It was always my fault. Or so I was told. I was wooed, pursued and I was swept away. I never saw the truth or what was to come.
He spent the first ten years of our marriage building his career, and what a career it became! But between that and his hobbies we saw little of him. To the outside world he seemed attentive and engaged, the perfect husband and father. I was the willing accomplice, as I was told it was for our family's future. I felt like single parent.
Once he was established, we seemed of even less importance. The night before our last daughter’s birth I found pages and pages of information about cross dressing clubs in London. When I asked, he shrugged it off as a silly discussion at the office and they didn’t feel if appropriate to leave it lying around, so he had brought it home. And so it started.
Not long after, our baby daughter was now almost one and I found out he was trying to spend a night with a girl, I think, at a hotel. There had been talk of a business meeting and the need to stay over. I found out by accident. When asked he went into a rant. As usual it was my fault, but also the fault of the lady involved as she misunderstood the invite to spend a night in his hotel room. Our four children took up too much of my time and he felt neglected! I did what I was told to do. If you are told often enough that you are the problem then you come to accept it as true.
The next 15 years followed a similar story. I was told on many occasions that the reasons for his bad behaviour were always down to my shortcomings. When I found out he had joined a dating agency.....well you can guess and you would be right, and yes I complied and did as I was told.
When he had an affair, it was my fault because I gave his brother a bottle of Brandy, from us, for his 40th birthday and yes I know how little sense that makes.
The affair was the turning point, I started to see that his logic was not quite normal. I threw him out, but you don’t throw away 23 years of marriage. We were supposedly working on our problems but he refused to give up the flat and made the argument it made sense to have a city work base as we were trying to grow our company.
That was the beginning of the end, for almost 2 years it gave him the freedom to do as he wished. I soon found out that late night business meetings were the cover so that he could enjoy his ‘other life.’ He started going out to dinner and bars with other women.
When confronted about his lies he drove a car at me, it stopped about 2 centimetres away from me. The truth emerged. He had told them he was single or in a marriage with the ultimate bitch... can anyone else see the theme? As I’ve always maintained I was not his only victim but he was the only denominator.
As I said, the city base was supposed to be for our business and our socialising. Our children and I were in and out of it constantly and if I’m honest I enjoyed the freedom, it gave us (we lived in a rural community and I don’t drive).
Then the day came, he obviously felt uncomfortable leaving me alone in the apartment and as any woman would do who has been in a similar situation, of course the alarm bells start ringing. I expected to find evidence of another woman and I suppose I did in a weird way.
What I had come to realise over the years, was that the red mist descended over him when he was caught out, and I had to be careful. We drove home together, my mind was in turmoil and finally I started asking questions, I knew that we were returning to a full house and couldn’t talk. The ‘red mist' descended once again and he tried to push me out of the moving car, I was tight against the door. I shouted “What do you want me to do?”...the response still chills me to my bones...”I want you to die, bitch!”, he screamed still pushing me tight against the car door while bombing along at about 70 miles per hour.
As you can guess that was the final straw. He came to the house twice more at my behest over the next year, otherwise he had made little attempt to see our children and when he did come he used it to remove his philatelic collection from the house. When he was there, a feeling of doom and walking on eggshells came over us all, while he went to his study and didn’t interact with any of us.
About a year later, one of our daughters broke down in tears and it came out that she had been raped. I rang him, and he said not to call him about horrific days until I had spent a day as an expert witness in the witness box.
From there it went to how he had been raped for 22 years by me. How when I called to make sure he was safe, that the sound of my voice was like torture. That’s when it transpired that many of the nights, while I sat alone at home with our children, he was dressing [as a woman] and walking about in car parks. I know many will be screaming how awful his life was for him, believe me it wasn’t.
One of his friends once commented, how lucky he was to have a loving wife and 4 beautiful children, I couldn’t understand his bemusement at the time. In fact at our eldest daughter’s wedding as part of his speech he called me ugly. The wedding planner jumped and took me to the bar store room/fridge. I was so cold and distraught that I couldn’t pour the bottle of rosè into my glass and as any lady would do, under the circumstances, I took a swig from the bottle!
The next time he was in contact was the day he informed our two oldest children that he had changed his name by deed poll and was already in transition. He then appeared on TV, without warning any of our children.
He has never officially told our two youngest anything.
I finally went to Women's Aid and found Trans Widows and that’s when I realised I was not alone. Thank you to all those brave, wonderful women who opened my eyes to the coercive, psychological and emotional abuse my children and I had suffered for so long. My coercion continues through the divorce process but for the most part I’m free, I can breathe and I don’t have to worry about the red mist ever again.