29. “Fake it till you make it”!

Being married to Brad is a blessing, but it has also been hard at times. All relationships are like that, and anyone that says anything different is delusional. Parenting young children, though one of the most rewarding times of your life, does add strain to a relationship. This was certainly the case for us.

In an earlier post I stated “we got busy, building our family, getting promotions, renovating houses and living the “Australian Dream“. In the hustle and bustle of family life, we survived teething, toddlers and tantrums. We endured sleep deprivation and projectile vomits. We sustained a long distance relationship and post-graduate study. We managed to get our children to day care, preschool and school all on the same day, usually on time”. Those early years were manic.

I remember telling a friend, when they were dealing with 3 children under 5 that I finally felt that I could breathe again when Ruby was 3. Life became easier and I think Brad and I had a decent conversation again about that time too!

Even on the worst days, when I didn’t really like him much, I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing and supportive life partner than Brad. And as a dad…he’s sensational.

However, it would be fair to say that over the year that followed After, Brad shut down a bit. His sole focus was on our girls. He lived and breathed for them. He watched over them. He worried about what other people thought about him and that he didn’t do enough to protect them.

Brad wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything other than work and to the kid’s appointments and sport. That was it.

He was constantly having people tell him, “If that were my kids, I would have killed him by now.” Making him question his response to the situation. He worried that people would hear what happened to the girls and naturally assume that it must have been him that had done it because they wouldn’t know about our relationship with Jen and Leon. He didn’t want the girls to have friend’s sleepover or have them go to sleepovers. He just wanted them with him.

We would be invited to people’s houses and he wouldn’t want to go. We’d be going to a party and he wouldn’t want to go. His friends would try and get him to participate in sports, he wasn’t interested. He just couldn’t do “normal”.

So…I took on the mantra “fake it till you make it” and tried to be as “normal” as I could. Trying to overcompensate for Brad’s total lack of enthusiasm for anything apart from the girls.

He had a milestone birthday about a year After. When I asked him what he wanted to do, he was adamant that he couldn’t celebrate. His kids had other ideas! So we packed up and headed away, camping and skiing for the weekend with some of our close friends and family. He tried really hard to smile over that weekend, but it was exhausting for him.

Brad likes things to be in order. He likes to be on time (or half hour early). He likes to know who, what, when, why, where and how for most things. He is the definition of “over thinker”. Don’t get me wrong, he’s also a fully functional adult who knows that things don’t always go to plan, but he usually has a back up for his back up to counteract those kinds of occurrences.

Nothing on earth could have prepared him for this challenge. This made living in this “holding pattern” so very difficult.

Brad had to change his whole way of thinking, of being. He had to hand over control of his most precious girls to others; people we didn’t know, and hope that they’d do whatever they could, to find some sort of justice for them.

We had a few frank discussions about the ways in which he was choosing to deal with things. There were a few too many stops at Liquorland for my liking, but not one to be subtle, I told him it wasn’t on. For a guy who was always so fit, he was content sitting on the couch, so we discussed that too. I didn’t want Leon to take Brad’s goodness away from me as well.

It wasn’t till I fell apart a little in my “Week of Funk”, that I allowed Brad to see the toll that “fake it till you make it” was having on me. And then he knew he had to make a plan. One that meant that Leon could not continue to dictate the way that we were living our lives.

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