Thursday, 5 July 2007


I have often wondered whether my husband has in fact, ignorantly or intentionally, contributed to the situation that I find myself, in keeping myself and his ex wife apart. During the time she dropped their daughter to our home, I would sit in the lounge and wait for my husband while he disappeared outside to discuss any issues or concerns that may have occurred during the week. I couldn't hear the conversation, if any, so this would exclude me from any arrangements or changing of plans should they be made.

I felt I should be considered; after all, this was my weekend too. Now whether my husband's reasons were to protect me or keep me from any potential confrontation I will never know. Rather than being a visible part of her ex husband's new life, I felt unimportant and dismissed so perhaps my husband gave his ex wife an invisible indication in excluding me, he didn't really feel I was important enough to be considered. Maybe is was his self preservation by not allowing his ex wife to think maybe it was now me pulling his strings, which has never been the case.

All I ask is to be considered in any change of plan that may happen, but sadly, this still isn't happening. Parties are being accepted by my husbands ex wife, on our behalf when my stepdaughter is supposed to be with her daddy. This means anything we have planned, would have to be changed. If I questioned where the lack of consideration shown for me, the reply would be that my husband didn't want
it to look like he was running back to the little wife and he was quite capable of making decisions for himself.

Understandable, I accept that, but this isn't just about him. This involves my daughter, myself, his new blended family in addition to the child we have together. But more importantly what about the little time my husband has with his daughter and she her daddy? What continues to frustrate me is any decision that involves my children from my previous marriage, are all discussed with my husband so decisions are made together.

October 2004 we moved into our new home we had purchased together. I had been fortunate to receive a sum of money from the sale of my old home, so we were able to look for a new home substantially larger than the one we were currently squeezed into, and shortly afterwards in the November, we married. My husband still continues to exclude me from the ex wife, my husband, their daughter equation. He drives to his ex wife's home to collect his daughter alone. Due to the upset our respective ex's had been causing, we decided when we moved to start a completely fresh new life, we didn't want either ex spouses anywhere near our home.

We needed it to be a fresh start, untainted from confrontation and almost sanctuary-like. It was our home, not theirs to invade bringing problems and issues to our front door, but apart from all of this, my husband would have control when collecting his daughter. Quite often we would sit twiddling our fingers waiting for the arrival of my stepdaughter while his ex wife was repeatedly late, or wonder, "is she actually coming tonight?" I often passed comment to my husband that the drop off time of 6.30pm was a touch late in the evening for a four-year-old, which incidentally, often crept on till 7pm, so to have to wrestle with her to go to bed at 7.30pm started to become impossible if not unfair for both my stepdaughter and my husband.

To be whisked off to bed the moment she stepped foot through the door instead of spending some time with dad seemed undeserved but I had to consider my daughter who would then open up the debate to stay up later because my stepdaughter had. Just what I needed! Collecting my stepdaughter would also give me the opportunity to become more involved with her. I have suggested I would be more than happy to drop my stepdaughter home on Sunday. There would be no need for me to climb out from the car, as long as I waited until her mummy opened the door and she was safe inside would suffice, perhaps I could even offer her mother a friendly wave!

But there is still absolutely no communication between his ex wife and myself at all. I am expected to be involved with my stepdaughter when she is over the threshold of our front door, but it has been made it perfectly clear that I am not part of the equation, my husband their child and his ex wife.

In a recent conversation with my husbands ex wife, she told him that their daughter was reluctant to spend the weekend with us. My stepdaughter has told her mother that she wants to see daddy; she wants to see my daughter and our daughter, her new sibling, but she doesn't want to see me. Naturally this excludes me even further from my family, but his ex wife has suggested perhaps my husband take my stepdaughter out on her own somewhere nice and make her feel special. We try and spend quality time with the family on a weekend; days out, fun at the park, but it can be exhausting when trying to fill the time with exciting things to do simply because my stepdaughter is present. Sometimes its just nice for my husband to relax and chill out after a stressful week at the office. Apart from this, constant day tripping can deem very expensive for a family of 5!

We have taken the children to Blackpool and played ten-pin-bowling on the pier. The girls have flown in the aeroplanes and built sandcastles on the sand. Now and then a simple walk will be enough, but how many children like to walk? It's an adult pastime. I do get cross when it is expected, especially from my husbands ex wife, to do something exciting every weekend just because my stepdaughter is here. She has passed comment to my husband claiming their daughter has mentioned that daddy doesn't get out of bed on Sunday until 9am! When my husband needs to re charge his batteries, I am happy to take the girls to the local park for an hour, but I'm sure my husband would receive a call reminding him that while his daughter is in his company on weekends, it is his contact time and not mine.

So is this normal family life? I was lucky to have accompanied my parents to the pub and dumped in the beer garden when the weather was nice! Its not always feasible to do something every weekend before ideas are exhausted. But why does she think she is able to suggest this? Why does she feel justified in suggesting to her ex husband that their child only wants to see daddy so he should take her out? What about daddy's new family? What is he expected to do with us while he's off entertaining his daughter, just take a back seat and be done with it? What about our daughter we share together? What happens when she asks where daddy goes every weekend? Is she going to grow up feeling less important? How come my husbands ex wife and her new partner are able to play happy families? Why is everything on her terms?

In hindsight, if I had been given the chance to look into the future, I would have considered very carefully, if not, taken the triple jump and hop, skipped and bounded a mile away before involving myself with someone who has children. Have you heard the saying that love conquers all? Well let me tell you it doesn't. I love my husband very much, I completely adore the man but and as I have said before, love is blind and an interfering ex wife will take its toll on any relationship if you really are not strong enough to accept that your relationship with a man who has a child or children, will be far from normal.

If the ex wife/partner is reasonable and is happy to accept the new hen in the henhouse, then everything should be ok. You can potentially lead a normal happy life. I don’t think my husband’s ex wife has any idea the affect her actions will have on her daughters future.

I constantly feel this whole stepfamily situation is getting way out of control and quickly becoming a farce. Apart from exclusion, the clothing debate is another irritating topic that repeats itself week in week out. My husband asked if, when packing his daughters overnight bag, could she please have appropriate clothing. A t-shirt and party shoes are not suitable when attending a farmyard party while the unpredictable British weather launches rain and changing temperatures of five degrees centigrade. He did call his ex wife to ask if he could perhaps call over the next morning, Sunday, before his daughters party, to pick up a warm jumper and a waterproof coat. His ex wife told him it would not be convenient as she was going shopping first thing 9am that morning. I wonder, what is more important, shopping for the weekly groceries or her daughter warm and suitably dressed for a party?

So here comes the overnight bag, the following weekend, packed with party shoes,
trainers, wet weather coat, Wellington boots, umbrella, jumper and to top it all, a pair of gloves! Now it's the middle of June and the weather has been twenty-four degrees centigrade the last few days subsequent to the previous weekend. Why am I suicidal over a pair of gloves? Why am I distraught at the fact this woman has reacted to my husband's request by going completely over the top? Why can I not see this as utterly laughable? Because I feel that I am the target. In her eyes, I am the woman behind the instigation, who is influencing her ex husband over decisions regarding their daughter. He is all of a sudden, confronting her over issues that he normally wouldn't pass comment on to avert any confrontation with her, simply for the quiet life.

