A letter from mum

To My Dear Children,

I’m writing a letter to express my thoughts and feelings regarding all the pain each of us have felt at different stages since the night I left your father.

Several hearts broke as I left a 27-year marriage nearly 4 years this July with your youngest sibling. Please understand it HURT LIKE HELL to leave my adult children behind.

 I was in a self-protective state.

The departure was abrupt and happened without warning no one could have expected it would take place like it did. I would never have imagined that I would be packing suitcases in a hurry while keeping your youngest brother calm as he packed his belongings. Your Dad told me to move out and I had nothing left in me to fight back. I just remember calmly grabbing everything I could think of as he followed me around everywhere like a security guard silently watching and staring. It was dark outside, and your youngest brother was still in his school clothes with unfinished dinner on his plate. I didn’t have a plan I just knew this was it, this was the night that changed EVERYTHING.

The night before I can only describe myself as on high alert sitting on the verge of a mental breakdown. I remember lying on my bed in a foetal position thinking “SHIT this is bad I think I’ve finally reached my pain threshold in this marriage”.   I was crying so deep and hard that it felt as though my body was going to break into pieces. It was like the final breaking point of years’ worth of being mis-treated.

As you would remember our relationship was always on the verge of arguing and fighting. For years I tried to make it work. Whenever I reached out to people at church, they always told me “just keep praying”, “be the wife you should be and God will change him”, “forgive him”, “love him” ….

The loneliness was constant as a young mum of 4 young children.  His routine had him out the door extremely early in the morning and back at home quite late most nights. He never helped around the house when I needed it the most, not through any of my pregnancies or at any time.  I battled with exhaustion and limited resources (money) regularly. I had 4 children under the age of 4 at one stage and as you can imagine that was intense, however I loved being a mum and I adored and loved you all with all my heart and I still do. That will never change.

As the four of you were growing up, I did my best to take care of you, your father made many decisions on his own which impacted us and other people financially.

Those decisions resulted in debt collectors knocking on the door and calling the phone. He left me to deal with all the angry aggressive people on my own while I was a young mum busy taking care of 4 children, my advice he didn’t accept, my worries he didn’t think about, there was never any planning, it always happened on the whim with the bank account being full one minute and empty the next.

Countless times I found myself wondering what I was going to make for dinner when there were no resources. I had to be creative. Often in desperation I had to ask my parents for money to buy food OR petrol and on occasions rent money because we were on the verge of being kicked out.

I always found it so hard to understand that even with all the hours he was away from home “working” money problems continued.

What baffled me often was his willingness to give people large cheques (when cheques were a thing) of anywhere up to $1000 OR MORE when our bank account was nearly empty, and debts were piling up in the special manila folder I put them in. It was thick with notices and it had grown over our first few years of marriage.

His reasoning behind the extravagant giving was always the same. He explained to me that while the money went to people it was in fact going to God. He told me that if he gives to God he would always be looked after.  He would say “my heavenly father will look after me”.

Followed with “don’t you trust him?”.

When I would talk to him about budgeting and paying the debts there were occasions it sort of got set up but then it never lasted long.  He often said, “I can make money as quick as I can spend it”, “don’t you believe that your heavenly father will look after you”. I would tell him BUT God gave us brains to plan. I put my case forward and came out with examples like: if I don’t put meat in the fridge it will go off, God won’t look after the meat sitting on the kitchen bench for days on end it will just naturally turn rotten as I am not looking after it.

When there is unpaid debts and unpaid bills there is no moving forward it just gets worse over time and that manila folder was growing regularly. It wasn’t even what you call “good debt”.

Dad created a lot of enemies back then due to the debts and I was just trying to be a good mum and a good wife during INCREDIBLE STRESS. I was stressed to the max for so much of those years you were growing up.

It was when I was around 26 years old that all the stress up to that point even started affecting my body. I started having “panic attacks”. I thought I was dying until I went to the doctor who explained what they were all about and how I would need to manage them.

Then I found that I had to deal with being a mum, wife, under heaps of stress and now managing panic attacks. Worse part was there was no support from him, more often then not only silence. Silence as he decided not to communicate with me and complete silence as he was barely ever at home.

