A Phonecall




I had a phonecall.

He said ‘these things you’re saying, they’re just not true. And don’t drag me in to it, otherwise you and I will be falling out’.

I couldn’t quite believe it. He was effectively calling me a liar. And, the truth is he is the one who rang me.

So I replied ‘With all due respect I am not the one who’s being dishonest here. I am telling the truth. Please listen to me’.

I wish he would listen to me.


Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights are asserted.

The ‘Overpayment’




I had a letter through the post. It was informing me (very apologetically) that I had been overpaid that month.

All I could think was








All my friends and family were with me on that one.

We were in shock.

How could they have the cheek to tell me I had been OVERPAID when I’ve been working THIS hard?

And for what?

£700 a month (varies a little from month to month).

My modestly sized mortgage is £550 a month alone.

And my house is dropping to bits.

My ex doesn’t pay.

And then in this letter not only did they inform me I’d been ‘overpaid’

but they were telling me by law they were required to recover the ‘overpayment’.

So, I thought right, I’m not having this.

I sent an email.

I said ‘Look, I’m a little offended by this’ (I’m very polite).

I said

‘I work damn flippin hard, I have shown unconditional love and care towards my clients no matter how tough the situations have been. And my god does it get tough sometimes. I’m administering medication, providing counselling (I don’t even know where to begin with that one), often I’ve been first on the scene after an accident, I’ve cared for people at the end of their life. I scrub toilets, do shopping, accompany folk to appointments (and getting some of them to the car is no mean feat in itself). I have been wept on and shouted at many a time. Sometimes it’s been so much fun that I’ve felt the only course of action would be to knock myself out, seriously.

I consistently go WAY above and beyond the call of duty and time.

 I’m using my own car for this and my car is on its last legs. I’ve had to approach my family at times to help me to cover repair costs as they have been unaffordable for me.
And what do I get?
23p a mile fuel allowance. That’s what. Look at the price of fuel.
Apparently we can claim more back through HMRC to make it up to 45p.
I thought well, I might as well be self employed if I’m going to be doing all this extra paperwork.
No pay for travel time.
Is this not an essential part of the job?
So WHY do we not get paid for this?
As a single parent, to be perfectly honest the only thing that is keeping me from going bankrupt is the financial assistance I receive from the rest of my family every month.
I quite simply can not go on like this.
There’s no occupational sick pay.
But there is holiday pay…
or suspension.
She said she was deeply sorry that the error occured and that there had been no intention to cause offence, but HR had written the letter. They had to make sure the wording was right.

She asked me if I would like to go there and discuss.

So, down there I went.

They said we’re very sorry but we can’t help.

We wish we were able to buy you a new car, but we can’t.

We can’t put the hourly rate up again, because we’ve only just done that. Our pay is the BEST!!

Ain’t saying much for the rest then is it?

And of course, when they put the hourly rate up the rate the clients pay goes up too (it’s double time for them too on a bank holiday).

I don’t like this much.

I don’t think it’s fair.

They’ve worked hard all their lives and their hard earned money is being spent on our wages… and the rest

And then sometimes the clients, eventually end up losing their homes to pay for their care.


She said to me, it wasn’t just you that has received an ‘overpayment’ either, there are 42 (?) other carers who have too. Some have repaid theirs straight away, other carers are repaying in installments. One of the ‘overpayments’ was £700 pounds.

Apparently, the ‘overpayments’ had occured due to a ‘system error’ and NOT, I repeat NOT, down to human error. Nobody in the branch office was responsible for this error.

(Office worker bees…did you put a bill in for all the extra hours you’ve worked by the way?)

I retracted the handing in of ‘my notice with immediate effect’. They convinced me to stay. They said they didn’t want me to make a mistake. And because really, these people are a delight to work with. The Boss has been brilliant, made loads of positive changes. And they would hate to lose their carer of the year. And my clients, well that goes without saying. The grumpier the better for me.

I went away and had a little think about how I might ‘repay’ the ‘overpayment’.

As there are no units of time shown on the payslips now, making it difficult to check the amount paid against my time sheets, as we also have different hourly rates for different types/ times of call,  I decided I would query it.

