My ex husband, wasn't really any different to my ex boyfriend. He just wasn't directly violent towards me. Not to begin with anyway.
His attitude was "Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen." Why was I attracted to this sort of person? Perhaps it was witnessing the relationship between my parents.
Before we actually became a couple, he would take me out for the evening but on numerous occasions he would leave with someone else so would go home alone. My mum had commented, "he's not the one for you."
We began going steady and once again I put up with feeling second best, but I was in love.
He wasn't an affectionate person. He rarely told me he loved me and would never hold my hand if we were out especially in public places. If I took his hand, he would shake it off. The first year together, he bought me a dozen red roses, organised by his mother, but nevertheless, he gave me flowers. For the next fourteen years we remained together, I never received birthday or Christmas cards, gift or token gestures for any other romantic occasion. His excuse? "I never had any money," or "you know how it is." No, I never knew how it was but I accepted it and hoped that one day he may surprise me.
He never did and I continued to love him. He liked attention from other women but was never unfaithful. It still did not deter him from leaving me alone for part of an evening while he chatted to a female friend. New Year’s eve while celebrating at our local pub, I wanted to welcome in the New Year by way of a kiss. He wasn't into that slushy stuff, but while waiting outside for him with a few friends, I set off back inside to find him kissing a girl. He told me she had grabbed him, but I was hurt. Especially as he didn't seem to want to kiss me. He wasn’t a womaniser; he simply liked female attention. I think he had a confidence issue and himself needed to feel wanted, nothing wrong in that, and I certainly wanted him, but confidence was something he lacked. A temper, sometimes violent, however, was something he did have especially when mixed with alcohol!
He once chased me up the stairs of a new house we had bought together. I ran into the bedroom and slammed the door to be followed by his fist, which almost broke clean through the wood. After he drank, especially brandy or cider, he would kick in a door or smash things, generally ornaments that I had collected. He told me it was because I had wound him up. I tried not to antagonise him in any way after he had been drinking but sometimes he would argue even if I refused to join in with the dispute, almost like the argument was running in his head.
Most of my friends he called idiots and if I was asked to go out for the evening with them my ex husband would suggest," we haven’t been out for ages, perhaps I would like us to go out together," or " what if you get chatted up? I wont be there to help you out of the situation."
He made me feel so guilty that I constantly found excuses for my friends, but I didn't want people to see him in a bad light or me not to have a voice. In the end, my friends simply stopped asking.
I felt totally unloved by my ex husband nevertheless loved him and we married July 1988. On our wedding day, and my arrival at the registry office, I wasn't greeted with, "you look stunning," he frowned at me and stated, "you're late!" Shortly after we married I fell pregnant. I could love my baby unconditionally and my baby would love me in return but the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I was devastated. My grandmother was very poorly at the time and to my dismay and heartbreak she died. I had begun to bleed and the doctor had made an appointment for me to have a scan. My ex husband focused on work, the day of my appointment which collided with my Grandmothers funeral. My grandmother was dead and so was my baby. My pregnancy had ended and my ex husband, whom I needed with me, was at work leaving the only support I had to my best friend who had been kind enough to take me to the hospital. My ex husband never showed any outward grief or emotion, maybe it wasn’t how he felt inside, perhaps he was as distraught as I was and refused to outwardly express himself.
Nevertheless a few months later I fell pregnant again and delighted the pregnancy progressed full term with no problems, delivered my darling son and once again my ex husband was absent. He was taking his colleagues to work and completely missed the birth but mum was there to hold my hand. Six years on I fell pregnant with my second child. This time a friend and neighbour took me to hospital for an induction as at this time my ex husband chose to stay at home. I endured my labour alone and gave birth to my beautiful daughter and unable to contact him, called my mother to give her the good news.
I lived for my children, I adored them and wanted to give them everything they asked for. Running around for parties or football was more often left to me and like any parent, it was at times inconvenient, but as a parent it was expected as it is part of the job. My ex husbands contribution to the family relationship was for him to go out to work and that was it.
When my daughter was old enough for school, I secured a part time job in a local branch of Woolworth’s. I loved it and I joined the team of Entertainment specialists. In English terms, I sold CD's, DVD's and books and it was so much fun. The people I worked with were great, we were like a family, and most of the customers we friendly too.
My ex husband didn’t like it. If we were out together and a man spoke to me he would ask, "who was that?"
" A customer from work," I would reply, but he always looked disapprovingly or untrustingly. This was why he took the attitude of not wanting me to go out without him in case I got into a situation I couldn't get out of. He told me he wouldn't be there to protect me. What he was actually saying was he didn't trust me.