The clothing debate, because this is an instigation of yet another time wasting conversation, has always been a problem for me. I accept that I am not a Donatella Versace, but having my step daughter arrive in a black near floor-length length skirt at the tender age of six, is something I wouldn't have dressed my own child in. In my opinion it's far too old, but I have to accept that my husband’s ex wife will not have the same tastes as me. Unfortunately it becomes another unnecessary issue wondering what she will be wearing on her next visit, instead of accepting if her mother dresses her in a certain way that’s her prerogative. I should allow it to go straight over my head!

On the other hand, to send her in white floral shorts with a large brown stain on the backside, looking like she has soiled herself, to me is also inappropriate, especially when some weekends she is dressed head to toe in John Rocha! So then it begins, minor annoyances become major issues, constantly looking for flaws in her parenting skills that confirm my suspicions. Yes she is completely clueless at motherhood. Heaven help me.

My husband pays an obscene amount of child support, so he does feel justified when asking for his daughter to be suitably dressed. We have bought clothes for her to wear when she is with us, but this reduces the amount of clothing that is packed by her mother and my stepdaughter quickly grows out of the clothes we have and with all the infrequent visits lately, cloths are left hanging in her wardrobe completely unworn. I have in the past, washed and ironed the clothes that my stepdaughter has arrived in, but I have been told via my husband, "my ex wife has requested that you stop washing her daughters clothes thank you." So, at her request, they are packed back into the suitcase my stepdaughter brings with her, and sent home dirty

I purchased my stepdaughter a pair of white sandals as during the summer she would have a pair of trainers to wear which caused her feet to become hot and sweaty, so she was delighted when she could wear cool summer sandals with the pretty dress I had also bought for her. My stepdaughter asked if she could wear them home at which I said of course. I was reluctant to appear petty but sometimes clothes my stepdaughter wore home, took a while to re-surface which again left less choice if she needed to change. She arrived the following weekend without the sandals and I didn't catch sight of them for the next few weeks. When they eventually found their way back to our house, they were handed to me in a scruffy carrier bag. They were ruined, completely covered in mud and dirt with the white polish totally worn away. I had no choice but to throw them away.

Needless to say, not one item of clothing I bought ever ventured to my husbands ex wife. I can never understand what leads some ex wives/partners to play this silly game with clothes, using their children. Sending their children to their ex husbands/partners home in clothes that are too small, t-shirts in winter time, clothes that are worn or broken that should really be in the dustbin. Why do they do this? Is it to get back at their ex's? Why is it the children that are exposed and used as a weapon? It is the children that are being used in this tug of war break-up. Surely these women should be getting on with their lives, or perhaps it is because they have so little or are so resentful they need to get their sick satisfaction from somewhere and the only way to achieve it is through their children in antagonising the other party.

All I can say is to me they are sad individuals who have little or no respect for their own flesh and blood and have no pride in how their children are dressed. What they actually achieve is making themselves appear childish giving the likes of me, a stepmother, the satisfaction of knowing that I really am a better mother because I don't play these games with my children. I am however, unwillingly drawn into this game, having to send my stepdaughter home in the same attire, unwashed or too small, while keeping the small scrap of clothes I buy for her here, otherwise I may never see then in the same state again.

I respect my kids and am proud of how they look. They are my children and I love them but above all of this they are human beings not tools or weapons so in my opinion the parents who play this game have no respect for themselves and even less for their children. Perhaps it is my reaction to this matter that causes a degree of conflict between my husband and myself as I immediately jump on the bandwagon. If my husband’s ex wife desires my stepdaughter to look like an orphan, then it is a reflection on her, not me. I should try to take a step back and if my husband and his daughter’s mother have a dispute over something, whether it is a clothing issue or contact agreement, by not jumping on the bandwagon and involving myself in the situation, I can be a better wife to him rather than him feeling he is constantly in the middle.

In the beginning.

The first few months in our new life were great. My daughter, who had not long celebrated her seventh birthday, settled into her new school and was making lots of new friends. My husband continued with the arrangement of having his daughter, who was approaching her fourth birthday, Saturday evening through till Tuesday morning. He would drop her at nursery, which she had attended from the age of six months, Tuesday morning and her mother would pick her up after she finished work the same Tuesday evening.

As a housewife and in the fortunate position to not need a second income, I was at home all day, so it became obvious to allow my stepdaughter to stay at home with me rather taking his daughter to nursery from 8am till 5pm. I enjoyed our time together as she loved baking with me or painting and drawing, sometimes just to sit and watch a film together. We started to enjoy Harry Potter so would park ourselves on the sofa, have a cuddle and devour a packet of crisps. It was her fist experience of the film but she had known all about the magic. When I shopped for things for my own daughter, I immediately thought of my stepdaughter, so I would shop for her too.

Clothes I purchased were at my expense, not her fathers. I loved buying little dresses for her as she was often in trousers, so to catch a glimpse of her lifting the bottom of her dress and twirling around like a princess, filled me with a sense of happiness and joy. I was delighted she was pleased and when arriving for her stay would shout," can I change into my dress?" These were the sorts of things I did with my children so my actions towards my stepdaughter were not false or pretend. So to set off shopping together for clothes and then call into a cafe for a plate of chips seemed much more fun than going to nursery. After all, from Wednesday onwards, she would be back at nursery because her mother would be at work and this was her routine.

This is when my husband received the telephone call. Why was their daughter not at nursery? His ex wife wanted to know where she was and made it clear she wanted her child back at nursery. Their daughter was with daddy on his half of the week and perfectly safe in his care, so why did she need to know what was happening while he had his own daughter? My husband never interfered with the arrangement of his child when she was with her mother, he would have been told to mind his own business, and it was apparent that her new partner often looked after my stepdaughter when he was on his own. My husband was expected to trust his ex wife's judgement when she found a new partner who would be involved in his child's life, why was she adamant in not trusting his own judgement when he found me? Being alone with me was obviously a problem for her, so to keep the peace, I took my stepdaughter back to nursery.

At this point the tummy aches started. You know the kind that come on with the kids before a school test, or just the thought of school altogether. I didn't want to tell my stepdaughter that mummy insisted she went, that wouldn't be fair, so my stepdaughter and I compromised. I would take her to nursery to play with her friends after dropping my daughter at school at 9.15am then would pick her up before collecting my daughter from school at 3.15. Shorten her time at nursery but conform to the rules set down by the Ayatollah!

We still felt that as I was at home, there was really no need for her to be at nursery especially during school holiday time, so by February 2004, my husband decided what he thought was best for his daughter and so during the summer holidays, while she was spending the few days with us, she would stop going altogether. I managed to secure a small job at my daughter's school just before the Easter holiday of 2004 looking after an Autistic child.

