AWOL x 2

At first I thought I had been right to give W this second chance he was trying so hard, he wasn’t drinking. Well as far as I could tell and he was trying to understand more about what I was going through with M being on the loose.

Yes it had been another 3 weeks, and M was still AWOL. The police were apparently doing all they could to find him. I was having to call them for updates as they were not forth coming with sharing anything with me.

I was feeling very uneasy, but slowly getting used to feeling scared which wasn’t a state I wanted to be in. But there was nothing I could do but wait for the police to find M and then hopefully lock him up.

I let W try to make amends, he was more talkative and engaged with me than he had been for a while and he even invited me to join him on a work nights out and he stuck to his diet coke!

I was happy he seemed to be doing so well, and thought ok maybe this was the start of a new leaf for W and for us.

I was wrong. So very very very wrong.

It was a Thursday and I was walking to the nearest card shop to get a wedding card for W’s sister wedding that weekend. W and I were going to be driving up to Nottinghamshire to see his sister wed her girlfriend L and I was looking forward to it.

I thought W might struggle on such an occasion to not drink but he told me that with me by his side he would be just fine.

My phone rang and it was a withheld number, I sucked my breath in. This was likely to be the police, was this it? Had they caught him?

It was the police but it wasn’t about M, it was about W.

FOR FUCKS SAKE!

The officer asked me to confirm I was W girlfriend, I did. He then proceeded to tell me W had been found collapsed on the street fitting and that he was being taken to hospital. Could I come?

Fear spiked through me, and then anger- why would this be happening? Why was he on a street so far from work at 12.45pm on a Thursday?

My mind jumped to drink.

I hurried back to the office and explained the situation to my manager, the officer had advised that I wouldn’t be able to see him for about 3 hours so to come then, W was stable.  So I worked until 3pm and then was excused to go to the hospital.

It was a difficult journey all the way out East to nearly the end of the Hammersmith and City line. I arrived feeling exhausted and was shown to W’s bedside.

He was sat up seemingly ok reading a magazine. He looked up and smiled,

‘Hi Babe!’

Really????

‘What happened??’

He proceeded to explain that he had collapsed at work during a class and sent home in a taxi, he had then decided to go to the shop and then next thing he knew he was in an ambulance.

They had done an initial assessment and were waiting on the consultant. But he felt fine.

Ok so maybe I had been wrong to think drink, I felt bad.

The consultant came about an 2 hours 45 mins later, I sat and watched as she checked W out and asked questions and listened to W lie about his social and health habits of the last 6 months. He was saying he drank moderately and rarely took painkillers!

I kept my mouth shut and excused myself. I waited in the corridor for the consultant to exit, and explained quietly that W had not told her the truth of his diet, drinking and sleeping habits. She nodded and wrote some notes and said thank you.

I went back in ready to ask why he had lied but W quickly told me he was tired and that I must be too- he was right about that and I was exhausted. He  told me I should head home, he was being kept in overnight for observation and that he would be back home tomorrow.

I simply agreed and left, I was too tired to argue and to find out why W thought lying to a doctor was a good idea.

I had to go back to the office to grab my laptop so I could work from home the next day, so I made my way back into central London.

An hour and half later I was on a train headed home, my mind was hazy with tiredness and stress. I was finding it hard to keep my eyes open.

My phone buzzed it was the hospital, I answered and listened to the nurse explain to me that W had got out of bed and simply walked off the ward, they had searched for him and they didn’t know where he was.

Of course, why wouldn’t he do that?

C xo

©2016 C xo

 

Going backwards or forwards?

That day W texted me and called a lot, I was torn and sad and angry and upset. All in all not good.

I got on with work and tried to ignore my phone, I managed to hold out until 4pm and to my own annoyance and disgust my resolve broke and I replied. I kept it curt and said how hurt I was.

W replied begging for forgiveness and another chance. I said I would meet with him to talk but at the moment that is all.

He wanted to meet that evening so I said fine but I don’t want to go anywhere like a bar or restaurant. So I suggested meeting on the south side of the river, it was nice a neutral and far away from my work so if I cried hopefully no one I know would see me.

I got there first and as I sat waiting it occurred to me that I might be making the same mistakes again and again. I always give another chance and why?

