Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum



In the months after D-day, I started to realise that what I was feeling was more than just “a bit upset,” or, “having a bit of a sad moment.” I was grief stricken. And it took me a little while to process why. Fully.

I had been very young, but very deliberate and communicative about the start of our relationship. I told Roger, when he invited me to move in with him – as the lease on my flat was up, it was late summer, my “summer” job had been offered to me on a permanent contract, and I had decided to take some time out from trying to find what it was I wanted to do at university (I had already tried two different unis and three different degrees, two were conjoint) – that I wasn’t the kind of person to just take the easy way out, to just move in with a guy I had only known for a few weeks, for fun. Living with a man was something I only wanted to do once, and do it with both of us fully committed. I think I knew I never wanted to marry, and that this was my version of what so many people do in getting married. So, I discussed it in a fairly serious way with him. He said he wanted me to be with him forever. So. We did it. I moved in. I was “hitched.”

See, I always knew that happy relationships are one of the keys to longevity and contentment. I was absolutely sure he was the right guy for me. Since that day, we had always planned and discussed how our lives would be, and how lucky we were to have found someone who “got” the other. We were really in love. And we stayed that way for twenty years. I stayed that way for even longer. I knew that I wanted to grow old, to watch him change, mature, age, etc. I wasn’t scared we would find each other unattractive as the wrinkles pressed themselves into our skin, the grey hairs sprouted (everywhere!) and the bodies started to sag. I wasn’t worried he would find someone else. He was not about appearances, our bond went far, far deeper. I KNEW we were one of the lucky couples.

This morning, I read an article entitled, “Single Again.” About death of a partner later in life. And how soul-destroying it can be. It was a piece on social networks as life savers to the elderly on widowhood. The first widower interviewed spoke of how he met his wife – a little later than many of the era at 37 – and proposed to her after meeting her only two or three times. They went onto share a wonderful marriage that lasted until her death 13 years ago, after 34 years of very happy marriage. “It was heartbreaking. It was hard. I’ve got no advice on how you cope. It’s your own fault for being happily married.”

grumpy cat grief

Friends matter. Studies have shown that a life spent among friends is more important than losing weight, exercise, or giving up smoking. The loss of a partner can disrupt social networks that couples have created together over a long period of time. “If you have some sort of damage to your social network, then you have higher rates of isolation and loneliness; if you have higher rates of isolation and loneliness, you are more likely to experience low mood; low mood has a strong correlation with depression; and depression has a high correlation with morbidity and mortality.” Men tend to have less complex social networks than women, and their tolerance to loneliness is higher, whereas women require more extensive and established social networks.

Reading all of that was no surprise to me whatsoever. I am not the most social animal on the planet, but I had a sure and select group of friends, whom I spent a great deal of time with, caring for them, loving them as my “family” that, due to the nature of small towns, white, middle class coupledom and parenthood, had a strong correlation with Roger. I instigated some of the friendships, he some of the others.

After D-day, I drew on the select few within the select few, that I felt would be most supportive and understanding of my utter desolation at losing the primary relationship I had left in life. My bloody fab mother had tragically died almost ten years earlier, and I had pretty ordinary relationships with my other family members. A depressive, absent father, an alcoholic, absent brother, and another this-time-physically-absent brother who lived far away. I didn’t tell any of them. I did eventually email my sister, who had recently divorced in very painful circumstances (no cheating that I know of) and told her. She lives quarter of a planet away, and has done since I was ten years old. She was comforting, but distant (as usual.) So, I had adopted Roger’s family as my own. I was close to his sister and his mother. But two years prior to D-day, he had made business decisions that tore us apart from them, the sister raged, spat and spewed lies about us all over town. In his betrayal of me, he had ripped me away from the only support systems I knew. And none of my friends really got it. He had been naughty, he was sorry, he won’t do it again, end of story, get over it love.

