A few weeks ago Mrs BC offered her blog as a place for anyone who wanted a rant, had something to get off their chest or, just had a story to tell that for whatever reason didn't sit well on their own blog.
First of all, THANK YOU so much Mrs BC!!! There are few things more frustrating for someone who makes sense of the world by writing than to not have an outlet. I'm choosing to post this anonymously for reasons that will become clear. I have a real need to tell my story but again, for various reasons I can't post this on my own blog. It's really hard to know where to start.
Part of the reason for it taking me so long to write is that the story has been evolving and changing direction so fast that my head is spinning. Sadly my story has not reached the end and, whichever way it does, the outcome is not likely to be happy.
So, where do I start?
15 years ago when I met my husband? The intervening years which, although not all unhappy were, on reflection, not happy times.
2 and a half years ago when I ended my marriage? The pain, ill health, emotion turmoil, suffering and punishment meted out during that time?
Or the 23rd of December when I stood barefoot with tears puring down my face in a car park while he smugly smiled as the police woman explained that without a residency order she couldn't prevent him from taking my children from me?
So how, and why did this happen. Questions I'm still asking myself even now the children are (for the time being) safely back where they belong.
Ok, I'll start with how and yes, I know, this IS only from my perspective. I AM emotionally involved. I will only be able to tell you my truth based on my knowledge and experience of this man and my views are not unbiased, I appreciate that.
My views are tainted by the pain he has caused me and my belief that his only motivation was to cause me yet more pain for daring 2 and a half years ago to defy him, to not forgive him, for trying to remove him from my life and for trying to live my life without him.
One thing that should be made clear. My children love their Father. They will forgive him ANYTHING just to keep him in their lives. He has used this to his advantage over the last couple of years.
Refusing to make proper arrangements to see them (and barely seeing them at all in the first year). Keeping them on edge. Waiting for up to 2 hours at a time for him to arrive to take them out, all the while sitting silently on the sofa, peering through the blinds each time a car drew up outside.
Bringing them home early, before I was home and leaving them, without a key, on the doorstep before driving away.
Having my daughters long, strawberry blond hair cut short and dyed black.
Neglecting my son to the extent that he suffered 2nd degree burns after a day at the beach resulting in a week off school and in so much pain that we both wept every time I applied the burns cream. During this week the only communication any of us had from his father was a text to say it wasn't his fault.
Many times they have come home having not been fed all day. They are tired and hungry. Their Dad has gotten drunk the night before and only got up in time to bring them home.
So why not just stop him seeing them? Of COURSE you are asking that, I know I would!
Well, my children are considered young adults, at least to the extent that they are old enough to have their wishes taken into consideration. They want to see him. If I prevent this then not only do I alienate my own children but I face a battle in court.
So I desperately tried to put safeguards in place, to gain assurances, promises, ANYTHING that would show that he had his children's welfare at heart and would take care of them.
I worried every single moment that they spent with him. I stopped going out, even to the shops or walking the dog on the days they were due home to make sure that never again would they be left outside alone.
Again, yes, they have mobile but no matter how many times I asked for a text or a call before they left for the 1 and half hour journey home. No matter how many times I called to find out what time they would be home. No matter what I was told, the situation was likely to change without any warning or notice so I never felt safe.
The children were going to spend this Christmas with their Father. Not something I wanted or was happy about but something he had put to them stressing that it was HIS turn. Last year he told me he didn't want to see them at Christmas or for New Year. He and his girlfriend had 'plans'. I didn't know we TOOK it in turns!
This year his girlfriend threw him out after discovering that he had been persistently unfaithful to her during their 18 month relationship. This year he would be on his own and not be the centre of attention. This year he decided it was his TURN to have our children
And so, because this was presented to me as a done deal. Because my children cling on to any and every sign that their Dad wants them. Because I felt that yet again I was given no option. I agreed.
But then his behaviour became more erratic.
At the beginning of November I received a drunken call from him saying that he didn't want to have the children from Friday night to Sunday afternoon but that he would pick them up on a Saturday morning every other weekend. (there is a back story to him having them on a regular basis and it revolves around a reduction in maintenance payments from him if he has them for a set amount of nights a year). It was shortly after this that I discoved he and his girlfriend has split up.
