The Saga Continues.. Repeat EVERYTHING

I bought bags and bags of things for the flat yesterday, but I am still missing everything…

Where do you start ? I need a curtain, every possible kitchen utensil and crockery, in addition to cleaning supplies and tool, and I haven’t even started yet on furniture and storage units. My ex gave me back my pots and pans and a few other things that were good enough for him to take into our new home when we got back together in 2006, but there are no cutlery, baking stuff or non-stick frying pan among those. My one dinner set is conspicuously missing its dinner plates, and I must have got rid of them to please him when we moved from my former flat, because he thought they were too heavy and ugly.. Many things I bought for that flat I gave away or recycled for what is now his rental apartment, and I try not to think how much they would have come in handy today where I have absolutely nothing. My ex, perhaps feeling some guilt at this, contributed some cutlery.. two of each (why be too generous and break the bank).

I cannot complain about his generosity too much, though, not where Robert is concerned, because he finally bought him a car seat, appropriate for his age. It was one useful birthday present.

My ex made himself useful today by picking up Robert and looking after him while I took more trips to the shops. I bought curtains and more kitchen utensils. I do not know why I bought baking trays, muffin tins and cake molds. These felt suddenly very vital to my home-making process. I carried tons of stuff over to his place where he was kind enough to give me and Robert a lift back. Britt, who lives around the corner from the place saw me and I think I was a very sorry sight.

Later in the afternoon I left Robert in Lucy’s care and went to work. Late in the evening I returned to my happy little child, already at home in the new environment. I felt I was coming home, especially that Lucy did her magic and put things in order – as much as possible under the circumstances of clutter and boxes.

I thought that my life had started its steady progress towards normal. Last night I set up my computer and used the internet over my cell phone. My connectivity was vital during the next few days because I was going to work on a new translation assignment with an agency in Pretoria. I tried to start up my computer for my nightly dose of work, but it was as dead as a brick. This crash was so ill timed I could have cried. The agency was using me for the very first time, and I already haggled with them about deadlines due to moving and then my planned leave at the end of the month. More excuses will sound unprofessional and untruthful, and so my worries and problems are bound to continue, and repeat themselves.

Starting Over Again

Setting up a home from scratch is not an easy feat, and I should know because I have done it before in November 2005.  Back then I had a car, the support of my friend Jackie, and the distant support of my then husband, who wanted me to succeed so that I can provide him with an escape from the drudgery of working a petrol station – I did not know this at the time but back reflection tells me now this was the case.

Today I am traveling the same road with a greater level of difficulty. Now I have a small toddler, no car, a precarious relationship with Jackie and little or no support from my ex, who for some reason resents me, when it should be me who hates his very existence.  I am very aware of the difficulty of my situation, and that is why I try not to arouse antagonistic feelings from my ex or Jackie, and although I know that in the end I will not bend to the unreasonable requirements of either of them I try to avoid confrontation until such a time when I am not so needy of help.

So that is why today I called on both my ex and Jackie. Late last night I discovered that I forgot the keyboard of my computer as well as my desk lamp in the boot of Jackie’s car, so I had to call and ask her if she can get them for me. I also asked her to get me some of the kitty litter because I still haven’t set up Petey’s toilet and I was so afraid that he will start using any convenient cluttered corner, especially since it is still pouring outside.

Jackie promised to get them for me during the afternoon, because she was out for the day.  The matter with the kitty litter was most pressing, and since I failed to get a prompt response from Jackie I had to get Mr. Negativity to help and asked him to buy me a bag.  Soon he came with the smallest package possible, but what can I expect from a man who actually made me pay for the cat food for as long as he kept Petey. I even paid him back the R10 this package cost.

During the remainder of this day I tried to put the place in some semblance of order.  I put together Robert’s crib, and organized the boxes in one corner. Later I went to the shops and started populating the fridge.  The stuff that Jackie gave me went all into the garbage,  that was a final insult from her thinking that I would eat cottage cheese that had gone off. But it seems that whenever one looses something, one gets another helping hand. Lucy came to me today and helped me out a little bit, she even stayed with Robert while I went shopping and as luck would have it I ran into her daughter at one of the shops and she gave me a lift back and this enabled me to buy a little oven / cooking hub unit which would have been too heavy for me to cart back.

