A letter from my mum about dad

I knew I picked up my jealousies from dad, Brian, from an early age.  I wanted to hear from mum about living with it. I remember him being jealous of her creativity and how she had shrunk her creative life to a draw next to the bed. This is what she wrote. It's very long for a blog post but for me it's very important for so many reasons, including  some very personal details from inside a long term marriage. Thank you so much mum, I have nothing but love and respect for your journey. This light you've shone on your own relationship inspires me to make sure I don't perpetuate the cycle of violence and disrespect that I saw as a kid. 

Selfie with mum in the dark Jan 2015 at her place.

Selfie with mum in the dark Jan 2015 at her place.

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My life with Brian

Marian Sidwell

A response to a request from my son to write about living with a jealous man

I knew I had the ability to write long before it surfaced to its true potential.  I tried, oh how I tried.  Little scraps of reminder notes of my life slowly began filling a drawer.  I dreamed that one day I would pull pieces out one by one and, in jigsaw fashion, I would eventually write my story but that eventually became a long time in the making.  It was in the days before home computers and any time my husband saw me relaxed on the bed beside that little drawer with pen and paper in my hand it was like a red rag to a bull.  “Are you writing that shit again?”  Slam of door and inspiration gone.   I should have known……I should have known… it happened so often but……………..  

I was only eighteen years old when I met the man I should never have married.  The signs were there but I did not act upon them. I was too immature to remove the rose coloured glasses I wore.  His intense jealousy and mistrust was staring me in the face and now looking back I realise, being little more than a teenager, I wasn’t equipped to handle it; it was as simple as that.

Jealousy was there so early on in just my ordinary family life situations.  From day one my two teenage sisters became his target.  I couldn’t believe the anger he showed when I mentioned we had taken a tram into the city together to do some shopping.  It was just something we had always done.  Doubt entered my life then.  I remember joking with my sisters about his probable image of us in the city standing on a corner swinging our keys. I should have confronted him then or shown him the door but I didn’t; I married him.

Over the years the jealousy manifested itself out to friends and work colleagues; he sneered at them all and verbally put me down in public at every opportunity. I was not imagining it.  One male husband of a friend said I was wasted on him.  Another said I do not deserve the treatment in public he dished out to me.  Another female friend said no matter how horrible he was to her she would always be my friend.

Mistrust and jealousy surfaced with everything I did; in the workplace, administration positions in clubs.  Criticism from him too was a constant – from the garden, to home decoration, patio planning and the building of it.

Surprisingly though when our children were young he was a wonderful father to them. I sit here searching my soul and ask myself was it because they were his untouchable possessions and the only true love he ever had?

There are many other painful instances but three are deeply embedded within me. 

(1)  One of my sisters married a policeman who was an alcoholic; whether she knew that at the time of her marriage I do not know.  Prior to her marriage she lived an independent life sharing apartments with girl friends whom, my husband insisted, were all prostitutes; my sister included.  She suffered a physically brutal marriage which ended on a night he hit her around the head and dragged her out of bed by the hair.   She got home and Dad took her to the police doctor.  No witness, no proof so that was the end of that.  Divorce proceedings were initiated and not long after she went out of her mind, wandering the streets and not coming home for days. Police would often bring her home.   Eventually Mum and Dad had to have her institutionalised after she gave birth to twins on their kitchen floor.  They had no idea she was pregnant because she was always inclined to be on the largish size and slept or rested on her stomach.  One twin died, the other was born with severe brain damage, was put in a home and lived a few years only.  They called him Steven and my efforts to find him, even if it was just to view him through glass was never allowed by Mum and Dad.  That door was shut tight.  My sister was in and out of institutions for years.  I helped where I could by taking her out in the car to give Mum a break.  Mum needed that because I think it was my sister who broke my Dad’s heart and he died before both of them.  She was a loving sister and a wonderful Aunt to our young children.  She did not deserve the cards she was dealt.  During, and forever more according to my husband, when any little thing came up he did not like he would shout that I was mad like my sister.  Believe me it is difficult to prove sanity.  It went on and on for years.

(2)  He punched me once, giving me a black eye and whiplash as I spun around and landed on the bed.  It was my fault apparently because I lost it and thumped him on the shoulder.  Our neighbour’s young sixteen year old boy had died the day before so I cooked extra roast lunches and my daughter and I carried them into the grieving household.  He was well aware of what we were doing but on our return he demanded to know why I was not ironing his shirt for work.  I had no words for him - I saw this big ugly uncompassionate lazy lump lying on the bed and before I knew it I thumped him on the shoulder and as quick as a flash he sat up and punched my cheek just below the eye.  The doctor recorded the circumstances and shaking his head informed me the wrong person was sitting before him. (continues after the image)

(3)   Two girlfriends helped me to get firstly a caravan and then a small house to rent as my escape with the four children.  I could not take his behaviour any more. Several months prior I had had a promotion at work, was made Company Secretary and had a staff of twelve under me.  Coming home proud and happy I told my husband of the promotion.  His reply was “You crawling bastard”.        

My boss appreciated me because I brought women into the administration of his house building company.  With the new female touch to his clients and a smoother running of the Company it expanded greatly.  Walking into the office with a black eye helped us both I suppose to have a fleeting affair.  To this day I have never regretted it.  To have a man see me for who I was for the first time was wonderful.  It didn’t last for long; a woman with four young children three of whom were happy in the situation, one who wasn’t proved unworkable.  My husband started courting me again at the rental house like days of old and the strange thing was when I saw his car approaching, my heart would skip a beat.  My reasoning then was he was sorry and had seen the error of his ways.  The children and I returned to our family home for what I thought was to be a fresh start.  Wrong.  Not only was I mad but I’d had an affair to add to my madness.

Shortly after my young four year old son Andrew had a severe episode of some kind.  We raced him to the doctors who on a quick examination, rang a good friend to collect the three children and told us he would telephone the Royal Children’s Hospital to tell them we were on the way with his patient by car; there was no local ambulance then in our town.

My little boy was stiff of body, unconscious but with his eyes wide open and staring.  He was across my lap so I bent over his face and with my hand on his beating heart I sang little children’s songs to him praying that little heart would keep beating.  All that my husband said to me on that fearful drive was, “If he dies it’s your fault.  You left me.”  My little boy lived but I died inside that night.

……..oOo……..

Additional comments from my mum: 

There is no book of life.  I read something once that we should be born old and live backwards.

There is no tablet to take to cure jealousy or to give you trust.  Trust is love, no trust and the poison of jealousy enters the system.

A wonderful childhood does not necessarily prepare a person for life.  It really has to be lived through the sunshine and the rain.

To love and be loved is the ultimate and time will do that so wait.  Don’t be in a rush.

Listen with a keen ear; learn to juggle pros and cons.

Thoughts and dreams need to be shared equally if they are not, walk away.

Compassion should be inborn.

 

What you can do to help.

I'm guessing my dad didn't have a positive reference of what a healthy relationship looked like when he was growing up. No one around him saying "that's not cool" or "you need to talk to someone about that" With Dear Men of Tomorrow I'm trying to create a place that collects and passes on relationship advice, that highlights good and bad behaviors, to the next generation of boyfriends, partners, husbands and dads. 

I believe hearing your real and raw stories and advice will help illuminate a better path towards happy, healthy and respectful relationships.

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Some Mum Related Photos