The Engagement – 1989

Tiny Diamond Ring – TOR


“He can cut the grass for you and you can cook the dinner”, she said. These were the words of my Health Visitor. As time went by, her words became a self-fulfilling prophecy, except … he never cut the grass and I always cooked the dinner. We lived in separate houses, but I spent much of my spare time at his, not only cooking but, cleaning, shopping and caring for his two children, a girl and a boy. I, too, had a boy and a girl of roughly the same age.

He didn’t work; I did, and my wages lined his pockets. He was a liar too and a good one at that. He was saving for our ‘future’, he declared. I didn’t want a future with him but I was too scared to express my thoughts. He was unkind to me, and also to the four children. His daughter, every time she asked for something as simple as a cup of tea, was responded to with the words, “And what have you done for me today, child?” *Rose at twelve years old was too scared to say anything knowing her reply would never be good enough. I witnessed him demanding the same question of his younger son, and my innocent children. I felt a failure as a mother, unable to defend them. I was always wary of his response to me if I did, and of his subsequent attack.

He was determined to make a future for us; a future I was terrified of but couldn’t find a way to escape. I’d moved in, leaving my own home standing empty with a ‘For Sale’ placard planted in the ground outside. He wanted marriage; I didn’t. He ruled the roost. I bought my own unwanted engagement ring – even the tiny diamond put me into debt. He didn’t care. I was completely under his control and he was a bully.

I woke beside him one morning and somehow, reality hit me. I didn’t want any of this. It had been the story of my life, constantly the victim. When he was in the shower, I phoned my best friend and poured my heart out. She listened in horror and told me to meet her at my home; she’d arrived before me. I appeared with tears of terror and desperation running down my face. She pulled the ‘for sale’ sign out and threw it on the ground and a minute later, was on the phone to the estate agent telling them that the sale was off. My tears of fear turned to tears of relief. By then, I was an emotional wreck and she arranged for the children and I to go to stay with my Mum. We were there for six weeks as I slowly healed. I couldn’t face my ‘fiancé’ so my Mum, who had provided us with sanctuary, made the call. I could hear the fury in his voice as he demanded I returned to him. Mum, in no uncertain terms, told him I wouldn’t be doing that. What for? For him to cut the grass, and for me to cook the dinner!?