This is My Life, part Three

CarolStarred Page By Carol, 3rd Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1uap1e8q/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

I have now been married for 10 years, and have 3 children, the youngest being severely mentally and physically impaired. Now I had to learn to cope with him.

This is My Life part three

I had a gradual realisation during the first two years of his life, just how frail and disabled Philip was. It is something that is very painful to come to terms with, and as I am normally an up beat person, it was the eternal optimist in me that really hoped the doctors could be wrong.

His frailty roused every bit of maternal instinct in me, I so wanted to help him have a better quality of life, however long or short it might be. Not much was really known about autism in the 1970s, but I later found out it was defined as messages to the brain becoming confused, resulting in behavioural problems.

But Phil did not just have this, he had asthma, excema, severe learning difficulties, and later, in puberty, he had fits, so frightening, that so many times I thought we would lose him.

When a baby develops, they discover naturally, how to sit up, crawl, and walk, and all we need to do is encourage them. It was not so with Phil, at 20 months, he was still laying on his back in the pram, and when we tried to sit him up, his back was rigid, and he yelled with annoyance.

In the early days after he was born, I could put him out in his pram in the garden, and he never cried, he was such a good baby, laying there kicking, and watching the branches move on the trees. But when I picked him up to feed him, then the crying would start. I thought my baby didn't love me, because I didn't understand that autistic people don't like to be touched.

Autism causes the sufferer to be isolated in their own world, which makes them feel safe, they rarely smile, or respond to other people. We were given no advice from the doctor, he freely admitted that he didn't know, and my husband was so devastated that he turned to drink to prop himself up in his misery. The thing that should have bound us together was driving us apart, as I now became the stronger one, his apathy spurred me on help Phil.

The Doctor recommended Physiotherapy

Every day for two weeks, I took Phil to the hospital, and they worked patiently on him, massaging his frail little limbs to encourage him to sit up, and all the way through, Phil roared with indignation that they were touching him. He was getting more and more angry every time, but did actually stop when they handed him back to me. They reluctantly gave up this idea, but then I went home and thought about it.

I was his mother, it was up to me to help him. He was now smiling a lot at me, and to see his face light up was so heart warming. He even tolerated Jimmy and Anita kissing him and touching him. They knew he was a special child, but to them ,he was their brother, who needed help,, and they loved him.

So I set to work, getting him used to being on my lap, singing to him. He loved music, but was very brave to put up with my voice, I am no singer! We had good days when he co-operated, but there were far more bad days, and if he wasn't feeling well, I couldn't do anything. Then I started to massage his little limbs, so thin I felt they might break, and after a while, it became fun, he laughed. Then after a time, he relaxed his back and stopped any sort of resistance, and although I knew he might never walk, he sat up unaided, and when I put him on the floor, he shuffled around on his bottom. I cried such tears of joy over this, we were all so proud of him.

Jimmy's School wrote to me

My other two children were obviously missing out on my attention whilst this was going on, and if they were jealous, they certainly showed no sign of it, but my guilt was there. We have always been a very closely knit family, and I can't speak highly enough of Jimmy and Anita, they helped me with Phil, and changed nappies, I didn't ask them, they just did it.

Jimmy was seven now, but he still had trouble mispronouncing some of his words, and he had never been as chatty as Anita. His school wrote to me, he was due to go to middle school in September, and they explained that if he did, he would always be struggling at the bottom of the class, but if he went to a special school with smaller classes, he would achieve much more.

Something inside me snapped. My husband was holding his job down, but in the evenings he was drinking too much. He couldn't support me emotionally, he had taken this all so badly, and I was struggling to help Phil and hold this family together. In comparison with Phil, Jimmy's problems did not seem insurmountable. I had lived with a brother who needed special help, and seen how protected he had been by my parents. I made 2 vows to myself, firstly that I was going to teach Jimmy to be independent, to minimise his special needs, and secondly, I was going to leave my husband, and try to make a better life for my children.

I made my Plans

At this point in my life, I know what I should have done. I should have allowed my husband to come to terms with all this heartbreak, and I should have given him emotional support. But I couldn't do it because I needed help too, and there didn't seem to be anyone there for me. I hid my unhappiness from my children, I wanted them to feel safe and secure. I realised that I did not love my husband any more, but I did feel pain and pity for his torment, because we were still bound by our children, and our grief.

His tempers were a bit less now . Grief had knocked the stuffing out of him, and the whisky bottle temporarily numbed his pain. There was just one incident that I couldn't forget, but I did try to forgive. One day when we were getting ready to go out, I wanted to put our dog in the back of the car and take her, because I didn't like to leave her alone for too long. He did not want to take her, and I protested once too often.

His anger rose, and he strode over to the dog, whom I had just put into the back of our hatchback. She was barking excitedly, and he got hold of her, squeeezing her throat to silence her, just like he had done to me so many times in the past. I love animals, and could n't bear to see this, so I screamed at him, and tried to pull his hands from her, and when he did relax his hold she whimpered, but then wagged her tail at him, grovelling over, when he pretended to pat her, which reduced me to tears, to see her loyalty after being so ill treated.

Jimmy and Anita had seen this , Phil probably wouldn't have understood, but his behaviour made me decide to end my marriage. It would not be long before his out of control actions would affect the children, there was a side of my husband that was mad, and he scared me.

The easy thing to do would be to slip away when he was at work, but when children are involved, it's not possible. Schools had to be changed, the doctor, friends have to be told, and then you need money, and somewhere to live.

It took me a while to pluck up the courage to tell him. in the meantime our dog had died. She had never been strong, having fits as a puppy, and she got gastro enteritis, and at the age of only five, she laid on my feet one night when he was at the pub, and slipped away. I was heartbroken, and the children missed her too.

