An unexpected email from the man who turned his back on us.

Just for a minute, can you imagine (or even recall) the feeling you get when you receive a message from someone you thought you'd never speak to again? Someone you haven't spoken to in years. It's a shock, isn't it?

What about when it's the person whom you've trained yourself  not to think about. Someone who your heart will never forget for whatever reason it may be. There just are certain people we encounter in life who will never really leave that little place they reserved in our hearts.

Now, imagine that person is the father to your child. But also, the one person whom you are 'forbidden' from contacting.  The father who walked away the minute those two lines showed on the pregnancy test. Suddenly, they've contacted you and well, 'shock' doesn't quite cover it, does it?

The mind is a strange thing. It clings onto memories which we might want to forget. And sometimes, when we try really hard to remind ourselves of things or recall a certain time, we simply can't. It's gone, wiped from our memory, even though we want to remember. The mind decides carefully which parts of our past are to remain in our memories, and which to let go of.

It's madness really that I can remember every single moment I ever spent with Etienne's father. Yet I haven't seen him in approximately three whole years, Not even once.

Ask me to share memories of a recent partner, things I remember about that relationships or even what I got up to yesterday morning and I will struggle to recall it. Ask me about the time when Etienne's father was a part of my life, and I'll be able to describe it in every little minor detail. My mind has clung onto the tiniest, most irrelevant details, down to what he was wearing the night he came to say goodbye.

I have nothing to remind me of him, no messages, no photographs from those times, nothing. Yet, I can remember everything down to the mundane tasks he helped me out with at work, tasks which hold no importance or relevance to my life whatsoever now, yet they are there in my mind vividly because they involved him.

I can still picture certain faces he pulled and the words he sent me in a text message three and a half years ago. I remember conversations we had about Made in Chelsea and my annoyance at him comparing me to Rosie. (If you've ever watched made in Chelsea, you'll have a strong idea of just how offended I was by this. Ha!)

I can still see the white chocolate cookie with my name on it he left above the safe at work for me as a surprise. I can recall exactly how I felt in his presence and I can still find humor in the things we used to laugh about. It's crazy, because I wasn't consciously taking in every little detail about him at the time and, had I not fallen pregnant by him, I probably would've never thought about this man again. He was only in my life for such a short while and in that time, I never imagined how important the part he played in my life was about to become.

He is and always will be the person of most significance to my life. That's not to say he's present or in any way a part of my life nowadays. Of course, in reality, he exists only in my past. But, meeting him changed my life. And I don't mean that in the cheesy, cliched way in which someone might use to describe their affection towards another. I mean, he really did change my life. Had I not met him, I wouldn't be a mother to Etienne. Sure, I might've gone on to meet someone else and yes, I might've had a baby then. Perhaps, even, that person wouldn't have left us. But that child would not be Etienne.

So, I think it's safe to say that I will never forget him, nor will I ever stop wondering about him. But actually, over time I have adjusted.

We, as humans, adapt and we can do so in almost any situation. We seem to have a way of surviving life's curve-balls and I think one of the truest sayings out there has to be "time is a healer." Because it really is.

I suppose the emotional roller-coaster I've been on since finding out I was pregnant has been similar to what I imagine grieving  to be like, in the sense that there is a process to it. There are stages: denial, anger, sadness/depression and acceptance. Over time, I have been through these stages and somewhere along the way, my head and my heart have teamed up and created some sort of comfort bubble. This bubble is not a delusional mindset I exist in to avoid reality, but more, it's a way of getting on with life and it's what shields me from the damage he caused from  having too much of an impact on my future.

 A subconscious bubble, simply to stop him from entering my thoughts every second of every day. Because, believe me, if I allowed him into my mind, I would never think about anything else. And what kind of mother would I be now if all I'd ever done since Etienne was born was mourn and wallow in self-pity over the fact that his father left us both. I mean, of course I've had to block the situation out to an extent.

 In fact, at one point, I managed to erase those thoughts and "what if's" to such an extent that when another person brought him up in conversation, I'd feel angry because they'd reminded me of a situation I was trying to move on from. I have had to let go and I have, along the way, become used to the silence between he and I. A silence, which at one point ( during the anger stage) drove me crazy. I was so mad at him for never responding to my E-mails back then and I was so desperate for him to acknowledge his son, but in time, the silence became normal and it provided me with the emotional space and peace I needed to move on with my life with Etienne.

So, when I rolled over first thing in the morning the other day to check my emails like usual, and found his name there in my inbox, I was in an absolute state of shock. This peaceful bubble had been burst. My "out of sight, out of mind" mantra I had lived by since early 2013, had been disrupted and there he was. The one person that I had accepted I'd never speak to again. In my inbox. Contacting me. I'd stopped bombarding with E-mails a long time ago and now, he was actually contacting me off his own accord. Out of nowhere.

