and problems which have presented themselves by that person betraying you and leaving you in the lurch don’t miraculously dissipate just because it’s better that they’re not there any more!).
‘You’ll decide when you’re ready to commit to someone again.’
This last one brings me onto the original point; where exactly are these men, who I can decide at my leisure to commit to or dismiss, going to appear from?
The simple answer is, they’re not going to appear, ever.
Let’s look at the evidence.
On a Monday night I tap dance with 17 other women.
On a Tuesday night I alternate between my drama group (where all the men are gay) or my choir (all old men over 70 who are already married, or gay).
On a Wednesday night I attend my operatic society (where all the men are gay or are all old men over 70 who are already married).
On a Thursday I attend the same drama group (all men as previously stated).
On a Friday lunchtime I tap dance with a different group of women and one gay man.
On a Saturday morning I help run a junior drama group in the morning with the gay men from the Tuesday and Thursday night drama group and in the evening I tend to go out with married friends and couples. Or sit in with a microwave chicken jalfrezi, a couple of bottles of Stella Artois and ‘Dad’s Army’.
On a Sunday night I go to a pub quiz. Where, well, I , er, do a quiz.
I work from home teaching mainly children and women. I have 2 male students; one a 15 year old boy and the other a happily married man, who’s wife and daughter I also teach.
The only single heterosexual man I know of my age is the least eligible of all; he was prosecuted for a crime he didn’t commit and is badly scarred for life from that experience.
What you must also remember is, a lot of women will have been left with the children, when a relationship fails. Even if they wanted another relationship, they are already ‘on the back foot’ because not everyone wants to take on someone else’s children. A lot of women who have been left with the children may have a limited or non-existent social life (due to having devoted their life to bringing up their children) and may not work, again, for the same reasons. Their opportunities for meeting someone else may literally be non-existent. The only men which women in this position may meet are teachers at their children’s school, the odd Dad in the playground, their GP and the milkman. Equally, if they wanted to socialise or join some groups, there is the added problem, not to mention expense, of childcare. It could well end up being impossible for people in this situation to meet anyone, and so asking them if they’ve met someone else will really drill it home to them just how isolated and alone they are.
So please, think before you ask any of these insensitive questions, check yourself before you trot out one of the glib phrases which you think may help. Chances are it won’t.Chances are that the person you’re trying to help doesn’t want to hear it, either because they don’t want another relationship or, if they do, they have no opportunity to meet anyone, so it’s even more depressing for them.
Let’s explore it further from my personal perspective. I am 51. Not exactly in the flush of youth. I am not attractive to look at, I have crooked front teeth and have to watch my weight. I now have ‘baggage’. It is a sad but plain truth that the overwhelming amount of people of my age who are on their own will have similar, or worse, baggage. Even if a miracle happened and a man came along, and I was looking for one, chances are he’ll have children. And possibly grandchildren. Not interested.com. I didn’t have children of my own because I was not interested in all of that, so why would I want to take on someone else’s grown up children and possibly their children?
Answer is, I wouldn’t.
Inevitably then, people will mention on line dating. Without wishing to offend people who use this tool, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot barge pole. I’ve never even been remotely tempted but if I was, I would only need to remind myself of some of the horror stories which I have heard from friends and acquaintances who have tried it. Men posing as younger men. Men posing as older men. Women posing as men. Men posing as single men when they are in a committed relationship. Men in this former category who think that there is nothing wrong with presenting themselves in this way (slightly more worrying than actually doing it in the first place). Men posing as Italian students living in villas in Tuscany who turn out to be car mechanics in one bedroomed flats from Newport Pagnell called Dave. You get the picture.
So why do people need to say theses things? What is it in our psyche which tells us that these are necessary, useful and comforting comments, and moreover, that they offer eminently practical tips on how to recover from this traumatic life event?
As I said before in my article ‘The Myth of Moving On‘, people really do articulate these sentiments out of a genuine desire to proffer comfort and help. They are motivated by the best of intentions. But they all just fall way of the mark. Is it really, honestly a great idea to tell a person who has been walked out on by their partner that the answer is to start looking for another one? Suffering a separation/divorce is akin to a bereavement. When my sister and brother – in -law lost their child James, aged six, from a rare brain tumour, someone told them to have another child to ‘replace’ the one who had died. This is just as insensitive.
