We both wanted children, and we wanted them soon. I was 26 but felt ready for motherhood. You were 7 years older, keen not to be an ‘old dad’, so we planned to start trying as soon as we got married. Our wedding was the whole shebang. White dress, church bells, bridesmaids, photographs, cake and a lovely reception with all of our friends and family. I was so excited to start our life together. We flew to Dublin for our honeymoon. On the Tuesday after our wedding, we were walking back to our hotel after a night out in Temple Bar when you suggested going to get a kebab. I was tired, my feet were killing me and the kebab place was not on the way to the hotel, so I said I would rather leave it and just go back. You grabbed me by the wrists and started screaming in my face that you didn’t want to have to divorce me but you would if I didn’t agree to go and get a kebab. I’m not sure how long it went on for. 10 minutes? 15? Nobody intervened as you screamed at me. You were squeezing my wrists so tight my hands went numb. We went to get a kebab. The next day, my wrists were red and swollen and you were back to your usual, charming self.
I tried so hard to make it work, but nothing I ever did was good enough for you. You got a promotion, which meant moving to a new city away from my friends and family. I got a temp job straight away, but you kept berating me for not earning enough money, for not having a permanent job. You told me I was supposed to be your meal ticket and I had let you down. The house was never clean enough for you. The meals I cooked were never tasty enough. You earned double my wages, but wanted to split all household expenses equally and spend the rest of your money on yourself. You started drinking heavily, buying pints two at a time and downing them one after the other. I stopped drinking on nights out, as I thought at least one of us should be sober. You developed a habit, when you got angry with me which you invariably did, of taking all my money away and abandoning me in the city centre late at night with no means of getting home. I started to keep emergency money hidden in my shoe.
You blew through our life savings and said it was all my fault. I couldn’t work out what you had spent it all on until I found a Quality Street tin full of drugs hidden under the bed. If I didn’t want sex you would push me out of the bed and make me sleep on the floor. Once, you pushed me out of the front door in the middle of the night in my pyjamas and wouldn’t let me back in. You hit me sometimes. Not often. It was almost a relief when you did, because the rest of the time you always tried to convince me I was the one in the wrong.
You were furious with me for still being on the pill. You said I was a tease, accused me of dangling the possibility of having a baby like a carrot, trying to control you. I begged you to get help for your problems and you laughed and said you wouldn’t do anything for me. I wanted to be a mum so badly, but I loved my future children so much I decided not to have them with you, because they deserved a father who wasn’t an abusive, violent drunk. It was the biggest sacrifice I have ever made, and I did it for them.
Eventually, I found the strength to leave and start a new life. It took a long time, but I met someone new and learnt to love and trust again. I married him, and we are happy and he is a hundred times the man you were. But because of a genetic medical condition he can’t have children, so it turns out you were my only chance for motherhood.
I heard on the grapevine you’re a father now. I hope you have managed to overcome your issues and are a good father, a good partner. I hope with all my heart you are not putting your new family through what you put me through. If I had known then you would be my only chance to become a mother, would I still have made the decision not to have a child with you? I’m pretty sure my decision would be the same, because having a child with you would have been selfish, fulfilling my need but not what was best for my children.
When people tell me that as a childless person I’ll never understand the all encompassing love a mother has for her child, never know the lengths a mother will go to, to protect her child, I think about that decision I made, to sacrifice my dreams of motherhood to protect my children from you, and I know they are wrong.