Single mum. Typing those two words, side by side, next to my name, takes my breath away. This isn’t how my story was supposed to go. Sure, couples break up, but that happens to other people. Not me. Right? How am I supposed to do this mum thing alone?
My intuition had known for sometime something wasn’t quite right. Despite his repeated denials, and insistence that everything was fine, I knew it wasn’t. But I wanted to believe him. Because it was easier. Because I loved him. Because my son needed his dad around. Because I loved the comfort of our lifestyle. So I convinced myself this gut instinct was wrong.
I was paranoid. I was oversensitive. I was exhausted. He would convince me I was all these things and more. I began to believe him. It was all in my head. I’m sure many new mums were experiencing these kinds of emotions, I would think. He told me he loved me. What more did I need?
Then in an instant, his carefully constructed scheme unravelled.
It’s funny how the brain reacts to emotional trauma. When I close my eyes, I see myself there. Writhing on the floor. Clutching my belly. Gasping for air, yet somehow moaning, exhaling a primitive, animalistic sound I never knew I was capable of making. I remember being thankful Oliver was asleep, shielded by his bedroom door. But in that same moment I remember my heart breaking for him. He was just eight months old. He had no idea the course of his life had changed forever.
Because from the moment I discovered the deceit, I knew it was over. There was no way of salvaging this. And in that instant I had to not only grapple with this crushing betrayal, but the fact I had lost my best friend, the man I thought I would grow old with. The man who still gave me butterflies when he walked through the door. The man who swept me off my feet when I was just 22 years old and promised me the world. The man who gave me our beautiful child. I knew I could never look at him the same again. In a matter of seconds, I realised, I didn’t know this man at all.
Oliver woke earlier than usual that morning. I felt like Bambi taking his first few steps. My body was unsure if it had the energy to sustain the walk to his room. As my feet hit the floor, I realised I was literally stepping into a new reality. Nothing was the same as when I went to bed the night before. Yet, the world was still spinning and Oliver still needed me. I staggered to his room. It was excruciating.