A few days before I was due to start work, my husband received a telephone call from his ex wife, to say she had decided he could take their daughter out of nursery meaning she would be at home full time with me. This is the result we had been striving for, but I had a new job to start so the arrangement instantly became a problem. At this point my husband told me that I should inform the school I no longer was able to take the position. He and his ex wife were arranging my life to look after their child and suddenly this was no longer fair. My husband was now consorting with his ex wife and I wasn't having any of it, so I decided to pay her a visit and suggest to her that as it had taken so long for her to decide what was best for her daughter, I had accepted a position at my daughters school so removing their child from nursery, during the school week, was no longer an option. Did I make the mistake of my life.

According to my husband, his ex wife had stated I had cast the first stone and this comment would rise up and bite me on the butt again and again. There was never any intention to embark in a showdown while standing on her front doorstep. I merely wanted to explain that neither she nor my husband were going to dictate how I led my life and I certainly wasn't going to sit and wait to have my future planned out between them. I understand she felt challenged as I don't think I would have been too pleased if my ex husband's new partner appeared on my doorstep, but I felt justified in my actions. She could try to control and manipulate my husband's life, but she certainly wasn't going to do it with mine. Did becoming a second wife mean loosing total control over my own life and having to accept under no circumstances am I to engage with my husband's ex wife for fear of the consequences my husband may suffer?

At this time my stepdaughter was an only child and enjoyed the company with my own daughter especially after school and holidays. My daughter loves horses and took up riding, as with many younger siblings, my stepdaughter, liking the thought of riding herself, followed suit. Her mother arranged different lessons to those of my daughter but as my daughter was keen to be around horses whenever she could, she was able to help my stepdaughter with her own lesson. Suddenly the riding came to an abrupt end and my stepdaughter was enrolled in swimming classes instead. It was becoming obvious that her mother did not want my daughter interacting with her own child out of designated contact time.

I still was having problems understanding what hang up my husband's ex wife had. I felt my husband had to conform to anything and everything his ex wife threw at him. After all, she took his daughter away from him, left him with a few days contact, and would dictate how those days were spent. She had him over a barrel and didn't she know it. She used his love for their daughter as a bargaining tool. She played him like a fiddle and he danced her every tune whether through guilt, grief or the possible effect it may have had on his daughter, or worst of all, total loss of contact from his child altogether.

The prospect of having to fight for custody through court had often entered his head, so by conforming to her constant wishes, in his eyes, he would hope that any judge would see him as accommodating rather than an obstructive parent who was trying to make things difficult. All my husband endeavoured to do was consider his child and the effect a confrontational situation with his ex wife would have on the relationship with his daughter.

I first noticed the change in my stepdaughter's behaviour towards me February 2004. Small things at first like not saying hello when she arrived or goodnight when she went to bed. On one occasion, she and my own daughter were playing in the front garden during the Easter break. I had locked the front door as the back door was open and the draft was like a being in a wind tunnel causing the doors in the downstairs rooms to slam shut.

Both girls were aware of this but while I was on the telephone, my stepdaughter came knocking on the front door. I gestured for her to go around to the back but she just looked at me whilst holding herself dancing on the front step. She eventually disappeared to the back of the house, came through the lounge passing me, then disappeared upstairs. After a short time she came back downstairs and passed me once again without saying a word. I was however, flashed and exceptionally filthy look. Later that evening, she told my husband that I hadn't let her in when she needed the toilet and I had caused her to wet her knickers.

I was full of mixed feelings when my husband relayed what had been said. At first I was angry and annoyed but this quickly changed to upset and confusion, after all, I was the one who, when she had little accidents and was worried about telling her daddy, would change her knickers and tell her it was ok. Between her mummy and daddy, they seemed to expect a four year-old to be out of the habit of having little accidents but sometimes kids get so engrossed in what they are doing, they leave it too late and accidents happen. I did feel there was some degree of disbelief from my husband towards me after all; he would want to believe his child wouldn't he?

Then the unpleasant stares started. I was suffering with a terrible kidney infection and while quite poorly laid on the couch, my stepdaughter came into the lounge, sat in the opposite chair and flashed me the most disgusting look . I felt so uncomfortable and there was nothing I could do. These glares lasted for the duration of her stay.
My stepdaughter began asking my own daughter to do things for her, anything to avoid talking to me directly. If I was in a room and she came in, she turned around and walked out. It was apparent there was a problem but I had no clue to what it was.

One afternoon it became too much for me and I was reduced to tears. I was desperate to uncover the reason behind her seemingly overnight change of character but asking her simply resorted repetitive ignorance, so I sent her upstairs to her bedroom. Blubbering like a child myself, I followed her upstairs and asked what I had done to cause her to treat me this way. She was sat on her bed, feet tucked underneath her, staring out of the window and eventually the reply that came astounded me. She told me that her mother had told her she didn't have to talk to me if she didn't want to because she didn't know me very well. We had been living here for nearly a year and had spent half of the week and most weekends in each others company. Surely this had been plenty of time to get to know me. The problem seemingly lay with her mother.

On my husbands return from work, when I told him what had happened and he asked his daughter what was going on, she told him she had made it up. Her mother had never said anything. So what were the reasons? I still don't know. All I know is that this child was four years old and was being very cruel. I understand the need to lie about what she had said as she didn't want to get her mummy into trouble. What a burden for a small child to endure. This behaviour has lasted for over two years, well into her sixth year of age.

Diary entry.

May 8th 2005

The dizzy spells are back, this time with deafness and some shaking. I feel I’m on a downward spiral again. The events over the past few weekends, along with my son's troubles, are taking their toll on me and I’m loosing the plot. You’ve asked me what is causing this, but how do I answer you. I miss you terribly. In the beginning, it was always us. We were the most important people to each other. Now us seems to have taken a back seat. The kids, your job, us being tired, now no time for us anymore, especially showing each other.

My weekends I look forward to are tainted with the arrival of your daughter, so our time there has also gone. It’s hard for me to tell you what’s really on my mind, or why the dizziness is back. The fact is, I know the symptoms and the causes. The cause before was my ex husband. He walked in a room, I walked out. The cause now I feel is your daughter. I don’t want to be around her. My life is good during the week. I can cope with you being tired, or going out after work. I just find it hard to look forward to weekends.

Emotionally detatched.

I empathize with my husbands ex wife’s apparent confusion. In a letter she had written to my husband shortly after she moved out, late spring of 2002, she wrote she didn't know why she had the affair, which ended their marriage, she just wanted some attention. She was jealous of the relationship he shared with his own mother, since he felt the need to confide in her rather than his ex wife.

His mother was helping him through a very difficult time in his life, his wife was having an affair which she had confessed to him Fathers day 2001. If he couldn't reach out for the support from his family, then whom could he turn to? The letter was all about her. There was very little written to indicate that she was trying to think of my husbands feelings too, although she had suggested to him that perhaps they have another child. Maybe the marriage would work then! She had been having an affair, and after having her back twice, my husband felt he had flogged the relationship to death, and his ex wife still continued to be deceitful. How on earth was having another child going to save their marriage?

She wanted for them to stay friends and wished him all the luck in the future. Most of all she wanted him to be happy but in my opinion what she forgot to mention was, yes she wanted him to be happy, as long as he was on his own and he didn't find someone else who could make him happier than she could.. Another indication giving an insight into this woman's ability to exclude my husband from his daughter’s life was, in the said letter, she had written and I quote.