Of course, the problem is a wider one and is linked to how society views single people. It is a sad reality that you are not considered a ‘whole person’ if you are ‘on your own’. Most things in life are geared to couples and families. Adverts for Christmas, for example, show happy smiling families, rosy cheeked children gurgling as they open presents plucked from underneath an over adorned tree, watched fondly by grinning grandparents and indulgent parents wearing coloured paper hats, the remains of a turkey feast for ten people still visible in the background. There aren’t any Christmas adverts showing the woman or man sitting alone eating a microwave cottage pie and frozen vegetables on Christmas Day, crying into the mashed potato, tears mingling with the frozen vegetable medley and disappearing amongst the little green peas, chopped up carrot and cut green beans. The person with no real reason to actually bother eating, drinking or breathing because everything is so hopeless and utterly pointless.
Supermarket shopping is actually a nightmare for a single person. Take an everyday pack of 9 chicken thighs. It would take me nine days to eat one of those (a thigh a day). Or, if I confined myself to a thigh a week, 9 weeks. Ok, I know I have a freezer, so I can operate on the ‘eat one, freeze eight’ scenario, but you get my drift.
Society automatically thinks that if you’re on your own there must be something wrong with you. For some people, it is a lifestyle choice. For people like me, it’s not a lifestyle choice but I am plodding along, getting on with it, trying to adjust to this new way of living. What none of us need is to be treated like second class citizens or to be constantly bombarded with pitying glances when we announce that we are single. It’s easily dismissed though, by the smug ‘pity-ers’, who feel that they need to say something. ‘Oh well, some day your Prince will come.’ It’s not a fucking Disney movie, for God’s sake! It’s not the cue to break into song or to start tap dancing. This is real life!
I had a real insight into this part of the issue recently, when a friend of mine and I were having lunch and we were discussing another mutual friend who is beautiful and clever but who has never been married or had a long standing relationship.
‘I wonder why she can’t keep a man? I wonder what’s wrong with her?’ my friend mused.
I pointed out mildly that I couldn’t keep a man either, so what was wrong with me?
‘Well it’s not the same, is it?’ replied my friend.
I pointed out, albeit slightly less mildly this time, that is was just that. Exactly the same. The very very same, in fact. Whether it be 23 years on from being married, or being single for life and by choice, the net result is the same; the mutual friend and I are on our own. And therefore deemed to be flawed in some way.
Then there is the assumption that you are only happy if you are in a relationship, that that is what defines you as a person. Not what you do for a living, not what you do in your spare time, not what qualifications you have, not how you treat your fellow man, not what your contribution to society is, but whether you have a partner. It’s a little bit like choosing not to have children. I have lost count of the amount of people who, upon learning I have no children, look pityingly at me and groan outwardly on my behalf, shaking their heads mournfully and bewailing my fate, as if I’ve just told them that my house has been squashed by a freak mudslide or I’ve just had my dog of fifteen years put to sleep. They don’t bother to enquire as to why I am childless; they assume it’s because nature ‘never took it’s course’ and that I am in a perpetual state of abject misery because of it.
Of course, I have the perfect repost for those who do ask; when the question is proffered “Oh don’t you like children?’ I reply “Yes I love them, but I couldn’t eat a whole one.”
Not having children was a lifestyle choice. Being walked out on by a sociopath who I had lived with for 23 years wasn’t a lifestyle choice, I have to admit, but it certainly doesn’t define me.
So let’s just for a moment now explore the issue from another perspective; let’s say, for arguments’ sake, that I was interested in starting another relationship.
It would require me to face the D word; dating.
Just playing Devil’s Advocate here and just imagining that a decent, available, genuine man had appeared on the horizon, what then?
Let’s be honest here. Dating is fraught even when you’re a teenager, in that first flush of post pubescent optimism, when all members of the male race are viewed through eager fresh eyes. Even then, it’s complicated. Will he phone, won’t he phone? Will he text, won’t he text? Is he taken, is he free? Is he straight, is he gay, is he bisexual? When that particular hurdle is overcome, and he’s ‘touched base’, there are a range of other difficulties. Where to go on dates? How much make up to put on. How little make up to put on. Does too much make up look too desperate, does too little look disinterested? When to meet the parents. When to think about the trip to the doctors for contraceptive advice. The first time you buy condoms, added hastily by sweating hands to a shopping basket of unwanted items, mingling furtively with rich tea biscuits, a bottle of Fairy liquid or shoved underneath a copy of ‘Hello’. When to first have sex. Where to first have sex. How to first have sex. When to first tell your parents you’re ‘stopping over at his’ and run the gauntlet of the disapproving looks and vague references to ‘being careful’. Your first holiday together. You get the idea.
