The moment I locked my ex-husband out of my little two bed apartment, and put every single thing he owned (from clothing to teaspoons) into black bin bags outside the apartment door, I thought my life would begin again. 

After four years of an unhappy relationship (that should never have happened in the first place,) I was finally free… free to raise my little boy, free to live the life I wanted, to do the things I wanted, and to hang out with the people I liked. Or so I thought. 

Little did I know that for the next 18 months of my life, I would face constant verbal and physical harassment, threats and intimidation. But, during this period of time, when I was emotionally raw, spent and worn out, terrified to go out of my house and of his threats, I met some amazing people who stood by my son and I, protected us, and brought food around when I ran out of money. 

These people literally scooped us up, put us back on our feet and made sure we were ok.

There was no money because my ex began using it as a tool to control me. He thought if he withheld money to support my son, I would do whatever he wanted and beg him for cash. I didn’t. 

I went out, found a better job with more pay. I used my severance package from my previous company to pay for a good lawyer who knew Shari’ah law, and made sure that only did I get full custody, but that my ex’s visitation was done within a secure environment for both myself and my boy, in Child Protection Services. 

I worked hard, got promoted and earned more money. I did jobs on the side and was able to survive and carry on. There was very little spare money and fewer luxuries. But, I was independent, strong, happy and raising a gorgeous son, all on my own.

For 18 months, my lawyer and I fought tooth and nail to get maintenance, to get him to help pay my son’s school fees, to contribute something towards my son’s Nanny because I worked full time.

We finally got a judgment from the court for a total of 1,500 AED a month for emergency maintenance. But three months later, (and having paid just one instalment due) he fled the country without even saying goodbye to my son. 

He has not bothered to contact him since, but we were finally free. 

It was a hard time for me.  I still jumped at noises coming from outside the house, I still looked over my shoulder, and I still got nervous every time a strange car pulled up outside my little house, but I was still independent, and strong. 

It’s hard being a single parent in a city full of singles or married people and I couldn’t head out at the drop of a hat unless I could bring my son along. Married friends seemed to look at me as a threat (I thought to myself, I just got rid of an ass, why would I want yours?)

I had myself and my son and loads of cuddles and that was ok. I won’t lie and tell you it was easy; there were days I wanted to come home and cry, but I couldn’t in front of my boy. There were days I just needed a hug and for someone to tell me it was ok – but there was no one. I accepted that this was life, and decided I was going to be a solo mum forever, as it’s easier to only rely on yourself. 

I worked through the hard times, cherished the good, and I relished the cuddles stolen from my boy in the mornings before work, and the goodnight kisses…. and I started to learn to be happy again.

Then something happened. 

I met a man who fell in love with my son and I; A man who said he had never wanted kids in his life, but yet when he met my boy, it was like they had known each other forever. 

The first time they met, a few months into our dates, was on a little beach near Kite Beach. We all went swimming and my boy climbed on his shoulders, and from that day on, he became our boy – they were inseparable. 

This man stood by my side whilst I dealt with the emotional fall-out from my months of terror; 18 months of waking up every day and making a choice to fight and not give in. It was hard for me to let him in, and harder for him to stay and let me use him as a proverbial emotional punching bag. It was harder for him to see me break down our relationship with fears born of my old one. 

Our relationship was not all sunshine and roses, but three years after I kicked my ex out, I learned to accept the past for being the past, and learned to be happy and that the other shoe doesn’t always drop. 

I now have a brilliant life, a fantastic little family, a fabulous career and my future is bright. My son’s future is everything I want it to be and the man I met is still by my side, and still by our son’s side. He is everything I have ever dreamed about in a man. He is my unicorn.

Every time I see him with our son I am reminded of one thing; DNA doesn’t make a dad – love does.

Written by British Mum Val Wyatt

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