Was it that I thought I could change them or did I not think I was  not worth more than this?

Lost in thought I didn’t see W approach, he had clearly made an effort and there was a worryingly large smile on his face. He went to hug me and I moved away, I wasn’t ready for that. We needed to talk.

He accepted my agenda and sat down looking albeit a little put out, I fiddled with the hem of my dress and struggled with what I wanted to say.

So I just blurted it all out in one go,

‘I can’t keep on going like this W, I don’t want to be with someone who is happy to throw away their health at the expense of their relationships. How can I be with you and look to a future of marriage and kids knowing you might not be there to support us?’

‘I know, and I’m sorry. I don’t want that either.’

W looked at me and I felt a flicker of hope, he was actually listening to me.

‘You have to stop drinking, that’s what I need.’

Silence followed and I wondered if he really couldn’t stop.

‘Ok, if that’s what you need I’ll stop.’

‘Its not just for me, its for you. You have to want to do this for yourself! You know how much its affected your health and if you don’t want this too then its not going to work!’

‘I know, I know and I do want that too, I do!’

W took my hand and this time I didn’t flinch away,

‘I do want this, I promise I do. Let’s go for a walk hey?’

In my head warning bells were ringing in the distance but ahead of them I saw what I wanted through I now realise very rose tinted glasses.

‘Ok’, I smiled for the first time that day.

We walked along the river and I was struck by how happy everyone was, the sun was shining and it was early summer, people were laughing and enjoying the evening. I wasn’t feeling the same, again warning bells.

I wanted to tell W I needed more than just this and that I was finding it hard to cope with everything but I didn’t want to push it. I felt nice to have his hand wrapped around mine. So for now I would leave it, baby steps!

As you are probably thinking, how stupid is she? Will she ever learn and wasn’t she just saying to herself stop giving these guys chance after chance?

You would be right to think that, my need for comfort at that moment overrode my sense of judgement and just 2 short weeks later I paid for that mistake.

C xo

©2016 C xo

 

 

The End of W?

The drive back down south was a quite one. We were all exhausted and the feeling of sadness was heavy with us.

My Mum offered for me to stay the night before heading back to London, but I had work in the morning so I needed to get back.

As I drove on the motorway a song came on – So Now you Know by The Horrors. It reminded me of listening to Blur and Oasis with J back in the 1990’s and I felt tears roll down my cheeks once again.

I listened to the song again and again.  It felt comforting in a way.

As I got closer to London I realised I didn’t want to be alone, I need comfort and so I called W.

No answer. So I texted him, ‘Can I come to yours tonight? I will be driving past there in about an hour.’

He texted back ‘Bit busy atm.’

I started at my phone and couldn’t believe it, he knew where I had been today. He knew how hard it must have been and he was a bit busy?? He hadn’t even said are you ok?

‘Doing what???’

‘With some friends from work, won’t be home til late.’

I threw my phone on the back seat and carried on driving, I was so angry. He was out with ‘friends from work’, he had only been in the job 2 1/2 months!

He thought going out with strangers for a drink was more importing than comforting the woman he professed to love???

I got home and went straight to bed, my whole body ached from grief and the days travel and the hurt from W’s choice.

That’s it, I decided. No more, I am not playing second fiddle to alcohol. I texted W,

‘Its over, enjoy your drink.’

I started at my phone and no reply came, and once again sadness for myself enveloped me and once again I felt guilty. At least I had my health, J didn’t have that anymore.

J had nothing anymore she was gone.

I fell asleep still dressed with my phone in my hand, hoping W would somehow right all his wrongs and I would have the comfort of his arms again.

My phone stayed silent all night, it wasn’t until the next day W texted and by then my resolve had hardened.

C xo

©2016 C xo

Fear & Mourning

The news of J passing away hit me hard and made me feel selfish for being so wrapped in myself. But at the same time I couldn’t shake the fear that had arrived when I had found out the police couldn’t locate M.

It sounds awful but grieving for J helped me as it took me away from the present and into the past, the times we had spent as children  and then later as teenagers and finally as adults. We had always laughed and J had sent me a lovely letter when things had started to get truly bad with M.

