I do not know why, when you are a good mother you are hurting the children as well as me by not allowing me to see them, I am sure they are missing me. There must be a good reason for doing this I am sure.
With so few words after weeks of clawing my way out of the darkness towards the autumn sun, I am ripped back into the terror. Within minutes of reading the words on my screen a piercing pain flashes inside my head as I begin a night of being violently ill, and checking the windows, doors, and searching the house for devices. How does someone who loved me so intensely no one believes they could do harm, be the person that causes this level of primal fear in me? How do such seemingly polite and simple words tear through every layer of protection I have been slowly building up over the months?
The answer is years of toil. Years which perhaps began as mistakes, immaturity, laziness, and a slight arrogance, an inability to accept the need to do things differently. Years which eventually led to repeated deceptions, silences, broken promises, endless promises, insidious games, hiding true feelings, undermining decisions, and not respecting my basic human worth. Slowly stripping away at every layer, every fibre replacing it with something less tangible, something translucent in nature, something almost no longer there.
Each time I began to slip away bringing me back with promises of the life we were building together, the songs, the letters, the gifts, the declarations in front of anyone who would listen.
Months of battling nightmares, being chased by songs that threatened to overwhelm me, holding on tight to children who sobbed in the darkness, and I walked through the fire I promised I would.
I looked into the depths of the nightmare, and stripped back every lie he told, every belief and behaviour I had in response. Glimmers of light, the star dust I had begun to live in surrounded me. For every painful moment there was, just within my reach there were scattered around me pin pricks of sparkling light as I began to find in all my truths a strength in seeing not what I had lost but the freedom I was finally gaining.
Then like a shadow from my nightmares his words, his reach stretched out to me and pulled me back into the murky waters that always swirled around us.
With the exchange of a few emails I was back to fighting for air, grappling to hold onto the foundations I had begun to build. Two days of terror, or fearing for the children he was now using as his tools, his only connection, but a life long rope he has tied around my waist.
How would I keep them from the pain of someone who does not know how to love?
How do I keep them from the silent rage, and cutting, cold withholding, as they grow and express themselves as individuals more and more; and question his behaviours as they had begun to do?
In a moment of cold searing pain as I remembered the love I had felt, the old age I had dreamt of sharing, I remembered what I needed to.
I let go.
I closed my eyes and let go, slipping into the murky waters, slowly sinking into the depths of the darkness that had always engulfed us.
Do your best.
Say what you want, throw out the ropes you held me with, a rush of dark water as I gasped my last breath. Do your best because you cannot touch me anymore. The emails kept coming.
Almost a year ago I had been tired and unwell after a long stretch of my husband working long hours looking forward to a week off for the October half term as a family. I had been searching online for a little place to get away to, a cottage by the sea, long walk on blustery beaches, long evenings sipping wine, and cuddling in front of a crackling fire getting me through each day.
My husband began an erratic, argumentative way of behaving that I had begun to recognise as a way of hiding something he was worried about. After a few days of not reacting, and trying to create a mood of acceptance I asked him what was on his mind.
It took a few days of denial and silences before he finally said his boss had told him he had to work during the holiday time we were planning despite having booked it off at the beginning of the year. I looked at my husband feeling so betrayed and let down. I had stood by him, and supported months of overtime, months of not having him even take part in family decisions on the promise of this week.
I had seen the emails, him trying to persuade his bosses it would be great publicity, great revenue to hold the largest Halloween party in the city. I had asked what he was doing, he had time away planned.
His response had been " they won't go ahead with it, I am just trying to look efficient and dedicated, but it won't happen". I had questioned why he would even take the risk, what if they called his bluff? He had gotten angry, I should trust him, he was doing this for us, he was making himself in disposable to the business, didn't I want him to do well in his career?
The question always thrown out as a victory call. How could I say anything else or try to reason that family also mattered, the marriage also mattered. If I said anymore I would be in the way of his dreams, you do not do that to someone you love.
Somehow it was lost on both of us how my dreams had ceased to even be.
