My firstborn

My firstborn

This one will be another long one I’m afraid, because it seems once I start, the words just keep on coming!
But this one is mostly, about my daughter.

She was conceived accidentally. While we were on one of those ‘save the relationship’ holidays people do. Get out of town and do fun stuff that takes you away from real life’s problems and really, just puts off the inevitable and makes life harder.
I came back and I walked away from him with no idea where this road of my life was going next.

I’d been working hard. Long hours and keeping myself busy. So busy I thought I was getting really run down. I was constantly tired, my mother pointed out I was looking thin. Thinner than usual for even me, and I averaged about 42kg at 5’1″ so I was never big. But she said I needed a checkup.
So I dutifully went, as I though maybe my iron was down, or I don’t know, maybe I was struggling with the break up.
And my GP checked me over and did bloods. Asked me the usual ‘could you be pregnant’ which I gave a resounding hell no! I’ve been single for 7 weeks. Nope, no chance in hell.
And later that afternoon he came back and said oddly, my iron counts were normal, which was unusual for me even on a good day. And he asked me again to come in and do a pregnancy test. I disagreed, and I was a broke apprentice so I had no more money spare. I told him I couldn’t afford the $10 when it was negative and there was just no way it would be positive. But he was pushy…. so he convinced me to go in and see the midwives 3 doors down from my parents house, as he told me they were free, fully funded. At that point I gave it, I mean sheesh. If it stopped him nagging me I’d prove he was losing his mind.

It took me a couple of days, but my next early finish I wandered down to this midwife office, and I walked into the waiting room somewhat awkwardly. I’d been warned, so I’d had a big drink half an hour before and I was dying to pee.
I rung the bell as expected and this bubbly blonde came out and I explained my GP wanted me to do a pregnancy test, so she pushed a cup into my hands and sent me to the bathroom and said pee in this. I did and handed it to her, and she told me to take a seat and she would see me in a few mins after she saw another lady who had arrived.
So I sat and read trashy magazines and waited, a few minutes later she popped out and did something at the desk then said she would be right with me.
Her lady left and she took me through to her room and we sat down.
She was thorough. Did a full medical history and then she asked me what my next steps were going to be.
I’m completely oblivious at this point. So I’m looking at here, with an obviously puzzled expression on my face, and I said, “well. I’m going to probably get an early night as I’m working tomorrow, you?”
I think at that point she must have twigged that I wasn’t there for the same reasons she thought I was there. Because she kind of sat there for a minute, thinking. And the next question she asked had me thinking she was mad.
She asked me why I was there.
So I told her of my pushy mother and pushier GP and how they were both losing their marbles and I was really just there to prove them wrong.
She then got a strange look on her face, and she said “oh. Well, then I need to ask you, how would you feel if I told you, that you were in fact pregnant”
*cue stunned mullet reaction here*
I remember thinking oh my gosh. Nope, can’t be. And I said out loud, no. No way. I can’t be. We’ve been apart for too long! I’m sure I’ve had my period… at least I think I have.
And she showed me the test.
I was still in shock and I asked if it could be a false positive, because that’s a thing right? Happens all the time yeah?
Yeah nah. She offered for me to get a blood test and come back the next day to see whether that was possible – but I have to say. I don’t think she was convinced.
I was still muttering to myself as I left. And I didn’t sleep. Not a wink as I wondered what if it was true? What was I going to do?

The next day, she confirmed the bloods agreed with the previous days test. And while I was with her she did a proper physical and a check over. And as she felt my stomach she asked me again about my ex. I told her it had been nearly 8 weeks since I’d seen him so I was really baffled by all this, and she said to me she had a hunch from my bloods and exam. But could she just check something. I agreed, and she took out her doppler.
I heard my babies heartbeat that day.
And the midwife confirmed her suspicions that I was 9-10 weeks pregnant.

I went home in an utter daze. I told no one. I pretended everything was okay. And three days later, on the Monday I finally told my mother. Who was elated by the way. Elated enough to jump up and down shrieking “I’m getting another one!”
I was still a little numb and freaking out just quietly. But it seemed, that this babe might have been meant to be here.
On my way to work the next day, I made myself go into Baby Factory. It was odd, I was drawn to the most beautiful, tiny pink jumpsuit and I bought it. I didn’t yet know I was having a girl

I then had to tell Mr Serious.
Which was the absolute disaster you would expect. And stupidly I gave him an ultimatum which in hindsight was ridiculous. I told him, that he could either be there for us, or he could stay the hell away and never have anything to do with either of us again. No responsibility financially or physically, but he had one chance to decide.
And 3 days later he decided he wanted to be part of this babies life.
More stupidly, I agreed to give him yet another chance.

I should have seen what was coming when at 12 weeks, I had a bleed. Big enough to go to hospital, and spend an entire day being monitored. And stuck in overnight on bedrest.
He stayed at work, and got annoyed when I wasn’t going to be out in time for dinner. But never once asked how the baby or I were. And I was so worried, that I didn’t even notice until a few days later. And when I asked him why he hadn’t asked, he told me that we were both fine so what did it matter.
That should have been Strike 1.

We weren’t living together while I was pregnant. He didn’t come to the gender scan as he was working, so I went alone and found out I was having a girl.
I was flatting with 10 South African male strippers and a beautiful girl who was their manager. It was a beautiful house and they were such lovely guys. Even if they did like to parade around naked and practice their stage shows on the lawn….
And my female flatmate would invite me in for a chat while she bathed naked. And that was normal….
They knew I was pregnant and they were so thoughtful. When I started to develop hyperemesis I would wake up every morning to a banana smoothie and vitamin and iron tablets waiting on my bedside table for me.
Because they had learned it was about all that I could keep down. And on my days when I couldn’t get out of bed, there would be constant refills of water, and prompting to drink and try something to eat from them.
I could never get over how lucky I was, and how lovely they all were. It was such a blessing because Mr Serious wouldn’t even visit and didn’t really seem all that bothered if I ate or not.
Eventually though, I got too sick to stay there and around that time my pregnancy went from drama to drama.

I’d thought the bleed was bad, but then I went to an appt with my midwife who had a bit of trouble (I thought) hearing baby on the doppler. Now I could hear the heartbeat, so I thought she was being fussy. But she said to me, why didn’t we go for a drive up to the hospital. She would show me through delivery suite, and we could check out the tracer machines. Meet the Dr’s etc. She had talked about it months before and she offered to drive me in her car, so I thought why not. I was up and about now…. so off we went.
We arrived and she walked me through quite fast, and she didn’t really give me a very good look before popping me into one of the rooms and showing me the monitor.
I had no idea why this was so important, but she was a sweet lady so I went along with it and she put the monitor on. I lay back and dozed a little, because she said she was going to get a Dr to come and meet me and she would be right back.
I don’t know how long I dozed, maybe an hour. And she must have been in and out without me realising as when I woke, I could hear her whispering, and there were four Dr’s and a nurse quietly discussing a trail of paper in their hands.
She came and sat down next to me and she asked me if I had plans that afternoon. I said no, not really. And she told me that if it was okay with me, she needed for me to go to a specialist womens hospital in another city, because there was something very wrong with my babies heart and they needed to know what it was.
I sobbed. And I called Mr Serious. And he told me he would be home when he was home and he hung up on me and refused my calls.
I was taken from there, directly to a much better equipped hospital as what my midwife had heard, was an abnormal beat on the doppler, confirmed by fetal heart monitor.
Once up there, they did an echocardiogram of my babies heart, while she was still in utero. They did scans, and blood tests. And they gave me a diagnosis.
All while I was alone.
My daughter, had an Atrial Septal Defect.
And I had no one with me as I had to hear the diagnosis, listen to the prognosis and treatment options and I had to sit and wait alone until Mr Serious deemed himself ready to collect me to take me home. As I was stranded up there, almost 2 hours from home.
And not once did he even ask how either of us were, yet again.
Of course I told him, he grunted.
That should have been Strike 2.

