A New Relationship

Working in Sales seemed to involve a fair amount of friendly banter. However, once I was divorced, I found it much harder to joke in in case anything I said was  taken as a come-on.  Divorcee was not a hat I wore comfortably. If I dressed in anything short or tight I felt as if people, women actually, would think I was a slut and deserved to be divorced. If I tried to look ‘sensible’, I ended up looking frumpy, and I felt as if people, men actually, thought I was a dowdy freak and it was no wonder my husband left me.

One day one of my customers invited me to get a team together for a game of beach volleyball.  I put a notice on the board, and the first person to sign up was a project manager named Vaughn. He worked in a different department so we seldom bumped into each other in the office. He was really enthusiastic about sport, and encouraged many employees to join the volleyball team. As the sport became more popular, we decided to approach the General Manager for some sponsorship. He agreed, but only if we created a Sports and Social Club with a constitution and committee. We co-opted someone from the accounts department and wrote a lengthy constitution.

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At the first official general meeting, Vaughn was elected chairman and I was secretary. Thus we found ourselves thrown together several times a week as we planned a variety of functions and produced a simple newsletter.

Vaughn had been divorced slightly longer than me and helped me feel less of a failure in the relationship business. The first time he asked me out for lunch we were both nervous. We were so inhibited all we could manage to eat were the olives from the Greek salad. Strange how a different slant on a relationship changed our behaviour. Suddenly on our own, we regressed to adolescent self-consciousness.

But we went out again, and it all became easier. We discovered common interests. We both liked wine. Volleyball had been a ‘beer out of the can’ affair. Winter came, and it was good to sit and relax over a fine bottle of red. As we peeled away the outer layers of each other’s personalities we discovered new depths within ourselves.

Around this time Edward and I experienced a role reversal. One night I came home around ten thirty, to find him sitting up, hair standing on end from running his fingers through it.

‘Where on earth have you been?’ he asked. ‘Do you realise it’s half past ten?’

I found the whole situation quite hilarious, bearing in mind the number of nights I’d lain awake worrying about him. But in the sober light of day, I did realise I needed to set a better example and keep our lines of communication open.

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Darkness and Light

There followed a rather dark time between Michael and I culminating in a mutual decision to apply for a divorce. But into that darkness came an unexpected ray of brightness.

Although Nikki had not planned to become a mother at the tender age of nineteen, she found herself blessed by pregnancy, and as the baby grew inside her, so her sparkle and joe de vivre returned. When baby Megan arrived, perfect and beautiful, it was the answer to another prayer.

Telling the children about the divorce was painful, as we felt we had let them down, but both Michael and I believed we would be better parents individually.

I selfishly assumed that both Edward and Nikki plus baby Megan would come and live with me, and was quite taken aback when they decided between themselves that Edward should come with me, as I would need a man about the house, and Nikki would stay with her father, to keep him company. It was logical, as we could only afford a two-bedroomed flat for me. Michael would retain the large family home we had lived in for the past five years.

The day the truck arrived to load up the things Eddie and I were taking, Nikki and I stood in the driveway hugging and crying. It was the end of an era. I felt an immediate change in status. I had swapped the comfortable position of ‘married with children’ to ‘divorcee’. I hated it. I felt a failure. I felt ashamed. I felt too embarrassed to go to church.  I was even embarrassed to go to the shops in case I met friends from my previous life, people I thought would judge me and then have to decide between Michael and me. As many of our friends had been made through either Michael’s work or his cricket, I didn’t expect many of them would be rushing round to visit me in my little flat.

There was also the feeling that I might pose a threat. Women are reluctant to invite a recently divorced female to their parties. You might cry and be an embarrassment. Or you might try to flirt with their husbands. Or their husbands might assume you would be sexually frustrated and they could help out….Anyway, it makes the number uneven around the table.

Having Eddie with me was the best thing for both of us. It forced me to cook a decent meal every night. He did all the male things like putting up curtain rails and hanging pictures and I proudly watched his self-confidence grow. We painted walls together, and watched videos, and I realised that I hadn’t lost the thing I treasured most of all. I was still a mother.

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The first Christmas was painful. We had agreed that the whole family including Michael would spend Christmas Day at my place. On Christmas Eve, Eddie and I sat down together and tucked into our roast turkey dinner, after which we flopped, exhausted from overindulgence, and watched a movie. The next day Michael and the girls arrived for cold meats and salads. Then they all went off to various friends’ places, leaving baby Megan with me. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening holding her and crying into her little blanket. But she seemed to understand, and gave me great comfort.