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

Posted in relationships

Wisdom in the Ordinary

If you were to grab a set of scales and measure how many ordinary days exist compared to the extraordinary what would you find? I have no doubt after spending over four decades on planet earth that the scales measuring the ordinary days would far outweigh some of the extraordinary times of our lives.

Life is jam-packed with ordinary moments. Grocery shopping is but one of them.  A lot of people I talk to express a certain dislike towards shopping, especially for the groceries.  We all have to do it, unless of course you have escaped it with the convenience of online shopping. Grocery shopping is one of the most ordinary weekly tasks we accomplish. Not too much thought is given for this vital and ordinary chore and until recently I hadn’t thought too much of it myself.

If you have been following my blogs in the recent months you would be aware of how much my life has changed. I live in a different state with my nine year old son as a single mum. All of my adult children live approximately 16 hour’s drive away. Given this huge adjustment everything about what my life previously was no longer exists. No longer can I simply hang out with my adult children. No longer can I pop over to my favourite shopping mall to do the groceries. No longer do I go to the same church. No longer do I go out for coffees with my daughter and have laughing fits enough to provide a serious abdomen workout.

A few days ago I saw a t.v. commercial which reminded me of the vegetable and fruit shop I used to go to. The ordinary suddenly held meaning!!!  All of a sudden I was transported to that particular shop in my thoughts and began picturing all the aisles filled with fruit and vegetables. I could picture the checkout that I would stand at to pay for my groceries. I remembered life as a complete family and re lived a moment as I carefully choose all the ingredients to cook a meal for dinner. My attachment to that fruit and vegetable shop is from a time when we were a complete family.

The fruit and vegetable shop is only one example of many ordinary moments that have recently invaded my thoughts. It isn’t easy to let go. Despite all of the hurt that I have been through in my marriage it amazes me how my mind can wander to everything that once was! It is difficult to let go of a family that once lived together sharing special moments. I loved being a mum to my children and I still do.

It seems that regardless of the hurt or pain of the recent past I often remember the ordinary. Little did I know that my usual grocery shopping would not only change location but would be downsized for feeding two? All of the ordinary moments hold extra meaning for me today. Perhaps remembering the previous ordinary moments helps me to adjust to the loss I have experienced providing a moment of connection to my adult children whom I miss a lot.

It seems that the ordinary days are just as important as the extra ordinary. In any given day the common thread connecting Monday to Sunday are people! People hold value, which is why it hurts so much when a relationship breaks down. I don’t think anyone intentionally sets out to ruin a relationship. Unfortunately life happens! People make choices. Those choices have consequences whether good or bad. It is the bad consequences which are very difficult to un~do.

The ordinary days provide opportunities to build trust and connection with the people in our lives. Often people forget or don’t realise there is consequences to what they do in the ordinary moments of a relationship. Consequences have a way of sticking around no matter how much you want them to disappear.

TRUST is a big one!

When a person’s trust has been broken too many times there is no magical super glue to put it back together. If I am in a relationship with someone who continually breaks my trust it won’t matter how desperately I try to trust them again, the consequence is broken trust. There will be reservation on my end. I will not open myself up to the other person completely. A relationship without trust is a disaster waiting to happen. It creates distance.

Relationships need trust, respect, honesty, support, love, care, appreciation, value and forgiveness. In the ordinary moments relationships are built on these qualities. Families fall apart when in the ordinary moments the essential values are neglected.

A healthy relationship or family need more than vegetables and fruit to thrive. Each person in the relationship must provide the qualities needed to keep it thriving. A relationship takes two people. Let’s face it we have more ordinary days than extra ordinary! What we do every day either builds or tears down. When one person in a relationship puts in and receives nothing but emptiness and hurt in return it is only a matter of time before a break up completes the struggle.

Wisdom tells us that since there are more ordinary days than extra ordinary we shouldn’t take them for granted. Ordinary days are the building blocks for the extra ordinary. What we do or say today will matter tomorrow. We need to take the time to consider what we want our tomorrow to look like?

Time is precious and we don’t get another practise run. People should be the focus of our ordinary days. Our relationships and families need to be on top of the list. While we can’t do anything about how others prioritise the most important people in their lives we can choose to do something about our own choices and priorities. Occasionally it can mean losing someone from your life. It’s never easy losing someone yet if there is anything positive that can come from it, is finding out what you do or don’t want in a relationship. In my young days I was broken and hasty! Now that I have lived life a little I’ve finally realised what it is that I do need. What I need is to live a life that doesn’t move away from trust, respect, honesty, support, love, care, appreciation, value and forgiveness.

