The immediate aftermath

There’s only so much time that can be spent curled up like a ball beneath a sink, even if the carpet is soft and the radiator’s on.  I didn’t cry.  I just tried to collect my breathing, slow breath in – hold for seven seconds.  Seven seconds?  I managed to increase from 1 to 4 seconds, but that was it…  Slow breath out.  I was dreadfully cold and the shivering turned to convulsive shaking.  This was not good.  Carefully, I stood up.  No dizziness.  OK, time to go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea, preferably without spilling boiling water all over myself.  The kettle was full.  Hurrah, one less thing to worry about.  I began talking to myself so that I could focus on one thing only.  Every small thing that took me away from the discovery upstairs had become incredibly important.

“Choose your favourite mug.  Slice of lemon.  CAREFUL!  Teabag.  Teaspoon.  Pour with both hands.  Take the teabag out.  Go to the table.  Sit.  Drink.  Now you can think.”

There was nothing to think about, really.  Voldemort, my husband, former headmaster, fancied, fantasised about and, for all I knew, really enjoyed actually ‘getting down and dirty’ with pre-pubescent boys.  A man whose professional life had revolved around being ‘in loco parentis’ to children had a completely un-parental interest in 50% of them.  There was only one thing to do, only one thing that I could do.  I had been a teacher.  In any situation, professional or personal, I had always put children and their welfare first.  I had to call the police.

I have since found out that some women find this course of action difficult, for whatever reason.  This was, for me, the one thing that I found easy to do because it HAD to be done.

There was just one problem.  I could only pick up my mug by using both hands.  I was still shaking and I had filled it only half full precisely so that I wouldn’t spill anything.  I could only pick up the phone using both hands and then, when I tried to hold it in my left hand and dial with my right, I kept dropping it.  At that point, from somewhere, I remembered something about using the wrong hands to do something, in order to focus.  So, I held the phone in my right hand and pressed 101 with my left.  Then, still using my right hand to hold the phone to my ear, I waited.

It seemed hardly any time at all before a deep Yorkshire accent answered and then?  All my words tumbled out:  “My husband has been using his computer to look at little boys.  Child porn.  Please, I want someone to come and take it away.”

After asking for my name, address and telephone number, the policeman on the end of the line said, “You’re sure it’s nasty?”

“Oh, yes.”  And then I began to cry.  “I’m so sorry for crying.  I thought I could be grown-up about this, but I can’t.  Please can you send someone round?”

I was assured that there would be someone with me as soon as possible.  Twenty minutes later, the PC who became my initial liaison officer arrived at the front door, apologising.  “I’m sorry I’m a man, but the only woman officer we have on duty, this evening, is up the dale dealing with a nasty domestic.  I’m happy to wait in the car until she arrives, if that’s what you’d like?”  I asked him to come in and ushered him into the living room where he sat on my husband’s customary chair, filling it so much that it looked no more than a piece of children’s furniture.  “Please be aware,” he said, sounding well-rehearsed, “that some websites, however distasteful are still legal.”  I answered, “I understand that.  What I have seen is definitely illegal.  I’m sure of it.”  We went upstairs and he asked me to switch everything on.  The green shield-shaped icons pinged onto the screen, he sat down in front of it and I told him which ones I’d clicked.  Then I stood to the side of the computer, looking at him, not the screen.  He lasted a little longer than I had.  Then he looked at his watch.  “Why are you checking the time?”  I asked.  “Because I’m seizing your husband’s hard-drive and I have to make a note of the time.”

For the second time, that evening, my legs failed me and I ended up kneeling, in tears, on the floor.  Suddenly, what I had known to be true just a few minutes before, had been confirmed by an officer of the law.  There could be no mistake.  I hadn’t realised that there had been a small part of me still hoping, still stuck in the Pandora’s Box of my psyche, that I had got it wrong.  That box was now well and truly open and all hope, at that moment, was ripped from it.  I was a complete wreck; crying, gasping for air, asking him not to take it then, but to come back the next day and take it when Voldemort was there.  He explained, as gently as he could, that he had to take the hard drive with him.  Although he didn’t doubt my innocence, protocol dictated that he had to remove it so that it couldn’t be tampered with.  I put my hands to my face and stopped the howl that desperately wanted to burst out of me, while he reported back to base on his radio.

 

Thanks for reading, Lovely Ladies.  It does get better, but not for quite a while.

Yours, The Tea Drinker. x

 

Betrayal

I had been married to Voldemort (I hope JK Rowling doesn’t mind me using that name, although I have found that a surprising number of women have at least one Voldemort in their pasts) for fifteen years and almost exactly nine months when I found his secret.

