A wedding speech. You toasted the bride and groom. Everyone was left speechless, you spoke with such clarity, intertwining the personalties of the two, humorous anecdotes and a touch of wisdom at the end. While everyone listened intently, with every word something in me gasped for air. One of the guests even came up to me and said that she did not realise that you are a very deep person.
I parallel it with your wedding speech. A long list of thank you’s and a quick I love you at the end. Full stop. Nothing more.
So that night I realised, you always had the words,
You just didn’t have them
For me.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016


That couple

Remember we said
We would never be that couple
Who go off the rails,
Lose each other in the day to day
Rat race we call life.
We would never not put the children
We would protect them from drama, from our poor choices, from the trauma of divorce.
Remember we said if one got lost, the other would remain strong and like a compass, point the way home.
Do you remember?
I have become the mother who puts myself, my needs first and in revenge for your poor choices (completely unrelated to mine), I am intent on wounding you, destroying you, at all costs.
But late at night, when the world is quiet and the moon asleep, I remember we said
We would never be

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

When love and hate collide

“But I don’t understand how someone who said they love you can resort to this,” I said. At first he looked genuinely surprised by my naivety, twirled his pencil and said,
“If there is one thing I have learnt, it is that for some people the line between love and hate is a very thin one.” And to this day I remember this when I try to understand how people who once claimed to love each other, now stand at war, prepared to do anything, everything to destroy, obliterate the other, even when the other is the mother or father of their children, despite that. You cannot claim to put your children first in a situation like this, no, you are serving your ego, your need for revenge (as if it will finally bring you peace). You may think you are winning.
You stop paying the children’s medical aid, despite the agreement you would and their mother finds out for the first time when a child is admitted to ER. She knows that taking you to court will cost more than her just taking over the medical aid. Stand proud man, you won that round. The crowds applaud.
You trash your ex husband in front of everyone, even the children. You concoct lies about who he is, what he is done. All is fair in love and war you tell yourself. He is a loser, look what he did to us (I am the victim – I tried everything to save this). Your children are torn in two.
Stand proud woman, you are a heroine. The crowds applaud.
But one day those children grow up and they will ask you the very same thing I asked that court clerk. And when you see the trauma in their eyes, you will realise:
you ultimately lost the war.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016

Our historic day

10 October 2010 at 10 am:
You lay in a tattoo parlour
Etching pain onto your skin
And admiring the leggy assistant
I stood in court
Nauseated by the simplicity,
Smell –
old wood mixed with stale air –
And pace at which you end
An entire chapter of your life.
Your pain is forever on your skin
Mine is stored in every cell
In every lonely moment
And endings always smell
Old wood and stale air.

Copyright Hiraeth 2015

Somebody noticed

And before we end this,
Before we each walk in our own direction,
Before we tread with fear into the future
(And there is one for each of us,
Bright as we may choose)
I want you to know,
I want you to know what I should have said, what was in my heart covered in anger, fear and neglect,
What was there, but you refused to see,
(And I carry this cross of blame alone)
All I ever wanted,
Ached for,
Was no one else:
But you.
But you,
You refused to see,
Until one day
Somebody did.
Copyright Hiraeth 2014

The lies we tell

And this is what we tell
Ourselves to disguise the truth,
Make it more palatable, easier to digest, explain:
We grew apart, we consciously uncoupled, she had an affair, we fell out of love, he stole my wife, she has no moral code.
We tell it until it sounds believable, we practice the tone to make it sound truthful.
We tell everyone willing to listen, we feel we need to explain, to justify this unexpected end
(No one saw it coming –
It is a complete surprise)
We declare it off the rooftops.
And it is all lies.
The truth is simpler, involving only us:
We drowned in our neglect.

Copyright Hiraeth 2014

Divorce – before you end it

I don’t know you, I don’t know the details of your story, I don’t know the actors, plot or play. But before you make the decision, the one you may already have declared and decided in your heart, I ask you to read this.

I once stood where you are, I once packed my bags and left. There was nothing left in my heart, no love lost. I was numb. I was so determined to end my marriage, that nothing could have stopped me at the time (I sometimes like to think that had he got on a plane and declared his undying love in a banner attached to it, I would have stayed). I felt almost liberated in my decision, as if somewhere there was a crowd of people cheering me on for following my heart, leaving a marriage that was dull and unfulfilling. At that stage, that seemed like a good enough reason, that and the fact that I had fallen in love with someone else.

It never is about a third party, that is true. A marriage is broken long before the heart looks elsewhere. But what no book tells you, the part Paulo Coelho and Eat, Pray and Love leave out, is that when you end your marriage, something sacred dies and you lose parts of yourself you may never recover (not even after visiting every monastery and following every new age ‘follow your heart’, ‘heal your inner child’ philosophy).

Some people say divorce is worse than death, and seven years on, I now agree, particularly those marriages that end for the wrong reason (I exclude abuse and substance dependency) the ‘we have grown apart’ ones. So here is my little list I have compiled over the years of what it is really like ‘uncoupling’ like Gwyneth Paltrow calls it:
· You will never have closure, you will spend the rest of your life wondering if you could have saved your first marriage.
· You will feel a tinge of sadness at every marriage ceremony you attend.
· People linked to your first marriage will die, marry, have kids. These are people you loved and were a part of your life for a long time and a part of you will feel that you have a right to mourn or share in the experience with your partner, but you no longer do.
· Your own family will be torn apart in loyalty.
· You will lose many friends, more than you can imagine now. You may reason that they were not true friends to start off with, but it will still sting.
· Your heart will break the first time you see your partner with his new girlfriend on facebook. They will look like something from the Vampire Diaries and you will feel ugly and insecure.
· A whole part of your life becomes uncomfortable to remember, because so much of you was shared with someone else.
· The day you stand in court and end your marriage, the sun won’t shine any different, the moon won’t shift an inch, no one salutes you for following your heart and your story is unlikely to follow the path of Eat, Pray, Love.
· The next person you fall in love with, is probably a psychopath.
· Long after you are divorced, you will hear a song, read a book or hear a phrase that reminds you of your first marriage.
· You will mourn for a very long time and just when you think you were over it, something will remind you you are not.
· The issues you had with your first partner, will resurface in your next relationship or marriage and be magnified. You will face the same plot, with different actors (and your mother in law may be ten times worse).

This is just my short list.
I once read a list of questions to ask yourself before you get divorced and want to kick myself for not keeping it, but I remember what struck me most was what it means when you have kids. You better be prepared for someone else to be involved in raising your kids and the reality is, you have little say who the person is, and how much influence they will have.

Every marriage deserves a second chance, deserves hours of counciling before that final bell rings and any third party with one fibre of moral value will give the marriage that chance, or forever be doomed to a life of insecurity.

And then, if you still decide to follow that path, know that what comes next is not easy, is not like the movies or any novel you have read. You are going to mourn for yourself, for a shared dream that is lost. You are going to struggle to find yourself again and some parts may be irrecoverable.

But God is gracious and he grants everyone a second chance, a new beginning. Still I think every angel in heaven prays that first marriages survive.

There is no good in divorce. It leaves a trail of destruction, long after those papers are signed and sealed. It results in broken people.
This post was the starting point of a novel that aims to tell the story of a couple’s divorce from both sides.
It is available here.