I was arrogant enough many years ago to think that my first three children didn’t need a ‘Father’ in their lives, certainly not a womanising, prone to violence, with a drinking problem, one!
When I left taking the children with nowhere to go for their own safety and mine, I remember thinking that they would be fine and I would cope and they would always have me and that was enough. I had so underestimated the impact that this would have on my brood.
Despite the fact, they had bad memories of violent arguments and aggressive scenes they probably would have still preferred to be in a male/ female household. The need to be like others is strong. Somehow they were all affected by his absence. I was just relieved to be safe and despite sleeping on various sofas for some weeks and farming the children out to relatives it was still better than living in fear.
Wondering how his mood would be, or worrying myself senseless when he went out drinking of how he would come home. His personality changed so dramatically that he was unrecognisable. He was irritating, bolshie and picky. He would criticize everything trying to provoke me and not being without my own temper, I would struggle to keep quiet until he fell asleep only to wake and again be the person I fell in love with.
This pattern was repeated over and over. How had I not seen the signs ? Had they even been there when we married so young. He came from a good respectable family, he had a good job and was attentive and our sex life was Wow!.
Of course once the babies started to arrive our sex life waned. I was exhausted with three children under five. They were my world and I discovered I had a maternal instinct that was fierce . He of course felt neglected (probably with good cause). With his sex drive as high as ever he threatened to and I quote ‘ get it elsewhere’ His threats fell on deaf ears and the more he protested the more I withdrew my affections. His drinking was already getting out of control. Not everyday, but he would go out with the ‘boy’s’ and be delivered home in such a state he couldn’t stand . I remember one night he was carried through the door and promptly fell on the floor.
I was so furious I kicked him as he lay there unconscious, I mean how was I supposed to get him upstairs and with my precious babies asleep. I had no choice but to leave him where he lay, so I stepped over him and went to bed. Gradually the love just shrivelled and died.
There were good days of course and not being a person that gives up easily I carried on in the hope that things would get better. But sensing my withdrawal from him emotionally he became more and more unpredictable. He went out more and I knew that yet again he was finding comfort elsewhere and realised that I was actually relieved, anything that kept him from making demands on me in the marital bed was good news. Our once steamy sex life had been reduced to a perfunctory act and I constantly hoped that he would not reach for me in the night. But I knew better than to refuse.
It turned out that the woman returning his affection was a so-called friend of mine. I turned a blind eye and began to establish a social life of my own. I lost weight started to exercise and regain my confidence. He hated it. One night when I had been out with my girlfriends after exercise class he came looking for me. I was in the local pub and was later than usual. He demanded I came home, I was furious . How dare he challenge me after what he was up to. We argued and as I went to leave the room he punched me in the face. This was the start of escalating violence. One day he dragged our daughter from the dinner table because she wouldn’t eat her peas. She had never eaten peas and when I cooked I never served her any. He had made the dinner ( for which we all had to be very grateful Amen!) and her refusal to eat his offering seemed to be a big deal. I called his reaction “stupid” and ” over the top”. He turned on me grabbing me and forcing me up the hallway he pushed me out into the street and slammed the door in my face. It was a cold wet November day, I had no shoes on and no coat. My precious children were inside and he was in a rage. It was at this point I realised that his instability was getting worse and I needed to get out.
After pounding on the door for ten minutes he let me back in and I placated him through gritted teeth. This pattern of me trying to sooth his temper became a regular occurrence. I may have looked calm but on the inside I was a raging turmoil of resentful hatred that was building. Yet still I stayed, I mean where could I go with three children?. I only had a part-time job. It was a daunting prospect.
My social life had become important and although I was getting a lot of attention from men I had not strayed past the flirting stage. That was until one December night at a party where my husband’s mistress had spurned him in favour of someone else’s husband. In a temper and fuelled by drink he came to find me. I was dancing with a work colleague a male. He stomped off demanding that I followed him. I refused but after he phoned twice and being worried about the kids as he told me he had sent the babysitter home I left.
Knocking on the door I braced myself for his wrath. The door swung open and he grabbed the front of my top pulling me inside and tearing at my clothes he flung me onto the dining room floor. He knew better than to punch me. There had been too many bruises to explain away. Knowing I was in deep trouble I remained quiet and passive as he wrenched all my clothes off. They didn’t give way easily and cut into my skin leaving red welts. Once I was naked and shivering, it was a cold night, the heating was off and the room was freezing he began circling me like wolf trying to decide where to start tearing at me next. He didn’t touch me, he just ranted and shouted his pacing getting more erratic and threatening.
I lay curled in the foetal position silent and submissive not knowing what he would do next feeling vulnerable and cold. Inside my head though I was raging . “That’s your lot” I recited over and over to myself . “I’m going, I’m leaving ! You Bastard.!! and I’m taking the children and the next time I meet someone I like I’m going for it! I’m giving in….
The very next Friday the young man that was to occupy his place for the twenty five years smiled at me and offered me his seat…. (To be continued)..