Life Moves On Slowly

Tick tock time goes by.

Pain eases.

Bruises heal.

Memories fade.

Children grow up.

We learn to love again.

We learn to trust again.

We learn to live.

We learn to breathe.

We start walking with our heads held high, no longer treading carefully on those egg shells that plagued us for so long.

But we get pulled back into the depths of our past every once and a while. Not by choice though. No one wants to rekindle old horrors, old memories, abuse of any kind.

And no matter how we try to block the memory or flashback it still bears its ugly head.

We hear or read stories in the media that trigger memories, ugly horrible memories, that take us straight back.

I cringe every time I hear of any sort of domestic abuse and/or sexual assault on women. It breaks my heart that one person can inflict such pain on another. Be so selfish. Pure selfishness.

I have no words of consolation for them. The justice system seems to have little or none either. No empathy.

All I can do is share my story – I am where I am right now, loving and living, breathing easily, no longer walking on those eggshells, free to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I am watching my wonderful boys grow into wonderful young men, and I am teaching those wonderful young men to treat others and themselves with respect, (with help from my loving partner)  and teaching them the importance of consent in relationships.

I am using my past as the marker for their future, changing the negative into a positive.

It is the best I can do, for now. x

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The Aftermath

We met them on the street. We met them at their doors. The No voters.

Not just any No voter, no, these were the ones who tried to convince you that voting Yes was wrong. You’d listen politely, and engage even though you just wanted to walk away from this one.

These were the No voters who no matter what you said they were never going to change their minds.  No matter what literature they had access to or what debates they heard on the TV or the radio they were never going to change their minds.

These were the people who were No voters before there was ever a Civil Marriage Referendum.

These were and are the people who truly believe that being Homosexual is in some way against their religion and beliefs. Oh they have no problem with being told that if God created people he/she also created LGBT people. No, it isn’t the being born this way that they disagree with, it is the living outside of their Catholic beliefs that they have a problem with.

It’s as simple as you must remain a virgin until you get married, to a member of the opposite sex, in the Catholic Church. This is their belief. And I was told ‘plenty of people remain virgins until their wedding nights too!’.

They believe in an afterlife, and believe that if they don’t abide by the Catholic Churchs laws they will not get into Heaven. A simple way to live – virgin – marriage – heaven.

It is as simple as that!

So you see no matter what argument you try to give back they won’t listen. It is against God and the Catholic Churchs teachings.

One such No voter, a 62 year old woman, who phoned me today, told me she voted No because she didn’t think two men should be allowed rear little girls. I replied with the usual, even explaining that even though my fiancee and I are rearing two boys that our gender will make no difference to their upbringing. That I can do the sex ed. talks and even teach them to shave!  That two men, or one man, or one woman will make no difference once the kids are being brought up in a loving home. It made no difference. ‘Oh I don’t have a problem with two women but two men just isn’t right’. I said that was in her own experience of fathers, what if her own husband had to bring up her children alone? wouldn’t he have enough help, if he needed, from female relatives? That it would be ok to rear girls? She had no comment.

She had run out of ammo so she started preaching to me about the ‘virgin – marriage – heaven’ excuse and God.

She spoke in roundabouts, not making much sense after that. But suffice to say she voted No to save us from ourselves, or really she voted No to save herself. Such is her religious beliefs that she thinks that voting No was the best of the two options for furthering her advances into getting into Heaven.

She asked me how would I have felt if it had been a no, I told her I would have felt rejected. She had no comment to that.

Our conversation ended with her giving out about two of her children having children outside of marriage and how awfully sad it was.

I told her we had to agree to disagree.

We said our goodbyes and I hung up my phone, and broke down crying.

I have canvassed on the street and have gone from door to door the past couple of weeks and yes, I have been upset by some of the nasty comments made by No voters along the way, but this one was the most upsetting conversation of all.

Why? because it was with my mother.

I knew my mother would probably vote No because she is a strict Catholic, but last week I had written a letter to both my parents outlining the reasons why it would be a good thing to vote yes, not just for me and my gf but also for my sons, their grandsons.

I put down on paper all about my teenage years, and the confusion I had to deal with around my sexuality as a young adult. I explained how I eventually came out to myself after I had separated from my sons Dad. I argued every red herring the No campaign had put out in the media, and even went over their Bishops pastoral letter and picked the holes throughout it.

I poured my heart out in that letter, something I could not have done in person without getting emotional or without my mother interrupting me. Both my parents read that letter and they still voted no on Friday.

Even though 63% of Ireland voted in favour of equal civil marriage the fact is that my own parents didn’t want it for me. I feel totally rejected by them and it breaks my heart that their own daughter was not their top priority when voting on Friday. My happiness came second to their religious beliefs.