We moved many times and life got lonelier. It was taking care of all the children that gave me a purpose. I was now finding myself in different states getting further away from my own family. As we moved away further, he would regularly talk about my family back in Canberra and make them out to be bad influencers, especially because they didn’t go to church. He would make me feel as though spending time with them would turn me into a sinner. Stress and loneliness started turning into bouts of depression. I would isolate myself often as I found it hard to be around people who had a normal life.  Things were always going wrong. He would use those opportunities to say, “it’s because we are Christians, so the devil is attacking”, OR “your depressed because of your childhood hurts that haven’t been healed yet”.

Hearing those things made me try harder and pray harder. (That’s also what you are taught in church to do, right?)

I found myself regularly in a wardrobe balling my eyes out as everything felt so dark all too often.

It was as though a thick black cloud followed our family around from state to state.

Usually when we argued I would be the one begging him to understand how I felt. I would give in and apologise to make things better, he rarely apologised. After a session like that I would walk away feeling as though nothing was truly resolved. It was just a temporary band aid to keep things going a little longer. For years I was made to feel and believe that all our arguments were my fault. That I was too sensitive.

Unfortunately, he could not understand how I felt under all that pressure and stress of dealing with life and dealing with the aftermath of his decision making and his mis treatment of me.

Throughout all those years I started to lose respect and trust.

I couldn’t stop that process it naturally started happening.

I yearned to know what it would be like to respect and trust a husband.

But it just never happened and that wasn’t my fault.

Of course, there were some happy times and I enjoyed those moments when it seemed life was suddenly OK. But the thing is life went from extreme LOWS to extreme HIGHS like a roller coaster.

In those HIGH moments I would convince myself that our relationship was getting better.  It was only temporary it never lasted long.

As the years continued, we moved to QLD and family was further away and loneliness was constant.

It was in QLD that I began to realise it wasn’t always my fault. I started to realise that he was always twisting my words and not really listening to me.

I would start to stand up for myself and say things like: “why are you speaking to me that way, it hurts and I can’t tolerate it anymore”, I would question him rather than believe everything he was saying to me. He always thought he had all the answers, but no one has all the answers. We all need to take some criticism in life. He wouldn’t accept my thoughts or views. He had a way of communicating which always left me feeling that he had a close relationship with God, and I didn’t. That God spoke to him and he knew everything. As though he was truly above us all and that we needed to listen to him.

The more I questioned him the worse things started getting.

I started finding my voice and realising that I mattered, that I shouldn’t be mis-treated, and I certainly didn’t deserve it.

We moved from one suburb to the next in QLD and our relationship progressively got worse. After we had settled in the second rental in QLD for some reason, he decided it was time to target his daughter and start mis-treating her. I watched him treat my daughter so badly each day. She came to me upset and hurt more times than I can count. As I watched him treat her badly it started reminding me of me, of how I felt when he treated me that way.

Whenever I would talk to him about his mistreatment of her it didn’t do anything.

Our relationship was never healthy and then each afternoon he suddenly started coming home looking at me suspiciously. I would feel this overwhelming sense of anxiety. To the point where if I was in bed and he came home my heart would start beating very fast and I would just get nervous and worried/anxious.

Then it was the move to the third house in QLD where things got crazier.

I remember getting weird text messages from him as he was in Sydney for a few days while I was packing up the house getting things ready to move.

I remember one day I walked out the back where the creek was and just cried my heart out knowing deep down somehow that our marriage was over. That it had finally got to the breaking point.

Then we moved to the next house and of course things were tense between us.

I tried one night to talk with him as I always did, and he immediately started putting it all on me as he usually did.

That’s when I lost it emotionally and mentally and went into an uncontrollable cry which felt like a nervous breakdown.

I went upstairs to our new bedroom and just lay there on my bed crying so deep and so hard. I knew this was it I couldn’t continue life this way. It was hurting me too much and I was damaged and broken.

The next night I was upstairs laying on your youngest brothers’ bed as we had just both watched a movie; he was still in his school clothes and I heard your father come home.

