Welcome to our series, The Love Diaries – a space for you to share your experiences, advice, fairy-tale endings, setbacks and heartbreaks. We’ll be hearing from industry experts giving practical advice alongside Capsule readers (You!) sharing your firsthand experiences with love – everything from finding love, to keeping love, to losing love.
If you have a topic you’d like to discuss, share your thoughts, experience or advice about, drop a line to [email protected] with ‘Love’ in the subject line. All stories that are published will will a Dermalogica BioLumin-C Moisturiser, valued at $119!
This week we hear from Megan, who didn’t find herself missing her ex much after they broke up – but was absolutely devastating about not seeing his kids again.
When Megan met and fell in love with Craig, it came with an added responsibility – he had two young children, aged 3 and 5.
He loved those children – a boy and a girl – so fiercely it only made Megan fall harder for him and she surprised herself by moving in with him after six months. She’d never lived with a partner before.
In the beginning, Craig had the kids one week on, one week off, but a month into living together, his ex moved to a new town and they agreed that the children would primarily stay with him. She’d come up every second weekend to have them – which soon became one weekend every month.
Megan was there for it all – bedtime stories, school drop-offs and pick-ups, sicknesses, nightmares, birthday parties – all of the highs and lows.
But it gradually began creeping up on her though that her relationship with Craig might not be all it cracked up to be. She loved getting out and about, exploring a new neighbourhood each weekend, going to events, catching up with friends – whereas he preferred to stay home and work in the garage. Increasingly, he stayed home on weekends while she took the kids on adventures and she often met friends for dinner during the week alone.
It was now five years into their relationship and they’d been living quite distant lives for more than a year – when Craig dropped a bombshell. He’d met someone else. He wanted to end the relationship.
“It was devastating,” says Megan. “First of all, he was leaving me, but I was the one who was going to have to move out – this was his kids’ home.”
Leaving Craig was one thing, but leaving the children was a whole other thing, she says. It felt like she was losing her own children.
“For the previous five years I had been a parent to those kids – I’d spent more time with them than any other adult in their lives.”
Although heartbroken that they wouldn’t be living under the same roof, Megan assumed she’d still play a role in their lives.
“We couldn’t go from round the clock contact to nothing, I was sure, and we briefly talked about me having them on weekends or some sort of arrangement.”
But, instead, Megan seemed to be completely cut-off – it wasn’t fair on his new partner, he said, to have his ex on the scene so much.
Megan began dealing with the loss of losing these kids who had been an integral part of her life – as well as greater sense of loss, that the hole she was feeling in her life may never be filled.
“I’d always thought I’d have children, but with Craig I felt like I did, so we didn’t really think about having our own – we already had our hands full,” she says.
“People ask me if I had children and I don’t know how to answer them. I did? I do? Sort of? Not anymore? No? Nothing sounds like the right answer. I miss those kids so much.”
Megan says the pain is overwhelming at times. “Normally you go through a break-up and you wonder if your ex still thinks about or ever misses you. It’s like that, but it’s the kids I’m thinking about. I was so easily replaced. Is she more amazing than me? Do they miss me? But then I don’t want them to be unhappy, I want this new woman to be looking after them.”
“It hits me at the weirdest times. Sometimes I’ll be driving and will look into the backseat, still expecting a little voice to be singing along to Frozen or asking if I can stop for an ice block. I was in the supermarket the other day when I saw a woman with two kids around the same age as them and I burst out crying.”
Megan says the loneliness of the situation is really confronting – she’s spent many a late night googling and has found plenty of resources for how to coach children through a separation, there’s little or no information about how to deal with her unique situation – which is becoming increasingly less unique.
Even seeing a therapist about it was complex for Megan. “At our first session I talked about the pain I was feeling – I couldn’t stop thinking about them and wondering about things like how the youngest got on with his maths test, and whether the eldest had finished reading all the Harry Potter books yet. She said to me, ‘Do you know, they very likely think about you too.’ It felt like she had stabbed me. I felt so guilty and miserable and sad. I couldn’t go back to her.”
But Megan had a change of heart recently. “I read an article in Capsule, actually, with Sharyn Casey talking about how finding a therapist is a bit like dating and takes a while to find your right match,” she tells. And now, she thinks she may have found her match.
“I was definitely starting to veer into crazy, which wasn’t helped by lockdown,” she admits. “I’d tried getting in touch with my ex, but he never responded. So I started thinking about doing a drive by in their suburb, or calling his ex-wife, or contacting his new partner.”
That’s when her new therapist – the third she tried – set her a few pieces of homework, including writing letters to each of the children, her ex and her exes new partner, getting out everything she wanted to say, then lighting them on fire.
It’s also helped clarify something in her life – she does want to be a mother and have children in her life once more. So, at 38 she’s not waiting around to see if she can find the right guy – “it’s impossible to date properly in lockdown, anyway,” she says – so she’s investigating sperm donors. “I know the process will take a while, which is probably a good thing because I still have some grief to process.”
She says that having a child won’t fill the hole that her ex-partner’s children have left in her life, but she can clearly see now how much fulfilment she got from being a parent and it’s something she’s determined to experience again.