" I am concerned about mine and my daughters future, and the best thing that I can do for her is to not only provide her with love and stability, but also give her the best home, environment and education that I can. Which is why I wanted a fair settlement between us."

So there it was, everything was "I". Not we, or our daughter. The only time my husband got a mention in his daughters future was the mention of money, or settlement, as she so delicately put it. Not that I understand it from my husbands version of their marriage. Even though he accepts he must have contributed in some way for the marriage breakdown, he gives me all the attention I need. His ex wife came back to him two or three times, just couldn't decide or couldn't make the break.

Not long after she moved out, his ex wife arrived on my husbands doorstep sharing a cigarette and slightly intoxicated. Now this was something completely out of character for her. My husband enjoyed a drink and was a smoker too, a habit that his ex wife hated and she had commented that it had been an addiction that was a constant source of hurt towards her. She felt, he was smoking to deliberately hurt her and she believed he didn't care enough about her to stop so he actually got to the point of smoking in secret. So to be intoxicated and then to share a cigarette with him, was she trying to be something she thought, he wanted her to be?

This appeared to be an indication of a woman who felt she had made a terrible mistake in having an affair or was feeling incredibly guilty.
When she eventually left, my husband said he breathed a sigh of relief, even though she only moved around the corner. On a positive note he was close to his daughter as
he and his ex wife shared responsibility. His ex wife had their daughter Tuesday evening till Saturday evening and my husband had his daughter the rest of the week, so living around the corner from daddy left their daughter in familiar territory. Shortly after, my husband received a letter.

I want to write to explain how I feel and to hopefully get you to understand where I am coming from. It is so difficult to talk to you these days without it turning into a row, so if I write, at least this will not happen.
The last twelve months have been, without doubt, the worst time of my life. We have shared our lives for the past ten years and it has become extremely painful to watch this come to an end. I know that I have hurt you and I will be forever sorry for what I have put you through.
I think becoming parents changed us both and it was hard for both of us to get used to our new roles as a mum and dad. Instead of parenthood bringing us together, we both retreated to our own worlds. We were leading separate lives, both stressed and tired. We should have been able to sort out our problems together but instead it tore us apart.

From my point of view, becoming a mum has been the hardest but most wonderful experience of my life and the fact we have a beautiful, happy, contented child is proof our relationship has been worthwhile, although there have been difficulties adjusting to parenthood.
I am totally devastated that our relationship has deteriorated to the extent, everyday is hard to get through. It is hard making this normal for our daughter and it is impossible to concentrate at work. I never wanted us to get to this situation, but I think we have been making each other extremely unhappy. I don't know where our relationship went wrong and I know I did not show you the affection you needed so we stopped being as physically close as we used to be.
I felt increasingly distant from you and although I couldn't talk to you about my own feelings, I always felt you talked to your mum about your problems and you listened to her and ignored me. This probably sounds childish, but I was hurt by how close you were to her.

I feel your smoking has been a problem between us. It may seem trivial, but the way you lied to me constantly and the way you kept starting and stopping made me feel I wasn't an important enough reason for you to stop. Your addiction was a constant source of hurt and anger for me but you didn't care to do anything about it, and I felt you were doing it deliberately to hurt me. I felt increasingly distant from you and often went to bed feeling very lonely and upset.

I accept that all relationships go through phases and that you cannot be happy all of the time, but we did not seem to be able to rectify our problems so we drifted further apart. I don't know why I got involved in another relationship and I bitterly regret the way I hurt you although at the time, felt invisible. Maybe I was looking for affection or maybe I just wanted you to notice me, but all I know is it would not have happened if we had been happy. I wish things had been different and despite everything, I love you and care about you which is why it hurts so much. I feel terribly guilty about the pain I have caused you and hope you believe me when I say I want you to be happy.

I have been very hurt by how our relationship has resorted to arguments over money and assets and I understand why you don't trust me but I have never wanted to ruin you or take anything from you. You have always worked so hard to provide for us but I am concerned about mine and my daughters future, and the best thing I can do is not only to provide her with love and stability, but also give her the best home, environment and education that I can, which is why I wanted a fair settlement between us. Despite what has happened we have a child together who we both love and want to do the best for. This is why it is so important that we stay friends and both participate equally in her life. She loves and needs us both and I don't want her growing up in the environment you did where your parents hated each other. We must do all we can to make sure that never happens.

I miss you terribly and it will be hard not to be with you anymore. I want you to be happy and wish I could have been that person to make you happy and fulfilled but I want the pain to stop and the only way this can happen is if we are apart. There is a constant pain inside me that I don't think I will ever get over but hope it will eventually get easier. At the moment I just feel very empty and close to tears most of the time. I am very sorry about everything and I know the future is scary and uncertain but if you ever need someone to talk to, I hope you will feel able to talk to me. You mean the world to me and I care about you very much.
Love your wife.

So whether his ex wife saw my Husband as a safety net, or she may not actually have wanted the reality of being with him, he was still heavily in her life, until that is, he met me.

On first meeting my husband in the summer of 2002, she found a photograph that had been taken of me, whilst rummaging through a drawer in an upstairs bedroom, so say, looking for a pen. She still obviously treated what was now my husband's home, still as theirs, so her first fear of him moving on with his life was maybe of some concern and unsettling. Perhaps she was in denial but nevertheless found the need to question my husband about the said photograph. At this time, I did not appear to be a threat; after all, it was just a photo. However, as she had been the one to end their marriage, I don't think that she had emotionally separated from him, the letter has confirmed this.

The next was after one of my visits. I had left some of my personal things in the bedroom, my dressing gown, a razor blade and these she noticed. Again he was quizzed. I don't think it was any of her business who he had to stay, but his ex wife had requested he put their divorce on hold, and apart from this neither myself or my husband really knew ourselves where our relationship was heading.
Then came the actual meeting. I was visiting for the weekend and my husbands ex wife made a surprise visit. It was certainly a surprise for me as I'm not sure how she knew I would be there as my visits were infrequent and erratic. Perhaps an evening out the night before with friends of my husband and his former wife led to another loyal liaison between girlfriends no doubt.

The meeting didn't make me nervous but it did give us the opportunity to look each other over. I have no inhibitions and it was nice to see her in the flesh, after all, the only information I had about this woman, was given to me by my husband. She had hurt " my man" and my protective womanly instincts were taking hold.
I was pleasant and invited her in, much to my husbands shock and horror, at which she accepted and proceeded to introduce me to their child, alongside inviting my husband and I to her house that evening for drinks. I accepted being the polite naive silly cow that I am, after all our relationship was in its early stages and we certainly had nothing to hide.

After making her exit, my husband quite firmly suggested that under no circumstances were we accepting the invitation to his ex wife's house where I could potentially be subjected to the ceremonial marking of the ex wife territory dance. He would feel so awkward if she were to show any sort of affection or uncomfortable questioning towards him. The games we play!