I had been watching videos on my phone about emotional abuse. I had done so many times before desperately trying to educate myself on what the signs were and how it all plays out.

I was watching one on my phone when he turned up.

Obviously, he didn’t like it and then came over and tapped me hard on my forehead asking me to turn it off.

I stood up for myself and minutes later he approached me while your youngest brother was present stating he wanted me and my daughter to move out.

I asked why his daughter? he said because I know you both talk about me behind my back. (yes, we did talk about him behind his back when she was expressing her hurt to me of his mistreatment).

Your youngest brother started crying and saying, “are you and mum getting a divorce?”, he said YES and it’s because Dad is a bastard.

Suddenly realising that I had nothing left in me anymore to even try, let alone the mental capacity to handle the situation anymore I went into a bubble.

I calmly asked your youngest brother to pack some things into his bags and said everything was going to be alright.

I went into my room and started putting clothes into suitcases.

He stood and watched me everywhere I went like a security guard.

He followed me silently around the house as I took some of my things.

He asked for all the keys back.

I found all the keys I could think of and put them all in his hand and said “ now that I am leaving, just know I will never be coming back”, by that I meant back into the relationship. I had no idea what I was going to do from there I only had $400 dollars in my purse due to selling stuff on gum tree prior to moving.

I drove around for hours with your youngest brother trying to find cheap accommodation.

Cheapest was $149 for the night. I wasn’t going to sleep in the car.

The next morning after little sleep, he had already locked me out of the bank account.

He never once asked how your youngest brother was.

My family obviously worried said just come to Canberra and stay for a few weeks to figure it out.

I had no choice, so I drove to Canberra.

Then I tried coming back to be closer to you all and that was my intention.

Over the phone we discussed that I would come up to QLD while he was in Sydney for 4 days and this would give me the opportunity to stay at the house to try and find another rental.

He was going to put part of the bond from the other house into my bank so I could pay bond for a house in Brisbane.

It was all settled one morning over the phone, but then that didn’t last, that night I started receiving the weirdest text messages and then it turned into NO you can’t come here anymore I don’t feel right about it.

Your youngest brother was devastated and so was I.

I had to remain strong, I had to put a brave face on and ignore all my heart break in being separated from my adult children.

I stayed with my family until I finally got my own unit while on Centrelink payments. After rent I only had $150 to live each fortnight which was electricity, food and petrol.

In a matter of weeks after moving into my unit whilst dealing with a fractured foot, I also found out that your Dad had already found himself someone. That he had already taken this person to the house in Brisbane to meet you all.

Whack!!! another low blow.

But I kept strong for my youngest. He became my focus as I needed to make sure life was going to be OK for him.

Being a mum can be one of the hardest jobs in the whole world. Sometimes you feel judged for the decisions you must make. Then often I remind myself that had I stayed I would have been admitted into a mental health ward and what good would I have been then?

Usually only those that have been through similar experiences truly get what it is like to be in an unhealthy marriage. It is nearly 4 years since that night now and my life has moved forward drastically. People that see me on a regular basis can tell how I am a different person now. I am not the same as I was then. I even have a new laugh. I smile more often, I’m relaxed. Life is Good. I will stand up for myself much quicker and won’t put up with disrespect from anyone. I did my time. No more begging from me. No more justifying my decisions. I can go to bed and sleep at night knowing in my heart of hearts that I made the best decision of my life when I let go of being mis-treated.

I have worked very hard to get to where I am now financially and emotionally. I can say that I am PROUD of myself too! Proud in a healthy way. I got through some of the toughest moments in life. I won’t put myself in a situation to be mis-treated, now that I have worked out my value as a human being. Your father had a way of portraying me as a weak broken person. I am not that person anymore. I am wiser, stronger and have moved forward into a new life. My love for you all has never changed. You are all on your own paths with choices to make and I can only hope that you continue to make the best decisions possible for your future. I’m sorry that you have all been heart broken in different ways. I only hope your hearts will one day be completely whole again.

Always remember I love you each and every day Xxxx

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