He was away at one of his many ‘Gentlemen Only’ dinners.  This one was, I think, in Shrewsbury.  He belonged to several societies and was well-known in our small town.  We were due to be having a dinner party, the following day.  I had been shopping for all the necessary ingredients – which weren’t that many, since the meal was based around the life of William McGonagall,  http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/  whose only real claim to fame was his appalling poetry.  The most famous of his poems describes the collapse of the Tay Bridge   http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/gems/the-tay-bridge-disaster    and one of my great, great uncles had been fireman on the last train to get across the bridge safely.  McGonagall evenings are held back to front, with dessert first, rather like a higgledy-piggledy version of a Burns Night Supper.  The food is simple, bad poems are recited and dried peas are thrown at the reciter if the recitation is not ‘dramatic’ enough in its presentation.

Before beginning the preparations, ironing the tablecloth and napkins – I wanted to check and print out the menu and order of events.  This file had been saved on Voldemort’s computer which was permanently linked to his printer.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to remember the exact title, so I decided to look in the files themselves, but something wasn’t right.  I’m not a computer expert and, to this day, I’m pretty sure that I pressed a wrong button, somewhere, but suddenly, in front of me were a load of nameless, green shield-shaped things with a list of numbers beside them.  I’d never seen anything like this, before, but I assumed that Voldemort had been tinkering around and that these were now what all the files looked like.

I clicked on the first one.  What appeared on the screen in front of me was not, exactly, a menu.  There were nine, small squares, three by three, each containing pictures of small boys, all naked, all scared, some with the fixed facial expression that we had been taught to recognise during teacher-training as one of the first signs of abuse.  In almost all of them, a man, or part of a man, with no obvious distinguishing features, was present.

At that moment, time stopped.  The room around me disappeared.  There were only those children and me and the unseen presence of my husband.  Then, suddenly, everything that I had known, everything that I was, rushed away from me leaving me alone, a tiny pinprick of self in a sea of black.  My ears sang, (Top B flat if you want to know) my heart thumped with the strength and heaviness of a hundred kettledrums (I went to music college, when I was younger – hence the musical allusions) in the silence and then, with an extraordinary violence, my present situation exploded back into my consciousness.  I closed the file and clicked on the next icon.  This time, at first, I couldn’t understand what I was seeing.  It was only when a young face, partially obscured by blonde hair, came into view that I realised what was on the screen.

I was shaking so much I could hardly control my arms, let alone my hands.  I switched the monitor off and then, covering my mouth (I couldn’t be sick on the new carpet of Voldemort’s study – how foolish we can be at times, in retrospect I should have vomited all over it!) I stood up.  At least, I thought that I was going to stand up.  My legs were having none of it.  So, mouth firmly closed, swallowing bile, I crawled to the stairs that would take me from the top floor of the house down to the next, where the nearest loo was located.  I bumped down the stairs, like a small toddler, feet then bottom, feet then bottom, until I reached the safety of the floor and scrabbled through to the toilet.

I was sick.  Not a lot, but enough to have made the journey downstairs worthwhile.  Then, curled up on the floor, by the sink, I tried to think.

 

Lovely ladies, I realise that this has been a bit difficult and I’ve left out a certain amount of what I saw, there’s no need for too much detail.  I hope that it hasn’t been too upsetting.  Take care.

Yours, The Tea Drinker. x

The teapot…

A week after I moved into the bedsit which was the only place that I could afford, once I’d left my husband, the smiling postman rang the doorbell, handed me a rather light cube of cardboard and said, “Somebody’s sent you a present!  How lovely.”  Once I’d signed for it, I picked up a pair of scissors (it had been well wrapped in brown packing tape) and set to.  Inside, in a flurry of polystyrene curls, nestled The Teapot and, with it, a small note card upon which my oldest friend had written the words that you see on the header, above.

This was four weeks after leaving.  I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  I promised myself, then, that her generosity of spirit would never be forgotten.  Those words have supported me through some of my darkest times and I hope that they will support you, too.

Take care, lovely ladies.

Yours, The Tea Drinker. x   ©

One always needs tea on a journey…

 

This is a safe place.  It’s here to give a ‘road map’ out of the blackest hole that any woman can find herself in.  I hope that it will become the first step, yours and mine, to creating a community of women who can encourage and support each other as they climb, painstakingly, out of that hole.

Take care, lovely ladies.

Yours, The Tea Drinker. x  ©