" Its not the case," he would argue, "it’s the blokes I don’t trust, not you."
What transpired was, he was afraid I would meet someone and leave him, so to prevent me from socializing without him would mean I couldn't meet someone else and therefore his anxieties would never materialize. I made excuses for my husband, told my friends it
was me who didn't really fancy going out. I didn't want them to see my ex husband as a control freak and certainly not a dictator. To all my friends and family, we had a perfect, loving relationship. Friends and family were never aware of what really went on behind closed doors. I didn't want to appear as a victim yet again
I can't even remember where everything went wrong. Perhaps it was staring me in the face all of the time, but for years, I chose to ignore it. I was a devoted wife making sure there was a meal on the table when my ex husband came home from work and our home clean and tidy. One time I cooked a special meal. I wanted to try something different unlike the boring meat and three vegetables he enjoyed and was used too, so I prepared a special dish of chicken with red wine sauce, croquet potatoes and green beans. He looked at the plate and asked, "what’s this?" then proceeded to push the plate away and said, "I'm not eating that!" I quickly disappeared into the kitchen and prepared Gammon steak with chips, something much more appealing to him.
Clothes were ironed and our home was tidy. I was proud of keeping a clean house, keeping things in order. Perhaps it was a Neanderthal approach, but I knew my place and was relatively happy to be there. But I felt unloved and unappreciated, and the absence of Birthday cards confirmed it for me. He never commented how nice I looked, or what a nice meal I had prepared. I carried on being the “devoted little housewife” with no thanks or recognition for any of it.
We didn't really have a social life. Instead we would invite my parents for a drink and my father, who had eventually lost his business and never to disappoint, would drink far too much and reveal truths that he would assure me would turn me into a much better
person. By these truths he once revealed that my older sister was his favourite and I should live with it. This revelation crushed me. How could a parent tell their child that a sibling was the favourite in the family and then be advised to get over it? He was a heartless man when he had taken a drink. Once again I felt second best and worthless.
My ex husband and I purchased a computer for our son. He was attending secondary school and most of the assignments he was required to produce as homework, needed to be word-processed or printed, so buying a computer seemed the obvious solution. I remember chatting to one of my best friends about the Internet and chat rooms. She told me how she had logged on one day and had no idea how to disconnect from the Internet when she had finished. We were both housewives, computer illiterate and the whole experience had scared her. She had been worried about the telephone bill and the inability to disconnect would result in running up a huge telephone bill that would result in her husband having an excuse for a row. In my ignorance, I presumed I could plug in a cable, connect to the Internet and away I went! Silly, ignorant, stupid me.
It took six months before I explored the Internet or it's chat rooms then to wonder what all the fuss was about. A friend from work had explained how MSN operated and along with a few work colleagues, we were able to “chat” out of working hours. My ex husband hated it so I certainly never “chatted” when he was in the house.
“What is the point? you’ve been with them all afternoon. Why do you want to talk to them now?” I was accused, or rather, a young member of staff, a nice young lad of nineteen, was accused of wanting to get in the knickers of an older woman. Me. Pathetic! Why couldn’t my ex husband see that I wasn’t interested in anyone else, even if this
young lad was. He was a work colleague who, alongside a great group of friends, made the working environment a pleasure to be part of. This young nineteen year old made me laugh, alongside many other members of the team so for me, he was a joy to work with. I couldn’t control my ex husbands jealousy and I did everything I could to be the perfect devoted wife, but the thought of me chitchatting with people on the internet, was something he couldn’t control. He went to work, and I logged. Suddenly I had a life that he couldn't command and a freedom I had never experienced before. I could choose whom I conversed with, and this newfound independence, made me happy. It was mine and not his to control. There was never any intention for me to stray, I wanted his attention, nobody else’s but I had accepted my life and accepted my ex husband would never show me the love I craved, so I focused my attention towards something more worthwhile. My children.
The silly thing was, I told him about all the people I “met” on the internet. Nurses, male and female, Financial advisors, company managers, even someone who worked for the Ministry of Defence designing battle ships. All these people were filling a void in their own lives whether through boredom or a need for escape. I told my ex husband about them all. I wasn’t looking for an affair or to leave him, I simply needed to be wanted and talked too or for someone to show an interest. My duties as a housewife seldom suffered. I was an obsessive cleaner so my routine and housework tasks needed to be completed in a certain way. Unless I had vacuumed or polished or made the bed, it simply wouldn't be good enough. I never expressed this obsession but felt my home needed to be of a "show home" standard. Perhaps, subconsciously, that is what my ex husband expected of me.