He dropped me home and I didn’t speak to anyone for days. I grieved for my baby and myself. And I was terrified of whether this was my fault. Was she going to die? Would the surgeries they spoke of save her? What was her life going to be like?
And I had to tell my family and friends, because I was so distressed.
My flatmates bought me chocolate and flowers every day for two weeks.
And I struggled more and more, as baby got more active and more visible. The guys loved feeling her kick and putting their ears on my belly to listen to her moving. They were so sweet, and so good to us.
So when I told them I had to move out, they understood, even if they were really upset I was moving. But they moved my stuff so I didn’t have to do anything, and there were more than a few tears as I said goodbye to them! I had loved living there.

I only moved, because I got offered a house. Just a tiny one bedroom with study, that would be perfect for the baby, was in my budget and had a bath and a fireplace.
I needed to have somewhere to raise my baby. It was close to the hospital and it was not too far from my Dad.
It was adorable! And I spent a lot of time painting it and readying it for baby.

My pregnancy had been awful really, but by the time the little house was ready, I was due any day and I had accepted that what would be, would be. That Mr Serious was useless and I may as well figure this out on my own. I’d given up nagging him.
But close to my due date, he started staying over. And in my head I told myself it was because he wanted to be with me.
Then right on my due date, i woke up in the middle of the night, and I thought I needed to go to the bathroom. My belly was twingy. I had no idea what was going on, but stumbled to the toilet, and as I went to sit down, I felt this sudden massive gush of liquid. Warm liquid. I was mortified as i thought I’d pee’d myself. And my next thought was, but I’ve not even sat down yet!!!! What on earth!
And I grabbed some toilet paper and gave the seat a quick wipe, because I still needed to pee, and suddenly it hit me, I hadn’t pee’d at all, my waters had broken! Whoa!
It was 2am, and I finished in the toilet, grabbed a towel and went to get the phone to call my Mum. Because she was 6 hours drive away and I knew she needed time to get here.
By the time I got to the phone, contractions had started, and so she got out of bed, packed a few things and started driving.
I spent the next 4 hours pacing, sipping water, mopping up wet patches with every contraction and swearing under my breath at sleeping male in the other room.
6am rolled around, and I knew his alarm was going off any second so I went and sat on the bed. When he rolled over to turn it off, through gritted teeth I told him he about 3 minutes to get in the shower, or I was and there would be no hot water left when I was done – and he rolled back over and went to go back to sleep! I remember elbowing him in the back and telling him my waters had broken and to get in the shower now or miss out, and he finally got out of bed.
I stood at the door, and waited till he got out and as I got in I asked him to call the midwife at 7am. I hadn’t wanted to wake her earlier, but 7am was much more appropriate.
She told him he was not to leave me in water alone under any circumstances, which annoyed him greatly as he wanted to go into work to sort his run for the day. So he called his mother to come and sit with me until the midwife arrived at 8am.
She was there 5 minutes after he called and I didn’t even realise he’d left until the midwife arrived and she decided that we might need to head to the hospital now.
I called him. And you guessed it, he hung up on me and turned off his phone.
But a labouring woman is not one to be messed with, and I was fuming. So I phoned his boss on his cellphone and asked what he was up to right now. He was a very old friend of mine, and we were really close. He told me that he was getting ready to head out on his run. And at that point I very nearly lost my cool. Through gritted teeth I asked if he had mentioned that my waters had broken at 2am, and this baby was coming? And i got an “oh shit no!!! Are you serious?” As I was rather, I said I needed him home and fast, we needed to go to the hospital now.
His boss dropped the phone, I heard him yell to D, one of the other staff to go take the keys out of van 3 (Mr Serious’s van) and throw them in the safe, and then I heard him tell Mr Serious that if he wasn’t walking out the door 5 minutes ago to go home, then he’d not have a job to come back to.
His boss was all about family, and all of his workmates were stunned he’d not said a word!!!! He called me a few minutes later apologising, telling me he’d sent him packing and he should be home soon, and he gave him three days off work.
Now, all that rushing might have given you the impression birth was imminent. And at that point, I thought it was. But actually, I was really crap at labouring it seems.
I had developed toxemia. And I had zero idea how to push. So I was at the hospital all day. I had him, his mother, my mother, my sister, my grandmother, a few cousins, a nephew, my father, his sister and his niece and nephew at one point…. it was a circus!
I swear, if I’d have sold tickets I would have been quite well off!
But no matter what my poor midwife did, this posterior, stubborn babe was not budging. And her obs were not going well.
After pushing from 10am through to 6pm, with a short breather of about an hour with gas so I could rest a little, she was finally born. Completely manually assisted right on the dot of 6pm and she wasn’t breathing.
My midwife literally had both hands all up in there and she pulled her out, and as she did, my mother said she called flat baby, and they’ve never seen so many people moving so fast.
There were three nurses with me, to deliver the placenta.
There were 6 Dr’s and my midwife and a handful of nurses that came in one door, swooped on the baby and went out the other door leaving the room in a kind of stunned silence.
One of the nurses turned up the gas, while they stitched up a couple of abrasions from my midwife, and I remember wavering in and out of exhausted consciousness thinking I was floating on a boat in the ocean.
All day, my ex had been sullen, disinterested, and he didn’t even seem worried about either me or the baby.
I had no idea of the room around me in those moments after delivery either.
My mother explained that to me much later. About two months later. And only because when the photos my sister had taken were developed, she tried to hide some of the photos and I wanted to know why. It was because everyone was crying…. I didn’t understand, so she filled me in.
They took the baby cutting the cord as they were leaving the room already with a limp, blue, lifeless, doll like body. She was so tiny.
And when they peeked out the door, they would get glimpses before the door was pushed shut. She was intubated. She was given CPR. She was worked on for hours before she took breaths on her own. Was stable.
And that whole time, my family sat there thinking that we had lost the baby. Because no one would tell them anything.
And the moment the midwife came through the door, holding that little girl in her arms, I don’t think my mother could get across the room fast enough. She was the first to hold my baby, and then my  grandmother and my cousin, and then his mother.
They woke me back up and turned off the gas, so that I could see her.
And in my world it had only been minutes.
I had no idea of the stress and drama that everyone else had been through.
We were transferred to a room that night, and I remember that he left. He was tired he said.
My family stayed. They helped me shower. And dress. And get into bed. They dressed my baby and cuddled her and held her close. The loved on her, and me. And I didn’t notice his lack of.
That should have been strike 3.

It all seems so horrendous looking back. And I wish in hindsight, that I could have made different decisions but I did what I did.
I can’t change that now.

But we had so may issues with my daughter and her health that I don’t know I had the room for noticing.
There were so many things I just did on my own for her.

I had to learn CPR because she would stop breathing.
I learned to work an apnoea monitor to keep her alive at night, or alert me if I needed to breathe for her.
Paediatrician appointments. Doctor Appointments. Cardiologist appointments. Sleep specialists. Feeding specialists. Plunket. Parenting Support. Carers. Home Help.
I did it all.