I felt desperate and suicidal. I attempted twice. You see, I had never seen myself as needy. I was independent, I ran committees, businesses, charities, kids, a partner…… but I had always envisaged loyalty and love from the man I loved truly, madly, deeply, and to whom I gave all my love and loyalty. We often talked of how cool it was going to be when the kids were all launched, and we would be back to us, the older, but still avid lovers who shared so much, talked, laughed, made gorgeous and passionate love…..

We nearly got there. The first was about to launch, I could see the travel destinations, the food, the wine, the fun, the quiet times just holding each other, knowing that this time a child wouldn’t knock on the door, or squeeze their body between ours. We had worked our arses off for this. But he stole that away from us. My grief is at the loss of my worldview, I am deeply suspicious of even “friends” now, I don’t see the best in every situation, or every person. I am watchful, ready to run, to protect myself.

I had a night with an old friend, her twice divorced sister, and the sister’s divorced-and-happily-remarried-to-her-AP (brief, she left her husband and a marriage they had both decided was over five years earlier, but hadn’t separated, a week after meeting this guy)-for-thirteen-years friend. The conversation, after several wines (I was not keeping pace with them, I am a quiet sipper these days, keeping my guard up) turned to relationships, as “girly” nights can. The friend, J and the sister, C (who is closer to me than any of my own biological family) talked about sex, and relationships, etc. I was very quiet. I had nothing to say, and I was not thrilled to discover yet another cheater in the midst. After about two hours of chit chat about “girls’ shit,” I quietly spoke up. “Why, after being married to your first husband, whom you knew you didn’t love, whom you saw as needy an weak, whom you had discussed that your marriage was over with, didn’t you leave him? Was it economics?” She looked at me, kindly, (not knowing my own history) and said, “yes, I think so, that, apathy and lethargy. I just couldn’t get my life sorted on my own, so I lazily stayed. Until I met H, and I knew straight away that I had to leave. I left the week after I met him. I should have gone years earlier.” She has a very workable relationship with her ex and his wife. They have co-parented their three now adult children well.


I know this post isn’t saying what I sat down to write. I was trying to elucidate that I had this future of happiness, warmth, fun, connection, and love taken from me. I might have even had my other social networks, and important friendships severely disrupted, at the expense of my health. Roger talked with me this morning about some stuff, and I spoke quietly with him about this, the long, loving relationship that was important to me. He apologised again, and later quietly said that he had also robbed himself of that “dream” that he saw us as a pair of happy old coots always – and it hurts him every day that he can’t right it. That the eco-bach and the veggie garden, the chooks pecking away, the trips off to intrepid destinations, those things are gone, and he understands and is so very sorry. I told him that the girls had had a bit of a chat. And that I can never explain this to anyone, because they think it is about me just not getting over his little mistake. He changed my whole view of who I was, who WE were. He took my agency over my own life, not just by fucking a whore, but by discounting me, by leaving me out of big life decisions he cut me off at the knees. Everything I worked for was wiped out in one fell swoop, by the person in the privileged position, him. He has recently admitted that maybe he wouldn’t have been so dismissive of me being more involved if we had been legally married. He says he never thought of it that way, that he just believed that what he wanted, I wanted too, and he saw it as him acting as my advocate. He had to fight hard to get things done, family committees are bloody slow-moving! His focus was narrow, he had his eyes on the prize, and my feelings and empowerment was only in his peripheral vision really. He had always been adamant that not being married had no effect. But the more he has analysed it, the more he can see that all the negotiations he had over buying property off family, sorting our Family Trust issues, all of that stuff, he did very nearly alone, and I was screaming at him to think of me, to include me, begging him to name me on more land titles, to have me more present at legal meetings – but his parents also discounted me. And all because I never wanted a stupid piece of paper. A marriage certificate is legitimacy to those in positions of power. I hadn’t calculated about family businesses and power politics when I refused to marry him. I just wanted to be with the man I loved because we chose to be together. Not because we were legally bound to be. I underestimated things really badly. All because I didn’t want to have to do what everyone else was doing. I didn’t want to have to have the stupid white dress and be someone else’s legal “property.”