Cleaning, apart from my children, was all I had in my life. My ex husband wasn't the devoted type, so I would make sure the house was spotless before comfortably seating myself at the computer while the children were at school and then loose myself in my imaginary world. I certainly didn’t want to give my husband any excuse to remark that I had neglected the house. But one day he found one. The cereal bowl I had used for my breakfast was still sitting on the counter top when he came home from work and I was scolded for not washing up and being lazy. The rest of the house was immaculate.
Everyone’s a fruit and nut case.
Things began to get on top of me. My ex husband was jealous of the Internet alongside my relationship with work colleagues as it seemed he was loosing his control. Suddenly I had a life that didn’t involve him and he became antagonised and jealous by it. I knew he didn't like what I was doing but I continued, as for me, it was harmless and I honestly couldn't see what was the problem. We argued constantly. I developed a chest infection, which lasted from June 2001until October of the same year. Eventually I got to the point where I felt I was loosing grip. I became anxious, had panic attacks and would burst into tears at the drop of a hat with no excuse as to what would have started me off. I found my only refuge was to hide beneath the duvet. Sometimes I would be in such a panic, I would rush upstairs, dive into my bed, pull the covers high over my head, and feel that this was the only place I could find solitude, where no one could hurt me. I remember my son following me upstairs after his father had chosen to start another argument. While I felt safe beneath the duvet, I heard him. "Mum, is everything ok? Are you alright?"
"I'll be down in a minute," I whispered. "I'm ok really, everything’s ok."
I was trying to convince him alongside myself and I heard him leave my room and walk down the stairs. I was worrying my son and he was scared because he didn’t know what was happening to his mum. I was scared because I didn’t know what was happening to me. I needed help.
January 2002, I booked an appointment with my local GP and found myself revealing the troubled relationships I had with my ex husband and my Father. She was very sympathetic as I explained that my ex husband had clearly requested he didn't want me on anti-depressants. She diagnosed I was suffering with stress and reassured me that the anti-depressants would be something to give me a little help. She suggested some time off from work to ease any added pressure. It may not happen over night, but in time, I would be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and would be able to deal with the problems I was having so eventually would find that there was no need for the tablets. They were non addictive, just something to help discover what was triggering the stress. So home I went, tablets in hand feeling ashamed that my life had reduced me, as a last resort, to taking pills.
Over the course of the next few months, I tried to deal with any problem that was causing the stress. I had no idea that my light at the tunnels end, would be asking my ex husband to leave and the end of my marriage.
To begin with the tablets spaced me out so I was reluctant to drive anywhere. I felt venerable if I was on my own which meant I couldn't fetch my daughter from school so would ask mum to come with me. If I had to go out alone, I would walk close to a wall or fence feeling less exposed. After a few weeks there became a significant change in my attitude. The scared, venerable person had gone and in her place was a woman that seemed empowered. I became, in my mother’s words, "not a very nice person."
I was able to voice my opinions without keeping them buried inside and it had become apparent to my mother that she had lost the daughter who rarely said no to a favour. My life, prior to the tablets, was a vicious circle of doing everything for everyone, a dread of saying no for fear that I would be badly thought of. I always put myself last and doing favours for whoever wouldn't matter if it interrupted my own plans, I would alter them.
Inside I felt I hadn't changed, I was still me, but one thing I did notice was I couldn’t get upset about things, so that seemed a positive. I adopted a very matter of fact attitude but on the down side, if I saw one of my children achieve something at school, there was no rush of emotion, no excitement for them. I simply held a steady away persona.
This attitude began to irritate my ex husband and our arguments became much more frequent. I had formed a relationship with my husband who I had met on the Internet. To begin with we were just friends who confided in each other. His wife had taken his daughter after having an affair and we talked about our feelings and offered support and understanding to each other. He would ask, "why do women do that?" and I could give him an understanding into the female mind and vice versa. I was having problems with my relationship with my ex husband and needed an understanding why he would act in a certain way. My husband gave me that understanding so I could be more compassionate towards my ex husband and try and work things out with him. My husband in return, wanted nothing from me. He was still very bruised from his own marriage break up and neither of us was interested in meeting and certainly not an affair. If it was an affair I wanted, one had been offered to me on a plate, right on my own doorstep!
