Daily Life, Writer's Blog

Opening up old wounds…

I received a letter in the post this morning from the Child Support Agency. Nothing strange there you may think, but my children are now in their late twenties.

My ex-husband was an alcoholic bully, even tempered and ok when he was sober but nasty and aggressive when he had sunk a few pints. We eventually divorced after one too many bruises and discoveries of him urinating in our six year old daughter’s wardrobe (for example) as she slept.

He was given numerous chances to change. When he was sober I begged him to get help, to save our marriage for the sake of our three beautiful children. Of course, I never broached the subject if a beer had passed his lips. Oh no. I kept quiet and as far out of the way as possible at those times.

The divorce was a bit of a farce. He would not allow me a divorce unless I admitted to being the guilty one. I took another on the chin, and stated I wanted the divorce and he was not at fault. He was more concerned at what outsiders may think than trying to save what could have been a good marriage. He fought hard when it came down to it. Not for custody of his children, but for material items such as the new Dyson we had recently purchased. His priorities were all materialistic. His children didn’t matter.

He had always frightened me just a little as a violent drunk but, when I found rented accommodation for myself and my little ones, he took to sitting outside in his car and simply watching the house late at night. I was always on the alert for a knock at the door which often never came. He just watched, waiting for who knows what.

Eventually, he asked if he could see the children and, when he secured himself a flat around the corner, requested they stay the night with him. He promised he wouldn’t have a drink when they were with him and I was happy for them to see him. They needed their father and maybe the time had come for him to take responsibility.

After a few months of weekend visits, my daughter told me she wanted to stay at home with me. She was eight years old and clearly upset. She cried lots and I told her she didn’t have to visit that week. My sons both went happily on their way and my daughter stayed with me.

A few weeks passed and one of my sons also said he didn’t want to visit and my daughter was still adamant she wanted to stay home. So, he took one of our sons and the other two remained behind with me. Within two hours he was back at my door with a sobbing little boy who didn’t want to stay with him on his own. This went on for a few weeks until none of the children wanted to go with him and they didn’t even want to talk to him at the door.

I didn’t quiz them too hard as I didn’t want to upset them but eventually, one morning at breakfast my daughter asked me why Daddy slept so much. Probing further, she had woken up in the night to find him as good as comatose (she couldnt wake him up and she was scared) and there were lots of cans on the floor. He was drunk when she had woken up from a bad dream and he had not been lucid enough to comfort her. This prompted stories from my boys who told me their daddy wouldn’t play with them when they visited him. He sat in front of the TV while they were in their rooms with some toys. They all sounded so sad when they relayed this to me.

Time passed, and the CSA became involved. I was awarded a small sum of money each week to help with raising my three children. I had a part time job which fit around their school but it didn’t pay much.

The child support money never came. He never paid me one penny and eventually he lost his job for being drunk at the wheel the morning after. As a financial consultant he had no means of travelling for work when they took away his drivers license. The debt, his debt, built up and the years passed by. I supported my children with part time work and benefits until they were old enough for me to take a full time job.

I received a letter from the CSA every month and then every six months to say that, even though he owed me well over £6000, he was not working and they had awarded me £0.00 for each child. The £6000 would have been helpful, of course, but I managed as best I could.

My parents and sometimes his parents, helped with clothes and little food parcels and gave the children pocket money but it felt wrong that he didn’t want to help support his children at all. The children received a birthday card from him each year with a few pounds inside but the handwriting was his mother’s. By this stage the children had not seen him for a few years and, as they grew up, the situation never changed. I suggested supervised visits but he was not interested and, in the end, aware that he was still a drunk, I gave up trying.

At the age of fifty he died as a result of his excessive drinking and the children’s feelings were really put to the test. There had always been the chance that he would fight to see them and seek help for his alcoholism but now there was no chance and they had never even known him. It was sad for those reasons and I felt so badly for them as they didn’t really know what or how to feel.

In the meantime we later discovered that his brother had ‘helped’ him to rewrite his will leaving his life insurance and any monies to his own daughter, my niece, and nothing to my children. He had always promised me, even calling my parents drunkenly one Christmas day to reiterate the fact, that there were a few thousand pounds for them when he died to make up for not being there when he was alive. It was unbelievable that he had changed his will in this way and his own children, whom he had abandoned and not supported over the years, were left with nothing.

