It's not been possible to maintain a wholly positive outlook - I think I hit the metaphorical wall about a month ago. All the efforts to keep things normal and positive became too much, and I had to give myself a break. In fact, my solicitor instructed me to take a break before I 'cracked up', because I had to squarely face head on the reality that my family is over - and no amount of stitching it back together by always being 'nice' is going to make it ok.
So far my boys haven't been upset at all, which surprised me. I expected some tears and tantrums from Sprout, but if he's noticed, he isn't too worried yet. After fretting about it all and chewing my mum's ear off about my worries, she reminded me gently that (especially where we are living) many, many children do not see their military fathers for months at a time - no-one starts saying they have been irrevocably damaged by this, or that they will stop loving the absent parent. Even without letters, skype or telephones, somehow children survive. Of course she is right, so I have unwound another notch knowing that is the case.
I did waste some precious energy worrying that people would think I was being unreasonable, unfair or malicious by asking for some time out. Then I realised that the only person who is likely to think that, is STBXH. Largely because he cannot see that the way he treats me has consequences, and therefore he is responsible, not me, for pushing things to this point. As I am resigned to the fact that he will never accept responsibility for this situation, I need to let go of worrying about his opinion of me. I ran into an old friend recently at toddler group in our small town. I've not seen her for a decade or more, but she had (as is the way with small towns) heard of my 'situation'! And she blithely informed me that "Choco, the facts speak for themselves. You don't need to be a genius to see that he has treated you and the boys appallingly".
It's true, he has. But somehow it has taken me a full 10 months for the enormity of it all to sink in. Now I need to take the next three weeks before the week in, week out cycle of handing over the children and dealing with him face to face picks up again, to put some effort into building a solid foundation back up. Thank you for holding my hand again while I try x