Within a matter of seconds, a thousand thoughts had raced through my mind;

"OMG he's changed his mind. He wants to meet Etienne. He's read my blog. He wants to ask how we are. He has some news. Something's wrong. He's apologising. He's angry at me for writing about him..."

His name, alone, was enough to make my heart race and my palms sweat. Lets face it, he is not just 'anyone'; he is not like an 'ex' or somebody I simply lost touch with when life took us our separate ways. He is the other half of my beautiful boy. And even if he remains absent forever, he is family. By blood. I don't care what anyone says. Some might call him "just a sperm donor", or "a nobody in our lives" and some might even state that he "doesn't deserve to be called a father" and, in some ways they would be right, but he is and always will be the reason I became a mum. He is a father even if he chooses not to be. No amount of distance or time will ever change that fact.

 At a first glance, all I saw were the words "Dear Charlotte, I am writing to let you know..."

It's hard to describe what I was feeling in that moment, but it was a mixture of excitement, dread, anger, nerves and happiness all in one go. The feeling wasn't just in my mind, it literally made it's way through my entire body and I felt it most powerfully in my stomach; nervous butterflies, nausea, worry, relief. Pretty much every contrasting emotion a person could ever feel was rushing through my body at once. I'd already made up a number of different scenarios in my head before I'd even read the first line of his E-mail.

I scrolled through it faster than you could possibly imagine. I read it so quickly that I hadn't actually read it at all. I'd skimmed through it all the way to the bottom in the hope to find the point to his E-mail as quickly as possible, without having to read the sentences in-between. I became deaf to everything else around me, I'm pretty sure Etienne was chatting away to me and I completely ignored him. And there's nothing I hate more than seeing a child try their hardest to communicate with someone only to be ignored. But I was so absorbed by what was on the screen right in front of me. I needed to know why he was contacting me. What did he have to say? Why now? What had lead him to write to me?

I read it once more in order to gain a better understanding of the point he was trying to make and, despite having previously thought up every single scenario in my head and preparing myself for what he might have had to say, his E-mail still managed to shock me. His words were still entirely unexpected and he was, in fact, dropping a whole new bombshell onto the already mind-blowing situation.

I won't divulge what he had to say, since what he shared with me was his own personal information which I am in no position to share with you guys, but, what I will say is that in some ways, his E-mail answered many of the questions I'd previously asked. The fact is, he simply isn't in a position to be a parent. I wonder if, in some ways, he is protecting Etienne by staying away. Maybe he knows that his involvement might've only hindered Etienne's happiness and development. Maybe he saw my independent streak long before I did, and maybe he saw us both thriving as a single parent family.

I could keep guessing and I will probably never know what really goes through his mind. Though, his E-mail confirms the fact that I will  never be able to understand his ways of thinking or his way of dealing with things, nor will I ever be on his wave-length emotionally. What became most apparent from his message was the fact that my hope and dream of him one day reappearing in Etienne's life is in fact nothing but a dream. The chances are now incredibly slim and a whole lot of hope has been lost just from that one, short E-mail. It is confirmation that his mind is made up. It clarifies the fact that he is rebuilding his life far away from us and that he does not intend to turn back around.

I know, I've had almost 3 years to figure out that he wasn't about to change his mind and yes, I was told this from the start.  He consistently informed me that his mind was well made up and that his position remained unchanged, time after time. But, there was always that little part of me secretly thinking "well it's easy to say that now.." I always wondered if he might change his mind as he got older, if he went on to have a family elsewhere, would he then realise just what he'd missed out on with Etienne? Because it's true that you never understand the joy a child can bring into your life until you become a parent. You cannot imagine that love until it is right there in front of you. So, naturally I questioned his certainty. Now, I am 99.9999% sure that we will never see him again. There is not a single shred of hope left and in a way, it helps.

 Maybe it'll stop my mind from wandering, maybe I'll stop hoping for a different outcome now. I might even be able to stop myself from trying to guess what he's thinking and feeling or how he sleeps at night; if he ever thinks of us. Because, with what I've come to learn from his message, the reality is that he carries on with his life completely and utterly disconnected from this situation. Emotionally, he feels nothing towards either of us and I'm finally learning that this is not a reflection of myself or Etienne.

That message, will probably be the last I ever hear from him and, despite the indescribable levels of disappointment and anger I once felt towards him, I wished him well. I told him that I hope he finds happiness and success in whatever he does with his life. And, more importantly, I meant it.

I've spent a long time hating him, I've been through that stage and I've put it behind me because, no matter how hard it was to let go, I realised that in hating him I was only depriving myself of my own peace and happiness. I was hurting myself with all of the anger I felt towards him. And although his recent message had me feeling all of the negative emotions all over again and despite the fact that a lot of the old feelings resurfaced, I was able to remind myself of how far we've come without his presence. I am not one of these single mums who is there to slag my child's father off at every given opportunity or to call him every name under the sun. The situation is what it is and I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and the reason for all of this happening has finally become apparent.


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