Five years ago today you married my daughter. So in effect today should have been about joy and celebrating your 5th wedding anniversary.
Instead of which today my daughter, your soon to be ex-wife sent off the papers for the decree absolute. Words that hang heavy in her heart; decree absolute!
I recall your wedding day with clarity and remember how very happy and joyful my daughter was at the prospect of marrying the man of her dreams; you.
I remember watching the two of you walking into the court-room and thinking how lucky I was that she had met someone so lovely, so nice. Little did I know. That’s not to say that you are not a nice young man and I am sure your family and friends and perhaps some of collegues think so too. But, what appears on the surface was not what lies beneath.
I did not know at that stage all the things you had already said to my girl, my lovely beautiful daughter who looked so happy on that day and yet had already shed so many tears of angst and pain – some of which I knew about but felt helpless to do anything, much of which I did not. Funny thing that….how looks can be so deceiving.
She had already made me aware that I was not to say anything at all about any of the sad things that were already happening in hers and your life. I will never forgive myself for not speaking up.
I also recall that none of your family came to what was meant to be your special day. At the time you told us it was because your parents were too old to travel, and we believed it. Now I realise the truth of course; you told them not to!
As the ceremony progressed I remember thinking to myself how sad it was that none of your siblings who were not too old, had made the effort to come to your wedding. You said it was because it was too far to travel, and again we believed it. Probably because it was easier to believe than not. I did however find it quite strange since her family; two of her aunts and an uncle had travelled 16,000 kilometers to be there on her special day. Different families, different values.
And yet the day was magical. And we still had the ‘wedding’ to look forward to the following July. Little did I know. I am still grateful that I made as much effort as what I did for that day, the new special dress, the new shoes, the balloons, the receptions, the confetti, the photographer, the cake, the wedding march in the restaurant, the cab with ribbons to take her to the courts. Because of course you had a civil ceremony at the time, with a promise of a wedding in the future. Thank god, I made the effort to do all the things I did to make her day special, because of course what we did not realise at the time was that you had already lost interest in the relationship, that you had no intention of proceeding with a wedding the following July.
Within two months you could no longer carry the pretense and the marriage started to break down. My daughter also started to open up again and I discovered that amongst other things, you had told her not to depend on you financially. This was quite an odd thing to say to her on the eve of your marriage and I am still not sure what motivated you to say that since she had a job, had kept herself financially since she was 19 years old (6 years ago) and was certainly not marrying you on the expectation of staying at home. What was truly peculiar to me was that your Mother had been and was a stay-at-home wife. She never went out to work and ‘earned her keep’: your father supported her! Perhaps you resented that and feel that he had been taken advantage of by your mother…who knows!
What worried me when I found this out, was what would happen once she had babies? You wouldn’t say.
Talking about home, at the time and before you got married you lived in a shared house with 5 other people. Your wife asked you again and again if it was possible to move into a place of your own and you refused saying you did not want to pay more rent. The next time she asked was about a year later and again you refused saying you wanted to be within walking distance of work. Never mind that she had to travel an hour by train each day to get to her place of work. She thought it would be nice if you could share the distance, but no, it was not to be. This continued for a couple of years till your friend and collegue Thomas said a flat opposite them was opening up in an area you had categorically refused to consider previously, and you took it. You were surprised when your wife was upset about this. Probably coz you didn’t discuss it with her, just told her you were moving and probably coz it was on your friend’s suggestion you made this move and she was not taken into consideration.
Within two months of the marriage you had started to withdraw, you would not discuss anything, would not make plans for anything and even reneged on the honeymoon, the proposed wedding for the following July and would not give her any answer as to whether there would ever be any children. Your stock answer was ‘I don’t want to talk about it’.
This continued for the next 4 years.
You refused to meet her family, the ones you had not yet met saying you had no interest in meeting them, you critisized everything she did or said, you were never happy with anything she proposed and slowly but surely she started to die inside. She went from being the bubbly, outgoing, charming personality that you said you had been attracted to in the first place, to a sad shell. Always in tears, slowly but surely she began to lose her self-esteem, her personality went from bubby and outgoing to quiet and withdrawn. She did not dare raise any issues that were making her unhappy, or that she was uncertain about and definitely never dared to raise the issue of children or a home of your own. You used every excuse in the book to avoid finding a place that was not shared with 5 strangers, to avoid spending any money on household goods preferring instead to make do with 2nd hand junk you found, like the bloody awful delapidated brown couch you dragged in one day. Funny that two weeks after she left last year you had brand new furniture, plants and pictures installed; all the stuff you refused to buy before. Funny that within a few months of her leaving you had moved out of London to a place that is well over an hour by train to work. And yet in all the years you were married to her you refused point blank to even consider it.