W was amazing that week, he understood I was on the edge and he made a real effort to cheer me up including giving me a beautiful bunch of roses. It felt like my boyfriend was back and I was so hopelessly grateful.

The funeral was organised swiftly, I wrote two heart breaking cards one for J’s parents- she was their only child. The other to her husband D. I wrote out draft after draft as I just didn’t have the words to say it was just so so sad. Eventually I felt I had written the most respectful and comforting words I could manage and I sealed them and posted them.

Three days later I travelled down to my mum’s in preparation to drive up to Humberside in the morning for the funeral.  I was traveling up with my mum and T her husband, we left at 6.30am as it was a 3 1/2 hour drive.

The day dawned with a beautiful blue sky, and I felt glad for J that her send off would be sunny and bright.

Driving up the country I felt relief to be out of my normal routine, away from where I should be. The very idea of routine worried me these days as I was predictable- at work for a certain time, leaving at certain time. Predictable made me feel very uncomfortable.

We arrived in time and found a local florist and brought a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers and white roses, it didn’t feel right to get sombre flowers, we wanted J to have something bright and beautiful as she had been.

Arriving at the crematorium, we stepped outside and found a group of friends and family already gathered waiting for the service to begin. It was a beautiful place, with gardens of roses and fountains which were sparkling in the sunshine.

As per J’s parents request no one was wearing black, this was a little ironic as J had worn black all the time, we had joked when she got engaged that her wedding dress would be black lace. (It wasn’t, her wedding day was the first time I had seen her dressed up and not wearing black, she looked stunning).

We hugged and exchanged sad words until we were called to come in.

The service was brutal, although the room was filled with flowers and the songs reflected nature and love the room felt cold, the loss of J was weighing heavily on everyone and the poignancy of the timing cut like a knife.

The vicar that took the service had married J to D just 3 years earlier and then christened their son only 16 months ago. He too could not contain his tears and his voice wobbled as he went through the service and described what a brave and strong young woman J had been to the room.

After the service we all filled out and everyone was crying and hugging. I saw J’s parents and seeing the sadness in their eyes cut like a knife. Seeing D, J’s husband try to comfort them was worse.

I hope you never have to say goodbye to a friend like this, it takes a piece of your heart forever. How can life be so unfair J was gone, and yet M was walking around free.

C xo

©2016 C xo

Loosing my Friend

Trying to carry on as normal wasn’t easy, the next few days at work I was quiet and I felt conscious of the dark circles under my eyes. I wasn’t joining in in conversations I just couldn’t I felt like my life was on the tip of turning upside down and everything I had re built was going to slip and fall away.

My manager was being so supportive which helped but I quickly became withdrawn and cancelled most social events I had agreed to .

W was trying to be there for me, but he was also still drinking and I just didn’t have the energy to fight him on this, so I let it go.

I spent most of my spare time in my room with the door locked, I kept my training going by running home on my commute and actually this made things easier as I needed longer routes and sometimes headed out the office in completely the opposite direction to home.

The race day came, and K an W were there to support me, although I was still edgy the race was well out of London in the middle of the countryside and for the first time in weeks I felt free as I ran through the forest.

Once again running was helping me keep myself together and I was so grateful I had this to relay upon. My time wasn’t great but I finished and that day that was enough.

Then just a few days after my race my mum called with some devastatingly sad news. My oldest friend J had passed away, I had known she was ill for over a year, she was fighting Leukaemia I had wanted to visit but she hadn’t responded to any of my messages and I didn’t want to intrude at such a hard time.

She was just 2 weeks older than me and I had known her since I was 2 1/2 years old. We had grown up holidaying together as kids and then later on seeing each other during school holidays.

I was with her when I met my first boyfriend G and I was with her when she met D a friend who years later she fell in love with and married and who was the father of her now 18 month old baby boy.

J was gone, I hadn’t seen her for nearly 2 years and now I couldn’t say goodbye it was too late.

I cried and grieved for my beautiful sarcastic brave friend, who I should have been a better friend to during her dark times.

She was 31, a mother of a little boy who was too young to remember her and leaving her husband of just 3 years behind.

