My name is Louisa, I am 48 years old and this is my story. Just after 8.05pm on the 24th October 2014 – my husband of 10 years partner of 15 called time on our marriage.
It was a Saturday night and we had just had dinner – pizza – I make a mean pizza – from scratch. He just came out with the words out of the blue: no discussion, no conversation and after trying to persuade me to sit on his knee like a child he said “we can’t carry on”, “I can’t carry on”, “I am ending this” the ‘this’ was our marriage.
I remember the moment his words came out feeling like this cataclysmic, emotional bomb exploded in my body, my heart literally lurched to a momentary halt. I gasped for breath and somewhere near me I heard a woman scream like an animal, I ran 2 flights of stairs before stopping and throwing up.
The moment he told me I knew it was final. It had always been hard if not impossible for us to have any conversation about the hard stuff. I think we had both skirted around any issues of significance for years before putting them away. But I realised later that for him this had just resulted in angry, bitter pent-up resentment. For me, physically and mentally that moment and the days that followed was the content of nightmares. I was pinching myself believing I would wake up from this horrific dream. I remember at the time momentarily mentally coming around looking at him and saying “no we are married you don’t do this when you are married. Teenagers do this”. Oh, silly me!
At 39 I – stupidly – just assumed that we would spend our lives together. I mean that was what we promised. Those contract terms agreed in front of a church full of people 10 years earlier.
In the days, months and years that followed, you do gradually go through this process of unpicking how the situation came to be and finding a way to function then gradually, gradually taking hold of your life.
We didn’t have children and to this day I think thank god we didn’t have children as there was and is no doubt in my mind that someone who can walk out on their life so easily can walk out on children as well.
What shook me at the time was just how quickly it all occurred. How delusional I was, how naive just thinking that somehow a decision that impacted both of us I would be party to and have a role in making. I believed that marriages broke down over time and that the commitment you made meant that you tried to resolve matters, until you could try no more, then agree how you would separate paths.
What was also a lesson was the sheer pain and trauma that the end of a relationship causes and how fundamental stability and control is to being able to thrive in life. How we rely on partners, family and friends in ways we don’t consider and how it absolutely rocked the very foundations of who I was and the life I had, and the toll it took on my health and mental health for a long time after. It took a very long time, as kind, wise friends and colleagues said it would, to learn to live with my memories and mentally be able to sit with and accept my experience.
I found out on Xmas day that year by decoding the likes and retweets on his social media account he was having an affair. I have a hilarious story of retaking ownership of the various personal and joint possessions he had taken to furnish his rented flat, hijacking his and his new girlfriend’s Xmas cards, and my 70 year old dad taking me to return them to their recipients!
I did gradually, gradually rebuild my life. Ultimately, I couldn’t recover in the same small world so I moved away. I met my current partner whose patience and understanding came from a similar situation to mine and we joke that I upgraded. I became pregnant about 18 months after we met. It felt like the right decision if premature and I had a new life to focus on. It wasn’t easy. It was the most challenging, difficult harrowing period of my life but I do think if you try you can make positives come out of something. You learn the hard way how to build better relationships and ultimately you really learn just how strong you can be. I made some wonderful friendships with far deeper connections in that period after than I ever would have done. I discovered the kindness in people and developed an understanding and empathy for those who have suffered themselves in a way I don’t think I could ever have done before. I have held out my hand on more than one occasion for those who are bereft, who are going through similar or just need a friend whilst they navigate some of the more difficult times in life.
My life didn’t end that day, as much as it felt like it at the time, it just spun on its axis. That said I am not sure I would ever get married again!