What a naive little girl I was.


17 thoughts on “Desolation

  1. When I was younger… I was adamant I wasn’t to be married. And this sly prick changes my mind. Changed my intentions. And then fucks me over.

    I feel your injustice. The bullshit of it. Why does paper matter! I would rail on.. “I would rather travel the world and get some weird yogi from some strange tribe to spit on our feet and dance around us… Binding us together in a way that isn’t on paper in canada… Because it would mean more”…. And apparently maybe it would have. Maybe it would mean I could leave. All this fucking paper work is my undoing.

    I love your blog. I love your story. I hate your pain.

    This is not a little thing. Forgiving isn’t the problem. It’s your healing which doesn’t really happen. And that isn’t a one/done thing.

    I love you. I’m so sorry you hurt.

  2. So sorry that you are experiencing this pain. It is such a big pill to swallow (too big for many) and any which way you turn, the toxic knowledge of the betrayal can weigh you down emotionally no matter what you are doing. Adultery happens and its a destroyer. How many marriages survive because they don’t know that their spouse betrayed them? A skeleton in the closet! I see now, that my husband needed to change for us to survive as a couple – I just wish that the change could have occurred without having to experience this shit load of grief. But, if the adultery had remained a secret I don’t think he would have altered in the way that he has. The light came though the cracks.

    • Thanks, MR. I didn’t know he needed to change, I thought he was a fairly decent model already. I hadn’t analysed the things he did, the dismissive legal standpoint. Not properly. I did protest. I did say he was not considering me properly. I even raged about it at times. But I felt he really was trying to do the right thing by me. His motives were genuine, but he was micro-managing me into a corner I was extremely uncomfortable in. His sisters are toxic people, and they were very good at manipulating me, and he honestly thought he was protecting me from them. BUT, in doing that, he was taking my voice. He didn’t understand that until WAAAAAY too late. He just thought he could keep us all apart and everyone would do as they were told! He is the family peacekeeper, which is ironic, as he caused the biggest blow up of all in choosing to sell our farm! People are not pawns. We don’t sit mildly and do as we are told.

      We have talked about the secrecy. And agree entirely with you about it. He had ended it and was disgusted and determined to NEVER do it again. But, even he admits that had she not told me, that he may have never worked through all the shit that led into the affair, and maybe, just maybe (he didn’t think so at the time) he would have been susceptible to falling into the same (vagina) trap again if/when things went a bit sour for him? Much as this has been the most destructive thing, he has learned a hell of a lot about human nature, what was running his “shit” in life, and has a far better understanding of it all. Because he did all of that, I was DETERMINED that I wasn’t going to leave, that I hadn’t managed to help him “fix” himself, just for some other woman to get the new, refurbished, improved model! But, the sadness has never abated, the heartbreak has never healed sufficiently for me. I don’t know what I haven’t tried.

  3. As soon as a I finished reading this I thought ‘ah, you put all your eggs in one basket.’ But thats what we do, don’t we? Its not reasonable to expect you to have lived the life you have lived with one foot in and one foot out, you have three beautiful children and a beautiful home. I’m sure there are lots of things we would all do differently, loving fully should not be a consequence, it should be a triumph. x x x.

    • Oh yeah, isn’t that what commitment does to you, owlie? I recall very clearly thinking at times, oh shit, I am the most “married” person I know, I have become the most “traditional wifey” there is in so many ways. He earned more than me, so I took on the primary parental/cook/cleaner/taxi driver role. I worked almost the same hours as him, but picked up all the domestic slack. And it pissed me off to a degree. I didn’t enter into the relationship with that as a goal. But I fell into the well-worn tracks our mothers had created! Or maybe I have that all wrong? I honestly thought I had a full and varied life. I wasn’t joined at the hip to him, but we loved each other. A whole heap. I still rage at the fact that I think I did it all “right” and yet it still happened. My friend from the other night, she has told me before that I was wrong for not being suspicious of his friendship with Leanne. But he had proved to me over twenty-one years that he was trustworthy, that women were friends of his, not a problem. I am not a jealous person. I never have been. Her husband is not like Rog, he cannot be friends with women in that way. So, because Roger is not a predator, like her husband can tend to be, I was wrong? I don’t ever want to be someone else’s conscience, someone else’s keeper. That is on them! But, maybe I should have been more concerned about an ex GF? I just saw her as a bit of a maggot who had cheated on him and we both knew about and discussed her character flaws, so it just didn’t seem like he was in the slightest bit interested.

