"It's ok for you" he said, "you've got children and you've been married...."
At that point I felt like my heart and my stomach had been punched.
It was easier in one way, I'd just ended something that would never go anywhere with someone I didn't expect to have feelings for. I didn't expect him to have feelings for me too.
It went from what should have been "a bit of fun" to something that was "fun with baggage" and I had to protect myself.
I spent the morning crying on my bed, surprised at how much my heart ached.
And all of a sudden, that ache turned into a different kind of hurt as I realised he didn't really get what I am going through.
I realised that maybe this is what others think. How others see me.
I snapped back.
"It is not ok for me at all. I have children yes but I have *BEEN* married" I went on about how I only get to see my children for half of the time I should. How I actually FAILED at keeping a family together. How I FAILED at marriage.
My exact words were "this is actually f*cking sh*t".
Being (almost) divorced was never part of my life plan.
Get a kitten.
Get a mortgage.
Have a holiday.
Divorce wasn't what I wanted. I wanted a good marriage. I wanted to be with someone who made me happy. Someone who I loved.
Divorce wasn't an easy choice, it was the only choice.
I wonder if that's what others think of me?
It's ok, I have two children, I did the whole being married thing so I have nothing to complain about?
I can just get on with life.
I should probably avoid men, like him, who have no children and haven't been married because I've done that. And clearly couldn't do any of that again?!
Are my options limited then to men who are in the same situation as me? Men who, like me, it's ok for because they also have children and have also been married.
How are we supposed to tell each other apart?
"Hi, I'm Lauren. Nice to meet you. Do you have children or have you ever been married? No? Oh sorry. You can't even consider being anything with me".
Is it something I need to announce? Or straight away introduce?
Does the slight indent on my ring finger not give it away enough?
The box and option on a drop down menu that almost shouts "FAILED MARRIAGE RIGHT HERE!!!"
The "are you ms or still mrs?" questions when asked my title.
The marks on my tummy from carrying those two children.
The fact that my tummy is not as toned as that of a woman who hasn't yet had children.
I felt, as I have before, that those two things...the divorce and my children, again stuck me in that pen. The one that doesn't let me run as free as those without children, those who haven't been married. The ones who have no "baggage" and are 100% eligible.
I'm in this pen that reads "Probably desperate for attention and fun. Do not consider for anything serious. Dates must be avoided".
But it's ok. I've just come out of a marriage right? I won't want to experience those early days of meeting someone. Of falling in love and wanting to be together a lot.
Surely I must still be in love with my (almost) ex-husband because how dare I have fallen out of love with him before we actually split?!
I have children so of course I wouldn't ever consider carrying a child for someone else who I love. Whether or not he has children with someone else from a previous relationship.
Last week during a chat with a guy friend, about this situation, I was told that I deserve more. I deserve more than what he was offering me and what he was giving me.
And I didn't believe it. I still don't.
Because that's how you are made to feel. Or at least how I have been.
I don't deserve more than being anything but "fun".
Even if I know the rules from the beginning. If I know that "it will never be more than..." I am totally out of order to then turn round and say "hey. I deserve more than this" because it's ok for me. I've done the serious thing. And now, I'm only ok to have fun with.
I am this odd mixture of someone with confidence yet low self esteem. Low self worth.
I believe I am the person that others treat me as. And to be strong enough to turn around and say "actually. It's not ok for me in the slightest" makes me feel kind of proud.
People surprise me and shock me sometimes.
We are all here for the same reason. And I feel so often that as humans we kind of forget that we should be supporting each other through life.
It is hard for all of us. We do well to get through each day.
Yet instead of support we make these rules up of where we can each go next or how we are to live our lives due to past experience.
Right now, I feel I need that fellow human support more than ever.
I feel like whilst everyone I running I am slowing dragging behind. Injured. Needing someone to hold me up to help me along.
But that's ok of course. Because I've had children. I've been married.
And struggling is obviously what I now deserve.