He wouldn’t even hold her without being made to, until she was about 12 months old and could walk.
In fact, I have photos from every time he did hold her before she was 12 months old. And there are not very many. Four.

He boycotted her christening.
Even though his father (who incidentally hated me anyway for ruining his sons life by getting pregnant) gave my daughter, the handmade gown that he, his father and his grandfather were christened in to wear. And his mother, sister, brother and nieces and nephews attended. His best friend is my daughters godfather.
And yet he refused to have any part in it.

He missed so much of her early life.
Which was why him getting full custody, was even more heartbreaking than it even seems possible to be.
He never wanted her, and was not interested in her, until he thought that she would get me to come back to him.
Sometimes I wish it had worked, and I hadn’t been forced out of her life. Because to this day I love her more than life itself.
But I firmly believe that you cannot make you children happy, if you are not happy.
And I stand by my choice to keep myself physically, emotionally and mentally safe.

I am just grateful he didn’t take my choosing to live without him out on her – although he did deprive her of her mother.
But I cannot say whether that’s something that hurts her. As I just don’t know.
It hurts like hell to admit that too. I should know, I deserve to know. And I don’t.
I am the worst mother in the world.
I kept her alive so long, yet I failed in bringing her up.
Punishment for that happens internally, every day. I wish it didn’t. But if I had any other choice, I would have taken it in a heartbeat to have been able to keep her close to me.

Losing my daughter

Losing my daughter

This post is probably a bit of an open letter to her.
She was only 1 when as her father tells it, I deserted her.
And in a way maybe I did. Because I wasn’t strong enough to fight back, because he sucked all of the fire from my soul. Because I let him take me to the brink of destruction, where I stood on the edge, and if it hadn’t been for the hand of a friend, I could have easily fallen into an abyss from which I wouldn’t have returned.

I did walk away. And I own that.
But not because I wanted to but because I was pushed. And initially I wanted to take her with me – I always wanted her with me. But he wouldn’t let that happen.
And I wasn’t strong enough to fight him physically, or force him to let her come with me.
I had no power when it came to him.

Every. Single. Day.
Even now, more than 20 years later.
I think about her and most days it’s with a mixture of sadness and being proud that I gave birth to her. Because every day I see things she’s doing as an adult. Living her life. I am so grateful that she had the chance to become an amazing woman.
And I’m sad because I missed a lot of it.

There’s a lot I’ll skip here, because 20 years of experiences is a lot of ‘stuff’ but I’m going to share some excerpts of some of the good and bad times we had.

When I first left, there were a couple of months of radio silence. I would have sneak conversations on the phone with her Grandmother. Because her Dad refused to speck to me. I would get rushed whispers and I would get hung up on if he was coming. So he didn’t know I was speaking to her.
But I never got to hear her voice. Or see her face.
Until one day, he called me.
And after the initial stomach plunging moment, I picked up the phone fast. And I said hello as calmly as I could, though my whole body was shaking, with fear of what was coming.
But he was civil. He said my daughter wanted to see me and wouldn’t be consoled, so he was bringing her to my city. I stood there and let the tears run down my face, aching to hold her. And I asked when. He said that he was half way there, he would be there in a few hours and he wanted an address.
I gave him my mothers. Because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. He told me what time he would be there and I said I’d be waiting.
And I hung up on the phone… wondering if I was dreaming or this was real?
It was real.

And surreal at the same time.
As that strange visit, where I was on edge and terrified, but focused on my baby girl. Started a few years where we would do three weeks turn about with her. Where until she was at kindy, we would both take turns collecting her.

And he would send me letters begging me to take him back and demanding to be allowed to stay with me to show me he wanted to change. To be what I wanted. That he didn’t care if I had seen other people. He would not be controlling anymore and he would do anything I asked.
And I wouldn’t. Because I wasn’t the same person I had been and I struggled with the internal demon battle, but I managed to stay strong for myself.
Even after I met someone serious, he would still beg for me to take him back every chance he could. And he made my life awkward and frustrating, but I had to deal with it because I was terrified that if I made too many waves, he would prevent me seeing my daughter. And I would do anything for her.

I have so many beautiful memories of my baby growing up from that time. She was such a beautiful precocious child, who spoke early, and had her mothers very decisive nature, with her fathers way of remembering everything said or promised.
A chatterbox, and a truly sweet soul. She loved everyone and everyone loved her.
We would spend time with her great-grandparents who were smitten with her. And would offer to babysit her while I worked.
And she would stay weekends with her Great-Grandad in a nearby town, and she was the only great-grandchild who he would regularly have come to stay. She was such a beautiful soul and she really enjoyed his company.
Devastatingly to me, she wasn’t allowed to attend any of their funerals.

She wasn’t allowed, because her father remarried.
Which I encouraged actively. I even got them to hook up. He had been telling me he met someone and had been chatting to her online as she lived an hour away – but he had met her at a party at a friends house. And I told him he would be stupid to not ask her out. But he was reluctant, so I messaged her and told her myself, that since he wasn’t going to she should ask him out and I told her he would absolutely say yes!
I thought that by him having someone else, he would leave me alone.
Which did work to a degree, as I did manage to get free of  his unwelcome advances and inappropriate comments and discussions. His creepy touch and the way he would watch me.
She became his new obsession which was in itself a relief and a freeing moment.
I thought her and I were friends, and I would offer her advice when he was acting out. I’d tell her what I wished I’d have the courage to do and didn’t. And I encouraged her not to let him do to her what he did to me.
And they got married.
About the time I was cut off in fact.

It came as a bit of a shock to me, as it was a slow thing. Visits became difficult. Timings awkward, and complaints made about travel. And I always did what I could do to help. We switched to flying to help save time so we could spend more time with her. And I’d often pay for the flights, to ensure I got to see her.
I didn’t pay child support, as he didn’t want it, but I would look after all of her clothing and schooling needs. 4 times a year I would take her shopping. He would let me know by sending an empty suitcase and telling me she had nothing that fitted. And I would fix that. Send her home with an entire new wardrobe of her choosing, and new underwear socks and shoes. Books for school and anything she needed. I often sent up shampoo and conditioner and anything she asked me for.
So as things got trickier, we negotiated new schedules. Changed access weeks to suit him and I got less and less time. Which broke my heart more with every negotiation.

And it all came to head one christmas.
It was my turn that Christmas to see her. As she had been with her Dad the Christmas before, and we had been taking turns. And when I tried to book her travel, he kept putting it off and putting it off until it dawned on me and I confronted him and he admitted he wasn’t sending her for Christmas.
So I went to the courts.
I fought and won that Christmas. It cost me a fortune, but they granted turn about for the custody of her for special holidays. And she did come down that year.
It was our last Christmas together.

The following year, they challenged it in court again.
And this time they won. So I appealed it and we had many, many court hearings over her custody. She was forced into having a lawyer who failed to fight for her like she should have.
Her incompetent lawyer, who originally admitted that my daughters wishes were to see both of us. Didn’t fight when her Dad and his wife filed to have me removed from access for no reason.
There was no one fighting in my corner except me. And the lies that were thrown at me from them were horrific.
And they kept winning. I couldn’t see how and every loss was absolutely devastating.
I was shattering into a thousand pieces and none of those pieces were strong enough to keep fighting. And I didn’t have the money.
As in the end, it came down to a battle of the funds.
One judge would see that it was horrible and would agree to my shared custody terms – which was all I ever asked for. I just wanted time with my baby. I never fought them for full custody as she needed time with her Dad too. And her Grandmother up there.
But I wanted her to be able to share her time with both of us. Fairly.
The next judge would rule that her Dad should have full custody.
The next would rule shared custody.
It was fight after fight and it was extreme elation with the wins, and extreme heartbreak with the losses.
And then it got to the point where I was losing my sanity and my will to live.