When you finally figure out what you need then it’s time to hold onto those values tightly. Don’t let them go or be trampled on by anyone. There is nothing more painful than being in a relationship with someone who holds different values.

Choose wisely in the ordinary moments.

Posted in Grief

The Bitter & Sweet taste of December

The most sentimental month of the year is upon us…. December….

December sneaks up quickly every single year. Most people tend to shake their heads in disbelief that the year is nearly over. As you consider the other eleven months of the year it is December that succeeds at building anticipation into the lives of people. The anticipation begins in the shopping malls. Christmas decorations create an atmosphere of joyful celebration. Individuals visiting shopping malls may be battling all sorts of issues in their lives or their families yet the Christmas spirit provides a tiny distraction from the reality facing them.

Boxes marked ‘Christmas deco’s’ are pulled out of storage cupboards. These boxes are filled with Christmas treasures collected over the year’s. Some of the decorations may hold special meaning especially the ones handed down by someone in the family or the ones handmade at school by young children. The inside and outside of homes are decorated and tell a Christmas story unique to each family.

Over the years life changes and life happens. These changes can affect our families and lives drastically representing various joys, challenges and events. Depending on the types of challenges and events we each face determines the various emotions we have to deal with.

The intense and difficult events we face, the ones that take the wind out of our sails can leave us hesitant at facing the month of December.

December represents family, celebration, giving, sharing, holidays, laughing and fun. It also represents the end of the year. Most people begin considering what the next year will look like while others go a step further and make plans.

If you have been blessed to have had a relatively pain free year then Christmas is always a great way of winding it up. A good year lays the foundation for excitement to build in the home. Family members begin thinking about which gifts to buy each other. Christmas presents are stashed in secret places to keep them hidden. The smells of Christmas cookies or cakes send out signals from kitchen windows signifying the arrival of this special anticipated day.

I’ve had some difficult Christmas’s in times past in which the lack of money made it difficult to relax. Or the crazy Christmas house move that invaded all of the typical traditions that would have normally taken place, leaving everyone feeling as though Christmas didn’t really happen. Those types of Christmas’s although challenging were lived through as one family unit, a family of seven.

We all hear about families that break down. Sometimes we hear about it and gasp in shock at the news.

The shock and surprise is even worse when it is your own family that has broken apart. This is the reality of my year.  My recent blogs share about this journey filled with more downs than ups.

Christmas time marks five months of being a single mum to a 9 year old. All four of my other children are adults and live in Queensland. This Christmas I will be celebrating with my parents and sisters including their families. We won’t be alone. Knowing that I won’t be celebrating with my adult children is daunting. Just the thought alone has sort of been put to the side for the moment as I don’t want to feel the hurt of that too early.

On a normal Christmas month I would have already put up all of the decorations in the house and around the house. In fact that always happened on the 1st of December. I was never one to have had the presents purchased early. This would normally happen about a week before Christmas. I would spend hours with my husband shopping for all of the kids. We would stop for coffee on regular intervals just to keep our energies up as we navigated the shopping crowds. It was fun in a crazy way. I would also purchase all the ingredients to cook up a Finnish feast for our large family to enjoy!

Given the massive changes this year my Christmas is very different. No crazy decorations around my small two bedroom unit, just a small tree. No crazy Christmas shopping for all of the kids. Just a little shopping for my 9 year old as my peanut budget restricts me. For my adult children it will be equally hard and difficult as they spend Christmas without their mum and young brother. That thought alone breaks my heart in two.

As others plan and consider the New Year I can’t even fathom the year ahead. I’m still dealing with loss and hurt. While the pain has lessened it hasn’t disappeared. Some days I just hurt. It is no easy task to have had your identity as a mum of a large family switched to a mum of one 9 year old. My identity has changed and my responsibilities. I’m also my son’s only provider financially and emotionally. He is the one I am focusing on for the time being.

When you are in the middle of heart break the anticipation of Christmas becomes diluted. It is diluted in pain and hurt. My story is one of many. Many families experience breakdowns, tragedies and loss.

If you are one of the many who happen to be experiencing heart breaking events leading up to Christmas I only hope that my blog has a way of letting you know that you are not the only one. You are not alone. Others too are facing a Christmas not quite the same as previous ones. And that’s OK. There are no rules for how to feel. Allow yourself to feel the pain and the hurt. Talk about it with your family and friends.

As I consciously repeat to myself over and over again that “this pain will pass”, I’m aware that there are no short cuts through. I acknowledge my pain and have come to accept that this Christmas will be different…..

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