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Feeling a bit scared and overwhelmed today - hope I'm doing the right thing.

(29 Posts)
OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 12:08:38

DH and I had a conversation last weekend where we pretty much concluded that our marriage has been dead for years and that it probably won't improve.

We left it that we'd go off and think about it - DH works away and is only here every other weekend, so we've not discussed it further. We've talked briefly on the phone since - he is playing his cards very close to his chest. I was honest and told him that I think we've gone as far as we can go, but I want us to still have a decent parenting relationship for DD's sake (she is 6).

I know I can't go on in this relationship - I've tried so hard to make it work, but I keep getting hurt and I just don't think I can do it anymore. It's like a shutter has come down and won't lift again to let any chink of hope in. Financially it's going to be a disaster though. I have MH issues (OCD). I haven't had a proper job since DD was born 6 years ago. I did try having my own business for a couple of years, but lost money on it. DH is on quite a low wage - got made redundant over a year ago, and has recently started a job on the other side of the country not earning much, but good as a stepping stone for a new career. We have a mortgage. I don't know how I'm going to survive - what DD and I are going to do, but I can't stay with him just for that.

The relationship has sucked away a huge amount of my self esteem over the years - it's only now he's hardly here that I seem to be getting myself 'back'. I keep seesawing between grief and elation - but today I'm just scared

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 16:13:19

Also, I think my Mum put up with a fair amount of obnoxious behaviour from my Dad (I remember him once shouting at her because she had cystitis and was upset about the pain hmm) but their marriage has always been solid, they've had a friendship and have a laugh together. I think maybe she thought that obnoxious behaviour is par for the course in a relationship and I should suck it up... Dunno, just speculating.

But yeah - I guess I probably have the role in the family as the "worry"

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 16:03:11

Ah, to be fair on my parents, I got to the stage where I was phoning my Mum several times a day asking for reassurance on OCD stuff because I was convinced my whole house was poisonous - and Mum at that point had been regularly coming round to help me deal with the house because I was scared of so many things - it wore her down and was very upsetting for her. Also, I had to move back in with my parents for 5 years in my 20s and I reckon they were thinking "oh no, not again!" - especially now I have a child. At least now I'm relatively stable, so they're not worried I'm going to want to move in with them again!

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 15:51:50

"but I don't even know if those things would have made any difference."

Highly unlikely. Within reason, a partner should love you for who you are. Nobody's perfect & we all have annoying habits. But in a loving relationship these can be worked on together, laughed about or tolerated... not used as a stick to beat someone with. That's just exploiting weakness and it's cruelty

I'm pleased you met the charity worker if it opened your eyes. She obviously saw through him. I'm annoyed with your 'stick with it' parents who seem to have cast you in the role of some pathetic, damaged creature that needed offloading on the nearest man, however unsuitable hmm. That's not love.

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 14:51:34

thanks Cogito.

It's trying to keep back all the negative voices. If only I hadn't put on all the weight (I know I lost it again, but still), if only I hadn't been such a pain in the arse with the OCD, if only I'd got tea on the table at a decent time every night, if only I'd been able to keep the house clean and tidy, if only it was enough now he actually is making some effort, if only I could stop feeling so angry and resentful and give him one more chance...

but I don't even know if those things would have made any difference.

A weird thing happened just over a year ago when DH was working in his last job. I went to an event that he had organised with a charity, and the woman from the charity when she was introduced to me said to me with an angry look on her face "well done for putting up with him". I was so taken aback I just said "really?" She looked grim and said, "really". It was during a time when he was being really foul to me at home and I thought it was all my fault - and it made me stand back a bit - I wish now that I'd asked her to elaborate.

I always felt my parents took his side over me. When I told my parents a couple of years ago that I didn't want to be married to him any more, they talked me into staying and went on about how hard it was for him to live with me while my OCD was so bad. My Mum said to me when I spoke to her about it a week ago that they did this because they didn't think I was stable enough to live alone at the time (they were probably right tbf) - and actually they find him really hard to deal with too - but for the longest time I thought they were on his side - and that really hurt because I'm so close to my parents

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 14:38:07

A word on thinking you should 'try harder'. I could stand in a room with Tom Jones, 'try really hard' and he still wouldn't pledge his undying love..... <sigh> Which is my cockeyed way of saying that there are some situations in life where no amount of effort and trying hard is going to make a jot of difference to the outcome. Personal relationships benefit from some care an attention, of course, but it's a two-way street. When it gets to the stage where one person is having to 'try hard' in an vain attempt to get the other person to behave like a decent human being then they're on a hiding to nothing.

There's also a social pressure on women particuarly .... stock phrases like 'make a go of it', 'take the rough with the smooth', 'stay through thick and thin', 'try a bit harder', 'for better for worse' .... which all boil down to the same thing i.e. sacrifice your own hopes and dreams, keep everyone else happy and stop moaning.

