The Refuge is not just a refuge

A friend of mine is raising money for a very good cause. The Womens Refuge. Of course I have donated to this. I don’t know where our local Refuge is and that is how it should be. However I have had help and support from one of their Out Reach staff. Back in 2006/7 I was going through a very difficult divorce. We were both living in the same house. I had 4 teenage sons (3 & a pre-teen). I had nowhere to go and couldn’t leave my boys behind.

I had reason to go to the police on a number of occasions. We were registered as a family at risk. Social Services were meant to help my youngest son especially but that didn’t happen. Instead I was given an out reach worker from the Womens Refuge Service. The lady assigned to me was both lovely and supportive. She gave me emotional and practical support even going with me to court.

At the best of times The Refuge doesn’t have enough resources or accommodation to help every woman who need it. During the current pandemic it has been in the news countless times that women at risk at in even greater risk during this time.

I am proud that Avon (for whom I am a Sales Leader) are supporting the Refuge organisation and have donated to the cause.

Refuge

I bet most people are not aware that Avon support this great cause along with other womens causes like Breast Cancer.

I was talking to my friend about the Refuge and how they helped me. She has also gone through a rough time and I sent her a copy of an article I wrote back in about 2008 or 2009. I sent her a copy of it as I thought it might resonate with her. She said she read it twice and thought I should publish it. My intention when writing it was to be honest about my situation but at the same time keeping it light hearted. Do you think I managed that?

MY DECISION

It has been a couple of years now and I don’t have any regrets. Some time ago, I think it was the middle of last summer my mother asked the question.

‘If you had known how hard it was going to be would you still have done it?’

I consider this carefully before replying. I am not sure why as I knew the answer, there was never any doubt in my mind.

‘Yes most definitely, it was the best thing I could have done.’

Indeed it was the only thing I could have done. I had given it my best shot. 19 years of my life I had given to that man. But the day had come when I realised that enough was enough. He couldn’t understand it when I told him I didn’t want to continue living with him. He couldn’t work out what was wrong with me. We had a good marriage didn’t we, we never argued did we?

He was right in a way, as until the last few months we had very rarely had a row. Firstly he was never around to have a row with as he was always either at work, pub or asleep. (the perfect marriage in some ways).

Secondly we never rowed because, when he was around he made me feel so useless and weak that I never dared to argue with him and on the occasions when I tried to vent my anger on him he would turn it around to be my fault. Like the many Saturday mornings when he came home from shopping. (I wasn’t allowed to shop I spent too much, whereas he always bought bargains – you know the deals where if you buy this you get that free or the end of date things). We had a freezer full of things we would never use and a fridge full of things that had to be eaten in one day but nothing for the rest of the week.

He often came in with a mood on, this would make me grumpy, (no one likes to be moaned at for no reason). Because I was now grumpy he would complain about my mood and stomp off to the pub.

During all these years he would tell me that I was

‘fat, ugly, useless with a brain like a sieve’

Now after so many years of being told this it becomes hard to believe otherwise. I believe that if you get married you should try to make the marriage work. I was not going to give up easily. I had to try to make it work. Besides I had nowhere to go and 4 children to consider. Because I had done such a good job of trying to make our marriage work he had no idea that it wasn’t working. The end of our marriage came as a big shock to him. For me it never really was a marriage. I had never been in love with him. We had never courted as such, just fell into a relationship as when we met we were both getting over broken hearts and needed someone to turn to. If I hadn’t got pregnant the marriage would never have happened.

Now, though we are divorced and I have never been happier. Financially we were never really solvent as a couple. Does anyone know a solvent alcoholic? But we did have two wages coming in, his full time wage and my part time wage (part time!! I worked longer hours than he did for half the money).

Now it is just me and the boys, I am the only one bringing any money into the home. It has been a struggle and there are days when we have to keep our coats on because it’s too darn cold and I don’t have any spare cash to buy gas. (Yes I have had to get a key meter for both the gas and electricity). There are days when we have just 2 slices of bread and no milk. But we manage, I have not killed any of them off yet.