I am going to start working tomorrow. I have not written about this before but I am working more afternoon shifts during August and September to bring down the minus hours I accumulated since returning to work last March.  Lucy will continue to help me out on her free afternoons. My fears about losing Lucy proved groundless as she did not allow Mrs L to intimidate her, and as we expected Mrs. L could not put her money where he mouth is.  But little changes the fact that these people expected me to stay there for a year,  and felt utterly betrayed by the fact that I was not prepared to lie down and let them take advantage of me. One of the bitter things Jackie told me during our fight, was that if I could not afford her place (Buckingham Palace that it is) – I should have sued my ex for better settlement, so there you have the logic of the greedy.  And I thought that I would be fighting to get a better settlement for my son, not to pad the pockets of Mrs. L and her daughter, but please that is just my stupid presumptuous reasoning.

I haven’t moved into a great place. Last night Robert and I slept on a lumpy hard futon, and today I feel bruised all over, but no matter what hell hole I live in,  at least it is mine and I do not have to live according to other people’s  rules. I have done enough of that over the past years, I am going to enjoy my freedome at last.

Moving under the Storm

I have been packing my things slowly, obtaining boxes from work and cramming my things in them. The bulk of my things are books, and they fit very well in the A4 paper boxes.

On the 28th I got the key to the new place and in theory I could have moved in right then but I needed help and I already established from Khayyam that he was only available on the weekend. Initially we arranged for Sunday morning but the plans were changed to Saturday right after I finish work.

I picked up the rainiest weekend of the year to move, there was a steady downpour all morning and things did not look like they would be improving the next day and that what made me and Khayyam decide to get the matter over with as soon as possible. He picked me up from work and then we went to Ron’s place (which used to be my place too) and picked up some pieces of furniture that belonged to me – stuff that he couldn’t deny, wrangle out of, or dispute.  I asked him for a duvet cover – I know he has two- and he obliged by giving me one, better than nothing in this cold.

Khayyam tied everything down in an old pick up truck (bakkie). As my luck would have it he had an accident a few days back with his new bakkie, so we had to deal with the old creaky one, perhaps just as good given the ramshackle stuff we were transporting. The next stop was at Jackie’s place where we picked up a few things. Lucy was there today so she packed up the rest of my things in bags and so on,  and cleaned up our room completely.  Jackie was also there and helped pack out all my food things. As a final gesture she cleaned up her fridge and packed for me some stuff that she would not eat – most of it was only fit for the garbage can, a gesture reminiscent of my ex’s generosity.
Sometimes I used to tell Jackie half jokingly that she had more in common with my ex than she cared to know,  I was not aware how inspired the comment was until today.

Next the pick up truck was loaded with boxes and boxes of books and we made a run for it to the new place.  It was great to have Khayyam’s big shoulder to carry these heavy boxes.  We ran up and down the steps under a drizzle that soon turned to torrential rain. Soon the effect was compounded with overflowing gutters, water was pouring over us, but we managed to get things in safely.

After a little rest we hurried back for the second -and last- trip. By then the door to the flatlet had swollen from the rain and we had to use a rock to hold it shut.  We filled up the last truckload of stuff and proceeded to unload it at the flat in a similar fashion then Khayyam returned me to Jackie’s place. I asked Jackie to take me, Robert, and the computer in the last trip.  I thought this would be one of the last times that Robert will sit in his baby chair, he has outgrown it almost. Jackie also found a bag and packed Petey in it, so that we take him along.

Before we left Jackie’s place for the last time, Jackie told me that she paid the utilities and the phone, and according to her reckoning I owed her R400. I managed to wrangle out of paying by saying that I had to pay everything I had on me to Khayyam and did not have money. She did not like it but did not want to push it.  It was nighttime by the time I climbed up the steps to our new place with Robert. I had to run up and down four times transporting Petey, the components of my computer and my reading lamp.

I was dead beat after all that and lay next to Robert on the old futon, part of the furniture that was already in the unit. We made it, we have our own place everything else can be solved tomorrow.

Good Omens

I probably met my new lanlords today. I finally got hold of the person who posted the ad for the flatlet on Gumtree and made an appointment to see him this morning.

