My ex husband died recently.
Last Saturday I had to tell my oldest son that his dad had died.
We don’t know much more other than it was somehow linked to alcohol.
For those who don’t know my back story, my ex was a daily drinker. He never saw that he had a problem. Not just a drinker, he was an angry drinker who didn’t think twice about mouthing off or getting into fights when drunk. He’d spend nights in the cells and that’s why, I made him leave. We never had the best relationship but I tried my hardest to make it work, to offer support, to get him help. All which he rebuked. However, with a baby, I wasn’t prepared for my son to grow up that way. I wasn’t prepared for myself to go through the same situation repeatedly either.
He got violent a couple of times. Again, I urged him to get help. I threatened to leave, repeatedly to only suffer further control from him and mental abuse to the point I felt too weak to find that I would ever have the courage I needed to seek a better life.
One day, enough was enough, a fight too many and another attack meant that I had to take control. He had his hands around my neck as I was trying to calm down a crying toddler. He ripped the phone from the socket as I tried to call the police and then backed down and walked off, slamming the door behind him as if nothing had happened. The police turned up, blue lights flashing after my call had been abruptly cut short. A woman in tears claiming she was being attacked by her husband and feared for herself and toddler was enough to get an emergency reaction. When they arrived, I was still shaking. Furious, This time I took their advice. Decided to push charges and made an appointment to get an emergency court injunction stopping him from coming to the house or anywhere near me in the street.
Whilst I was talking to the police, he came back, started an argument with them and ended up getting himself arrested – saving the police from having to find him to arrest him.
After that the nasty phone calls didn’t stop but I felt enlightened to be free. To be rid. As hard as they were, in the months that followed I felt happier and more confident than I had in years. I was rediscovering myself to who I was rather than who he wanted me to be.
He kept contact with his son, he had visiting rights to see him within the company of my parents at their home as he was still advised to be kept away from me at all times.
Those first few months were hard. I felt guilty for turning my back on him, knowing it was the alcohol that made him a nightmare. But it was a nightmare I had control over getting out of. I just had to be strong and think of my little boy.
He always had this power, that no matter what, you felt bad for him. He was really charming and at times, so funny but you’d forget that as the bad memories always outweighed the good.
When I first met hubby, my ex and I were on speaking terms and he’d occasionally see Matthew. Hubby and his first meeting was memorable. Not happy to accept I’d moved on and met someone else, he used the meeting with Matthew as an excuse to try and pick a fight. Hubby and I were wise to his ways, and when hubby stood up to him, that was the moment I knew I wanted to be with him for good. I had a man ready to defend me, to not be intimidated by my ex and was willing to support me and Matthew with the baggage of my ex.
Over the years, contact became more and more strained. The ex didn’t like having to have other adults present when he wanted to see his son. This had been part of the divorce agreement that all contact must be supported as I couldn’t trust him with a small child not to drink around him or be a nuisance.
The last time we really saw him was about 7 years ago. Despite phone contact, Matthew did not receive one birthday card or christmas card, let alone a present in those years. Matthew never wanted to talk to him on the phone but when he did, his dad would cry, tell him he loved him and end up getting angry and swearing so Matthew never wanted to repeat the call in a hurry. At the end of the call, he’d want to talk to me, telling me I was the best thing that ever happened to him and he lost that through his own stupid fault. He was unhappy living in London but had nothing better to look toward. Then it would be my fault why Matthew never talked to him, that I’d been telling him lies, that I didn’t want him to have contact. Believe me I tried, but I didn’t want to force Matthew into it when it made him nervous and unhappy every time.
Whatever I did was wrong!!!! That’s how the whole relationship felt from beginning to end.
This year, we really haven’t had much contact at all. The last we heard from him, he called my mum on Fathers Day asking Matthew to give him a call. We were away at the time and never got round to calling him. Not that it was an easy task, he often changed numbers and we couldn’t contact him due to the phone having no signal or being cut off due to unpaid bills.
This Saturday, one of his old friends turned up at my mums house and explained that he’d been contacted as my ex had died on the 27th June and the police were struggling to find relatives to report the death to.
My mum phoned me the same evening just before I went to work. I was in a state of shock and I suppose I still am.