Are we better off now? Financially no we are worse off but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it isn’t going to be like this forever and now that I have a full time job that I enjoy things can only get better.

However we as a family unit are much happier. Gone are the days of dreading the door opening, wondering if he is in one of his soppy drunk moods or in a nasty bad tempered mood that has everyone either cowering behind a cushion or hiding away in the bedrooms. Gone are the days where everyone had to be silent or risk his bellow of

‘Stop that noise’ or ‘be quiet’

In the past two years there has very rarely been a cross word spoke between any of the five of us. It took me a few months to realise that he was never going to be here again chastising me for staying up late or reading when I should be doing something else. I can have friends here if I choose. (visitors were forbidden when he was here).

Our house rings with the sound of music (not always to my taste, teenagers!!) and laughter where before there was only silence broken by shouts of ‘silence’.

There is an air of confidence about us all that was not there before. I have learnt that I am worth so much more than I ever knew. I am happy, I laugh, I joke, I feel sexy, I feel worthy, I have finally come to love the person I am.

 

I might add that all these years later this husband doesn’t drink any more. He has become a different man. Not everything has changed but we have managed to become friends since the arrival of our first grandchild.

1995

At the start of 1995 I lost my father. He had a heart attack and died just a month after his 55th birthday. I can’t believe that was almost 25 years ago. In March I discovered that I was pregnant again. I already had 3 young sons (it hadn’t been my intention to increase my family). This baby was due on 16th December (my father’s birthday). Of course we told the boys that this baby was a gift from their Grandpa. This year, 2019, my father would have been 80 on 16th December.

Because I had had two babies by caesarean section, plus I also have a propensity to have big babies, it was decided that I should have this baby by elected caesarean early to prevent the chance of an early labour.

So it was that, early on the morning of Friday 1st December 1995, my husband drove me to the hospital where I was booked in for the birth of my fourth child. In those days we didn’t routinely know the gender of our baby before we met in person. Having 3 sons I was convinced that if this child was another boy I would suffer from postnatal blues. I had asked to be sterilized during the birth process. I enjoyed pregnancy but felt that I shouldn’t put my body through any more pregnancies. This decision meant that if I had another son I knew I would therefore never have a daughter. I love my sons and don’t regret having any of them but I knew that in later years I would have no daughter to do girly things with. My life ahead would be football orientated. (Which it was).

I remember being prepared for theatre and telling the nurse that I don’t want to do this. “I know about dirty nappies and broken nights, I don’t want to do that again.” Laughing she told me it was a bit late for that now. I was then wheeled out of the room leaving my husband behind. Although I was having an epidural he wouldn’t be joining me, as my third son was being dropped off by Grannie, while she went off to a meeting having taken my elder sons to school. It was his turn to look after our young son.

It wasn’t long before I was given my 4th son. It was a day before we had a name for him. He was a healthy 7lb 7oz even though he was 16 days early. Although he wasn’t the daughter I had hoped for I loved that baby boy from the very second I met him all slippery and red.

I have now had 24 years of love for and from that boy. I feel very lucky to have this child (now an adult) in my life. I do love all my boys more than anything or anyone else (except my grandchildren). However this boy and I have been through some challenges together. He was only 5 and not long started school when I was told that I had stage III cancer. His father had told our boys that “Mummy is going to die” Obviously I didn’t. Then a few years down the line my marriage collapsed. This little boy of mine refused to go to school most days saying that he was ill. In time it was discovered that his reluctance to go to school was because he was scared that if he left my side he would lose me.

You see although I had filed for divorce from my alcoholic emotionally abusive (now known as Coersive control) husband. We were still living in the same house. I had moved out of the marital bedroom and slept on the sofa for months. My husband had made many threats to my life. This little boy only 9 years old witnessed things a child should never see. He wanted to protect me from the kitchen knife that was being used to threaten me with, among other things. He was the one who wiped my face clean after his father had spat in my face.

