I didn't know how to break it to my parents about our split. I finally 'fessed up' on Boxing Day, 2008. At this point, we had been separated for three months, but had not told anyone.
Christmas was proving a total strain. I could see my ex was dying inside as we sat in my parents' living room, totally ignoring each other as our son unwrapped presents and my mum blustered around with a never ending supply of cakes and biscuits. He desperately did not want to be there. Eventually, he said he had a headache and had to go home. My son and I stayed and my mother asked what was going on.
I couldn't keep it in any more. I sent my son upstairs and burst into tears and told them that the relationship was over but, for the sake of everyone concerned, we were going to stay living together, try to still be a family and not tell our son what was happening.
Their devastation was palpable. My mum asked if there was anything we could do to make it work for the sake of our son and I said No. It was too late.
I drove home wondering what the hell I had done. How I had ended up, in 15 years, precisely nowhere. I glanced in the rear-view mirror at my son, dozing blissfully unaware in the back seat, and the burden of guilt was leaden in my stomach. My own dissatisfaction with life had now ruined my former partner's, my son's and had a devastating effect on my parents. And with no end in sight, and with us still living together and 'keeping up appearances' to outsiders and extended family, it was going to continue to do so.