It’s biology, isn’t it? At its simplest, I was chosen to bear his children (and of course, he was chosen to father mine). When the youngest was 13, he buggered off, and that, essentially, was that. In the very early days, when, pregnant with our first, I agonised over whether to give up my career to be a stay at home mum, it was ‘I would prefer my children to be brought up by you than by a nanny’. ‘Don’t worry’ when I mentioned that I didn’t have a pension ‘you’ll get mine’. And ‘I will look after you for the rest of your life’. I remember saying once to our eldest, then 17, that what he had done in abandoning us was anti-Darwinian. She (rational scientist that she was even then) pointed out that, on the contrary, he knew he could rely on me to love and protect the children, his job was now done and he could go off and sow some more seed elsewhere to increase his progeny. Therefore he felt no qualms about not only leaving us, but withdrawing all support of any kind. Off to pastures new. Yippee. Read today on the excellent science blog Endless Forms Most Wonderful: ‘Much of biology, and much of society, can be explained by anisogamy. Anisogamy, or the practice of producing two different sizes of gamete, means that one sex is bound to invest more in reproduction than the other’. The blog goes on to explain ‘Males of all species are selected to attempt to force females to mate with them and to spend more resources on producing their offspring, even though this often means causing harm or even death to the females in question’. Because he had the resources and lack of morals needed to pursue a long drawn out financial settlement process with various court appearances, a team of lawyers and a five day final hearing scheduled eventually for two and a half years after he did a runner; because he (a banker) was able to manage his affairs to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes so that in the end the forensic accountant had to admit defeat, and because I had no money and no nerves and bust a gut to get a settlement before the final hearing (having almost lost the will to live) he got away with it. So there we have it. Three lovely children (traumatised and probably going to have relationship problems all their lives, but carrying his genes) cast aside. Not to mention the vessel that bore them. Discarded without a second thought. Don’t get me wrong: I know full well that there are fathers desperate to maintain contact with their children, and conscientiously coughing up for them and often the ex wives too, sometimes in the face of terrible behaviour from the mothers. I know, too, that there are women who, for whatever reason, abandon their children. Indeed I don’t know whether having my experience put in context of a biological imperative makes me feel better or worse. But I certainly feel used and abused, and a fool for allowing it to happen.
On the plus side I'm sure you will now Instill to your children the importance of having a good career so that even if they do decide to have a break to bring up your grandchildren (and please don't thing I'm critising you for doing that, in an ideal world it would be lovely if we could all do this if we wanted to). They will have careers to fall back on if the same thing(God forbid) happens to them. So many women seem to rely on men for an income and having been there and come out the other side I pray my daughter doesn't have to go through the paralysing fear of not knowing how she will support and feed her children. Please don't feel a fool you did your best for your children and gave them the best start in life. X
Eliza, I am so in that circle of thinking myself. Funnily enough I have just read a great book, The Big Short which investigates the events leading up to the financial crash in 2007/8 and the few people who saw through this and anticipated the crash. The author writes that they found that consistently brokers/ bankers etc could not believe that something really bad could happen - that somehow the market would pull through. Then of course the catastrophe did happen and I bet that quite a lot of financiers felt the bottom had fallen out of their world. This reminds me of me in marriage and perhaps you - I always hoped and thought we might be able to get through the difficult times. I thought as a family not as an individual. Our exes of course were able to separate themselves from the family and abandon and in some cases like my ex glue themselves into someone elses's family. Perhaps you feel that you have been played like some of those financiers must have felt and this is a difficult feeling to overcome. For us the catastrophe did happen - we have learnt to survive and some indeed thrive. I have good days where I don't think about it and bad days where I feel played, particularly because one of my good old friends went after my ex. In the Darwinian sense, it is more in his interest now to pay for, help her children as he has an attachment to her now and our children just get crumbs from the table now - very sad but he needs her children to like and accept him so he keeps his place in the family.
Interesting blog as always Eliza. I agree those evolutionary drives underlie our behaviour, more than we might wish to admit. It intrigues me is how otherwise intelligent people can be blind to those processes in themselves, then again we have gained this wisdom the hard way!
It's hard for both men and woman I think I not go down the road of marking everyone of the opposite sex with the same brush. As a man I know I have made the mistake of doing this too in the past. In our hearts we know it doesn't make sense to do this. I've learnt I think that there is a lot goes on for men and woman that is common to "mid life" and there are individual challenges too. Separation seems to go to the very core and it's out attachments that cause us pain. The hardest thing for me after being left was to realise it was not about me but about her. Like many that's because I had suffered a long time experiencing false accusations. We owe it to ourselves to be kinder to ourselves and demonstrate through our actions and being that it was others who made the mistakes. Any "new life" they form is NEVER a bed of roses. Hope you get some sunshine today.
Lots of food for thought here Eliza. I understand that feeling of being used and abused and am probably one of dying breed of women who like you concentrated on bringing up children etc rather than keeping own career going believing we were a team. Can understand how scary it is when all goes wrong and you are left with limited earning capacity, lost youth and very different looking future. I still think one of the cruellest blows for me was that feeling of being disposable and of him obviously lusting after younger models st a time when I was having to come to terms with the ageing process and realising what little value he had put on my commitment to family etc. I realised if I though the like that it would destroy me and had some very wise but seemingly harsh advice to stop thinking like a victim. In changing my thinking things seemed to change for me -not for one minute saying it is easy and having to constantly work at trying to improve the situation I find myself in. Yes of course we are all biologically programmed but again now no longer looking for father of children one of the unexpected bonuses of my new life is the fact I can now relate to men as friends which I don't believe I did when last single in my 2Os. Know it's hard but try not to look back too much Eliza. Your future awaits.