Once their father aka The other parent had moved out of the house, life calmed down a little. As my boy grew older he was afraid that he might turn out like his Dad. I knew that just the worry of that meant that he wouldn’t. He is a very caring lad. He worries about everything. The 5 years between the other parent leaving and our divorce being finalised and me meeting husband number 2. My four boys and I were happy even though life was tough.

Then I met husband number 2 and moved my baby boy away from his friends. He was not happy. It didn’t help that 2nd husband was a very reluctant step father. He didn’t make life very pleasant for my two younger boys who were living with us before going to Uni. I felt very guilty for everything my little boy ( a strapping 16/17 year old by then) had been through in his life. He was very unhappy. When he finished college he went of to University in Southampton. By the second year of Uni his anxiety problems had become so extreme that he was often sick in the mornings. I spent many hours trying to give him a sense of peace so that he could cope with life.

18 months ago he left Uni and moved into a flat with his girlfriend. He tried to find work to support them both. He did have interviews and even job offers but his anxiety problems got in the way. He was so unhappy, he desperately wanted everyone to be proud of him. He wanted to be able to support himself and his girlfriend. Finally last winter he got a job that he was able to keep hold of. He didn’t enjoy it and the travelling was a problem but he kept going even though his hours kept being cut. I am please to say that they are both now working in places that they are happy in and the pay has increased for them both.

Throughout everything that my boy has been through he has been there for me when I need support. I know that all my boys love and care about me. This young man just gets me. Maybe it is the many many hours we have spent talking things through. All the time I have supported him. It doesn’t matter what the situation he can vocalise my thoughts and feelings as though he can see inside my head. I will and do do anything I can to make his life better for him.

A few days ago I told him that I am lucky to have him in my life. His reply…

“We are all so lucky to have you in our life. We could never neglect you or allow anything to happen to you without the best care we can give.”

How could I not love this young man. I am so proud to be his mother.

Happy birthday sweetheart. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Enjoy your evening with your friends.

Here’s to a great future for my lovely son

Lots of love Mum xxxx

Joe

Relationships

Since leaving my second alcoholic husband a year ago I have been living with my mother. I have gone from being in a large 4 bedroom house where I ran everything from the cooking cleaning, finances etc. I have been running a home for over 30 years (my eldest son is now 31). Over that time I have accumulated a collection of kitchen things.

Moving in with my mother I left the majority of my things behind. I have one medium bedroom plus I have taken over the two seater sofa. The kitchen is about a quarter of the size of the one I left behind. I never thought I would miss doing the weekly shop, but I find myself walking around a supermarket thinking about what I could buy/make. There is very little room in the cupboards or fridge ad freezer for me to add the things I would buy. It has been a challenge going back to live with my mother after all these years of running my own home.

I love my mum to bits and we have always been very close. I am very grateful to her for allowing me to move in with her when I left my husband. In the last year it has become apparent that her need for my help (in small ways) has increased. I don’t now feel I could leave her on her own again.

It would have been easy to become stuck in a way of working and caring but not living. However last summer I joined my friend in her Avon team. I didn’t want to do catalogues, my plan was to work solely online which I could do from the comfort of home. I very quickly gained about 50 customers (not online). After a couple of campaigns I also decided to become a Sales Leader and build a team of my own. Before Christmas I had recruited 12 people into my team (with varying success).  I am now on a mission to recruit more team members. I am keen to help others enjoy the benefits I have found from being in this Avon family. Not only am I earning extra money, I am making new friends, loving all the products. I have never had so many perfumes. Designer handbags, jewellery.

Joining Avon was a great decision for me. I has given me a life outside of my work and living with my mum.luck for her gift set

http://www.earnwithbeauty.me.uk

Since writing this post I had a spell of being housebound by a bad kidney infection which left me unable to do anything for 2 months. During this time my mother had 3 falls in 3 weeks. Possibly due to her doing more of the things I had been doing for her. Anyway in the months since the spring she has become less mobile and now relies on her 3 wheeled walkers whilst in the house and a pink wheelchair for the few occasions when she leaves the house. She has now made the decision to give up driving and has informed DVLA that she no longer needs her licence renewed.