Last week she met up with you to sign off the papers for the decree absolute and finally got you to tell a little bit of the truth; that yes you were dating someone else and had been for 5 months. You went on to tell her that this girl, whoever she is, was ‘nothing’ to you, and just filling the space till you find someone else. Charming. So you mean to say that you are in a 5month relationship with someone that means nothing to you!!! I find that very strange. Either you are blatantly lying to your ex-wife, pretty much as you did for the last 5years or you are once again using someone for your own ends, someone whose confidence you are going to whittle away till she too is a shell of herself.
Over the years my daughter has battled to keep you happy, trying every which way to make you proud and nothing was good enough. Slowly but surely you whittled away her confidence. No matter which job she took, or how much money she earned, it was never good enough and somehow you found something to critisize and when she lost that horrible job at Foxton’s a few years ago she was so terrified of the response she was going to get to the news that she couldn’t go home. She stood on that train platform for over an hour till she had a black-out from stress. She knew that your silent disapproval and disdain was going to be worse than the loss of the job. The fact that the company treated their staff in an appauling manner meant nothing to you. The fact that she was desperately unhappy in the job meant nothing to you. The fact that they fired 90% of the staff they had employed at the same time as her meant nothing to you. She was a failure; she had lost her job. The fact that you said you hated your job and wished you had the courage to find another was lost on you. She had lost her job, therefore she was a failure.
The blackouts; and lest you have forgotten, let me remind you; that these were caused by the brain-damage subsequent to the forced drugging she had that night at the club in town. Who would have known that a glass of water served from behind the bar would be laced with not one drug but 5 different types. The fact that she nearly died from this was somehow lost on you and the subsequent black-outs that followed became a source of annoyance over the years. It got so bad she was afraid to have a black-out even though she had no control over them. I thank god you never did have children after all; what support would she have had? I guess you would have found the pregnancy and resulting childbirth a nuisance.
Looking back over the years it breaks my heart that I was unable to ‘interfer’, unable to confront you and ask what the hell you thought you were doing. I was under strict instructions not to say or do anything that would be likely to upset you. Life was precarious enough without your silent treatment, your disdain and your critism. I had to stand back and watch as my lovely daughter went from a bubbly, outgoing girl into a sad and unhappy shell of the person she used to be.
How I wish I had had even an inkling of this when we stood in court that day; for sure I would have not held my peace. It’s been the hardest thing for a mother to do, to not step in, but this was my daughter’s wish and all I could do was just be there for her.
The day she told me that she was finally moving out was a time of celebration, much like today should have been. Not a time of joy mind you coz the massive crash that followed was almost too much to bear! The hell of the next few months nearly broke my girl, by December my heart was breaking for her, and she was dying. And did you care…no! Were you interested in her wellbeing, no! The day she moved out was heart-rending and she cried like I had never heard her cry before. And all I could do was stay in the background and much as I wanted to come over and beat your brains out, I couldnt….why? Coz even then she was hopeful that you would realise what you were on the verge of losing, that perhaps you would say that you did love her, you did want a future with her, you did want your own home and children and to spend the rest of your life with her, and I did not want to do anything to jeopardise that. What a joke. And now you tell her that you have been dating a new girl for the last 5 months; someone that means nothing to you and is just filling a space. Shame on you! Hope fully this girl doesn’t end up hanging around for the next 6years only to be tossed aside for the next girl. How I would love to meet her and tell her to not waste her time.
The worst of it is, on the surface you seem like a really nice guy, quiet, steady, a good job, stable family home, parents still together after 50 odd years. And yet, I can see now that all is not as it appears. Right from the start you said your mother had health issues, could’nt eat all sorts of normal food and could only eat a type of gruel that she mixes herself. I really felt for her when I first heard that, but now that I know more about you, I can see this trait in you. This is probably why you felt such disdain for your wife when she was ill.
