When it comes to men and relationships, I have to admit that I haven’t had much luck – that is, until I met Ross over six years ago. The men in my life were mainly controlling and abusive towards women. The only one I could really count on was my Grandad. Funnily enough, I now compare both my stepdad and Ross to my Grandad as they seem to have a similar sense of humour and attitude towards life.
As I look back over the past 30 years, I have come to realise just how poor the previous examples were, examples I thought were ‘the norm’ and how much I was fooling myself. I am very blessed that I now have the right person for me and a wonderful dad for my children.
I had a handful of relationships when I was a teenager, however, my father set a very poor example in how men should behave. He was abusive towards my mum and there were a number of times where I had to ‘rescue’ her. Often she would come to me to talk things through. I would shout at him to get out and leave her alone. When they finally split up, he didn’t even tell us he was leaving. We just discovered one day that he had up and gone.
For years, my mum tried hard to fix everything, but I am afraid a leopard never changes it’s spots. I no longer have a relationship with him. He now lives with his girlfriend, who is just six years older than me. They have a child who is just a week younger than Grace. He told me of their pregnancy and that he ‘had time to be a father now’. This was the beginning of the end for me. Then, the final straw came when he assured me that he would never give Grace a joint Christmas and Birthday present – and then went back on his word. Then, he rang me on my birthday – at the same time as taking a hire car back. There are countless other examples which I won’t go into but I finally realised I wasn’t important to him.
When I was 21 I got married. When I look back at this now, I think that I used it as an excuse to get away from the disjointed disruption in our house in a bid to try and bring some harmony to my life. Instead, I found myself dealing with a man child!
At the time, his parents were splitting up. We lived in a one-bedroomed house and his father would come and stay on a regular basis. Having only just moved in, we were trying to get used to living with each other as well as preparing for a wedding. Things came to a head after the marriage when I realised that my husband at the time was phoning chatlines in the middle of the night. We received a warning letter advising us of an increased bill of over £300 (a lot of money back in 1992!) and, to start with, he denied it. BT were one of my clients at the time so I asked them to investigate as the huge bill couldn’t be right.
BT would not discuss it with me because my name wasn’t on the bill. One day, we sat down together so he could phone them. He picked up the receiver, put it down again and finally came clean. Our relationship went downhill from there. He became abusive towards me. We had bought a house which was a fixer-upper but I started to stay with my mum and then I discovered that, not only was he bringing other women back to our house but he was not paying his part of the mortgage and many of the bills were going into the red.
The split was quick and easy. I dealt with it myself. My husband didn’t contest it and our divorce was confirmed exactly two years to the day after we got married.
I always say that I went from the frying pan into the fire in respect of this relationship. It is no surprise that I started to feel like I was the one with the problem. The men I was with were controlling and (mainly) emotionally abusive. This man has to have been the worse of those and I can directly compare so many of his traits to those of my father. I have previously written in much more detail about the relationship I had with him.
I left him when Grace was 3 months old – not an easy thing for any mother to do – and went to live with my mum to start with. Then, after Grace turned two years old, I went to live in my own place.
It took a little while, but I started to date again. I started to see someone I used to go out with at school. He was lovely but it didn’t take me too long to remember why we had split up in the first place. I then had another relationship which was also a reignited one. However, he eventually told me he was seeing someone else as well. The trouble was with this is that he was totally indecisive. One minute saying he wanted to be with me and, the next, wanting to be with her. Eventually I realised that I was getting caught up in something I didn’t want to be involved with.
At first, I didn’t want to be on my own. It isn’t easy being a single parent. I looked at speed dating in London and considered singles nights. I joined a number of dating websites but I found it all such a waste of time. Eventually, I came to a decision on New Years Eve 2010. I decided that I could make it alone and it would be me and Grace against the world!
Ross to the rescue
At the beginning of 2011 I was involved in a pantomime at my local drama group. Ross had originally auditioned for a role which, to his disgust(!), he didn’t get. Instead, he took over responsibility for the sound on the production. When a member of the cast got injured, I took over the role 24 hours before opening night – and, as a result, Ross noticed me. I impressed him. At the end of the run, we met for coffee – and sat talking for nearly 4 hours. This was a very positive sign.
We took things slowly. As we had both come out of difficult relationships and had had our fingers burned, we both wanted to ensure that we didn’t go there again. Both of us expressed our concern about Grace’s involvement and that we wanted to ensure we were happy with each other before introducing him to her. Communication was definitely the key to the start of us.
We have now been together for over six years. He has restored my faith in decent men and, slowly, has helped to re-build my trust too. I admit that I still have the occasional wobble and, patiently, he reassures me. He talks to me about everything (although, I think I scare him a bit sometimes with my honesty!) and I don’t feel I have to go looking for anything he may have hidden because of how open he is with me. I don’t feel that he forces his affection on me or makes me feel guilty. He doesn’t control me and positively encourages me to go out.
Ross came into my life when I wasn’t looking, when I least expected it. He is the perfect example to set to Grace and the child we are expecting together. He is honest, kind and hard-working. His firm but fair trait reminds me so much of my late grandad. Not only do I consider myself very lucky to be with him, but I totally believe that my children are too.
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