So there we were, holiday possibly no longer happening, hours at work suddenly increasing as business was on the up on the run up to Christmas. A special date in our relationship calendar came up, and he became indecisive about whether he could afford the time off for a dinner.
I received an email that was a blow to the calm I was trying to create. A group on the internet had hacked into the database of an internationally renowned affair website, my husband being a user. His false email address no longer existing since I discovered it, they mailed me threatening me with contacting everyone on our shared address book with this information.
All over the papers were people in the city being exposed.
The noise and chaos inside me was debilitating as I fought back the emotional memories of the discoveries I had made, the excuses he had given me, and the pain , the strange pain I always felt, as if my womb had been ripped and pulled out and was now being worn on the outer parts of my abdomen.
So exposed, so scared, so raw. The baby I had carried, and was still feeding whilst he slipped in and out of games with anyone who crossed his path.
We went out for the meal following a last minute text to meet him at a local restaurant that had begun to be his fall back option to not being seen with me in town, or to make up for having not put any thought into something he had promised and forgotten about.
I arrived to absolute adoration, I was the most beautiful woman there, he had loved me since he met me, a card with words that immediately brought me to tears forgetting the pain and uncertainty I had been feeling.
He was a good man, just very badly organised, and without foresight, and lost. The meal began with lots of chatter, laughter, cocktails, and his love of flirting with all the staff, male or female, he was in his comfort zone, he needed people to know who he was, and the power he had. Cards handed out, comments slipped in to show his knowledge and authority. It was a pattern that had become more difficult to swallow as the years went by, that was hollow, and made me question whether I was there to accommodate a final picture or was his desire truly to spend time with me?
The conversation turned to the holiday that was not to be, and the hours he would be working weeks prior to it. He had told me a few weeks prior that if he was at head office I should take it that he was not in for that night. I had asked him about the pending day at head office, was this rule to be applied to this day?
His reaction was instant, a rage shot through his eyes as he accused me of spoiling the meal, of being sarcastic and misunderstanding the meaning of his words. I was stunned by the switch in mood, and tried to defend myself explaining that I only asked to clarify the situation so I could manage my expectations.
The ground was forever shifting , what I was to expect or not expect was always different. For years I had gotten used to the often used remark of, "You should know that what I do and what I say if it hurts you or is bad is not on purpose. You should just know I mean well and would not do anything hurtful." This had been replaced with I should just accept whatever happens, however many hours he works, wherever he goes, not ask for plans, clarifications or expect anything, he was working. That was all I needed to know.
As I tried to reason with him, my voice calmly repeating again and again, " I was not trying to pick a fight, I was just trying to put a few things in place to help me for the next few weeks, to mange my expectations".
He started to demand an apology. He kept raising his voice " Say sorry, you never say sorry, no I will not listen to any more of your excuses just SAY SORRY!". He stood up declaring he could not look at me and was going home, and stormed to the bathroom.
I paid the bill and called the cab, the waitress knowing us as regulars saying " guys don't leave without dessert, come on, you seemed to be having such a good time".
The horror and embarrassment I felt was crushing. We rode home in silence, and he went straight to bed as I dealt with the sitter, and found him fast asleep once I had checked on all the children.
In the morning he did not speak to me, I went out to join a work out in the park, asking if he needed anything, I was met with a vicious glare.
As I walked up to the class I had a pain begin in my head and arrived feeling very unwell. I began the work out, determined to exorcise myself of the bad feelings, the feeling of dread, and how long I would have to be silent for.
I could not finish the workout as I became dizzy, and had a nose bleed that would not stop. My husband was known for meeting me after every work out, and taking me for a coffee afterwards. The trainer kept asking if he should call him, if I wanted a lift home, my husband would be so worried.
I just wanted to curl up in a ball somewhere far away from him, going home felt like the last thing I wanted to ever do. I had begun to dream that one day I would be diagnosed with something that would mean I had to stay in hospital for a long time, I could finally get the rest and space away I wanted.
I arrived home to silence, and I curled up on the sofa exhausted and completely incapable of addressing his rage. He questioned me on the blood on my clothes and the tissues I was holding. He stared for a cold long moment, and left the room.
