Thursday, 26 December 2013

Two days after Christmas I almost lost everything

A few days ago I posted on the anniversary of my grandmother's funeral. If only that were the only major trauma my family suffered in 2010. Caution is advised when reading this blog as it's a revamped version of the original post I wrote the day after it happened.

This is all true events and happened to myself and my children.
My babies' bedroom door....


Three years ago today, 27th December, my ex (Happy Helper's biological father) had some kind of psychotic break, and reenacted slasher horror movies akin to The Shining  with myself and my children as the costars.

My ex (lets call him Joe) had just brought Happy Helper (1 at the time)  back after virtually kidnapping her for Christmas (he refused to bring her home after he had his agreed visitation time) and only brought her home because I got in touch with his mother and she made him.

My housemate was going to stay at his girlfriend's place as they didn't get along and my ex was supposed to be staying the night on the couch before the 3hr long trip back to his place the following day.

My housemate and his girlfriend left telling me they'd be back tomorrow.

Joe got a phonecall and started to get angry and upset, and left the house with a 1ltr bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey.

An hour or so later I started getting hateful text messages from Joe, who was alternating between saying he was going to kill him self and calling me names, such as 'whore'.

I stopped replying to him after a while and was talking to friends online after putting Happy Helper and Cuddle-Bird (then 4) to bed when I heard banging and crashing coming from the balcony door upstairs. I picked up a torque [read: BIG] wrench and went to investigate. It was Joe. Joe reeked of alcohol.

I started to have a panic attack due to the thought of someone breaking into my house (Joe or not) and sat on the stairs trying to breathe. Joe just stared at me silently before going into the kitchen to retrieve something, he then went into the downstairs bathroom.

As I regained my composure on the stairs he came out of the bathroom and stumbled into the living room and sat on the couch. Where he walked he left blood. He had stabbed himself with a small knife he retrieved from the kitchen.

There were blood drops on the floor, on the carpet, on the couch and on the children's chalkboard.

I came down the stairs and stood in the doorway to the living room, my emotions were high and I was in a bit of a panic still, I was afraid to go near him as he sat on the couch, his long hair hanging over his face, watching me while playing with the blood on his hands.

I kept asking him what did he do, what was going on.

He finally spoke, as he played with the blood. "Blood everywhere." He said in a monotone.

I was completely terrified right then.

I went upstairs, calling my housemate on my phone and telling him to get home NOW. I stood halfway up the stairs, between Joe and the kids' bedroom. And he started coming up the stairs after me.

I made it up the remainder of the stairs before my legs failed me. I turned around and put my back to the door of the kid's bedroom. I was still holding my big wrench, my phone was still in my other hand, call to housemate still connected but I couldn't hear him calling me as the phone was at my side, Joe was still coming up the stairs.

He stood midway up the stairs looking at me, before suddenly rushing up the remaining stairs at a run. I screamed.

Happy-Helper woke up in the room behind me and started to cry. He took a step back and started to repeat over and over in his monotone voice "you're scaring my daughter, get away from her". I didn't move, so he began to yell it, and grabbed my hands and pulled me towards the stairs. I screamed again.
He let go and went back downstairs, smashing the walls with his fists and throwing the children's toys.

My housemate was still on the phone, I could hear frantic yelling on the other end before it got disconnected.

While Joe was downstairs destroying everything he could I went into the kid's room, pushed the baby cot in front of the door and pulled Happy-Helper out of it. My phone beeped with a text message saying they called the police and were on their way back.

The next thing I knew Joe was back upstairs bashing on the door trying to get in. Both Happy-Helper and Cuddle-Bird were screaming and scared. I was holding the cot in front of the door while trying to keep them calm.

And then, 1 year old Happy-Helper toddled her way towards the door. So I let go of the cot for a split second to pull her back, and Joe got his arm through the door, he was holding the biggest knife my kitchen had, his still bleeding arm dripping into his daughter's bed.

He shoved the cot, hard, knocking Happy-Helper down and knocking me over using her body.

He came into the room. And stood above us, Cuddle-Bird was hiding on the other side of her bed, I was cradling Happy-Helper and looking up at him.

He demanded I give Happy-Helper to him, knife still in hand. He reached towards her, and blood dribbled onto her teddybear pjs.

Banging. On the front door. He jumped up startled and ran out of the room. I re-barricaded the door behind him and tried to stop myself from shaking and the children from screaming.

Someone tried to open the door and I started to freak out again, until a familiar voice greeted me. I about died from relief. I opened the door and faced my neighbors, my roommate must have called them too. They stood outside the kid's bedroom between Joe and us as Joe came back to the stairs, having regained enough sanity to tell me to call someone, my neighbor stepped between us and said that he was here already. Joe stared at him hatefully as though he could kill him with a look.

