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Dear First Husband

Shout out to my ex

It’s 3am on 22nd August and I’m rambling, writing down whatever comes into my head, stuff that I want to say to you because writing stuff down is easier than saying it. Even though we both said a lot yesterday.

I always write on here about my Second husband, and how much I love him. But I never write about you, my First. I divorced you seven years ago.

Maybe I don’t write because I’m ashamed of how I treated you.

It’s time certain things were said. Ever since I signed my divorce papers, I’ve been bottling it up and I’m writing this so maybe you know, because despite all my tears today, maybe I still haven’t said what I really mean. When I signed those papers at the solicitor’s office in Kings Lynn, I could barely look as the scrawl came out of the biro because it was like the end of all things. It was like the nail.

It’s August 21st 2020 and we’re sitting at a socially distanced table in Costa Coffee, East Croydon. You’re kind of mad because you have missed the air bridge by about 18hrs and are told you have to quarantine. You drove for 3hrs across Portugal to be told you had to wait another 18hrs but you got on the plane anyway because you were so desperate to get here. You’re mad, but okay; not mad in the way you used to get mad, but a kind of over 40s resignation on life. A weary ‘life’s too short’ sigh, but this whole isolation thing is still annoying even though I know you will spend it strumming your guitar and playing computer games.

So here we are, and we really talk, more than we have done for years. And I’m grateful because it’s taken so long for us to be able to talk. I think some significant element of time needed to have gone by before we have been able to talk like this and say words that are buried so deep that it has taken this global pandemic thing to pull them out.

I have been through such a lot in my life, traumas, accidents, abuse, estranged from my own family, awful things. Even my own mother didn’t want me. I lost our baby at Southend hospital and you lay down next to me on the ward, put your face into my shoulder sobbing and said ‘I really wanted her’ and the pain of losing her made us feel like it was us against the world and that we were inseparable forever. But that last night in our house in Southend, was the darkest night. We didn’t sleep. I remember sitting at the computer table downstairs, surrounded by the boxes of my life. I was crying. You were crying. You begged me to stay, despite the fact I wasn’t in love with you anymore, despite the fact that I had ordered a taxi for 9am to remove myself from your life. Despite the fact your daughter had died in my womb.

But even then, I still took your son away. Let another guy bring up your son and you were so hurt you left the country. You said you had to leave and get to some place physically and mentally where the sun always shines and there was no storm upon your back, just the wind and the waves to wash away the hurt. And now with this awful pandemic, you’ve been apart from your son for seven months. No-one deserves that. So when you walked into Costa Coffee at East Croydon and the two of you literally collapsed into each other’s arms in tears and he’s going ‘I love you Dad’ - not like the mature teenager he’s become, but like he’s a little kid again - well it flipping destroyed me.

You see - I have never had a parent who loves me so much like you love him, so I’m moved.

The joy of seeing you two back together, it just started me off; seeing you with your arms round him and you’re in bits, your eyes are flooding because he’s your only child and you’d walk through the fires of Sauron, you’d lay down the world for him to walk over. I did that to you, and I’ve taken the years you would have had with him away. And now I’m begging you with everything I have, because I’m not saying it in enough words, that you stay in England so he’s got his Daddy there when he does his GCSEs; he’s such a great kid. I want you to share in all the joy that he brings.

Well, I cry my eyes out and people are looking at me in Costa Coffee ‘cos I’m blubbing now. In guilt, in shame, whatever, I don’t know. Because it’s been seven years and I feel so bad for hurting you. I see the hurt so deeply on your face like a deepening furrow that will never be smooth. If I could take away any of your hurt I would. And for the first time in seven years, I say sorry. I say ‘I’m so sorry for hurting you’ and you’re like ‘it’s fine’ because that’s you – you’re a good bloke and you squeeze my hand across the table and when you do that, I see that flash on your face – the same face you had when I lost our daughter – and you start to well up even more. You’re such a good bloke who didn’t do a thing wrong, and you loved me for years, you still love me despite what I did to you. It’s all been me that dished the hurt. You never laid anything on. But I laid it thick with a trowel and I bricked it higher.

Well, we’re seven years on now and I guess, I look back and think what a terrible person I’ve been to you. I hurt you so much and it’s now 4am and I sit here and wonder if I will ever forgive myself, that maybe only God can judge me.

I will always love you. And I know this. Sometimes life just chucks the rocks and the stones into your path and you can either dodge out of the way or get hit by them. I dodged. But know this - I don’t regret one second of our life together, not one day, one hour, not carrying your children in my belly although one didn’t make it through to this world. Our marriage was happy. And I’m glad we have our boy because he will always tie us together. I’m glad of this because the thought of you drifting off into the distance and never being in my life and me never having any contact with you, is too much to bear. In totally selfish thought processes on my part. So it makes us get along, we can still be friends of sorts, for the sake of our son who loves us both so much.

So, I went away after being at East Croydon and sobbed in the arms of my Second, and part of the reason I love him, the Second, so much is because he understood why I was upset, he was so wonderful and said that it was all okay. He said ‘He’s a decent bloke’ and he meant it. There was no jealousy, no possession order, no mood. You’re staying not too far away in Essex. I said to my Second that I really wanted the First to stay around for our boy’s sake, and God – he too is the best bloke in the world, and he’s like ‘Probably a good idea’.

I am not writing this for forgiveness, or out of self reproach. I write it to say sorry. I never expect your forgiveness. Maybe you will read this, maybe you won’t. I am writing this because stuff is happening as we fall into middle age, and there’s some realisation on my part. I am not an easy person, I know that. I hide things from the world and don’t say what I should; I speak inappropriately at the best of times. I don’t know how to do or how to say. But I’m trying to say sorry, but also thankyou, for not getting so mad, and for being a Dad who loves his boy, and for all the time that we had together over many years - well that does matter to me. I want you to know that and accept it for our sanity’s sake.

So - Miguel Javier Savage-Juarez, or Mike as I know you - I hope you find love again, I honestly do.