I am sure I am not the only openly gay person who is feeling the way I do this evening. I am sure there are LGBT people all over Ireland who have close relatives or friends who voted No and had the audacity to tell them they did so too.

So I am going to remind myself of something wonderfully positive that happened (and anyone feeling let down today should do this too). Our elderly neighbour rang us at 10 am yesterday morning in squeals of delight congratulating us on what looked like a win for the Yes campaign. She was so happy for us and rang as soon as she heard the updates on the radio, ‘I’m so happy for ye you’d think it was for myself!!’.

So I am going to focus on the positives of this Referendum and not worry about two less names on the wedding guest list – sure haven’t we a wonderful neighbour to invite instead!!

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Pretending to be happy is a struggle.

A glance back in time

My struggle is real today.

Getting out of bed and getting dressed was the easy part, it always is.

Getting the kids out of bed was easy too.

Making breakfast every morning is nothing but routine.

I do it automatically, the same thing every morning, I could do it with my eyes closed.

Every morning the same thing, day in day out.

Smiling, laughing, getting giggles from my boys is never a struggle. They are my life.

Looking across the breakfast at my husband as he helps the toddler eat his cereal and smile when he glances in my direction, that is my struggle.

Smiling like I mean it is my struggle today and every day the last few days, weeks, months, maybe even years.

Pretending to be happy with him is my struggle.

Putting on a brave face to my unhappiness is a struggle.

Going over what I want to say in my head before I say it is a struggle.

I clear the breakfast dishes away while he plays with our children. More giggles of delight at their funny Daddy. He is in great form this morning. It is nice to see him so happy with the boys. It reminds me for a second why I fell in love with him first. He could always make his younger siblings laugh.

The ache I feel inside right now is getting bigger. The memory vanishes as quickly as it appeared.

Falling in love with the wrong person is an awful thing to inflict on oneself. It’s like getting on a roller-coaster and even though you eventually realise you’re on the wrong one you cannot get off. Especially if you are a practising Catholic like me.

I’m finding that a struggle too. Not my faith but my Church. We’ve just been to ACCORD marriage counselling, and although it was great to finally get why I am so unhappy with him and our marriage off my chest it hasn’t helped.

I am trying my best to become a better housewife, on my days off from work. I actually vacuumed the house the other day, which according to him, in that counselling session, is his one pet peeve against me. I put the boys in front of the TV and made time to do a good Spring clean of the house. I was very proud of myself too when I had it finished.

But he went out Saturday night and drank the same as usual and came home in the same drunken state he always does. He suffered the same grumpy hangover the next day and when I said something he didn’t like he told me to fuck off as he usually does. It seemed like nothing I said to him in counselling sunk in at all.

So I struggle on, and keep pretending that everything is alright, just to keep my husband happy.

Hopefully today will be a good day.

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Suicide Always Leaves A Mark

Grief is a funny sort of thing isn’t it?

Days, weeks, months can go by without a thought for those who have passed on, died, gone before us, whatever you like to call it, until the yearly ‘anniversary’ comes around.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling a bit ‘meh’ as my teen says (for everything) and I didn’t know why, and when my partner asked was I ok I couldn’t find the words to explain that feeling.

Today I am still trying to put my feelings into words but having failed miserably all morning I decided to sit and type them out instead.

If you’ve read my blog you will know that I was a victim of domestic abuse, but my abuser was a victim too; a victim of his life before me and his own low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
I tried to understand where he was coming from all the years I spent with him, and I really thought that I could save him, help him, give him the life he craved for so much, but unfortunately I couldn’t do that. In the end I realised that he had to want to do that for himself and no amount of persuasion from me was going to change him.

So I gave up trying. I had to, because in all those years of trying to save him I had started to lose myself.

And of course there were two other small humans in our home I had to think of too.

In my experience this particular man always had one major ‘get-out clause’ up his sleeve whenever things were not going his way.
Words would roll off his tongue as easy as saying ‘fuck off’ and manys’ the time he stormed out of our home, after an argument, car keys in hand, threatening to ‘end it’.
But he always came back.

Threatening suicide in a relationship counts as Emotional Abuse, and it worked too, every time, because as the victim I would back-track whatever it was I was arguing about or I would keep my feelings or the problems I felt we were having in our marriage inside rather than talk about them. I felt that his life was in my hands.

After we separated his threats became actual attempts, ‘cries for help’ some may call them. Personally I believe he was showing me that this was something very real and he was capable of doing, if he really wanted to, if I ‘pushed him’ hard enough. His last ‘cry for help’ was answered, not by me this time but by professionals (our Mental Health Services) thankfully.

I couldn’t do it any longer. I couldn’t cope with the responsibility for this other human beings’ life any more.

