At the beginning of the school holidays I went for a walk with Mother of Four. It has been well over a year since I have seen her, may be nearly two, though once we are together it feels like only yesterday. I love having friends like that, ones that know you so well that you can pick up at any point and they know how you feel, ones that you can discuss anything with and who you can sit with for hours putting the world to rights.
She has always lived more of a chaotic life, and certainly doesn't follow many norms, but I can always rely on her to tell the truth.
As we walked along in the summer sun, all children in tow but in various groups based on age and gender dotted along the path behind us, we started to catch up with the last 12 months of family life. It was over 2 years ago now that we spent New Years Eve together, her telling me how awful her marriage was, and me listening to her whilst trudging about in the snow!
"I'm sorry I haven't been in touch" she says after we've caught up with a few months of news.
"That's OK" I reply "We all have such busy lives don't we?"
"Yes" She says " But I deliberately kept away"
"Oh" (I told you I could always rely on her to be honest) I frowned at her enquiringly, seeking an answer.
"You see, I didn't want to know about how you were doing because I was jealous"
I looked at her with incredulity, after all the drama of the last 2 years I really couldn't see what anyone could be jealous of.
"You were brave enough to do it..." She carried on "You left him, and you made a life for you and your children, you saw it through to the end. You had the courage."
"And broke up the family home" I replied "And gave the children 2 single parents to live with in turn, with little financial security, I don't think that's much to be jealous of, do you?!" (I still feel unbearably guilty and sad when I think about how I destroyed the children's family unit.)
"But you're a good example to your daughter" She exclaimed. "You were strong and refused to live a lie. I wanted all you had" She continued "But I wasn't strong enough, even though I tried"
I have to admit, I've never thought of it quite like that.
She explained that it has been only in the last few weeks that she and her husband have reconciled themselves. She feels they might survive now, she is at least speaking to him! And I look at her and wonder if staying power is good or foolish, then realise there is no one answer to any question that's worth asking.
Later on that evening I texted her: "Great day and thanks for your honesty, I really appreciate it" And I did, it helped me explain other peoples reactions. I think I wrote ages ago, how some friends keep in touch less now and how I miss them, and perhaps she has provided an alternative answer to why. So many people were completely shocked when my marriage failed. Several said it made them look to their own; were they secure? Apparently we were, from the outside, the 'perfect' couple. So perhaps that's why one or two have dropped by the wayside, not because they didn't approve of me (as I had thought) but because they didn't trust their own positions. And in a way I'd rather it was that, because disapproval is far more difficult to cope with.