I was married for 18 years and it was never really a brilliant relationship from the start, but I was bound to the word "love" and at first the emotional drama of having arguments and passion of making up was addictive. The good days outweighed the bad days and the mind games to some extent played by both of us. There is a quote that says "don't let yourself be a victim" and that is exactly what I did. My lack of confidence, self-esteem and love for myself trapped me to suffer in silence on how bad everything really was.
When a child came into the equation then everything changed, things were easier when my son was a baby but once he started to grow and form his own ideas, opinions and to become his own person then life became very difficult. My husband now had two people to play mind games with and they became nasty- the saying "stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt me" is not true - words can hurt very much indeed and with the constant lack of respect and barrage of the things he said to me and his own child I see were unbearable for someone who professed to love me and his son.
I am not sure if he resented the love I had for our child, his own believed failure of his life and not being able to accept what he had, to not being able to stand up to what he thought was injustices to himself; caused him to become bitter and twisted (searching for excuses for him really should not be in contention here) - but like a light switch would flip into anger suddenly, or into melancholy, to wanting absolute control. I became a referee between child and father trying to keep us as a family unit, encourage and create meaningful and quality time as well as keeping a lid on my own emotions. It was a losing battle and the interactions started to boarder on violence and menace- it was not a happy or healthy environment for any of us to live in.
I started to find solace at work thinking that the catalyst was the three of us together but I was disabused of this notion when I came home one evening and found my son hiding in the wardrobe and food all over his bedroom floor - his dad had become angry because he didn't want to eat something. This was the last straw at what I saw as his abuse of our son but which he saw as our son being spoiled by his mother. It was the day before the school holidays and I left him to stay with family. My husband was contrite, delivered flowers to where I was staying, said all the right things and made promises that we would go for marriage counseling, and he anger management. More fool me I believed in his promises and platitudes.
For a few months there was an improvement and then situation at home got worse and I had to ensure my son was kept safe after school by staying with babysitters, friends anywhere but with his dad, and I myself went into relationship counseling. I suppose it came to head on two counts - my son has SVT (rapid heartbeat) but at this time this was not known and it was thought he was having panic attacks, and my husband's behavior became more twisted and overtly violent. I moved out from our bedroom and slept on the floor in my son's room. Rather than trying to show more love, understanding, this infuriated my husband that he would torture us with load music night after night, banging on the door when we were sleeping, begging for sex, turning off the electricity and keeping us locked in the house, making us feel guilty by saying he wanted to kill himself, became threatening and there was always that sense of hidden danger and I became frightened of both my own and our son's safety - I spoke to Social Services, sent my son to his grandad and when I was offered a place to live sixty miles from where we were living, I took that offer.
Why am I telling you a this part of my life's story now - well I was asked to consider, as part of a new poetry group I have joined, to write a poem on "leaving" and although both my son and I have had counseling since that move, all those emotions came flooding out which I had thought I dealt with. Also after reading recently about women being abused, I have felt a strong need for my story to be told. My poem is this story and needs to be read out aloud by myself to others to convey the emotion I feel on this part of my life - poetry written by the poet conveys what they feel - but the emotions of when you read the poetry depends on who you are and your own story.
I have glossed over the things that happened to both me and my son somewhat here, because to be totally explicit about every incident, every nuance here is not the right forum, but have tried to address a lot in the poem and I have to come to realize that when there is no respect in a relationship there is no love. Suffice to say it everything did come ahead and I did have my husband arrested and cautioned subsequently for threats to my life. I do feel immense sadness for my son because his father completely rejected him with his last bit of control and bitterness saying that without me he was not his child and when my son sent him a father's day card shortly after the divorce he somehow found out what school he went to and sent it back saying not to contact him, he was not his son anymore - since then my son has blocked him out of his life.
I have since met many woman, children and some men who have lived with abuse and have seen the emotional toil it has had on them - my story is not unfortunately unusual. The one thing I do ask if you are reading this blog and are living with abuse - please do find the courage to leave, don't suffer in silence - there is a brighter, happier life out there for you and help is available if you seek it. It may be a struggle to get back on your feet and you may have many obstacles to overcome but you are much stronger than you think and almost anything is better than living in these circumstances.
Bless you all.
An Empty Shell of a life once lived
Tell me how could you show yourself to the world that you are a victim, you are the one who has been wronged, that you are blameless and believe there are no reason to your actions
You pushed acceptable boundaries, with bitterness you tried to wear me down with your mind games, threats and accusations.
How long was I hypnotized by your charismatic charm, your pretense dragged down by your failure, your dented dreams your inability to stand up to authority. You entwined me with sweet smelling roses, but I never expected the sharp thorns dripping with venom trapping me with your promises and lies. Oh when I think of the chances you were given - but what are you to me now but a parasite getting drunk and high on twisted emotions
Where did our laughter go?
Sex a chore just like the washing up expected, always on your mind you robbed of romance and violated by freedom to choose, and in whatever way I put it or strongly deny it you raped me with me pretending a passion that just wasn’t there
Not just I tasted the excrement that came out of your mouth nor experienced your simmering intimidation, your sneering disdaining consideration and was blind to the dejection and desolation of a child just looking for your affection. We walked on eggs shells he and I crunching under hob-nailed boots - propping up your feeble weak mind, making excuses for your failure to love
How many years did I waste?
How many years did I deceive myself?
Why did I wait, why didn’t I protect
Why did I bury my head in the sand blindfolded to the consequences on an innocent mind?
You didn’t think I would survive, couldn’t do it on my own – you said I would die if I left you
And when my eyes were opened, my courage found and all hope abandoned, I watched as we imploded, and like a rubber band stretched too tightly - it snapped and all and I could see was the rot and rust – the mice running amok with their scratching and scrambling, and although the windows were left open to breathe fresh air the coldness invaded as all the warmth and joy had already been bleached away, the cracks you tried to paint over but you couldn’t change and the torture became harder to bear.
I walked away from you without a backward glance
I gave to you back the keys to my heart and slammed the door in your face and left leaving an empty shell of a life once lived
And now? Just like photos forgotten and left in a box, the pain is fading being locked away. Yet still you prey on my mind, just a memory a sad, sad memory that I have left behind. I feel sorry for you, I can forgive – thanks for the experience a life lesson learned – but can I forget and forgive the rejection of your child forsaken in your last battle for control– and you are the victim? You shit