I’d been having my doubts about my relationship with my boyfriend Jeremy for a while.
We had moved in together after about two months of dating, when we were in our early twenties and inexperienced at life. We were madly in love and I thought nothing could change that.
AT FIRST, EVERYTHING WAS WONDERFUL, THEN I GOT PREGNANT
It was a surprise, but we embraced the curve ball life had thrown at us. Jeremy asked me to marry him, and baby Jemma was born when we’d been together for about 18 months.
We were planning on getting married around Jemma’s first birthday, but in that year after she was born, things started to go downhill.
At first, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but I just knew I’d started to feel crap about myself. My self-esteem plummeted and I felt like I didn’t deserve Jeremy and that I was a crappy mum.
I’d never had any trouble with my confidence before, so I was shocked when I was talking to my best friend Michaela, and she pointed out that she’d noticed Jeremy was putting me down a lot.
IT WASN’T ANYTHING BIG — HE NEVER TOLD ME I WAS AN AWFUL PERSON
He just chipped away at my self-esteem bit by bit with little comments about what I was wearing, how I was wearing my hair, who I was hanging out with, or what I was doing with my life.
I’d hear things like, “Are you really wearing those pants?” or “Do you think that’s really flattering for you?” or “I guess you should be pretty happy with that, considering.”
As soon as Michaela mentioned it, I started to notice it, and it was happening every day. It really started to eat away at me.
HE’D ALSO DEVELOPED A NASTY TEMPER
He never hit me, or even threatened to, but when he was upset, he would throw things across the room or punch the walls. We had holes in two walls, he’d smashed three pieces of my family crockery, and I’d lost count of the amount of times he’d made Jemma cry by flying off the handle.
I was growing afraid, and I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I tried to talk to Jeremy once about it but he told me I was overreacting, and that everyone has moments like that. And he told me I was being oversensitive about his comments, and that I needed to “toughen up, princess”.
It was around that time that Jeremy’s parents were visiting from the UK. I hadn’t met them before, but I knew that Jeremy came from a well-off British family. This was totally different from my working class roots, but I was unprepared for just how much Jeremy’s parents would openly disapprove of me and of Jemma.
MY IN-LAWS HATED ME FROM THE START
As soon as we met, Robert and Sherryn made it clear they thought Jeremy should be marrying a nice middle-class girl from Surry, where they were from. I wasn’t entirely sure whether they didn’t like me because I’d “trapped Jeremy by having his baby” (their words), or whether it was just because they wanted him back in England with them.
A bit from column A and a bit from column B, I suspect.
They stayed for a week, but the afternoon before they planned to leave, Robert asked me to go for a walk with him in the local park. I put Jemma in her pram and we went for a stroll.
I NEVER SUSPECTED WHAT WAS ABOUT TO COME
Robert told me he understood that Jeremy was a good catch for someone like me, but that he was concerned for his son’s future out here in Australia. He said he thought Jeremy belonged back in England with his family.
I was about to tell him that Jemma and I were Jeremy’s family now, but I wasn’t sure if I believed that myself. I was miserable.
Robert said he and Sherryn had been talking, and wondered if I’d be interested in a little incentive to “release Jeremy” from our relationship.
I said, “You want to pay me to break up with him?”
Robert looked me square in the face and said, “Yes.”
I GOT THE FEELING THIS WAS NOT A MAN WHO WAS USED TO BEING TOLD NO
And as much as I wanted to teach him a lesson, I also felt like this was a way out. I could take Jemma and start a new, peaceful life.
“How much” I asked.
“How would $20,000 be?” he said.
I thought about it for a moment, and said, “Make it thirty and you’ve got a deal.”
The next week, the money appeared in my bank account, and I told Jeremy I was leaving him. I don’t know if he ever found out what his parents did, but I do know he left for England a few months after we separated.
I send pictures of Jemma and we keep in touch, but I no longer feel terrible about myself and I don’t have to walk on eggshells any more. Oh, and I’ve just put a deposit in a nice little apartment for Jemma and me, courtesy of the grandparents she’ll probably never meet again.