I became acquainted with this song during the 1980s.The group that sang it was ‘Bread’. I had just become separated from my wife and two children a month earlier. At the time, my wife told me that she no longer wished to be married, period. She did have the grace to say it wasn’t me that she didn’t want to be married to, but any man! We had been married for 13 years but the latter six years had been downhill all the way. When I look back on events, I can now see what I couldn’t see then; that she was an ill woman who was suffering from what we now know to be Post Natal Depression following the birth of our two sons.
Never showing any inclination to be involved in any way whatsoever with our two children after their birth, I put it down to the ‘Baby Blues’ as the condition was then generally known and did the only thing any father could do in the circumstances. When the mother of his infants refuses to breastfeed, bathe, nurse, cuddle, comfort, nappy change, put to bed, get up in the middle of the night with and dress and undress their offspring (for the first five years of their lives), I effectively played the roles of mother and father to our boys. I did it, in the belief that my wife had some form of mental/depressive illness I couldn’t explain.
My ex-wife was a teacher of five-year-olds; ironically a job she loved to bits. The teaching profession proved to be her only interest and life saviour (or so it seemed) as I worked as a newly-trained Probation Officer. The children were cared for during the working day by my widowed mother-in-law. I never made my marital circumstances public knowledge to family, neighbours, work colleagues or friends until my wife started leaving the children alone during my absence. After fearing she would commit suicide (as she had threatened to do a few times) if I did not leave her, an agreement was made between us to separate.
We would separate but not divorce. As she had never involved herself with our two children, I would have custody of them both. To facilitate this, I agreed to give up my Probation Officer work in order to become a full-time house parent until the children were old enough for me to resume a part-time job. My wife could see and have stay-over access with the children whenever and for as long as she wanted. In return, I would sign over our modern three-bedroomed house to her sole ownership (worth £40,000 then and with £900 remaining mortgage: due to an inheritance we both had at the start of our marriage). I would purchase a nearby property so that the children could continue to attend the same school where their mother taught.
Within a month of leaving her, and after full ownership of the marital abode had been transferred to her, she reneged on every fundamental aspect of our separation agreement. She pressed for amounts of child and wifely maintenance I could not afford, leaving me repaying solicitor's fees for almost seven years. She refused me custody of the children as promised, besides denying me any type of access to the boys over the following two years (defying court orders to the contrary that threatened imprisonment if she didn’t comply). There was simply no way that I could possibly apply to enforce the Court Order and have the children’s mother committed to prison in default.
For the following two years I only saw my children by chance as they played in their school playground. She didn’t even allow me to speak with them on the phone or correspond with them in any way. All the letters I wrote to them were returned unopened and even my birthday and Christmas presents to them I left outside their door were dumped or given away by her. Don’t get me wrong, although I believed my ex-wife’s actions to then be the actions of a truly wicked and evil woman, I have long ago accepted that they represented the actions of an ill woman who could not possibly have been aware of the tremendous degree of hurt she was causing me and the two boys.
For a full two years, I longed to see my children and to find out what was going on in their little lives. Every night for two years I cried myself to sleep. I hurt so much inside, I don’t know now however I managed to work during the day or remain emotionally undisturbed and stay sane. In moments of greatest desperation, I seriously contemplated abducting them from their school playground and taking them to Ireland where I was born. I knew that as an Irish citizen that I would be beyond the jurisdiction of the British Court there.
The loss of contact with my two children were two years out of my life and their little lives that can never be replaced. I was truly ‘down on my knees’ as today’s song reminds me. I do not know how I emotionally managed to survive those two years or how I managed to hold down my job? It is beyond my current comprehension how I managed to keep the law of the land and how I managed not to bite the bullet and give vent to my most angry feelings and have my wife committed to prison for her blatant and lengthy defiance of prior access orders of court? I don’t know how I emotionally got through this most emotionally difficult period of my life, but somehow, I managed it!
We will all most certainly get to be ‘down on our knees’ at least once during our life when circumstances and events knock us for a six when least expected and our feelings of separation, loss, bereavement or rejection has the power to lay us low and potentially keep us down. It is at such times in our lives we can only survive by standing up to what life throws at us again; and if another knockdown reoccurs, we need to stand up again, again and again. The only time our pride should allow us to stay down is when we are dead, and our body is nought but a corpse!
However, many knockdowns we experience, whatever the level of pain or the degree of hurt we feel, however many times we struggle back to our feet, whatever fete of strength and endurance it requires to stay standing, hear this clearly and believe it with every ounce of conviction you can muster: ‘THE MORE KNOCKDOWNS WE EXPERIENCE IN LIFE, AND THE MORE OFTEN WE SUCCESSFULLY STRUGGLE TO STAND BACK UP, THE STRONGER WE AUTOMATICALLY BECOME, AND THE EASIER IT IS TO STAND UP TO EVERY POTENTIAL KNOCKDOWN EVENT AND KNOCKOUT BLOW IN LIFE THAT FOLLOWS! ‘
Love and peace Bill xxx