My relationship suffered with my obsession for wanting to see my baby.
We split up around the time that he put his foot down, and $100’000 into the court battles he said no more. There was no more money to fight when it just kept going back and forth like a bad tennis match.
And he wasn’t as emotionally invested as I, as he had not had the chance to ever really be a Dad to her, but he was left picking up the pieces every time my heart was broken yet again.
He was there with me standing at the airport, waiting for her to arrive on a flight, that her father didn’t put her on and didn’t tell me until I panicked that she wasn’t there and called him.
He was there with me at every court hearing.
He was there looking after her with me. Feeding her, clothing her, caring for her.
But at the end of the day, her father would remind him that D was NOT her father and he was nothing to her. He had no say and didn’t matter.
But to me, him shutting down my chances to see my baby, were a kick in the teeth and the last straw.
The day I walked out on him, I hadn’t seen my daughter in over 3 years and I didn’t have it in me to argue with him anymore.

But it didn’t change my reality. I was still without my baby girl and I didn’t know how to live. I left town for a while, did some growing and changing and I returned with a new outlook.
It wasn’t that I stopped wanting my baby, but I decided that I couldn’t continue not to live without her. I had to learn to live without her.
So I took the time to grieve and to learn how to be me without her, and how to let go of the anger and hurt. Shut it down and lock it away – like all the other pain in my life.
Make it disappear.

And I didn’t stop trying to see her.
Eventually I was permitted to go to her. She was not allowed to come to me under any circumstances. Even when she asked herself. And I always felt so sick when she would ask me if she could come with me, or come and stay. because I desperately wanted her to, but as I was fully supervised when I visited her, I had to be so careful with my words. As the wrong thing said – when I spoke from my heart to her, they would stop me being allowed to visit for months. I was punished by them keeping her from me.

I was allowed a few visits after her little brother was born, I was permitted to visit once when he was a newborn.
I was punished after turning up to surprise her for her birthday once. I couldn’t speak or see her for 8 months.
I was allowed to visit again when he was 3.
I wasn’t allowed to come between then nor speak to her. She wasn’t allowed to call me and when I bought her a video cellphone so she could video call me and I could see her, and it was shut off within days. I later found out her step-mother took it and used it herself, it was returned to me when I demanded it, full of text messages, photos and emails belonging to her step-mother.
I had another child. who is now almost 5 and who hasn’t met his half sister.
Because I’ve not been allowed to see her.
I’ve been threatened and told that I’m crazy and I’m not to come near her.

One of her boyfriends contacted me once on Facebook. And he told me she was always talking about me and wanting to see me. She was 16.
He wanted to surprise her and make her happy, and he asked if they could come down for a weekend. He was going to pay for her flights.
I have to admit, I got so excited…. but dread took over. And I was afraid. So I stupidly told him as long as he ran it by her step-mother and father first. And I told him to take a person he trusted who could speak for him. So he took his mother. And he did the right thing and asked if he could take her for a weekend holiday to see me, her mother.
As predicted, her Dad hit the roof and said hell would freeze over first.
He later told me his mother was astounded and tried to speak sense to him, as did he. But her father was completely shut down and walked away.
I wasn’t surprised and I apologised to him. I felt so sad for him and embarrassed for his mother. And devastated for myself and my daughter. As it hurt so much knowing she still wanted to come but couldn’t.
They broke up after a year or so.

Once she turned 18 I would speak to her on messenger apps, when she would contact me. She would tell me things which made my heart sing. I was always so happy after talking to her, even if it was a brief chat. because she was reaching out to me.
And I got brave some days, lightly suggesting she come visit. Asking her to come and see me.
I offered flights, accommodation and everything.
But I’ve had my heart broken every time, as she’s not ready to go against her father, which I respect. It has to be her decision.

I just wish she knows how much it hurts. How hard it can be to breathe some days when I look through old pictures – because that’s all I have.
And every day I look at her and regret every time I have been away from her.

Every day of her life, I’ve woken up and thought of her and wondered if today would be the day I would get to hold her again and see her. Talk to her.
Let her know how much I love her.
And that day hasn’t come yet, but I haven’t given up hope. I made her. I birthed her. I breastfed her.
One day, she has to come back to her mama, right?

The escape

The escape

I was free.
And while I was homeless, and couch surfing. I felt so free and it was incredible. So liberating… and I had so much joy.

I was meeting new people every day through my work. My workmates were wonderful and this new city had me so anonymous and empowered.
I found I could go anywhere and do anything and no one was going to say a single word!
Going to work wasn’t a chore, it was a goal. And I do believe that I was happy. Albeit a little lonely at times.

Every night, I tried to call my daughter.
Every night I failed. Either no one would answer (thanks caller ID) or I would be hung up on. But I didn’t stop calling. I would call a dozen times over the evening.
I was missing my daughter so much. I ached inside and my arms ached without her. So I had to keep my mind and body busy so I could function.

It took me less than a week to find the local skatepark and I started going their regularly after work. I would finish at 4 after not taking a lunch break and I’d hit the waterfront.
It took a few weeks of pottering around before I started getting waves and hello’s when I turned up. And eventually i got brave enough to start a conversation with some of the skaters.
One, who worked at the park was really friendly and we got chatting a lot. I’d often bring J an energy drink in the evenings and he introduced me properly to a bunch of the locals which was awesome.
I made friends. And I started getting invited places, and to the indoor park, on street missions…. And J would often come along when he could.
There were a couple of separate groups. The skateboarders and M. And the inliners and P. And J kind of floated between the groups. But it was cool seeing both sides, and meeting so many people who were so far out of my normal world, and my work world that it felt like a whole new lifestyle.

I would crash at J’s apartment in town frequently after late night mish’s where I’d missed the train to the family members where I was staying, and was stuck in town. And his flatmates were all really chill. No one minded an extra, and I’d buy dinner sometimes or shout the movies in return.
And I was still couch surfing to a degree, until I decided maybe it was time to find a proper space to stay. An actual bed of my own.

So J helped me find a place. He knew someone who knew someone (he seriously knew the entire city I swear) and so I went and looked at a house, with a psych professor and a programmer. The most random guys I’ve ever met and both fascinating and hilarious.
So I took the room!
They introduced my sheltered self to a whole other world too. As they were big drug users.  Many an evening was spent getting completely blazed, and discussing the big issues surrounding society and human beings. Incredibly smart men. Very strange but comfortable lifestyle.
My Dad brought a truck down with my furniture. And I was moved in properly a few weeks later. It was in walking distance to work which was awesome and right in the inner city.
We had a heap of fun in that flat, even though I spent a lot of time out socialising.
I will never forget how they would traumatise Amway sellers and door knockers in general.
Or how they would smoke weed like it was cigarettes.

C lived in a wardrobe which was a little bit hilarious too. It took me weeks of trying to figure out the flat, when I finally got up the courage to ask where the heck Craig slept!
Because our other flatmate had the front room. Next to mine.
I knew where the lounge, kitchen and bathroom were. Lounge in the centre and kitchen by the door. Then bathroom behind the kitchen.
But the 3rd room was puzzling me, as I thought there was a wall behind the kitchen and bathroom. I couldn’t see where a third door was.
Well, the boys thought this was hilarious, so Craig (after about dying laughing) showed me his room.
What I had thought was just a wardrobe, was actually a doorway!
It looked like one of those big old Narnia style freestanding wardrobes, but instead of containing clothes, it contained the biggest room of the house! With a large room, ensuite and a conservatory!
I ended up spending a lot of time there, jamming on the guitar with C while he drummed or played keyboard. And hanging out. He gave awesome back massages and I would often trade dinner cooking duty for a backrub! It was bliss.

