So as I said, Mr Serious was back. And honestly, most of the time I can’t even tell you how he wrangled his way back in but he had a terrible hold over me which I couldn’t shake completely.
And while this time I didn’t let him move back in, I did let him convince me to move into his parents place with him.
You see, my mother had moved cities a little while before my daughter arrived.
300 miles away. And we had gotten closer before my daughter was born. So I was missing her, and he agreed to give it a go in a new city. To uproot our family and move near my Mother (and other family down there) so I agreed.
I found a job. I found a house. I paid the deposit on a house and childcare. And I paid for everything I owned to go into storage.
He didn’t do anything.
Not a thing.
So I was working my butt off to get everything setup and ready, it was all planned out. Even down to me finding him places to try for work and I let him get away with waiting till we were down there to go into places in person and take CV’s in.
And while we had been apart, I had been out being sociable and meeting new people. I’d also rediscovered an old hobby. Skating.
I was a figure skater and speed skater as a kid. And completely randomly one day I had wandered into a skate shop in town. I’d been pondering whether people even still did that. Or not. And I discovered that they did! Of course, like anything there had been massive changes… roller blades were new and strange when I was younger. Where now they looked at me sideways when I asked about roller skates. A slight chuckle and the smiley salesman guided me over to the roller blade section. There was an entire wall of skates for my perusal and I looked over them fascinated! He seemed somewhat bemused by me. But I told him I was an ex-figure skater and I had owned a pair of roller blades way back when… but they were so different to anything in front of me. So he took some time to explain them all. The differences in styles…. the fits… the brands…. And best of all he said that if I got a pair there was a group that met weekly to go for a ‘street skate’ and he picked me out a pair of aggressive skates. He told me those were what I needed and told me where to meet the crew.
As I was well single. I didn’t hesitate. Exercise, weight loss, new people, hopefully some fun. What wasn’t to be interested in?
I got involved! I made a whole new circle of friends, and I got good at skating. I got super fit and strong, and I was learning to ride ramps with the guys and having an absolute blast doing it.
And, I admit, I’d been venting a little about the move, and how Mr Serious was, and how he was getting more and more frustrating to me.
They were good guys. Good friends. And when I was hanging with them I felt like I had no worries in the world…. I was happy.
I was also sad to be leaving them. But they were too.
The weekend we were supposed to be leaving our city, we had decided that we would go down on the Sunday.
The plan had been to pack only what we absolutely needed. And we would stay with my mother for a few nights.
The movers were booked to bring our storage lockup full of furniture and possessions down on the Monday so we would have unloaded Tuesday and stay in our new house by Wednesday as he would take care of the unpacking because I started my new job on the Monday.
We had been staying with his parents, so we were mostly packed and basically just had to throw bags and selves into the car and go. We’d been living out of our cases for weeks.
On the Saturday night, I had told him that I was going for one last skate session at the indoor park with friends, and we were going to have a beer afterwards. I wouldn’t be early home, but not too late. And I had a ride sorted as we only had one car, and I suggested while his mother was around he might want to go say farewell to his friends.
I left. Had an amazing night. Achieved some small goals and finished up that night on a wicked high. We then kicked back and had a drink. A single beer. But it was more the discussion about the future, catching up again regularly when I visited family in town… talking about wonder of the scene down there and whether I’d find a group like this one to teach me more. There were hugs, and a few tears (mine mostly!) and goodbyes.
It was a really good night. But before I realised, it was about 11 and I panicked. So I asked my ride if I could be dropped off now and rushed off. He knew I’d be in trouble and he asked if I wanted him to wait, but seeing Mr Serious standing at the window, I said best not too and waved him goodbye.
I knew walking in that it was going to be a hell of a night ahead. As he was standing there, glaring at me and asking what the hell time I thought this was. And who was that dropping me off?
I have to admit, with a beer onboard, and an aching heart at losing friends yet again, I wasn’t probably in the best mood to pick a fight with and even more frustrating, the person dropping me off was the same person who always offered a ride home as it was on his way. I had several times tried to introduce them, but there was always an icy reception so I just stopped bothering.
But I started to get really angry with him.
