Behind closed curtains

It would seem that it is possible to become friends without forgetting.

A couple of days ago I was in my car and the song on the radio was The Police – Every breath you take. For a lot of years I mistakenly took this to be a very romantic song. Just like many others. I am aware that Sting has said it is not about romance. I came to that conclusion myself back in around 2006 when I was going through a rather nasty divorce. I’m not sure now which came first but I can’t listen to that song anymore without feeling freaked out.

After my then husband had moved out of our home it didn’t take long to discover that I was being watched. I would get messages about what I was or wasn’t doing. I became so paranoid about this that I insisted that we kept all the curtains shut day and night for months. I hated that not only was my ex watching me but he also had some of our neighbours reporting back to him. Both before and after the divorce, he was making threats on my life.

The police installed a panic button and my children were put on the ‘at risk’ register. One summer Sunday night he was phoning me relentlessly but I refused to answer. In the end he changed tactic and started calling one of my sons. It was the middle of the night. I agreed to speak to him if he left our sons out of it. He first of all told me that he was going to kill himself by throwing himself on to the rail track. He then changed his tune and said he was going to kill me.

I had got into the habit of writing a diary of everything that happened. A suggestion from the police. I had been writing it in a note book but by this time had started writing it on my computer and emailing it to a trusted friend so that there was a second copy. On this particular early morning I was writing about the latest phone calls. I rang the police to tell them of this latest development. I heard a tapping on the back door. I thought it was our cat. The cat flap was set so that she could get out but needed to be let in. (otherwise other cats came in). I was just about to open the door to let her in when I saw finger tips gripping the window sill. It was my ex trying to trick me into opening the door.

As I said, I was on the phone to the police. I yelped and said in a panic. ‘He’s here!’ I was told to go upstairs, they were on their way. Reaching my bedroom I saw him go to the garden shed. I was scared that he was finding something to use to break into the house. To my relief he didn’t, instead he went into the shed closing the door behind him. When the police arrived I told them where he was. On being found he said he was there to collect his lawnmower! He was arrested and charged with harassment. Next day he was released and called me to instruct me to tell the police that he had asked me to get the charges dropped. Obviously, I did do just that. They added intimidating a witness to the charges.

Months later, his case was to be heard in court. He had pleaded not guilty just so that I would have to go to court as a witness. At the last minute he changed his plea to guilty. That was a relief. He was given an injunction preventing him from coming near me or the house.

For years after this I had as little contact with him as possible. I had changed my phone number I don’t now remember at what point I did that. It must have been before the court case because changing my number meant that I had no record of his text messages and voice mails.

However now all these years later we have managed to get over all the animosity. We have become friends. Not only do we have four sons together but we also now have two grandchildren. This and the fact that he has not had a drink for about 4 years have helped. I still find it awkward because of the bad history between us. Most particularly the last 12 months have brought us together as friends. He has been a great help to me and my mother during lockdowns and health issues. He has become our support bubble and we have become his, since his friend who he had looked after for several years died at Easter.

I am grateful for all his support and glad for the sake of our children that we have managed to put the past mostly behind us. Some of my friends are worried about our friendship thinking that we would end up getting back together. That will never happen. I know he doesn’t drink anymore, we have 30+ years of history but there were many reasons why I divorced him. Being an alcoholic was only one of the reasons. I am pleased for his sake that he is sober.

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