The only flaw in my new life so far, was the missing chunk of my heart that was my baby.

I would often think about what I’d escaped. Why I’d run so far, and how I could have changed my current outcome.
It’s not that I wanted to, because I knew I couldn’t go back to that toxic relationship that had consumed me entirely. But I wished I could get my daughter back. I would have done almost anything – except sacrifice myself for her.
I focused a lot on my escape. And my happiness.

The nail in the coffin…

The nail in the coffin…

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.

Trying to escape…

Trying to escape…

I promised you the story of a person who I met completely by accident.
While he was working. And I was looking for help with something inane.
And it actually turned out to be something quite special, in a stranger than fiction type of way.
I’m going to call him Mr Happy… because it sums up his persona completely!

This person, is still a large part of my life. We are still friends, through subsequent partners and jobs and social circles, we have remained close. He’s now overseas, but we try to connect every year or so to have a good catchup.
And for many years, we partied together, we went out every weekend, at the height of my grown up party life, he was a central figure for me, along with his girlfriend at the time, my then boyfriend and a large circle of friends.
Now we are both older, wiser (perhaps) but still close.

Remembering, at this point, it’s post a zillion funerals and me having kicked Mr Serious aka the douchebag out. So I was single and while not looking, I wasn’t not looking either if that makes sense?
I was socialising, trying to meet new people. Trying to rebuild damaged friendships.

So anyway, we started chatting (and flirting) over the phone, from a support desk where he worked and I had to tell him how to do his job. In the nicest way possible.
Which led to him getting me to bring my machine in so he could have a look at it.
And I have to admit, that after many conversations over the phone  I was a teeeeensy bit more than curious about what he looked like. And I can’t say I was disappointed. He was definitely my type at the time. But his smile was what absolutely did it for me. He had this million gigawatt smile that just wrapped me around his little finger.
I walked in the door to his offices, and he came flying out at a million miles an hour, just radiating happy!
He was the happiest person I’d ever met. It was a combination of bewildering and awe inspiring and just contagious. Like, I felt happier just having him around! And I still do, to this day!
He bounced around the place, and we fixed my machine. And he gave me his number….
It was so flattering to be asked out on a date, when I hadn’t had a proper date in forever.
And even better, he already knew so much about me. About my daughter, and a little of the rocky position I’d been in. And he still wanted to get to know me better.
He also hooked me up with a job working at his work, because seeing as I knew as much as he did (if not more in some places) he decided that his boss just HAD to hire me.
Which was amazing as the team were amazing people, who many of which have remained friends. Almost 25 years worth of friendships in that little office.
So working together, it really didn’t take long before we started to get serious about dating officially.
But it was a bizarre relationship.
We would have so much fun, and we did so many things. Went on crazy adventures out of town. He would look after my daughter like she was his own. And he was so into making me feel good about myself. Which I honestly handled terribly.
I kick myself to this day about it.
I just had no idea how to be in a happy relationship where I was treated as an equal.
Not a darn clue.
I would sabotage things often, and I would even at times try to push him to yell at me, and he never would. He just wouldn’t rise to anything, he would just explain to me so patiently, like a father telling off a toddler, that this wasn’t how things worked.
He was funny too, about sex. We never had sex. Not once.
And that frustrated me, because I couldn’t understand that. It wasn’t that I wanted to, but more, that every man I’d been with had used it as currency of some kind, or as a way to have a level of power over me. So I also had no idea how to share myself in a way that was sharing rather than allowing people to just take what they wanted.
And he couldn’t fathom or do that to me. We had discussions about it. He would always tell me that it was not happening until I could understand his perspective, and that I was ready to do it for myself and not just to keep him happy.
And every time I broached it, we would talk in circles and wind up with me feeling rejected and defeated… him feeling frustrated and not knowing how to get through to me, and both of us struggling to work out how to fix it.
In the end, no matter how many amazing times we had, it wasn’t fixable. So we agreed that maybe, just maybe we needed to stay friends. And no more.
We still flirted… and had fun, but once the pressure of sex was off the table it was actually amazing how quickly our relationship got lighter and less suffocating.
We were only together weeks…. but he brought sunshine into my life.

He also opened the door for me, to realise that there were definitely other people out there who found me attractive.  Which was a fairly new thing for me.
I was introduced to other people, and setup with a few.

I had a brief fling with a gorgeous motorcycle riding workmate, for a week or so. We again didn’t get physical, but it was a hell of an ego boost!
Although in hindsight, I’m not sure how healthy that one was. He was far too young and while very pretty to look at, not terribly smart……..

And unfortunately, around that time, Mr Serious somehow crept back into my life.

The first crack….

The first crack….

Mr Serious.

You will have read of the abuse I suffered at his hands, and I still punish myself for not getting away from him sooner.

But, I had a very close relative die, and I really do think this was the beginning of the true disconnection between us.

I had been up to visit family, around 90 minutes from home. And I missed one member, and I’d had to leave to be home by my curfew (Imposed of course by him) time.
I had been with other family, so we had arrived to the motel and I had called my father to say we would stop in on our way past.
He asked me to come right away and wouldn’t say anymore, so I rushed over there. Wondering what was going on.

My Dad sat me down, told me my mother was on a plane to Auckland as we spoke, and that a very close family member had passed away that afternoon.
He knew (rightly) that I would be devastated.
I didn’t believe him at first, and I swung from disbelief to anger, to what am I going to do at 0-60.
Told my Dad I needed to go. I had to go up there and I had to go now, which he got. He hugged me while I cried and he told me to be careful.
I had to go home, so my Aunt took me home so I could pack.

And this is where Mr Serious comes in.
Because we had one car between us, and when I got the call to say they had passed away, I needed to drive 90 minutes to be with my family. I needed to. I couldn’t not go and be with them and see for myself that it was true. That our family had lost it’s backbone.

So as you would expect, I called him and asked him where he was, because they had died and I needed to go. I was packing a bag, I would be gone at least a few days. I needed him to come home and I needed the car.
In response, I got told he was at Burger King. He was busy. I got hung up on twice, and then he turned his phone off.
I packed, and paced, and cried. And kept trying to phone him, my family and him over and over.

Several hours later he finally came home and walked in the door like nothing was going on. By this time I was an absolute mess. So I couldn’t even talk to him. I loaded my things and took my key and I walked out. He was talking but I walked out on him.
I couldn’t even look at him. I was so angry and hurt and so I left.
I ran away.
It was Saturday.
On Monday, I farewelled another family member as they disconnected life support.

I thought that weekend was truly horrific. But it was going to get worse.

I stayed away until the Wednesday when I came home. I needed clean clothes, and a breather from the grieving relatives. The tears and the stories. Funeral arrangements had been made and I needed just to take a few minutes.