I had tried talking with my ex husband, but he couldn't or wouldn't accept there was
anything wrong from his side of things. He wouldn't accept his faults so the problem was me. The arguments and disagreement continued, I was used to his temper and him destroying things, but he had never, up until then, ever laid a finger on me. There had been the fun making, the little comments he would make about my character or my cooking. After a while, my confidence levels hit an all time low. There were never compliments to balance out the jokes, just put downs and criticism but never any physical harm, it was the mental torture he was good at. The intimidation began whilst in the throws of a heated argument he would push his face so close to mine that would invade my space. If we were having one of our "discussions" then he would back me up against a wall with his face almost touching my own. I could feel his hot breath while he was shouting at me, so the only place I had to go was down. Many times this happened, he backed me up against a wall and slowly I would slide down until I was cowering, arms over my head for protection, in a heap on the floor, him stood over me. He would leave me there walk away and call me pathetic.
He began to scare me and on one afternoon, whilst sitting in our conservatory, he launched the whisky glass that he had been drinking from, directly at me. "I wasn’t aiming at you," was his excuse, he had been aiming for the open window behind me. There was the choice of two other open windows, one to the side and one behind him, but he chose the window I was sitting directly in front of because to him, I was the one
who caused his aggravation. Then came the first time he actually touched me in anger. He wasn't happy about the tablets I continued to take causing my character change and as he
walked towards me, I stumbled backwards loosing my footing. He poked me in the forehead and called me "mental." With each poke came a word. "YOU...ARE.... MENTAL!" It was the physical action that caused me to fall backwards, luckily to a sitting position on the couch. He again bent over just glaring at me but said nothing, he then proceeded to stand straight and walk out of the room.
That evening after my ex husband had gone to bed, I sat alone in my living room, listening to some music, a glass of wine in one hand and my bottle of tablets in the other. I emptied a few out onto the coffee table and pushed them around a bit. I had drunk a few glasses of wine and was thinking of my life and what it had brought me. I listened to the words of the song that was playing. It reflected my life so perfectly. "Angel" by Sarah McLachlin
Spend all your time waiting for that second chancefor a break that would make it okay
there's always one reason to feel not good enough and it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction oh beautiful release memory seeps from my vein
let me be empty and weightless and maybe I'll find some peace tonight
In the arms of an angel fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here
So tired of the straight line and everywhere you turn there's vultures and thieves at your back
and the storm keeps on twisting you keep on building the lie that you make up for all that you lack
it don't make no difference escaping one last time it's easier to believe
in this sweet madness o
this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees
In the arms of an angel fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel may you find some comfort here
you're in the arms of the ange lmay you find some comfort here
Would anyone really care if I wasn't here? I didn't think so as my mother thought I wasn't a nice person, I didn't really have a lot in common with my sister, and my ex husband? Well he obviously had no time for me at all, so no, who would miss me apart from my children and they would soon get over me wouldn't they? Better to remember a nice happy mummy than a depressed miserable one. I continued to flick the tablets around the table not really caring how my death would affect anyone. All I selfishly thought about was taking away the pain. The pain that was my life. Lights out, over and out. What brought me back to my senses was my ex husband standing in the doorway.
"What have you done? How many have you taken? Do I need to call an ambulance?" He was shouting at me, angrily. "You stupid, stupid idiot." There was no concern in his voice just anger at stumbling on his wife about to pop some pills. I hadn't taken any tablets; I didn't really have the nerve or the courage not even with the effects of the alcohol.
I needed an escape but I felt no one understood and by mid August 2002, eventually
agreed to meet my husband in person.
I acted very out of character and amidst all the warnings of meeting strangers from the Internet; we met alone, without telling a sole. I felt extremely comfortable with this man. We had talked constantly but secretly for weeks by telephone and I felt I could trust him. I was lucky and so was he. We were both very honest people.By late September I couldn't stand my ex husband any longer. If I happened to look out of an upstairs window while he was in the garden, he would stick his two fingers up at me, if I were on the telephone when he came home from work, he would scold me. I felt the more I aggravated him, the more annoyed he became and the more annoyed he became the further I withdrew from my marriage until I had no feeling left inside for him at all.
The thought of being in the same room as him would turn my stomach. He would walk in and I would walk out so I had to make a decision. It was either ask him to leave, or I would go. He decided he would leave, so packed his things and moved out but not without informing me that there was no way he was leaving the children with me. "I'll make sure no judge will let the children stay with you. You are an unfit mother who relies on tablets. You will never get the children." I was reminded once again with the mental issue.
That was the short, sharp shock I needed to kick the tablets. I no longer needed them now my ex husband was gone therefore he would not be able to use the tablets as an excuse to keep my children from me.
I cannot tell you the immense relief and weight I felt had been taken from my shoulders watching my ex husband load his suitcase into the car. At last I could be me again.
Looking after my children as a single parent was great. I had no one to have to consider except my children and I loved it. I Just didn’t like the fact that my ex husband would just show up unannounced and cause a row.
