It is a time of the year for reflecting on life, and thankfully, the breakup of my family is something that no longer cripples me. I have such an incredible sense of relief in being on my own with the children, and it’s something I could never imagine not having now that I’ve found it. It feels as though this past six months was a terrible nightmare that I’ve finally awoken from, and now the morning is clear and calm, everything around me is light, lifted and peacefully happy.
I had to go through the heartbreak of being left in order to heal and find myself again. I’d spent the past six years losing track of myself as a person; each day I walked further and further away from who I once was as I put everyone else first and did everything I could to please others, who, in hindsight never appreciated it then or now even. This year has been the biggest lesson of my life so far and I’ve grown in every-which way possible, and although it hasn’t been easy, it’s a priceless experience nonetheless. I’ve learnt that I don’t need to be in a relationship to feel loved because I have my children, friends and family; being happy on your own is far kinder on your heart than being upset and let down on a daily basis within an unhealthy relationship. I’ve also learnt that during the hardest and weakest time of my life I am still capable of carrying on; when others may fall and see no way out I kept my head up and I proved to myself that I’m stronger and more capable than I ever thought possible. Becoming a single parent to my two children has made my bond with them even more beautiful, which I never thought possible. I am both their parent and friend, they don’t hesitate to come running into my arms, to kiss me and hold me and show me their unconditional love. There’s no longer a good-cop and a bad-cop, no conflicting decisions or viewpoints, just peace, calm, order and love. We are all singing from the same hymn sheet for once, the children help me, as I too help them, and we are a solid and well organised team. This is everything I have ever wished for in life, to feel loved, to live with peace and happiness and to have healthy, content children. I don’t feel hard done by, I don’t make excuses and I don’t dwell on the past. If I want to take my children out to visit my family then I can, without being told what I’m expected to do and where I should be; I no longer clock watch or panic for time, we just live every day for what it is, a blessing. Is this what happens in life when you get everything your own way? I face each day with optimism, pride and contentment and everything that comes our way just flutters beautifully into place. I’ve had obstacles since being alone, but they’ve made me run faster and jump higher. I’ve healed after an incredible amount of surgery affecting my entire body in a very short space of time and now I am stronger and healthier than ever. It is so true what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and this year has served to show me that there is nothing that I cannot do. I will be the guiding light for my children no matter what life throws at us, whether I’m scared or unprepared it makes no difference because my soul is unbreakable. I’m thinking of sewing myself a superhero costume and changing my name by deed poll to Miss Tracy Lighthouse Kiss.
Our Christmas day was something I’d been waiting for for many years, driving over to visit my parents and celebrating with my family and children. The day was a wonderful blend of giggles and wrapping paper, far too much food and cuddling up on the sofa to watch a film altogether. I totally forgot myself, time stood still and for that one magical day it was as if every problem in life had just been erased. This is what Christmas is about, spending time with the people that you love and being thankful for your blessings. To realise your good fortune and the pricelessness of our time. These moments, these days, these memories are all something that we can never get back so we must appreciate and acknowledge them for what they are. Precious.
We had our usual vegetarian roast dinner, with a nut roast I’d loving prepared a couple of days before; parsnips, potatoes, carrots, sprouts, greens, gravy, yorkshire puddings, champagne, candles, soup and sticky toffee pudding with custard to finish it all off nicely. The mulled wine warmed our smiles and the children playing with their toys, chattering and laughter filled the air with the sweetest melody of happiness. I would give anything in the world to hold onto the spirit of Christmas everyday. My waistline however would possibly disagree with me.
And boxing day was just as wonderful as Millie and I visited family and I consumed my bodyweight in alcohol, three plates of dinner and a double helping of pudding. I didn’t stop laughing and smiling all day and Millie was like the cat that got the cream for all of the fuss and presents that she got. It was bittersweet without little Gabriele being there, as he was visiting his family for their Christmas celebration with him, and for his second Christmas alive, it was the first boxing day without him. To think that not so long ago a part of our daily lives involved so many other people and now Millie and I have lost cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents is so surreal. Gabriele still has them in his life, but it’s a life that we strangely have to now disassociate ourselves from and live as strangers; like mourning the dead yet nobody has died. It’s selective reality gone wrong. And when Millie asks me why Gabriele still sees her family yet she doesn’t, why she receives presents and cards on her birthday but doesn’t see the relatives sending them, I really have no words to say. Other than kissing Gabriele goodbye at the door and wishing him a lovely day, turning to my daughter and giving her a hug. It’s weird isn’t it, how times change and people become strangers. How life has a way of turning everything on it’s head and how cruel situations can become so quickly. But I look at life in a fairly cynical way now, if not far more realistically than ever before; to the point and without the rose tinted spectacles. For people to walk away, then it simply shows they no longer care enough to stay around, and I know that I’d move mountains regardlessly for a cause or person that I hold dear to my heart. So I guess it’s better to be strangers as the only alternative is to keep up a pretence, and every girl knows that false is a characteristic best reserved for a bottle of Saint Tropez!