By the beginning of June 2003, my daughter and I relocated to live with my husband, in addition to his ex was living around the corner. I actually think that after I moved in, the reality of reconciliation with my husband, or the safety net she thought she had cast, was in fact, never going to happen. My husband discovered the relationship with the boyfriend she had ended, was in fact well and truly back on, so much so, she invited him to move in. So rather than be left alone, was she forced into a situation? Probably my assumption, but from what my husband has told me regarding the break up of his marriage, her new partner, or work college as it transpired, also had a wife and three daughters he was prepared to leave, to begin a new life with my husbands ex.

Due to her returning to my husband undecided whether she should stay and make a go of their marriage or leave because she was confused, left her new partner without his home, wife and family in a rented house supposedly for himself and my husbands ex wife. Evidently he called her a few choice names and he had every reason too! His marriage was in tatters and his bit on the side couldn't make up her mind who it was she actually wanted to be with or whether she had in fact, made a terrible mistake. She certainly got the attention she craved!


I am now re married into this blended family life and in the beginning didn't have a clue what I was letting myself in for. My rose tinted spectacles were well and truly welded to my face and nothing was going to shift them. Yes the vision of a perfect happy life with the quaint cottage complete with roses around the door and white picket fence was finally becoming a reality. Bit of a hefty bump coming back down to earth! Ex wives can be a pain especially if they are the bitter one.

Even the wives who left their marriage in the first place but cannot accept that their ex partner has moved on with his life. If the new love of your life is not dedicated to making your relationship work, leaving his past relationship behind and not putting you on top of his priority list, then there is no point in wasting your time in trying to get on it. It's like nailing jelly to a tree; hopeless! He should be strong enough to not worry about what his ex wife feels but should worry more about how you, his new partner, feels but this becomes increasingly difficult when he unfortunately, like my husband, is constantly thrust in the middle.

New wife on one side, ex wife on the other. Although he demonstrates the, not interested attitude, which can be hugely frustrating when I have these paranoid delusions, the need to HAVE to discuss what is happening is overwhelming. This is my way of working through it. Repetitive I know, but an essential part of my acceptance process. After all this isn't my problem is it? It is my husbands, his past, his problem! His ex wife's interference in our life, just because they share a daughter, is out of my control. She comes into my new happy life, completely uninvited and I am the one who has to accept it. So forgive me for not being able to just let it go. The only compensation that keeps my sanity is knowing that I'm not alone.

There are millions of deranged, obsessive ex wives out there who just cannot cut those ties, even if they were the ones who walked out of the marriage in the first place.
I understand however, how massively frustrating it must be to discover that after she has ventured out looking for greener pastures and wanting a new partner to be what she wants them to be, her prestigious knight in shining armour, and the reason she left the relationship in the first place, was because the ex just wasn’t, is to then discover that in the relationship her ex has formed with potential wife number two, he is in fact behaving the way she wanted him to behave when he was with her. Does this make any sense?

I want to be able to concentrate on my life, my family. I'm not in the slightest bit interested in my ex husbands life or my Husbands ex wife's life. But her presence at times can be overwhelming and I struggle to understand if its because I make a bigger issue, analyse and dissect my husbands favourite word, or see problems that are not really there. Am I actually feeding the problems with my unrealistic expectations, rather than dealing with reality?

Trying to understand why my husbands ex wife remains so interested in controlling our life via their daughter is totally beyond me. I have no interest in my ex's life, his new partner and what goes on when my children are in their company. As long as they are happy, safe and having a nice time then that will do for me. My ex husbands girlfriend has a horse. Something my Daughter would dearly love. Suddenly Daddy is able to provide her with something I never can. It bothered me to begin with, wondering if this was the tool to entice our daughter to go and live with him, but it was soon overcome. My problem and I dealt with it. I had too.

My husbands ex wife's apparent need to remain in contact with her ex mother-in-law, who, when my Husband and she were together, didn't get along. His mother had no time for her at all. She called her controlling, and when my husband and she split, my mother-in-law commented she was "glad to have her son back!" My husband has also described how controlling his ex wife was, but he didn't realise it until she was out of his life and he met me. Now it's a different matter. The ex wife goes on holiday and the mother-in-law gets a call to say they are having a nice time. Not that it bothers me in the slightest, as I have no time for my Husbands mother so in all honesty, they are very welcome to each other. It's my business that is the forefront of her conversation when she has her grandchild, my stepdaughter that offends me. I'm not interested in their business, so please, please, don't show an interest in mine.

Booking a simple holiday can also lead to upset and aggravation and trying to get your head around the fact if you have no children but your partner has, then he will automatically assume his child will be spending the holiday with you both. Maybe not how you planned it, so your romantic holiday for two suddenly becomes the not so romantic holiday for three or more! If you, like me, already have children, there is the expense to consider. Should we have a holiday and only include the children with us twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and enjoy a two week holiday abroad or include all of the children whether they are living with us or not and settle for a holiday in Skegness? ( I know, there’s nothing wrong with Skegness.)

They are still our children and should be considered all the same. The first year we were together we were fortunate to enjoy two family holidays. The first included all of our children, albeit smuggling my stepdaughter into Centre Parcs as I had initially booked the holiday, for four rather than five, prior to moving in with my husband. For our second holiday we jetted off to Jamaica. On this occasion we again wanted to take all of our children, my son, my daughter and my stepdaughter, but my husbands ex wife wouldn’t allow her to take a few days absent from school. She was five and had just started her first school term. What on earth was she going to miss? My own children’s school never had a problem with it so my stepdaughter missed out on the holiday of a lifetime. My husbands ex wife however, will take her daughter on holiday, and it has proved acceptable for her to miss school on her terms of course it is, but that's my opinion. Perhaps she wouldn’t be able to stand the thought of her daughter spending two weeks with us, and then having to hear all about it from her when she returned home, or maybe she couldn’t compete with such an elaborate holiday and under no circumstances was she going to be out done.

This is why it is so hard being forced to accept a simple “no” and given no substantial explanation to help us understand the decision. We have to accept, no means no! Whatever her reasons, my stepdaughter missed out on a fantastic holiday in the Caribbean, but more importantly, she missed out spending two wonderful, fun filled weeks with her daddy. My son found it difficult to enjoy himself in Jamaica. We thought he was being an obnoxious teenager but when I think of it now, I suspect he felt disloyal to his dad for having a nice time on holiday while his father was back home in England. He let his guard down a little when he was having fun in the pool. I knew there was an excited teen in there somewhere, just needed coaxing out of him.

Along with holidays comes adapting and accepting Christmas would dramatically
change once I became part of a stepfamily as it will mean during some point, my husband and I were going to be without some of our children he his daughter and myself my son. This can lead to a potential tug-of-war situation concerning the children, where feuding parents decide where the children should spend their time and trying to coax a young child into making a decision that they should be with one particular parent rather than the other.

My son has chosen, in the past, to stay with his father. I find not sharing Christmas with him insufferable, but that is the sacrifice I have to make. For some, like my husband, it wont be a sacrifice, it will be a condition as most mothers, myself included, will dictate to the father, that the children will remain with them on this occasion. Many fathers and their new families, like ours, will have to settle for Boxing Day. There will come a time my daughter will want to spend Christmas with her father and when she reaches that age, the decision will be taken from my hands. When this time comes, my shoulders will have to be broad enough to happily allow her to go. My anguish, hurt and disagreement will have to be kept inside.