I had been invited to spend my Birthday with my husband so made arrangements for my sister to have the children while I was away. It was a 200-mile trip so I needed to stay overnight. On my return, after receiving a hassling phone call from my ex husband questioning my whereabouts, I came home to discover that each and every birthday card that had arrived in the post, had been opened and lined up on the window sill.
My ex husband assumed it would be a nice gesture. How can this be a nice gesture for someone to open all of my cards in my absence? What he was actually looking was evidence of my whereabouts that weekend or my infidelity.
Christmas was going to be hard for the children. What was going to happen with Dad?
My parents, assuming our separation was temporary, suggested I invite my ex husband to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with the children and myself. I was uncomfortable with the notion, but, putting the children's feelings ahead of my own decided that maybe it would be ok. It wasn't ok. It was in fact, the biggest mistake I could have made.
The children and I had been invited to my parent’s house. Another boozy afternoon that would lead to a disagreement started by my father no doubt and by 4pm, I called home to see if my ex husband was there. He was, so asked if he would like to join us at my parent’s house. It was within walking distance so he could be there within 5 minutes. There was an awful lot of alcohol drunk by my father and ex husband so I stayed in the kitchen with my mother, enjoying a glass of wine whilst preparing the vegetables for the next day.
I didn’t want to make conversation with my ex husband and was happy to stay out of his way. The atmosphere was tense making it an effort to be excited about Christmas and by 9.00pm decided that I should think about getting the children home to bed. By the time we had walked the short distance home, my ex husband fuelled with the alcohol, was already angry with me. He had the impression that I had been ridiculing him. Blatantly winding him up alongside my mother. We had been in separate rooms most of the evening so how on earth did he come to this conclusion? I put the children straight to bed and decided that as it was Christmas Eve, I would call one of my best friends to wish her Merry Christmas. I didn't want to sit in the same room as him anyway so went upstairs to use the telephone.
I presumed my ex husband was downstairs but I kept my voice hushed as I didn't want to disturb the children. After finishing the conversation, I turned to see my ex husband sitting half way up the stairs, glaring red faced and angry, glass of whisky in one hand. All hell broke loose as he accused me of talking to my "fancy man." He took to the stairs that led to my attic bedroom and all I could hear was him shouting and hurling furniture. My things were being smashed and anger gripped me so I followed suit up into my room.
How dare he smash my things, how dare he destroy my bedroom and as I entered the room I tried to stop him. I lashed out at him but he grabbed me by the shoulders pushing me around, punching me a few times in the back. I fell onto the bed at which point he grabbed me by the throat so trying to protect myself I scratched at his face. He pushed me backwards then rushed out of my room, down the stairs and out of the house.
I do understand his behaviour, and a part of me can forgive him. I honestly think the violence was his way of gaining some control. After all, he was loosing his family and I can only assume it panicked him. He acted in the only way he knew how. My children were terrified and my daughter had disappeared to her brother’s room hysterical so I assume, on hearing their father leave, thought it safe to come out. I remember coming from my room to the landing below, slumped on the floor, my clothes torn and wondered where the blood had come from. I seemed to be splattered in it.
As I caught sight of my son, peering at me from behind his slightly opened door, I hushed him back into his room.
"Its ok, just look after your sister would you?"
And with that, he did as I asked and closed his bedroom door.
I was panicked by the blood and telephoned my sister who immediately called for an ambulance and the police.
Even though we lived a twenty minute drive apart, she was with me within what seemed like minutes arriving alongside the emergency services. The police were great with my children but I couldn't think of them at that moment as I was still reeling from my attack. I feel incredibly guilty that I exposed them to the violence as I should have been the one who consoled and protected them, not the police, but I couldn't. I was led into the waiting ambulance and whilst sat in the back answering some questions, my father appeared. Mum had been called to look after my children while I was taken to hospital so he decided he needed to add his two pennies worth.
The statement he made still rings in my ears. He was drunk as usual so in the company of the policeman and ambulance staff, looked directly at me and asked, "what's going on, what have you done?" He then turned to the policeman and alleged, "look at her, she's making this up. This is just a domestic!" All I wanted my dad to do was find my ex husband and tear him apart. I wanted him to protect me, after all I was his daughter. Dads are supposed to do that for their daughters aren't they? Well not mine. No, to him I was wasting their time. It was a domestic argument and he had those with mum all of the time. I just sat and cried.
