I’ve been giving a lot of thought to abuse recently, whether mental, physical, sexual, or any other. It is something that nobody should have to live through, yet far too many of us do. I write we because it was once said that I had been abused; I have never been sure. Writing it down now feels strange; how can you not be sure? I would know if I had been physically abused, but was I mentally abused? Shouldn’t I know? I feel like a man walking around aimlessly trying to remember if he has left the oven on or where I left the house keys. It is a niggle that I can’t shake. So, inspired by The Guardians, Rock bottom pieces, and Spew’s tweet where he opened up, here I am. I can’t say that what I went through is anything compared to others, but it is my story.
The path of the past for this tale to begin. We have to take a walk down memory lane. This is never a leisurely wander, digging up memories that are sometimes better left forgotten. There is a reason why the brain suppresses some things. We shall start before my marriage ends; hold on tight, and I will detail it all.
As I have detailed before, I suffer from various mental illnesses. I was as close to housebound and a hermit as it is possible to be. My ex-wife was my carer. She was officially my appointee for any financials and my medical needs. I still suffer from the same mental illnesses, and it has taken me the best part of half a decade to overcome most of the issues. I still can’t, for example, take a covid PCR test as it means either leaving the house to take it or posting it once taken. You take the silly things for granted; I struggle pretty often to take the rubbish down to be collected. It was a ball ache when the bank needed my signature; I can’t easily post a letter, simple things we all take for granted. Thank goodness for electronic communication! Ten or twenty years ago, I would have been stuffed.
My ex-wife would collect my medication once a month. So, she would wander to the pharmacy once a month and collect them. Everything is hunky-dory and running well. I am doing just fine and dandy. Except I am not; something has gone wrong.
This is still incredibly hard to talk about. I am tangoing around the topic, swinging a salsa around the subject. I don’t know why, but I feel like a pisshead in a nightclub who is eyeing up a girl and is afraid to ask them to dance. I was living in my shell and blind to what was going on. You can trust too much, and it has taken me a long time to rebuild trust in other people. I am not sure I am there yet.
My ex came back one day and told me the pills were not ready. This had happened before; a pharmacy can’t have everything at all times. No big deal, I can cope; what’s a few days anyway? The water of a duck’s back, or pills (not) in a mad man’s mouth. But, this dragged on. Days turned to weeks, and she would return and tell me that the pills were still not in. Should I have opened my eyes to this? It is easy to say in hindsight, but if you can’t trust your wife, who is your carer, then who can you trust?
It is the betrayal of trust that hurts the most. It hurts the most because trust is easy to destroy but challenging to rebuild. It lingers like a bad smell or damp damage on the ceiling. Sure, you can paint over it or spray the room, but in the end, it comes back. It always comes back. It is a recurring nightmare, mental cancer. You think you have got over it, but then something happens, and the tormenting incubus of trust is forever on your shoulder, nibbling at your ear and whispering its words.
My pills all have the, do not suddenly stop this medication, warning on them. I had now been without them for a month, maybe six weeks. I will always be crazy, but I lose my stability without the pills. I start to become argumentative, and I was drinking too much. I always have drunk too much, but mixed in a cocktail of my medication free mind was not the intoxicant I needed. I argued with my ex-wife on numerous days, and when she left, I couldn’t hand on heart say it was not deserved. However, that was then, and this is now.
When she left, I took a while to sort myself out, but I knew one of the first things I had to do was get my medication back on track. I phoned the GP’s. I hate the phone; it is almost a phobia, telephoneaphobia. I never have my ring tone on, and the landline is unplugged. I called the Doctors and ordered a repeat. I do it online these days, but that is now, and this was then. With the prescription ordered, I waited four or five days for it to be processed. I then called the pharmacy to arrange for it to be delivered. Upon calling, I discovered that there was already two months waiting for me, and they had been there the whole time.
My ex-wife had been withholding my medication, knowing that it would have an adverse effect on my mental health. We bickered, and she left. Then two weeks later, she moved in with another bloke with who she had been communicating the whole time. I do not think I processed it at the time. I just took it for what it was. It was only six months later, as I recounted my story, that someone (I forget who, apologies to them!) said it was abusive. They said that withholding my medication was abusive when they were my sole carer. By doing so, they knew that it would affect my mental health.
Then, she defrauded the tax office via tax credits. She was my appointee via the DWP, and it was her name on the tax credit claim. I did not even consider it, would you have? She had changed the account it was paid into, so I would have just presumed she had contacted them if I had thought about it. I am not sure that I did; I can’t remember. So I was then lumbered with having to pay back HRMC. They acknowledged that she had contacted them. They told me she had changed the bank account. She had not told them that she had left me. They accepted everything I told them, yet they still took half the money owed from my Universal Credit claim. Okay, yes, we understand and agree, but fuck you anyway, Mr Wilson.
So that is my tale. Was I abused? Was withholding my medication abuse? Was using my phobia and lack of knowledge of the tax credits system abusive? Both things she did in the knowledge that I would not know. The medication with her knowing how unstable I can become. The money knowing she would be long gone before I found out. She also knew she would have a few weeks before the pills started to kick in. A couple of weeks where I would be out of action for want of a better term. It took me longer, much longer. I still don’t know; was it abuse? Am I hiding the truth from myself? I really do not know. I am still blind to it.