So, today, as I opened the letter from the child support agency, I held my breath as I read the words that they had reviewed my case. Certain that there would be a few thousand pounds to share between my children now they had recovered what was rightly theirs, I read on.

The CSA were informing me not that they had recovered the money owed but that they were, after all these years, writing off my unpaid child maintenance as my ex husband had passed away.

Letting go of my held breath, I sighed, resigned to the fact that, even after death, he had been able to deal one more kick in the teeth to his children and that hurts way more than any of his physical violence ever could.

Daily Life, Poem, Writer's Blog

Remember

Remember, now, the laughter,
As we ran down to the sea,
Remember how we rolled down hills,
How carefree, then, we used to be.
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Remember, now, the children,
How much love we had to give,
Remember, they still need your love,
There’s so much life you’ve yet to live.
***
Remember when you told me,
Forever, we would be,
Remember how we promised, then,
It would just be you and me.
***
Remember, now that life has changed,
I’ve had to leave too soon,
Remember, when you’re searching,
I’m the twinkle just beyond the moon.
***

Daily Life, Poem, Writer's Blog

Life’s Worth?

When kindness is mistaken for weakness,

When faced with a choice at your door,

When sadness comes knocking, the ones you must face,

Are those you thought worth living for.

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You’ve given your all, when you were so alone,

Faced up to the wolf before death,

Foresaken so much just to clothe them and feed,

You’d offer your very last breath.

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But with cards on the table, however they fall,

And given the chance to make right,

They’ve risen above all that paved them their way,

Uncaring, they’ll bid you goodnight.

***

You’re no more than some words which are written,

Across greetings cards, now, when they come,

No meaning, not heartfelt, out of habit inscribed,

The feeling less deep than is numb.

***

So when all’s been and gone your job’s done now,

The choices they make are their own,

You’ve done but your best, yet it’s not good enough,

For in the end, you’re always alone.

***

Daily Life, Poem, Writer's Blog

Heartbreak for a lost soul

Sadness and heartbreak, of hope there is none,

From the womb shared with siblings, you came,

Help offered gladly, unwanted, denied,

Choosing life’s pathway cannot be undone.

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Vocational choices, there have been a few,

Offered progressions aplenty,

Why, then, oh why, when great chances arose,

Were they shelved with you starting anew?

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Pennies and pounds with no meaning, were lost,

Bailed out more times than a few,

Intention to settle, time and again,

Beds came and went, opportunities tossed.

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False accusations, my way they have flown,

Cutting deep swathes through my heart,

My soul’s been destroyed, such hurt undeserved,

Turmoil is the life into which I’ve been thrown.

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A life, not so easy, its start often wrong,

Booze laced with violence, the norm,

Escaped it to save you, such threats were disarmed,

The life we were leading, we did not belong.

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Now, with your choices, your life keeps the pace,

Of the hunted and damaged and torn,

Desperately tried to keep you from such harm,

Even now, still you sling that life back in my face.

canyoudieofa

Not sure I can help you, it’s you who must change,

Chances, they will become few,

Control of your life is what now you must take,

No more can I do this, your world to arrange.

canyoudieofa

Daily Life, Poem, Writer's Blog

Our granddaughter, Harper, at almost four months

So many changes in such a short time,
Contentment, its so plain to see,
A home filled with love, adoration sublime,
With her daddy Kurt and with mummy Katie.
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A face which conveys to us, every need,
Be she happy or sad, it will show,
A smile and a gurgle, a full tummy indeed,
Can soon turn to frowns if she’s sleepy, you know.
***
A lip with a quiver, the smile is replaced,
How else could her needs be displayed?
There’s no use in smiling, a happier face,
If the time’s right to ask for a bottle to be made.
***
A suckle of soother will often suffice,
More so, if her Winnie is near,
A cuddle with family is always so nice,
So many choices, some far and some near.
***
For Harper’s been blessed with her grandparents, three,
Pairs of Nannies and Grandads, such care,
She’ll never be short of much help and advice,
Whether around the corner, or a call, we’ll be there.
***
Excitedly hands splay, when something she sees,
When today’s favoured playmate is near,
Sometimes it’s Dorothy, or a Teletubby,
When its in her hands, how it is favoured is clear.
***
Its great she is doted on, by family and friends,
Gifts of clothes, and surrounded by toys,
Importantly, a love there which never will end,
A grateful smile, head down, her look is so coy.
***
For those not so near, photos, videos if any,
Sometimes daily, to keep us in touch,
Gives us the chance to see changes, so many,
Let’s us respond, conveying we love her so much.
***
Expressions, and smiles, and a face so sublime,
As a book she is read, her eyes follow,
Fascination of pages, the tales and the rhymes,
One day soon, in those stories, she’ll wallow.
***
With so much to know and a lifetime ahead,
Now is the time to start learning,
With so many from whom those tales to her will spread,
Young Harper will not be left yearning.
***

