Right lets pick straight back up from where we left off, sitting in Las Vegas airport preparing to endure a 12 hour flight home with my husband, who I had just found out had been having an affair – if you have not read my first blog, Starting at the End, then that might be a good place to start.
So after the initial blood bath at 6am in the morning, we kind of just carried on as normal. We got breakfast, packed our cases, tried where humanly possible not to be in the same room as each other, and tried to make small talk – how many times can 2 people say “I can’t believe it snowed in Vegas”? Eventually we both gave up and slipped into a painful silence, which ensued for the next few days, weeks and months – I was exhausted.
We checked out of our hotel at 11am, our flight home was at 6pm. When he suggested we spent a few hours in the casinos, I thought I might put my fist straight through his face and scream back…
“NOOOOOOOO, STOP TRYING TO ACT LIKE EVERYTHING IS NORMAL, I WANT TO GO HOME!!!”
Instead I just suggested we go straight to the airport – 7 hours in the confinement of Las Vegas airport seemed like a fabulous idea. But I had become completely numb to everything, my environment, the situation, I had fully gone into autopilot, I had one sole focus – survive! When we got through the taxi journey, check-in and security, I stuck my headphones in and watched 14 episodes of friends, trying to focus my mind on something other than the impending doom of my world falling apart. In my head I kept saying…
Just breathe, one breath at a time, one foot in front of the other.
It was at this moment, whilst sitting on those uncomfortable airport chairs, that I realised I had to inform people about what had happened, so I went about texting everyone, not ringing, formulating words was too difficult, over text it still didn’t feel real. I started with work, knowing full well I wouldn’t be in the next day – I told a little white lie and said my flight was delayed and I wouldn’t make it back to work, they believed me of course. It felt better to tell this small lie instead of the truth of why I wouldn’t be in, but this little exchange did set me up for an incredibly uncomfortable conversation with my head teacher the next day I was in work, I will get onto this later.
So back to the important people, same text sent to all my girls, some on group chats, some individually – general explanation and then a very firm, please don’t try and ring me, I can’t talk. All of them sent love back – helping me survive until I was safely home.
By far the hardest message to send was to my parents, so difficult in fact I couldn’t do it. They loved this boy as much as I did and I felt awful about potentially breaking their hearts as well in this process. I couldn’t bear the thought of my Dads face as he found out this man, that he loved like a son, who he trusted with his daughter, who he thought would give him grandchildren, turned out to be the type of man you do not want your daughter marrying. I also knew my Dad would feel some element of guilt – I get this trait from him. He would feel angry he didn’t see it coming or that he couldn’t do anything to stop his baby girls heart from breaking and there was nothing he could do to stop it or reverse the hurt and damage. My Dad loves me and my sister more than anything in the world, he walked me down the aisle, he handed me over to this man – who I know he loved – he witnessed this 19 months ago and now he had to comprehend how he would help his little girl get through this. This thought still brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. In the moment this is what stopped me reaching out to him and my mum, because I had no available space for their hurt and heart break – remember my focus was to survive, I couldn’t fall apart and this would 100% make me fall apart. This is why I couldn’t tell them, I just couldn’t do it. I was very scared that if I spoke to them, or anyone in fact, I would start crying and not be able to stop. In those 36 hours my only priority and focus was me, survive, get home, one foot in front of the other, one breath at a time. So because of this I passed the baton over to my sister and asked her to tell my mum and dad. I begged her and them not to ring me. They obviously did what I needed them to do, but on reflection how difficult must that have been for them? In that moment to know one of the people they love the most in the world is going through the worst pain, miles and miles from home and you can’t speak to them? I often wonder how those 36 hours were for them? How they managed until I was safely home and back in their arms.
I wish there was a way of thanking them for that moment, to be able to cast aside their own needs and desires to prioritise mine. My first encounter of real love
As well as sending my dramatic messages, emailing work and smoking my remaining cigarettes I was consumed with how much my life was going to change, the only life, and the only person I had known for 12 years. The thought crushed my chest, like a big fat elephant was sitting on it. I watched him from over the top of my iPad, the man I loved more than anything or anyone, texting on his phone, texting her. I couldn’t stop tears filling my eyes again. I knew this was incredibly hard and heart breaking for both of us, it is just as hard to break someone’s heart as it is to have your heart broken (no actually I disagree it hurts way more when you are the one sitting with the broken heart.) Anyway, there was a big difference in our heartbreak – he had another someone lined up, waiting in the wings, ready to step into my place in his life, to help him get over this heart break – that is what felt the most unfair about this whole situation. He wouldn’t feel the same emptiness, the same loneliness that I did.
