Hanging on

Hanging on

Sometimes I never quite know whether I’m going to make it to the end of the day.

I know that sounds terrible. But right now we have so much going on in our lives and so much stress that there are times when I just wanna scream…

Stop the world… I wanna get off

There has to be a breaking point right? A point where the human psyche just cannot tolerate any more. Where the decision is categorically removed from your hands and your brain goes into some kind of overload protection mode? I mean, when one is given so much to deal with, it’s just kinda a given that you get to places where the darkness envelopes your mind like a fuzzy blanket and all you can do is close your eyes and succumb to the nothing.

I’m torn between wanting to sleep all day. To ignore all my responsibilities, and just rest. And the guilt that goes along with that when I know that if I do, it’s not just me who I’m letting down. It’s my children and my partner who works insane hours and is exhausted beyond belief. Because he would end up picking up the slack. And I just feel like I can’t do that to him.

He has no idea of how many times I have imagined driving my car off a cliff somewhere into the ocean. Or of taking so many painkillers that I would float away forever. Or of how I’ve calculated whether it’s possible to hold your own breath long enough to stop your heart.

I know he would miss me. And I know it would break him. Because I’ve had to be there for him when he lost loved ones and I know that pain he would suffer. I know my kids would be devastated and would struggle to get through life. And those two things are what I cling to even though I hate my life so much. I hate the idea of causing my babies pain more. And their dad being broken would hurt them deeply. He is quite literally too exhausted to cope right now and I don’t know how to help him as I’m too stressed and exhausted myself.

I wish it was easier to find staff. I just don’t understand why we are finding it so hard when we are good employers. We look after our people – and we offer good training. We have been advertising and advertising and every person we like seems to find it too hard to jump through agency hoops. Or the agencies won’t help them. Or the agencies tell them they cannot take the job for health reasons (prior injury). And the ones that desperately want the job, are silly enough to discuss their history of theft with us. Or their dislike of the institution that is having a job. Or they want huge money while doing a substandard job and causing damage we have to repair. Or they want to tell us all about how they have sued every employer they have had and everyone in the world owes them money. Or they lie about medical issues and cannot pass the physical the government require. And it baffles me. I can easily see why many are unemployed…..

I feel like people’s work ethic these days is so far removed from mine. My partners. My families. And I don’t understand it. I was brought up in a generation where we work for a living. You go to work and you give it your all and you get paid s wage for that. And no matter how you feel, you just get up and go. So even on my worst days, when I cannot face the world, I do it. I put on my happy face mask and I drag myself out of bed. Force in a coffee and chocolate and I do my job. Day in and day out. The only time I’m forced to take a day off is if I’m actually really ill. Like when I was hospitalised with Pneumonia. I did stay off work for a bit then. I had no choice!

But so many people think work is disposable. Or that they deserve more money than they do. I’m baffled by the people that demand a pay rise and go to the toilet to supposedly empty their bowels. 8 or more times a day. And then you check their online presence and notice that all of their commenting and posting coincides with bathroom visits. They call it multitasking. And get offended when I point out that social media isn’t what they are paid to do. And even more offended if you dare point out that they need to stop with that.

They can never figure out how I know either…..

I feel like I’m looking for a unicorn. Someone who loves work. Understands the balance between work and home life and who is willing to complete all tasks assigned to them to the best of their ability without breaking anything.

All I want is a break from work. I would like to be able to take my kids out on the weekend once a month. Not even every weekend. Because my kids know the sacrifice they and we make to give them a good life. But one weekend a month we would like to spend time with them. As a family. Without work butting in. Anyone got a unicorn going spare?

Maybe it would help my mental health and my stress levels.

Sometimes I just want the world to stop spinning. Even just for a few minutes so I can clear my head and find myself again.

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 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!