The flatlet was annexed to the back of the building,  overlooking the back garden and a pool that has been out of order for very long time, by the look of the green sumpy water under the netting. This was an immediate source of worry for me, but the man vaguely commented that it will be covered up in the future.  The flatlet itself was one large rectangular room that ran over 10 meters deep with the french doors to the garden its only source of light. I registered that it had a small bar fridge, and a bathtub in the tiny bathroom, and both were definite advantages for my situation.  I saw the potential of the garden for Petey and Robert, and the other problems I thought I would be able to deal with in time. My expectations were so low that neither the dirty carpeting nor the non-standard layout bothered me much. I just told the man that I will take it, starting next month. I asked him what he required to guarantee me the flat for the coming month and he asked for a one month deposit.

I left him with my email and he promised to email me the banking details, and I was so anxious to close the deal that I texted him after a few hours asking for them again, and I paid the deposit immediately.  Perhaps the place is not perfect but I accepted several good omens : There were many cats, and a woman carrying a toddler welcomed us into the complex (later I learned that she is actually the landlady), so I am happy that it is the right place for all three of us. I cannot believe that Robert, Petey and I will soon have our own place, but I will believe it when we sign on the dotted line.

Looking for a New Home

Living at Jackie’s is starting to get on my nerves. For one I think I am paying too much in rent and other expenses, and for the other I am starting to get fed up with her lifestyle and the people whom she chooses to invite into her (our) home.

I was speaking to Britt today on the phone and lamenting my situation when she said that perhaps I should look for a garden cottage in  our area. This possibility never occurred to me because I always thought there aren’t many houses in Sea Point and only very few have separate granny flats. However on my break from work today I went into and looked around a bit for things that are within my price range on this side of the mountain.  Imagine my surprise when I found what looked just like the right place : Pet friendly flatlet in a secure block, and the rent is only R500 more than what I pay at Jackie’s. Immediately I emailed the poster of the ad and noted his cell number.

I was too impatient to wait for an email response, I phoned a few hours later.  The good news was that the flat was still avialable, the bad news was that I will only be able to view it on Monday.  I hope it is the right place, and I hope to be able to take it starting next month.

What Next?

Things progressed rather quickly. My lawyer phoned today to say that he already has the final decree of divorce at his office. This is rather impressive, because usually the paperwork takes at least a week to catch up. The decree with all its finality comes with a whole batch of new bills. The lawyers need to paid and there will be more expenses for the transfer of the joint properties.
Ron has been difficult lately. While we were married he always complained about the quality of our communication. Now we simply don’t talk anymore. Maybe it is better this way, because on the few occasions I raised a pertinent issue with him, we ended up fighting.

It will take time for me to get over the divorce, because if it was up to me I would have stayed. I conditioned myself to live with the many rough and sharp edges of Ron’s character. Women (and few men as well) sometimes learn to live with and love even their abusive partners. I was truly committed to Ron especially after Robert was born. Things however did not work for him and it was his choice that we should leave. I did not see a point in keeping a marriage in name only.  The honest one told me yesterday that perhaps Ron has done me -and Robert- a favor by refusing to stay with us.
Yes, I have lived and loved the man with all his faults. Now I have to move on. In the meantime I need to process the experience and learn from it. I need to know where I went wrong, and whether there was anything I could have done that would have made it a happy marriage. Whether the failure was mine, Ron’s or ours in equal shares; time and the path each of us will take from here will eventually tell.

At this juncture in my life I find that I am not want for choices. There are many options that I can make, but I have to be extremely careful how they will affect Robert. His future is my priority and I have to be absolutely sure that I am making the correct decision on his behalf. I am no longer sure whether South Africa is the correct place to raise him, and I am considering emigration  AGAIN ! I love South Africa, and especially Cape Town. I feel it is truly my home, but I have to think that I am approaching 40, and if I was to emigrate then the time is NOW. Living in Africa taught me to love wilderness and wide spaces, therefore I am not keen on moving to Europe. On the other hand I am not crazy about the long Canadian winters, or the dry heat of Australian summers. So where to next? New Zealand? Namibia? or some of the warmer places in Canada? I am still trying to figure this one out.

I am also pondering the direction this blog will take after my divorce. I do not want to turn it into a mud-slinging contest against my ex. Yes, I do have feelings of resentment against him, and most of the time I do not think much of him at all. However, I will try to avoid getting into too much detail. People who are in the know do not need to be reminded again and again about the gory details, and those who aren’t are better off not knowing. If I ever need to dump my misery and resentment I will write elsewhere, in a private anonymous space. I will try to keep this place clean.