You as it turns out are manipulative. You use your silences as a form of punishment, your disdain, your disapproval; all are tools of control. If you were a real shit, a drunk, a wife-beater, at least we would have something tangible to despise you for. Coz yes, Alan I do despise you. I despise you coz you made my daughter feel she was not good enough, not educated enough, not smart enough to keep a job, not attractive enough to warrant your attention and certainly not good enough to set up a proper home with and eventually have children.
So my question on the day of what should have been your 5th anniversary is: why did you marry my daughter?
Why did persuade her to marry you?
Why did you say you loved her bubbly, outgoing nature and then try your level best to squash it?
Why did you criticise her no matter what she did?
Why did you always put your friends first before her?
Why did you say all the ugly things you did about her family?
Why did you say you loved her when clearly you did not?
Why did you make all the promises you made that you had no intention of keeping once you were married?
Why did you forbid her to come into the lounge when you had business meetings?
Why did you lie to your friends and tell them she did not want to spend time with them and then tell her they were too busy to spend time with you?
Why did you neglect her to the point that she felt like she was rubbish?
Why did you give her a list of all the things you disliked about her and then still marry her?
And why did you not just have the honest to god decency to be honest?
Why did you evade every question she had till she was driven to distraction?
Why did you not want to go for marriage councelling when she suggested it to try and save your marriage? (although obviously time has answered that particular question).
Why did you say to her that you thought she was wonderful and then try to decimate that wonderfulness?
Why did you reject her time after time after time for all those years and yet never had the balls to stand up and say ‘I don’t want to be in this marriage anymore’!
Why did you force her to have to make the decision?
The list goes on endlessly and I realise that I will never have answers to these questions.
The last 10months have been hell. I have watched my lovely, beautiful daughter go through hell and sink to the depths of despair. To the point where she seriously considered suicide. To the point where she lost her will to live. To the point where she was dying.
But, guess what….she has turned a corner. She has slowly but surely been able to pick herself up and carry on. To find the will to walk into the future. When she saw you last week she was finally able to look at you objectively and realised that you no longer have the power to manipulate her. No longer have the power to make her feel ashamed. No longer have the power to make her feel like she is nothing.
She sent me the link to a song on youtube today with the lyrics. One of the lines sung by the artist goes ‘I will find someone else just like you’. Well Alan my hope is that she never ever finds someone just like you.
If I had the inclination I would probably say I hate you, but truthfully, I despise you. I despise your lack of integrity, your lack of interest, your lack of compassion, your lack of caring for someone who was clearly in a tremendous amount of pain and despair.
People who were complete strangers gave her more care, more compassion and more support than you did in the last 4 and a half years and most especially in the last 10 months.
And she has turned a corner. Despite the terrible depths of despair that she sank into over the last few months, her business is growing rapidly. She is becoming a speaker and trainer of note. Companies are now contacting her. She has built her business up from nothing into a running concern that now exceeds your salary. She has proved beyond doubt that she is not a loser coz she didn’t have a university education.
She no longer needs your approval (not that she got it in the first place, but she tried so hard to win it). She no longer needs your support for all the fantastic achievements of the last few months. She has done it all without you.
So Alan, this will be the last time I communicate with you. It’s possible you will never see this letter and frankly I don’t really care. What I do care about is that you smothered her lovely, bubbly personality, her self-esteem, her confidence and her joy. Hopefully in time and as you receed into the past and become the nothing to her that your new girlfriend is to you, she will regain those wonderful traits. They are an inherent part of her personality and I pray that in time they will resurface. I pray that she will meet someone new, someone unlike you. Someone who respects her, who cares for and about her. Someone who will rejoice in her lovely bubbly outgoing personality, someone who will appreciate her generosity of spirit, her loving, caring nature.
Thankfully it will no longer be wasted on you.
I know she has reached the point where she has forgiven you and bravo to her. Forgiveness is not an easy point to reach, but it means she is free of you.
So on this day Alan just know that somewhere in this world is someone who despises you totally and please if we happen to cross paths……do not stop and say hello. I have nothing to say to you.
a letter to my soon to be (ex) son-in-law
May 5, 2011 by notjustagranny