*Guest blog post from the formidable force that is Sarah Caldwell*
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had those perfect visions of motherhood. My 21 year old self would bake during the day, my kitchen would smell of sweet vanilla icing and freshly baked cupcakes. I’d drink coffee with other mums at baby groups, my clean and tidy home would twinkle as the sun shone through my sparkling windows, I’d welcome my new husband home with a kiss every evening whilst cradling our beautiful baby in my arms, I’d fix him dinner completely effortlessly whilst being engulfed in a life that boasted utter perfection. At the weekends I would host 3 course dinner parties for our neighbours, showing off our beautiful home and I would go to bed each night feeling grateful for my wonderful family and my peachy life.
It didn’t happen. My visions of motherhood were overshadowed by a heavy, dark, grey hue, I gave birth to a baby I didn’t want to touch, I couldn’t stand the sound of him crying, I couldn’t bear having to whip out my cracked nipples and tender breasts for him to suckle on for 2 hours at a time. My husband would arrive home angry, demanding dinner on the table, and our kitchen surfaces weren’t used to ice cupcakes, but to rack up lines of cocaine and ketamine that he’d shove up his nose before heading out where he drank himself into oblivion. When he returned home he was more often than not covered in his own urine…if he returned at all. I didn’t go to bed grateful for my life, I cried myself to sleep every night hoping that our family of three would no longer exist. One of us had to go.
I lost the ability to speak properly, I stuttered and stammered my way through even the simplest conversations. I learnt that it was easier to sit down and shut up, so my darling husband could present our life in a way that I couldn’t see, or express it in a way that wouldn’t cause concern. He provided the majority of our monthly income, he was a social butterfly – our friends loved his company, and visually he made our house a home, but at what cost? I smiled sweetly and put on a front to our friends, after all, I was newly married, I was a new mother and we had moved into our our newly mortgaged home, the foundations of stability were all there, but the man I married, and the baby I had just given birth to made me hate myself. I dreamt of running away and starting again.
Alcohol and drugs fuelled him. That was where his passion was, not his brand new family. Instead of supporting me through tedious bed times and the whirling pit of dark, lonely and crippling postnatal depression he was turning his phone off during evening pub visits, humiliating me and pushing me to question my sanity, and I don’t think you can ever fully recover from that.
Some time later I finally left, after I had left then returned twice before. After I had bought an Ellie Golding album on iTunes without asking permission I was pushed to the floor and my husband threatened to rape me. Enough was enough and for the last time I fled to my parents home, my toddler on my hip.
I have never been able to open up to my parents about the life I lived behind the door to my marital home, I was emotionally, mentally, financially and finally, physically abused by a man who presented our life in completely differently to the life I was living. And do you know what’s worse? I had no idea. None. The physical act of my head hitting the wall as I fell made my ears buzz and it gave me the kick up the arse I needed and he was arrested.
I never bonded with my son, perhaps partly due to the chaos that surrounded me, I maintained a facade to everyone I knew, and often to the man that I married just two years previously. Sadly, I think to him, our kitchen really did smell of sweet vanilla icing and freshly baked cupcakes.
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