Our column opens up the life of a single mum – juggling life, love, work and of course kids on her own.
Sal Higgins is an author and journalist and mum to five kids, ranging in age from 19 to two, and is now raising them on her own. Her estranged husband has the usual alternate weekend arrangement, which means most of it’s down to her. She lives just outside London with her kids and their dog, Jamjar.
Here, she tells of her new life, the ups ands downs, the laughs and tears and the search for a new love – which, of course, will be her children’s new dad.
I couldn’t see my husband’s intentions. Now when I look back, I realise he was not really ‘with’ me. We were arguing over me getting no support from him. He was surly, difficult and brooding. But the fog of grief shrouded my sense of what was going on…
So life in the Higgins household is strangely peaceful without my husband. We are a lovely little unit of fun, hugs and snuggles. Most of the children end up in my bed at some point in the night, which with all that’s happened, is very comforting for us all.
As I said, he had been having an affair, but last night he phoned me and told me that if I told anyone or his workplace about his fling – he would get a ‘knife in his back’ and his mistress would come ‘gunning for me’.
I put the phone down. Shaking.
My dad poured me a glass of wine. “He said what?” he said in disbelief. So as if it wasn’t bad enough that he had left, had an affair, pulled his resources and emptied our joint bank account – now he was threatening me as well. Is this really happening?
Oh and did I tell you all this happened just weeks after I buried my mother?
And no, i’m not on one of these TV shows about fractured families and warring couples. My life was quite normal, yes busy, but nothing out of the ordinary between caring for small children, working and helping my mother through her endless painful terminal chemo journey and doing the day to day school run and activities…
It was a hard time and I got no support from my husband. I noticed the odd text coming through at night and he started to sleep with his phone – but in the mist that was my life – concentrating on the children, my mum and trying to support my dad, I couldn’t see my husband’s intentions. Now when I look back, I realise he was not really ‘with’ me. We were arguing over me getting no support from him. He was surly, difficult and brooding. But the fog of grief shrouded my sense of what was going on…
I’m a believer of Karma – or i was. I always treat people well and expect them to treat me the same. But what was happening right now just didn’t make sense.
All I can think is that my husband is mentally unstable – you just don’t do these things to anyone when they are at their most vulnerable.
You wouldn’t do it to your neighbour, never mind someone who you had married, had five kids with, had been in hospital when two of their kids had gone through major surgeries – and yet now, he was this exploding ball of rage every time I saw him… it’s all i can think of as before he left, he kept saying he was ‘going for a walk in the forest’. Whatever that meant. He wondered if he was bi-polar. Up one minute, down the next. Always difficult to manage.
I continue to follow the advice of my wise friend Linda. ‘See who emerges in this time of grief and crisis? Do you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be there? Do you want to be with someone who can treat you like this? Let him go.
I keep telling myself. Hold on. It can only get better. But I’m so tired. It’s very hard to do it alone. It’s not something you consider doing yourself. Raise five kids. Support them emotionally and financially. I find myself lying in bed with tears falling down the sides of my cheeks. I talk to my dead mum. I hope she’s listening. What am I going to do?