The Guilt Factor


I’ve been trying to write this sort of post for weeks. Do I put it as my Facebook status? Do I tweet an explanation? Social media, as many of you know, is a central part of me and I’m not even ashamed to admit it because the outreach of, lets be frank, total strangers in some cases has been a lifeline to me over and over again. I’ve alluded to what has been happening and what’s changed. Luckily, my close friends and family know. It’s so hard to say, it’s so hard to admit that I wasn’t right, that I couldn’t make everything keep ticking over nicely.

So here it is, in black and white. I am no longer living with my husband, and my children. My husband and I are separated, and divorcing. That is a big word. Divorce. Bigger than Marriage, it’s the final nail in the coffin, so serious and macabre. I suppose you could say I am an absent Mother, even though nothing could be further than the truth. I’m not with my children 24/7 anymore, because I’m no longer in the role of a full-time stay at home Mum. My children are always, constantly and harrowingly in my thoughts. Every second of the day. Its 12:15pm as I write this, and they’ll probably be having their lunch in time for their afternoon nap. It’s a gloriously beautiful day, so maybe their Father has taken them to the park, maybe Brockwell Park with it’s water jets?But my children are happy, healthy and loved so, so much. I see them as much as I can. “But…what are you DOING?”. I’ll tell you, shall I? I am avoiding certain shops because their baby aisles are too near the toothbrush aisles. I am avoiding tweeting at certain times because I cannot stand all the references to people’s children. I am squeezing my eyes shut and pretending I’m asleep when I see babies on the tube. I’m feeling guilty. All the time. Guilty that my 23 month old daughter is teething, and I can’t be there to help her, to tag team through the awful nights with her father. Guilty that I can’t provide them with more financial assistance just yet. Guilty that their Dad is doing everything and must be absolutely shattered. I feel silenced. I feel liberated.And I am feeling worried. About everything. What’s going to happen? What do people think of me? Always worrying about what people think of me. And I’m jealous. Jealous that their father has the confidence and enthusiasm to take them to two different playgroups a day. I was always so anxious, so scared, so exhausted. I saw the journey there as a huge obstacle in my way. A bus, sometimes two. My three year old on foot, or standing on the back of the Maclaren, with his baby sister sitting in the pushchair, normally screeching “Out! I get out!”.

Sometimes, though. Sometimes I don’t think about my children. And that’s when the guilt creeps in, just there in the background at first “Hey. Hey, what are you doing?” until it’s there, right up in front of me, in my face “Why aren’t you doing more? Why aren’t you thinking about your children? Why aren’t you calling them, why aren’t you trying to see them?”. Sometimes I’ll catch myself laughing about something, recounting a time from the past, before I was Mrs, before I was Mum and I’ll think “Who are you kidding?”. I am so, so tired of beating myself up. I am so tired of trying to explain my actions, explain myself. There are parts of me that aren’t anything to do with children, that they have no bearing on, when I’m just Me, not Me The Mum.  I know I’m not a monster. I’m just one person, one woman, and sometimes sad stuff happens. Life, innit? What a cunt. The stupid thing is, I’m not actually that sad. My children are thriving, happy, well adjusted. Their Father is amazing in his role as Dad, that’s truly what he was born to do and I cannot fault him one iota in that. I’m no longer anxious, and rock-bottom depressed anymore. The time I get to spend with my children, no matter how brief it may be, is a thousand times better than it was before our situation changed, because we’re all Going To Be Okay now. The guilt will go, I know it’s normal to let go now, I know I’m safe to do so. I’m living back with my Mum, Step Father, Brother and Sister and we’re all closer than ever. That is the best thing to have come out from all this. I feel guilty (again) that I lost touch for so long. I’m sorry, I am truly sorry. Never again.


It’s only the past fortnight or so that I’ve actually felt like I know who I am, like I’m walking into the light of the living room from the dark hallway, no lights. I feel like I am awake now, and I know what things I like, how I like to dress, mediocre things like that. I was talking about my favorite film a few nights ago and I said “It’s Ghost World”. I would have been incapable of making a decision like that previously because I didn’t know what I liked; I just felt lost and displaced. I started buying loads of grey marl tops and dresses because that’s what I like. When you’ve changed roles so dramatically, it’s hard to find your place. But I’ve found it now, and I’m okay. I’m being discharged from CBT shortly, and I’m not panicking about it anymore. My name is Ruth. I am 27. I’m a Mother, but I don’t live with my children. I live with my parents, and my siblings. My sister is absolutely hilarious, and I am honored that she’s MY little sister. I like sci-fi, but I’ve only seen one Star Wars film, and the last 25 minutes went over my head. I drink gin. I drink red wine. I don’t like coriander. I refuse to compromise. I swear a lot. I’m a feminist, damn right I am. I’m a good friend. I’m nervous and anxious. I can tell you how to get to any two points in London via bus. I’m Jewish, but I don’t keep Kosher.  I’m okay, and I’m happy. When someone tells me I’m amazing, I’m going to start believing it because I have to take that chance.


6 thoughts on “The Guilt Factor

  1. Wow, I don’t really know what to say because I want to say incredible, stunning post (but that seems shallow) but I also want to say how much I admire your honesty and courage. Sounds like you are doing the very best for the kiddos, I hope you don’t feel judged ever. And I hope you keep on feeling better x

  2. I left a comment on Facebook but I’m gonna leave one here too. You are simply so amazing Ruth. I’m really glad that you are able to be at peace with the decisions you have made, and I also admire your courage. I hope you manage to keep feeling better and better, and I can honestly say I can relate with what you have been through/are going through. I personally, thought I was alone in my actions, in what was going on, and I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that I am so proud of you. I really hope we can meet up again sometime and talk and hang out. I miss the old days, and I miss you.

  3. Crikey Ruth, I hope you carry on starting to feel better and that you keep speaking the truth. Much love. Xx

  4. Wow Ruth, what an amazingly open and honest post. I just wanted to say well done you. No one should judge because everyone’s situations are different and from what I’ve read your decision was made solely with the thought of your children and what’s best for them. Stay strong and always remember, they will love their Mummy forever xxx Pebbles from EDF xxx

  5. How brave. For writing this as well as for doing this. It sounds as though you are being selfless for your children rather than selfish for your own sake. There will be disapproval from people, and that’s hard too, but people constantly disapprove of far more trivial things, particularly to do with children, so best ignore it all. I read your next post too and I hope you do feel better, soon. Everyone deserves contentment, especially someone with the courage to do something so hard. At the risk of sounding a bit Ali G – respect.

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