I agreed to the change in the arrangements but it transpired that he didn't want to pay the higher rate (about £40 per month) of maintenance that he would incur by being in breach of the shared care arrangement. I was to keep quite and continue to allow him to pay the reduced rate or he would stop seeing the children and tell them it was my fault for, in his words, 'being a money grabbing bitch again and making it impossible for him to see them'.
I refused to be bullied by him again. (again there is a back story regarding money that he has refused to pay, has stolen ect) and so I said no. Predictably this unleashed a storm of abuse and threats and bizarrely, photos of him in compromising situations with other women being sent to my phone. At this point I said that the plans for Christmas should be revised.
He had threatened not to return the children. To keep them and try to force me to sell my house (which I had owned for many years before meeting him and for which he has never made a mortgage payment towards).
I said that as he no longer had a place I felt the children would be 'safe' in. Because he was living with a family member he had previously told me took drugs. Because he refused to give me an address. Because I was tired of the years of bullying, of abuse of constantly working my life around his demands even when he was living nearly 100 miles away, I said NO!
I said that he could still have contact with the children by phone and in person but only with supervision and only if he were to travel here to see them. That I would not allow him to take them in a car. I did specify that the supervision didn't need to be by me. That I was willing to arrange for the children to be with mutal friends that I trusted.
But you don't say no to my ex (If I refer to him as my husband it's because we are sadly still married. So far he has ignored 3 sets of divorce papers but the next set will be served in person).
So, how did he come to take my children?
Why did they willing go with him?
Because, as I have said, they love their Dad but also because they have seen him walk away from children from a previous relationship and have no contact with them for 6 years. They know and I know that should they not go along with his plans then in all likeliness he will do the same to them.
I wish to god he WOULD!!!
But they don't.
So yes, they choose to believe that I would stop them spending Christmas with their dad because (as he says) I hate him. They choose to believe that I don't pass on messages or tell them when he has phoned, that I try to prevent them from speaking to him.
The truth is, and they KNOW this!!
He doesn't phone. His only interest is self interest.
He probably does love them in so far as he is able to love but it isn't the unconditional love most of us have for our children. It's a self serving love. A need in him to be loved. A demand to be the centre of attention.
If I were reading this would I be thinking, 'but there MUST be more to this story'? She MUST be a bad mother to have her children say they want to live with this man. There is something she is hiding ...
To be honest? I probably would and I don't blame you if you think the same. To understand you need to understand how manipulative this man is. How he wears down your self esteem. How he makes you feel that his approval is the only thing that matters. How you lose yourself and your self worth.
This is what he did to me and god knows how I managed to break free. I do know that it left me emotionally scarred and physically ill. I do know that the bond I had with him was far more tenuous than that which a child has for a parent.
I DO know that my children know that I will never leave them. That I will never reject them. That I will ALWAYS, no matter what love them.
Maybe this is the key to it all. Maybe this is why they can behave in this (in the words of a friend) treacherous manner towards me. Maybe this is why during this time where I am backwards and forwards to a solicitor. Where I face a battle in court. Where every aspect of my parenting is questioned, they continue to tell me they love me. They continue to behave relatively normally. They continue to laugh, to have friends over, to hug me to be so damned NORMAL at times that I really think that as their Dad keeps suggesting, I may be mad!
Or maybe he's just fucked so much with their heads that they don't know what normal IS any more.
To be honest, I'm not sure I do.
I appreciate there are gaps here. Information and background that were it included would perhaps tie all of this together better but I'm only really getting one shot at this. It's as hard to write as it is to believe.
I feel broken and beaten but, there is still life in me and every moment I have, every breath that I breath is to protect and to love my children. I don't know how this will end and I'm scared.
I'm scared of the damage that's already been done and I'm scared of the damage and pain to come. I do know that no matter how this ends, no one wins and the biggest loser's of all will be my children who I love so much.
It breaks my heart.
Thank you Anonymous, this breaks my heart also. I truly hope that the courts, & your children see the truth of this behaviour, & that there will be a happy ending for you all.
Thank you so much for sharing.