This weekend I was the damsel in distress. But it was no prince who rescued me. It was a clan of wondrous women.
I’m out the other side broken but better and bolder. Sometimes you just have to jump into the fire to be reborn.
This weekend was tough (how many times have I written that in the last three months!). But in a series of pretty spectacularly bad weekends this one was spectacularly bad.
Sometimes we make the stupidest mistakes for the smartest reasons. Despite quiet ‘really?’s’ from a couple of friends, I decided to go on a pre-planned weekend away with the man who left me three months ago, and our children. With two other families who are his best friends. In a caravan. Yes, read that again. I really did.
I’d love to blame the gin for my ludicrous stupidity, but I think it was just hope. Hope that despite the end of our marriage, it didn’t mean the end of our family.
I did obviously consider not going, but I didn’t have the girls last weekend, they were horrified when I suggested I wouldn’t go, and frankly I thought I could suck up the pain because it would be considerably less than sitting at home on my own missing my girls for three days.
I don’t know if I was wrong because I don’t now know how painful it would have been to sit at home while he took the girls on a fun weekend I organised and booked. For several years, I have nurtured and supported Poppy’s interest in fossils and so a weekend on the Jurassic coast of England was something she’s been looking forward to all year. Her heroine is Mary Anning, who collected fossils as a child in the early 19th Century and discovered the Ichthyosaur dinosaur in Lyme Regis. Last year I took Poppy to the Natural History Museum in London to see the actual huge dinosaur fossil Mary found, and this year Poppy dressed up as her for Book Day (I was rather proud of her that she didn’t care that no-one in the school knew who Mary Anning was, or had ever read The Fossil Girl!) I didn’t want to miss it.
So I don’t know if I was wrong. But I know now I wasn’t right. In normal circumstances trying to pretend your family is intact three months after it disintegrated is probably not a good idea.
Travelling Ryanair at 6am, arriving to the worst weather since, well, the dinosaurs, and being holed up in a tin can is one of the worst ideas since, well, the dinosaurs.
But then my women came to my rescue. Some rescued me figuratively, and one rescued me literally. She drove 5 hours to Lyme Regis so I could still go away with my girls but have an outlet. We stayed in a B&B and ate dinner one of the nights so I only had one in the caravan. I joined the girls again the next day. Others kept me going with calls of courage and care. Another sent me a letter of love by email from Canada. I’ve never even met her but she knows my circumstances and wrote to me anyway.
I won’t dish my dirty pants here but it was truly awful. Two people cannot parent as a couple, when they are hostile individuals. Walking away from my girls to stay in a b&b because it was too awful to stay was a new low.
But the real low was having to accept our family is gone. The girls have a family with me, and they have a family with him. But the weekend proved there is no longer a family with us all.
Meanwhile my other family was very much intact, as we rally round my mum. Added to the stress was the fact there was very little mobile coverage in Lyme Regis – I know they discovered the dinosaurs but do they still have to live in the dark ages? My mum was in hospital and I was trying to keep up to date with events – hanging off a cliff edge on one foot with my arm in the air trying to get a half bar of coverage. She’s doing ok again, but I should have been there. But I needed to be here. Really, there are just some days you feel like a gin before it’s really acceptable.
But you know what, I tried. Maybe the weekend wasn’t a disaster. It allowed me to see what I needed to see. That I must let go. I will always hang on to the family that has nurtured and supported me. But I must let go of the one that has damaged me.
I am starting a new family with my girls, and what makes me so proud is that it won’t just be them and me. It will be them, me and all my women warriors.
So I’m putting on my Wonder Woman pants (and because I’m me and can’t function without colour coding, I’ll sneak on a matching bra and socks as well) and rise from the wreckage.
The day Mary Anning found the fossil that would change the world’s knowledge of how the earth began there had been a terrific storm that had demolished her house. She went out to find ‘curiosities’ to try and sell to help her mum rebuild it. Instead she found a collapsed cliff and the face of a monster.
Out of catastrophe she found opportunity.
And like so many bad experiences in life, I have come out the other side a little better, a little stronger, and a lot more knowledgeable about who I am.