Sunday, April 26, 2015

Edie and Frances

This morning I went to church, at St Thomas a Becket in Lewes, to pray I would be able to see my daughters, Edie and Frances.

I have not seen Edie and Frances - now aged 25 and 18 - for three-and-a-half years, after I split from my now ex-wife, their mum.

My marriage finally broke down in 2011 after years of unhappiness, arguing and anger. I fully accept my share of the blame for the relationship breakdown and have apologised in writing to my ex-wife and to Edie and Frances. I am happy to repeat that apology.

The financial settlement proceedings were long and acrimonious, with four court hearings. My ex ended up getting almost two-thirds of our joint assets (64 per cent). I got 36 per cent. The pension pots - largely in my name - were split 50/50. I was OK with this outcome. My ex, on the other hand, had wanted a lot more from me - money I could not afford to pay.

I only mention this in case what they may think they know about the financial settlement has influenced my children's decision not to see me. I also have paid every penny that the Child Support Agency (CSA) asked me to. Indeed, I have even overpaid, according to the CSA, and recently turned down a refund from them, saying I would like it to go to Frances.

Until the breakdown of my marriage, I felt I had had a good relationship with Edie and Frances, although it seemed to be more difficult when my ex was around, for reasons I still do not understand.

I loved my girls then, just as I love them now.

I deeply regret not seeing them for the past three-and-a-half years and would do anything in my power to be reconciled with them.

Of course, it is not easy. I have not been able to speak to my ex-wife since the split. On the two occasions, we have met by accident she has immediately shouted abuse at me, giving me no chance to talk to her.

Despite everything, I bear no ill will towards her. I would like to talk with her and say sorry personally for my part in the breakdown of our relationship. I would like to know what else I could do to make amends.

I want to see Edie and Frances. Since I came off anti-depressants around a month ago, I have started to get particularly down about it. I felt desperately depressed last week. If I thought I would never see Edie and Frances again, I am not sure I could carry on.

In a sense I feel bereaved. Except that I know they are out there, thriving, studying, working, skiing, making friends and getting on with their lives.

I keep trying to reach out to them. But they either don't see my hand or choose to ignore its presence.

Now I have no postal addresses for them, no phone numbers and no email addresses.

At a final court hearing, the judge suggested I should be able to write to Frances at least twice a year. Yet, if I write to Edie or Frances via our old home address, my ex simply returns my letters unopened.

Edie and Frances have also cut off contact with other members of my family: uncles, aunts, their only cousins, and their paternal grandparents. My father is now ailing with Alzheimer's Disease in a care home. As things stand at the moment, he may never see them again.

How ever great the obstacles, I refuse to believe that Frances, Edie and I cannot see each other again. We are flesh and blood, part of each other. I beg their forgiveness for everything that has upset them.

2015 is the year when things must get better. That is what I am praying for.

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