ABSENT FATHERS The End of a Violent Marriage

As the hammering intensified he began to plead loudly to be let in.  My sister didn’t know what to do for the best.  Her husband came in from the garden demanding to know what all the noise was and then he quickly took control of the situation.

He reasoned with me that I would be quite safe and maybe if I spoke to him he would calm down.  Besides he said..we can’t leave him making all that racket on the street.  Wringing my hands wanting to runaway I nodded in agreement but added “don’t leave me will you ?” . In this mood who knows what he could do. My brother-in-law agreed to stay.  The truth of it was that nothing he could say to me would change my mind.  Now I had been brave enough to say the words I knew I meant  them.  There had been too much pain, betrayal and violence to go back.

As the door opened his anguished face appeared ashen in colour.  He pushed past my brother-in -law and sobbing loudly he fell at my feet gripping my legs and with tears streaming down his face he pleaded and begged.  I stood like a stone block looking anywhere but at him crying silently.  Inside my stomach was churning and I thought that at any moment I would be sick.  I just kept shaking my head by way of refusal.   His pain was evident and he was scared really scared.  Everything he truly loved was just about to leave his life and as a reality check it was a big one.

It occurred to me at that moment that he had absolutely no comprehension of the pain he had caused me both physically and emotionally.  He could only relate to things when he felt them.  He had inflicted years of adulterous behaviour on me I was to find out later even during our first year of marriage and with someone I knew.   As he continued to get more and more desperate at my feet I began to feel a loathing for him.  Even now he couldn’t see my pain he could only feel his own. With all the strength I had I pushed him away and left the room.

Not knowing what else to do I phoned his parents.  His mother was not best pleased but hearing his distraught voice in the background they came and persuaded him to go home with them.  He threw me a look as he left and I knew that anger was replacing the grief.  I had seen that look before and it made my blood run cold.

I spent the next two weeks sleeping on people sofas.  My children stayed with relatives except for the youngest I kept him with me. My husband stayed at home and  would ring me to tell me he knew where I was and what I was doing.I soon realised he was following me.  He would tell me where I slept and where I had been. It was very unnerving.  I tried several times to have  a sensible conversation with him about me moving back into the house and him moving out but he refused to budge. I urged him to see a doctor knowing that the was on the verge of a breakdown.

Then one day he turned up at the stables where my horse Guinness was kept and told my friend he fancied a ride to clear his head.  My friend a kind women who knew him well  offered to ride out with him and tried to give him a kind word or two.  As soon as they were in open country he began beating my horse with his whip over and over again until in panic Guinness galloped off with my friend in hot pursuit. As the gate appeared Guinness stopped dead and my husband was thrown to the ground. Guinness galloped off  leaving my husband grovelling in the dirt mumbling incoherently.

After this his did go to the doctors.  Guinness was none the worse for his ordeal although he never trusted a man again. Moving from sofa to sofa was beginning to get me down and I was anxious to get the children back together and in their own beds.  I decided to try again to reason with him and we had many conversations long into the night by phone.  I felt at last I was getting through to him and the medication the doctor had given him seemed to be helping. With my daughter’s birthday at the end of the following week I asked if  I could move back,  I wanted my children to have some normality.  I knew his parents had room for him.  He was being very reasonable and said maybe we could have a chat face to face.

This seemed a good idea and I needed to pick up fresh clothes for the children so I arranged to go and see him at the house one afternoon. It was  the first time I had been back.  It was a bright sunny day and a bank holiday weekend.  I decided to take our son with me. I thought it would be good for both to see each other and it would also give me a good excuse to leave.

Our conversation was pleasant and as I looked around the family home I noticed certain things were missing. My jewellery was gone and there was a little patch of burnt grass in the garden and the remains of what looked like a bonfire. I found out later that he had thrown my wedding,  engagement ring and a bracelet he had bought me all out of the car window on the motorway at great speed! The remains of the bonfire I was to discover was in fact all that was left of my underwear.  The children’s pet rabbit and guinea pig were missing the cage empty and forlorn the food remains uneaten. I began to feel very anxious.