He went out with the children and when he came back it was as if nothing had happened. He scurried around making tea, making food, wrapping me up in blankets.
The couple of weeks following were back to the adoration, conversations of how we got together, the disbelief he had finally ended up with the girl he always wanted to be with. The school holidays arrived, and during the family activities he arranged the event at work, and spoke to staff about the Halloween details.
At the last moment my husband stated that he had told his boss since he was working his annual leave he would like me to have a ticket to come to the event. My sister in law came to visit, and after asking about plans she came too.
It was a relief to me as I had dreaded what I would be doing solo at such a large event as he worked. A friend of mine attended also as her company painted the faces of all the staff and musicians.
The evening was fun, we laughed, danced, and drank delicious things. Occasionally my husband would slip away from things and come and see to us, and charm everyone with his attentiveness.
He commented on the way I looked, something that no longer made me feel so good as it was the feeling of being similar to a painting. Hanging there to be admired, looked at from a distance, to allow friends to admire but never doing anything with it.
My husbands boss was unusually unfriendly as was his brother from a competing business. I asked my husband if I had offended them the last time we had drinks, he told me not to worry they were intimidated by women who did not swoon around them, but there was something that did not sit right.
As the evening drew on, my friend and sister in law decided it was time to leave, we went to find a number for a taxi company. My husband then asked me to stay behind, he was finishing work now, we could have a few drinks, dance, spend some time together, go home together.
I said good bye to everyone, excited to spend some time together, and he saw them to the lifts. He disappeared for a long time.
When he came back he apologised said work had got in the way. I asked if that was it then, could we go and sit down together now, and he said "Well no, I have a lot of things I have to get done first". I'm working.
I felt a spark of anger. I felt hugely taken advantage of. Why then did you ask me to stay? Why could I have not gone home with the others, gone to bed ready for the children in the morning instead of staying and sitting on my own like a trophy?
It was in my mind, hugely assumptive, and not what I would expect him to do for me. He glared at me in silence, and I looked around to see his staff watching. Realising how unprofessional it would look, and embarrassing, I turned away and started to walk back to my seat where it was more discreet. When I got to the table I turned to find he was no longer with me.
I sat in silence as Victorian dolls, and ghouls danced around me. My husbands boss and brother entertaining close by but completely avoiding me. I felt so lost, I was completely out of my depth. This was his land, his domain, and I had no say. Sat in an expanse of concrete and glass, music pumping, and his very affluent clients everywhere.
Suddenly a smiling waitress appeared with a tray holding a champagne flute. "Your husband sent this" she giggled. I thanked her feeling a sense of relief, he had understood how bad it had felt, how mean it came across, he had not meant it.
I took the glass and chatted with her for a while whilst she told me how amazing he was to work for. I sipped my drink waiting for him, assuming he was getting his things to come and join me.
After a while I heard a voice over my right shoulder " Are you enjoying that?". I looked around to see my husband, I had not seen him come down the stairs or through the lift area, he had appeared silently. Yes thank you, I replied, ready to say I am glad we are not fighting, but he cut me off. " Good. You finish that off and take your things and get out of here. I have called you a taxi, and I do not want to see your face here again."
Stunned I spun round with the force of his blow. He was glaring at me. "Are you aware of what you are saying?" I asked. " There are people everywhere, you are at work, are you going to show your true colours like this? People can hear you?". He came closer to me whilst ripping his earpiece and mike off. "You will not turn your back on me, you will not speak to me that way in front of my staff, you will leave quietly, and I do not want to speak to you." I stared at him my throat completely closing up as he slammed my bag and coat on to the table, and spun away.
Slowly I debated why I had not just poured my drink over his head, told him never to step inside our home again, to take his arrogant ego driven ways to someone who cared for such things. Instead I slipped off my stool with my things and made my way to the lift, I glanced at the boss' brother who raised his glass to me as I walked by.
As I arrived at the lift my husband's deputy smiled " Oh dear had to much to drink tonight, and have to be sent home?" . You have no idea, I said as I stepped into the lift. The following week my husband fired his deputy after waiting a year to create a case big enough to do so, as he despised him.
