I didn’t know where I would live. At this point, I was sleeping on my parent’s sofa. I was extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of my children. Although their mother had never been physically aggressive to them, my counsellor pointed out to me that they were now at risk because I wasn’t there to absorb the attacks of my ex-wife. She was so concerned about their safety and well-being that she wrote to the church leadership expressing her professional concerns. The church ignored the letter because they saw no risk.
The church eventually offered me a house which they were about to sell to live in. My ex-wife and myself were given 3 months compassion leave to try and reconcile the marriage. This meant that with a roof over my head, the children could stay with me at weekends.
The next school holiday came and I had the children stay with me over the first weekend of the recess. The oldest child was very distressed and didn’t want to return back to her mother. She felt that her mother had been picking on her unfairly and couldn’t cope with much more. So on the Sunday night, I took the younger two children back and explained that our eldest child couldn’t face returning home because of the atmosphere. She slept on my parent’s (her grandparents’) sofa for several nights. However, she was missing her siblings terribly and they were missing her. So for their sakes, she returned back to her mother explaining why she’d returned. I hoped that this incident would empower my daughter but also make their mother realise how close she was to losing all her children. Faced with such a threat, surely she would change her behaviour?
Every time I saw the children I would always ask how they were coping. I remember asking my eldest daughter if her mother had shouted at her: “Yes Dad, but I deserved it, I was playing up,” was the answer I received.
However, a very testing time came when my ex-wife decided to take the children away on holiday. I received the following text from my eldest daughter:
14th August 20xx 17.09
I can’t wait to come home she’s doing my head in x
I responded along the lines of try and stay calm. Minutes later the next arrived.
14th August 20xx 17:17
I can’t take it anymore she’s actually making me want to end my life before I end up killing her x
I was distraught as I didn’t know where they were specifically. I knew where she had taken them in terms of the town, but had no idea where they were staying. I felt so helpless. Later, I received a text to say that the situation had calmed.
The next time, my ex-wife took the children away, there was another explosive moment between the eldest child and her. They were staying for the weekend in London. Again, I had no idea of the actual destination. This time I received a telephone call from my daughter to say that they had left the hotel and were walking to the train station when her and her mother had verbally argued. Her mother had left her alone in the street and gone off taking the younger children with her. My daughter had tried texting and telephoning her mother, but mum was not answering either the texts or calls. So my daughter was alone, on a London street not knowing where she was and was getting extremely concerned because a strange man was now trying to talk with her. Eventually, my daughter managed to find her way back to the hotel and found that the rest of the family were already there in their rooms.
Once I left the church ministry, I eventually found a house to rent near the children and their school. The eldest child and I spoke quite often about her moving in with me. She showed a very mature attitude and while she wanted to, she recognised that if she moved out, both her younger sister and brother would also want to come which would effectively leave their mother with no family so she stayed. However, it wasn’t before long that tensions rose again and she could take no more. She actually gave her mother a week’s notice, informing her mother that she would move in with me the following weekend. Rather than try and build bridges, her mother immediately took back off her the house key making my daughter feel even more that she was being forced out.
And so, Father and Daughter number one were re-united.