Volume 3 Number 7
'Don't Let My Parents Split Up'
01 July 1990
It was all too much for Christine, as we shall call her. Her parents were always fighting and were on the verge of divorce.
It was all too much for Christine, as we shall call her. Her parents were always fighting and were on the verge of divorce. Her mother-in-law was a 'goodie-goodie' who could do no wrong and thought her son had married beneath himself.
Christine had suffered epileptic fits since childhood and was trying to hold down three part-time jobs. Money, she hoped, would give her the stability she craved.
And then there were the rows with her husband Bill. How had they all started? `I don't know,' says Bill. `Partly the in-laws I suppose. To disagree became habit- forming. We just fell into that trap.'
`The biggest problem was we didn't talk,' adds Christine. `When we did communicate, it was in anger. It gradually built up till you were emotionally raw. There was just no forgiveness.'
It all led to a nervous breakdown just after their second child was born. The doctor put her on Valium, on top of the barbiturates she was taking for the epilepsy. Soon she became addicted.
Then Bill began to take a fancy to a secretary at work. `I thought I was justified at the time,' he says. `After all, my marriage didn't mean anything to me any more.' And though Bill didn't let on to the secretary about his feelings for her, Christine sensed there was trouble brewing. `He didn't laugh any longer, he was sullen, something was terribly wrong.'
Bill ceased caring what Christine felt. So when she asked him if he was in love with someone else he said yes. That was the last straw for Christine: `I just fell apart.' Bill began to pack his bags to leave: `I'd just about had enough.'
That night Christine went downstairs to end it all. `Suicide seemed the only way out. I had no-one to turn to. Bill didn't love me. The children's lives were on the same unhappy path as my own childhood. Neither the psychiatrist nor the marriage guidance councillor had helped and all the doctor said was, "Keep taking the pills". So I was going to, all in one go, to get out of the misery.'
At the bottom of the stairs she cried out: `If there's a God up there and you've got a son, as we learnt at school, I need him now.' Then she sat on the floor `and said the only prayer I knew, the Lord's Prayer.'
It was as if a voice was talking to her - Christine even turned round to see who was in the house. `If you take those pills it will be worse where you're going than what you leave behind, because your life is such a mess.'
`I cried my heart out - in anger as much as anything - put the pills away and crashed out into sleep - the best sleep I'd had in years. It was just heaven.'
The next morning was Sunday. Christine's first thought on waking was, `Get up, tidy yourself and go to church.'
`Tell your dad I'll be back to cook the dinner,' she told the children, who thought she was leaving for good. `I'm going to church.'
`Church?' said Bill, astounded, when the kids told him. `Well, if anyone needs it she does.'
The next weeks saw the beginning of a new calm in Christine, and in the house-an `uneasy calm', she admits, as Bill was still suspicious of the change in her. But the children, sensing a new atmosphere, became a little more relaxed and outgoing. Christine looked forward to church each Sunday - and the kids began to go too.
As for Bill, he began to think of the young offenders he had been teaching engineering once a week for their probation service. Many of them, he recognised, had come from broken homes and had lacked love and understanding. Two of them had been glue sniffing. He began to feel `more than just a bit uncomfortable' about what might happen to his own children.
Then one day young Tim,, their son, who had joined the Boys Brigade, said, `Family service, Dad. I'm carrying the flag. Coming?' Bill agreed to go -though church `presented challenges that weren't easy to face'. For one thing he needed to forgive his in-laws for the `influence' they had had in his home, not to mention the forgiveness he needed from Christine.
For her there were more changes too. For too long she had blame& Bill for everything. Early morning times of prayer helped -`not just praying but listening too and writing the thoughts down'. One was to `love Bill more, not less'. Just because he had not loved her didn't mean that she should stop loving him. The children, too, needed more love and attention. The doctor helped Christine come off the Valium after eight years. Her epileptic fits are now far less frequent and the deep depression has gone.
As for the children, they have `ended up being well-balanced - I don't know how,' says Christine. Tim had prayed that God would help his parents not to split up. `I know there is a God,' he says, `because he has answered my prayer.'
The names of the people in this story have been changed at their request.