Finally the police arrived and my neighbors told me to shut the door and stay in the room with the kids. Eventually Joe was taken into custody and I came downstairs as another neighbor arrived to take care of the kids while I dealt with police.

Joe was on the front lawn, on his knees with his hands on the back of his head. There were 3 police cars and police were all over the place with weapons drawn.

My housemate arrived as I got to the front door, and I don't think I have ever been hugged so tightly by my friends as they all piled out of the car.

Joe was talking, saying "check on her, check on her, I love her." as police led him to the wagon.

As I went back inside to sit and show police the bloody hand prints, smashed walls and overall damage he had done to our home I could hear him as they drove him away.
He was yelling again: "I'm going to kill you you f**&ing whore."

When we came up the stairs I came face to face with my daughter's name, written on the wall in the blood of a madman.

This was the most terrifying night of my existence. And I'm posting it, on the 3rd anniversary of it happening to warn you, do NOT ignore the signs of violence, with Joe it started with him throwing things or putting holes in walls. He was always sorry afterwards and always said it would never happen again.

People often ask women in abusive relationships, "why don't you just leave?". This all happened because, after years of an off-on relationship of me breaking it off and he promising it would be better this time, I was finally sticking to my guns and not going back. This happened because I made it clear that I wasn't going back to him.

It will never be better next time, and it will more than likely happen again.

Don't put your family in the place mine was. Leave and don't look back, before it gets this far.


*Joe is not his real name.

My baby girl's name, written on the wall in blood...

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Merry Christmas, Granny...

3 years ago today we buried the last remaining member of my immediate family who hadn't been lost to addiction.  The last remaining member of my family who was there for me with a hug, with a kind word, with $20 for a meal when times were tight and never asked for anything but a hug back.
The last time I saw you was October 12 2010, we visited you in hospital for your birthday. As far as I knew you were going home in the next few days.

No one thought to tell me that you never went home. No one thought I should know that you were still in hospital until I got a call mid december from the doctor telling me that we should come and see you.
I had thought it was the same as your birthday, partially because the doctor didn't make it seem urgent at all and partially because no one told me how bad it was or that you had been in hospital all that time.
I made plans to go and see you the following monday while the kids were at childcare, as it was a 2 hour round trip.

I never made it down to see you.

Sunday afternoon the phone rang. And as I collapsed in a blubbering mess on the stairs my housemate's girlfriend called for him and pried the phone out of my hands.

2 days before Christmas she drove me the hour long trip to attend your funeral.

I had never particularly liked her, and we never truly got along, but right then it didn't matter, she was needed so she acted.

She dropped me at the funeral home telling me to call when I needed and I met up with family.

My mother sat stonily in the front row with my brother, my father and I, her antipsychotics making it impossible for her to express her emotions; for all the world knew, she didn't know her mother was in that casket, or didn't care.

My brother was next to her, sunglasses on, even inside, not looking anywhere but at the Australian flag they'd hung over her casket showing that she served our beautiful country in her youth, even though she was born and raised in Britain.

My father and I held each other and we sobbed together. It was the closest I've ever felt to my father, and also the last time I have seen him. Oh he still lives, he just don't care about anyone except himself and his wine.

Merry Christmas Granny.

I'm sorry I never said goodbye, I'm sorry that you withered away in hospital for 2 months without me even knowing.

I'm sorry that you only ever met your eldest great-grandchild.

Thank you for always having a bed to sleep in when the violence erupting at home got to be too much, thank you for always having a gift for my brother and I to open for our birthday or Christmas, sometimes they were the only gifts we got.
Thank you for the hugs, and for loving so fully. Thank you for loving us, even if you didn't always agree with us.

I miss you.
Merry Christmas Granny. <3

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Snow Angels

This is a story I wrote as an entry for the Single Dad Laughing Holiday Writing Contest and while I didn't place that's fine with me. I enjoyed reading the finalists and recommend you head on over and check them out when you have a chance.


Christmas. The time of love, the time of giving, the time of warmth.
Trees glowing and beautiful, smoke wafting from chimneys, the carefree laughter of children as they run through the pearlescent snow...
A slight breeze stirs the snow at my feet, and cuts through my threadbare shirt like blades. I shiver and huddle closer to the foot of the chilled green steel dumpster.

Out on the street the children gleefully dive into the snow and wave their arms, giggling.
“Look Mama! I made a snow angel!” A rosy cheeked girl of about 4 years sings out, pointing with an ecstatic grin at the ground.

I watch them play, in their warm clothes and snow boots, until the tantalising smells of Christmas dinner wafts through the street, the air is growing colder and the sky is growing darker, parents begin ushering their kids into their warm, inviting homes, telling stragglers that they'll get frostbite if they stay out too late.