The long goodbye
January 2003 I filed for divorce and was advised by a solicitor, that due to my ex husbands violent outbursts and my fear of him, she would organise an injunction to keep him away from me. She wanted to stop him inviting himself into our home un announced, to give me peace of mind knowing I wouldn't have to engage in any confrontation with him. It never worked, as I would continue to find him stood inside the front door.
I felt that between my fathers obvious lack of love, and the constant confrontation with my ex husband, there was nothing but resentment and bitterness in my home town and as the relationship with my husband had progressed somewhat quickly, he had offered that the children and myself should move in with him. I had found the man of my dreams but the down-side was he lived over 200 miles away. This hadn't deterred him from driving this distance the previous New Years Eve when I needed him, or be there for me at the drop of a hat. I was used to having to wait until Pub closing time to be taken to Casualty when I thought I had broken my foot! My Husband protected me and showed more love than I had ever experienced. He loved me, but most important I felt loved and it was wonderful. This was the real love I had been searching for and finally found.
Unfortunately, my son at fourteen refused to move. He wanted to stay with his friends
and continue to attend the local school. He was taking his lesson options, therefore it was
a crucial time for him but I was also reminded that even though I had fallen out with my family, he hadn't, so I had a decision to make. Sacrifice my own feelings for the happiness of my son.
Leaving him was the hardest thing I have ever had to endure as it simply felt like another rejection. To me, my son had chosen his father in preference to his mother even though I tried to convince myself this was not the case. He simply wanted to remain in a school he was familiar with surrounded by friends and alongside his relatives. His parents had split up so to him, he had lost everything. He needed to sustain something familiar in his life and wasn't prepared to loose anything else. He wanted to stay at home, so why would he want to move two hundred miles away to a place where he knew no one and a school he would be uncomfortable with? At the time, I naively thought that I would be able to accept it.
I had no idea what to expect and I hadn't really thought the pending situation through. Being with my son twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I was unable to conceive life without him. My children were here with me now, so it would be impossible for me to imagine my life without one of them. I never really valued and appreciated my children, until I was without one of them on a daily basis. My daughter was adamant she wanted to be wherever I was, so I took her with me.
As I could not afford the expense of a professional moving company, my husband hired a van to move us the 200 mile distance and even though it was a cheap way of moving, it was exhausting work. I hadn't told anyone in my family of our planned departure knowing how selfish of me it was, as I was taking my child away from her father and a grandchild away from her grandparents with no goodbye and no explanation. But my reasons were, I was scared for myself and the scene my ex husband could potentially make so yes, I know how wrong I was to make that decision based on my own feelings and fears. My parents, I believed, didn't care or were too angry to wish us bon voyage and my sister had teased it would be the first time she would be meeting my new man so she ought to let him know exactly what I was like and what he was in for. More than likely a harmless bit of fun on her part, but I didn't understand her intention and was afraid that she may say something untoward and quite frankly, I had had enough of ridicule in my life, unbeknown to her, to last me a lifetime.
My Aunt and Uncle? Well, my Uncle had told me due to the way I had ended my marriage to my children's father, by having an affair, they would end up in care and I would loose them. So you see why I wanted to disappear without fuss or drama.
The emotions of living without my Son overwhelm me all to often. There hasn't been a single week since we parted, that I haven't cried with utter despair and guilt. It has become easier lately, but this has taken over four years, and I still haven't accepted not sharing his life but live in hope that at the current age of seventeen, he will one day change his mind and return to me, a fantasy that I cling on too.
Not being with him on his first day back at school has been hard as I have always been part of it and the first Christmas without him, his presents lay unwrapped beneath the tree. It was hard enough to see them lying there once Christmas was over, as they were the remaining the evidence he wasn't with me, I had left him. He had refused to spend the Christmas holiday with us as he was worried that his father would be alone. I couldn't help asking myself why he remained so loyal after all the previous year it was his father, who in a drunken rage, had ruined our Christmas by destroying my bedroom, smashing my things and myself, ending up in hospital.
How could he consider the feelings of his father after what he had done? But he is his dad and my son loves him alongside burdening himself with far too much responsibility, but children often do. My daughter believed she should have been able to do something to save her parents marriage. Their shoulders aren't big enough to carry the burden of guilt and I can not allow my children to blame themselves, especially as there was nothing they could have done. I take complete responsibility for destroying their family and if they need to hold someone responsible, they will have no choice but to blame me.
But as their mother, are they able to do this?
The times when my son visits for holidays should be happy, and most of the time they are. I love him being here, doing the things a mother should do for her children. Picking up dirty clothes, making their bed, calling them for breakfast. But to have him sit and play his games console is normality for me because that was normality when we were all together and for a short while, this familiarity returns. I do try to refrain from over compensating when he is here, but it is hard. My guilt complex bubbles up and overwhelms me, leaving another set of awkward feelings and a new question, "have I neglected my daughter while her brother is here?"