I am now her Carer. Together with my small Carers Allowance and the money I earn through doing my Avon I do have a little bit of financial independence. Since being ill I have been unable to go back to work delivering parcels. I still 5 months after recovering from my illness not got much energy back. Running my Avon business has prevented me from becoming a recluse. It forces me to leave the house most days. There are days when I just can’t face it.  I can only manage about an hour before I need to go back home for a rest.

My Decision

Around 10 years ago I wrote this piece about my decision to divorce the other parent. How I felt 2 years after the event.

It has been a couple of years now and I don’t have any regrets. Some time ago, I think it was the middle of last summer my mother asked the question.

‘If you had known how hard it was going to be would you still have done it?’

I consider this carefully before replying. I am not sure why as I knew the answer, there was never any doubt in my mind.

‘Yes most definitely, it was the best thing I could have done.’

Indeed it was the only thing I could have done. I had given it my best shot. 19 years of my life I had given to that man.   But the day had come when I realised that enough was enough. He couldn’t understand it when I told him I didn’t want to continue living with him. He couldn’t work out what was wrong with me. We had a good marriage didn’t we, we never argued did we?

He was right in a way, as until the last few months we had very rarely had a row. Firstly he was never around to have a row with as he was always either at work, pub or asleep. (the perfect marriage in some ways).

Secondly we never rowed because, when he was around he made me feel so useless and weak that I never dared to argue with him and on the occasions when I tried to vent my anger on him he would turn it around to be my fault. Like the many Saturday mornings when he came home from shopping. (I wasn’t allowed to shop I spent too much, whereas he always bought bargains – you know the deals where if you buy this you get that free or the end of date things).  We had a freezer full of things we would never use and a fridge full of things that had to be eaten in one day but nothing for the rest of the week.

He often came in with a mood on, this would make me grumpy, (no one likes to be moaned at for no reason). Because I was now grumpy he would complain about my mood and stomp off to the pub.

During all these years he would tell me that I was

‘fat, ugly, useless with a brain like a sieve’

Now after so many years of being told this it becomes hard to believe otherwise. I believe that if you get married you should try to make the marriage work. I was not going to give up easily. I had to try to make it work. Besides I had nowhere to go and 4 children to consider. Because I had done such a good job of trying to make our marriage work he had no idea that it wasn’t working. The end of our marriage came as a big shock to him. For me it never really was a marriage. I had never been in love with him. We had never courted as such, just fell into a relationship as when we met we were both getting over broken hearts and needed someone to turn to. If I hadn’t got pregnant the marriage would never have happened.

Now, though we are divorced and I have never been happier. Financially we were never really solvent as a couple. Does anyone know a solvent alcoholic?  But we did have two wages coming in, his full time wage and my part time wage (part time!! I worked longer hours than he did for half the money).

Now it is just me and the boys, I am the only one bringing any money into the home. It has been a struggle and there are days when we have to keep our coats on because it’s too darn cold and I don’t have any spare cash to buy gas. (Yes I have had to get a key meter for both the gas and electricity). There are days when we have just 2 slices of bread and no milk. But we manage, I have not killed any of them off yet.

Are we better off now? Financially no we are worse off but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it isn’t going to be like this forever and now that I have a full time job that I enjoy things can only get better.

However we as a family unit are much happier. Gone are the days of dreading the door opening, wondering if he is in one of his soppy drunk moods or in a nasty bad tempered mood that has everyone either cowering behind a cushion or hiding away in the bedrooms. Gone are the days where everyone had to be silent or risk his bellow of

‘Stop that noise’ or ‘be quiet’

In the past two years there has very rarely been a cross word spoke between any of the five of us. It took me a few months to realise that he was never going to be here again chastising me for staying up late or reading when I should be doing something else. I can have friends here if I choose. (visitors were forbidden when he was here).

