A story

Some time ago – about 7 years ago, I met a man. At the time he seemed like everything I could want. He was handsome, charming, kind, thoughtful, strong emotionally, and interested in my children. He listened to me , was gentle with my emotional state, cooked for me, made me laugh and cherished me. I fell so in love with this man. I felt ‘God’ had smiled on me in my most difficult time and delivered a person who could and would help and support me raise my family. He fell in love with me too, and I provided a home and stability that he had ben missing. And as his career was at a bit of a low point, I also provided funds – for food, for wine entertainment, and soon for everything. 

All I really wanted was someone to love, and to love me and the kids. I thought, at 45 I had found it at last. 

Everything was just dandy really for 18 months… and then, then the cracks started to appear. The first time we argued, he refused to speak to me for 3 days. We went on a holiday of a lifetime touring americas east coast. He got in a mood about the boys and I enjoying a splash in the river on our way to the campsite – and drove off and left us to walk there. It was about 10 miles. Son #3 was just 7. 

After I “forgave” that, the instances of alleged poor behaviour of son #1 started to escalate. He was 14, and not easy. But he was ostracised, picked on, bullied and intermittently forgiven… I became increasingly discomfited by the “Victorian father” behaviour. I noticed more how little his own children were actually in contact, and small things slipped out when we did see them. Quickly I realised that “talking” things through was a non starter as the man would shout at me, throw things at me and refuse to listen to my opinion. About my children, in my house. 

I became increasingly unhappy, stressed and sad. I stopped drinking in an attempt to bring some clarity … and quickly had a nervous breakdown. I was off work for 6 weeks. I told people I was over stressed at work, but it wasn’t true. It was all about home. I felt so trapped. I loved my son, and felt he was being treated badly; I had loved the man, and I couldn’t believe that he was not who I thought. I began to think the only option I had was to jump from a high building. That thought grew, and I knew I was significantly unwell. I sought help, dragged myself back to coping – and started drinking again. 

By now son #2 was well into puberty and becoming another person to bully. Interspersed with these episodes were brief glimpses of the man I once knew, the man I thought I loved. The man who was kind and helpful. The man kept needing money for projects, I kept icing him money. I earn well but found myself in increasing debt, talking to the man about earning for himself resulted in more tantrums and throwing things, I learned not to mention it, to carry the burden alone. 

Until close to a second breakdown I confided in T. T who was a friend of my ex partner but a man I felt safe with and trusted,T who offered no judgement and no solutions but offered me space to cry and start to unravel the tangled horrific mess. 

And then I got sober. 

This story is of course mine, and that of my ex partner. 

So sad, and yet so common. Just a common or garden tale of a vulnerable woman and a man who abused her, and her children. 

So sad, but it’s behind me now. And I will not look back any longer. The rage and anger seems spent. There is nothing left right now, no emotion, no anger, no hurt, just a little sadness and a big dose of relief that it’s over now … 


    • Thank you. I feel much better now.i struggled so hard to “make” it work, to “make” him understand … naming him / the relationship as abusive, accepting that, and placing the blame for that where it belongs …. I’m inching towards peace … and forgiveness (for myself)

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  1. Oh Lily you are so honest and true about your bad times with this man. How you forgave him for driving off and leaving you all and a young son and 10 miles to walk ill never understand God Bless You. X

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    • Yes Mary, in the middle of Yosemite national park… but then he said he had come back “really quickly” and had waited for us – i of course had started walking. When we finally made it to the campsite, (we hitched a lift for the last 5 miles) we could not check in as we had no ID … all in the car … he rocked up several hours later and basically blamed me for leaving the river side where we had been … I really really got angry…… he sulked and slept in the car for two days (while we were in the tented camp) 6 days into a 3 week holiday .. yes I “forgave” him… I would never ever do that again.


  2. Lily, what a wonderful strong woman you are. The thought of you and your boys walking all the way having been abandoned by that man is heartbreaking. But you’re free of him now. Your strength is amazing. You are doing so well. Xxx


  3. i am so sorry to hear this, my heart is with you. i, as a kid, was on the receiving end of a situation very similar to this and you are an incredible mother and woman for taking the steps you have taken. sending you hugs from out west ❀


  4. I really identified with your story and suspect many other women will too. We tend to ignore behavior that doesn’t fit our perception of a man we “love” who no longer has the traits we believed him to have. I find myself unable to leave a very self destructive relationship right now. I’ve married and divorced this man twice. Our second divorce will be final Sept 6th. Yet I’ve let him live here because I have made excuses for him so many, many times. I can only hope your resolve sticks, Lily. Maybe it took seeing your children suffer to help you make the final decision to end the relationship. We are often kinder to our kids than we are to ourselves. Please keep us apprised of your progress. Sobriety helps us see what we don’t want to see.

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    • Dear Marilyn, I identify so closely with what you have written. And I understand how hard it is to prioritise yourself. Are you having any kind of therapy ? It has helped me so so much to see how I have allowed my boundaries to be compromised and how abusive relationships work, in an almost co-dependent way. I had a breakdown ( for want of a better word) the first time I got sober. I used to believe it was despite my sobriety, now I know it was because I was sober I could SEE, but I could SEE no way out….. sending you my hugs and very best wishes. Your life will be so much beter without this man, its hard to get there, but it IS so worth it. Lily x


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