To cut an already too long story short, my records were pulled out and it was found that I hadn’t been paid for some of the time I’d spent with a particular person when I should have been.

Just saying.

And another thing.

There is a recruitment drive for people of retirement age.

Which is really great, but I’m interested in the real reason behind it.

Why is it so?

And is this suggesting that people of retirement age have nothing else to do?

What about the people with mouths to feed, the people who have mortgages to pay?

Is it any wonder the whole care system is on its knees?

What would they do without us hey?

What would they do?

I don’t think I’m going to be able to enjoy a retirement, not if I carry on doing this job.

There doesn’t appear to be much room for promotion around here either. I am 41. I have a degree.

I love my clients, I do.

But keep us where we are.

Pass on retail vouchers.

Make us beg…

or walk.


Just my humble opinion.

Just saying.

They have sent a copy of my rights in the post.

I’m reading them.



Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights are asserted.



So Next Time…





this man comes to you saying:

‘I left her because she didn’t want to sleep with me’

‘I don’t think she ever loved me’

‘She’s bullying me’

‘She won’t let me see the kids’

Do yourself a justice and find out what’s really going on.

Come and read my blog

Read my words

This is my story

I speak the truth


This is the big


Wholesome truth


And this is my therapy


What’s yours?


So help me god.


If you want to tell your story


But I will NOT be told to shut up

And I won’t be told to be nice, when the truth ain’t nice


Not anymore.


If I lose one or two friends over this

So be it.


Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights are asserted.

Thanks for listening

See you in court.




And, Because All THAT Wasn’t Enough





Contains reference to abuse, please bear this in mind before reading on. But if you would read to the end I would much appreciate it.

Guess what he did next…

After the last storm, the one where he tried to kick the door down, tried to persuade G to go with him, threatened to snap my neck and said the girls should go and live with him. He repeatedly rang M repeating those threats of violence against me. She had to turn her phone off to make them stop that evening. Then he did it AGAIN a week later.

The girls had decided they didn’t want to see their dad after this, I supported them in that and to be fair it had been building up for years as we well know.

What he did next was go and see a solicitor and have a letter sent to me. He was asking that arrangements be made for M & G to have regular contact with him. He missed them and he believed it was in their best interests to have a relationship with their father. He wanted to be involved in all decisions relating to his children (bearing in mind M had reached 18 at this point, his past record AND the fact that he has parental responsibility).

Of course the solicitor didn’t know of the history, as his account was pretty selective and some of the information on the letter was actually incorrect.

He, via this letter was informing me that my reaction to an ‘incident’ (a muddy pair of trainers) was ‘disproportionate’ and that my following outburst was ‘inappropriate’ especially in front of the children. I was quite cross, I must admit.

The letter was two pages long.

It also made reference to a previous incident where I had got cross because he was in my house eating food that M, god bless her, had offered to him. He got angry back and aggressive. We had builders round at the time. One of them had a quiet word with him, my ex threatened him. Right in the builder’s face he was. He left after I said I was going to call the police. This is perhaps what he meant when he claimed he was ‘forcibly removed’.

Of course it was all my fault.

Apparently there had been previous periods of ‘suspended contact’. Perhaps he meant the times when arrangements had been made to see the girls and he hadn’t turned up (without explanation) and no contact from him for weeks, sometimes months after. Including some birthdays and Christmases, including M’s 16th and 18th birthdays. Maybe that’s it?

He’d been feeling left out, said he was ‘cut’ out.

Yes you are reading this right. I couldn’t quite stomach it either.

He thought after this letter that then it would be ok to just turn up at our house on G’s birthday with a birthday gift. Thoughtful.

He was on his best behaviour that day. He knocked on the door softly. Maybe we should have let him in? We didn’t want to see him though. The girls ran upstairs. I just sat there in shock. Like I said in an earlier post, I didn’t speak for the rest of the day. And poor G. It was her birthday.

Needless to say birthdays in our house are an emotional time. After all the events.


The finale of the letter.

If contact was not resumed he would take me to court. I would have it explained to me that while the court would take domestic violence matters in to account, they were not aware of any safeguarding concerns enough for them to deny G having contact with her father.

