Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Point of No Return

First thing Monday morning I drove over to the Diocese offices to speak with the Bishop. Sandra, however, had telephoned the Bishop and so when I arrived, I was immediately taken into a private office.    Sandra had reported me for staying away from home all weekend without any explanation as to why I was not there.   According to Sandra, I had left her alone all weekend without any consideration for the rest of the family.   Emotionally, I told the Bishop that Sandra had actually thrown my out in one of her many rages. 

I suspect the Bishop initially thought that it was a marital row that had just got out of hand and did not grasp the severity.     He arranged to visit Sandra at home and asked if I was prepared to go to the house to talk with him and Sandra.   I agreed to do this.

When I arrived at the house, conversation had already taken place between the Bishop and Sandra.    The Bishop informed me that Sandra had shown remorse (although she has never shown any towards me) and had arranged an appointment with her Doctor for later that week.   I suppose the intention was that I would accept this as a step forward and agree to return home.  However, all I had done over the weekend was remembering abusive behaviour and knew that I had reached the point of no return. 

I did state that a visit to the Doctor was pointless because Sandra’s problems weren’t medical.  I felt that she needed to see a psychiatrist not a medical Doctor.   Even in front of the Bishop, Sandra denied throwing me out.   She certainly seemed to have detached herself from any sense of reality.  I stayed calm and described my violent removal from the home quoting the words Sandra used.  She threw my clothes, my personal effects out of the front door.  She told me in no uncertain terms to leave.  I was left in no doubt, and neither was the Bishop, Sandra had thrown me out of the marital home by violent means. 

Sandra couldn’t accept any responsibility for her behaviour and when I cited examples of some of the abuse I’d suffered, her only response was , “ well, for a church minister your language is appalling.”   So I calmly replied that yes I had swore at her in retaliation but what else could I do?  Would it have been better for me not to swear but to have hit her.   At this remark, Sandra lost all verbal control and angrily shouted, “You’d only do it once!”   To which, I kept composed and responded, “But that’s the problem Sandra, you’ve done it more that once.”  She had nothing else to say.

The children were walking home from school and had seen my car parked on the driveway so came rushing in to see me.   I dashed out to see them and we met in the hallway.  This moment was and is the most heart-wrenching moment of my life, even now I still cry every time I think of that moment.

The children and I hugged and cried for what seemed like an eternity.  I missed them desperately. They had all found ways of coping with home life.  I’d tried to be a conduit to Sandra’s anger hopefully protecting them.   I think they could sense my release from years of torment. 

I said that I would take the family out the following Saturday.  On Saturday, I picked up all the family including Sandra.  Always when Sandra travelled in the car she would never allow the car stereo to be turned on so that the rest of us could listen to music and Sandra would always sit in the front passenger seat.  Things were changing, Sandra sat in the back and I played CD’s on the car stereo without any comment.   Sandra asked me when I was returning and I said I didn’t know.  Sandra assumed that once I’d had some time out that I would return to the family home.  She even asked me to drive her to my parents so that she could apologise for the verbal abuse she’d given them.  They are still waiting for that act of contrition to take place!  I  had reached the point of no return, having taken nearly eighteen years to break the abuse cycle I was not going back.  Too much hurt and damage had been done.

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