If only i had known…

He knew where I was, but I had been punished yet again. As I got home to emails from friends asking for urgent contact. And I hadn’t been home an hour when my home phone rung.
It was one of my radio friends, from before Mr Serious.
And in my devastated state, my entire world as I knew it crumbled from beneath my feet.
They (and others) had been trying to get hold of me from Sunday when it had been discovered that a close friend, and early boyfriend had been found Sunday, and he was gone. His death was ruled a suicide.
When confronted, he admitted people had called the house, he had told them simply that I wasn’t there and hung up on them. When they kept calling, he took the phone off the hook.
My friend had called me and kept calling and calling, because there was drama, between his adopted parents, and his birth mother and ex-wife.
His birth mother had gotten to his ex-wife T, and they had shut his adopted parents out of the funeral decisions and had stopped them from even seeing them.
So while trying to lock down my own broken heart, I spoke with his parents, gently. And I tried to advocate for them with T. But it was like talking to a brick wall.
I spent that evening sitting with M. As T (and I am ever so grateful for this) allowed me to come to her house, and sit with him, and say my goodbyes. I spent 6 hours sitting on the floor of her house, holding his hand and talking to him. Wishing I could see him smile one more time. Hear his nerdy laugh.
I had to be so guarded with my words though, as while I was wishing I could help his parents, who were the loveliest people around, and who he was an absolute testament to….. I was so painfully aware that saying the wrong thing, would mean I would have to leave.
And it hurt. It hurt so bad, knowing that he chose this way out, and that he didn’t talk to anyone. He chose to go out drinking, knowing his meds didn’t allow it. It felt like a kick in the teeth that here I was farewelling two people who didn’t choose to go, didn’t want to go. And here I was farewelling someone who did want to leave.
I spoke to him about his parents. And when I left, I called them and spoke to them again. And I told them where and when the funeral would be, and that as much as I wished I could be there, it was the same time as one of my family funerals and the two were 90 minutes apart.
I missed seeing him laid to rest.
Although I spoke to mutual friends that evening, and I know it was lovely. I also know that not being there that day left me broken inside. And not in a way that could be fixed.

I can also say, that arriving back at my house, after midnight. And walking into the most horrific atmosphere was almost unbearable.
I could feel the tension walking in. And I remember feeling almost suffocated by the accusing eyes that attacked me within seconds of walking in.
Demanding to know where I had been and what was I doing.
I can honestly say, in that moment, that was one of the first times, that I felt like I truly hated him.
Like my skin was crawling…. my face was prickling… and I wanted to hurt him. Hurt him in a way I had no idea how to even achieve.
Like I was hurting.

I packed my bags, I don’t remember doing it, but I remember kissing my daughter goodbye as I dropped her at her Grandmothers. Wishing I had the strength to take her with me, but as I told her Grandmother, I just needed help for a few days. To get through the funerals. And I would be back as soon as I could. I asked if they would bring her to the funeral, but if they couldn’t that was okay. And she knew I was struggling to hold it together. She hugged me, which was a rare thing. I remember that so clearly.
Such a stilted, awkward thing. I didn’t quite know what to do as this woman is relatively emotionless most of the time. Accepting and meek. Never affectionate except with her grandchildren. It really stuck in my mind…
I don’t recall at all leaving there.
My next clear memory is the next day, at the first funeral.

It won’t come as any surprise to anyone reading this who has also read other posts, that he didn’t appear at either funeral. A relief really.
But looking back, isn’t it funny that in the times when I needed him most, it was not him who was there. He was never there.

I managed to get through two funerals.
So many family members and so much love. We were surrounded by people who loved both and it was a completely hazy event in my mind.
I remember snippets.
And it’s interesting that speaking to family members, like distant aunts and cousins, they had odd snippets of memories that I cannot place.
Some things, I recalled after being reminded.
Like the tents on the lawn… and the food. Gosh the food was an amazing thing. Dozens of women from our familial cultural melting pot, appearing out of nowhere with army style tents for sleeping and food prep and eating… it was a crazy and incredible event. They came in and took control of everything. Ensured everyone from near and far had bedding, sleeping spaces, food in their bellies.
They blessed the house, provided mats for under the casket and song to welcome the casket in with. Things that I will ever be grateful for and feel blessed to have had.

But I cannot remember for the life of me where I slept. Four days.
And I don’t remember sleeping. Maybe I didn’t?
I remember hours sitting talking, sitting with, holding and talking to my loved one.
I remember the stories shared within the family.
I don’t remember sleeping. Or eating. But I remember watching people eat.
I remember the funeral. And the burial.
And I remember the numb feeling inside when they closed the casket for the final time…. as it really hit hard.
It was like someone took all the air out of the world and suddenly! I felt like I wanted to stop them and tell them they were making a mistake. But there wasn’t anything I could do.
I remember how hot and wet my cheeks felt, and my utter inability to blink.
And then it was over.

A slow movement of people back to the house. More stories…. and then quiet.
The next day, everything was quiet and subdued and everything was packed up, and disappeared as fast as it had arrived. Erased from the property as if it had never been there.

I remember looking at the stars that night, looking and wondering which ones were each of those fateful three.

We had a day of quiet, before the second funeral, which was so different to the first. Much ‘whiter’ and  more sterile feeling. A church with traditional hymns.
A parade of a closed box.
Flowers everywhere and people in suits. Less tears. As even though we had been close as kids, I felt a little more disconnected here. Maybe because it felt so much less personal?
I don’t know. Maybe because they were 16. And I was an adult. At least I was pretending to be.
Afterwards, there was a very civil and low toned afternoon tea. And then it was all over.
It felt so different. I can’t explain why…. but maybe I’d run out of tears that week.
Maybe I was just so broken that there was no emotion left in me. Nothing to feel.

3 days.
3 bodies.
3 breaks in my heart.
3 special people gone from my life.

I don’t remember going home.
But I remember that the next few months were rocky. So rocky.
We’d hit a point where I was changing and fast. I kicked him out yet again.

And this time, I met someone new.
Accidentally….. And I’ll tell you more about that next time!

I know, I’m so mean! But it’s coming, I promise!

Mr Serious vs The Parentals

Mr Serious vs The Parentals

So Mr Serious and I became an item very quickly. In hindsight far too quickly. But we all know that hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it?
Now, this is a long one, so grab a coffee and put your feet up.

The day we met. He zeroed in on me. And yet again I look back and wonder what on earth attracted him to me? Was it something tangible that screamed pick this one, she won’t give you much grief? I was a pretty averagely rebellious teenager. I didn’t think I was anything special.

But something about him, or maybe the attention he offered, drew me in. And within a week, I was seeing him every day. A few months later he was picking me up from and delivering me to school. I thought he was being sweet, but actually he was ensuring that I didn’t speak to anyone he didn’t allow me to on my way to and from school. He would also take me out on free periods. And at that time he would being my school friends along too…. and he seemed okay with them. I guess because he couldn’t stop me from going to school so he had to deal with them. And slowly but surely, the friends I had out of school dwindled away without me even noticing. And when I realised it had happened it was too late to salvage many.

By the time he had convinced me that he was madly in love with me and everything he did was for me. He had already had several of his episodes. Which if I’d been older and wiser maybe I would have seen for the manipulative and abusive behaviour it was. But I couldn’t see it then.

