For many years, it’s safe to say that I’ve made many bad decisions in my life. From those bad life-choices, there have been many repercussions that I have deserved and had to deal with accordingly. Some been relatively easy to manage, others have been close to breaking me. One of those was a relationship that I got involved in over 8 years ago now.
At the time I was in a very dark place. Like many young males (and as statistics would suggest), I was lost. I was approaching my 30s, living alone, I had dropped out of university and had no career prospects at the time. I was drinking heavily and taking recreational drugs to numb the drivel of day-to-day living. My life seemed to have no purpose.
I was out drinking, constantly. I liked being around people. One night, I got chatting to a woman while having a cigarette outside. She started telling me about how she had just been punched by the friend of a woman. She had just given some ketamine to a woman in the toilets and after seeing the state the woman was in, the friend had come along and hit her in the face. She was telling me this while jokingly showing me the bruise coming up on her eye. While most rational thinking people would have run, I found her exciting. Her fearless attitude got me interested and we started dating. Remember what I said about life choices?
Within weeks I had moved in with her. For years our lives revolved around drink, drugs and arguments. I can’t speak for both of us here but I certainly wasn’t happy. Why else would I be in this spiralling routine? Yet for some reason, despite us constantly separating, we always got back together. I guess in our own messed up way, we craved what each other offered… companionship. It came with a price.
For years, it got worse. For me, despite forming depression and inevitably a breakdown, I thought I had someone. The crazy thing is, I lost all contact with friends and family. Any attempt to socialise with them caused huge arguments. Any prospect of me seeing other people and I would be faced with altercations and accusations which shamefully caused me to lose contact with those I loved dearly. I take full responsibility for letting that happen. I could have been stronger, seen the signals and got out of there. But I didn’t. We certainly shouldn’t have been together.
Things got even worse and life got very bitter. I was being told constantly that I was the cause of our problems, that I was a nobody… that I was worthless. This went on for so long that I started to believe it and eventually had a breakdown. I was a prisoner by my own design with nowhere (or so I thought) to turn.
Despite joking with my parents for years that I never wanted kids, truth be told I always wanted to be a father. I had many conversations with friends of how great it would be and given that I was hitting my mid-30s and my ex was reaching her 40s, despite how venomous and toxic our relationship had become, we both decided to try for a child.
Initially, nothing happened. Then after a few months of trying, she fell pregnant. We were over the moon and momentarily, life couldn’t have been better. Then after a scan, it transpired that the baby had died. We were devastated. After months of what can only be described as living hell, we decided to try again. It wasn’t easy but after time, she fell pregnant again and we seemed to be getting back on track again.
As months went by, we started growing apart again. I was confused. On the one hand, I was excited at the prospect of being a father. On the other, our daily routine was beyond chaos, evil at it’s absolute best.
The moment my daughter was born was the point I knew things had to change. Seeing her for the first time is a feeling I know that I’ll never be able to replicate. It was magical in the purest sense. She was and still is the most beautiful thing to me. She is the sole reason I started to turn my life around and take control. I had a purpose. However it took time for me to realise that and before I got to the point of standing strong, some things happened that took away part of my soul in which I still struggle with today.
Before I tell the next chapter, I need to point out a few things. Firstly, this situation was in, I had put myself there. I cannot blame anyone for it and despite the fact that what happened next made me untrustworthy of my ex-partner (and a lot of woman for that matter), the signals were there had I not turned a blind eye to them.
I could have and (most certainly) should have left. If you find yourself in this (or any similar) situation then get out immediately. I know it might seem like there is nowhere to go, but there is. Be strong, take control and don’t give in to fear.
We design our own paths, for the most part at least. When strong, we are capable of dealing with not only the aspects that we put ourselves in but also those that are forced upon us through the nature of life itself. In moments of vulnerability and weakness, we make poor choices which are why it’s important to help anyone grow stronger, even those you come to despise.
