Too Big an Ask

Hallo anyone out there. I am caring for my husband, one I wanted to leave for decades but never did. Just as I thought I might be free (ish) we got the diagnosis, one I knew was lurking in the shadows. For a few years before there had been mini strokes, an upstart of grumps and more ‘I Wants’ and other behaviours that affirmed I am ‘just a wife’. The diagnosis was in 2012 and denied by himself plus a few of our five children. I was over-reacting. Like them, I had no idea what was coming but I did feel the leg chains snatch around my ankles, unlike them.

Now he is almost wheelchair bound. Now he is demanding to stay in his own home. The carers pop in for a friendly and a few simple tasks and I am thankful, but it is I who am failing. After ten years of this, I am exhausted, cold, guilty and tired of being mum to five wonderful kids who are split over their dad. For some he was hard work. for others, not. After almost 2 years of battle, I have today, finally dropped him at the local (2 hours away) care home for a week. He will have forgotten something, I just know it but I have said I will not make the four hour journey again this week. However, and there is always one of those, his son (most favourite) has sorted him out with a dongle thingy for the patchy wifi we enjoy on the island. It didn’t arrive on time, but just did, right now through the rain and via Amy the Post in her flack jacket and wellies. I’m still not going back down there, not when this is my first week home alone in a home I am surprisingly happy to leave. perhaps I should. If I were a wealthy man I would…etc. But I am not. Not a man and not wealthy. It doesn’t stop me desperately searching in my mind for somewhere where I could be cosy and safe and that would be mine. Now, I know that, despite the offer of a place in a home on the mainland, because my husband has strongly (and coherently) stated that he will not leave his own home, I am stuck. Leg chains snatching. He could live for decades. But I will not. I think daily about a polite way to leave this life. What stops me are my five children, including the ones that just don’t get it and who think I should ‘carry on regardless’, and my almost 10 grandchildren. I will not do this. But, where to go? In my head, in my confined days, in my dreams, in my sleeplessness in this endlessness?
Please don’t mention the following list:-
I have talked about how I feel for so long, even I am bored with it, with me. But, and this is different, I am feeling all of my 66 years and this man who has always been selfish and controlling is now getting the better of me. He always got my best, but I won’t give that of myself again. If he says I am cold, he is right. If he mocks, I say nothing. If he rejects, it hurts as it has done for almost 50 years, but I can take my (ridiculous) hurts to a safe place inside. There is no reasoning with him. No time, ever, when he took responsibility for his part in my marital pain. He can’t even acknowledge what I do for him now. It is as it is. I accept that, even if I know I am a strong, funny beautiful woman with a fine heart.
Thank you for listening you fellow carers. Tell me about you. I am bored stiff with me. x

Hi Judy, Are you on the IOW?

Why not escape from home while you can, even if it’s just for a few days?

Get some space, peace quiet, no one nagging you. DON’T fill this week with catching up on all the jobs that are waiting, spread your wings. Just have a look at Late Rooms, come over to the Mainland and enjoy being by yourself.

No amount of counselling or similar is going to change the basic fact that your marriage has been over for a long, long time. There is someone else on the forum in the same position, who I’m sure will be along shortly.

Oh Judy all I can suggest is counselling.

I can relate SO much to your post. It is hard to care for someone if you really love them but if they have subjected their partner to decades of abuse, it is much more difficult.

You do have choices. A solicitor maybe? Please remember you cannot be MADE to care and it sounds as if you have gone the extra mile and are at breaking point. Re your children - easy for them to be in denial.

Just sending hugs and please post here again - we are a very supportive group and my heart goes out to you.

Hi Judy,
Why did you find it too hard to leave before now? Is it because you cannot afford it or because you don’t want to upset the grown children who think you should stay? Because if the latter, they aren’t living your life and cannot/should not judge you.
What are the barriers to the safe haven you want so desperately? Can ‘expectations’ be some? (What other people expect you to do, what you feel you ‘ought’ to do?) If you could put those aside, what is left in your way?
Could you manage to go away? Take off now for a couple of weeks at least (for your health on doctor’s orders?) and tell the pro dad children that they will have to look after him if he leaves the Home. Reality check for them? One of them will have to fetch him, get him home and look after him.
Have you been to the GP? Surely if you spill the beans to him/ her (no holds barred and let all the stress show in vivid technicolor) they will back you in the need to get away?
Do your children understand what you have gone through? Have you told them the horrid truth or are they just not listening? Would the pro Mum children give you refuge for a while to give yourself time to plan what happens next?
You do NOT have to care for him. Even living in the same house you can refuse. If there is no care available in the house he is insisting on returning to, will he be allowed to return by SS?
What was that diagnosis? How did you manage to get him to agree to the respite?
I agree that you should not waste this respite, whatever else you do.
I am sending a big hug and hoping you find your way to that safe haven. You deserve it.