This thought swirled in my head for the remainder of the time in the airport and if I thought the wait at the airport was bad the 12 hour flight was even worse. Suddenly we were really confined, stuck next to each other, neither of us able to be on our phones, to distract ourselves from the fate that lay ahead. In hindsight this would have been the perfect time to discuss, to digest, to find out everything I needed to know when he was unable to escape from me and my millions of questions. But reality was neither of us even knew where to begin, feelings were too high, too raw, so we once again slipped into that painful silence. Thankfully it was a night flight so at least it was dark – I watched all of the films I could, I cried into my sleeve, I drank wine to help knock me out – it didn’t it just made me feel sick on my very empty stomach. Eventually I was so tired I laid down on his lap and pretended I was asleep – that moment continued to crush my heart, I felt so close to this person but also miles and miles away. I knew deep down in my heart this would be the last time I would be this close to this man, and I didn’t want that to end. I stayed here for about an hour, eventually I couldn’t do it anymore so instead I sat in the toilet and bawled my eyes out – big, fat, heaving sobs sitting on an airplane toilet – what the hell had my life become? In the toilet I had realised I had pulled all the skin off around my thumb – this is something I have always done when I am feeling anxious, I am never aware of it until I am having to wipe up the blood.
It would be a reminder for a few weeks of this moment, as if I needed a bloody reminder.
In a weird way I wanted to get off the plane as quick as humanly possible but also I didn’t want to get home and face reality, in my weird frame of mind I wanted to stay in that hell, because I was with him, because we were still husband and wife. As well as him racing through my head constantly so was she, this woman who had gone from a figment of my imagination, a feeling in my gut, to a real life person, a person who made him happy when I no longer did. I wanted to hurt her way more than I wanted to hurt him, and I struggled with this for months, I blamed her more than I blamed him and this was wrong. Someone said to me a few months later when we were discussing this, “you have no right to hate her, she wasn’t responsible for you and your heart, he was” – this resonated with me so much and made me start to question why as women we naturally blame the other woman and not the man? But at the time this feeling was all consuming, the feeling of them. Slowly it went from them consuming my thoughts every minute, to every hour, to once a day, to once a week and I know eventually I won’t think about either of them at all.
As well as wanting to hurt her I was looking for a way to remove her from this situation. If she wasn’t there I knew I may be able to save my marriage. My lightbulb moment came when we were walking through customs, I remembered she was engaged. I delivered the question which I hoped would make this all go away
“Has she told her fiancé about you yet?”
He responded by telling me they broke up this weekend. A final dagger to my heart as we walked through customs, she had split up with her fiancé, he had split up with me, this had all been planned, he was going to be with her and there was nothing I could do about it. That was it, the remainder of my heart shattered. I watched him walk away from me at Gatwick airport knowing that was it (although it wasn’t really it as I continued to torture myself for a good few months – I really am my own worst enemy sometimes)
I honestly cannot remember what happened when I got home, I don’t remember the next few days or weeks if I am completely honest. I know I fell apart when I saw my sister, I know I cried to my mum, I know I smoked a cigarette in the garden with my dad – but I don’t remember what was said, but I am guessing I said something along the lines of I’m fine and I am sure that everything will be fine – something vague and positive to avoid having to face the truth. I just wanted to wake up and for this all to be a bad dream, I was in complete denial. Above all I didn’t want to allow myself to slip back into that dark hole I found myself in a year previous. I was so terrified of my mental health that instead of facing any of this I just bottled it up, put the lid on extra tight, threw a big old blanket over my elephant in the room and pretended everything was fine. I forced myself back into work the next day, stood up in front of my students and tried to teach them, trying to keep as much normality in my life as possible. I don’t remember any of this but I do remember a really awkward exchange with the head teacher (who had only started at the school 2 months before) which always makes me laugh when I think about it. It is important for me to remember moments which really made me laugh in the darkest time in my life. So the headteacher comes into my classroom at lunch and said “so what happened then?”
Now I am quite known for putting my foot in my mouth and jumping to the wrong conclusion
So naturally I assumed he was talking about the impending end of my marriage, so I launch into the whole story – not leaving out any of the gory details, I mean why would I hold back to the man who is my boss, who I have maybe had 3 conversations with, and who I barely know? Towards the end of this tale I notice a strange and shocked look on his face, he stops me and says “I thought your flight got delayed?” Oh yes the little white lie I had told work about my flight – I knew that would come back and bite me on the arse. So I follow up with yes that also happened, but worse than that my marriage is now over.
As embarrassing as this conversation was it did me a lot of favours. I had now made my work aware of what was happening in my personal life, they supported me incredibly through this whole year and continue to do so now. My job, my amazing colleagues and those incredible students really helped pull me back into reality, force me to remember who I was and more importantly to turn up. I had to go in to work each day and that really helped – for 7 hours a day at least my mind was taken up with something other than him, or her, or how I was going to start my life again.
So here it is, the end of the start of the end. I wish I was that strong woman who could say and this is where it ended, I picked myself and my pride up off of the floor and I walked away, ready and prepared to start my life over again. But I didn’t, I clung on for a good 2 months after this, breaking myself in the process. So until next time, if you are going through any hardship at the moment use the method that got me through the worst 36 hours of my life and the coming weeks
one foot in front of the other, one breath at a time.
Despite what is happening in your own bubble the world will carry on spinning and you have to spin with in.