As much as you want to help a person, if that person doesn’t see they have a problem, they will never accept help. As much as you want to support them, they will say they are fine.
As much as you tell them, one day you’ll end up dead because of this, they never believe it.
As much as I said it to him myself, I never really expected that one day to come around.
How do I feel now?
All of the above because I feel like I should be more upset. Because I feel that with the marital history that I should grieve for my sons dad but I can’t. I grew so hardened by his behaviour that I just don’t know what I should feel.
It upsets me to think he may have died alone. It upsets me to think his family can’t be contacted. It upsets me that I worry he took on someone too big and was killed in a fight. It upsets me to wonder what will happen if they can’t find his family and he’ll have to have a council organised funeral. As his ex wife, I don’t feel like it should be my job to take on that responsibility.
It all upsets me, but I just can’t show it. I care but can’t take on the role of the grieving ex or take on what his family should be doing. Even for the sake of Matthew, it shouldn’t come down to an 11 year old child being the next of kin.
Sunday I was teary as it settled in but other than that I’ve felt very little other than worry about Matthew. He seems to be taking it fine too. A couple of teary days for him, a good few hugs and lots of time with me and hubby, keeping things as normal as possible at school and with a few things to look forward to in the next few weeks means he’s coping rather well. It’s not like they were close, had anything in common or had even seen each other in 7 years so Matthew is sad he’ll never have the chance to get to know him when he’s older, but he never wanted to get to know the man he has been in contact with all these years either.
His possessive and controlling nature, meant that I never felt that I anything I did was good enough. Everything I did was questioned. Where had I been? Who had I seen? Who was that I was talking to on the phone? Was I seeing someone behind his back? Then came the jibes, Of course I wasn’t seeing anyone else, who else would want me? Who else would look after a single mum? Why would they want to? Things just chipped and chipped away for 4 years. Maybe that’s why I feel I have no emotion regarding his death.
I feel bad because, I always told him and I meant it, that what happened between us in the past happened. I don’t hate him. I don’t hold a grudge. All I wanted for him was to sort himself out and find happiness. That’s all I ever wanted for him.
I still don’t hate him.
Did I ever forgive him? Not really.
Will I ever forget? No
But I didn’t want him to end up like this.
I truly wanted a good future for him, but it was something he had to take control of for himself. Like the day I chose to end our marriage and put me and Matthew first.
It’s really sad it’s come to this, he could have made things turn around. He could have made a better life for himself but he couldn’t give up the alcohol and now I’ve got to keep telling myself, there’s nothing I could have done differently. This would have still happened at some point. Matthew would have taken it much harder if they were close, so as much as I feel that maybe I should have made Matthew make that last call just after fathers day, that I should have tried to do this or that etc. It’s all If’s and Maybe’s and wouldn’t change a thing.
Sometimes, as hard as it is to accept, things happen. His lifestyle certainly didn’t help and I feel that I can now look upon his death as a very very final chapter in that phase of my life.
It’s strange though. I’ve said it before and will keep saying it, as much as I write about my experiences of domestic violence and mental abuse, I almost see myself in the third person. It seems surreal like it was never really me that had those experiences. I have become so far removed from those memories, there are many I’ve forgotten. There are many I choose not to talk about but it seems so long ago and distanced from me now, it’s almost as if it was another person it all happened to. I suppose I was a very different person back then but it’s hard to believe that I went through and endured so much and to come out of it on a completely different level of happiness.
This has just become one big ramble and I thought, maybe if I wrote about things then I’d have more feeling towards his sudden and untimely death but I can’t grieve for a person who gave me years of fear and feeling bad about myself. He was just someone I spoke to on the phone the last few years.
He wasn’t the man I fell in love with all those years ago. We met when we were both very social. We both drank a fair bit but it worked at the time. Then I had a baby. My life changed entirely. His didn’t. He’d become a bully and his behaviour had worsened over the years.
I want to feel more, I feel heartless and cruel. I feel like despite the life I had with him, I’m the one who has done something wrong yet again and will feel that burden in time to come. I want to feel more but I’m just too numb and emotionally tired for it right now.
Rest in peace, C. I hope wherever you are now brings you the happiness you never had on earth.