Hallo my lovelies and thank you for your warm and helpful responses. I don’t know about IOW @bowlingburn but I’m intrigues. I do go away and have done often for days or maybe a week at a time in a remote clifftop cottage, just me and Nature. But and but again, I always have to come back, for this is my job…another but…I always said over the last decade that this is my home and I love looking over the sea and the moontides and watching the seasonal change daily. Now, however, I feel I could leave this place, short term. I might do that, although it sounds like money to me and II am too tired out to seek work as a woman well into her sixties. I know I am young for my age, sprightly and full of nonsense but (and there’s another one) so beaten down that I no longer sure of my legs beneath me.

Today I spent most of the day reading and listening to an audio book in bed. My room is my sanctuary. I watch the gulls fly, the weather turn, the rock remain solid and black against the grey tissue paper sky. It has rained here for many days and the the island is tired of it. Me too. With endless rain comes a suppression, an indolence, a resistance to walking outside, so I bothered with none of those and just drank tea and snoozed, knowing that I would walk downstairs to a glorious silence. Knowing that, in the previous night that woke me at 2,3,4,5 that I could go down to make toast and not feel cautious footed on the wonky stairs that sighs and creaks and groans at every step, however carefully placed. This evening I poured wine and turned up music and sang in harmony. I am a singer/write/dancer but these have always been a problem for himself who has no such talents. I have lived under the gavel for long enough.
Now that my children are vociferously divided on what their father wants; now that the SS (Social Services) say their hands are tied as long as he states (with his faculties) that he wants to remain at home, I have to make my choice. I spoke today with the ones who get me and the extreme hardship of caring for their dad (brave them) and talked about moving out. On a small island, with everyone thirsting for the highest rent, I may struggle, and, to be honest, I have searched this for decades and always pulled back.
In answer to Elaine, ‘why didn’t I leave before?’ a good question and one I ask myself often. The answer (without taking up a whole evening, is this. When a woman is groomed from the the age of 18, one who is already broken and wild and looking, by a man ten years her senior with a farm, a house, a life in whom she puts her faith and belief in her desperate need to escape from a cold parenting, (actually no, more clueless because I was completely wild with nightmares, sleeplessness and visions from an early early age) it is not long before she feels shame. Shame that she doesn’t get how lucky she is. Shame that she doesn’t agree with the ‘let the baby cry’ thing. Shame that she doesn’t like her controlling and son-obsessed mother-in-law. Shame that she has the friends she has, who obviously are eejits and worse, shame that her own sisters are loud, noisy, show-offs and so on and so on and son for decades. Now lift me only a remote island, and I confess, when it was just us he was quite marvellous. But add on drip of someone else and things went dark. By the time I clocked the ab use, I had five kids and was exhausted but so strong. I held it together with almost no sleep and a massive work load. This is the me I recognise. I am proud of her. But, now, as I face extinction, I am less sure of that brilliant successful author and that voice inside me that wants to ululate on a mountain top. I think I am a whisper of her. But (oh, another one) I don’t doubt her strength, although I might, my own, in my next steps. I realised, today that I am waiting/hoping for him to die, so it is all polite and asitshoudlbe. But, I think maybe I need to toss a pebble in the water…thank you for being there my friends. I wish you sunshine and light and much more x

Hi again,
When I started reading your post, I thought, ’goodness, with such beautiful, expressive language, this woman should be an author.’ Then you said you were or want to be? Not sure which? Everyone will be trying to guess which remote island is your heart’s home but DO NOT SAY!

I’m going to challenge you.

Find yourself a solid, cosy mobile home somewhere near a coast and write YOUR story. Novel, stage play, gritty TV series, whatever. Get the passion you feel for your home, the hope and tragedy of your marriage, the dilemmas and the difficulties of caring, the guilt and the despair out there for all to experience through you. Help the carers. Help the abused. Help the misunderstood to be understood and the misunderstanders to understand.
I grew up in a seaside town in Pembrokeshire. I live at the edge of a big city in Yorkshire, have done for many years, but in quiet times I hear the cry of the gulls and feel the pull of the waves.
I want to read that book, listen to the story, watch the film.
Will you write it?