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The Daily Routine

I am slowly getting used to new rules and my new housemate. She is definitely not as demanding as Mr. Negativity, and simply lets me experience my freedom. The first few days were tough, I drove myself nuts trying to find my things, and kept losing every item after a few seconds of putting it down somewhere. I was trying to find spots for my stuff, in the fridge, in the pantry, in the cupboards and on the bathroom shelves. It is difficult to move into someone else’s space, and I have to keep reminding myself that my baby and I are simply paying house-guests here, and we need to adjust to this house’s rules. Still, it is far easier to be myself here than it was with Mr. Negativity.

I spent my first weekend in years without going outside the front door. This was unheard of in my marriage where one needs to get out for some exercise or fresh air. I am now eating generous helpings of food, after years of watching my portions. I always ate behind the man’s back just to spare myself his scathing comments about how much I eat. It doesn’t help pointing out my slim figure, or the calories I need as a breastfeeding mother. Now I can indulge my craving for chocolate without being asked whether I need it or not, and as the weather turns cooler I have a tin of hot chocolate close at hand,  not hidden in some inaccessible corner of the kitchen cupboard.  In short, life is getting back to normal for me. I am living -mostly- by my own rules.

The price though is considerable. I hand-wash our clothes every other day. I walk to the shops to buy things and carry the groceries home. I bargain hunt, and count our pennies. Worst of all, I have to tell my sorry story to the people at work in order to get suitable shifts, and working hours. I hate the notoriety of walking in and out of the floor at odd hours, and having to endure the questioning or the pitying look. It is especially humiliating since some people know that this is my second trip to breakup land (with the same man). I know that even some of my closest friends think that I landed into this predicament because of my rare stupidity. But, believe me, it is easy to be fooled by someone you love (or someone you want to love). We give those we love the power to fool us because we want to believe them. Regardless of what brought me here, I will get over it. I will survive my foolishness and carry on.

My little one and I survived the first few weeks. He had his first fever last week, and I had to miss work for two days because of that.  The next few weeks we endured the long walks back and forth to his father’s. Dropping him off before I went to work in the early morning, and picking him up after I finished. Baby is also getting used to Nanny. She will look after him three afternoons a week, when I am at work. Nanny brought up her fair share of young ones including my housemate. This arrangement means that I only need Mr. Negativity to babysit every other Sunday. This suits me fine, and I do not want to ask him for any more.  He has already metioned several times that is helping me babysit this month for free. Yes, he is the baby’s father, although sometimes I really wish it wasn’t so. I hope and pray my boy does not take after his sire.

Moving Out

I am writing this long after the actual events, so the intensity of my feelings have cooled down considerably. Robert and I moved out today, after a few days of extensive ugliness, which I do not want to dwell upon much. I will just recall however that Ron wanted us out sooner rather than later.
During those final days I tried to steer clear of Ron. I spent lots of my time with Robert in the park enjoying the sunny days of autumn. Most of the time, however, I had my hands full, trying to get retrained at work, tying up loose ends here, transferring phone and fax accounts, getting dental checkups, and packing boxes of books. While I still had a proof of address at our flat, I opened a bank account for Robert and made out a cheque for his Canadian citizenship application. I also managed to convince Ron to take us to the hospital to get Robert’s immunization for this month. I wasn’t sure if he would agree to take us a second time because the nurse was on holiday when we went there last week, and I got into deep trouble for not phoning in advance.

In the end Ron helped us move, but there are still a few items of mine he still holds in his possession, and I trust that he will hand over in time. Among those are my computer and scanner, but there is also my psychologically disturbed cat. Ron wanted Petey out of there as soon as possible as well, but I was hesitant to displace him into a strange environment especially that Jackie’s house is the territory of her female cat Spliff. Ron has grudgingly agreed to give the cat food and board until a better solution comes up, and I am grateful.

In retrospect perhaps it was a bad idea to give Robert his immunization in the middle of all this chaos, but I had no other option since Ron is keeping our car, and I don’t have another mode of transport. Robert was terribly cranky, with the combined effect of moving and the injection. I could not cope with his consistent crying, at the same time, I could not control my own feelings of displacement and loss. Whenever I set down something I ended up losing it, and it drove me crazy. By late evening I was a complete zombie and went into a complete breakdown. My baby and I were both howling uncontrollably.