Daily Life, Writer's Blog

Husband in a Million

Nine years ago, my husband and I married in a local registry office, in the middle of a snowstorm. The snow was particularly poignant as my father had passed away the previous month, his funeral having taken place less than two weeks before the wedding. Our limousine had wound its way through a deepening blanket of snow, a dicey ride. As we made our vows, heavy snow began to fall again which we took as a sign. Confetti from heaven, and the photos were beautiful.

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I first met Clive as we stood on the sidelines, trying to warm freezing hands and feet by stamping and clapping. His oldest son had joined a football team that my twin boys played for. We had hit it off instantly, the spark an immeasurable jolt.

Over the weeks,  as the boys team played at various venues, I began to eagerly anticipate my freezing cold Sunday mornings. Sometimes, his wife and younger son joined him and I was often joined by my partner.

We saw more of each other over the coming weeks and we both knew we had found the one. We were concerned about our children’s education and vowed to keep quiet until they had left school and exams were done. Unfortunately, although fortunately, life has a way of messing with such plans and his wife had found out about our affair within just a few weeks.

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Just two months after our first kiss, we had found a place to move into, left our prospective homes and moved in with each other. We were extremely lucky that our children all got along well so becoming step-brothers and step-sister was a relatively easy path. We both felt guilty at the disruption caused during their formative years but, on the whole, everything went smoothly.

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Clive quickly took on the role of step-dad as my own children moved in with us. Over time, the arrangements were made and his boys visited us during the week (he was allowed one evening) and then on alternate Saturday nights. It never seemed enough but we were determined not to rock the boat and went along with it.

Years passed and we grew ever closer and became a tight unit and now, nine years since we married (almost twelve since we moved in together), we could not be happier. We have learned to dance together, a hobby which has become a large part of our lives, and love spending time with each other.

💜💜💜

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I cannot imagine a single day without that man. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I couldn’t be happier. He is a calm, loving, attentive husband who would never raise a hand to me, in fact he treats me like a queen. I think I just might be the happiest wife in the whole world.

💜💜💜

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Center Parcs, Ceroc, Daily Life, Dancing, Kite flying, Moving house, Writer's Blog

Finding the positives from 2018

I am no different to everybody else. My family have their fair share of ups and downs, sadness and tragedies but nobody wants to hear about all of that nonsense. The glum stuff is for keeping hidden behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. I don’t want to depress my readers, especially this close to Christmas.

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I wanted to share some of the awesome times from the past year. There have been some real highlights and some great times so read on for a bit of a positive vibe.

The end of the staffing struggle

After a period of ups and downs, advertising, searching and interviews, we finally secured two excellent IT Technicians, and not a moment too soon. I had spent the previous months trying hard to manage the IT department as well as do the job of one or two technicians so I was very grateful to secure an amazing team. Life is certainly much calmer at work nowadays.

Settling times

My son, Daniel, secured himself a job at a local private hospital, after a period of insecurity as the cafe he was managing was going through changes and, subsequently, closure. He loves his work and is now much more settled. His issues following his brain surgeries over the past years seem to have settled and the side effects are now bearable, even if they have not subsided. He has rid himself of a troublesome and unreliable flatmate, turning his spare room into a games room – what else?

More settling times

My daughter and her husband were able to finalise the purchase of their first home. A beautiful four-bedroomed detached house on a new development outside of Norwich. They had rented since they first got together and are so pleased to have overcome a far-higher-than-normal number of snagging issues. I don’t think they will buy from Charles Church/Persimmon anytime in the future but they now have a fabulous home. They also secured great new jobs this year so all is well in the Woods world.