We had been together only a few months at Christmas. Remembering I was under 16. A child.
Our family had big Christmas Day celebrations and when I told him my parents were taking me to our family Christmas, he initially told me I couldn’t go. Which as you can imagine is a hell of a position to be in as a child, living at home. So I went, I didn’t want to but I had to. My parents made me. And when I returned home that afternoon they did make the concession of offering to drop me to his house to see him. I didn’t know then that his family didn’t do much for Christmas. So I arrived wondering what to expect and it was pretty horrific looking back. I spent six hours trying to get him to speak to me. I cried so many tears that day. And it was four days before he spoke to me again. It was my fault for deserting him. When he finally deemed it time to tell me what I had done wrong, I had deserted him and put my family before him. Which was not acceptable to him and he punished me for it by withholding his attention and with a lecture on how it was all my doing and I shouldn’t hurt him like that ever again or else.
Looking back, it was a mastery of emotional manipulation at it’s finest, and I honestly don’t know why I found it okay. Or normal. Or why I allowed him to make me feel like my emotions didn’t matter. My family didn’t matter. Only he mattered.
And my guilt and distress meant nothing to him.

I was a child in a grown up body and dealing with that was hard. I had no idea how to handle it. So I did what I do best and I buried it. Particularly easy seeing as once I’d admitted my faults and he’d gotten over his mood he was back to the person I liked.

Really…. I should have run. A thousand miles. I always regret not because it got worse from there in.

He convinced me to run away from my parents….
Somehow he convinced his parents to abuse my parents for being horrible parents because they wanted to protect their young daughter.
There were endless fights… always something wrong and always something I needed to be reprimanded or punished for. And they got worse and worse until I moved out of home. He skillfully worked out how to remove my parents influence from my life. And I didn’t even notice….

I can’t count the number of hours I spent apologising over the years.
Trying to talk him round in his tempers.
Trying to convince him that I knew it was my fault and that I wouldn’t do that again. Wearing the blame for all of his misgivings. His jealous rages. His hate for my family and friends.
Agreeing that he was just trying to protect me and I would regret losing him.

I wish I could have seen the damage he was doing to me.

The longer we were together the less I was allowed to converse or socialise with people. Friends were out. Even his friends. I was only allowed to see them with his permission. And we stayed only until he was done and he was ready to leave. And then we left.

We would often go months without seeing a single ‘friend’ and that became normal. Because if I didn’t have dinner prepared (and he was very particular about food) and a tidy house, with laundry done so that he could come in and sit down and eat…. or throw the food out because I’d allowed two food types to touch on the plate, or worse, I’d cooked two vegetables together! He would want to sit down and we would watch whatever program he was watching at that time.
Unless of course he had stormed out in a rage…….

Last year one of our mutual friends commented on some of the things that had happened in the past. And he apologised to me for not seeing what was in front of him. Not recognising the signs and not doing anything about it. And I cried. Because so many times I had wished that people could have seen what he was doing and helped me. When I couldn’t help myself.
We talked for a few hours. And I told him some of the things that would happen behind closed doors. The abuse I wore for wanting things to be different. And in the end I felt more guilty for his sadness at not knowing what was going on.
I feel guilt about that still. Every time I share my stories, and finally release the ‘other’ side to the people we called friends, I see the looks of horror, and the wheels clicking in their heads as they realise they helped him and I feel immense guilt for putting that on them. It’s inescapable really.
Like, he mentioned a memorable period of several days when Mr Serious turned up at his house and hung out for a few days… like old times.
And I pointed out that I remembered that day well, as that was the day he threw a huge tantrum, gave notice on our flat and took off, cutting ties with the house owner (because of the abuse he threw at him) and giving me 36 hours to get out of the place… then bolting and leaving me to organise to move house alone. To figure out how to pay the remaining bills alone. And leaving me to deal with all this, when i was 4 days out of hospital having had major abdominal surgery. I could barely walk….
And I wouldn’t have sex with him. Because I was in so much pain.
So after screaming at me….. at our landlord….. and at me some more….. he went off with our only car, and got drunk with his buddy. Had a blast. And left me reeling, with no idea if he was coming back, or not. Or what would happen when he did.
I know I soured a perfectly good memory of his friends. And I hurt deeply to do that to him. But he had to know. There was an ulterior motive for his turning up on his doorstep.

His control over me though was so absolute by the time I was 18. Every escape path was blocked. No one had any idea of the hell I was living and those that had a clue couldn’t get me out. He controlled every aspect of my life from work, to home, to the bedroom. Nothing was sacred and I had no say in anything.

My friends fell back. A few hung on for a while. But even they eventually backed right away. Other than some very old friends who stuck with me through all the worst times. Who let me hide them from him without complaint and who at my request closed their eyes to things that should have been obvious warning signs and they let me do what I needed to. They tried to get me out but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough. Not then. I had to lie about where I’d go. I’d say I was meeting my Mum so I could see my best friends for half an hour.
If he would come home and my friends had been there, I would be lectured and yelled at for hours. And he would always know.

I developed a series of friendships. Where I’d meet people, I’d get to know them, and they me. And they would be scared off, threatened away or treated by him so badly, I wasn’t worth the drama to stay. It became bit of a pattern.
Meet someone, they would want to become friends, they get to know me, and him, then they disappear. *poof* No more friend.

I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. Even though he could disappear for days on end. When we were living together I left him once. Because he went for a drive and didn’t come back for 4 days. Yet I would get followed to the store… He would know where I went, when, who with and what I did there. Nowhere was safe.

I was ‘rescued’ by a friend I had known since I was 9 years old once. And I had my car trashed because I was with ‘him’ to which he was right. But how he knew I’ll never know as I left my house hiding in the boot of a car and changed cars twice before getting to B’s mothers house where they were going to hide me. I desperately wanted away from him but he wouldn’t let me go. B and K escorted me away from him with weapons one night when I called in a panic because he had locked me in the house and was refusing to let me leave. I was pregnant with my daughter and I was terrified of what he would do to us. Knowing someone was willing to commit a crime to keep me safe was empowering. But I was never truly safe as long as he had a hold over me, which made me go back.
We had broken up because I made a friend, who happened to be unthreatened by his demeanour and accusations. Because he had nothing to fear. We were friends.
He couldn’t cope, so I had found the courage to walk away. Again.

After I left that night, he would call me. Over and over. Threaten my friends. Be waiting outside my house when I returned.
I couldn’t cope, and I ended up allowing him back, yet again.

I moved house once to get away from him. I’d told him to leave and he wouldn’t. He convinced my flat mates to let him in and he took a key. I couldn’t get him to leave so I moved house. And when I moved into my new house which I never told him where was, he turned up and helped himself to a key there too. I made the mistake of allowing his mother to watch my baby for a couple of hours, and when I came back, he had excused her, taken my keys, taken my daughter, and refused to leave. He announced he wasn’t going anywhere and moved himself in.

We separated yet again…. and one night, I decided to take up a friends invitation to town. I wasn’t a big party girl, as I rarely was allowed out. But after much cajoling on her behalf I asked his mother to watch the baby and I agreed to go out and try to meet new people.
I had told his mother I would be home a little after 3am because that’s when the bars closed. And I was.
I walked in the door at 3.05am. And as my friend and I walked through the door, I felt crunching glass under my feet.
We turned the light on, and found a painting I had done in school, a very rare thing for me, completely destroyed on the floor. Glass shattered, the picture torn to shred, the matte and frame in slivers.
I was devastated, as it was something I had worked so many hours on and it was such a special piece to me, something I had displayed in every house I lived in. It was part of me. And the only thing like it, I had ever done.
I think I knew right away who was responsible, so I sent my friend home, so I could find out why she had let him in my house.
I went to the bedroom, to ask his mother whether she knew what had happened, and he was sitting on my bed holding my daughter.
I know he startled me. But I had consumed a glass or two of wine. That and the shock made me ask what he had done…. because I knew it was him.
His excuse, was that he was destroying something I loved, like I was destroying him.
It was my punishment for being such a slut and that I shouldn’t have left my daughter. I should have been at home being a good parent.
I was punished that night in more than one way. And I closed my eyes, because I deserved it.

