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Then and Now – the Festive Season

E Updated
I remember of course the first Christmas after my ex took off. He'd left out of the blue at the end of November.

Over xmas he was sunning himself in the Maldives (not that we knew that at the time). I had barely eaten or slept in a month. I had also witnessed the murder of my neighbour on my doorstep. I was beyond stressed. I'd no income, no idea what would become of us (my ex assured me that I would keep the house, but it seemed unlikely we could afford this, even before I knew he'd been secretly taking our savings to cover up for the fact that he'd not been earning).

Luckily I'd already bought gifts. There were no stockings by the children's beds that year - I couldn't face waiting up alone for them to fall asleep. And instead of spending evenings wrapping with their dad, I enlisted the kids to wrap each other's gifts. My mum joined us. We put on brave faces. We were in shock.

That was five years ago.

Since then, I've sold our home and moved to one worth less than 20% of its value (my ex squandered everything and still took half of what remained of the equity). After many years as a SAHM, I have a job. It pays far less than the one I left over 20 years ago when our first child was born, and financially things are hard. My ex elects not to pay the maintenance for us that was ordered by the court. The youngest are 18 now and have started uni. So I've been living alone for the first time in about 30 years. To my complete astonishment I rather like it.

In the week I found a job I also signed a contract to write a book. Evenings and weekends were spent on that; the book launched in October. It's called Making Peace with Divorce. Have I made peace with mine? I certainly don't wish we were still together. I would never ever have left my husband, so I am glad he forced the issue, painful as it was. But I regret that we do not have a better relationship, for the sake of our children. It is awkward, and, honestly, if he had behaved with any integrity, we could have been civil, which would have been better for them and us.

My three will be here for Christmas, and I am delighted. Everything is on a smaller scale, but I will enjoy it more than I did. I won't need to feed or put up armies of in-laws, just those I love best in the world. We'll be cozy; we will light a fire and put on some carols and all muck in and I hope we will sing and laugh.

So, for those of you still at the beginning of this hideous journey, I hope you take heart. Five years ago I was here day and night seeking solace and fearing I would never heal or be happy again. Any kind of future seemed impossible and I was deranged with grief. Things are better now, and in many ways, better than they were when I was living in a loveless marriage and not even aware of it. It may not seem like it now, but it does get better. Hold tight!

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Hello Eliza, you sure are inspirational.
Just had my second xmas, somehow this one felt worse than the last.
My court days finally over, I moved house week before xmas, although I was extremely releived,
There was still a sadness there. HE was obstructive to the bitter end. So sad that our only child a grown woman of 33, has nothing to do with her dad, this is because of his behaviour before and since divorce.
I too though, am releived, the fact is I should have ended it years ago, but Just plodded on.
Anyway, I’m in my bungalow now, so everything is on the up. So to everyone, yes it does get better.
But after knowing some one for43years( well I thought did) the sadness is still in your heart, I still feel the pain,
Like something is missing. I still don’t sleep well. And now I’ve moved I keep dreaming of my previous family home, that makes me sad when I wake up!
But I’m so thankful to everyone on this site, I laugh now at my questions in the beginning, because I was so scared , I would go on and on to ask something Simple lol everyone was helpful, and so understanding yet were going through their own pain.
I wish you well Eliza, and everyone else too, we will all make it. Here is to 2018
Hi elizadoolittle,

You have been through the mill like so many of us, yet are still alive & kicking to tell the tale! Resilience is a powerful gift and let 2018 be your year to put it all to rest! I wish you every happiness! FoS x
Yes Eliza I remember the dark days of the first 5 years. And to anyone reading this you will find that everything is not as bad as it first seems.
Eliza. Wow. Happy New Year. I am so glad that things are so much more positive for you. sunflower