Why Did I Leave my Kids?

Ginger woman sitting in despair on the bench in the park, head in the hands

I've just finished watching Come Home on BBC iPlayer and WOW, it really triggered me, I mean REALLY triggered me! Days of processing and crying followed. 

13 years ago I left my husband and my 3 kids just like the mum in the show had (although mine came to stay with me half the week) and so watching the show I was propelled back to that time but now I was viewing it with full clarity. 

When I made the decision to end my marriage I remember how trapped and sad and desperate I was feeling. Feelings so strong that I could see no other way out but to end it. I also truly believed that we would be better off apart, that we were no longer compatible and that we both wanted different things out of life. 

I thought I was brave in making the decision for both of us? Was that just my mind giving me fuel to follow through with my choice?

When I told my husband it was over, he told me that as it was my choice to end the marriage, then I had to be the one to leave.

I would have to be the one to leave my kids? 

This wasn't how I expected it to play out, but I was so fixed on escaping my feelings of desperation, and my marriage that I felt I had to follow through, whatever way that ended up and I braced myself for what was to come. 

My desperation to escape was overwhelming, I felt I had no choice. I had to leave my kids and my home if I wanted to leave my marriage.

At the time all of this was going on, I remember my husband telling me that I must have postnatal depression (my daughter was only 8 months old) but I bated it off, I thought he was using it for his own agenda, I felt like he was trying to control me and my thoughts, I thought he was saying he knew me better than I knew me and I thought he was only saying it to make me stay. I had such dark days where I would fantasize about him being killed in a car crash so that I could be free of it all, I felt he kept trying to fill my head with reasons to stay when all I could think of was getting away. 

I felt out of control. 

I was about to leave my kids. 

The day came where we sat the kids down (8, 5 & 8 months) and told them mummy was leaving. I felt numb, I felt excited, I felt free? Looking back I do think it was such a strange mix of emotions to be having when you've just blown your kid's world apart.  I had no idea at that point the lifelong torment I was about to step into nor the possible damage I could have caused my kids. I was just facing front, doing what I needed to do to stop the feelings I was feeling.

How could any decent mother put her own needs before those of her kids? 

After we had told the kids, my eldest stopped on the stairs and asked me 'mummy, do you want to leave us?' that sentence could have broken any mother, but I was too far broken already, I just replied with our favourite song from Shark Tale 'don't worry, about a thing, cos every little thing's gonna be OK' while choking on tears and knowing it was over, and from that moment on, I lived my life on autopilot. 

I found us a place to live and I moved out. 

I was no longer trapped. There really could be nothing worse than the feeling of being trapped, that's what I thought until I felt how it is to live my life knowing that it was me that broke our family, that it was me that walked out on my kids, that it was me that put my needs before those of my children. 

Those feelings, 13 years on are feelings I still can't lean into. I can't allow myself to feel them for fear of the pain too much to bare. Even just opening the thoughts a tiny crack is too much, too painful, too powerful, to unnecessary, why had I not just stayed? 

I've asked myself the question 'was it really that bad?' so many times over the years and the answer I choose (?) is always 'I wouldn't have caused such destruction if it wasn't that bad'. I think this is a protective reaction, I can't allow myself to think I could have been so needlessly cruel. 

I think I'll always be wondering WHY I left and HOW could I have left? I no longer carry the guilt, guilt doesn't serve anyone, it just goes on to prolong the punishment rather than figure out the answers as to why. It's better to own your actions and question your actions so that you can learn from them, rather than hitting yourself over and over with the guilt stick, and make no progress. 

So for now I sit knowing it was all me and that there may come a time when my children throw it in my face (I couldn't blame them) and I know that one day, when I probably least expect it, that pain will need to leave my body and I will be powerless to stop it. 

I'll never know why I choose to do it, I will forever be trying to find a way to forgive myself for doing it. But now I'm in a position where I know that had I not have done it, I wouldn't have met my true soul mate and I wouldn't have Ace. 

I share more of my story and the disparity between how dads are viewed when they leave VS how mums are viewed in my book Filter Free. There should have been no sides taken, there were no victories to celebrate nor blame to lay, just a sad sad situation that affected many. 

'Our marriage ended. One of us had to leave. He wouldn't, so I did. It's that simple.
That does not define us as parents, that does not mean that I am the devil and that most definitely does not mean that he's the saint. 
While I was taking this barrage of abuse from the playground mafia, while I ignored the whispers and sideward glances, while I justify my position and swore down that my kids were and always would be my main priority, I was still the mum who left her kids. ' - Filter Free - Real Life Stories of Real Women.