We lived in a house that was alive with sound, activity and fear.
There was always something going on, school activities, dance classes, sport of all different types.
It was a constant cycle of going here and there, preparing lunches, taking a child to some appointment and cooking dinner, for eight on a nightly basis was an effort when you think we worked as well.
You’d think in a household where so much was going on you could never be lonely, but it was a reality. With so many relying on you, there was never time for yourself and when there was it was taken with a sense of guilt for being selfish and not at the beck and call of those around you.
My wife liked being pregnant but showed a disinterest in the children except when they did something that potentially embarrassed her. That was where fear came into it.
When it happened no one felt safe. You found yourself alone and no one cared about you other than to placate the aggressor.
It was like an explosion, and the little ones would flee and huddle together wishing it would all end.
After when the house was quiet the sense of being alone hit home. Who was there to tell?
It was common to find myself alone, humiliated in front of my children, living in fear of reprisal when the morning came.
I came to learn that being alone, as soul-destroying as it is, was a preferred place to be. Learning to put on a brave face in front of the children was important as they expected what they perceived as ‘normal’ to return with each new day.
Being alone in a crowded house is a terrible place. You survive because you know it’s important to be there for the kids, if you take the blows aimed at them you feel your role is being fulfilled.
In time I changed my circumstance and in doing so the overwhelming sense of being alone struck me greater than ever. Not only was I alone but I lost my sense of belonging and that is punishing, to say the least.
A lot of time has passed since those days and alone nowadays means something different. It has become a precious time where I can reflect and grow, learn to love myself and reach out with greater confidence to those who love me.