Trying to keep the conversation light I asked if I could move back in few days as it would be best for the children.  He nodded in agreement. But I was  feeling slightly panicked by his overly monotone voice  so I said to my son that we had better get going.  The mood in the room changed.  He hadn’t finished talking to me  there were some questions ?.  Trying to quell the fear rising in the back of my throat I managed a half-smile.  Was I seeing anyone he wanted to know ? A picture of Max popped into my head but still I managed an emphatic no!. Had there been anyone that I had liked or had liked me.  Not knowing what to say and observing now that he was pacing around the room I said well,  not really. He then ran through a list of people . My boss, my friends husband, this one and that and then dropped Max’s  name in casually at the end.  I tried to keep my face still.  What did he know ? Had someone spoken to him ? We are just friends I said that’s all !!

He looked at me, his eyes dark and black reminded me of a killer sharks and the fear rose from my stomach like tentacles gripping my throat and restricted my breathing. He left the room and grabbing my son by the hand I got up and as I did so I heard the kitchen drawer open and close. I made for the door but he was there before me pushing the door shut with one hand and carrying in the other a large serrated edged kitchen knife.  He said very calmly that if he couldn’t have me then no one would.  I looked in horror as he came towards me grabbing me roughly and putting the knife to my throat.

I found my voice, reminding him that our child was in the room and pleaded to be allowed to put him to bed upstairs.  I needed to get into the hallway where the front door was.  With great deliberation he put the bolt across.  I heard myself pleading over and over aware that my son was hiding behind me as his daddy wild-eyed and pale continued to hold me in a vice like grip.

Suddenly without warning he said ” ok put him to bed” and released me.  I went to the door with my son in front of me urging him forward and trying to talk in a normal tone of voice. “come along let’s get you up to bed”. Once through the door and with my son in front of me I ran for the front door.  Just as I got my hand on the latch he was there grabbing me and dragging me back down the hallway.  He was still carrying then knife.

Pushing us both back into the room I watched as if in slow motion as he bolted the door.  I looked at him and for the first time that day I saw him clearly.  He was completely unstable barely able to reason.  I must get my son out.  Screaming at my little boy I told him to run for the back door and in the same breath I grabbed the knife by the blade which was hovering close to my throat.

My husband tried to gain control but with the blade cutting into my hand I continued to fight.  suddenly the knife slipped upwards in the struggle and scrapped along the inside of his forearm. Blood sprung from the wound and my husband started screaming at the top of his voice.  Seizing the opportunity I ran to the back door where my son scared and afraid was waiting.  He couldn’t get the door open it was stuck fast.   Kicking it hard with my foot I pushed him through screaming for him to go to Linda’s next door.  There was no back exit but the fence was only a small low one, he was agile and quick his little legs making it look easy.  As I went to follow I felt a hand clamp over my mouth and  was suddenly dragged backwards. Again I was fighting for my life as he tried to haul me back in.  I was trying to scream for help at the top of my voice but it came out muffled and subdued so I bit his hand hard.  Blood spurted from my lip and I felt his grip weaken and breaking free I  ran for the fence.   Please let them be home.

I heard noise behind me as my husband began barracading himself in,   screaming that he was going to kill himself. I ran sobbing into my neighbours and phoned the doctors and my father in law.

The Doctor came and tried to talk him out. By the time his parents arrived the doctor had gained entry but not before my husband had used the knife to hack some more holes in his arms. His injuries were not life threatening and he was released  into his parents care.

I was too terrified to stay at the house and was scared he would come back so I threw some things in a black sack and comforting my son I phoned Max.  We had not spoken in some weeks but I said I needed somewhere to stay that no one knew about I was convinced that my husband would come for me again!  Max was there within twenty minutes holding me close  and saying he had somewhere for me to stay.

Three weeks later my ex-husband took a serious over-dose. If it hadn’t been for my mother in law’s neighbour spotting him collapsed on the lawn he would have died. He spent two weeks on the psychiatric ward.  But was never the same again. Despite remarrying and moving away he never settled. He  phoned me many years later to tell me that he still loved me. He sadly never maintained a relationship with his children and after damaging his liver with yet another overdose attempt he finally drunk himself to death.  He was 51.  I was saddened by his death. My anger and fear of him had long since dissipated and I was depressed to think that his children would never be able to know the best of him. I accompanied my children and his parents to his funeral.  Sometimes when I’ m passing I even leave flowers at his graveside.

broken

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