New addition

At the start of September, we welcomed the newest addition to our family – a gorgeous granddaughter, called Harper. Her parents are my husband’s oldest son and his lovely fiancee. Harper is now just over three months old and she is an adorable delight. I have genuinely never encountered such a contented baby. This has given us a great excuse to travel a couple of hours down the road to visit them and their little family as often as we can. We have also made new friends, Harper’s maternal grandparents, Pauline and Guy. You can never have too many new friends and we look forward to getting to know them better each time we visit.

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Speaking of new friends

When I mention new friends, it seems wrong not to mention old friends. We have so many friends and acquaintances through our hobby, dancing. We have far too many friends to mention but it’s worth mentioning that we almost lost touch completely with a few of our friends, because we became wrapped up in a couple of quietly-controlling dancing friends who monopolised our weekends and, through the medium of sneaky comments and suggestions, we almost, but not quite, completely lost touch with some very good friends who we had known and become close to, through dancing for years. Luckily, we were given a lifeline when those friends suddenly and unexpectedly became jealous of our visiting alternative dance venues and enjoying any dancing time without them. It’s funny how the penny suddenly drops and you feel freer than you have done for months. We realised we had become too reliant on these two, quite frankly, dull friends. The upshot is that we now have more dancing friends than ever and have rekindled an almost-lost friendship. We are both eternally grateful for all of our dear friends.

Not losing Mum

This time last year, Mum was not looking like she would be able to crawl her way to Christmas but, with some lifestyle changes, plenty of drugs and intervention from doctors, she is still with us all. Mum may not be in the best of health – far from it – but we are lucky to have had her with us for another year.

Workmates 

Turnover of staff has meant a number of new additions to the school over the past months and I am lucky to be blessed with some lovely people in my working life.  I am not generally one for socialising with colleagues but with such a lovely bunch it is difficult not to keep in touch.

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Blogging and writing pages

I have almost completed my Comprehensive Creative Writing course which I am taking with the Writers Bureau and, as part of this course, it was suggested that I set up a blog and start sharing my unpublished works on my site and social media pages. This has been a successful starting year to my writing. I have had a handful of short stories published, a couple of poems and have started to build a portfolio which I am secretly quite impressed with. I have the starting chapters of four novels rattling around in my laptop but have not yet decided which one will take my full attention in 2019. Watch this space for more!

New gnashers

I am not going to go on and on about my new teeth but I am seriously pleased with them. From my baby teeth, I have always had a large gap in the front which I hated from High School when I was bullied about them. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a dentist who, over the past few months, has created me some new teeth with no gap at all. Everything feels nice and secure and they look better than they ever have done. That’s all I am going to say but its a huge positive!

A REAL summer

There was a lot of grumbling, and yes I do realise just how hot it was, but summer 2018 was awesomely warm. a few short weeks after heavy snowfall, we were beset with a glorious heatwave which lasted for most of the summer months. It was such a lovely season, I personally could not have asked for more beautiful summer weather. My husband and I were able to visit the beach and parks which gave him plenty of time to fly his kites (you can read all about this in some of my other posts) and me to do some writing.

Nieces and nephew

We are lucky enough to have three nieces and a nephew on my brother’s side. Somewhat ideally, they are aged 11, 9, 7 and 5 and they are a fabulous bunch. As with all of our family, we don’t see enough of them but have been  blessed to spend more time with them this year than ever before. We plan to do more next year so they will soon be bored with us!

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Winter Wonderland

We decided to pay for a holiday to Center Parcs, just a few miles down the road from us in Elveden, while the Winter Wonderland was in full swing. The whole resort is lit up for Christmas with sparkling white lights adorning the woodland pathways, and numerous seasonal events taking place around the site. Its truly beautiful and we made this a Christmas present for those who came with us. We hired a huge four-bedroomed lodge, each bedroom with its own en-suite. The lodge had a games room and a sauna as well as the usual kitchen, dining and living areas and was such a luxury to be there before Christmas. We loved it so much that we have booked again for next year with the addition of the new granddaughter and her mummy and daddy, too, who have never been there.

2018 has been such a positive year all round that the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 for all of my readers.