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How did I end up here?

This is a story, I have been asked to tell...

When you are young and you are looking at your future it is so common to imagine your beautiful house, your loving, caring husband and your children playing harmoniously in the back garden...

I look back and laugh at how very different my life, so far, actually has turned out.

I married quite young at 25 to my childhood sweetheart, cliche, I know!! We had always got on so well and been a fantastic team. Living together was a bit of a challenge as I started to realise his mum must have done everything for him, he was so lazy and didn't seem to realise that he was. It absolutely amazed me that he could be so thoughtless and unaware of what I was doing and he wasn't. I chose to deal with it because he didn't understand and the arguments were too much.

When our little girl was born my world was complete, I felt so happy and loved her so, so much. I came home ready to start our lives as a family unit only to quite quickly realise that my husband was not on the same path.

Maybe I should have seen the warning signs already by how traditional he was being once we moved in together. MAybe I should have looked a little more closely at his own upbringing and what his family dynamic was so that I would have understood what he thought was 'normal'.

He was not interested in her, except when she was happy and smiling. He wouldn't change a nappy, get up in the night, soothe her, he wouldn't even play with her for long. He would just say "I'm working, I need a good nights rest". He would walk in from work and just sit down and expect for me to look after him. It made me so angry and I obviously was making him so angry too.

We were both so disappointed at how our family life had turned out. We were not at all compatible anymore and it was breaking my heart. I was exhausted with being a mum but even more drained from the lack of support. I knew I couldn't continue and that we had to separate to protect ourselves and our daughter from our animosity.

I felt so sad but couldn't see another way round it. He was more than happy to be single again, without a crying, annoying baby to deal with. I have looked back so many times wishing I had had a conversation with him before we got married about how he would like to raise his children, how he saw the roles of a husband and wife. Had we had that simple talk, we might have saved a lot of pain, or more likely I wouldn't have believed it and carried on anyway!! I loved him and sometimes love really is blind to what you don't want to see.

So I didn't have enough money to rent or buy so ended up in some of the most horrendous housing through the council. I am grateful that I had a roof over my head but I have never in my life before or after realised that people could be so unkind, disrespectful and threatening.

My house was in a block of flats which had smashed glass all over the place. My floors didn't have any carpets or curtains so I was scrounging around for help to get something to cover the floors, any spare rugs or mats as this was just temporary so no point spending money laying carpet for them to just rip it up again.

I hung sheets for curtains and tried to clean the floor as best as I could so it was safe to walk on. My door would hardly lock and I was scared that it could so easily be knocked down. The flat next door to me had the door smashed in with an axe and had been patched up. She said it was her ex so not to worry about it!

I thought I was low before but now I felt so lonely and scared. There would be fights outside constantly, police called, tyres slashed, knives waved around for fun. I remember being blocked in, whilst we were in my car, trying to leave the carpark and my car was surrounded by youths all shouting at me, throwing stuff at the car, smashing my back window as I edged forwards trying to get out. My baby started crying and I don't know if that is what stopped them but I heard a man shout at them and they just sauntered off as if they weren't going to do anything anyway. It was so terrifying and I felt so helpless. Their eyes seemed dead except showing pleasure in my obvious fear. I don't think they would have stopped if that man, whoever he was, hadn't shouted at them. He must be even scarier than them though because they all backed down and left me alone. I get cold sweats when I think what price I might have had to pay for him stopping them.

I drove out and then broke down. I drove to my parents house, 2 hours away, tears blurring my sight but I wasn't stopping. I had to get as much distance between myself and those people. My baby was not safe, I was not safe and I needed help.

As I knocked on my parents front door my heart was thumping. I had let them down, I wasn't the daughter they wanted me to be, I was a mess, they would be so disappointed...

My dad opened the door and just stared at me for a split second before realising I needed him and started hugging me and holding me as I cried like I didn't know I could. My sobs slowly ebbed and he raised my head and looked into my eyes..."I love you" he said. "You didn't need to go through this alone. We are here for you, we always have been, we just didn't know what was happening".

I know not everyone has a family to turn to that could help. I didn't think I could and it took such fear for the safety of myself and my baby that I asked. They have helped me beyond belief and I am so grateful that I didn't have to go back to the flat. I still live with them and at times it can be challenging for all of us. I didn't think I would be back home at 30 but I am safe. I have love and my parents care for me, my daughter just as much as I now care for them too.

I want others to know to ask for help. I want young lovers to question their partners seriously about having a family and how they picture that being. I want a safer place for parents with young children to be able to go but I am working on that...

A massive thank you for sharing this story. I know she is now trying to set up a charity to help more single parents who find themselves in a situation that they never expected...

You can find your way, you just might need some help as you go x

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