Really struggling, ground down.

Shared experiences of life, and the path that has led you to where you are.

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Sparks73
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 7:47 am

Really struggling, ground down.

Postby Sparks73 » Thu May 04, 2017 7:52 am

Hi all, hope I've found the right place. Please bear with me, I've got it all this in my mind but it may jump backwards and forwards in time.

My life is a mess and has been for about 15 years. I made some terrible decisions back then which ended up with a year in prison. Whilst inside my wife struggled and began neglecting our 2 little boys and eventually had a mental breakdown, our boys went into foster care and my wife went voluntarily to hospital for a month. Social services assured everyone that they would be working to get everyone back together.

However whilst she was in hospital, SS applied for a care order with a view to permanantly removing the boys. They wanted to have them adopted! Eventually care proceedings took place the outcome being that the judge felt my wife and I didn't have a solid relationship and there was a risk that my wife wouldn't cope on her own and the cycle would start again.

The care order was granted but with the boys going to live with their Grandparents, my parents. It took a few years of struggle and hoop jumping but eventually we got the care order removed and the boys returned home. However, part of the agreement was that we move to where my parents live so they can offer support. This meant renting a property we couldn't really afford but we struggled on.

My wife was able to work, but with my conviction I couldn't get anything. It's a very rural area with few jobs available and limited public transport. I'm disbaled so cannot do any land work.

Moving on - since the boys returned money has always, always been an issue. Bills were juggled, robbing Peter to pay Paul, all that sort of stuff, so debts built up. The biggest killer was that in October 2015, the council decided we'd been overpaid council tax benefit by about £10 a week for the previous 4 years, so gave us a bill of about £2000 plus a month's sanction.

My mum died 4 years ago after collapsing with a brain tumour leaving my Dad on his own. In my mind, I killed her with all the stress I'd caused in the years previously. Shortly before, they'd sold their house and downsized, coming away with a nice sum. They 'gifted' £20k to my brother for a deposit on a house and adjusted their will accordingly. I had no problems with that.

Just after I received the bill from the council, the tax credits office 1 week before Xmas stopped all of our tax credits as they suddenly announced they had no record of my wife's employment for the last 10 years. Long story short, they eventually acknowledged their mistake and reinstated them, but it took 4 months. During this time, we were down £180 per week, so once again bills were unpaid. I asked my Dad if he could lend me money during this time, never knowing how long the TC office was going to take. He gave me £300, so we managed to stretch that out for 2-3 of weeks. I had to go back to him a couple more times getting a further £300 in total. He eventually transferred over £1000 to my account hoping that would cover me until the TC was sorted. Obviously I'm grateful for this but it was never going to be enough.

I made a suggestion to him - would he do for me what he did for my brother and 'gift' me some money and adjust the will? I was fed up with being bailed out and thought this would be the easiest solution. His response was not good, saying that I was 'killing him', that he doesn't have sort of money lying around and so on. Anyway, in April the TC office acknowledged their error and said to expect what we were due within the next couple of weeks. Problem was that we were again without money for anything and my wife didn't get paid for another 12 days. So I reluctantly went back to Dad.

I told him what the TC office said, and asked him for £150 to see us through until my wife was paid or the TC paid, whichever was sooner. His reaction was as if I'd just shot him. He really let me know how distraught he was, saying he had no money and so on, repeating "oh no", "oh God" etc. He eventually let me have £100. I had to get a pay-day loan as I knew this wasn't going to cover what we needed. The TC were evetually paid, not as much as I thought, but I repaid Dad what he lent me.

What Dad didn't know is that during the weeks that Mum was dying she confided in me that they had a tin of hidden cash (she showed it to me and there was at least £20k), plus the profit from the house, plus an ISA and premium bonds, plus she had an insurance policy that will pay out when she dies, but she didn't say how much. So I knew that Dad had a lot of cash hidden away. Mum even said to him before she died that Dad would be happy now as he has all her money, so he can sit and cuddle it at night; she had often said that he was obsessed with money. I defended him at the time. She told me that she was going to make him promise not to think more of money than anything else and that if me or my brothers or the grandkids were ever desperate he should help.