By that point, my self-esteem was beyond visible.
I deserved everything that I got.
I was fragile. And stuck.

I caught meningitis. Just a month or so after the painting incident.
My Dad rushed me to the hospital and I was in ICU for a week. He never visited me as he hated hospitals.
When I finally woke up, I asked for him when I realised how long I’d been unconscious for and I was sadly unsurprised he hadn’t been anywhere near me. I was shocked he had not allowed my daughter into see me though. He’d instructed his mother to keep her away.
My family picked her up and then picked me up and I spent 3 weeks recuperating at a family members house. They helped me with my daughter and when I finally went home, I was punished for deserting him again.
It took weeks for him to stop his flights between tirades of abuse, and complete silence and pretending I didn’t exist. I remember being exhausted beyond belief and fighting depression hard for the first time in my life.
I didn’t know which was worse, the anger, where he would expect me to service his needs. Or the silence where I didn’t exist. But at least he left me alone.
The refusal to leave my house and my bed were excruciating.
But I kept moving.

I survived everything he threw at me, I don’t know how sometimes but I did.

And I need to stop here and breathe. Because there is so much more, but the next two parts are so important to me to get right, that I need to separate them out. Get them out of my head properly. Because to this day they still eat me up inside.

 

How I met Mr Serious.

How I met Mr Serious.

I had what I thought was a serious relationship when I was in my teens.
I was far too young, and while I thought I was so grown up, I should have been able to see where it was going to go, long before it got there. Not seeing was one of my biggest regrets in life.

You see, my boyfriend, was incredibly abusive. And no one knew that. Not a single one of his friends realised until more than 20 years later.
Because he wasn’t the kind of abusive to give me a black eye. At least not back then.
He was almost a much worse kind of abusive, because the abuse he subjected me to, I didn’t even see coming. I didn’t understand what was going on, so I couldn’t run from it until it was far too late.
I was young when I met him.

I met him when I wasn’t even legal yet.
And the story is a little bit funny… mostly because the situation (looking back) was so absolutely ludicrous it barely seems possible.

A prior boyfriend, who I loved like a brother. And who took me to school balls, and always looked out for me, was someone I used to party with a lot.
He was older than me, and he would help me lie to my parents about supervision at parties. Buy me liquor. Drive me around.
And to this day, I adore him like you wouldn’t believe. D was and is someone I would walk hot coals for.

But this night, I’d been meant to party with him and we went up to another mutual (school) friends house for a few drinks. Which turned out to be A girl I shall call J. Her boyfriend also J. Another friend R. And us. No one else. I’ve no idea why but it was a strange night……
Lame… until we started playing drinking games.

We also had to jump through the hoops of my mother calling where I was meant to be staying (with my Aunt) and my Aunt ringing J’s house to tell me to quietly ring my mother and pretend to be at my Aunts. So I had to do this often as she’s frequently cover for me! We were well practised. She would tell my mother I was in the bathroom. I would ring my mother and tell her my Aunt had just popped over to the neighbours to grab some milk. Or was in the shower. And then my Aunt would call her back a few minutes later with a matching story.

But moving on, it ended up with D leaving me there, drunk, and after way too many whiskey shots, I ended up in a relatively awkward position, losing my virginity in a caravan, so drunk I could barely walk, after swapping lingerie with J and basically having a foursome with J, J and R. Which was a little bit hilarious. A little bit terrifying. And a little bit fuzzy. I was barely 15…..
All to be made even worse when J’s mother knocked on the door, interrupting things somewhat telling us (and I quote, as it’s too hilarious not to) that “this is NOT a knock shop” and that we all had to go home!
D came back to get me…. because I needed him.
The journey back to my Aunts involved much laughter… stumbling… falling off fences and falling down banks.
I still to this day have no idea how the two boys managed to corral me back, when I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to admit what had happened to my Aunty.

I have only hazy memories of the end of that night. And the next morning I was taken home, horribly hung over and in a right state – I have no clue how my parents didn’t notice.
But while I was being taken home, R had decided he needed to see me again. So recruited a friend, who we shall call Mr Serious. And they drove across town to find me. Unsuccessfully.
I’d gone home, so they got my home address from my Aunt and drove back across town to find me there. Only to be told by my father I was out shopping with my mother.
So they drove around the city, until they finally tracked me down in a mall.
And my mother invited them to our house. Which they accepted. And they spent the afternoon hanging out with me.
That was the first time I’d met Mr Serious.

R was his best friend and sidekick. And the biggest sweetheart you could ever meet.
He was a good looking guy, amazing blonde hair, complete bogan and the biggest blue eyes and cheeky grin. No wonder I fancied him….
Reminds me of the guy in the picture – who isn’t him btw, but they both have great hair!
I wish I knew what kind of bad decision made me not choose him again after that night.
But when put on the spot, and his friend asked me out….. I stupidly said yes.
And the fact that those two stayed best friends after that, was an absolute testament to R’s enormous heart and the kind of person he was. Give you the shirt off his back he would.
In 2017 I went to his funeral. As he’d gotten in with a bad crowd.  He got shot at a party.
Another regret I have is losing contact with him when he drifted away from ‘our’ crew and got in with a bad crowd that saw him see prison more than onces, and lose his two beautiful sons.

I will always be a little bit grateful to him though.
As while my relationship with Mr Serious was not a good thing by a long shot, he gave me a beautiful daughter. And for her, I thank him.
I also wish he’d been a bit more forthright in asking me out though… But it doesn’t pay to dwell on the what if’s right?
I already know he would have treated me better.

That was the start of a really rough road for me though…..

 

 

Moving Out.

Moving Out.

Forgive me, I will probably jump around a lot here. Because like my life, my memories aren’t filed perfectly neatly. But I am going to try to tag these so that linked stories join up.

In my mid-teens, I was so determined to get out on my own.
I fought hard to get away from home. From my parents. And I did what I needed to do.
Generated my own income, found a place to live. And I walked out of the door to our family home with quite literally the clothes on my back.
Because I wasn’t allowed to take anything except my clothes.
Those same clothes, that I slept on a pile of for several months. Until a friends mother found out and she loaned me a spare single bed that she had in her garage.
I didn’t think anyone knew, not even my flatmates. They thought my furniture was coming.
In 3 months no one noticed I still had nowhere to sleep. All I had in my room were three boxes. I was so good at hiding things like that. I would hang in the lounge, or chill in the other girls rooms. I had 7 female flatmates who all worked, and were all lovely people. I envied their rooms often. They seemed to have their lives so together.
They had bedroom suites… and nice sheets. I’d find myself from time to time wondering if I should be doing that too…..
But to me, that didn’t much matter because I had two jobs, I had a house that didn’t contain any of my family members and I wasn’t even 16 yet.
I felt so successful.

I’d broken up with my boyfriend. And I was sad for a while, but I tried to move on.

And I was starting to make friends again.
I was always good at making friends with new people, and I always had so many people around me, but they were never in my trusted zone.
I should correct that. I had acquaintances.
Working in a bar at night and working at a restaurant in the day, I was always popular. I was often referred to as the tiny smiley one. Because to all of those people, I was the happiest person on earth. Always smiling and laughing. Always up to party!

I went through a short phase here of being happy…..

I know this post is pretty uneventful, but it was such an important part of my life. Finding my independance, fleeting as it was. And feeling like I’d achieved something!