I look down at my bare toe sticking out from the mouthy grin of my shoe, I can't feel it any more, the skin is mottled and purple.

Frostbite. I think bitterly to myself. Sure.

I gingerly pull myself to a standing position as the first notes of the door- to-door carollers reaches my ears.

Silent Night...

Drawn to their angelic voices, I stumble through the snow.

Holy Night...

The door in front of them opens and the rosy cheeked youth stands in the doorway, eyes wide with awe as the cheerily dressed men and women sing on her porch.
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child;
Holy Infant so tender and mild...

The snow starts to fall, the wind starts to bite and I've made it into the street. Standing in the glow of the streetlight I look down at the tiny snow angel at my feet.

“Merry Christmas!” The little girl calls out happily as her mother comes and closes the door to keep the breeze out. The carolers move on to the next house.

I take a step forward and tumble into the angel in the snow. A warmth spreads through my body and I'm so sleepy...

It's warm, the wind can't reach me here, it's ok. My mind calls to me sleepily.

This is my 7th Christmas. Last year Mama was still here, this year... I'm alone.

Sleep in heavenly peace...

The night goes on; the snow falls thicker, the wind gets colder, but a dirty little boy slumbers unawares in a snow angel on the road.

“Mama! Look! An angel!” A little voice rings out into the crisp morning.

A woman looks over to the road where her child is pointing at the mound of snow on the road and ushers her daughter inside quickly telling her husband to keep her inside while she calls 911.
The ambulance arrives swiftly, but it's too late, early Christmas morning, the snow claimed another angel.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

3 little words to destroy a child

Why is it that EVERY year we have people trying to destroy our Christmas cheer?

Why do people insist on telling our children that "Santa isn't real."?

People claim that Christmas is "too commercial", Santa has nothing to do with religion, you're lying to your kids and the list continues.

For the record the first appearance of Dear ol' Saint Nick was when he was born on the 15th March 270. He was a DEEPLY religious man who many miracles are accredited to, and who modestly always credited them to God and God alone. He is the patron saint of children and is where the modern idea of Santa originated.

But beyond that, what's wrong with allowing our children to believe in Santa? A little magic at Christmas time?
What's wrong with giving them gifts that we don't get the credit for choosing and giving to them?
How SELFISH are we that we can't give them a gift without making sure they know that it's from us? What is the point of giving?

Santa was the BEST part of Christmas for me as a child.

In the days leading up to Christmas the excitement was overwhelming.

Each year I'd wrap up my own toys to put under the tree as my parents couldn't afford to buy gifts for my brother and I. I'd wrap them up in paintings I did at school, just so my brother and I had gifts under the tree like all the other kids. I'd even write on his that it was from Dad or Mum so he'd believe they got him something.
I'd lie in bed on Christmas eve, too excited to go to sleep, getting up to look out the window, believing that every plane I saw moving across the sky was Santa coming closer. I'd listen intently for the sound of bells or reindeer.

I'd wake up Christmas morning to a stocking filled with candy and fruit and be mad at myself for falling asleep.

My mum went above and beyond to make sure we had magical Christmas' even if they couldn't afford presents. (Well, even if my father wouldn't let her buy present's because Christmas was "too commercial"). Some years she'd get some sheep poop off the neighbors and leave it around on the lawn where we'd leave carrots for the reindeer and excitedly point it out to us. Other years she'd leave a note thanking us for the milk and cookies.

Don't ruin the magic for your kids  or other people's kids just because you don't believe in Santa or believe that it's "too commercial".

Looking back I don't feel betrayed by being allowed to believe in Santa, Christmas time was the best part of my life as a child, BECAUSE my mum made sure we believed.
I'm so grateful for my mum doing that. I'm so grateful she let us have the magic and didn't take the credit for the only gifts we got each Christmas.
I'm thankful she taught me to appreciate the good in the world, and the kindness of strangers.

If someone had told me that "Santa isn't real" when I was cowering in my closet covering my ears and trying to avoid my drunken father's violent rages I would have been utterly destroyed. Santa was my rock. Santa loved me, even though my father told me I was nothing. Santa brought me gifts even though my father said he wouldn't waste money on me.

My mother was Santa. And she would spend her own money that she'd receive for Christmas off my grandma on filling our stockings as my father would not give her any other money.

Christmas was the best part of a childhood I would otherwise rather forget.

Stop trying to take that away.

You have no idea how much it may mean to a child to believe that SOMEONE out there loves them enough to bring them gifts.

You have no idea how much you're taking away with those 3 little words: "Santa isn't real".

You could destroy more than an illusion of a big fat man in a red suit, you could destroy the only person that child believes loves them, or is there for them.