Recovering from years of coercive control is a long process, one littered with set backs and days of sheer exhaustion. As time goes by, the deeper you work, you find longer periods of time of feeling at peace. The ground does not shift so often, the walls around you do not suddenly disappear without warning. Slowly, hesitantly each day turns to months, and dare I say the future becomes a concept worthy of dabbling in.
After our terrifying months of family court, of going over the past and remembering just how often and to what extent the person we loved had manipulated us, deceived us, created falsehoods everywhere we turned. After starting the year this way we reached summer gasping for breath, aching for a place to lay down for a little while. For months we slowed down our plans and I ploughed love into the children, with every act I tried to instill a certainty in them that our unit our world was immovable where ever we lived, however our surroundings may change, I will remain the constant against the storm that whipped itself around us.
As the weeks drifted by we all slept, ate well, enjoyed the air and sun offered to us all this summer. Friends visited, we laughed, we began to exhale as it dawned slowly that he could not put us through the family courts again, that now he had to adjust his behaviour if he were ever to repair anything with the children. Slowly the visits reduced, the calls were waited for and never happened, the children stopped asking, when they spoke of him, the divulged they preferred it this way.
Then the calls began, the texts, always a Dr, always looking for him, for him to get in touch, to get his results.
Repeated requests to him to change his details, asking why my number would be in his files. Always an excuse, the Dr's fault, the receptionist, someone, anyone but him.
Considering this has happened in clusters a few times over the years, including the time I left him and a GP was in touch to say he was suicidal, leading me to fear I was to blame, and letting me back into the family home; I did all I could to keep the kids shored, and myself guarded.
Again a silence.
Until a message to tell me he had lost the ability to walk, had cancer in his spine and was about to be operated on. He said he needed me to bring the children to the hospital, wanted to see them.
The sleepless night's that followed I had hoped would never come back, naively I had thought whatever else that he would bring would be a hurdle placed before me before, one that may be painful but one I had over come. But then I was faced with his mortality, the person I had had children with, had once believed I would grow old with was with little warning in a place where his existence was in question.
This same person had devastated our lives, had hurt us so deeply at our core, and had not stopped doing so, without ever acknowledging fault whilst feeding everyone else stories woven from yet more lies.
How do you deal with that stage in recovery? When that moment is a time you believe to be decades away , what is a person meant to do when the person who shreds their being spins the world again to become the weaker one?