So what, I’m still a rock star,

I’m having more fun…

– Pink

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Breaking up after a long term relationship or marriage is never easy. Hell, let’s face it – sometimes even short term relationship breakups can feel like you’ve been run over by a steam train. When the Taurus left after 17 years together, there were so many “firsts” to live through. It felt like every time I turned around there was one more experience I had to endure, or survive for the very first time.

The eternal optimist in me was trying to be comforting to my inner self. I told myself that each new experience was a chance to learn something, a chance for personal growth. After many “firsts”, I sincerely just experienced one that had me saying to my nurturing self, “Oh, blow it out your ass!”

The Taurus has done some interesting things since he walked out the door of our double storey Georgian style home with his bags packed. In truth I guess all ex’s do some things that seem strange (including my good self). I guess I need to explain that when he first left, the Taurus continued to have one foot in and one foot out of the marriage for a very long time (I call it the Hokey-Pokey syndrome – you put your left foot in, you put your left foot out…).

He still spent most weekends with us – the kids and me. We went out to lunches and dinners together, we went for drives, we went to the movies, and we actually went for weekends away as a family or he would come over frequently for dinner. We spent the first two Christmases together – the first with his family (he left in the September so by December it was still new), the second was at my place, and then we packed the bags and went on a two week vacation, playing happy families. We didn’t sleep together, though he held my hand a few times. We took the kids out on a fishing charter (much to their horror) and we barbequed the fish we caught on the huge balcony overlooking bush land and ocean. He had hired the house for us.

Apart from the holiday hiatus, yes, we continued to sleep together. Many times he slept over night in my bed. So it’s no surprise here that I was living with some hope that the Taurus and I might actually reconcile. It was a logical conclusion for me. On the first anniversary of my father’s death, it was the Taurus who walked up behind me and wrapped his arms around me and let me cry. (I am a strong little cookie, so to have someone in your life that recognizes your vulnerable moments and allows you to show them was a bit of a gift). It was comforting and confusing spending so much time with him.  I was still in love with him, and I believed he loved me too.

The truth was – it was hard for both of us to let go.

When I finally grew a pair of crystal balls, and told the Taurus that sex was off the table unless he was coming home he chose to walk away, and the firsts of many firsts followed quite quickly afterwards!

Within four weeks of that day, the Taurus confessed he’d joined an on-line dating site (that shocked me – he’s a quiet introvert after all) but hey, good for him. We decided we would try to be friends (another first), and he told me about the woman he had met, and each subsequent date they went on thereafter. He’d met her at a bar (uh-huh. In fairness, Don’t we all say that! ).

She was older than me, (yes, not younger) and she didn’t have children. I couldn’t quite believe that I had been replaced so quickly. Okay, it had been a long time that he moved out but we were still lovers so it was still a shock.

Theirs is a whirlwind relationship. Within two months he asked me to meet her. That was a massive first and one that nothing can prepare you for. Having to witness your ex with his new girlfriend is one thing, but having coffee with her in your favourite café. Mind-blowing. He wanted me to be okay with this before she met the kids.

As it turned out she was far more nervous than I was and here was the Taurus (I suspect having his ego stroked a little) having the past and present share a latte. She was so nervous that she drank her water, my water and his water. I really felt for her. This wasn’t dancing with ghosts of the past. I was very real, and might I say, looking pretty fine that day! The Taurus was grateful however that I was so gracious. A week later he introduced her to our children.

Having another woman in my ex’s life was one thing. As much as I had reconciled it and he had told me lovely things like “part of me will always love you”. It was difficult to see he was genuinely with someone else. I didn’t, and don’t, feel intimidated by her, which is a positive, but knowing someone else will be in your children’s lives in a possible parental capacity makes your head spin a little!

Like being soccer punched, let me tell you. This little Leo is fiercely protective of her cubs, which is evident in the fact that no man I’ve dated is yet to meet them). Here was the Taurus after two months introducing this stranger to our children!

You get through that. Your kids come home and tell you they met their dad’s girlfriend. They had lunch. I ask all the relevant questions but try hard to hold any emotion in my voice. Fear brims near the surface though. My inner voice wants to ask my children “Did you actually like her? Do you think she is going to be your step mum? Is she fun? Did you like hanging out with her?”

