This is the latest in a series of posts about my experiences of early motherhood.
The story begins here.
The next morning, a Friday, I woke up and found the ex’s message from the night before. I replied that he knew very well I had not used him for material possessions, and hadn’t asked him for any of the things he’d bought. I told him I would much rather have had his emotional support over the last few weeks.
Distraught, I told him what the health visitor had said and gave him her number. I called, and he answered briefly – to say “I’m not calling that bitch when you’ve already told her a pack of lies about me and made me look bad.” before hanging up. We texted back and forth a little. He told me this was all my own doing, that I was hurting him and his children, not allowing any of them to have proper contact with S. “Fucking grow up, you pathetic bitch.”
On the Saturday morning I was in town, buying school clothes for his kids. I tried to call to ask what size trousers to buy for his daughter, but he didn’t answer. Instead he texted, asking what I wanted. Knowing how things had previously gone in this situation, I asked him if he had someone there. His response was “no, I’m not in the mood for sex… might I suggest you don’t ask questions that you don’t want to know the answer to.”
I kept trying to explain to him: his life was more or less the same, but mine had changed massively and very suddenly; I had not been prepared for it, and was struggling to adjust. I asked him to please allow me a little time but he kept telling me I was deliberately hurting him and his children and that he had known it would turn out like this. He kept telling me to fuck off, but when I referred to his having dumped me, his response was always that as far as he was concerned we were still together, and that I should have the guts to dump him.
I offered to bring S to his house over the weekend to visit, but he told me that was a bad idea. He said I could come up during the week, but only for the evening and not overnight. He told me that until I was prepared to show some commitment to him and his children, he was not prepared to carry on with things the way they had been. He accused me of being deceptive and manipulative and making myself deliberately isolated so as to get attention. “The ball’s in your court Victoria, grow up or lose me.”
On the Sunday, he texted asking how S was. It was the first time had enquired as to her wellbeing since he’d stormed out on the Thursday.
I spoke to the health visitor again on the Monday morning and told her I thought he was going to split up with me, and I was petrified. She said that since she was visiting again in a couple of days to weigh S, I could invite him to come to that, and she would try and talk to both of us and help us sort it out. I said ok, and asked him if he would come to the appointment. He refused, citing again the terrible lies I must have told the health visitor about him; she obviously hated him now just like the midwife
I suggested I could meet him from work one day in the week, and go with him to pick his children up from school, as a surprise. He told me no, he wanted to know how often I was planning on coming to his house, and that he was sick of his children being fucked around. He was still too pissed off with me to speak on the phone; didn’t I know his daughter had been crying for a week because of me? He complained he was too tired to talk properly, but he pushed me for an answer as to how often I would come to his house. Eventually, in a panic at the thought of losing him, I said I would stay 3 or 4 nights a week, but would need to build up gradually.
The idea of building up gradually had never appealed to him; when I first started seeing him, I had to be there all the time. Every time we split up while I was pregnant, when I came back I suggested we start with one night a week and build up, but I was told it was all or nothing; I had to be there all the time. We had eventually agreed that I would stay there one night a week, but I had never realised this had meant we weren’t together, and that he’d had various other people staying on the nights I wasn’t there.
This time was no exception; I wasn’t allowed to gradually get used to staying at his house with S. He was not willing to put up with my games any longer.
On the Tuesday morning, I awoke to this message:
I don’t want to keep doing this all my life, I am not going to keep walking on egg shells, I don’t want to keep waiting for the next time you decide you can take coming over here.
I don’t want to keep being hurt, I don’t want my kids to keep being hurt, my kids need stability, they need someone who will always be there, someone who won’t let them down.
I am sorry this is in a text but if I was talking I would not be able to get my thoughts out in any kind of coherence.
I love you and I will always be here for you but not as in my partner.
I will come to see you both on Thursday if you would decide what days you would like for me to come over and visit and what days you would be willing to bring S over to see the kids.
I am sorry and I do love you and this is not easy but this cannot continue.
I was fuming. The only reason I had been in and out of his kids’ lives for the past few months was because he kept splitting up with me, kicking me out in the middle of the night and banishing me from the house. I was so angry; I had gone into labour 5 weeks early, spent 10 days in hospital with a poorly baby, my life had been turned upside down… and yet somehow everything was still about him, what he wanted, how he felt.
Despite this, I knew that now if we were not going to be together I had to try and bite my tongue and not start a row; we needed to make an effort to get on so that S did not suffer. Because I couldn’t trust myself not to be very nasty, I did not reply to the message. I had a little cry, and tried to just pick myself up and move on. I didn’t tell many people what had happened, because I was too embarrassed. As the day went on, I realised that this day was no different than most of the ones that had come before it: we got up, we went out for a walk, I fed S, I changed her nappies and her clothes, we saw some friends, watched some TV. It didn’t make a difference that I was now a single mother. None at all, so far.
Late that evening, when he had still not heard from me, the ex sent me a message:
God I bet you are loving all the sympathy and attention now aren’t you. Will tell everyone how I’m not seeing the baby, how I have dumped you. Bet you have not told them how you refused to bring the baby here or how you lock her in my room or how you use her as a bartering chip blackmailing the kids with her!!!!!!!
Again, I didn’t answer. I didn’t want to be drawn into yet another row. He was too quick for me in these situations, and I often ended up floundering, with no idea how to get my point across. He had done this to me throughout my pregnancy, accusing me of all sorts and never pausing for breath so that I could have my say. I didn’t want to do it any more; I was exhausted and just wanted to move forward. Because I hadn’t replied, there was another message:
And now you will just ignore and not answer, that’s ok because now I have sorted my benefits I can see a solicitor if you want to play it that way!!!
He knew that was the way to get me to respond. Throughout my pregnancy, whenever we had split up I had made a big effort to try and remain in contact and friends with him. I had spent my adolescence watching my mother and her ex-partner go to and fro to court arguing over my younger sisters, and how that had affected everyone concerned. He knew that was my worst nightmare, and that through everything I had always wanted him to maintain a relationship with my child. So I answered, telling him that I had deliberately avoided answering so as not to have a fight, and asking him to please not get a solicitor; I would rather that time, money and effort was spent on our child. I told him I was not loving any of it; I had hoped we could work things out. His response was that this was just like every other time, and I had deliberately caused this situation for the attention. I was tired and going to bed, so I just told him that now my daughter was my number one priority, and that we needed to be civil to each other for her sake. He replied that I was my number one priority, not my daughter. He said we should sort everything through solicitors and the CSA, “then me and my children can see my child!” again I told him I would rather all that time and effort was taken with S. I pointed out that solicitors would take a long time, and that I was not stopping him from seeing S. I said I was too tired to argue, and he told me to stop playing the damsel in distress.
I asked him to let me know if he was still coming to visit on Thursday, before his Anger Management appointment, then I switched my phone off and went to bed.
S was not yet a month old, and now I was a single mother.