Our house rings with the sound of music (not always to my taste, teenagers!!) and laughter where before there was only silence broken by shouts of ‘silence’.

There is an air of confidence about us all that was not there before. I have learnt that I am worth so much more than I ever knew. I am happy, I laugh, I joke, I feel sexy, I feel worthy, I have finally come to love the person I am.

As I said at the start this was around 10 years ago. The first few years after our divorce were challenging to say the least.  Harassment charges, death threats, an injunction to keep him away. Things have moved on. We are now able to be civil, we share a grandchild and communicate far more frequently than in the past. We are even able to be in the same room with our offspring. The next big challenge will be when we both attend our son’s wedding later this year. I’m sure it will be fine. I couldn’t have imagined this 10 years ago.

Less is more

Things have been better this week. I have been busy at work and there have been a couple of days when I didn’t need to sleep all afternoon. I have had some very early nights though. 9pm one evening and even 8.30 a few days ago.

I am beginning to feel more like getting things organised and added a further 5 bags of clothes to the clothes bank yesterday. Does anyone need any clothes hangers, I am sure mine have been breeding! How did I ever have so many clothes that I didn’t have enough hangers? No longer working in an office and losing 3 stone in weight has meant that most of the clothes I had are no longer suitable. These days I live in a few pairs of leggings and a couple of pairs of jeans some t-shirts and jumpers. Living the simple life as far as clothes are concerned.

Communications with my husband have turned a corner too. I have not had a nasty message for a week! Instead he is starting to tell me that he misses/loves me and wants me back. He has begun talking about the future being a journey and would I join him? I have had to tell him that a few conversations are not enough, it is going to take time. I need to know that he has stopped drinking (not just for a week or too but for much longer). I need to know that he has given himself the chance to accept support not just from me but from others who can give him more help than I can. I also need him to take on more financial responsibility and not leave 90% on my shoulders.

He is putting the house up for sale, he has had various valuations and decided who he wants to use. He tells me that he won’t be staying in this country. Currently he is talking about Spain, which was our plan 6 months ago. I am not sure I can join him on that journey any more. Maybe if he does go out there and things are harmonious between us I might visit. I don’t think I would move out there now.stock-vector-hanger-black-icon-vector-illustration-155568137

Moving

This moving business is quite exhausting. When I left my husband four weeks ago today, I only took with me what I needed for a few weeks. I didn’t know what the future would hold. How would he react? Would he cope without me?

In the first couple of weeks communication was mostly unpleasant messages sent from him to my phone. I didn’t respond. I returned to the house a few times to collect more of my clothes and other belongings. Still I was not 100% sure whether there could be a way back for us or not. However the house needs to be sold. I need to remove my belongings from the house.

At the beginning of this week I finally had a message from him to say that he loves me and wants me back. 3 weeks it had taken for him to say he misses/loves me. We spoke on the phone the following day. It was a good conversation. He told me that he is working at getting himself sorted out. He hasn’t had a drink for a month (I know this is not accurate). He said he has begun going to AA (which he hates). I told him that I am not ready to go back. One conversation is not enough to convince me that anything would be different. We need more time, more of everything that is positive.

Two days later I spoke to him again but he had reverted to type. He was rude and after a few words hung up on me. Yesterday I had not been home long from my morning working when he called me. In my car I keep a portable tyre pump, he needed it as he had a very flat tyre. I agreed to take it over to him. The tyre was completely flat. We talked briefly. It is funny how he can be civil to my face. I packed more of  my things into my car and gave him a lift. He had arranged to meet someone and was running late. Surprisingly he needed to be dropped off at the pub!

Later when I was back home again he rang requesting a loan as he needed to go out in the evening but would pay me back next day. We had quite a good chat about things I need to collect. I am going over there today and will go up in to the loft to see what is up there. He can’t because of his broken collar and shoulder bones. Apparently the house will go on the market this week. During the conversation we also talked about the future. He now wants a divorce. OK, so now I know where I stand. I have no intention of divorcing him but if that is what he wants that is up to him. He is moving on without me, he is looking for other women to date/have sex with.

