The kids spent a week with their father…

Yesterday, the 7 year olds pipes up with: daddy said if you let me go and live with him, he’ll buy me an iPad!

Me: you already have an iPad…

Child4: but I’m not allowed to take that to dads. So if you let me live with him, I can have one there too…

Me: no… No… No….

If I LET him?! 

Late last night, Miss 9 comes in crying – I miss great granny (who died right before Xmas)… And daddy…

Me: no… No… No…

I’m not saying those no’s out loud… But they’re hammering at my head and at my heart…

No!

I don’t know how to fight this battle. I’m listening to all the ‘experts’ telling me to hold firm and not to spin rubbish about the father. To not tell the truths about him. That every time I say a negative about him, they hear one about themself… 

But omg… No! 

He’s not manipulating another. He’s not having another. No!

This is part of the – if mummy moved you here, I could see you all the time – strategy…. Me: he left here! HE moved away. TWICE!! No! 

But he is so good at it… Because he believes it… He’s never at fault. It’s only ever because you…

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People judge…

They all have an opinion… and they all mean well… and they judge…

It’s in the things they say. The words. The looks. The pursed lips. Intake of breath. Sideways glances. Pauses. Stiffening of the body. Pulling away. Turning away…. The list goes on… and on…

Because they judge…

And they don’t believe you. That’s always been what I have found hardest. They tell you it wasn’t as you remember. That it wasn’t that bad. And the crazy thing is… they weren’t even there. So how can they possibly know…

So you stop telling people… and then they judge you on other grounds… for other decisions that you make…

People want to know – why didn’t you leave if it was that bad? And I keep thinking – why did I stay if it was not great??

Because that is the problem. You’re expected to stay. You’re expected to fight to make it work until you have flogged it so much you can no longer tell that it once was a horse. If it’s not broke, why fix it…

When you’re there, you don’t see it. You want that defining line. That one moment that tells you – this is it. Because every other moment just isn’t enough…

When I had my first baby, I was at a complete loss. I was living in the middle of nowhere, literally. I had no support network, at all. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And when I did go out, I heard how I was doing it all wrong. The baby was too warm or not warm enough. Over fed or too thin. I was over fed too of course – out to a good paddock was the phrase. The baby cried too much or didn’t cry enough. And my all time favourite – if you love her, you’ll breast feed… just keep feeding her… And I did. For hours and hours and hours and hours… It took until baby number 4 before I had an amazing team who discovered the problem – my milk ducts are damaged, I actually don’t produce enough milk… so feeding and feeding and feeding only caused pain and anguish… but in the eyes and words of those well-meaning souls, I just didn’t love my children enough….

And the same goes for every other aspect of parenting and being a wife. If you are a good mum… If you are a good wife… If….

So I ran myself ragged trying to fit this mold. To be the perfect everything. Working two jobs. Studying. Raising four kids – who were involved in everything under the sun. Maintaining a house. Hosting parties. Running fundraising events in town. Driving endless kilometres to the next sporting event or social melee. Running myself ragged… trying to be the perfect everything… and always being told, over and over and over… if you were a good mum… if you were a good wife… if….

So why did I stay? There are so many, many reasons… The official one in these situations is that I was surviving. I was so busy surviving that I couldn’t see the way clear – and there is a lot of truth in that… but I also think society has a lot to answer for. This crazy need for perfection. This insane belief that just because you said the vows means you have to stay together forever – for better or worse. My own family said to me a number of times, even after they knew some of the stories, even after they watched the absolute horror of the aftermath, they still said, over and over…. but you said ’til death do us part… why get married if you weren’t going to stick it out?’. You see… because absolutely EVERYONE judges…. and every single person found me lacking…

And you see… I didn’t need the world to find me lacking, because I have always needed to be perfect…. So it took a hell of a lot to admit that it wasn’t working…. a hell of a lot to admit failure…. and I didn’t need your judgment too…. And still, to admit that I failed on every level… to see the aftermath because no matter how hard I tried, I still couldn’t make it work…

Because you see, that’s what he thrived on… knowing that I would keep trying to make it work… He used those insecurities, latched onto all the criticisms… they were proof that it was my fault, that I wasn’t good enough, didn’t try hard enough… Because, if you’ve ever been there, this will sound so familiar… he wouldn’t have been so angry all the time if I hadn’t… you know I love you but you…. I’m a good husband, you know this, but you…. I’m a great father, I love my kids, but you…. And it works. Because everyone else is telling you that you aren’t good enough. Because you were raised like this and you’ve always known you weren’t good enough. Because you are the perfect person to be told how completely imperfect you are… and it’s all your fault.