He didn't believe that I would carry it through, and scoffed at the idea, pointing out, I had 3 children to care for, didn't have a job, nor anywhere to live, and as I was leaving him, he wasn't going to pay me any maintenance.

Maybe that should have put me off, but this is where my stubborn nature comes in. He remarked that it wouldn't be long before I came crawling back. Well I just had to prove him wrong.

I searched for a flat

I scanned the papers to try and find a flat. I knew I had to get some sort of job, but with a disabled child, I could only think of working from home. Whilst I was looking, I saw a shop with living accomodation above it. I could rent the flat, but I needed a small cash sum to buy the business. It was a wool and haberdashery shop.

My husband was at last taking me seriously, so he reluctantly agreed to let me have it. He was still going to live in the house, because he still believed I would return later. I was so grateful to get that money, but he made it clear there would be no maintenance, so I had to make that shop a success.

I arranged everything, and then tried to explain to my children, making sure they realised they would still see their dad as well, because after all, they did love him. Our children accept our faults because we are their parents. The day we moved, even though my love for him had gone, I left feeling miserable and wretched, with a deep sense of conscience for taking his children away from him. Anita cried because Daddy would be on his own, and I felt the biggest villian there was, but I still had to do it. I was to feel even worse when he was arrested soon after for drunken driving, because he hired a barrister to plead his case as he needed to drive for his job, and it was pointed out in court, that the defendant was suffering from depression, and acted out of character because his wife had left him and taken their children with her.

My parents were not impressed with what I had done. Mum felt we should have had marriage guidance. My husband had promised so many times to go and get help for anger management, and she was obviously concerned about her grand children. My dad had pointed out that I would probably have to bring the children up alone because I had baggage. I knew he was right, but having another man was the furtherest thing from my mind. I knew my marriage prospects were nil, but I was off men, that experience had put me right off. Little did I know, that soon I was going to meet the love of my life.

Read Part One here.

Read Part two here
Read Part four here

Tags

Anger, Animal Cruelty, Autism, Children, Disability, Domestic Violence, Drinking, Emotional Torment, Husband, Life, Mental Handicap, Temper, Whisky

Meet the author

author avatar Carol
I am a proud mother and grandmother, and an author. I have had 7 books published. My hobbies are walking, swimming, and playing badminton. I try to raise more awareness of autism with my writing.

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
4th Jan 2011 (#)

Carol, I just can not find the words to tell you just how much respect and admiration I have for you. I mean this!
I will say, you have my heart hon.!
With a special needs brother whom I have cared for since 1996, I can so relate but, it was also while we were growing up, that I first knew, he was mine to protect and help.
Lordy you got this Alabama woman crying her eyes out here.
Not sad tears but, you hit me so much emotionally. You got your kids out...
God bless you for that.
These page is well worth star and a huge hug from me. Love it!
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Denise O
4th Jan 2011 (#)

this page*
Darn it, I hate when I make typos! LOL

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author avatar SiddiQ
4th Jan 2011 (#)

Ditto Denise O! Touching Carol! My prayers to Phil. And I'm sorry about your dog :(

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author avatar Carol
4th Jan 2011 (#)

Denise you are such a lovely lady, and I bet your brother had the best sister ever! I have now to condense 30 years into one more part, and this is the part where the most happened. I am so glad you have liked to read it, putting my life into words gives me such emotional healing. Everyone on Wikinut is so supportive, including Mark, my kind and patient moderator, who must have been tearing his hair out when I was trying to learn how to embed a link. LOL! xx

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author avatar Carol
4th Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks Siddiq

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author avatar zed
4th Jan 2011 (#)

What an amazing mother you are :)
Your story is truly an inspiration.

...waiting for the good part :)

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author avatar Carol
4th Jan 2011 (#)

It's coming soon Zed

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
5th Jan 2011 (#)

wow, you and Denise both have told such sad tales.
You were lucky that your husband allowed you to go.
They do say that men who abuse animals will abuse people too, sorry about the loss of your dog too of course - that would have been horrid and frightening to the kids.

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author avatar Janey1966
5th Jan 2011 (#)

Oh my, what an amazing woman you are. Your courage lightens my soul, it really does. I can't help thinking about your dog and what your husband tried to do to it..what a cruel act. I couldn't stand that either..oh, and to see the dog wagging its tail as well. So trusting aren't they? Mum's rescued cats still have marks around their necks where their previous owners had placed collars on them that were too tight, and they dug into their necks whilst locked in a shed (before their rescue) and you should see them now..so healthy and content. Cruelty to animals, I just hate it.

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author avatar christopheranton
5th Jan 2011 (#)

Carol . You were like a lioness
fighting for her cubs.
You have my undying admiration.

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author avatar Greenfaol
7th Jan 2011 (#)

What the above says. I have real issues with people hurting animals, and as Mark points out, it's usually a sign of someone who will harm people too. You are very strong to have left this man. xx

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author avatar Carol
7th Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you everyone xx

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author avatar Uma Shankari
7th Jan 2011 (#)

You make eyes go moist, Carol.

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author avatar Retired
15th Jan 2011 (#)

Very nice article,thanks

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author avatar Melissa Dawn
24th Feb 2011 (#)

Carol you brought me to tears especially over the dog. What a strong woman you are. Autism is still such a mystery but unlike you parents today have so much more info at their fingertips. God bless you and yours.

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author avatar Carol
25th Feb 2011 (#)

Thanks so much Melissa

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author avatar Martin King
25th Feb 2011 (#)

Thanks for the share I enjoyed the read

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