Adapting to this new role as a stepmother has not happened overnight for me so don't you expect it too. It is still taking one day at a time and understanding that each day can be different because situations change. It’s like constanly having the goal posts moved with no indication where they will be next. The feelings of resentment or jealousy are not the most favourable of qualities I feel for my stepdaughter. Having my husband all to myself six days a week to suddenly having to share him with his own daughter. A cuddle between myself and my husband is instantly threatened when my stepdaughter arrives. Immediately I resume a back seat status and withdraw from my husband to give him and his daughter time together, but this does not stop the potential mixed feelings of jealousy between myself and his daughter which throws my husband instantly into the man-in-the-middle again by two people who demand his undevided attention. I have to accept I have my husband twenty-four-seven, his daughter has him less than twenty-four hours!

We all have to adapt to this new situation. As a supposed grown up, my behaviour begs the question, I can try to understand it, as a child it must be a very scary unsettling situation to be in.
Diary entry.

Thursday 3 Feb 2005

I am numb. Again I feel lost and not belonging. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, say or how to act. You say this is about you. You seem to have a lot of issues about you and no one else is allowed in. I’m confused. How am I supposed to try and make this family unit work if you don’t tell me the truth when I ask, or keep things inside? You expect me to pour out everything that I have inside and tell me how I should deal with my issues, yet I’m not allowed to help with yours. I’m sorry if you think I have made this situation about me, not my intention, but I was so used to having things turned on me in the past, that its an automatic reaction. It just seems that I make these issues about me because I seem to be the root of everything. Your mother blames me for you changing your lifestyle because I moved in. Fact. My son is behaving the way he is because I gave him an option. Fact. I could go on. So you see, I am the root of the problem.

You say I am hostile towards your daughter so I mustn’t blame her for how she is with me. I am trying to be something I don’t know what anymore. I have to change on a weekend to suit her mood. I mustn’t change and push everyone aside, or over compensate, when my son visits. All these things I must and mustn’t do. My head is in pieces and at the moment I don’t want to be anywhere but alone. I thought when I came here I could be myself, who I wanted to be, but that has proved to be wrong. I’m trying to keep the peace with everyone. My daughter where your daughter's concerned, you where your daughter's and my son are concerned, you where my daughter is concerned. This whole situation is beginning to slide and I feel I’m loosing control.

I try and give you and your daughter space to be together and that’s wrong, but I cant get near you. I am lonely and sad and by the looks of it, completely selfish because this is about me. I miss my husband, my friend and my lover and I ache for how things used to be. I’m constantly seeking help and advice to try and keep things normal and I can’t. I think I have things right, then you hit me with something and it’s all-wrong. I look at you and wonder who you are. ME, you get what you see. Someone who talks too much and looks to you to solve all my problems keeps me safe and loves me. What do you get from me? Nothing but grief emotional crap, and problems.

Think its time to ask yourself, were you better off just you and your daughter before I moved up? You could have had all the love and affection without the crap. You would never of felt pulled by the kids or me. Looks like you gave up a pretty good thing there!

And so it begins. Stepfamily life.

The triangle

My husband and I have been in our relationship for four years, we have been married for nearly three. I entered fresh, excited and ready to make a new life, leaving behind one failed marriage, and found myself in a triangle instead. My Husband, myself and his ex wife. This other woman simply refuses to move on or at least accept that her ex husband has moved on, and I feel helpless.

When we first became a couple, I knew he had a daughter, he knew I had children too, but we could deal with that as we accepted each others situation. We talked in length how we were going to help each other raise our respective children as we were going to treat them as ours, not yours and mine facing any impending issues the children may bring together.
This would serve to be the first mistake on my part. His child was not mine and if any help in raising my husbands daughter was going to be done, it would be his ex wife and him. She would clearly see to that.
I was happy, ignorantly thinking, that life was going to be great. I already had two children so I knew how to be a parent, even though I say so myself, they are great children so having an additional sister was not going to be a problem for them. My husband's daughter was a happy little girl with a wonderful smile; perfectly sociable so would interact quite happily with my own children.

What I forgot to take into account was his ex wife, my stepdaughter's mother, and I would become a potential threat to her motherhood. It appears ridiculous as I think back now, as my husband was forced to accept his ex wife's judgement of her new partner, its a pity she couldn't show her ex husband the same common courtesy.

It is competing with an ex wife or not such an invisible enemy and realising that my suspicions are not always ridiculous and absurd. I believe his first wife cannot let go of my husband, and tries to insinuate her way into our marriage through their child or unnecessary contact and I have to manage the antagonistic ex and accept her presence in our relationship while she tries to manipulate my husband through their daughter. All in my head? Maybe.

Hopefully our marriage will make it, because if my husband and I are soul mates, and I truly believe that we are, we can adopt the attitude that this marriage, our partnership, is the one that will only ever matter and our previous relationships should become insignificant. We both share the same values regarding our children and our outlook on life is very similar, unlike our previous relationships.

Many couple's second marriages unfortunately end in divorce, the top five reasons being;

1.Confusion over responsibilities for the children or where loyalties and priorities are supposed to lie.
2. My favourite, ex wives or ex partners and their quest for control.
3. Finding Mr Right, or perhaps not as they don't exist. The grass is never greener on the other side.
4. Ease of divorce the second time because you've been there, done that and got the well worn t-shirt.. Couples are less likely to forgive and more likely to throw in the towel. (Or the well worn t-shirt)
5.Money and finances

I suppose in our relationship, I have struggled with the first two. Unbalance of children, constant conflict they unknowingly cause alongside trying to understand and accept that a child behaves in a certain way because it is the way they have been raised. It doesn't matter how much I thought my stepdaughter's mother was doing it wrong it was her way of doing things. Another divorce under my belt is not a comforting thought and, at times, I have been ready to throw in the towel, wave the white flag, as I know my husband himself has thought too.

This is not because the problems are with each other, but caused by this triangle and an ex wife who simply has to be involved or control our life via her child. Should I concede to this feeling of intrusion and accept having to share my husband, for a life of uncomplicated solitude?
The immense love and adoration I feel for him, is clouded by the overwhelming feeling of helplessness having his ex wife be part of my life and having to allow it. Would it be easier to live without him rather than accept he has a past and unfortunately his ex wife is part of it? No. He is a wonderful father and a fantastic father figure for my own children, so would it be fair to take them away from him? Would it be fair for our own daughter we have together to experience the pain and loss of not seeing her daddy everyday, and the loss of her family as does his first child? Above all that, I would miss my husband, my best friend and the love of my life.

Advice and inspiration for coping with these emotionally exhausting, and at times traumatic, situations are not enough and are of little comfort or encouragement, as it seems to be a continual uphill struggle to suppress my feelings so they don't get the better of me every time. Trying to find the positives when your mind is awash with the negatives is helpless. Having the second wife/step mother doom and gloom and desperately needing to hear a small voice of reasoning, to assure me that no, I have not lost the plot, I am not being unreasonable, even if they appear selfish and one sided, and my feelings are normal.