I don’t think I have ever felt sadder in my life, my Grandpa passing was hard he wasn’t old but he had lead a fantastic life. He had seen his children grow up fall in love and had pursued his love of sports.

J didn’t get that she was my age and she was gone.

C xo

©2016 C xo

Fear

I was sent home that day, part of me relieved that my manager was being so wonderfully understanding and part of me worried that this was the beginning of loosing another job.

As I stepped outside I felt vulnerable, the cars and buses were rushing past me they sounded so loud and threatening and it felt like there was people everywhere. Despite it only being just past 4pm.

It was then I called my mum to break the news and to ask her to be safe and vigilant. She was calm and told me not to worry she wasn’t alone, and she would alert the local police as they had been instructed to do if there was any need to worry.

Despite her reassurance that she was fine, my mind wondered to dark places, images of my car doused in petrol and the slashed rugby ball flashed in my mind and I wondered how far would he really go? I wasn’t living there anymore but M had threated my mum more than once before.

Needless to say I was on edge, my way home was blighted with mini panics as bikes rushed up the road behind me and people pushed past me. I thought I saw him 6 times and ran into shops peering out the windows before realizing the men I had mistaken M for were just dark haired guys who bore a very small resemblance to him.

When I got home I checked twice the front door was locked and immediately checked the back door too. I ran upstairs to my room and locked my door and crawled under my duvet. I sat there for hours listening for sounds and jumping at engines gunning and shouts of laughter from the street.

Eventually I feel asleep, but woke at 3.35am and compulsively went to check the front door was till locked. I knew it was pointless M didn’t know where I was.

The simple fact was I didn’t feel safe anywhere, I had dealt with his release from prison as I had thought that the court case and a few months in prison and being a convicted criminal would change M. Would stop him.

But what he did in March proved he wasn’t finished, if that wasn’t going to stop him what would?

I didn’t fall back asleep that night, my mind was racing with visions of M standing outside my house, waiting biding his time to make the most impact when he striked again.

C xo

©2016 C xo

Back in Time

M being AWOL terrified me.

As I started at the back of the loo door I felt like I was relieving the nightmare of summer 2013 all over again,  my chest tightened  and tears streamed down my face as I struggled to control the panic attack. I desperately tired to recall the coping techniques that had saved me so many times in the past and gradually after a few minutes I managed to calm my breathing to a short gasp.

How could M be missing? The police were looking for him! They had resources!

It slowly dawned on me that to the police M being AWOL probably wasn’t such a big deal, it probably wasn’t anything more than a blip to them.

To me it felt like my world was closing in on me, had he planned this all along, was he biding his time for some grander attack on me? Was I safe?  Or had I just thought I was, he had found me before…

My chest tightened again and I realised I had to calm down, I couldn’t let this ruin another job I liked it here!

Again I worked on calming my breathing and it was then I thought of my Mum, M knows where she lives, was she in danger? Yes, I should call her!

I stood up, and promptly sat back down, my legs felt like jelly.  I sat for a moment quiet apart from my own ragged breath, I didn’t think anyone else was in the loos at least I couldn’t hear them. Slowly this time I stood up and edged the door open and relief flooded me that no one was there.

My relief was short lived as I looked up at my reflection. Once again I was plunged back in time as I saw the haunted look in my eyes, black marks smeared across my face and despite crying and a panic attack I was as white as a sheet.

Worried someone might come in and see me I scrubbed at my face cursing and congratulating myself at the same time for not wearing water proof mascara. I splashed my face with cold water and took another peek. I didn’t look great but at least I had gotten most the mascara off.

I took as deep a breath as I could manage and hurried back into the office, keeping my head down I made it to my desk. I grabbed my phone and realised it was 3.35pm. I had been in the loos for at least 20 minutes! I knew I couldn’t call my mum then so I pushed my phone to one side and set myself to just get on with it and hope 5pm would come around quickly.

10 minutes later, I realised I had done nothing, I was staring at the screen and seeing nothing, I was in shock. At that moment my manager looked over at me and came over straight away to ask if I was ok?

Apparently I had not succeeded in looking even close to normal.

No I was not ok.

C xo

©2016 C xo

Get away

The next few weeks passed by in a blur, I continued to train for my race in June and tried to concentrate my energies into exercise.

