Divorce. Decisions. Darkness.
When I separated (for the last time) from my 1st husband, it was messy as fuck. During our seven year marriage, I found myself fighting with him all the time over his ‘discipline’ of our kids. There were times when I got physical with him because of this.
The final straw for me was when he picked up one of the boys by the ankle to whack the crap out of his bottom – all because the boys wouldn’t go to sleep. I lost my shit that night – got physical and kicked his arse out of the house. I literally packed his shit in garbage bags and threw them over the balcony.
Then things got messy – he wasn’t going to give up, he hounded me by coming to the house at all hours. He threatened to kill himself, kill me and a whole lot of other threats. Then he started making claims on our ‘stuff’ – so he came around and we argued about what he could and couldn’t take. He then started hitting me and I ended up bashing the shit out of him and throwing him down the stairs and chasing after him while he ran to his car to take off. I was losing my shit over everything. The way he treated the boys yet still thought he should have all the rights etc.
There was no way to ‘hide’ the violence from the kids because they were either the recipient of it or they would see me defending myself from their father. On one particular day, my father in law rang the police saying that my ex was on his way to our place with a gun saying he was going to kill me. We had an entire SWAT team arrive at our house. The kids were terrified. We were advised to leave the house until they had found my ex.
Eventually the kids and I moved to a new home while my ex and I battled for custody. It was messy and drawn out. Eventually I won full custody with my ex having fortnightly access (despite the reasons I left him). At this stage he was living with his mother and I felt OK about the kids being there.
Then my eldest son started insisting he wanted to live with his dad. His dad had been making all kinds of material promises and despite everything my son loved his dad and wanted us to get back together. That was not going to happen. I also would not let him go live with his dad.
My ex kept ringing me with threats etc and then over the next few months, he started to act nice, reasonable and the kids seemed happy when they saw him. They said dad had not smacked them or yelled or anything.
My ex then told me he had been getting ‘help’ with his anger and I thought that was great. I had started seeing someone else and my ex finally stopped fighting the divorce and signed the papers.
My eldest son was not happy at all about any of it and again insisted he wanted to live with his dad.
He was understandably devastated that his parents were not going to get back together.
The worse decision I ever made in my life was to let him go.
To be totally honest I was tired of the fighting, the ‘competition’ of who was the better parent and I was also experiencing mania – the depressed, disconnected and irrational thoughts kind of mania. Many people think mania is all high energy and happy but it’s not.
Then on the weekends when the boys would go to their dads I was drinking and smoking pot – a lot. I wasn’t coping at all with what was then my ‘very hidden’ bipolar diagnosis. I was just a mess.
I was going through a particularly rough time with my on again off again boyfriend and had my ex on the phone all the time about one thing or another. He was trying to get all the kids off me.
I had a brain snap and packed the kids stuff up and went and dropped them over to my ex. Then I went and got shit-faced for days. My on again off again boyfriend was back on the scene and I was particularly fucked off when he said he knew I had given up the kids to be able to see him more. I found it insulting and a sign of his over inflated ego at the time. He did not have a clue what I was going through and it would take him many years to recognise or suspect my mental illness.
It only took a month before I could not stand it any longer and wanted my kids back. I succeeded in getting my youngest back – I simply wouldn’t return him when I took him for a few days. It wasn’t much longer before my second son wanted to come back and live with me. My eldest however would not leave his dad and ‘make him feel alone’ – they were his words and I would hear them several times over the next few years.
My eldest simply did not cope well being away from his brothers or his mother. However he would not accept any other solution than for his mum and dad to get back together. When he would come to visit he would have loads of fun and a few times he indicated that his dad wasn’t treating him well or was angry all the time and wanted to come live with us. I would of course say yes and when it was time to do it my son would change his mind.
I became aware that my ex had become involved in the bikie gangs again (as he was when we first met when I was 17). I also was becoming more aware of my eldest becoming more like his dad. When he was a teenager he had told me that his dad was ‘treating me like an arsehole’ and I again told him to come home. Again he refused. At the age of 16 his father had tried to hit him and my son bashed the crap out of him to the point of his dad hiding under a table.
My son grew up with a chip on his shoulder (with good reason I think) but he also picked up the worst parts of myself and his dad and I think he was also envious of the family life that his younger brothers had.
His dad couldn’t always afford things so we would help pay for gifts, school camps etc but I don’t think my eldest ever knew this – I didn’t think it needed to be said.
In his teenage years his dad allowed him to pretty much do what he liked and also involved him in illegal and shady stuff particularly with cars. My offer of coming back to me still stood and was still rejected.
As the years went by we would see each other and as he grew and moved into his own place we would visit. Then we had a blow up about my youngest son and on that day he stood over me shaking uncontrollably with rage and told me to get the fuck out of his house. he was very close to hitting me. His pregnant girlfriend was in their bedroom and I did wonder whether my son’s temper was ever directed at her.
Then my first grandchild was born and my son rang me to happily tell me. I was shocked because the last time he saw me he told me to get the fuck out of his life. Now he was saying things are ‘cool’ and wanted me to see his child. I got in the car with my daughter and mother to go to the hospital two hours away.
The years went by and two more kids were born and whenever I was in their hometown (where all my sons lived) I would try my best to visit them all in one day allowing time for the four hour return trip home. They rarely made the trip to see us and of course I thought nothing of it because life gets busy with kids. What I wished for and would only happen occasionally was to just meet all the boys in one place so I wasn’t just dropping in. We also had my husbands kids to visit. But my sons have spent years where they are not speaking to each other or have had the shits with each other, so it was hard to see them all together.
I will also admit that at times all I could cope with was a visit to one of them and their family because I myself wasn’t mentally well and it was exhausting to put my game face on for everyone. My bipolar remained hidden until 2016.
I am the first to admit that I know my eldest didn’t feel a strong bond with me because he didn’t live with me full time. Wenever he was doing things that I thought were shady he would just tell me he wasn’t that stupid to get caught or had it all under control. He would boast about things he had done. I also found his general attitude to women to be very much like his fathers – not a good thing.
So why am I writing about all of this now?
Because for more than two and a half years my son has not spoken to me. The last time was when I rang him for his birthday. He was fine on the phone and said he would come for a visit soon. My dad died in April 2016 and my son was there at the hospital, visited our house and was part of the spreading of the ashes ceremony. Then my calls and messages were going unanswered. Then I had a psychotic episode and I messaged him to ask what the hell was the problem he had with me. He replied the next day to say that there was no problem, he was just busy working and forgets about people. Everyone thought I was just being paranoid when I said he simply doesn’t care about me.
My son is now in prison and I have not heard from him.
I gave my child to his dad without realising as a young mother what the real ramifications were – that he would be lost to me and ruined emotionally.
Regrets – people say you shouldn’t have any. Yes you should – especially when it means you should take responsibility for your own stupid decisions.
This is me owning up to mine.