- For over a decade Rosie Green wrote hilariously about life with her husband - aka Alpha Male - in the pages on Red. But now things have changed. Here, she bravely and boldly reveals how she will begin her new chapter...
Last month my husband moved out and declined to leave a forwarding address.
We had been together twenty-six years. Met when we were eighteen years old. Were together by the time we were nineteen. Married for fifteen years. He was the constant in my equation.
The end of our marriage was, and is, agony. His enduring love had eroded my defensive walls till I believed in forever.
His enduring love had eroded my defensive walls till I believed in forever.
A fairly wacky naturopath once called me hyper empathetic. And it’s true, I empathise so deeply and so intensely I can’t watch the news. A Lassie episode was enough to cause a week of sleepless nights as kid. I feel all the feels. Even as a nineteen year old I knew I could not deal with heartbreak again (a lead singer, a fan girl, you can guess the rest). I knew that, just like I knew I couldn’t deal with hallucinatory drugs or a gap year building schools in Bolivia. So I attempted to immunise myself against heartbreak by finding the steadiest, strongest man I could. A man who adored me just a pinch more than I adored him.
Turns out, it didn’t work.
The writer in me wants to lay bare exactly what has happened, but of course that would only be one side of it.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but heartbreak is a physical feeling. A desperate ache in your stomach. A trembling in the hands, a clawing, constricting throat, a racing heart. The sorrow pools deep within you, then permeates your being, sometimes feeling like a background noise, often so overwhelming it leaves you gasping for air. It’s hard to believe the man in the coffee shop, or the friend you just can’t bear to tell, cannot see the pain instantly.
Funny, or not so funny, that heartbreak happens to someone every day, yet feels cataclysmic when it happens to you.
Physically it takes its toll. I lost two stone in as many months. At its worst, I couldn’t have a bath because the bones in my back hurt on the hard surface. ‘I know it’s hideous,‘ laughs my friend N, whilst force feeding me salted almonds and cosmopolitans (my drink, if not my life, has remained predictable) ‘but I can’t pretend I’m not a bit fucking jealous.’
My body now feels as deflated as I do. My arse like a balloon half filled with porridge. I am broken. I say to my friend J that I feel he has been body snatched. She says she thinks the same of me; the feisty, take-no-shit Green has been replaced by a women I don’t really recognise. Someone who was so desperate to keep her family together she’d sacrifice her dignity.
My brain scrambles to make sense of it and will short circuit to any emotion to avoid the core feeling of heartbreak: rejection. Because the onion of layers of sorrow, anger and disbelief are just wrapped around it. And it’s rejection that cuts the most. I think (but I don’t know) it’s the same if you are 15 or 50. Been married twenty years or ghosted by the person you’ve been seeing for a few months. It’s the subject of a million songs. All of which now speak straight to me. In the book Self Care For The Real World – which my friend sent to me in the post – it says rejection triggers the same emotions as withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. My craving for reassurance, for the life and love I had, is so strong it consumes pretty much every thought. Nights are full of vivid dreams – and not good ones. I wake every day and there’s that blissful full second before I remember the nightmare I’m in.
It’s the rejection that makes me sob in the shower, turning up the pressure so the kids can’t hear my desperate gasps. Rejection that causes my tears to fall when talking to my friend V, leaving muddy mascara streaks on the phone screen. Rejection fills my eyes with tears right now, meaning a protracted amount of time staring at the ceiling because my kids are either side of me and the one thing that feels worse than my pain is theirs.
It’s the rejection that makes me sob in the shower
Then there’s walking around not feeling held by the surety of love. The ‘I got you.’ That someone who cares if your flight is delayed, or that you didn’t get the job, or just thinking that you are the person, forsaking all others, that they want to be with. For now and forever.
I feel so many emotions, scared for the future – financially, emotionally and when for when the boiler goes in the dead of winter. Gutted that the life as I imagined it is gone. Gutted I have to deal with the food recycling and having to learn where the sodding fuse box is.
The worst is not being friends with him. I don’t think there is anyone in my life I’m on bad terms with. I hope we can be friends one day. But for now I can’t be, especially when there are so many truths I want him to stare down.
I wrestle with so many feelings. How can the man who looked at me for twenty-six years like Harry looks at Megan now be so cold? How can he be living an entirely separate life, in a different town, sleeping in another bed? How can the man who worked tirelessly to build a home and family walk away from it, taking his bags and leaving our smashed hearts behind?
How can the man who looked at me for twenty-six years like Harry looks at Megan now be so cold?
BUT I have driving force within me that propels me forward. That makes me want to be strong, to rise above, to show that I can survive on my own, that believes I will find happiness.
I am nearer to believing the emails and cards and WhatsApps and messages from friends and family that tell me I am special and loved and deserve so much more.
My friends and family have been everything. Always picking up, whether pushing through multi million dollar deals (Tom), moving house (Sam), on a different time zone (Tania) or mid event with international sports stars (Viv). They have reassured me at 6am (Jen, Kel). They have looked after my kids (Mairead, Michaela, Penny, Jules). They have cooked me dinners (Jemima, Maxine), poured me wine (Gemma, Anna), got me work (Amy, Nicola, Sarah, Tash), got outraged on my behalf (Nadine, Susannah), empathised (Sue, Annabel). They have rearranged my house (Hils), invited me on holiday (Em, Sian, Geoff). They have pumped up my tyres (Will), sent me flowers (Ellie, Harry) made me cookies (Lindsay). And they have made me feel safe (mum, Geoff, Ann, Amy, Nicky, Pete, A Liz).
I’m certain I don’t want to live consumed by anger or bitterness. I also know that there is a different version of me that can emerge. One that can be happy.
I’m certain i don’t want to live consumed by anger or bitterness
I want to look at it like an outsider would and see how to achieve the best possible outcome. I know (classic therapy speak) I can’t control what’s happened, only how I react to it.
Last year my friend JT got made redundant. It made me feel sick for him. He’s got three kids and a whopping mortgage. His reaction? He was cool, he was pragmatic, he said ‘it will all work out’. And it did.
Don’t get me wrong, I know from my extensive Googling you must go through the pain, not numb it with drugs/booze/wild sex (now there’s a thought). I need to channel my natural optimism (the same optimism that means I’ll always think I can get away with five minutes extra on the car park).
And I’m going approach this like anything from a dodgy pelvic floor (erm, this now needs urgent attention) to a skin condition. I’m going to write about it – interview the experts, meet the people that have survived then thrived.
I’m going to go on crazy retreats and get Reiki and (another) midlife ear piercing. I’m sure as hell going to get my bikini line lasered (although, shit, I hear bushes are back? Will they be like the brows, where a ‘skimpy’ will look cheap and dated?). I’m going to sell my rings and use the money for adventures. I might even go on some dates. (I find that prospect terrifying and exciting in equal measure).
And you know what? Even in the past few weeks I’ve realised I am capable. I am stronger than I thought I was. The house has not fallen apart. I have not fallen apart.
And as for that feeling of being held? Someone who cares if your plane is delayed or you’ve had a crappy day? Well, newsflash, now I know there’s an army of people who do.
But for now though this is what’s getting me through:Accepting kindness. The lasagnes left in my porch, the Sunday dinner invites, the girls nights, the holidays. I’m saying ‘yes, thank you’.
Taking drugs – not coke or meth, but a low dose SSRI – undoubtedly has stopped me spinning over the edge.
Small wins. A fart free bedroom, lots of lights on, heating ramped up to sub tropical, dinners that don’t always involve meat and two veg, Gogglebox.
My children, my friends, my family, my mum. My mum. Thinking of what I’ve got, rather than what I’ve lost.