It talked about ‘shared care’. 50/50.

The man lives in Wales.

50 miles away.


And what to sleep on?

Not practical really is it?


Fathers have rights.

I went to see my solicitor, she’s pretty clued up. It didn’t take her long to fathom this one out. She remembered me from years ago. She remembered his behaviour.

My financial situation was taken in to account and although measures were taken to keep costs to a minimum, the solicitor’s bill was quite sizable. Had to call for financial assistance from family again.

And where did he find the money for his bill? 

No legal aid for this kind of thing anymore. If it had gone to court I would have to represent myself.

Then the car fried. Steam fizzing and pouring out in to the footwell and out of the vents on the way home from work one afternoon. I was actually shaking. Thought it was going to blow.

It was in the garage for days, another £500 bill (right before Christmas all of this).

Of course then I couldn’t get to work. No pay. Although needless to say it is always a toss up between needing the pay and needing a break. I earn about £30 most days, varies a little bit. I’m available during school hours most days and work every other weekend (although I don’t like working weekends). I have been working four days one week, then six days the next, alternating. Demanding work it is too. Not easy for a single parent on a good week.

And if all this wasn’t enough, a major heart surgery in the family, the gas boiler finally packed up (12 weeks to wait for a new one), another elder’s hospitalisation…

Just complete and utter despair. How much can one person cope with?

This is why I’ve been so quiet.

SO PLEASE, PLEASE don’t tell us we should shut up.



Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral right are asserted.




Feeling Sorry For Him?





You know I struggled with that one for years too.

That’s why he chose us

Please think back

read back

Think about the affect this is STILL having on you

Even though you’ve moved on

That is not right

It is not fair

You deserve better than that


He ain’t going to go and get treatment voluntarily

Is he?


Sending healing thoughts to you




Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.


He Doesn’t Want To Pay.




‘I’m not paying to see my kids’ he says (he stopped working).

So I said ‘what, you don’t WANT to take care of your children?’

All he could say to that was ‘DON’T USE THE CHILDREN AS A WEAPON’.

I was a little shocked and angered by this.

It left me scratching my head.

He said ‘you get help from the state’. I said ‘yes, but it’s not enough to manage on. I have a mortgage to pay, a house to maintain, a car to run and maintain. We need to eat, we need clothes, shoes. My wages aren’t much at all, and a proper break away once a year is a good thing too. We live simply. We like to have a little treat now and again, especially on birthdays’.

So then he replied ‘Well, your family help. I haven’t got any of these things, I’m living off pocket money that my dad gives me. My shoes have holes in them. Look at the state of this house and look at the garden, it was all in perfect condition when I left’.

(It wasn’t at all)

I said ‘yes, my family bend over backwards to help, they’ve done so much. And of course I do EVERYTHING I CAN for the girls. But what about YOUR responsibility to your children?

He hasn’t given a good enough answer to that one yet.


Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.

Silky Suki





Our beautiful, velvety, acrobat, Suki bunny.

She’s all muscle and speed, but I can see it in her eyes that she is not well.

So we’re having a trip to the vets today in the hope that they can make her feel a little bit better.


Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.

Please Read Me.




This post contains sensitve content about abuse. This may well be upsetting for people. Please, please bear this in mind before reading.


They beat him, they tormented him, called him names then locked him in a tight, dark space on a hot summer’s day.

It was stifling in there.

They wouldn’t let him out.

It must have been horrendous.

Later, he asked for help but nobody came. They told him he was on his own.

He’s pretty angry.

Everybody’s been paying ever since.


But even if you take all that anger and pain away…

What is left is the sense of entitlement, the lies, the deceit, the manipulations.










Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.

Only Me, Only You.




You know what you have done and you know about the damage it caused. You’ve done everything possible to make things right.

So please, you can stop beating yourself up about it now.

You have suffered long enough. Way too long.

You are NOT responsible for his behaviour and the damage that has caused.

Only he is responsible for that.


Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.

Little Bundle




Little bundle came along

and stole me from you

like in that nightmare you had

you told me about that.