I never worried that they could love her more than me. My kids are young teenagers so logically they will develop a different kind of relationship with her than with me. I’m their mum, but I also have a wonderful relationship with my kids that is quite honest and open. If I piss them off, they tell me! So they needed to feel safe enough to confide their feelings to me about the dad-has-a-girlfriend scenario. And confide they did, and still do.

I’d like to say I was all 1950’s Leave it to Beaver housewife about this, but in all honesty, sometimes it was too much. I was protective of the kids and sometimes they would tell me they were upset by something going on at Dad’s and I would get pretty pissed about it. Sometimes I still make mistakes, but I’ve tried really hard to not say anything negative about the Taurus to the kids, even when he is being a total ass. He’s still their dad and will always be, and he’s a good one. Like me, he’s made some bad judgment calls and he’s said and done things I’m sure he’s not proud of. But mostly, we are respectful of each other. We are both pretty great parents.

Within four months of them meeting the Taurus asked me for a divorce and told me he was taking the girlfriend on a holiday overseas. It was the same holiday we had discussed going on together “if” we got back together. I couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t even be imaginative to take her on a completely different holiday they’d perhaps planned together? Ouch. Pushing for the divorce though sent my chic instincts into overdrive. Was he doing to propose to her overseas? I asked him, and he denied it. I didn’t play games. It’s not who I am. I just signed the papers and handed them back. So there it was.

Another first.  Divorce.  The big D. 

He told me gently that when the papers arrived we’d go out to dinner together, as testament to all that we shared. I didn’t cry until he left. It hurt like a bitch. There’s such a big build up to getting married, plans to be made, outfits to be chosen, people to invite, and the ceremony and celebration that confirms you as a couple. There was no lead up to the divorce. No ceremony. Might I add, he never did take me out for that dinner!

On his holiday away, he proposed to the girlfriend. It was planned – he had the ring.  They had known each other for four months. Another ‘First’ that no one can prepare you for. He was going to marry someone else and he’d only known her for four months. What the hell just happened? Of course everyone who knew us was shocked. My gal pals, reeling from the news, arrived at various times with wine. Cries of “midlife crises” got thrown around, but who knows what goes on in the hearts and minds of men!

I hope sincerely they are in love. I think to marry for less than that is just too sad!

So this week end they moved into their new home they have bought together.  I picked up the children from my ex’s new abode. Another First. Though I am past the Taurus, it shocked me how impacted I felt when I walked into his house. Part of it was that we had no choice but to sell the family home – my only security was gone. Beyond that painful fact, it’s quite surreal to see things that were once in your own home suddenly intertwined with the objects of someone else. Items you bought your ex are now displayed next to items belonging to his girlfriend. When you co-parent children, there is no escaping that which you really should never have to see. Your ex having a life with someone else. 

 Clearly I’m yet to meet my happy-ever-after dude. I have a theory that men tend to move on a lot quicker than women. They don’t like to be alone. Women don’t particularly like it either but we tend to take time to lick our wounds, and I for one didn’t really want to jump into another relationship while any wounds were gaping open or festering! No matter how many band aids you apply, people can smell the rot. I needed time to heal, but also to figure out who I was.

I am no longer my 24 year old self that met the Taurus. As awesome as she was, I think my 43-year-old self is sincerely giving her a run for her money! I’m braver, more resilient and I’m a hell of a lot more comfortable in my own skin. As for moving on, I also believe anything worthwhile is worthy of the wait. I keep saying it and it’s true – I’m not going to settle for less than exceptional.

I remind myself that one day the Taurus will have to face the same on the flip side. One day he’s going to have to face a whole lot of firsts – seeing me with someone else, that someone else will be sharing the lives of our children and that his ex will one day, with a bit of luck, be living with the guy who was strong to see me for exactly who I am and love me anyway!

In the meantime, my adventures behind the picket fence are not so bad! My response to the Divorce? I packed my bag and headed for a delicious adventure in Venice, Italy! Another brilliant first!

Footnote: Ex Wife Bitter is an actual beer and I love the tag line “Nothing’s as cold as your ex”. http://www.exwifebitter.com.au/