I wondered if you were on the Isle of Wight, which has always featured in my life. I’m on the other side of the Solent, in the New Forest.

Ha! You sussed me, ladies. Sorry I have been absent for a while. I am an author and I have written my story. It was taken up by first an amazing agent and then a big publisher so I am very blessed, or, is it blest, I don’t know? I had thought, when my book came out in 2013 that everything would suddenly be mine for the changing. I would have choices, power (not over anyone else - that does not fizz my lemonade) but over my own life. Actually, I have never had my own life and the realisation of this has turned me into a tumbleweed in a massive desert like the one I am about to fly over en route to my baby son #6’2 married and running a conservation project in the Big Five area near Kruger Park. That desert stays under my butt, and the butts of all my co-flyers, for about 3 hours. Shows how huge it is. A vast, no VAST expanse of nothing but Bedouins, Camels and Tumbleweeds.
I am quite discombobulated on reading my own description inside a couple of books. One is Avoiding Psychopaths and another is about Emotional Vampires and how to avoid them. But here’s the thing. I should have done that almost 50 years ago, but being so cleverly groomed and distanced from the friends who were just as bonkers as me, and my birth family too, I was entirely in his control. I never saw it coming, although, on looking back, I can even go to an incident during engagement when I should (could) have said something that rhymes, vaguely, with Chekov. But, I was foolish and young and trusting.

Moving on, Ahem. No winging. These books, describing the man I married, the father of my five children, the one who kept me safe, took me to this wild place, gave me a taste for nature and risk and big skies and endless oceans define him as I know him to be at his core. Controlling and destructive. Mocking and rejective (just made that word up) and this has crippled me. I do not deny. Right now, this very day, I am low as a cowpat in a field. I hear that there is life beyond this, but he has no intention whatsoever of going beyond this until he cannot remember whether or not his trousers go on over his head. This, I foresee, as far off. But I am done. I am broken. He can shuffle around this house, demanding space for his zimmer or his schmancy motorised wheelchair, demanding jam sandwiches and carers ONTIME and yelling out my name until I really wish I was called Tracy.

I ‘should’ be writing a sequel, but in the throes of this dying agony, I cannot. Best thing I can do is to keep a journal, and even that is like sneezing - you do it seven times in a row and then there’s no sneezing for at least a fortnight, if then. I do keep up my blog however, but herein I am also contained. No God, No Boris, No Angst or Rant or Tiddleypom. Fair enough. My book sells worldwide and I don’t want to upset that solid backbone of women who live a whole lifetime with varying strikes of abuse and say nothing, not ever, not even to their own daughters as they merrily bind them tight in fresh colours and bright bangles and send them off into the arms of yet another man who thinks that mealtimes should be ontime even if there are 20 children running reckless in the dormitories of his life. This bizarre conundrum is a sideways tilt toward HOPE, whoever she is and, thus, these women are mirroring their own fate with the added chocolate hope that their daughter, that lovely unspoiled, trusting beauty will smash the mirror and walk right on through.

Maybe I should write like this. Thing is, about the author world, is that you can upset too much, leaving your book to grow mushrooms in the dark. It is a clever writer indeed who can find a tunnel out that doesn’t collapse under the weight of the walking world. Maybe that’s me. Maybe I will be free one day. Most of the women I have read and admired over the years, either died of ‘consumption’, drowned themselves or were shot. Not a great hurrah of encouragement.

I thank you, again for responding. I cannot talk to my children, my birth family sister ship, my anyone as I can free-rail with you. (just made that up too). Now, I am off to make food, watch tv (oh no…the sun is shining, the tide is in Springs (Full or New Moon), the wildness is up, the road is calling, the sea is turbulent and the sky is a swirl of confusion as it always is at Springs)

Have a good weekend my friends. I know you are on this forum because you also need this certain kind of friendship. I value that and take off my hat. Actually I hate hats. I love them on others, those feather fanciers or whatever they are, the twists of ribbon, the windings of silk and chiffon, the brow crowders, the back flippers that need a serious HATPIN when there’s a hooligan lifting even the heaviest kilt, all of them. On someone else. I just get a headache.
Toodle oo for now x