I wanted you to share in my awe for her

But you wouldn’t

You wouldn’t even look at her

and I didn’t want it to be like that.



Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.


The Truth.



This post contains sensitve content about abuse. This may well be upsetting for people. Please, please bear this in mind before reading.


…the rest of the truth

Why did I stay?

Why didn’t I leave?

I Kept thinking and hoping things would get better. It wasn’t ‘all bad’ I kept saying to myself. But it certainly wasn’t right. Not by a long shot. We argued everyday and I mean big blazing exhausting rows. I am so stubborn, so I am told. Well, if digging my heels in when I don’t want to do something for whatever reason makes me stubborn then yes, I will wear that one. But it was when I got exhausted from it all and was feeling vulnerable, that’s when he really got into my head.

I did leave him once, for two weeks. Baby M and me went to stay with my parents. He kept telling me to get out of his house each time we argued. So that time I did.

I’d decided I was going to put my name down on the list for a house for baby M and me. Just M and me. How liberating did that feel.

Then he was all charming again.

I went back to him.

We carried on, as before.

I’d been manipulated.

Some people. You try and tell them what’s going on behind closed doors and they turn their heads and look the other way. Others ask questions, listen and understand it.

We were renovating a house, a new home for us while I was expecting baby G, not forgetting all the the dramas going on behind the scenes. He announced at the eleventh hour that he didn’t want to move in to the new house he wanted to sell it. I was eight months pregnant and we were living out of boxes at home ready for the move. I’d moved M to a school nearer to the new house and I’d got over three threatened miscarriges. And he thought nothing of any of it. This almost tipped me over the edge. I was speechless. I walked straight out of the front door and up the hill. By the time I got to the top I could barely breathe. Panick attack.

We did move into the house, but he was not happy, and the work on the house never did get finished.

Baby G had arrived three weeks before the move. I was nursing her, and of course taking care of M and driving her to school and back etc, etc. On the day we moved, he sat in the loft (his office) sifting through paperwork while I was left to shift the boxes down twenty two steps to the car having given birth three weeks earlier and with baby and a five year old. My mum came to help and later my dad and brother(s).

We settled in, kind of, and at this point I felt like my own person, he couldn’t mess with my head anymore. Not nearly as much anyway. If I didn’t want to be touched then I wouldn’t be touched. Couldn’t blame me too much for that after everything. He still made a fuss. He asked me if I was having an affair. Of course, I wasn’t.

Then he started buying cars, expensive cars, on finance and changing them every few months, losing thousands each time. I was worried about us getting into debt and all that wasted, dead money and he wouldn’t pay for M to have riding lessons. The ONE thing she wanted to do.

He started staying up all night on his computer. I thought he was working, but what I found printed out and left in a cupboard within the girls’ reach after he’d left made me think otherwise.

But even though I felt better about myself I can still remember sneaking off upstairs to bed and pretending to be asleep if he came up, for fear of an argument breaking out if he didn’t get his own way. Sometimes the arguments could go on for hours in the middle of the night. If I tried to leave the room he would follow.

Then one day he announced he was leaving.

It was ok for a while, I needed the break.

But then when I found out there was someone else things got nasty and the games really started. To say I was upset would be the understatement of the century. Angry, outraged too. Yes indeed. Their behaviour and his lies and the cheating and the aggression and the creeping…

One night things got that bad I sat on the back door step having a cigarette and just trembling. All this had caused me to start smoking again after having given up for four years.

I remember another time further on, during a period when things were a little more settled, the girls had gone with him for the weekend (I know what you’re thinking again, but things get very complicated when he is around and you are vulnerable and you are in desperate need of a break). I lay on the bed, it was quiet, I felt so calm and at peace. I started planning in my head how I could end it all. It frightened me afterwards to think how calmly I’d considered this, as before when I’d had these thoughts it was out of complete despair and desperation. But this time was different. I think if I’d had something at hand to take then I might not be here to tell the tale. Luckily something snapped me out of it. It was the thought of my beautiful girls and my family.

Some people, they’d have me up for child neglect. Some offer their support, others bend over backwards to help.