Robert’s changing table found a home in Jackie’s bathroom but he cried bitterly every time I carried him to it. I hung up his music mobile over it, which helped somewhat. But he still cried bitterly every time I wanted to change him. Later I figured out that his upper leg was sore from the injection, but on the first day I was beyond reason and help. We both crashed into bed late and exhausted.

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This Time it is Over

We are definitely getting divorced. This time I will not chicken out or make an about face, because I have had enough.

I am packing boxes of books and yarn. My clothes and baby’s are still waiting to be packed. This makes a fourth time for me, I have dismantled my life three times before for the same man or because of him, and this time I want my own life back. A life where I can call the shots this time, and make my own decisions.

In the end it turned out that people do not change that much. Perhaps he tried to change, perhaps he wanted to, but he finally realised that he couldn’t. I never offered to change, and if I had I don’t think I could change either. It is the way things go.

I still bear him some grudges, especially because he lied and pretended to be what he isn’t. Because he put a child in this world because he “thought” it would make him happy. In contrast, I KNEW that I was ready for a child, and I knew that having him will change my life. I am glad I did not know what the future held because I would have missed out on the most wonderful thing in my life.

Thank God for Friends

I went with Jackie this morning to drop off Kirsten at the airport. The sun is just starting to rise over the Atlantic and it is going to be another gorgeous day on the southern tip of Africa. Last night I had a chance to go out with the girls for a little farewell dinner, and we all had a nice evening.

Robert’s adventures during Kirsten’s visit to Cape Town included his first time at a restaurant with mom. Kirsten invited me and Jackie to a Sushi lunch at Saul’s. It was a special occasion for me because I haven’t had sushi in over a year. Robert was mostly obliging but needed some attention midway through the meal, where I had to take a break and give him a feed. It was great that we decided to go out during lunchtime, the restaurant was not too busy and we could pass the baby around and entertain him between us, without much disturbance to the patrons.

During the past week I spent a lot of time with the girls either visiting at Jackie’s or at the park. Kirsten came over to dinner one day, and stuck around many times for feeding sessions, bath and bedtime, while I was home on my own. Her visit was a godsend for me; it helped me deal with the current stress of my life at the moment. I am still trying to get re-licensed for my load control work, and Ron is proving to be a reluctant child-care provider at home. Things are not going to get any easier for sure. I still haven’t heard from Miriam, and if I contemplate the emotional and financial cost of having a nanny it makes me sick, but that is the way things are going to be in the future. From the moment of conception, a baby is by and large a woman’s problem, and this is proving true in my case as well. But no matter how things turn out, having Robert in my life is worth it. He is the reason why I wake up every morning; he simply makes my life worth living.

Ron deals with problems differently. He has now a new constellation of friends, with whom he hangs out frequently. I am not needed in this arrangement, and I don’t think he wants me to ever meet his friends. It is his way of having his own life. He pointed out to me once that I should never try to pursue other interests while looking after Robert or breastfeeding him. “You have to understand that you have no life anymore, your life is the little boy”, he said. Of course, I knew that from the moment Robert was born. He is my life, and I am happy to have it that way. The way Ron said it, however, makes it sound like a prison sentence. At the moment I am trying to come to terms with this attitude, but our relationship has taken strain as a result. Caring for Robert is not a chore, and it makes me really angry when he views it as such. It is a privilege to be around and care for a healthy, happy, and intelligent child. It is wonderful to look into his innocent eyes and see the unconditional love and trust he bestows on us as his parents. I would give anything in the world to be able to care for him myself rather than hand him over to a nanny. In this respect, our priorities and attitudes – as they are over almost everything else- are vastly different.

I am glad that Robert is still blissfully ignorant of the stress. He is mostly happy and contented. If ever he is fussy, then it is because of his itching gum. I noticed also that putting him onto solids is giving him some constipation, and I bought him a natural laxative which the paediatrician recommended. On my next visit to the nurse I need to ask whether it is advisable to use it regularly.

Today’s funny pictures: I tried to catch him on camera in the middle of one of his razzing sessions, and the result is what you see here. It looks like the symphony of razzing requires a lot of concentration. This week also he is starting to make up babbling syllables. I am very excited that he has mastered: ma ma ma, and is starting on ba ba ba. We await the first incident of da da da any day now.