Anyway, this really started to eat me up - not so much the refusal of the will adjustment, but the refusal to lend the extra £50. It really, really got to me and I strated to feel that Mum was right. I really needed to know if she was right. So when he was away, I let myself into his house (I have a key) and went though his financial records. It's not the right thing to do, I know, and I'm not proud. But what I saw upset me - he had at least £45,000 in various accounts and savings. I saw that his income was higher than his outgoings so the balance of his main account rose every month - in fact it had risen by nearly £2000 in a year. His income is purely from pension credits, DLA and some other benefit. I then looked for the cash - I knew roughly where it was hidden from what Mum said - there was a further £25,000 in loose £20 notes.

So I sat and thought. I thought long and hard for hours then put it back. I went home, but continued to think. And think, and think and think. I ended up winding myself up, getting angry and upset. I kept thinking about what Mum said and about how Dad reacted when I asked for £150. I kept thinking about how he was prepared to see me on my knees begging to him. So I went back the next day and I took £10000. I paid off the debts, bought a few household items that were desperately needed, and seeing as I had only one pair of jeans, I bought 2 more pairs. I invested some into an online business I was trying to get going. And it ate into my conscience every single day.

It doesn't end there. My wife started a new much better paid job and I thought things were finally becoming settled. Unfortunately about a month in she suffered a nervous breakdown and was off for 6 weeks and was paid sick pay of about £55 per week. I didn't tell Dad as I knew he'd question me about how were paying for things. When my wife returned to work it became clear that they wanted her out, putting her under unbelievable stress until she eventually made a massive error. We knew this would lead to her being dismissed, so she resigned for the sake of her CV. What we didn't realise is that meant she was liable to repay all of her training costs, so that more or less wiped out her final pay packet.

She found a new job, but she was now paranoid about 'getting things right', wasn't sleeping well and eventually had a car crash - she was ok but the car was wrecked. She also spent a week in hospital as they felt there were other underlying issues. On discharge her employer made her wait another 10 days before being allowed to restart, so more periods with no income. We used some of Dad's money to buy a cheap car until the insurance paid out (which thankfully it did), and then bought a proper replacement and sell the other one.

When she returned to work, things just didn't work out and she was given notice under her probation period. However, this seemed to embolden her and she found new employment very quickly as part of a team caring for a disabled person coming out of hospital. It was due to start in November, but problems with the care package delayed this until Feb. However, all is now settled on that front, the pay is excellent and all seemed ok.

Yesterday Dad phoned me saying money was missing and I was the only person who had access. I went into total denial at first, but eventually phoned him back and told him everything. Obviously the reaction was not good. So again I've created a mess and put myself in a bad place. I keep thinking about walking away, in whatever way that means. That's where I am.

User avatar
CitM
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:45 pm
Location: United States

Re: Really struggling, ground down.

Postby CitM » Thu May 04, 2017 9:25 am

I don't know anything about what is available through the British government for people who are disabled with a prison record. It's great that you have a wife that seems to have a lot of determination and lands on her feet. I know that the job market in England can be tough.

My husband's friend was a person who had a lot of problems with drugs. His father was fairly wealthy, and he kept giving his kid money over and over and over again. He dropped out of college. He ended up nearly homeless. When his father cut him off from giving him money (he was married with a baby), because he realized he was enabling his son, not helping him. His son stole from him. His wife divorced him, needless to say because she had to think of her child first. He managed to start turning his life around through the legalization of marijuana (fortunately for him), but it hasn't been easy as he ended up farming it.

Why am I telling you this. I'm telling you this because you are not the only one who has made bad decisions, and I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that it is going to be easy for you to get out of it. But I am going to tell you that it is possible through God's Grace. You know there is a saying to 'let go and let God' sometimes and you don't have to be an alcoholic or addict to pray that prayer.

Nervous breakdowns suck. I have had them myself, in fact many times starting when I was 7 years old. What people don't realize is that it's not like a stroke or a heart attack. It goes on and on and on and on for months. There is physical pain with it too, which a lot of people also don't realize. Often the person cannot eat, cannot sleep and are physically weaken. So I understand how catastrophic a breakdown really is. Some people never survive them. You need to realize that if you can, how strong you really are.