I would like to pull a tiny little trumpet from my pocket just a second and trump a few toots in recognition of me winning an arm wrestle against a friend whose forearm is embarrassingly more muscly than my thigh. Ever the optimist, and not one to shy away from a challenge, I perched eagerly on the edge of my chair at the table and my dainty hand was immediately swallowed up in the aggressive grip lock. But I kept my poker face, held eye contact and went for it! Obviously there was no hope in hell of me ever winning this battle fair and square, so I thought on my feet, quite literally, and leant back in my chair, kicked my legs onto the table, stood up and launched myself backwards. I hurtled full force onto the kitchen floor all the while keeping a firm grip of his hand. For those few seconds I soared like a bird in reverse, part superhero, part idiot as I came crashing onto the floor and he screamed in defeat. So you see, it goes to show that no matter what tasks lay ahead of you, and how impossible they may seem, you can achieve anything you set out to do so long as you believe in yourself. This was most definitely my David and Goliath moment and I stand before you now triumphant, with a slightly bruised tail bone. Ha!
Christmas is most definitely a time for reflecting on the past year but I feel as though I’m constantly being tested, as if some divine intervention is deliberately in place setting things up for me to discover because it’s just too much of a coincidence not to be. The radio plays love songs every time I skip through the stations, couples stroll hand in hand towards me no matter where I seem to walk, and families are absolutely everywhere I go. So after all of the festivities of Christmas I returned home with the children to put away the presents and find safe homes for all of the new toys and bits and pieces. Whilst trying to stack and balance perfumes and pots in my wardrobe like a real life game of buckaroo, I dislodged a picture box and a stack of things came crashing down; with one being a Valentine’s card, open on a message and facing up at me. After a brief choice muttering of my disapproval I stepped down off of the chair to pick it all up and it literally stopped my heart to see the words.
The valentines card was given to me in February this year, just four and a half months before my engagement ended. I stood like a rabbit in headlights as I read the words, my hands unable to move, my chest unable to breath and my feet like concrete holding me fixed on the spot. We never even fell out, there was no crazy catastrophe, he’d just walked out on me one night and never came back; and this has been my life of picking up the pieces for the sake of the children the past six months ever since. It made me wonder about the people who are together with a ticking time bomb above their heads, milling through life totally oblivious, believing that everything is perfect, all the while their lives are about to be turned upside down when their partner walks out on them. How many people are in a relationship that has no future? Whether they recognise it or not, surely the outcome is always destined to come, it’s just a matter of time. Would these words in the card have been different if it were written several days, or even weeks later? Or were they all lies, just something you write in a shop bought card once or twice a year? It made me question how many events in the past six years of my life have been real and held meaning or was it all just an unravelling yarn? Each second that passes gradually edging me closer and closer to the present I now know of as life.
I smiled as I read the many romantic Christmas day proposals on my social media feeds, and families celebrating their baby’s first Christmas melted my heart, yet something in the back of my mind niggled away as I sadly wondered if they too will share in the same fate as I someday. What is it that takes away this happiness, promise and love and turns it into a cold, lonely shell? What crushes the magic? What empties the warmth from within? And what causes the world to end as we know it? How can you be somebodies everything one day and then suddenly mean absolutely nothing the next? And I say this not with emotion or sadness, but with curiosity and practical thinking. I too in the past have walked away from relationships and been the one to call it a day, and I did so without remorse, because if you’ve not felt that for somebody then it’s a fairly simple notion to realise. But to find love and fall out of it, that’s what intrigues me. What controls the on/off switch and who is it that actually presses it? When does the sparkle fade from your eyes and when does your loved one drift from your mind? Is it gradual or a sudden epiphany? I would love to know what goes through a persons mind the second that they first think of leaving their partner, was it a song on the radio they heard and made them think they want better, or a single conversation that highlighted their differences as people, an occasion, badly cooked meal or realising they’re attracted to somebody else more than they are their partner? Ooh my trail of thoughts on this are endless.
So I stood blankly staring at the valentines card in my hand for what seemed forever, before eventually snapping out of my trance and walking downstairs to the kitchen. I reached into the cupboard for a lighter and then set fire to the card and watched it burn; as you do! It’s strange how good to feels to burn the things that have hurt you, to know that’s it’s gone and it can never come back and make you feel that way ever again, it’s quite addictive. It is the indefinite way of closing the door, and it’s also really pretty to watch the flicker of the flames as they lick their way around each edge and surface. Pyromaniac therapy or what!
In the week I had another pyro moment when I was out to lunch and opened my purse to get a drink from the bar only to discover a family photo from before Gabriele was born. I’d had it there for years in a clear little window on the inside popper of my purse that I no longer noticed when I reach for my bank card. But as I waited to be served it somehow caught my eye and I wiggled it out and eyed it up suspiciously. When I returned to our table in front of the log burning stove I challenged my companion to make it into a paper aeroplane and launch it into the crackling flames, and it was satisfyingly a direct hit. I gave it a toast by raising my glass of wine and commended the quality of the paper it was printed on to have allowed it to fly so beautifully. A few months beforehand I smashed our engagement champagne glasses that had been hiding on the french dresser in a glorious garden performance that would leave every greek citizen in awe. It’s bloody fantastic when you find something that shouldn’t be there anymore and I’m becoming evermore inventive with my removal techniques.
And with only a few days left until the end of this year, I have a feeling that next year is going to be incredibly interesting; Here’s to 2014!