But it was hard, I was still angry about the CPS’s decision to drop the breach of restraining order charge. It just didn’t make sense to me. All the good faith I had for the police after R’s amazing attitude and commitment to my previous case was fast being eroded.

W and I were still on edge, he reacted defensively any time I mentioned cutting back on drinking. It was exhausting.

I tried to talk to him about how I was feeling and he just said,

“its fine the police have it in hand, all you have to do is wait for a court date.”

He didn’t understand and so I stopped trying to explain and kept it to myself.

June 1st was getting closer and my anxiety that something would happen creeped up and sleepless nights returned. So often in the past this was the time M had struck and I was on edge.

June 1st came and no news.

I waited.

By 3rd June I couldn’t wait any longer and I called my case officer for news.

She wasn’t on shift and the dept. didn’t have an update to give me, I would have to wait another 2 days.

To say I was on edge was an understatement, I was anxious at work and started walking different routes home from the office. I knew it was irrational, after all M didn’t know my name, my address or where I worked but part of my brain was not getting the message.

The  next two days felt like weeks, I called at 9am only to find that my case office was not due on shift until 3pm that afternoon.

The hours went by agonisingly slowly that day, until finally at 3pm on the dot I called and got through.

The news wasn’t good.

M had not shown up at his appointed time and place to be formally charged. He was no where to be found, the police did not know where  he was.

I hung up the phone, I felt ice cold with fear.

The police didn’t know where he was, they had been looking for him for 5 days and still couldn’t find him.

I looked around me and everyone was carrying on in the office as normal, and suddenly I couldn’t hold everything inside any more.

I ran as fast as I could to the loo’s and locked the door. But I did not feel safe.

C xo

©2016 C xo

Unbelievable

The weeks after the interview were filled with good and bad, you have heard some of the good- my new job, the marathon completed with a PB and I had W.

The bad- I had to wait for news from the police, they were charging M with breach of the restraining order and perverting the course of justice. I hated the waiting as I couldn’t not think about it, would he plead guilty? Would I have to go to court again?

Then there was W, he was on the bad side too. We were arguing lots, I couldn’t tell if it was me being on edge and snappy or if it was something more. I hoped it was just me as then I knew it would pass.

But I began to realise that this wasn’t the case, we argued about his drinking, his lack of care for his health which was translating into insomnia and a dependency on sleeping tablets. I was worried and scared and a little angry as selfishly I thought how could he do this to us?

In mid April 2015 I was called by my case office after weeks of silence, the CPS were proceeding with the charge of perverting the course of justice but dropping the breach of restraining order.

Their reasoning??

They said that they could not prove M was trying to get to me  directly or indirectly!

I was furious he had named me! He had accused me of breaking into his house and getting into his bed! He had given my mum’s address and caused officers to go there to arrest me! How was that not trying to get to me??

But there was nothing I could do, I felt helpless once more. Like I had when the stalking had started and the police had no laws to pursue M with or to protect me.

I wanted W to support me,  I needed him too. But he was distant when we weren’t together in person, leaving hours, sometimes a day to reply to my messages and I felt alone. I was angry and hurt and I honestly couldn’t cope with his problems on top of this.

I had to remind myself M wasn’t getting away scott free, that was the only way to stay sane. The CPS were still going to charge him with perverting the course of justice and the sad reality is that that charge carries a much bigger punishment than a breach in my restraining order would.

The laws on stalking may have changed but I still felt that they were missing a key point: The victims of this activity have no say, no voice. It is a blind board of people looking at a pile of paper and deciding on what they thought was damaging activity.

They had not had to sit in an interview room and recount the horrors of their past, scared that M had somehow got the police to believe I had really done it.

M was on bail until June 1st, so that the police could gather their case together to present in court.

So once again I began to wait.

C xo

©2016 C xo

Here we go again

Hello Again

The last year or so has been one of uncertainty and waiting for me, I dearly want to tell you this story has come to a happy ending and all is well but I can’t.

I have not posted as I was unsure what to tell you, but recently I have been asked by a number of people what happened next, so as of tomorrow I shall be catching you up.

C xo