I am frequently bewildered by how hard being a grown up is and often feel like I’m doing a pretty poor job of pretending to be one. Never more so than when trying to manage relationships – specifically broken ones.

Two years on, post separation and in my experience it’s still one step forward and three hundred back. Exhausting. Nostalgia, sentiment, lingering attraction and the faces of four beautiful children all jostle for head space alongside memories of misery, tears and silent screams not to mention the obvious – I made the break and that nearly broke me so how insane would I have to be to go back.

“I don’t know what’s worse – us arguing or getting on well,” I said lightheartedly to a certain person today. At least when we argue I’m clear. As crystal. When I lighten up and allow a bit of banter and humour to creep back into our exchanges it seems to be immediately interpreted as an invitation to ignore any of the rules of separation and act is if we were one soppy song away from the reunion of the year. We’re not and that is heartbreaking in so many ways but self-preservation has kicked in to such a degree these days that I don’t think I could go back even if I wanted to.

I wonder how Katie Holmes is feeling this week. Elated that’s she taken the first steps towards reclaiming her own life and happiness? Or terrified by the painful realisation that the real battle is only just beginning. The fact is, when children are involved, the complications never really end and that’s the most heartbreaking thing of all. I should count my blessings though. As far as I know I’m not being followed and I don’t think there are plans afoot to whisk any or all of my mischievous four off to some military style Scientology academy. One day at a time, Katie. And if you ever need reassurance about the choice you’ve made just ask those around you who have known and loved you the longest – if you’re lucky they will be there to give you a hug and gently reassure you that you’ve done the right thing. Or if that doesn’t work, just find a quiet place and ask yourself. If you listen really hard, however much you’re doubting and however many tears you still shed, I bet you’ll hear a yes.

Emma Campbell

Author Emma Campbell

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