All the times he has told me that he loves me and doesn’t want to lose me obviously count for nothing. I did think he might fight a bit harder not to lose me.

I shall remove more of my belongings today, it might take a few more trips as I find it very difficult being in the house that I thought of as home for 5.5yrs. I don’t want or need much, mostly it is clothes and books. Most of which I don’t need to have with me anymore. Most of the clothes I have already brought back here have been sorted and bagged up for charity.

Moving out of the house and moving on with my life seem to be my priorities right now. Apart from working I am sleeping a lot. I think that although on the outside I am coping with all these changes, my body is exhausted by it all.

moving boxes

 

 

 

Marriage

It has been a little over a week since I told my husband that I would be staying with my mother for an undetermined period. I spoke to him today, he told me that he has been looking into his rights regards divorce. He also told me that he has stopped wearing his wedding ring. He was surprised that I am still wearing mine.

He later said that he does want me back but he knows it will have to be on my terms.

I have no idea what the future holds for us right now.

3rd time

Well this is the third time in my adult life that I have ended up living back home with my mum. The first time I was in my early 20s, I had been abandoned by my older boyfriend. I had stayed on in the bedsit we had been renting until the end of our contract.

The second time was just prior to having my first son. I had been living in a bedsit in Tunbridge Wells, I didn’t know whether my baby’s father would stand by me, it was winter and I went to stay with my mum until after the birth, we stayed for 4 months before finding our own place.

Now 30 years later here I am again. It feels very strange to be in my mid fifties, living with my mum. We are looking after each other. I have to tr hard not to interfere and do things for her that she would normally do for herself. I have however emptied the vacuum cleaner for her and carry the laundry basket up or downstairs for her. I do know that I am scheduled to get into the cupboard under the stairs to read the gas and electricity meters for her.

I’m not sure how I feel about having my meals made for me, it is good to have someone else doing the cooking but odd not doing the meal planning.

I am used to spending the time I am with my mum just talking for hours on end, sitting quietly reading or snoozing in between conversations is something I am having to get accustomed to.

We are planning to get a new bird feeder, one that will be positioned where we can both see it. I did my first laundry wash today, it has been years since I last dried my clothes on the radiators.

 

Here’s to my new life.

 

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Bitter sweet week

This week has been bitter sweet. We had my step children staying (they are not kids anymore 23 and almost 21). They have been visiting from California. This has been the first time they have actually stayed in our home. I couldn’t be more pleased with the polite mature young people they have become.

Unfortunately my step daughter has been suffering from flu all week. She flew home today leaving us both with colds (I have a bad cold her father has Man flu). Step son seems OK so far though.

Apart from the week being spoilt by her illness it has also been marred by their father not being able to control his alcohol consumption. We have had some long difficult conversations. I am pleased that they have seen for themselves what daily life is like here. I would have preferred that they hadn’t seen this. It would have been good if they could have made some nice memories to take back home with them.

I have made the decision to seek support through Al-anon, my stepdaughter is going to do the same when she gets home.

Hiatus

I know I have been absent for many months, partly because I had nothing to say. Partly because I didn’t have the time or energy. That doesn’t mean that I hadn’t thought about writing.

I have had a bad last 12 months or so including much ill health (for me) and accidents (my husband). After months of poor health (almost housebound for months), I suddenly started to get better at the end of June. Nobody is more surprised than I am that after finding it very difficult to just walk from one room to the next, I am now averaging a daily step count in excess of 12,000 steps.

In September we jointly took on a part time job delivering parcels. Ha ha I say jointly, but the reality is that I do this 97% on my own. My husband has been out with me a few times but has never managed to stick it out from the beginning to the end of the round. On the few occasions he has attempted to assist me, I have ended up leaving him in a pub whilst I complete the round.

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