I have been thrown a life-line all the same. I recently joined a group of stepmother's themselves experiencing the very same issues I have with my husbands ex wife. It seems this is a common problem when becoming involved with a man who has children, the ex controlling contact or generally making a nuisance of herself.
It is embracing an attitude that any marriage needs work, especially a blended family. Some just gaily tick along with little or no effort injected, however, being part of this stepfamily unit needs much work and effort due to the problems that are already in place, an ex partner or an un cooperative child.

The problems go beyond the triangle of my husband and his first wife. I feel the in laws remain loyal to his ex wife too, and at times they have meddled in my new relationship, especially where my stepdaughter is concerned. Despite all the hurdles and potholes face, I struggle on, but I do wonder why both my mother and sister in law, insist on having a photograph on the wall of my husband and his brother at my husbands first wedding. Yes it is a nice photograph of the two of them smartly dressed in top hat and tails. So why can't I see it just as that, rather than a trinket of my Husbands first marriage and thinking how insensitive it is?

In laws and out laws

When my husband initially introduced me to his family I liked his mother very much consequently we became close incredibly quickly and yes, behind every potential new partner is a mother they'd like to keep safely locked away! It was a dangerous liaison my husband had commented. The danger was, could I confide in her as a friend or as my stepdaughter’s grandmother? It was finding the fine line. She talked about my husbands ex wife on several occasions and explained, on first meeting her, between herself and my husband's stepfather, they both thought, "the woman should have been born with balls!" My husbands ex wife seemed a very competitive woman and my husband had always suspected her resentment towards him concerning his career as his was much more successful career than hers.

Occasionally I would look to my mother-in-law for support when I became faced with trivial and minor difficulties concerning my stepdaughter. I honestly thought that as her grandmother, she knew her granddaughter well enough, certainly better than myself, that she could offer some much needed and welcome advice, but instead she conveyed her distaste to my husband as she didn't think she should have to listen to me whinging about her granddaughter all of the time! This is how she interpreted asking for much needed help and support. Whinging!

She persuaded my own daughter to call her Grandma. It was heart-rending, as after moving, my daughter saw little of her natural grandparents, and missed her own Nanny very much, so my mother in law sought for my daughter to feel welcome into the family. There were a few instances I felt her own grandchild, my stepdaughter, was favoured over my daughter. A natural reaction, I accept that, but my stepdaughter set off crying to her grandma, suggesting that my daughter had pinched her and wasn't being very nice to her. This was something very out of character for my daughter as she isn't a spiteful or nasty child, on the contrary. I know she can be a little bossy but she certainly doesn't bully to get her own way, she is a friendly accommodating child and I am proud of her for this quality.

It later transpired that my stepdaughter had actually pinched my daughter first which both my mother-in-law and sister-in law were witness too, but obviously was overlooked. It did upset me as my sister-in-law has once remarked that she needed to keep a close eye on my stepdaughter when playing with her own children as she could be quite spiteful when she didn't get her own way. My own daughter has told me that when they are playing together, if she doesn't let my stepdaughter have her own way, she has been threatened with, "I'm going to tell my daddy of you. He's MY daddy and he will do what I say." Who is being the bully here my ten-year-old daughter or my stepdaughter at six?

When my husband's ex wife fell pregnant to her new partner, all we heard from my mother in law was when was the baby due? Was the baby born yet? It became tiresome. We really didn't care what his ex wife was doing, so how could we answer these repetitive questions? My husband's mother then focused the questions onto her granddaughter, my stepdaughter. It was a constant sea of interest about his ex wife's activities and movements. We weren't interested in chitchat about his ex wife, but for his mother, she was a hot topic.

Trying to get her to understand that his ex wife was of no consequence to us and that my husband could do without constant reminders about a woman who made his life a misery and who was now, very much a part of his past. A past that he had left behind and had no intentions of reliving on a day to day basis.

There were subtle comments regarding how she saw less of her grand daughter now that I had become part of my husband's life. She had told me that everything had changed since I moved in. My husband had spent most weekends at his mothers when he was on his own so her assistance lending a hand with his young daughter was very welcoming, he would never deny that. She was a huge help to him, but suddenly I was helping him with his daughter, so understandably she was feeling a little left out. What my husband never anticipated was being held to ransom for the rest of his life for turning to his family when he needed their support the most. Eventually he was going to come through the other side and find someone to share the rest of his life with, so the situation was always going to change at some point.

She tried to cause arguments between my husband and myself by suggesting to him that I was "saying certain things" to her. Mostly bringing up the conversation of his ex wife and then suggesting it was myself who had started the conversation. What she had not anticipated is that my husband and I discuss and tell each other everything withholding no secrets. I believe she is jealous of our relationship because we are so close, something her own relationship lacked. She would openly admit her marriage was empty so I assume gossip and chitchat was the only excitement she had. Some people need confrontation in their life to relieve the monotony.

My husband's brother and partner have three children. They decided to get married late summer 2003. It would be a small, non-family wedding, just themselves and a few witnesses, an intimate occasion without the family politics. We were not offended at all not being invited. It was their day after all and we wished them all the best. This is how my husband and I eventually married, the same intimate occasion with a few friends, it was the best day of my life! My mother-in-law added her comments to their arrangements and their plans were immediately turned upside down, altering their small intimate gathering into a larger family affair at which we were added to the guest list.

Obviously this was going to include my step daughter, but the problem was the wedding was at lunch time on the Saturday, and my step daughter wasn't with us until 6.30pm that evening, so asking the favour of having his daughter early would mean his ex wife would want a favour returned, we thought the easiest solution to avoid all the hassle, would be for my brother in law and his future wife, to send an invitation directly to my stepdaughter's mother. That way she could accept or refuse the invitation and my husband could avoid asking to alter our weekend arrangements, for his ex wife to change the next ten weekends or so, as she was accustomed to doing. Returning the favour was her way of putting it.

On the receipt of the wedding invitation, it was to request the company of my husband and myself. My daughter was not invited. It had been discussed that as their niece, my stepdaughter, wouldn't be able to come, they didn't think it would be fair to invite my daughter; after all she wasn't anything to do with them really was she? My husband's brother had also told him that he didn't want his niece looking through their wedding photos in the future and to notice my daughter there but not herself.

A strange statement as would my stepdaughter know any different?. I believe my mother-in-law has suggested if her own granddaughter was going to be absent from the wedding then she certainly didn't want my daughter there either.
I was terribly upset by this. I was supposed to be part of their family along with my daughter, but now they wanted to exclude her. How am I supposed to explain this to her as she is already excited about a new dress. I took the decision that as my daughter was going to be excluded, I wouldn't be present at the wedding either, but I hoped this was not going to deter my husband from attending.

A few days later we were invited over to my mother in laws and my husband had asked that I not bring up the topic of the wedding in conversation which I agreed. A decision had been made and I certainly didn't want to talk about it, especially with her. I was suffering with a nasty headache and all afternoon my mother in law kept on at me. Was I ok? How was I feeling? I was obviously still upset with the decision but on my husband's request, refused to mention it. My mother-in-law kept on and on, little suggestions and comments about the wedding as she could see I was bothered by something, so continued enticing me into a discussion.