      • Uch – victim shaming is the pits, and too often it is predicated by women upon women. So you didn’t keep your husbands penis or conscience in check – shame on you 😒 I have been jealous in the past, and I can say with some certainty I wouldn’t have accepted Richard having a close relationship with another woman, and guess what….it still happened to me! The theory has the tensile strength of a kitkat.
        I could’ve written the first half of that post myself, I was very aware of how ‘married’ I was and what a ridiculous poster-like family we were, good looking husband, daughter with ringlet curls and blue eyes, handsome son, I didn’t work for a large portion of our marriage, I stayed at home. You give up things, piece by piece, so tiny that you don’t realise they’re going, until your left holding a phone, a letter, a photo, whatever, whatever, proof of indiscretion. And then the noise of what you don’t have anymore is deafening. We need to shut that noise up!…..how do we do that!? 😳

      • Ah well, you do have one very good looking husband, owlie 😉😉😉. But seriously, you can’t. Not alone. My method of shutting the noise up has been to isolate myself from the perpetrators. I loathe victim shaming. I was raped. When I was a bit drunk once. By a friend. Was it my fault? HELL NO!!! The night my best friend told me I was wrong for ‘allowing’ him female friendships was the night I knew that person, who had been my best friend since my teens – a friend since I was 10 years old – was the night I knew we could no longer be so close. I realised then that she just didn’t get it. Or me. I have long, deep friendships. She tends to tuck the brightest, shiniest, newest arrivals under her wing immediately. Then move onto the next one when the sparkle wears off a little. I have always known this. I just felt I was her anchor and our friendship was … different? It isn’t. She is still someone I catch up with intermittently. But far less and with less candour. I know I wasn’t wrong to trust. I do know he was very wrong of him to cheat on my love and trust. I have always known this. Despite the Not Good Enough channel turned up loud.

      • I understand that friend all too well, I have someone in my life very similar – fair to say I keep that at a very long arms length. Shame that someone who knows you better can’t understand your intentions and where the blame actually lies.
        But you are good enough, don’t ever listen to that ‘voice’ it talks shit!

      • The conversation was over the moment it was your job to police your partner. If that was the case you would still be losing, it just would have been another loss. Time, self respect, all these other things that wash away when we start to police or be responsible for another persons actions and choices. It’s terrible.

        Way less important but still showcasing the issue: Ho-hub sits and is lazy. Says ” you don’t mind if I’m just sitting? Is there anything you want me to do” … Putting all responsibility of what needs to be done, what his role in the house is, squarely on me. I have to be the judge and jury or I give the “no no, you sit while I clean the whole fucking house when I work more and make more. You gnat.” My response now is: I clean because I want my space in a certain state. I’m not going to ask you to do things. If you do them, do them because you see they need doing. I’m not going to make you a list or something, that’s not fair to me. I also am not going to tell you that it’s ok that I do everything and you do nothing. If you decide that’s how it is, it’s your decision.

        I don’t get any choice over who’s vagina he falls into. Why do I have to be the one to tell him to take the garbage out?

      • Fo’ sho’, creative. That double whammy, of; you are such a bitch to expect me to help, but even more of one to say yes if I offer…. Catch 22. Arseholes. More systemic BS.