I know this is really tough, but you REALLY need to believe this because it is REALLY true. This is what I tell myself, and maybe I need to say it more often to myself. Today is the FIRST day of the rest of your life. You cannot change the past. But you can look at today as a new start. You have learned from the mistakes you have made. Will you have future nervous breakdowns? Probably. But the best thing you can do is understand the warning signs early. Understand what set of circumstances and the amount of stress tends to trigger them. Avoid that. It is not unlike someone with a bad heart or diabetes or tendencies toward debilitating migraines. It might be that you can only work part time. Or it might be that you NEED one week off every 8 weeks of working full time. Negotiate with an employer first thing. It might be that you have to go to a technical school and get some training in a field that is needed to get a job. It might be that you need to work for yourself (self-employment). Self education is available online too. Nothing is stopping you from learning a skill, not even money. Think of all the stuff you can learn on the web.

Like everyone here, your situation doesn't fit into the current 'economic mold' of working non-stop and doing everything perfectly. So do what you need to do to keep yourself healthy. Find someone who you trust, like a mental health sponsor, and talk to them when things seem to get overwhelming. Realize, that like your wife, you can land on your feet, maybe for the first time in your life, but you can do it.

Are you going to lose it sometimes, definitely. But pick yourself back up and keep going. You obviously love your family. Maybe your father feels like a 'bank' and an enabler like my husband's friend's father did. Maybe you need to write a letter to your dad asking him about his feelings and what you can do to start mending that relationship.
With love :)

Sparks73
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 7:47 am

Re: Really struggling, ground down.

Postby Sparks73 » Thu May 04, 2017 10:16 am

Thank you for the reply, it's nice to get just one! I have no religious beliefs and have never felt the need to turn to it. Strangely enough, my wife is a practicing Christian and two couples who have known her for over 30 years have given us both a huge amount of emotinal support.

My conviction wasn't involving drugs - never touched them, never even smoked, and I drink very rarely - I'm diabetic so I have to be careful. No, my problems stemmed from secrecy and living a double life, believing I had it all under control. The truth is I was crumbling inside but didn't talk to anyone. I used some of the self help programmes in prison and they have given me a good insight into thought patterns and coping strategies but of course they're not always the answer.

I have always tried to do my best, I've never deliberately gone out to cause grief and I've tried to better myself but I think about everything every single day. I cannot seem to really 'get over it'. My wife tells me to stop punishing myself but I can't prevent the thoughts that pass through my mind. I remember one time when I was doing some work on my business out in my shed (an arts and crafts venture) and my wife in passing asked me 'what do you think about when you're doing that?'. Without thinking I said 'all the bad times'. I wish I hadn't said it but it was true.

I've always hated asking my parents for anything as I believe I've got to make my own way, however during the time my boys were living with them I felt completely under their control and became ever more reliant. I wouldn't make a decision without okaying it with them. I lost confidence and self-esteem, well what was left of it anyway. I felt that unless my parents okayed something it would end up being the wrong decision and would jeopordise getting my boys back. In a way, I ended up becoming 'infantised', ever more reliant on them.

When the boys did return it always felt they were criticising me and my wife, our lifestyle, our friends, our decisions. They knew money was exceptionally tight yet they would criticise that we couldn't afford to take the boys on holiday but then suddenly give me a couple of hundred pounds to get a new washing machine, or money for a new coat.

We had absolutely no savings, what came in went straight out again - food, clothing, school stuff etc. Anything that was ever spare always went on something the boys needed. We didn't have luxuries, neither of us smoke or go out partying or buy extravagent gifts. With all of this taken into account I was full of self loathing and worthlessness. It is not an exaggeration to say I have cried every day for the past 15 years. I'm on a pile of medication including painkillers that make me drowsy and my head is often in a fog. But every day I shake it off and try to get on, only some days I can't.