The very last time I spoke with him face to face he threatened suicide again if I didn’t ‘take him back’. But this time I stood up to him (I felt safe because we were in a relatives driveway, and there were others nearby) and told him he could do whatever he wanted, that it was his life, not mine and that it was totally his choice, nothing to do with me. We were separated months after all, and he had a new girlfriend.

For the first time in nearly 10 years I felt no responsibility towards him, and it felt wonderful too.

I know that there are those who feel guilty when a relative dies by suicide, thinking ‘what if we did more’ but at the ‘end of the day’ it is their choice. No one can make someone go for appropriate help or do what their doctor asks of them, you can only show them the right direction and be there for them.

And I learned that you don’t stay in a relationship just because they threaten suicide. That’s not love, that’s abuse.

So today I am reflecting on everything, and on my grief.

I am sad today because I am remembering a broken man who couldn’t find it in himself to live any longer, not just for his sons, but for himself.
I am sad because his teenage son has to tell his mates ‘my Dad commit suicide from a medicinal overdose’ (his words, not mine).
I am sad because that same teen misses ‘the idea of a Dad’ because he can’t really remember him when he was alive.
The other fella was only 4 & a half so has very little memory at all of his Dad.
I am sad for the man who once had hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Life has a strange way of pushing us into a certain direction; a collection of happenings push each and every one of us together or apart for one reason or another. Loads of ‘what ifs’ could scramble our brains!

But no ‘what ifs’ here! Today I am going to be grateful for that man; he gave me two wonderful boys.

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Taking Back Control of My Life.

A day in the life lived once upon a time….

Where do I turn to now?

My family? no.

My friends? no.

Womens Aid? no.

The Gardai? definitely not.

The Courts? a complete waste of time.

Who is left? me, just me.

Just me; I have never felt so alone and afraid.

Why so alone you might ask?

My family is still reeling from the shock that I have separated from a man they have known as a gentleman all the years He has been in my life. They cannot comprehend that any man would raise his hand in anger towards a woman, never mind this man. My family, who grew up in a different culture, now find it so hard to understand a situation where someone can grow up in a culture of alcohol, verbal and physical abuse. It is an alien life they cannot even begin to imagine. I don’t know if I have explained clearly enough how afraid I actually am of this man, esp. since our separating from Him. Plus they are 3 hours drive away, might as well be in another country.

My father, God love him, thought he should sit down and talk to Him, reason with Him. Try to convince Him that time is a great healer and that He should move on with His life for His children’s sake. But I wouldn’t let it happen. I want more from my family than mediation, because I know ‘talking’ isn’t going to stop Him from verbally abusing me or threatening my life or making my life a misery. My mother, although strong for me, has a wee gra for Him and finds it hard to see any side other than the side she had seen all these years.

My friends have known Him as a gentleman too; the fun-loving wonderful brother, son and father. It is hard to comprehend His ‘other side’ when not faced with it personally. They have been so wonderful though, with phone calls and offers of babysitting. I even have keys to their homes for ‘just in case’ times. I have stayed over in their homes a couple of nights too, plenty of wine and blubbering. But there are only so many nights I can do that. There is only so much about Him they can listen to too.

Womens Aid is a wonderful help line and service for that first ‘go to’ person when in a horrible situation. But there is only so much they can do. They steered me in the right direction with information about Protection Orders and Safety Orders and going to the Gardai.

I have my own Garda now, which is very restricting because he might happen to be off duty when I need to speak with him. But I have no confidence in the Gardai. They let me down when I needed them so who do I turn to if I feel threatened and scared for my life? I don’t want to be another statistic, another woman let down by the Gardai. I did everything right. I went to the Gardai after an assault and made my statements.

I went to court, and sat in the witness-box across from the man I once said ‘I do’ too. The tears flowed as I described what had happened to me, what He had done and how I was afraid He would do it again. I was lucky, He didn’t deny anything.

The judge spoke to Him, telling Him off like a school principal would talk to a bold student. Warning Him that His behaviour was unacceptable and that the 5 year Safety Order he was imposing on Him was a wake up call to Him to NOT put me in a position of fear ever again or threaten my life verbally or physically.  He was to keep the peace, and the only contact He was to have with me was in regards to our children.

That gave me a little hope, for a few days.

That was until He broke the Safety Order and frightened the shit out of me (another story). I went to the Gardai, made a statement and you know what? NOTHING was ever done about it. Twice He broke that Safety Order, and twice I went and made my statements. And they never ever spoke to Him about it.

I have begun to realise that after making the huge move to break up with Him that the only person who can help me keep away from Him is me. I have prayed for all kinds of help – someone, anyone to make this man who is emotionally and psychologically torturing me to stop. But there has been no one who can, so I have had to turn to myself.