It is so easy to focus on my loss not having my son with me, to an overwhelming joy when he is here, that many times my family are pushed to one side, whilst I revel in the delight of spoiling my son with affection to the point I cannot see any wrong in him.
It is hard to look at children spilling out from school and not think of my son and
sometimes loose myself in time. When a child is living with you twenty-four hours a day seven-days a week you watch them grow up. They are your past, present and will remain part of your future. When a child is not with you, all that remains is the past.
When my son visits us, there are so many gaps in his life that I cannot fill, I cannot piece together. Consequently I struggle with the present and have to refrain in treating him how he was when we parted, a 14-year-old boy. I remember the relationship we shared when together all of the time to the relationship or the lack of it, we share now. He has changed and become independent but I have been unable to grow with his changes. It is habit to wipe something from his face, but at seventeen, it is so not appreciated and he will certainly let me know it causing rejection and guilt to set in all over again.
It is wonderful when he takes time to visit, but on his most recent this past Christmas, I found myself constantly in tears. He has grown into a fine young man and I have missed out. When I became a mother I didn't for one moment, think how hard it would be to let my children go once independence strikes and bring to an abrupt end the things I did for them. All of a sudden they don't need me anymore as they are independent people and parents just get in the way. The job that has fulfilled as a mother for their entire life has ended.
Yes he still needs me as his mum but my need for my son is so much stronger. He may have let go of his mother, but I am not ready to let go of my son. Each time he leaves I say goodbye all over again and it breaks my heart.
I Miss You
I miss my son every single day. Some days are easier than others. Mostly the ones that are filled with the daily routine of rushing my daughter to school, housework or washing and ironing. Even then, a small memory will creep into my mind that will cause me to stop for a moment, but the daily grind can keep those memories controlled preventing me from breaking down in tears. Other days I seem to be forever thinking of him. Wondering how his weekend was how school is going or is he even up for school!
I sometimes pretend that he is attending one of our local comprehensive schools and that he will come home shouting, " hi mum what's for tea?" Or a few mates he has brought home will scuttle away to his bedroom. I often feel my guilt has a huge part to play in my emotional state living every day with the pain that my heart is broken. I harbour a huge feeling of emptiness that can only be filled by my son.
Last night I lay in bed. It was dark and the only the sound was my husband gently breathing beside me. I closed my eyes and for a moment, was transported back to my old house. After four years, I could still envisage my attic bedroom and the wooden latch door that led to the spiral staircase which took me downstairs to the landing below where my children had their bedrooms. For a short time, it was a comforting feeling, imagining we were a family again. This excluded my ex husband, as I had no desires to imagine my life back with him! My children were with me and I had lost nothing.
I was back with my son and was complete once again. I could feel the tears begin, so I took a deep breath to restrain them. It was hopeless and I cried silently under the covers, nervous that I may wake my husband. I made no noise just the uncontrollable shaking of my body trying to withhold my tears was the only evidence of my grief.
I can't talk to my son at the moment. His father has confiscated his mobile phone! Christmas 2002, the year my ex husband left and a few months before my daughter and I left our hometown, I bought my son a mobile phone. He was fourteen at the time and it was one of those basic text and talk type. It did the job but obviously was used mainly by my son to contact his friends, but there were times when he would text me when he and his sister were visiting their father for the weekend.
Christmas, 2005, my son had asked if he could spend the holiday with us. I was delighted, ecstatic, so went completely overboard with food and gifts making sure there was plenty in. My ex husband had sent our daughter her gifts via post so she would have them for Christmas day and my son would open his when he returned home.
Christmas morning, my daughter received a call from her father asking if she liked all of her presents that he had sent. He then told my son, " I have a present here that you will love!"