Be under no illusion. Splitting up - even if it's exactly the right thing - is very, very stressful. But it is not as stressful as living in a situation where you are repeatedly knocked back and hurt.

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 14:14:14

I keep thinking maybe I should have tried harder.

Sorry, I know I'm going on and on - it's just I've got so much bottled up I need to get it out somehow and I'm not sure how

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 14:13:00

Shit - I just feel so panicky about everything - and angry - I just can't think straight today

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 13:49:37

I try to talk to her - but can't really get a straight answer out of her. In terms of how she gets on with other children, she's a really loud, gregarious little girl. She's what many people refer to as "a bit of a character" She has it in her head that she's girly and likes pink etc, when in reality she's obsessed with Horrid Henry, plays chasing games and gets in arguments with boys - a lot! Trouble is she'll go up to them and wind them up, but she can't take the consequences. It's something I keep talking to her about and trying to give her strategies for, but so far it just doesn't go in.

I've tried to talk with her teacher and get support from school - but her teacher dismisses my concerns and tells me that things that I know are happening aren't... I'm monitoring the situation and I'm thinking I might go to the head of KS1 instead.

Doesn't help that DD is a bit of a drama queen, known to have theatrical crying fits if she doesn't get her own way, and is a terrible loser, so she does stand out negatively for those things - I do try to help her with things, and I think things are slowly getting better, but it's not an easy process.

I don't know if that's just the way she is, or if negative behaviours she has witnessed between me and her Dad have informed the way she behaves

In terms of talking about how she feels about her Dad being away - she never wants to talk about it or about why she doesn't want to talk to him often, but I don't want to push and magnify the issue, so it's not something that I broach with her very often

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 13:36:16

Children notice a lot of things. In the absence of experience and/or good information they can take the things they notice, put two and two together and either get 'five' or make things up to fill in the gaps. You should probably ask her how she feels because, in the absence of information on your part, you're doing the same thing... If she's struggling to make friends, talk to her about that. You know all about bullying, for example. Maybe she's being excluded, it's got nothing to do with what's happening at home, and she needs your help there.

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 13:22:30

I don't know how conscious she is of the fact that my relationship with her Dad being unhappy. I do know she is having problems making friends, and I do wonder if that's because she's seeing a supposedly loving relationship modelled in front of her that is cold and remote (though both DH and I are very close with and affectionate with her)

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 13:20:07

Maybe - dunno. In the main part, for the last year things have on the surface seemed much better between me and DH - we've had a pretty civil relationship - I'd even say things were improving and he has been making an effort since he started working away - just a Skype call when he was dismissive of me when I was having a tough day (after I've poured out loads of sympathy to him because he's been finding it hard being away from home) and it was like a shutter came down and i thought - no more - and I must have no energy for it - I was so hopeful - I can't allow myself to keep building my hopes up and getting hurt.

DD I think finds it hard with her Dad being away. It's a bit awkward at the moment because she doesn't want to talk to him on Skype or on the phone most evenings - she will a bit usually, but it'll be a quick chat and she'll get bored, or she'll say she's not in the mood - which I guess is hurtful for DH - I don't know if maybe she's angry with him for not being here (when he comes here for the weekend she's always delighted to see him though). I think she might get more angry and remote from him if we split up - though I would always encourage her to have a happy positive relationship with her Dad

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 13:12:12

"She wouldn't be able to go to her after school clubs anymore if she was in childcare, and her life would be turned upside down anyway when she finds out Daddy isn't going to come back to live with us. "

Children who have a bad experience of divorce and separation tend to be the ones who take second place whilst their parents are too preoccupied with themselves. If you are considerate & approach this positively, not about the things she stands to lose but the things she'll be gaining, then you could even sell it as a good thing. She'll get a happy Mum and a happy Dad all to herself for whatever access arrangement you come up with between you. Has to be better than what's currently happening, surely?

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 13:12:08

Cogito - don't really care what he thinks of me - main thing is that I want to keep it as civilised as possible for DD's sake. Her little world is about to fall apart - she adores her Dad, and the one decent part of our relationship is we always co-parented consistently/backed each other up in front of her etc, so I want to still work in partnership with him as far as DD goes - if it wasn't for her I'd cheerfully never set eyes or ears on him again

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 13:09:11

Still got to work out how we're going to manage DH coming back to visit - he's not due to come down until the weekend after next - but we can't afford for him to stay anywhere else, so he'll have to stay here. Don't know whether to be here too and sleep on the sofa or let him stay here and go elsewhere for the weekend. Feel a bit weird about him being in the house for the weekend on his own now though - which I know is bonkers

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 13:09:09

Being blunt, does it matter what he thinks now? If you want it to be over, say so. No point being diplomatic and prevaricating because all it achieves is a kind of emotional no-mans land where no-one's being honest with each other and nothing progresses. If he's spiteful, angry and vindictive, even more reason to take the initiative and not let him start working on you...