I have said this many times, but I am one lucky person, a little bit unlucky too, but mostly just bloody lucky.


Copyright Louise Astbury. Moral rights asserted.






Auntie S_01_small






Auntie S_04_small


Auntie S_05_small


Auntie S_06_small


I would have walked straight past the room had it not been for the rest of them being there. I didn’t recognise you.

You would take a deep breath, a really deep breath, exhale, then silence for twenty long seconds. Us all sitting around the bed. On pins.

I’m not sure how many times this happened over those two days.

But we were all there together because of you.


Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.

The Ray of Light that brightens the darkest of dark rooms.



Just in case the message on the image cannot be read for any reason, it says this:

Copyright Louise Astbury and daughter 2018.

All rights are reserved.


But, if you would like a print please contact me to discuss: louiseastbury@yahoo.co.uk Any profit will go to the driving lesson fund.

I Like To Be By The Sea



This post contains sensitve content about abuse. This may well be upsetting for people. Please, please bear this in mind before reading.


The Addams Family Values.

Look. I know you miss your kids badly but we both know that I get easily sucked back in.

I had this dream once. About a rat. It was trapped under the bath. It couldn’t get out by gnawing at the panel but it found its way in to my living space via the pipework. But it was ok in the end because I had my hands on the biggest, heaviest yard brush ever. I hit it over the head. Over and over and over again. It died.

I don’t like rats.

No disrespect, but I don’t like rats.

If you get back in again, then you’ll be wanting to be friends with me again and then you think that gives you a pass to upstairs…

I can’t let that happen. I mean how many times did that happen over the months during 2006 and 2007?

We have been through this again and again and again.

You even said to M that you thought you had a chance with me again 3 years ago.

Then, when I said no you can’t see the girls because they don’t want to, you’ll start banging on about father’s rights again won’t you.

Like the last time we saw you, you said ‘I’M NOT PAYING TO SEE MY KIDS’ (in reference to the child maintenance that you haven’t paid in how many years?).

Why did you say ‘don’t you dare’ when I mentioned the Child Maintenance Service anyway?

That was just before you threatened to snap my neck and tried kicking the door down.

Tried to bully me out of my home after you left didn’t you (2006). It carried on for a prolonged period of time. You kept threatening to force a sale on the house. Even when it wasn’t in your name anymore.

Remember that time you brought her round. Because ‘she’ wanted the house. ‘She’ wanted to bring our girls up. ‘She’ wanted everything you had. That’s what you said anyway. Not sure what to believe there. After all it was ‘your’ house, so you kept telling me right from the very beginning. I have to admit, you did look ill that day.

That was the same ‘she’ that you went down to the bank to freeze our account with. You know the one that didn’t actually contain any of your money (you were careful about that). But it had the small amount of money for me and our children to buy food with. My mind was so fogged by everything that was happening that I hadn’t opened a sole account. The locum solicitor thought it was hilarious when I told her what you’d done.

The ‘she’ who rang the benefit fraud hotline about me. So, as if I hadn’t been put through  ENOUGH TRAUMA, I was then called in to the Jobcentre and was absolutely grilled. Can you imagine the humiliation of that? I had done nothing wrong. And then you gleefully informed me afterwards that it was her. Thanks.

You got me out of ‘your’ house by moving us in to your new flat. Just before Christmas 2006.

You wanted us all to be together again you said.

You told me I wasn’t to go back to the house when you threw me out of your flat after the festivities.

When I started screaming at you in the kitchen you laughed and laughed and called me a fishwife. Then you went to stay with her.

You’d already come back and left how many times by then? I’ve lost track.

And you really dislike it when I mention that word, the one beginning with ‘r’ and ending in ‘pe’ don’t you.

Like the time I mentioned it when you came round (post split) and the kids were in bed asleep.

I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, could I.

I told you that what you did to me after M was born some people would call r*pe.

And it was.

You did not have my consent.

I was in pain (forceps delivery) and exhausted.

You did it anyway.

I mentioned it, quietly, so that the girls couldn’t hear, you shouldn’t mention that subject while the children are in earshot, should you. They were asleep upstairs until you started shouting and ripped the TV and DVD player out of the wall and threw them across the garden.