I couldn’t understand why he needed to make this remark but as he is a very insecure man, I am sure that he gets anxious that our son would tell him that he is coming to live with us, or maybe that he doesn’t want to come home. Whatever his reasons, I felt that he was reminding our son, "to make sure you come home, I have a great gift here for you." It was a trendy new mobile phone with a built in camera. Clearly, my son would be very
excited about this. He's a teenager! It wasn’t a simple Pay as you go type; it was a contract phone with free texting and calls. Wow! Now any normal parent
when buying a mobile phone would be daft to expect the child or teenager to stick to the free texts and minutes tariff. Yes I'm sure they will have had the lecture about keeping within the free time but what teenager wouldn't have trouble sticking to a set amount? Well my son has repeatedly abused the phone and has run up massive monthly phone bills. Consequently the phone has been taken away so bang goes any chance of being able to talk to him. I am angry with him, yes, for being so untrustworthy, but I am more annoyed at my ex husband for not having the common sense to see THAT coming. I can understand why he has taken the phone away, but what upset me is that he also bought my daughter a mobile phone, and I am the one my ex husband blames when she cant be bothered to turn it on! Thus her father can't get hold of her, so he should know how it feels. Bringing this problem to light with my ex husband, I was told I could call the home telephone but this line diverts to my ex husbands mobile phone at work and I have no desires to talk to him. He did mention that our son was quite capable of calling me once in a while, but how uncool is that, a seventeen-year-old calling mum? I know this is a temporary situation that will resolve itself, but the anguish of not being able to talk to my son when I have the need is overwhelming.
Perhaps this is why I am feeling so desperate. Knowing I cannot pick up the telephone to call him and hear his voice, to ask about his day, how school is going, is everything ok with his girlfriend? This is only a temporary situation and my feelings and worries are trivial, I know that, its not like I'm never going to see or talk to him ever again,
nevertheless I do feel desperate. Heaven knows how my husband feels. He cannot
contact his daughter at all and will never hear her voice, but I can only concentrate on my own feelings at this time. I can not be a support for my husband because of my own sadness. Perhaps tomorrow, things will be ok. Maybe tonight I will hear from my son, then I can move forward. My son is like a drug that I am addicted to and I need my fix!
I despise the way my ex husband treats my children differently which increases the need to have my son with me so I can look after him properly. I don't think for one minute my son is neglected by his father, but he is certainly parented in an entirely different manner to me. I hold nothing but contempt for my ex husband as he has caused more damage to our relationship since our divorce than ever before, through his actions towards our children. When my son comes to visit, I show no favouritism to him or my daughter. I try to not arrange anything special when my son is here, that I wouldn’t do when it is just my daughter. That way she feels there are no special treats just because her brother is visiting. Unlike their father who insists on day trips and fancy meals when my daughter goes to visit.
My ex husband entertains our daughter while our son is at school and unable to be included. She has expressed her own guilt, hoping that her brother doesn't hold it against her. My ex husband will take a holiday when our daughter goes to stay but never takes a holiday to spend time with our son. It’s no wonder he and his father don’t really have a relationship. My son feels his father has let him down and has commented he has never been there for him when he needed him for support with school.
My ex husband rarely takes time from work when my son is not well. Instead my son will make for my mothers house where he has company and can be looked after. Surely that’s his father’s job not my mothers? No, his father never altered his routine when he was suddenly left looking after our son. Instead our son has fended for himself. It may not bother my son, but it sure as hell bugs the life out of me!
Alongside his seeming lack of consideration for our son, he has also filled our daughter's head with negative thoughts about her stepfather and our son negative thoughts of me. These have gradually become less frequent and I have explained why daddy says such things. His anger and resentment towards her stepfather are no different to the feelings my husband has for his ex wife's partner except my husband is a bigger man than my ex husband is, as he keeps his own opinions to himself, rather than expressing them to his child. He doesn't have to like the situation he has found himself in, but he must accept it.
Luckily, this hasn't affected the relationship my daughter has with her stepfather. On returning from her first visit to her daddy's house, she would have absolutely nothing to do with my husband at all. She told me she felt incredibly guilty showing her stepfather love as she felt completely disloyal to her own daddy. I gently explained that it was perfectly acceptable to love more than one person, after all, she loved me too. When my daughter accidentally called her father by her stepfathers name, she was reminded, "I'm your dad not him, so don't you forget it!"
My son has been subject to mental anguish when his father informed him that due to the money he was paying to support our daughter, he would have to sell their house so our son would loose yet another home.
His father provides for his daughter yes, but it is considerably short of what he is required to pay by the government. My ex husband has in fact, got me over a barrel. I settle with what he can afford as I fear for my son. I don't want him to loose his home, and I certainly don’t think he deserves to listen to the verbal bashing his father gives me, every time my ex husband is faced with a situation. Why is our son dragged into it? So you see, much to my husbands disgust, as he has to pay what the system dictates for his daughter, my ex husband does not, because of the love for my son and the repercussions he may suffer.
We try to do our best for my son in supporting him with his education. We travel the 400 mile round-trip distance to encourage him with his schooling. We meet with his teachers, addressing any problems and assisting in practical solutions to keep him on track. We want him to succeed and to achieve his ambitions, his father however, doesn't even attend parents evening. I will do whatever I can to encourage and nurture my son, however far apart we are.