Tonight is part two on my reader’s submission, if you missed part one it was posted last night Jan 14th and titled ‘One Year, One Life’. There are a couple of huge reality checks here in this post tonight. Take nothing for granted, ask the questions, take the risks. Health and happiness to all of you…
I needed a holiday and Europe was the destination. On the train between Prague and Berlin I was in the dining car on September 4, admiring the Goulash that had just been delivered to the rickety table by the steward. My Pilsener was half gone, the green country flickered past. Things were serene.
The phone chirps a text. ‘I am stuffed’, it said. The ex wife reports the guy has fled, leaving her devastated and destitute. She can’t pay her half of the mortgage next week. He lasted 9 weeks and left owing her 2 grand.
We had sorted everything else except our co-owned house. It seemed the guy had messed her around financially and emotionally. It was in the end of winter and it was cold in that house.
She was in an impossible place – financially rorted by him; and then strung out by his exit and his protracted lazy departure where we would come and take a few things, and leave open the next appointment. So his stuff was lingering while she was hitting the bottle and crying all night.
Her work became hard; she wasn’t eating and lost weight. The two teenage boys were worried. Once I was back from the holiday I got a text message at 2am one weekday saying she needed me to drive across town and take the kids to school that morning. I dashed over to find she had taken six Valium and a raft of painkillers on top of a lot of booze. I vented, this was unacceptable..
I spoke to a counsellor who had experience with suicide. I followed his advice, confronted her and asked whether she intended to take her life. She said no. I asked her to promise me she would not do it again. She promised.
Three nights later she texted and seemed irrational. It was school holidays and she was home alone. I suggested we all go boating in a few days and un-usually she agreed. I was delighted that I had found some hope for her and she had something to look forward to.
But several hours later she sent the goodbye text to me, and her ex husband John who had the kids with him. It was clearly a suicide note. We all raced to the house after calling emergency services, to find six coppers and an ambulance in attendance with gawping neighbours. The Police had kicked in the door, the dogs were going off, but they held the family at the street for an agonising twenty minutes before wheeling a semi conscious ex out to the ambulance.
Her frantic parents followed the ambulance to the hospital leaving me, her other ex husband John and his kids – my step kids – to collect our sanity while inspecting the house for clues about what she had done. I fell to the kitchen floor in tears. I’d been the strong guy right through everything with her. The boys had never seen me cry, let alone wailing on the floor.
At the hospital they admitted her, and next day she was ringing John and I, demanding someone come and check her out. A psychiatrist hadn’t yet assessed her and when he did the rounds, he scheduled her. Later they let her call me and it was a very unhappy sedated ex on the line.
“You’ve caused me to be locked up. This is like a jail”, she said of the mental unit at the public hospital. “They won’t talk to me. The bed is hard. No one will tell me anything. You have to get me out. If you don’t I’ll never talk to you again.”
Two days later she was released into the care of her parents and promptly moved back home alone, against all advice. The kids spent two weeks away with their Nanna and cousins, but were not referred to a child psychologist. The damage to them is unknown. I had to withdraw totally from the situation, and John bore the weight of her calls and despair.
She sailed close to the edge for weeks, drinking and sending hundreds of text messages through the night.
It took many worrying weeks until the darkness had passed; yet those close will now always worry. Suicide and its attempts gravely hurt the living.
It is the ultimate selfish act. Everyone around the person has his or her lives affected.
I had to gently push her to agree to sell the house, which would give us both closure. She rose to the challenge and we did it, she moved in with her parents nearby.
At the end of October I met my dream girl, and we started the voyage only to encounter my deepest demon in December, hereditary prostate cancer. I am hyper vigilant with tests and yet we only just caught this one, it was 7 out of 10 and was already occupying 80% of the gland. Scans confirmed it was contained, and on January 10 (2014) I had robotic surgery to remove my prostate.
The doc says he saved all my erectile nerves, and with the right therapy I’ll relearn how to get a boner. I have the right therapy, she is 47 and takes my breath away. How lucky am I?
With a complete recovery almost certain, and with my new love committed, we embark on 2014, the year I learn to love again – in every way – and the start of more settled times.