With Christmas looming largely on the horizon and knowing how busy and manic it will be come in the weeks ahead I decided to stay in this weekend and give my Victorian Terrace a spruce and tidy-up.
I’m not a fan of housework well who is ? but I like to be orderly and organised especially at Christmas. We are big on Christmas in our family and as my house will be full to the brim with family friends and Champagne I like to get everything ship-shape and Bristol fashion before the decorations come out so I started the big clear up.
Deciding to start in my bedroom and getting a large black bag at the ready I pushed the bed over to one side and as the dust flew up making me cough I pulled out a large brown box that was overflowing. Plonking myself on the bed with the box of tricks next to me I started to rummage. Pulling a shiny green box out and opening the lid I lifted out an old passport. It belonged to my first ex-husband.. I opened it and looking at the picture, the greying temples and the slightly bloated face, I sighed. I still felt sad about him and a little guilty and was now reliving my life with him in my head. Together for twelve years we had met as teenagers got married and promptly had three children. We were happy for a while but he found responsibility difficult and while I was being mother earth he was out with his mates drinking too much and as I found out later chatting up anything in a skirt.
A phone call one Saturday morning from a cuckolded husband informing me that my husband had been very busy with his wife put me in the picture. Heavily pregnant at the time with our second child I flew into a rage berating him for days. Begging forgiveness and promising never to do it again I confided the story to my sister who advised me to give him another chance, I mean she said what can you do in your condition and with a toddler , where would you go ?.
So sticking the marriage back together with super glue we carried on but the damage was done and the relationship just continued to deteriorate. His drinking escalated and as I become stronger he began to try to intimidate me . He bullied me whenever he could, he was too heavy-handed with the children and then one day when I was out with my girlfriends he found me route marched me home and when I remonstrated with him he punched me in the face. Once violence is unleashed from its cage it is rarely recaptured and so I lived in constant anxiety wondering when I would next be on the receiving end. Inevitably I was. One cold November day he threw me out in the street barefoot and with no coat because I had intervened when he was being too harsh with our daughter because she wouldn’t eat her peas. I banged on the door for ages worried about our children inside. He let me in eventually and as he became more unstable I began planning my escape. I knew it would be difficult he was not just going to let me go even though he was now having an affair with a friend of mine.
Escaping from this marriage was not without event and I was lucky to get out alive and he was left broken and damaged and depressed and after taking a massive overdose he was hospitalised and got some help. He re- married and moved well out of the area and never established a relationship with his children and despite his new wife’s support he carried on with his self destruction unable to forgive himself for losing what he valued most, me and his children.
He eventually drunk himself to death unable to put his demons to rest and my eldest daughter flew to be with him at the end rather than have him die alone. I wish she hadn’t as im sure the horrific story that unfolded before her of his last few days has left her scarred. (I would have gone with her but my current husband was already sulking because I had cried when I heard of his impending death.) There was a time when I lived in so much in fear of him that if someone had told me he was dead I would have jumped for joy but somehow the fact that my children would never have even the possibility of a relationship with their father saddened me deeply. I did go to the funeral however to support his elderly mum and dad and my daughters (My son had decided it was all too much).
The passport was all my daughter had left of him and it was with me for safe-keeping . I still feel it was such a waste of life and wondered if things could have ended differently if I had tried harder. Looking again at the passport picture I study it hard and there it is, that steely cold glare looking back at me. The very same look he used to have shortly before I would be on the receiving end of his fist. Putting my guilt and the passport back in the box I remind myself that I had no choice I had to get out and protect my children. I can still remember how it feels to live in a state of constant anxiety wondering if today would be the day he would lose it completely. I think I had a lucky escape!
Putting the box away I come across a picture of one of my toyboys..smiling I think how my life has changed!. Back to the joy!.