So don’t tell me I made the wrong choices… don’t tell me I should have left… don’t tell me it can’t have been that bad… don’t tell me I’m a bad parent and don’t tell me I’m a good parent… Just stop telling me anything. All you need to do is say – I’m here for you, what can I do? That’s it. And if you do that… you will actually be the first person who finally gets it. Because you don’t know. You weren’t there. You have no idea. So stop judging me.

I shouldn’t snoop….

But…

  
This is from yesterday it seems. He’s with his dad for the weekend. 

His dad is not the only reasons he cuts. I’m a big factor too. And other reasons I’m sure…

And I don’t know what these were done with, but they don’t look like they’ve broken the skin this time, which is a relief… I think… But I wonder if the reason why they don’t lies in the conversation he wrote around this pic…

He was sitting on the lounge. His dad came up and asked to see his arms. They’ve been swimming a lot – I think the step sisters have commented. And, we’ve all heard over and over that the girls and their mother cannot be bothered by his own children… Anyway… He showed his dad his arms. His dad punched him in the chest twice – apparently not hard (because when you punch a 13 year old in the chest twice, you tell them it didn’t hurt. You’ve told them this all their life. Man up. You sook. That wasn’t even hard…)… But the punches aren’t the kicker… Then he told his son – the son who is completely messed up – cutting is the ultimate sulk, if you’re gonna do it, if you really mean it, why not cut deeper….

Yes. This is what a father tells his son when he sees the cuts and scabs… Because this is how he has always seem mental illness – the ultimate sulk… Easy to judge when you self medicate with drugs and alcohol I suppose…

So I wonder if he hadn’t broken the skin this time because he’s scared? Scared of his dad? Scared to have his question finally answered- he also wrote, sometimes I think my dad just really hates me… Scared that maybe he should be cutting deeper? 

Yes… I’m guessing… Trying to make sense of it… Trying to calm myself before he gets back here… Because I don’t want him to know I have access to his messages… I’ve always told them their privacy is paramount, unless I’m worried about their safety… 

The mental health team will hopefully call tomorrow with their plan. A long road ahead. But a road finally! And I will gather everything and give them what I can. The truth. The real truth. The truth absolutely no one wants to hear. I’m tired of lying, hiding and protecting. And besides, something tells me that’s not working so well….

Some days…

Some days, I just want to post screenshots on my social media, of all the abusive messages. I want to upload recordings of the abuse screeched at me when the kids have him on speaker phone. I want the world to know that he really is NOT the charming guy they see. He is not all the things he tells them that he is – the great dad who just wants to see his kids but I won’t let him… I want them to know that he chose to keep moving further away, that he chooses to not see them on his time off, that he uses me as an excuse, that he has always always always put himself and his own needs first… I want them to know that the charming, easy going, happy go lucky guy they see is a sham – the guy we know and fear is none of those things…. I want everyone to just know and to not just believe the lies that are spun….

Some days I want that… but I know it doesn’t solve anything… and I know it simply brings me to his level… and I know that when I engage in the carry on, it continues – it feeds his need…

But oh… some days….

International Women’s Day… my social media is filled with memes and posts…

My fourth child was due to be born on this day… a boy child, at that…

When I truly consider women in the world today, my brain can’t comprehend that in 2015, women are still treated so poorly by so many. Even those who think they understand, often don’t… As with most things, you have to live it to truly understand it.

So which issue do you tackle? Which do you take to heart…

For me, it will always be violence against women. Violence of any description. I have experienced so many forms of violence that I’m not even sure which memory bothers me most, or if any do any more…

People who know me very well know that my marriage was filled with emotional abuse to a high degree, and also some physical abuse. They know my children have suffered hugely, and that has compounded my own guilt.

Why did I stay? That is the question that I need answered. In particular, why did I stay so long?

So I have been exploring my reasons. I have been exploring who I am. I have researched and read so many studies and articles. Ticked boxes on the checklists. Explored and delved. Corners I’d rather have left dusty.

The check boxes I can’t help but fill though, are the ones which show I married my mother. I continued to live with what I knew.

I can see it now… I can see the parallels and my mind marvels at them. The same quotes I have heard throughout my life fall from their lips. They leave similar voice messages on my phones – messages dripping with vitriol if I have not lived up to their expectations. Messages chipping away at my self worth and self belief… my sanity… Messages and conversations that leave my mind in tatters… still.

I see it when they talk to my children. I see it when my sons emulate their role model. I see it when my daughters accept the treatment. I see it… but I don’t know how to change it.

And therein lies the problem. How does the cycle ever end, if you can’t change the perpetrator?