That can be stressful and all consuming when you’re eighteen. Just imagine it when you’re fifty one. When you’ve already ridden this particular merry go round, quite a few times, and triumphantly jumped off it because you thought you’d met your soul mate. Ok, the contraceptive bit is thankfully out of the equation, due to nature, but then there are new predicaments. ‘Cosmo’, ‘Heat’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ are riddled with articles about sex for the over fifties and how difficult it can be due to hormonal changes to the woman’s body. Great! That’s if you even get that far, by the time you’ve navigated extra firm ‘granny pants’ to keep the ‘middle age spread’ in check, and have negotiated the firm fitting bra which is now required to hold up sagging mammaries which are rapidly going south due to age. Never mind about worrying about make up. What colour goes best with beige and how much of it you should plaster on are the least of your worries; it’s getting enough polyfilla and a trowel big enough to smooth out the cracks that is the key issue now. And clothes? Where thirty years ago you were agonising over which cropped top looked best with skinny jeans in New Look, now it’s more a case of which long sleeved loose fitting garment is best going to cover up your wrinkly arms, chicken neck and flabby stomach at Evans.
So we come back to the point I made at the start of the article.
I am too fabulous to be single.
I may not be pretty (although I don’t scrub up too badly); I am clever (boasting 3 sets of letters after my name), I am educated to Masters level, interested in lots of different things, can talk about most topics, am comfortable in any social situation, am confident and outgoing, got a good sense of humour, am a member of lots of groups, will soon own my own home outright and be mortgage free, run my own business pretty successfully, have no money worries, and have got lots of friends. People tell me that my smile/personality/sense of humour light up rooms. Other people tell me that their lives are better for having me in it. Folk tell me I’m the bravest/strongest/most fantastic/inspirational person they know.
So, go on then. You explain it.
You can’t, can you?
It’s fair to say that many millions of people in the world survive on their own. Some pretty famous people were single; Queen Elizabeth the First and Jesus Christ to name but two. So I am in good company.
So,if you find that you have a friend or relative who suffers this horrendous life experience, and you want to help, please stop and think about what you are going to say. Please don’t tell them to ‘move on’, as if somehow you can ‘get over’ such heartache (because you never do), or to ‘draw a line’ under it (implying that you can just somehow forget it all, can just blot out having the heart ripped out of your life). Don’t spout any of the phrases I have referred to in this article.
Instead, try saying ‘Hey, I don’t know how you feel. I’ve never suffered it. But I’m here if you need a hug, someone to hold your hand whilst you sob till you have no tears left, or if you want to rant and scream incoherently with another member of the human race.’.
Offer them round for Sunday dinner, a barbecue, a takeaway, a DVD night. Take them along to a group you belong to, or to have coffee with some of your other friends.
Explain that you can talk about trivia, if that helps to take their mind off their terrible situation, if only for a few hours; equally you’re happy to listen if they just want to vent or offload.
Grin and bear it if they phone you at midnight, or want you to phone them at midnight.
Grit your teeth whilst you spend another night in the pub listening to them going over the same old ground that you discussed the last time you were in the same pub.
Try not to become too bored by the mind rotting deja vu of it all, as they regurgitate the same grim facts which they told you the last time; try not to sigh too loudly as they start sobbing again as they regale the same story of betrayal and abandonment that you’ve heard a hundred times already.
Try to avoid rolling your eyes as they inform you, for the hundredth time, as to how much they still love the person/want them back/don’t know what they did wrong.
Just sitting and being bombarded with it all helps more than you’ll ever know, trust me. Banish the platitudes to the bin where they belong; the best and most helpful thing which you can possibly do is just sit there and grunt knowingly at regular, monotonous intervals.
If they tell you they don’t want another relationship, accept it and nod. Even if you don’t believe them. Don’t tell them they’ll ‘change their minds’ or ‘they’ll stop hurting soon and will get back in the market’. Just nod sagely, pat their hand and smile.
If they tell you they’re ‘once bitten twice shy’, go and fetch the Savlon and the anti-bite pills. Don’t tell them they’ll ‘soon be back out there’ and ‘the right person is out there’. Chances are, the right person was out there and has now disappeared into the ether. They don’t need reminding that that person has gone forever.
But please, don’t fall prey to relying on meaningless phrases. That’s all they are; illogical,glib words which, instead of offering solace, just add salt to the already gaping, raw wound. Be a faithful friend, not a desperation deliverer.
Rosemary Worsley is a 51 year old private singing and piano teacher from Solihull. She is the former Poetry and Arts Editor of The Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language and is currently writing a memoir about her experience at the hands of her ex husband. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she enjoys a wide variety of activities which includes treading the boards with Union Theatre drama group, singing with Solihull Chandos Choir and performing with St Alphege Musical Production Company. She is also a member of a Book Club and dances with Central Stage School.
Check out Rosie’s fascinating article series on how to overcome a divorce here.