Yes, I was late. I should have been home an hour before. But I was saying goodbye and I needed to do that as we were moving away.
He knew where I was, who I was with and while he may not have known names that was his decision. I had frequently invited him to join us, and he was the one who always declined. Or insulted them and me.
If he was that worried about my safety he could have offered to pick me up.
I felt like it was a one-sided argument, with him accusing me of sleeping with all of them and putting them before him and for making him worry about me and for acting like a child when I was supposed to be a mother.
The more I spoke up for myself, my mental health and my need to have a life aside from my child and him, the worse he got.
Hours and hours we argued. He yelled. I tried to talk sense into him and I retreated more and more into myself until I was so exhausted, I asked him what did he want from me????
What was it that he needed from me, that I wasn’t giving him????
Because I pointed out to him that I loved skating. I loved the fitness, getting my head clear, kicking out some of the internal anger and hurt and pushing it into learning and improving my skating.
I also told him that in our new city I was hoping to find a new group to skate with.
So what did I need to do, to make him okay with that?
The answer stunned me into complete silence.
“You need to choose, me or skating.”
I sat there, my mind spinning because while he’s made me give up people… workplaces… social groups… he’s never once put it so bluntly.
It’s always been a slow progression of him alienating me from things, or just making it too hard for me to do them.
But this, was an absolutely blunt expression which when I asked if he was sure, he told me that if I didn’t give up skating he was not moving cities with me.
I had to think about that.
I walked away from him at that point because I didn’t know what to do! I had so many things spinning in my head. My daughter. My new job. The house. Money. Friends. My feelings. My entire life.
I was watching it internally completely implode, and trying to imagine how I would cope, without some kind of release. And I couldn’t see it.
No matter how I tried to turn it around, I couldn’t see a single good outcome.
So I made myself a coffee, and I stood in the kitchen and drunk half of it before I walked back into the lounge and I quietly told him my answer.
No. I won’t give up skating.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that angry. He was furious and he didn’t know how to contain that.
I simply told him, that I couldn’t give up the one thing that made me truly happy at that time, and that if he needed me to choose between that and him, then I was choosing that.
Because I hadn’t felt happiness since I’d met him. Other than the times we had been apart. Those were the only times I’d felt truly happy, or free.
And every time he came back, it was like a dense fog dropped over my life and I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t breathe because he suffocated me. And the pain he caused me on a daily basis was more than I could bear.
So I needed an outlet. I needed to be able to skate, to survive.
I had nothing else.
He stormed out at that point. And I grabbed my wallet and keys and walked out the door, across the road, and to the dairy, which had just opened seeing as it was going on 7am at that point.
I did something I never thought I would do, since a brief foray when I was 15… and I bought a packet of cigarettes. And a lighter.
Then I sat on the front steps of his house and I watched him watching me through the kitchen window.
I lit a cigarette. And I smoked the whole thing.
He watched me the entire time and his face was thunderous.
And mine was bemused…. because it was something I had chosen to do so deliberately because he HATED smoking with a passion. He hated smokers.
And while it probably wasn’t ideal as a response, I think right at that moment, I wanted him to hate me too. Because if he hated me, then maybe he would let me go.
As I’d decided I would go still.
I went back into the house and I didn’t speak to him as I packed my things and put them by the door, and I called a friend and asked him to come and get us.
And this was where I saw his wrath get physical, probably for the first time ever towards me.
I moved my daughters bag to the foyer and I think that was when he realised that I was going to take her too. And he grabbed her bag. I tried to take it back and asked him what he thought he was doing? Because we were going without him.
He decided that there was no way that was happening, but I held on. I wasn’t wanting to let him keep my baby. She was only 1.
We scuffled, as I tried to keep hold of the bag and keep him away from me, and he lashed out at me and I ended up hitting my head on the doorframe. And when I got up and I tried again to take her bag, he decided that he would take matters into his own hands and he hit me.
He told me that he would not allow me to take my daughter out of the house and he threw my bags and me out of the door and locked it.
I remember sitting on the ground, dizzy and disoriented. And I just remember feeling sore and at the same time, somehow numb, and wondering what the heck had just happened. I don’t think I could even move. I literally just sat there….
