A few years ago I was a happily married man — a beautiful wife, three sons, a home that was well on the way to being paid off, a job, and settled in the community. We had just had our 10-year anniversary — a night on the town for the family. A few bumps along the way, including some really tough surprises with our sons’ births, but everything was fine — so I thought.
I was not violent, abusive, alcoholic, stingy, nor with a drug or gambling addiction. I dearly loved my wife and children, resigning one job to prefer them and putting in time, etc. Love is blind, and hindsight may give much better vision, but I did the best I could and was open to change.
My wife had been involved in counselling a family whose marriage failed, with my support, and with a local counselling group, helping others. However, on returning home from visiting her dying father, she asked me to, “Move out while she sorted through some problems.”
I asked what the problems were, but she would not discuss it. I asked her to get counsel, or leave me with the children, and she was welcome to be involved with them and stay in the house. All alternatives were ignored or refused. I moved out, rather than have my wife take my sons onto the street or elsewhere.
I soon found the locks changed, AVOs issued (though I have never been violent or abusive) to keep me away from the home. Strange men entertained my wife and children in my home, even when I came to ‘collect’ my sons or phoned them. Counsellors advised she would not listen. Letters to politicians, bishops and solicitors were answered with, “We are so sorry but…” or “Don’t bother appealing / fighting — you won’t win, you are male and have a job.” (even if I spent $15k minimum that I didn’t have to get custody of my own children.)
I had to work while my wife had the children, house and got government benefits. I had to pay child support to feed and house my sons on a legal formula that took more than I had left. I earned above the average salary, but calls logged with Child Support were never answered or returned.
With no affordable accommodation in the local area, the church gave me a guard’s cottage at the local camping ground. Emergency accommodation had a two to four-year waiting list. My bed was found from a clean-up, with blankets, pots and crockery donated by church friends.
Shock gave way to suicidal depression. I was haemorrhaging internally and lost 20 kilos. People cooked meals for me and sat beside me to talk. I would weep for hours, with no heating in sub-zero temperatures. I took sobbing breaks at work while others took smokos, or travelling on the train.
Gas from the stove did not kill me due to the draft from an unusable chimney. I would sit on cliffs on local mountains ready to jump, yelling at God, and then falling in a heap again. Electricity and chemicals in hot baths were prepared, but never used.
I could not walk up hills without falling in a heap at times. People helped me to the shower, which I held onto the side of. Driving home after dropping my sons off, I swerved around cliffs and trucks through tears. Counsellors told me I was ‘normal’ when I went for help. I did not want to live as it hurt so much, and death seemed the only option in that city.
Friends gave me a car for free, so I could shop and collect my sons. The gasket blew, but others gave me another. There was always a roof over my head of five houses over two years, food on the table, and friends around or on the phone. I chose to call when the waves overwhelmed me — many times.
I was taken on a holiday, and drawing a line in the sand, finally chose to live, knowing the Lord could take care of the difference, no matter how hard it was or would get. A new job meant I could just make ends meet, and a friend offered shared housing. Even in death came life, a new beginning.
I had already forgiven my ex-wife, and kept at it, but the pain and torment began to go. Property settlement meant I could buy some basics, and there was no debt to pay out. The legal structure allowed kidnap, ransom, theft, and fraud, with no appeal, but life went on — in a new city.
I now look forward to another city, where the needs of both parents and children are respected and protected, whether married or apart. It is not here yet, but it can happen. Without a vision, people live dangerously. Without love or hope, there was only death. The way it is now has to change — for everyone’s interest. This curse is killing people, and robbing the inheritance of generations. We can do it — together. Will you help be part of the answer, even if it hurts?
Photo by Bailey Hall on Unsplash.