  4. I never planned to ever get married either. I thought the piece of paper to legitimize love was stupid, but I needed that paper to move to the UK and be with the man I loved. Without that paper, I would have had no legal rights when our relationship ended. So no regrets, but having the legal process of divorce is absolutely brutal and financially devastating.
    I know what u suffer from is grief. Grief of loosing what you thought you had and will have. I don’t know if it ever goes away. I know sometimes we can put it to the backs of our heads for a teeny bit, but it moments it catches us like a tidal wave. It changes us. It separates us from our pack.

    • We have great relationship laws here, Caroline. You are entitled to half of all assets after three years of cohabitation. Gay, straight, married, civil union, de facto. All the same. But I didn’t factor in family politics and the traditionality of his family. Or Family Trust structure really. Neither of us own our two largest assets. Owned fully in trust for the beneficiaries (our children.) So we can’t even split that without a great deal of expense, etc. I just felt he would always ‘do the right thing’ in the case of a split. Yep. I am that fucking stupid! To be fair, he made me a larger shareholder of our major trading company (I was already a director) and a trustee of the Family Trust after D-day. But none of that changes how I was marginalised by him and his family for decades. And I felt so damn powerless to change any of it.

      • I’m glad to hear that. Believe it or not, the laws for women are very poor in England when it comes to divorce. No paper= no rights.
        When it came to my ex, as a housewife who remained largely isolated, my only friends were his family. I still miss them deeply, but my divorce was so bad that I had to break ties completely. I often wonder how they are and what they are doing… But I think they hate me.
        I know u fee powerless… You totally are not. You are so smart and Capeable!!! I admire you so much. You just graduated for goodness sake. Going back to school at this stage and following your dream was incredibly brave. It just feels dampened because you are grieving. Remember who you are P! You are an amazing strong woman … With or without your partner. ❤️❤️❤️

  5. I swear I think WordPress is messing with me how am I missing all of your guy’s posts!! How have I missed all of these and it was not but a few days ago!! Ugh.. I’m looking forward to catching up on you too Paula!! Good grief I just thought you guys weren’t posting and then when you commented I clicked on your link and missed all of this great writing..

    I hope you are not being too hard on yourself about being naive. Hell I got married and I still feel naive for marrying the man I’m with now too.

    But suppose we all are naive when we are young. I have to get ready for Sunday School but I’m going to comment more on this.
    1. Because I have no idea what elucidate means and need to look it up
    2. Because I adore your thoughts and have to go

    Can you believe the man I married just told me why am I reading this stuff and not the bible? Ugh.. There must be growth because I refused to respond to his stupidity..

    ❤ ya!! NH

    • I guess I don’t feel naive about my decision not to marry. Just that I severely miscalculated the family politics involved. To be fair to 20 year old me, I moved in with a lovely 24 year old man who owned his own farm already. I didn’t know he planned to buy his parents’ farm as well. When that came up six years later, I strongly suggested we buy a DIFFERENT property because I could already see his sisters were going to make trouble. But they had various financial and legal meetings as a family (which I was not welcome at) and the reports I got back from Roger were that it had all been explained to the girls, they were getting payouts from his father’s family trust as we bought the farm and they were happy as they were getting their own mortgages paid by these instead of an inheritance when his parents died – when they themselves might be too old to benefit much. But they were only fine as long as they saw ‘free money’ – when they realised that they couldn’t double dip, they got nasty. The problem for me was I foresaw a lot of that, but was soothed by the ‘knowledge’ that they understood. These two spoiled girls had such fantastic lifestyles. And we lived on a pittance, old cars, no household budget, etc. I was fine with that. We were asset building, paying off big mortgages and they never acknowledged that. We worked the land, paid for the land, paid the rates, the fertiliser bills, kept properties weed-free, improved soils, planted shitloads of trees, etc. They turned up to play. Talking about spiritual homelands after swanning off to Europe to play polo, or sun themselves on tropical islands. I was naive in underestimating the greed.

      • I didn’t think you were naive for not marrying.. we are all naive in our youth.. we completely underestimated the kind of evil our husbands could be capable of. I don’t think there is one person who is not naive in their youth..

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