With that said, it’s time to talk about why I started writing this piece. I wrote the previous sentences with ease and words come naturally and with good pace. On reaching this part, however, my pace has dropped hugely. The fact is that what happened next in this chapter nearly ruined me.
As is clear, our relationship was feisty to put it politely. I will never sit there and say that our arguments were one-sided, playing the victim role to draw heartstrings. When it came to throwing hurtful words around, I was just as much to blame as my ex was. That said, no-one deserves to go through what happened and knowing that people have been accused of much worse than I was, only makes me feel heavily for anyone who is falsely accused of anything, let alone something life-changing.
Our daughter was only young when it happened. As usual, we were arguing about something. Up until this point, things had gotten so bad that I was taping our disputes as not only was I doubting what I was being accused of, but also to ensure that if anything happened I would have evidence. This is how bad it had got and I started to see how dangerous her thinking had become.
I remember it was the previous day that she found out what I was doing and things got nasty. When we woke, the arguments continued. I was in the doorway asking why she hated me so much, and she was asking me to leave her alone. I should have, but after all this time of being despised, I wanted to know why? What had I done exactly to be the victim of so much hate? My questioning caused her to slam the door on me. As I moved myself and my daughter out of the way, my toes got caught under the door and after assessing the damage, I took myself off to A&E and was told two of my toes were broken.
Now despite this, it was an accident. Although it could have been avoided, it wasn’t intentional and I know this. But given that I have had to address her rage previously with her punching and knees in the past, I had had enough.
When I returned, our daughter was sleeping and the house was quiet. As I got upstairs, I had every intention of leaving. Although this was an accident, enough was enough. When I got upstairs to our bedroom, she was lying down on our bed. When I told her that my bones were broken and I was leaving, that’s when I head the words that would play heavily on my conscious for many years to come… ‘Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone that you were trying to hit me’.
Despite knowing for certain that I would never raised my hands to a woman (and have always done my best to refrain from hitting a man unless otherwise necessary), I was scared. Endless thoughts began rushing through my mind that includes doubt, shame, worry and many other things that before now, I had no reason to even consider. Had I really become this person? What would people think of me? How have things come to this? All this, despite certainty, that I had done nothing wrong.
I went downstairs. I knew she was lying but what could I do? Why would she do this? Where do I go from here? All this from an accident. A fucking accident. I panicked and texted everyone I knew from friends and family and otherwise. Although I was confident of my innocence, it’s her word against mine. I had to tell people. It was at this point that people started to see her for who she really was.
For years afterwards, I stayed in the relationship for my daughter but it was clear that we were only putting off the inevitable. All this time, there are people that believe me and there are people that don’t. I’ll always have to live with that. Now I’ve learnt to live with this thought but it still plays on my conscience knowing that people think that of me.
The hardest part is knowing there will come a time when my daughter learns what happened and it will be her decision who to believe. Regardless of what conclusion she comes to, it will no doubt hurt her and I have to be ready to help her with those thoughts when the times comes.
Thankfully now, we are separated. The irony in all this is that she constantly calls me a liar whenever she gets the opportunity to communicate. When most bad relationships come to an end, you can walk away and cut all ties with them and move on. When you have kids together, you have to do your best to remain civil in situations you would otherwise avoid. It’s hard, especially when someone is so bitter towards you.
It was extremely hard for me to leave for many reasons. Knowing that I was walking away from what I had always wanted, a complete family. Knowing how difficult my ex was going to make things was another.
I simply want to be there for my daughter and this is more difficult than it otherwise should be. But I know I’ve made the right decision and over time (and when my daughter grows older), she will be able to make her own decisions for who she wishes to spend time with. In the meantime, I have to fight for that access.
If you ever find yourself in a relationship that is toxic or quite simply not right for you, walk away. You deserve better, trust me. Be strong and go and seek the life you desire because you only get one shot at life.
Despite everything that has gone on between us though, I have something beautiful to show for it and that makes life meaningful, regardless of how difficult my ex chooses to make it.