My new Mantra is 'God give me strength'. I recognise that I am writing a whole heap of jumble but it is becoming very cathartic and I am drinking less because of it. Bare with me for a few days - I will return to superficial matters in due course.
'It' had the boys for the night. He decided to get there hair cut. Both have sported a longer, slightly bohemiom style for some time, so such a decision would be met with some fury even in regular 2+2 family. It is not a decision one would sensibly make without consulting other parent. To do so when you have left the family home, should be suicide - but because I have to remain calm - he gets away with it.
Given that he would never have had there locks cropped without consultation prior to doing a bunk, one can safely assume that this is no more than a ridiculous mind game. Hair grows back. Inform 'It' that since he no longer assumes day to day responsibility, he needs to consult me when making such decisions. I only pray the middle child does not hanker after a tattoo.
Still trying to get some kind of arrangement for seeing children. The conversation is like this
'When are you seeing the children next"
"I don't know, I will call you"
"They need to know when they are going to see you, so that when they ask - I can tell them"
"I don't know - I will have to look in my diary and see what I have got on"
Call me an idealist - but I thought that it would be the other way around. I thought that you would want to see your children and arrange your life around that. I am deluding myself. When I look back over the years - I recall standing on the side of the race tracks with a baby strapped to me. I remember singing 'He'll be coming around the mountain when he comes' with a little boy, at a time when the only time we ever saw Daddy was when we were watching him race.
Nothing changes much in life. Having no desire to stand on the side of a track with 4 children in tow - we simply stopped seeing him and the children got used to only ever seeing him if they were watching him do something. The great thing about deciding to start a company involving bikes was that he finally got to call it work. Finally, you can avoid being at home all together. It is truly ironic that the one thing he claimed to be doing for the sake of his family - is the very thing that destroyed it.
With this in mind - I think I am unrealistic to have blamed all this on depression. Clearly it is a major factor. When I chart the recent decline (Though it started with the first depression 10 years ago), it has to go back to the arrival of the two little ones. Just Nine weeks into their arrival, he walked out, hired a van, took some furniture and left- forgetting to tell the children. He simply could not cope. I have to keep reminding myself that whilst I have no recollection of how I coped - I did and carried on breast feeding throughout to boot. I am a goddess!
Things were improved for a couple of years until we started down the same slippery slope, except we failed to notice. You get used to things in life - they become your normal. Normal was getting used to the shouting. Normal was your children calling at work to tell you that Daddy was being mean. Normal is your children pleading not to be left at home whilst you go to work. My reality dawned last April when he screamed abuse at his 4 year old for being scared of the dark.
We reached a turning point. I had nothing left to give and from here on in his behaviour got stranger and stranger. He refused to acknowledge any depression and as a result of not letting anyone in, he grew lonelier. The more I questioned his behavour and our safety the more he retreated and the more he blamed me. Life for the family of a man with depression is like living on eggshells and it can suck everything out of you. I have nothing for sympathy for someone with depression but the choice to acknowledge it is the real strength of character. Blame and denial do not solve depression they merely allow you to accept it as a way of life.
Never knowing what the next reaction will be, you all withdraw - because it is safer to do so. The children backed away and as a couple - we retreated to separate corners. Sadly, he has been so focused on his own loneliness that he never considered that his family felt the same. He started taking antidepressants but kept it secret -I am not convinced that these drugs do not play a role in this, numbing him to a level in which he feels nothing.
One of the saddest things in this, is that he had a deeply unhappy childhood with a mother that had mental health issues. To this day, he dislikes her intensely and has no trust in her. He pretends otherwise and what he can't see is that he is still seeking her love - yet when she gives it he cannot trust it. BINGO, he has clearly been mistaking me for his mother. Childhood may mould you but what you have a choice in - is what they make you.
I digress, the sadness is that what caused him so much pain as a child, is the very childhood his own children have been living with. His behaviour got stuck into a groove of trying to bury his head in the sand and not accept that his actions may have implications for others. No one could blame him for depression but the choice in acknowledging it was his own. When you don't let people in, they give up trying. When you shout at people, they back off - then you feel lonely because the people that you need to love are the ones that you pushed them away.
Funny thing is that on one hand he blames me for everything and yet the other - freely admits he cannot cope with having a family. I am not sure which one is easier to accept but either way, denial is easier than reality and creating a new life a very, very easy answer.
So to a degree I have deluded myself - it is not just depression that makes a man not share time with his family, it is choice. There should be no get out clause with children. There should be no yellow card that you can flash when it gets to much - enabling you to walk away. Yet there is for some. People rarely make instantaneous decisions, they have normally had the thoughts for some time. When 'It' told me that walking out on Boxing Day was a choice between a car full of tablets or leaving he really just excusing himself so he could dismiss his choices. If he had been serious, he would not be congratulating himself on his mild depression - he would be acknowledging the seriousness and depth of it, for the sake of himself and of the children
In the same sentence, I cannot blame 'It' for the choices in my life. I chose to convince myself that 'it' wanted to be a family man, I choose to blame it all on depression, to excuse actions and blame his childhood. I chose never to confront him on coming home with cars on a whim, chose to seek the company of friends rather than face the reality that 'It' didn't want to be here. I recognise having to take on the reponsibality of the children may have contributed to 'It' deciding that he no longer had to. I am not blameless, we live life by patterns often failing to see the consequences until they are too late.
Truth is better than blame. It is harder to face but easier to accept. We can only be responsible for accepting our own truths.
I remember years ago, when we first moved into our house and had all of the beams sandblasted in one day. I had made a corner partition with bale wrap so that we could sleep; on it were two small children, surrounded by about 10 inches of sand. When 'It' arrived home, I was busily shoveling sand into a wheelbarrow. Looking around at what appeared to be the Sahara, he said
"I am suppossed to be going karting tonight, what should I do"
His question presented a dilemma. It was clear to me that it was obvious what he should do, but in this marriage I had accepted that 'It' would do what he wanted anyway and to tell him otherwise would not change the action, simply make me feel hard done by. My marital survival moto was 'It is not my place to tell others how to behave'. So instead, I looked at him and said
"You must do whatever you think is right for you"
"Okay" he said "I will see you later
Perhaps I should have done what any normal woman would do and hit him around the back of the head with a shovel. Perhaps I should have made him stay and perhaps if I had made his role in life a little clearer, he wouldn't have found it so easy to carry on doing what pleased him. Perhaps though, the truth is that it is not my place to tell someone how I think they should behave - perhaps my place is to accept that some people simply have their own moral code and to them, it is acceptable.
I do ponder if 'it' is slightly aspergic. I am not sure there is any truth to it and perhaps it is me clutching at straws in a desperate bid to find excuses for his behaviour instead of accepting that he is the way he is because he is him. A few hours after a pretty painful multiple birth experience - he dropped me of at the local maternity unit.
"How long do you want me to say tonight" he said
Me, shocked that he saw spending time with me and his new multiples presented a chore for him, replied "If its a problem, don't bother coming".
I sometimes wonder if I will ever have the time to regain my life. The sheer volume of my day to day routine sometimes excludes time to even gain sufficient sleep.
On the flip side, it is sadly ironic that I get more time to myself. In the 5 years since having the little ones - I have have had one night away. Since 'It left' I have had about five.
I met a fiercely intelligent man recently who gave me a quote about the death of the caterpillar, is the birth of the butterfly. That is not quite as poetical as he put it but in essence it is there.
Perhaps this period of my life is the cocoon.