My friend arrived and picked me up and took me and my bags to his car and we left… he didn’t ask where my daughter was, and as I nursed my aching head, I didn’t speak to him. Not until we got back to his place, where he and his girlfriend made me a drink.
It was over.
Vodka and lemonade.
I remember it being really strong. And I remember feeling it burn my throat. But I drank the entire glass.
And then I remember the tears starting.
They knew it was bad, because I never called and asked for help. I never had ever called and asked for help as long as I’d known them and this time, I was hurting so bad. Physically and emotionally and I had no way of holding that in. It was just too much.
I nursed another drink in my hand and I started to ramble. No idea if I was being coherent or not but they both held me while I sobbed and talked.
And they helped me to make a plan.
First we talked about my baby and what I wanted to do. They were both advocating for Police involvement and getting her back. And I wanted that so badly, but at the same time I was terrified of his response if I went in the the Police, and what he could say or do. And I wasn’t brave enough.
To this day, one of my biggest regrets is surrounding my daughter. Because I didn’t tell anyone of the prior abuse, so no one knew the extent of it, and that meant that now at the most crucial point, I had no backup. No one I could go to who could backup my story.
Only a hundred people with snippets of information that weren’t solid enough, because I never spoke honestly to them.
At that point, i felt so defeated. And part of me wondered if she even deserved a mother who couldn’t even put a roof over her head!
It had dawned on me that while I was trying to figure out how to get my daughter back, I had no home.
Without him, I could not afford the house we had rented.
Because of him, I had given notice on my own place.
So I had nowhere to go.
But I had a job!
So my friend asked me if I still wanted to go, and actually the answer was yes…. I needed to get out and I needed to go now. While I could. And while I was safe and he didn’t know where I was – as I knew this time he hadn’t followed me.
So my friend booked me a train ticket for the following night.
And that night, we got drunker and drunker. And I told them more than I’ve ever told anyone about the relationship I was escaping.
And it felt so freeing. While I was drunk it felt like I was invincible. He couldn’t touch me there, I was in a safe place. And if I could just get out of town without him knowing, I would be okay.
I also got my nose, tongue and my navel pierced that night!
Piercings were another thing he never allowed me to have as my body was apparently his property. So I decided in my drunken wisdom that why not.
It was MY body and I could do what I wanted to it.
The next day was a blur of hungover, sleeping and staying very quiet.
I just had to make it through to the train. And I stayed so focused on that.
I’d called my new boss and explained how sorry I was that travel plans had been a problem but I was able to be there Tuesday morning, first thing to start work if that was okay. And my new boss was actually really fantastic about it. Which was a relief.
My friends dropped me at the train station and stayed with me until I boarded. They gave me snacks and drink, and a blanket to take and I waved them off, so grateful, and terrified, and exhausted.
It was an overnight train so I slept a lot. I woke at various stops and looked outside to see where we were. I did a lot of thinking, and dozing, then waking and thinking more.
And before I knew it, I was at the end of my journey.
It was early morning, and I stood on the platform of a new city, looking around, pondering where I needed to be. An attendant came and asked me if I was okay and I asked for directions to where I needed to go, and discovered it was an easy walk. He said it would take me maybe an hour. Which meant I would be early, which was fine with me as I hoped to find some breakfast on my walk.
That ended up being a super healthy McDonalds combo.. but it was better than nothing and was the first open store I saw! It was deserted, so I used their bathroom. Put some makeup on and brushed my hair. Changed into work appropriate attire and made sure I was clean and presentable. Put on a smile. Heels.
Then walked the 5 minutes to my new workplace and looked through the closed windows to scope out the place, before sitting down on a seat near the entrance to wait.
The manager arrived half an hour before opening and as he unlocked, I introduced myself and he was lovely, very welcoming and glad I was there.
I apologised for having bags with me, and asked if I could pop them out the back for the day. And he raised an eyebrow and asked if he could make me a coffee.
Which did make me wonder if I looked okay? But coffee…. always accept a coffee.
That was the first day, of a new life. And coffee was a good start.