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 13:07:18

I can type and have secretarial skills. I'm really creative and did a PGCE over 10 years ago, but never got my QTS so can't really do anything with that. In reality I want to do something creative - but I guess I need to take whatever there is. I worry about going into fulltime work, because DD is used to me being there all the time. She wouldn't be able to go to her after school clubs anymore if she was in childcare, and her life would be turned upside down anyway when she finds out Daddy isn't going to come back to live with us. Don't want to screw her up sad

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 13:03:27

I think I'm scared too because DH is still "thinking about it" in terms of splitting up - he asked me where I was with it on the phone a few nights ago and I was honest, but diplomatic, but won't talk about how he feels about things as he wants to think about it because he doesn't want to make the wrong decision.

Maybe that's what he's doing and I should trust him, but he can be quite a spiteful, angry and vindictive person, and I'm worried in case he's thinking of a subtle way to punish me (like in the past when I was ill, if I complained about being unhappy in our relationship he would do something major to spike my OCD and throw me into a huge panic attack - though he always denied intentionally doing this).

Lueji Mon 22-Apr-13 13:01:52

Regarding a job, you could start at the bottom somewhere and work your way up.
Freshen up any qualifications you have, even?

Even cleaning houses would be a start towards your financial independence and in some places you could get a decent wage. I know in London you could get more than £7 per hour.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 13:00:04

"we've said we're splitting up, I don't know if DH will pay the mortgage this month or give me any housekeeping and I'm already overdrawn. "

This is where people like CAB and solicitors can be really helpful. If you're finding it all a bit of a blur at the moment it's understandable. I'm sure you are intelligent enough to know how it all works normally but, when you're emotionally stressed because you're going through a break-up, it's really difficult to think straight. That's why I asked about friends and family. Can anyone help you with the practical stuff?

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 12:59:28


CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 12:57:50

A house is important and it'd be an emotional wrench to leave but, ultimately, it's just bricks. There are other places to live that might be just as nice but more affordable and more relaxing to be in as a result. I'm sure there are lots of jobs you could do, even if childminding isn't suitable for the reasons you mentioned. You're only 41 and, if you're intelligent and resourceful, there's lots of reasons to be hopeful. If you check the benefits checker that might give you some idea what a small income could potentially get topped up to.

The bullies are never right BTW... smile

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 12:54:34

DH is in charge of all the finances at home. We never had a joint bank account. He's always paid housekeeping money into my bank account by DirectDebit at the beginning of each month, which I never minded because I thought it meant I wouldn't get muddled up about what was being spent and I could budget with what I had been given. Part of not getting a bank account together is that DH was declared bankrupt about 10 years ago and I didn't know if it might cause problems financially for us (though now I think about it, that doesn't actually make sense). I don't feel like I have a sense of the how the money works in this house (though DH has given me budget spreadsheets in the past, so hasn't been secretive).

Now we've said we're splitting up, I don't know if DH will pay the mortgage this month or give me any housekeeping and I'm already overdrawn. I know my parents will help me - but I'm a middle aged woman - I shouldn't be going to them cap in hand

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 12:49:52

I try and look at all the legal stuff about my rights etc and it all becomes a blur in my brain. I just don't feel as if I understand any of it - I don't know why because I'm not a stupid person - but I always feel as if everyone else understands this stuff and I have no common sense so I don't

OverwhelmingHairflip Mon 22-Apr-13 12:48:09

Thanks Cogito.

I'm scared I'll lose the house because I'm not bringing in an income. I don't know what job I could do or who would have me. I am 41 years old, and though I'm bright and have lots of abilities - I never got my shit together to get a proper career.

OCD has been an issue since I was 18, but I wasn't suffering from it too badly when I got together with DH - I'd say it started coming back a few months before we got married and kicked in properly when DD was born. I definitely think it is connected to how I feel in my life

I have dealt with bullies all my life - was verbally bullied right through school. Got verbally bullied in some of my workplaces, been bullied by my husband, and when I'm not being bullied enough, I create a bully in my head to bully me some more.

I've always been very bolshy about sticking up for myself, but have always believed deep down that the bullies were right

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 12:42:52

What are you scared of exactly? Clearly the life you have is miserable and you know that for definite. But what is scaring you? The 'unknown' element of the future? It's very common for people in unhappy relationships (and yours sounds like it was never genuinely happy) to think they have MH issues or even develop genuine MH problems when, in reality, it's the stress of living that is causing them to blow a circuit. Anyone would be anxious in the situation you describe and your OCD symptoms could have been a desperate attempt on your part to regain control of something. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with your approach to housework.

If it is the future that is bothering you the best advice is to get informed. Talk to experts such as your GP for your health, solicitors for legal & financial advice, CAB for benefits, your housing authority about accommodation perhaps, CSA about child-support. If you have friends and family willing to support you take advantage of their help.

Good luck

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