Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Is smugness the zenith of the recovery process?

CURLED up on the couch, steaming mug of diet hot choc in hand, I gaze adoringly at the wet dog rapidly drying out in front of the positively roaring fire in our living room and immediately three things occur to me:

1)You really shouldn’t use Jiffy firelighters in the tiniest grate in Christendom — and certainly not two of the little buggers.

2)The Ex was way too tall to ever fit into our poky two-up, two-down cottage, what with two crazy kids, an enormous Irish Setter and my ever-broadening backside.

3)Finally, I feel like we’re living the dream.

For it wasn’t long ago that we were living more of a daily nightmare. Cookie, our beautiful Titian boy, was nothing short of a menace, the kids were fast becoming feral and I was way out of my depth. Which is no mean feat when you’re barely 5ft tall.

You see, ever since Louise from www.messymoolifesyle.co.uk came and sorted out pile after punishing pile of paperwork languishing in the cupboard under the stairs (that’s big enough to house not only Harry Potter, but Ron and Hermione, too), old diaries have been unearthed all over the shop — and with them, a skipful of long-forgotten feelings, too.

I must say I’ve been well and truly bitten by the bug and have now gone storage bonkers, a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place mad, aka organisationally insane. I barely recognise myself.

BL (before Louise), my usual work displacement activities revolved heavily around daytime TV and Mr Kipling. But now if I’m not at my laptop tip-tapping away, you’ll probably find me head down, bum up cleaning out the cupboard under the sink. Or maybe I’m just digging out a long-lost Rolo? Whichever it is, it’s exhausting and enough to put you in need of a good lie down and a nice cup of tea.

Which is exactly what I’m doing (with diet hot chocolate instead of tea), staring at the out-of-control, hypnotic blaze, wondering whether I should throw a bucket of water over it, when I begin to ponder what stage I’m at in my recovery from the divorce. You know how there are six or seven stages of grief? Well, what if there are six (or seven) stages the Single Mum goes through before she’s okay with everything? Or something a bit snappier?

I read in some newspaper (not the Henley Standard, I might add) a while ago about a new phenomenon that was supposedly taking over the nation: that of the Smug Divorcee.

So instead of the smug marrieds made infamous by Bridget Jones, we now have the smug divorceds, ex-couples with kids who go on holidays and even spend Christmas together. They probably hoot with laughter at every turn, too, braying about how good life after divorce is and loudly pitying the fools left flailing about in unhappy marriages.

But while I can’t really ever imagine myself as smug anything and would never lie and tell you it’s all plain-sailing, end-on good times and sickeningly happy families with me and The Ex, on the whole, broadly speaking, I wonder whether I might, very slowly, after a fashion (God, can I get any more tentative?) be becoming one of those smug divorcees. Of sorts.

I don’t know what he thinks and I can’t speak for The Ex (even though that’s never stopped me before, he would no doubt say), but whenever we meet up with the kids, whether it’s Christmas Day or a Sunday lunch in a country pub, we get along well and put aside our old resentments and previous devastating disappointments. At least for the time being, anyway.

So if you’re going through the mill at the mo’, take it from one who knows: the first shaky steps you take towards becoming a Smug Divorced — although I must say I prefer Delighted Divorcee — are the hardest.

But you’ll wade through the quagmire of shock, denial, anger etc like a champ until one day, your smoke alarm will shriek at you, thanks to the conflagration in your fireplace, and alert you to the fact that things are better now than they’ve ever been.

But that’s another (cough, splutter!) story…

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