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My first marriage spoiled me for wedding anniversaries. My first husband and the girls would always buy something lovely and memorable, such as a handmade paper photo album for our paper anniversary and a wooden chess set for our 5th anniversary which was wood.

William didn’t celebrate any anniversaries, birthdays or occasions in the same way. I put this down to his different upbringing and the fact that there are many other occasions on a farm, such as hay-making and lambing, which took precedence.

I admit to feeling a bit disappointed, not because of a lack of gifts, but the lack of him marking the occasion of our marriage as special.

Unusually his mother and siblings always remembered our anniversary and bought bottles of wine and sent good wishes. On one occasion I remember saying that I was a little embarrassed as William never told me when his siblings had married, and I couldn’t return the compliment. His Mum told me not to worry about that and they were just grateful that I had taken him off their hands!

At the time, I took it as a joke, but I distinctly remember those words echoing through my mind in the later years. Maybe William’s behaviour had been abusive to his family before he met me, and I took the pressure off them.

One of the worst anniversary days was when William announced out of the blue that he had spoken to my first husband before he died, and during that conversation, my first husband had said he wished he had slit my throat when we divorced. William went on to say that he wholeheartedly agreed that was the best thing for me. It was a frightening experience and makes me tremble a bit to this day. I had to dig deep to find the calm to cover up the fear he invoked when he said it.

Fortunately, I do not believe Connor heard William saying this, and for that, I am grateful. Eventually, I realised that they were just words meant to frighten me, and I became more able to ignore the threatening way they were spoken. I now believe this is part of the demeaning cycle of emotional and psychological abuse. At that time, I seemed incapable of rejecting the suggestion that I should be dead!

Now I am in a safer place and far removed from William’s torments. I have chosen to cut all contact and now I can look back without the fear and shame I used to feel. Gradually I am getting a better perspective on my past and letting these incidents go. I have become more present and mindful and live now and am not so triggered by past memories.

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