When I took the money I was in absolute crisis. Without wanting to minimise it I could have taken a lot more but I decided on the figure I proposed with Dad earlier that year. I knew it was wrong and I knew it would eventually come back on me, but at the time I justified it to myself. At the moment, forcing myself to 'rejustify' it in my mind is what gets me off the sofa. It doesn't last though and I end up thinking about the end.

Helloraspberries1
Posts: 260
Joined: Wed May 25, 2016 2:11 pm

Re: Really struggling, ground down.

Postby Helloraspberries1 » Thu May 04, 2017 4:31 pm

Hi I read your story and I'm sorry with everything you went through. You have had a tough time but good to hear what happened in the end what came out positive.

I don't know what you went through as never been through it. Also what your life growing up was like. Things do stay with you for a long time. Life isn't perfect and your a good example of that.

Are you still I'm touch with family to this day? What support you getting?

We're not here to judge. There are no right or wrong answers. We all think to ourselves what if I did this or did that. We can't live in the past. That's what people always say which is true.

I hope you find something now in your life what makes you happy and get you to where you wanna be. It don't matter about anything else. About the future now.

Helloraspberries

Sparks73
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 7:47 am

Re: Really struggling, ground down.

Postby Sparks73 » Fri May 05, 2017 2:44 am

Hi Helloraspberries.

That's the problem, I can't see what happy things are to come. Dad has said he's finished with me now, and doesn't want anything to do with my boys anymore. He said he's taking me and the boys out of his will, no more birthday or xmas gifts, nothing. I know things can be said in the heat of the moment, but that's where it stands right now.

I can handle being cut out but I said to him to not take this out on the boys, don't punish them. His reply is that it's me that's punished them - I guess he's right in a way. That is really getting to me and it makes me feel they'd be better off with me gone.

Dad absolutely lives in the past - when I turned to him last year he dragged up all the problems from years ago making me feel ten times worse, making me feel small and worthless. It's also other things. Whenever my brothers who live in London ask him to go down and help with anything, usually DIY (and I don't mean small things - he was down there for weeks last time), off he goes.

But there has been times when my youngest has needed a lift to football training and he refuses, giving excuses like 'it mucks up his dinner routine', or there's a football match he wants to watch. It's the same if he needs a lift to a football match - "it's too wet", "it's too far". Too far? A 45 minute journey when he has no hesitation in doing a 3 hour journey to London? It's not all the time - he has given lifts and I always make dinner for him on those days but when he's come up with those soppy excuses I could cry.

I'm just so fed up. I'm popping diazepam just to get through at the mo. There's just an overwhelming feeling of sadness and fear. God I'm so down.

Helloraspberries1
Posts: 260
Joined: Wed May 25, 2016 2:11 pm

Re: Really struggling, ground down.

Postby Helloraspberries1 » Tue May 09, 2017 4:17 pm

That's not fair on you. You don't deserve that. I'm sorry that it ended that way.

Do you have a support system in place? What about family? Are you getting professional help for your problems.

Do you know why he does this? Is it more to do with you then them? It shouldn't be about that. Seems very unfair.

I'm glad you do have your boys. You spoken to us which is good. I'm not sure if relationship counselling is the answer but it can help most families form a better relationship.

Relate is a good counselling place to start. That's for those in the uk. I'm not sure if your from uk bit I would try something like that.

Hope that helps

JCinAZ
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:37 pm

Re: Really struggling, ground down.

Postby JCinAZ » Tue May 09, 2017 10:29 pm

I am sorry to hear this is going on in your life
Kudos to your awesome wife for walking with you thru this.
It must be a challenge to battle thru.
Would you and your wife be able to talk with your wife's friends that are giving her support?
Maybe someone at their church could offer some help?
Counseling may be a source of relief that I had previously discounted.
You guys are in my prayers,
J

Helloraspberries1
Posts: 260
Joined: Wed May 25, 2016 2:11 pm

Re: Really struggling, ground down.

Postby Helloraspberries1 » Wed May 10, 2017 4:42 pm

I agree. Maybe church is a good idea.

I would try anything right now to get support you need.

Please keep reaching out

x


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