I exited the lift, the cold air hitting me, the shame and humiliation making me feel as though I had left my clothes behind. So utterly vulnerable standing in the glaringly bright reception area. Alone.
My friend was there at security, it was famed for being like an airport. She had missed her train home, and was coming to find me. We got into the cab together, her confusion on me being solo. I explained what had happened and her jaw dropped open " He did what?" I proceeded to text him, tell him what I should have said during the moment. How his ego had over taken his senses.
He proceeded to tell me all the awful factors of who I was. All I saw was an arrogant man completely consumed by his glass crows nest.
He did not come home till 6 am, rang the doorbell, and stormed past me shouting "I still have not forgiven you". The day was filled with Halloween activities, friends, trick or treating, and my husband the ever charming host. On super charm offensive as his sister was present.
The whole time my head spun with thoughts of how I could keep on going with this man who hated me. Not in the heat of the moment, but truly at a fundamental level he had waged war on me on every level he could.
Our friends joked about how I couldn't do a night out, and look after the kids the next day, and all applauded him for still being so happy and energetic after being on the go and at such a large event. As always he was the saint I was the sinner.
Everyone thanked him for his hospitality, his generosity.
It was not until three months later when I filed my statements away I discovered a large transaction on my account I had not made. It came from my husbands business. A panic set in, someone in his business had charged my card without my knowledge, this would be horrendous for the staff whilst it was investigated.
I picked up the phone to call him, but my arm slowed as I realised the date on the bill. It was Halloween. My husband had gone upstairs, and charged the night's drinks onto my card without my knowledge in his rage. Whilst taking the gratitude from us all as we thought he had covered it. It dawned on me what else that meant.
The day after the party, I could not find the new make up I had purchased the month before, at his instance to treat myself. It had disappeared from my bag, and I could not figure out how. I had emptied my bag in front of him, he did not flinch at all.
Now the answer was glaringly obvious. I was shaking all the way, as I went to pick up our son from school. He did not stop lying, he did not stop finding ways to do things behind my back that were always to my detriment. Who was this man I was married to, and had children with?
Since he has left I have had all family and friends from his side completely remove themselves from our lives. It has been tremendously painful, isolating.
It has also opened my eyes to their own fears and inabilities to see him for what he truly is. A man who is duplicating his father's behaviour act by act, and somehow I am to blame. I drove him to it, he was always such a lovely man.
I discovered recently that people who behave this way to not reach the capacity to do so till their mid twenties. That is just when he began to reel me in. It is completely within reason no one saw this behaviour till then. But considering how easily he disposed of his family. How easily he told tales of his spoilt, entitled friends who were prone to marrying daddy's girls who had no clue or personality, to everyone we knew in London.
There must be moments that have flashed through their minds also, that they choose to ignore. It is easier to blame the outsider, the other who bares no similarity to them.
So as he now emails me, in immense pain for the way I have kept the children away from him despite having not asked to see them, but when I replied he can see them immeadiately, he waits days to do it. Then reduces the hours due to work.
I get swept into his murkiness. He continues to email to ask for his passport which I gave him months ago. Denying I did, accusing me of costing his work money, and showing him up. A tirade of texts on mine and my son's birthday, not a good wish on sight.
I find myself breaking above the surface and taking another breath.
I hold onto the memories that completely stripped me of all sense of myself at the time of the events. I listen to the voices of his family who accused me of being strong so not capable of being harmed the way I say he has harmed me.
I look into the depths of those who themselves were conned, raped of their true desires and worth a generation before. Now to hide from the truth, allowing the pattern to occur again.
I look at the friends who have shown me love that I never have felt before, kindnesses of immense selflessness. I look at my beautiful children, each one individually strong, loving and unique. I see it all, and hold it all to pull me out of the whirlpool.
I will not hide.
He can do his best. I will stay standing out in the open. Every blow, every attempt to pull me back into the vortex can happen. I cannot prevent it from happening, it will swallow me up. However I see now, that each time I have stood back up again, each time it consumes me less, each time the warmth and light beckon stronger than before.
I see it, and I will not hide.