Note: This piece was written in the early hours of the morning. It has taken me the rest of the day to pluck up the courage to post it. Fear can be paralysing.
Before the Adoption of The Doc Marten Boot days, I used to suffer from hereditary weak ankles – and was forever spraining, twisting and fracturing them. This true story is part of what made me decide to divorce my husband last October – and was a major contributory factor when it came to the start of my DM collection!
It was Summer 1999. Laddie was a little one back then, perhaps twenty months old – and we had bought, and moved into, this house – now being sold – but three months earlier.
It was a Saturday morning, and my Other Half was at work. I had bundled the wean up and driven to Weston-super-Mare to do some shopping, taking small boy’s pushchair in the car’s boot.
As I walked along the pavement in Weston’s central section (near Peacocks, for anyone who knows this South West of England seaside resort), pushing the baby and chatting away to him, my foot caught in a tiny between-slabs dip and my ankle twisted excruciatingly, the way it had done so often before.
I began to fall, the pushchair rearing back terrifyingly, my little one wailing with fear. Fortunately, a kind passer-by saved my child, scooping him out before the pushchair landed on hard concrete and holding him, while another caring citizen looked at my ankle and then called an ambulance.
I was distraught. It wasn’t just the pain, though that was awful; it was the worry about my child – and the fear, which I kept hidden in those far-off days, of contacting my husband (because there was no way I was going to be safe to drive us home, and the baby was going to need feeding and his afternoon nap before too much longer).
The ambulance crew very kindly let me hold my weeping son – and, with me crying too, the two sodden souls were transported to the local hospital speedily.
This was in the days before the mobile phone became a must-have item (may even have pre-dated it altogether) and so when, as a non-urgent case, I was put in the Waiting Room, lad on lap, my only way of contacting anyone was the hospital’s phone system – which, although I didn’t know it at the time, was notorious for being more miss than hit.
So, asking an elderly lady to hold the boy, I limped slowly over to the phone – and dialled the work number for his father.
What was I expecting? Concern? Support? The way I would have reacted had the tables been turned? Because, whatever it took, I’d have been on my way to help within minutes…
What I got was impatience bordering on irritation: No, he could not come out and get the car and our son; he was alone in the office; it was all highly inconvenient; I would have to phone around our local friends and get someone else – and only phone him back if I absolutely couldn’t find anybody.
I started to get very anxious, and to hyper-ventilate, at this. Our child was tired, hungry and frightened; I was shocked and in severe pain – and, without rescue, the weeping toddler was going to have to accompany me on every step of whatever happened next; I had no food for him and was not able to walk far enough to reach the canteen.
I tried, for what felt like years, to contact others – but the phone system had, by this time, rebelled against me and I was unable to get through.
Just then, I was called into the examination room. Fortunately, I was placed in a wheelchair for this short journey, so my child could sit on my lap and get some much-needed Mummy Comfort.
I was prodded, poked, x-rayed (a nice nurse looked after Lad during this) and, my injury being, fortunately, nothing more serious than a bad sprain, strapped up.
I tried, for another age, to contact my husband to tell him the latest – and then, Boy’s distress finally proving too much for both of us, got one of the medical staff to get a taxi for me, stopping at an ATM half way home so I could hobble across the pavement and get cash to pay the driver.
Home, finally, and having fed the small person, I realised I needed to wee, having not been able to use the facilities at the hospital.
As I was crawling in the direction of the loo, now-exhausted baby wailing in the background, the front door slammed open and my furious husband burst in, red of face and almost snarling with rage.
There was no, ‘How are you? Is Baby all right? What can I do?’ type of thing.
On the contrary, his first words were, ‘Where the FUCK were you? You have embarrassed and humiliated me in front of John…’
What had happened was this: He had managed to get a colleague to drive him to the hospital – and there I wasn’t.
At the time, I felt awful: So guilty and bad. I felt I should (though God knows how) have found a way to phone him, or waited with the baby on the off-chance that he turned up. I felt it was all my fault. I grovelled and apologised and wept.
And yet, even back then, the to-me-weird emphasis on his friend’s possible reaction, caused a little worm of unease to slither down my back.
I can remember telling myself that he was justified in this degree of anger – and that the reason I would never have reacted this way myself was because I was an unassertive wimp.
But over the years, this kind of scenario was played out on many different occasions – and a very similar reaction, to something utterly trivial, last September finally caused me to come to my senses and phone a local solicitor specialising in divorce.
People who tell me, ‘All men are like this,’ are missing the point, and trivialising something serious. Those whose reaction, upon hearing this episode and others like it, has been disbelieving – as if implying that there is NO way my ex would ever behave like this (because he presents charm-side first outside closed doors) – are insulting my honesty and condoning cruel and unusual behaviour. And those who would rather believe his story of a brain-damaged (ex) wife than face my consistent, and worrying (to say the least), testimony need their own heads examining!
Why on earth would I make something like this – and the many other, similar, incidents I have chosen not to share – up? To get attention? Make my life seem more exciting? Bollocks! I can get all the excitement and fun and companionship I require without needing to be tamed by the metaphorical taser of fear, thank you very much!
I am not insane, but I am angry: Furious that my name has been blackened with certain family members and friends just so that my ex can continue to perpetrate the myth that I divorced him for no reason, that he did nothing to cause the marital break down – and that, therefore, I must have Alzheimer’s Disease/be crazy! Yes, of course I must! Makes complete logical sense, doesn’t it? After all, no woman in her right mind would ever divorce her husband, would she?! She’d have to be a complete loony to even contemplate such a step!
My ex’s specious use of Tautology (in its discipline of Logic sense) is the true Grim(m) Fairy Tale, the dark fantasy material, and not any of the pieces I have posted on here (many written as fiction out of fear, and then deleted) – or the numerous other incidents I have written about, in such silent distress, in my journal for two decades or more.
All men are NOT like this, and no human being (man or woman) should be dismissed out of hand when trying to share a long history of emotional abuse.
This is not about clearing my own name. Nor is it about spite or revenge. I leave that to the Universe. It is an assertion of my own sanity, of my refusal to be emotionally abused any longer – and my absolute certainty that I have done the right thing for me, and others, even if my name, amongst some members of the extended tribe, continues to be mud, and loopy, deranged mud at that!
On a happier note, the regular wearing of DMs (at one point, I had sixteen pairs) both protected and strengthened my ankles – and I have had no problems in the past fifteen years or so. The ones below, I have decided, are going to be my next pair! I shall start saving forthwith!
Rather me, don’t you think?!