I'm divorced. You probably know that! So I've been through that last week of a relationship before. And like this one, it was a fairly big step, ending that relationship. We'd met when I was 17 and he was nearly 22 and at the point I walked out we were 38 and 43. We didn't remember a time before but things had been going wrong for a while, our paths diverging. I still felt young and vibrant, he had become middle-aged, conservative (with a small c) and jaded. He constantly wanted me to 'act my age' - that meant no blogging (and here I am still doing it eight years on - what a rebel!), no Flickr, no tweeting, you name it. I was meant to work fulltime, then come home, and do everything at home and everything with the kids. I was actually meant to be Mrs Career Woman and Patronising BT lady all rolled into one. Anyway, I'm off on a tangent. We saw our futures in very different places, a bit like you would if one of you wanted to lurch to the right politically and the other was still striving for a socially just society.
The last week was a roller coaster. I had flowers bought for me. They were beautiful. I hated them. I remember thinking it was ironic that in 20 years I had never been given anything like these flowers, not when I'd had our babies, not when I'd had special birthdays or anniversaries, just when I told him I intended to leave. I also had a laptop thrown at me. He'd installed spyware on my machine to monitor my emails and didn't like what I'd been writing. I was offered expensive jewellery, I was offered a car. I was hissed at in anger. He frothed at the mouth as he told me I was a worthless person who would amount to nothing alone and that I would come back on my knees begging both forgiveness and a second chance and that he'd decide at that point whether he felt like granting me it or not. I was told I needed his money. I was told he'd take me to court, have my children taken from me as I was the 'worst mother in the world'. I was offered holidays, meals in restaurants... It was a surreal week. The night I told him I had made up my mind and nothing would stop me, he asked me to stay just till the morning because it would be easier to leave in the day light.
But left at nearly midnight. I found the courage and I walked away. I was calm and somehow I knew that no matter where I ended up, it would be better than continuing to live with my wealthy husband, in our middle-class house with our foreign holidays and café lifestyle. I was right. Eight years on I sit here and I shiver at the thought of what would have happened if I'd stayed just till the morning, and then just till the next. Our problems were insurmountable and without him I am me again. The promises, the abuse, the ignoring, the diverging viewpoints would simply have got worse over time. I would have danced on eggshells, embarrassingly and pathetically while he toggled between abuse and ignoring, seething self-righteousness and condescending nastiness. And I would have regretted over and over my passing up of that one chance to change my one life on this planet for the better. Once you get to that last week, once your mind is made up, threats, bullying and rushed empty promises are not reasons to change your mind.