John Marsden Writing Topic #169
The Branches On My Family Tree
Sebastian and I married in January 1985 and managed to get jobs–Sebastian managed to get a sales job at a sports equipment company and I managed to get a part-time job as a junior receptionist when Joanna was about six months old. We managed to find a modest unit to rent, Andy didn’t kick us out, however we felt we should try to stand on our own two feet. We got along alright, however neither of us were happy, however Sebastian wasn’t good at hiding his unhappiness as I was.
In February 1987 our lives would change forever….again. Two years into our marriage, Sebastian ran into his ex-girlfriend, his girlfriend before me, Leah Brunwell. Leah was one of the most popular girls in school, everybody liked her and she was the double whammy of brains and beauty. Her and Sebastian went out for a few months when they were 14 before her mother got a job in another town, despite the break-up, they ended up staying friends for a while, but eventually lost touch. Leah came into the store he was working at to enquire about sports equipment for her workplace’s tennis team. She was a trainee at a marketing company, he told me, I felt uneasy from the moment he mentioned her. By this point, we were both going through the motions but also really wanted to make it work. They caught up in his lunch break and he spent his time making sure that the order for her company was perfect.
Sebastian had grown increasingly distant and I was becoming more and more anxious. But one day it all came to head when I took Joanna to the park and saw them there together, having a picnic and caught them kissing. The worst part of it was I couldn’t confront him and scream like I wanted due to being with my child and in public, so I had to wait until he came home. We went home and I called Prue and asked if she could babysit. Being the wonderful friend that she was, even though she had her own husband, Dan, and son, Jake, who was only a few months old to take care of, she was there for me and looked after her, while I waited for Sebastian to officially confirm that our marriage was over.
I was calm at first when I told him he was sprung, he didn’t deny it. I asked him if he wanted to be with Leah and not just have an affair and he said yes. I then got my chance to yell, asking why did he have to cheat, why not just end things without hurting and betraying me. He just apologised profusely, not wanting me to cry, but it didn’t help, it never would. The confrontation was intense, but not nasty, we knew we were going through the motions, but wanted to do right by Joanna. Sebastian packed up and moved out and we agreed to divorce, Joanna would live with me. Sebastian and Leah wasted no time in getting officially together a month later.
Our divorce was finalised in September 1988, Sebastian and I had been living apart, agreed on custody and being that we were barely past 20, we didn’t own a home or a car, so our divorce was quick (with the exception of having to live apart for a year before applying), simple, but certainly not painless. Sebastian and Leah were still going strong at a little over a year-and-a-half together–almost as long as our marriage. It was hard to adjust to seeing my husband and his ex-girlfriend together, especially around our child. Leah did explain her perspective, she didn’t intend to break up our marriage and she did fight her feelings, but Sebastian felt that our marriage was over. Funny thing, I actually believed her. As I adjusted, so did my feelings, I did accept their relationship and Leah and I eventually became friends, even if it was weird at times.
On Christmas Eve 1988, Sebastian decided to surprise Leah with a Christmas present early by proposing. She of course said yes. Although I had moved on, it was still hard to accept, especially since it was almost around the same time four years earlier that he had proposed to me and it was only a month away from what would-have-been our four year wedding anniversary. Nevertheless I put a smile on my face and said congratulations, they were happy and Leah, despite the circumstances, is a good person.
With that yes, our family would expand.
**Reference: Marsden J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.