In the end I passed comment on the way the situation had been handled and my obvious upset. This led to a heated argument. We were stood in her living room, her warning me that if I didn't go to the wedding then my husband, her son, would not go either. I retorted that he was old enough and responsible enough to make his own decisions, so I would be encouraging him to attend, as it was for his brother. Each time I tried to walk past her to put an end to the confrontation she shifted her direction blocking my path, so I requested she let me pass as I was now desperate to leave. My husband was in the back garden chatting with his stepfather therefore, completely unaware of the situation taking place inside the house.

After trying to pass her for the last time, she put her hands on my shoulders to stop me so I screamed for her to allow me to leave. My husband rushed into the house from the garden asking what all the yelling was about. I wanted to go home, so distracted by her new audience I was able to push past his mother and head outside and wait for my husband to follow. When he eventually came out he said that his mother had insinuated I repeatedly brought up the topic of the wedding up in conversation and it was me who wouldn't let it drop. I couldn't believe it. His mother had been partial to gossip amongst the family and anything she gossiped about was always worded in a manner that someone else had said it so somebody else could take the blame. There was an awful lot of " he said she said" in her topic of conversation.

Even though there has still been tension between my husband and his mother, we endeavoured to lay the past disagreement to rest. My stepdaughter was approaching her birthday and planned to celebrate it on the Sunday simply the four of us, my husband, myself, my daughter and my stepdaughter, and take her bowling. My mother-in-law was extremely put out by this as she assumed we were going to spend the day with her and she would lay on a birthday tea. To try and salvage his deteriorating relationship with his mother, we agreed to change our plans and allow her to lay on the tea.

My husband called her to arrange this, but immediately was drawn into a discussion over where her other grandchildren, my brother-in-law's children's invitation to my stepdaughter's party was? As my husband angrily put down the telephone receiver, I received a text from his mother on my mobile phone. It simply read congratulations! What was I being congratulated for? I assumed the implication was I had finally turned her son against him and he was now acting in the way I was instructing him.
My husband wrote a letter to his mother as follows:

14th October 2004

Despite trying to explain things on numerous occasions and getting nowhere, I feel the only option I have left is to write. I am finally waving the white flag as I really cannot take any more as whenever I have contact with you, all I get is twenty questions about how I should be running my life, how bad I am at it and how badly done by you seem to be.
I called you the other day to try and do the right thing and arrange to bring your grandchild to see you on her birthday (at the expense of my own plans.) All I got in return was, "where is the invitation from my granddaughter, inviting her cousins to her party?"

You seem to think my wife is behind everything I do and say that she has "issues" with my daughter and my ex wife. This seems to make it convenient for you to blame her for everything and I am at a loss to know where you keep getting these notions from. My wife has nothing to do with this so can I ask for the last time to stop coming to your own conclusions and blame her for everything. Only you know the hidden meaning behind comments like "everything changed when you moved up." or the "congratulations" text you sent to her. Yes you are right things have changed and I apologise for leaning on you for support when I was alone and looking after my daughter, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for me all the same.
Maybe I was wrong in bringing my daughter to visit you every weekend, but I do not want to be held to ransom for the rest of my life for turning to my family when I needed them the most. Eventually I was going to come through the other side and find someone to share my life with, so things were always going to change at some point. Nevertheless, comments like these are very hurtful, unfair and have now proved damaging.

As my daughters father I decide what happens where she is concerned, not you, my wife or anyone else, something everyone seems to forget but are happy to give an opinion on. Any decisions I make are for the good of MY daughter and not for you to simply think how this is going to affect you and your time with her. For example it was me that decided my daughter was better off with her mother when she started school as I felt it was better for her not to have to go back and forth between mine and her mothers house whilst she's at school. The fact that my ex wife decided (without consulting me) to send her to a school conveniently located to her, left me with no option to be honest as my wife was unable to get her own daughter and my daughter to different schools that started and finished at similar times, but this was neither my or my wife's doing. When we were together our local primary school was quite acceptable at the time which is one of the reasons my wife's daughter attends (thinking my daughter would go there too) But as usual my ex wife does what the hell she likes and I am supposed to fit in with whatever she decides.

And mum, you should know, the mother always gets to do what she wants and the dad is left high and dry with no say whatsoever! So all my wife has ever done is support me when I have challenged my ex wife on things like this in the past.
Continuingly asking about my ex wife and how she lives her life is of no consequence to me the only role she plays in my life is she is my daughter's mother and unfortunately that means I have to have contact with her if I am to see my daughter. Other than this, I really couldn't care less if she fell off the face of the Earth. I don't think I can make it any clearer than that.

Something else that continues to hurt is why do you wait until I'm out of earshot to tell my wife you were thinking of going over my head and get in touch with my ex wife to arrange to see my daughter. Why do you insist on saying these things to my wife and not me. It isn't fair as she feels bullied and targeted as the reason things have changed. Not only that but you are riding roughshod over me to ensure you get what you want, without a care for how your interference will affect me. You need to understand that as far as my ex wife is concerned, my family do not exist anymore and unfortunately that includes you my brother, his wife and their children. This means if my ex wife arranges anything for her daughter (including birthday parties) You WON'T be invited. I am not invited and I'm her dad! Just like me, she has a new partner in her life that she wants to include in everything she does (including our daughter's birthday parties)

You also need to know what a bitch my ex wife has turned into. We went through a lot of upset with her when she started dictating terms of when and how I saw my daughter, changing arrangements weekly and generally messing everyone about most of all our daughter. This doesn't affect you it affects me and my family, and I struggled with her for months to get back to a routine that I was in control of instead of living my life to fit in with hers. So contrary to your opinions, I am not scared of my ex wife or unwilling to approach her if I believe my daughters well being is affected and this means invites from my family to my daughter to parties and weddings too. But I was never consulted or given the option was I? All this was decided for me as how things were going to be.

Unfortunately you don't see the hurt you have caused my wife and her daughter. My wife gave up everything to be with me, and her daughter is desperate to belong, having left everything she knows 200 miles away. Coming from a broken family myself, I know how she feels. Rightly or wrongly I am quite ashamed to say how embarrassed I am of my family right now in treating my wife and her daughter the way you have. Especially, when all I did before they moved here was reassure them that the family problems she left behind could soon be put behind her when she became part of a new family here. I was her knight in shining armour offering her the chance to start a new life with a new family. hasn't worked out that way though has it?

You have put me in the middle of impossible situations on numerous occasions and I am tired of it. I just want to be able to get on with living a happy life supposedly with my family around me, but I fear any chance of this now happening has been destroyed by past events. I hope you can take on board everything I have said as I am not taking sides or judging anyone for what may or may not have happened. I just need you and everyone else to accept my situation, respect it for what it is and the difficulties it entails for all of
us and try to be happy for me.
Your son x

My mother in law has now however, contacted my husbands ex wife to arrange contact to see her grand daughter as we no longer visit her. I can accept that as she still has a grandchild she wishes to remain in contact with, but in my opinion, it is not simply to remain in her granddaughter’s life. My stepdaughter is the only route of contact with my husband and our life, which still remains a constant topic of conversation for his mother.
Out of the frying pan

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.