My wife is mentally ill.

Not in that batshit crazy way but in a subtle, only noticeable if you spend a lot of time with her way.

You see she suffers from something called Borderline Personality Disorder.

It doesn’t take a professional to work out that her childhood was the force that set these brain patterns in place. Born to addicts – alcohol and drugs, a father in and out of prison, and more neglect than love, her issues with abandonment were set in stone early on. And then her parents went and died. Both of them, in what was a tragic accident, but with undertones of an addict’s legacy.

So she lost her not so brilliant parents at a young age, came out as gay not long after and hooked up with another girl in her late teens for a decade.

And then they split up and I entered the picture. Not long out myself, I was still finding my feet but found her mysterious and intriguing. She was nothing like I’d ever known before and I was hooked.

Within a year, I’d moved in and a year later we were getting married. We wanted children and back then, being ‘civil partners’ made the process a lot easier. I was a romantic and wanted the big day, but knew it wouldn’t be. So I made do with the best I could do in the circumstances, but it was rubbish. My parents were pissed off, and I quickly realised my friends weren’t really that at all. It all felt like an amateur production and about as genuine as a pantomime.

But the deed was done and now we could get on with having children. We went through a clinic to avoid the drama of any additional parents in the mix but it was a long, expensive and miserable process. Nothing like you imagine getting pregnant to be. But by our 1st wedding anniversary, I was tentatively pregnant. And this was the beginning of the end.

Pregnancy took its toll on me. I was exhausted, nauseous and went off nearly all food and drink. And this combination didn’t do much for my libido. And when DD1 arrived and refused to sleep unless I was holding her, things didn’t exactly improve. We moved to my home town when she was a few months old and not long after, I returned to work, commuting 2 hours each way. As soon as I could, I began trying for a second baby. And it was even worse this time round – the commute and managing a toddler at home was exhausting in itself without a difficult pregnancy on top. By the end of the second trimester, I was on crutches for a pregnancy condition and was beyond miserable.

In that time though, instead of being a supportive partner, my wife’s illness reached new levels. She would get up early in the morning and stand in our bedroom doorway ranting at me, calling me all sorts of names and hitting herself in the head, threatening to kill herself. And I would have to go to work, leaving my little girl alone with her. It reached its pinnacle when mid-rant one day, she smashed the laundry basket down, and pieces of it flew across the small room we were in, narrowly missing a pregnant me and my not quite 2 year old daughter. That was the end of our relationship in my mind.

But I was pregnant and working away from home most of the week, needing the money to pay the mortgage and the maternity leave. After all, my wife was ‘too ill’ to get a job. So we continued as we were, me gradually reaching a point of being scared of sleeping at night for fear of what would happen when I woke up.

Things didn’t improve after DD2 arrived. One day, my wife slammed a door into the wall so hard, it came off its hinges and narrowly missed my tiny baby who was on the floor having her nappy changed. Gradually, all the doors in our house were smashed in and anything that was not bolted down was prone to being damaged too.

The final straw came on DD1’s first day of school. What should have been a happy, memorable day was ruined by my wife yet again. She started her ranting early on and then announced over breakfast that she’d taken an overdose in an attempt to kill herself. She was screaming and hitting herself, smashing her head against the wall while I tried unsuccessfully to calm down my two scared shitless children. I hurriedly dressed them and we ran out of the house, me trying to distract DD1 with excited talk about her day ahead. I took her into her new school and then drove home to take my wife to hospital. And at that moment in time I didn’t care if I never saw her again.

I did of course and we both attended therapy sessions – individually and as a couple off the back of that day. She was getting gradually better, but my nightmares weren’t and any feelings I’d had for her were gone. I knew it was only a matter of time before we went our separate ways. But this was easier said than done as it turned out.

And this is where the story of my secret separation begins.

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