top of page
  • Info OFS

Breaking The Circle

With my kids, I'd always spoken to them like adults. And they'd never quite understood where I was coming from. Instead of saying, no I can’t give you sweets because it’s nearly bedtime, or, you can’t do that because we don’t have the money, it was just an outright no. That would always leave them feeling confused. When me and my partner would have a disagreement in front of the children, nine times out of ten it got out of hand and we'd end up shouting and arguing. That's not healthy. Nobody ever wants their children to witness that. But at the height of the moment, you don't realise you’re doing it.

The beginning of this year I gave up work to become a full-time carer for my partner. Our relationship was okay, we had our moments, but then lockdown started up again at Christmas. I was depressed. Being together all the time exaggerated everything. Things became heated, and one day it came to a head. That’s when I got arrested and social services became involved.

My relationship had broken down. I realised that the kids had been through some mental abuse. Social Services told me about the Creating Changes course with Elmore. They thought it would be good for me to go. And at first, I was thinking: why? what have I done? Obviously, I recognise that I'd been angry and slightly verbally violent towards them with my ex, but I'm thinking it’s just normal behaviour. And they said no, you're going to learn a lot from it. I go on this course and the first couple of sessions I was very anxious, very nervous. Thinking, oh no, what have I gotten into, I’m nothing like these guys. And then the other guys, I heard them speak and I sort of sat back and listened. I heard them talk about their own experiences and I thought, actually I can kind of relate to this. And then by listening to what Tilly, [the course leader], was saying, I learnt that these behaviour patterns I had weren't healthy at all, particularly for the children. The relationship breaking down as well, the way me and my partner used to argue and the way that we used to handle things, that wasn’t healthy.

Realising what I had done just hit me. Suddenly I was reflecting on loads of arguments we've had, particularly situations when we were shouting in front of the children. The kids are seeing us throwing threats around and things like that. Suddenly I was like, oh crap, that’s not right. There's a lot of personal things I realised that were not helping the relationship either. When we broke up, I was arrested and there was an allegation of sexual abuse. To me, abuse is physically forcing someone to do something. But then when I sat there and thought about it, and I've never forced her to do anything, but when they go in depth about emotional abuse and things like that, it opened my eyes and made me think, oh, hang on… sometimes when I've wanted to be intimate and she’s not been in the mood, I’ve then made her feel guilty. Which I now realise is a form of emotional abuse, making her feel bad for not giving me what I wanted.

When I first started the course me and my partner weren't talking. We'd been together nearly 20 years on and off. I was 16 and she was 15 when we actually got together. And I didn't think we were ever going to get back together. But we started to communicate again for the children's sake, probably a third of the way through the course. We sat down and had a heart to heart about what went wrong in our relationship. I’d told her what I’d learnt, to start with, and the changes I'm trying to make. We started getting on. And after a few weeks, we decided we was going to try and sort things out. And then she realised, after some of the things that I told her, that she had issues that she needed to deal with as well. And I’m more aware now. If I have an argument or disagreement with my partner or whoever, you can say, okay, hang on a minute, I'm not happy about this. Give us five minutes or whatever, and then come back and re-approach it or reassess the situation, instead of going all guns a blazing.

I used to always be out working, doing long hours, long shifts. Like I said, I was depressed as well, when the relationship first broke down. I didn't really have time for the kids. But now I've dropped my hours down to part time so I have more involvement with them outside of school. And it's better, it's working well. They're happier, I'm happier. It's really good. I started dieting, and I was going to the gym, trying to keep my mind focused. And that then reflects positively on the newfound relationship I’ve got with my partner and the children. Because when I do see them, I'm not miserable, I’m not depressed anymore. It's things like that, its remembering that if you're not happy then others around you are going to reflect on that, and then they're not gonna be happy either. Now I’ve worked on myself I can be a better partner and a better father.

My dad was a firm believer in if I misbehave, it was physical punishment. I tried not to do that with my children but occasionally I smacked them. That's one of the reasons why I was taking the course. I was doing exactly what my dad used to do, I just didn't realise that I was doing it. I actually had to speak to my dad about it and say, look, Dad, it's not your fault, but I've been acting just like you were when I was a kid and it's not healthy. And he said, I've seen it in you when you've come to visit. The way you spoke to the kids. He said, I've looked at you before and thought – you’re just like me. But then, he was brought up exactly the same. It’s this vicious circle that I want to break. I don't want my kids to do that to their kids when they're older, if they have kids. My oldest boy, for example, if he's in a relationship, I don't want him to treat his girlfriend the way I used to treat his mum. As long as I can have a healthy relationship with my partner, as long as I can be a good role model for my kids and they grow up and break that circle – then I couldn't ask for anything more.

Now, my daughter, she's ten. And at one point, she was very reluctant to speak to me about her personal problems. I mean, she's grown up very fast. And she wouldn’t speak to me about anything, she had no confidence in talking to me. But now I've learned how to come down to her level and speak to her properly. She's become more confident and she’s opened up, which is really nice. I've never experienced that before. And that's making me want to do it more, you know, I want to learn more, I want to be able to be that father to her and to understand what she's going through.

Two weeks before I was due to finish the course, another couple of guys joined. One guy was like, I shouldn’t be here, I ain’t got time for this crap. And I said to him, I know where you're coming from. I said, just go in with an open mind, because if you can learn from it and change just one thing, it's worth it.


bottom of page