I will not let you hurt the children, I will not let you expose them to the pain and neglect you felt growing up, or bring them down into the darkness you seem to always end up lurking in.
The autumn sun was warm despite the damp mist in the air as my husband's warm hand held tightly on to mine whilst we ran through the trees, out onto the ancient cobbled street. We had stumbled through the open gates of the botanical gardens so lost in our conversation we had failed to realise the early timing meant it was not open to the public, and had been reprimanded by a guard who had found us roaming the grounds. As we made our way giggling as naughty children would through the narrow streets the entire world dissolved around us.
That was the beginning of our life together exactly thirteen years ago. Days and months of flying to see each other, roaming the back streets as if they were long forgotten places, looking for the stories they had to tell in this city filled with mist with a castle looming above a frozen expanse of twirling people and sparkling lights. It was the story of all stories, it was the dream to end all dreams, as he whispered his words of eternal love, a love felt for years from a distance, longing silently, but always treating me with respect to never convey it to me, a woman in a relationship.
Memories of those heady days have been tumbling through my mind every time I see the leaves, the autumnal sun, the reminders of every year when this date arrives, his efforts to woo me again. The cards, the letters, the texts, reminders of words spoken, of moments shared, pulling me back to the devotion he felt, and the forever question, why was I so unhappy when this man adores me so much?
The ball of heat in my abdomen has been present for days as my nights are filled with his words, his voice, his cold cold piercing eyes. This is the part I cannot seem to escape.
With every moment of awareness, with every vow to keep the children and I safe from the emotional manipulation, the draining of our love, our constant loyalties and energies, he finds ways to re-instate his claim on us. He is free to walk away, wash his hands of every memory, he is free to make us feel, but we must not move on without him.
It is an absolute blow, a freight train hit, every time I realise how history has repeated itself. The times I stated I will not be a door mat, I will not allow the children to be hurt, to be raised feeling the adults were more important, that they were an after thought.
Yet here we are. He has walked away leaving a woman with his children. A woman who fears to leave the house, who is haunted by demons every night, who keeps stumbling upon secrets, lies, and hidden acts. A life of infidelity, financial manipulation, emotional confusion and the ability to act like no actor I have ever witnessed, all left behind him so he can reinvent himself as everyone needs a second chance.
The blow when I realise all of those people who know of his upbringing, whether it by being his friend through it or experiencing it themselves, have not the ability to stand back and see the horror story.
Instead they all support him, his right to move on with no repercussions, no guilt, no remorse, no responsibility.
They support their mother's, they feel the a constant agony of women left with lives that are empty wreckage's, nights that are filled with haunting's of the past, memories of the lives and emotions stolen from them. Yet this man, the good man who is so humble, will look no one in the eye, will not raise his voice, who is so meek everything he does is accidental, he is allowed, and supported as he re- visits the exact end result on his family.
For months I have been jumping every time I hear the letter box, every time I hear footsteps outside in the dark. I have not been able to understand why I am so scared, why I am drenched head to toe in freezing cold pin pricks, then the memory slipped by.
Of a letter through the door.
The letter after I had spent several days frozen, terrified as my husband had disappeared. He had told me he could not cope with me any longer, I was an awful partner, loaded up the car with his clothes, his stratocaster and driven off. Left with two children, one a tiny baby, I had spent days unable to sleep or eat. Hours mortified that I had messed up so enormously. That I did not know how to love in a manner deserving of this wonderful man.
The letter contained his angst at my inability to communicate, my constant inability to see how amazing he was, his days of pain as he considered ending it all , his ending lines of how he was doing this for us all. I was better off without him, he obviously was the one who made me behave badly and he being the emotionally stable one was ending this destructive way I had.
After his father passed away his step mother gave him a letter. One found in his father's bureau at some stage.
The letter was photocopied so all the children could have a copy.
At the time I had been upset, unable to understand why it would have been passed around, so concerned for the effect it would have on my husband, I had failed to see.
The letter contained words of love for all his children, his family, but the feelings that everyone was better off without him. I have never heard either mother discuss the effects of this, or any stories alluding to the history of what had brought this man to write a letter of self destruction.
Yet as the blow came to me in my mind, I was aware of the pain, the terror, the belief that they were culpable, they had the responsibility to keep him happy......alive. How was I the only one to see this, and how are they allowing this to continue into a further generation?
He was well known for being a grown up child, silly, always playing with the children, rolling around with them. However as time does its teaching, another story unfolds.
All the decisions I made alone, all the studying I supported, all the discussions, and teachings I was the sole parent in.
The words came back to me. "How do you know to speak to the children like that?"
The surprise that I am so emotionally expressive with them, the physical warmth I display, the admissions that no one spoke lovingly in his family, the stories of endless days roaming alone, of staying at friends with no one checking to see where he was, of stripping his bed and secretly washing it so as not to upset anyone, of climbing onto the stove and making tea in the morning to help as everyone slept.
Never saying the words, saying who was the one to make him feel this neglect, this loneliness.
Looking back I do not see the lack of love from his family, looking back I do not see how he also tells stories of his childhood on a loop as if no other time in his life has been better.
What I see now is the sorrow I felt for a little boy who had been neglected, bullied, unloved. I see the feelings taken from me, the trap laid before me, the sheer knowledge that I would do anything to make things better for someone in pain.
I see the disapproval he feels of every member of his family, the choices in life they have made, the choices of partner each brother has made - the controlling undeserving women, the abhorrence and disgust for his sisters, the vile words used, and the images he conjured.
The distance and unease he created to remove me from them, to have me protect him from their instability, their treacherous ways. Now this family is the family who have spread their arms to console him, to heal him from the clutches of the woman who has now been doing the same things, the things that I had always been told they had done to him.
I look at my children. Each one so loving, so innocent despite the life that has been running parallel to theirs, hidden with every ounce of my strength. Each one fiercely independent, wonderfully unique, infuriatingly concise, and I remind myself. They will not, absolutely will not grow up to hurt or be hurt by someone in this way.
I will continue to tell them that honesty is the way to love. Lies of omission, twisting of truths, creations of reality are not in anyway a loving respecting act.
To love, to honour, to be loyal to themselves - they must be truthful.
Every feeling, be it anger, hurt, frustration is a valid feeling. Each time they try to hide a feeling they perceive to be negative I allow them the space, then we re visit it together, looking at the right to have feelings, the right to express them, and the duty to work it out together.
We owe it to each other to stay truthful, and teach each other the ways in which our hearts and minds work.
There is no more belief that a family must hide it's secrets, must keep up a veneer.
We will weather the turbulent winds together. I will expose them to the air, and water their needs. Together we will form roots deep and strong, and keep out branches and hearts rising to the light.
I will not let the darkness and pain of those who walked before become their path.