Is it grief that I feel? It was, but is it now? I’m not sure. I think perhaps it’s not. I think maybe the grieving is over. I’m left with something other than grief to feel. Frustration, anger and sadness. But maybe now, it’s more of a sadness for my two girls rather than for myself. It’s a frustration on behalf of the children, and I am angry so that they don’t need to be. 

If Martin was still alive, he wouldn’t be my partner anymore. The affair happened, the split happened, the move away, it all happened before his death. There cannot be the pretence that any of that would have been different if Martin was still alive. I did not lose the love of my life. The love of my life is the man I will marry in December. Jon has showed me what love really is. What it means and how it feels, it’s different and it’s better than anything I ever had with Martin. That’s the honest truth. I do not want to blog about my relationship with Martin. I would find it too hard and painful to write about, writing about suicide bereavement is honestly easier than delving into the darkness that was our 8 year relationship. Affairs happen because a relationship is not working. We weren’t working, we hadn’t been working for a long time.  I forgave the betrayal of the affair despite the hurt, because I had always known that our relationship was not working. 

He wasn’t the love of my life, but he was the father of my children. I had loved him. I’d loved him in a way that a young girl, naive and desperate to be loved, would love someone. I wanted it to be the real thing. At the age of 23 I fell in love with the thought of a home and a family. He was 16 years older than me, I was attracted to the way he talked about his children, how important they were to him. When I met those children and got to know them, I loved them more than I had ever realised possible. I was only 23, as I got older, I knew that our relationship was not working, it probably never did really work. I stayed on many occasions when I shouldn’t have done, the biggest pull to stay was his two children, not him. He asked a 24 year old me to marry him. I don’t think that he ever had any intention of marrying me. I said yes. I don’t know if I ever had any intention of marrying him. It’s hard to remember. It feels like so long ago, when I was such a different person to the one today writing this blog. I can’t imagine ever being certain that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. But I did say yes.

I might not have wanted to spend the rest of my life with Martin, but I couldn’t possibly imagine a life without him. It isn’t very easy to explain or describe. I was scared to change things. Scared of the consequences of life alone, especially with two children to care for. Over the 8 years my confidence had disappeared, my self respect and sense of self worth, it had all gone. Because I was told a number of times that everybody hated me, I believed it. I believed that I was ‘mental’ because I was constantly told that I was. I believed that I couldn’t manage on my own, so I didn’t try to. I felt ugly, at 25 I developed a small patch of psoriasis on my elbow, by the age of 30 I was covered in patches and ashamed of the way that I looked, it had a huge impact on my mental health. I thought that I was disgusting and that other people thought that I was disgusting too, including Martin.

When I found out about the affair, it hurt, massively. The betrayal was incredibly painful. It still has a huge, undesirable effect on my life. I was really shocked. Of all of the things that I could have told you that Martin was, I would not have called him a cheat. I trusted him in that respect. My life fell apart, but not for long. I soon realised that he had actually done me a huge favour. I let the anger go fairly quickly. I was resolute and I was strong. Determined to start again, determined to put a little distance between my new life and my old life. I stayed in our house for three weeks with my children and made him leave, promising him that he could have the house back as soon as Isla had finished her school term.  I stood my ground and I began to start again. It was actually a fantastic three weeks. I felt the old me slip away, within those three weeks my confidence grew enormously and my skin, well that completely changed. The psoriasis patches that I desperately tried to cover up, they just disappeared. It was incredible.

We made the move, we packed our belongings into boxes and we left. I cried silent tears driving away. They were tears of genuine sadness, the last goodbye to my old life. That life was not a particularly happy one, but it was mine and it was all I had known for a long time. Closing that door  to the past, it made me cry silent secretive tears.

When he died, I grieved. It was an honest, genuine, heartfelt grief. There’s no disputing that. I grieved for a past love, a lost love. It no longer mattered if it had been real love, if it had gone long before his death, if it had turned sour. That was irrelevant, because I had loved him, whatever kind of love it was, it had existed. I grieved. My heart broke with the news that was delivered by a policeman on the 22nd July 2014. A piece of me died right there in that familiar room that was once ‘our’ living room. I felt at sometime that I had lost the love of my life, that’s how it felt. It was a complex complicated grief. Suicide bereavement is complicated, but throw in the conflicting issues of affairs, unhappiness, anger and betrayal, and you are left with feelings that are simply indescribable. They are such confusing and exhausting feelings that they make you question your sanity.

I grieved what felt like a never ending devastating grief. But am I grieving now? I don’t think so, what I feel even now 4 years after his death, is trauma. The everlasting effects of trauma. Daily feelings can change, sometimes a little bit of anger, sometimes an overwhelming sadness that he isn’t here. But it’s the children I feel it for. He should be here to read amazing school reports, he should be there to see his children being awarded trophies, certificates and medals. He should be around to help calm the nerves before his daughters get up on stage and perform. He should be with them when they pick up a book and read aloud. He should be here, for them.

Grieving was a lonely place for me, a frustratingly lonely place. I’m no longer there, but I’m still in a place where trauma can make the lonely feelings creep in, creep in hand in hand with anxiety. I need to write more about that, I need to be able to write down my sometimes crazy, often conflicting, wild thoughts and feelings. I need to face up to those huge ghostly memories and some how, slowly, make them smaller by fighting them with my words. With my honesty, with bravery - no matter how hard that might be.


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