Today this photograph came up on my Timehop.
Two years ago when I posted this photo as I was getting Miss Rose ready for bed, nobody but my mum, my dad, and my best friend knew my husband had just left me. Even now looking at it I can’t see it in my smile or my eyes, I can’t see the pain and the confusion and the feelings of utter betrayal that was swirling around inside me, and had been threatening to overwhelm me from the moment I read that Facebook message in the pub at lunch as I’d been helping Miss Rose eat a yogurt.
I didn’t tell people. I didn’t bad mouth him on Facebook or make a public statement about what I was feeling. I didn’t beg his friends to make him come home or to at least text me to check on his daughter. I didn’t try to force him to be in her life or mine, and in his own time he eventually started making gradual contact with her again. Of course, it’s faded out now culminating in a five minute visit on Christmas eve to drop her off a Christmas present from his mother (not from him) and then disappearing from her life again.
It’s two years since I read that message. Almost to the minute.
I’d forgotten until I saw this picture. It feels like that’s a different person in the photo, a different woman living a different life with a different personality. If I could go back in time I’d tell her to hang in there, it gets better. She’s about to go through the biggest changes in her life ever, and I mean bigger than puberty, bigger than leaving high school, bigger than becoming a mother. She’s about to change immeasurably. She’s going to lose some friends and gain a lot more, she’s going to cry and feel like she’s falling apart but she’s going to claw her way back up again. She’s going to be hurt and betrayed and used, but no matter what is thrown at her she’s going to hold her head up high and keep moving forward because she’s going to learn she can. She’s going to learn that no matter what life deals her, no matter the shit people throw at her, no matter how hard it gets, that she can hold the little hand she made and face it head on and win.
She doesn’t believe it in this photo. In this photo she barely knows how she’s going to make it to the next day. But it’s about to get so much better. It’s about to get so much better that on the anniversary of the day her husband broke up with her over Facebook she’s going to have forgotten it until she’s reminded. She’s going to wake up in the morning because her little girl gives her a cuddle after a full night’s sleep. She’s going to roll over and kiss the man she loves on his whiskery cheek. She’s going to put a hand on her tummy and know there’s a little life growing in there.
I’m not that girl anymore. I’m a mum, I’m a girlfriend, I’m a published author. I’m a friend, I’m a daughter, I’m a divorcee. I’m not that girl anymore and I feel like I’ve opened my eyes again. I feel like I was living in fog, closed my eyes when he left, then opened them fresh on a bright new world full of colours and light.
And I’m happy. Two years on I am happy.
How’s he? I honestly don’t know. I don’t know where he lives, I don’t know who he loves. I don’t know if he ever thinks of her, I don’t know if he ever thinks of me. But thats okay. We’re fine. We’re happy.
If you’re the girl in that picture now, if you’re struggling, if you can’t see through the fog hang in there. It gets better. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I know it’ll happen. Just hang in there. Hold your head high, face each fight and keep going. One day it’ll be such a distant memory that you forget it happened.
You’ve got this. You can do it.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!