After one particular abusive text message I said to myself ‘enough is enough, why am I letting Him abuse me over and over again and again’ so I replied to Him saying that the only reason I would text Him ever again was if it was regarding our children. I told Him I didn’t want to speak to Him again either, unless it was an emergency regarding the children. I have arranged with His family that any time He wants to see the kids He has to go through them so that I will never have to be anywhere near Him. I will drop them off with a relative of His and pick them up without ever having to see Him. His family have no problems with this arrangement.

I have stopped answering His abusive text messages, and the ones where He is telling me how much He still loves me, and I’ve stopped answering His phone calls and for the first time in years I feel like I am in control of my life.

I am the only one who can stop this bully from doing this to me. I have finally stood up to Him and I feel so much better. I am ignoring His pleas, His messages, His calls and His threats of suicide. I have taken back my own life and become single and independent again. I have myself and two young children to care for.

I don’t need to feel responsible for the adult male I have separated from any more.

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Waking up heartbroken, again.

My so-called alarm has just let a giggle out of him in the bedroom next door. Now his bigger brother has joined in.

So much for the ‘lie-in’ I was promised the other day. By the sounds of the snoring coming from the man lying asleep beside me there will be no chance of that this morning.

‘Womens Christmas’ has come and gone and because He had been working that day He promised me that this morning, because it was a Saturday and He was off today, that He would get up with the boys and let me have the morning off.

But me being me am awake at that first sign of boy activity in the bedroom next door.

I could just wait and see if they wake Him up but I know they won’t. He is in the deepest of sleeps caused by too much alcohol last night. Sure He didn’t get home until 3am, and didn’t come up stairs until well after 4. I heard Him shuffling about downstairs for a few minutes and then heading into the downstairs loo but after that I must have fallen back to sleep until He ventured up the stairs to come to bed. He woke me with the amount of noise He was making.

I had my back to Him, and pretended to be sound asleep, I was good at that. I listened to Him trying to drunkenly get undressed and then flop into the bed. I can safely say He was asleep before His head hit the pillow!

This year it was supposed to be different.

This year He was giving up the ‘drink’ for the New Year and going to try to get fit and lose weight. He wanted to start back with His local team again, one of the lads had been asking Him to re-join. He had been so delighted with that. He also wanted to get fit so He could start playing football in the park with his young sons, something He wasn’t able to do with all the weight He was carrying.

The New Year had started with so much positivity that even I had started to believe that things could actually be better this year. Every morning I woke up with a mantra of ‘2005 is going to be great’.

But eight days in and I know I can already say goodbye to any New Years Resolutions made by my other half.

‘New Year, new me’ He had said. And I agreed with Him. Only yesterday morning we had chatted about trying for another baby (am blaming the hormones on that one!).

Now I know you are saying to yourselves, what’s the big problem with one missed ‘lie-in’? like so what.  How is that going to ruin anything? And so what if He broke His New Years resolution? it was only one night. And He HAD to go out because it was ‘so & so’s’ birthday, He couldn’t let his friend down, and He certainly couldn’t be the only dry shite not drinking, esp. at a party. Blah, blah, blah.

You see I’ve heard it all before. The same excuse every time, the same friends, the same drunkenness, the same snoring, the same broken promises, the same argument’s, And every time He apologizes I believe the same shite. I fall for it every time. And do you want to know why ?? because I don’t have any other choice, that’s why.

I ‘made my bed, now I’ve to live with it’ as best I can. And that’s why I get myself out of the bed this morning and head into the two most important men in my life. When I open their bedroom door I catch them both in the one bed under their duvet playing ‘camping’, along with what seems like every teddy they happen to own all squished in the bed with them. Oh to be a child again, such a wonderful carefree time.

I peep under the duvet to squeals of delight and am not so heartbroken now about broken promises.

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My Sons Earliest Memory

His earliest memory from his childhood turns out to be about me and his Dad.

He said it feels like it was just a dream, that it didn’t happen.

But it did.

He was nearly 4 years old.

It was the day that I finally realised that this man whom I was separated from but still living with had the capability to actually kill me and thought nothing of our two wee boys looking up at him with shock and horror.

The moment He ‘lost it’ and ‘saw red’ – his words not mine.

I had just told him that I felt our marriage was truly over.

He grabbed me by my shoulders and pushed me up against the kitchen presses so forcefully that my head banged off the top cupboard. Then he put his hands around my throat and started to squeeze and squeeze.

As I tried to get his hands away from my throat our 5 year old shouts ‘Daddy, Daddy’, which brought the frightening episode to an end.

I have written about this before but today I wanted to share it again because my now 12 year old still has this memory in his head.

His earliest memory; but it was to be the first and thankfully the last time he was to witness such violence.

My ex. moved out of the house the next day.

Think for a moment of all the children that have memories like this and far worse.

They remember so much, even from such a young age.

I made the decision that my kids were no longer going to live in a situation where memories like this were possible.

And it turned out to be the right one.

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