Then the kids woke up and came to the stairs.

Of course that was my fault too.

Why have I been blaming myself for making your behaviour worse all this time?

It all started the first time we went out alone together. I was depressed then. I was uncomfortable. You had me trapped. Car park in the middle of nowhere in the dark.

But no, you never hit me. So that’s ok.

And ‘that’ doesn’t happen in relationships does it. That’s what you told your fifteen year old daughter. It’s something that happens on the streets. But if anybody did that to her you’d break their legs. Or something like that. One rule for you and another for everybody else.

And that other time when I was pregnant with G. Three threatened miscarriages I’d had. And still you believed you had the right. You said you didn’t care what the doctor said, I was your partner.

You didn’t suceed in your mission that time.

It was pretty awful for me though.

We were away from home.

In wales. In a log cabin.

First born was in bed asleep.

I wanted to leave, get out, but I didn’t have it in me. On the floor, exhausted from all the arguing I was.

You just don’t get it do you.

Then that time in the flat. I was uncomfortable with you and was wondering what the hell was going on. Why, exactly you had us there.

I was crying. You were being a little rough. You asked me why I was crying and was it like being… well you know what I mean, and that is what you said.

How many others are there?

You didn’t like it when she and I became good friends did you (a different she from above). You tried to bully her in to not speaking to me. And the nasty things you said about her to me. Something like the things you’ve been saying about me to others. I think she is lovely. And I know a decent human being when I meet one.

I DO. Despite my track record with you.

And if I hear of you calling ANYONE ELSE a RETARD… I HATE THAT.

I know you much prefer to be causing terror behind the scenes but honestly, I can’t keep quiet any longer.

If you keep it all in it eats you up inside.

It makes you ill.

I don’t want to feel like that anymore.

Why the hell should I?

It’s late and I am tired.

But at least I can sleep at night again.

Thank you for the email that you sent to me yesterday. I deleted it without reading. I have some idea of the content though. Did you try ringing on the landline too?

It looked like it was going to be a lecture on fathers rights above all else.

I can’t stomach anymore of that after everything that you’ve done mate. I really can’t.

And still, I know there are decent blokes around. Even after all this.

My twenty years of hell.

The position has been made perfectly clear. Via a solicitor. Do you remember?

It hasn’t changed.


Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.


Ten Years. Then Add Another Ten.




This post contains sensitve content about abuse. This may well be upsetting for people. Please, please bear this in mind before reading.


After the threat that you made, the one about her going to live with you. Remember? The last time we saw you. You knew you’d lost me, you knew you’d lost big sis so then you started working on little one.

I was scared to be late picking her up from school every day in case you showed. I tried to rationalise it in my head, because what would you do then? If you actually did take her.

But then, you did try kicking the door down.

And you did threaten me with death. Wanted to snap my neck didn’t you. ‘Just words’ you said to her.

That was all my fault too. Wasn’t it.

She was scared. She told me so.

Said she was scared you would run away with her.

They both said they were scared to come home in case you were there.

They ran up the stairs and hid when you knocked on the door on her birthday with a wad of cash.

I couldn’t speak for the rest of the day.

Now the doc has me on beta blockers.

So sincerely,




Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.

I Can Talk Myself Down In My Head, But My Heart Won’t Listen


It’s like that line in the Joni Mitchell song ‘part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time’.

That works for hate as it does for love.

Have you any idea how ugly, dirty, rotten, bad I felt about myself after everything you said? Even though I KNEW it was all a lie.

And feeding the lies through them… I can’t even begin.

I made a choice to say my piece

for my peace

and to walk away.



Copyright Louise Astbury 2018. Moral rights asserted.

The Trees Have Ears








Upon deciding where to go for the afternoon yesterday, daylight beginning to fade, we visited a local ‘magical’ woodland; the wood that I visited so many times as a child, a regular haunt for Sunday family walks, summer picnics and paddles in the stream. Relatively small, it is absolutely packed with intrigue and has a kind of mystical air, and I almost found myself lost in my childhood once more revisiting the place.

© Copyright Louise Astbury 2014. Moral rights asserted.