======= Date Modified 29 Mar 2012 21:12:23 =======
I am writing this because I have never felt so alone in all my life. So here is my story. I have been writing a PhD in humanitarian aid and logistics part-time over the last six years. I had a professor who used me as a publication donkey....the consequence is I now have 18 refereed publications - I lectured part-time at University - which meant I could not be awarded a PhD on publication (you only need 6!). Three years ago on Christmas eve in the snow, I was on a train and it broke down. There I met my husband, who at the time was a Royal Marine Officer who had been blown up in Afghanistan and was suffering from post traumatic stress. Anyway, we married and moved to be near his family. My husband started a new career - and I continued the write up of my PhD. However during the last two years my mother and brother died - and in the need for family I decided to have a baby girl - who is beautiful (in the hope my mother would see her before she died). Basically, out of the 120,000 word PhD (its a big one!) I have only 35,000 words left to write up. All the primary data is done etc. I have seven weeks until the deadline. This deadline cannot be moved. Two weeks ago, my husband changed the locks to our home (literally out of the blue - we have never even had an argument). Left me holding our ten month old baby with literately nowhere to go. Our daughter was really sick with croup - it was horrible. His family is very wealthy and powerful. They chose to put me into a bedsit in the middle of nowhere - and now I am literally exhausted, drained, and feel like my heart has been taken. I cannot sleep. I am so frightened. My husband says he wants complete control of us and me. He told me not to see a lawyer - so clearly I had to. The lawyer says - do not worry we will be fine - and he will help protect putting a roof over my daughters head. However, with only seven weeks left to go on my PhD - I just cannot think straight. The words are jumping around. But the thing is, I know that the best thing I can now do is finish my PhD - because then I will always be able to support my daughter financially. All I want to do is curl up and cry - but there is no time. I wondered if anyone has been through something traumatic and still managed to get to the end of their PhD. Please someone help me find some courage - because I am lonely and frightened. I know nobody on the island I live on. And every time I look at my daughter I feel like such a failure for not being able to keep her family together. Please if anyone is listening...please just say something. Thank you Heidi.
I'm not sure what I can say that would be of practical help to you but my heart really does go out to you. Is there absolutely no way whatsoever that this deadline could be put back? Are you sure? Check with the students union and please, please, please get support from your university counselling service. At least then you'll have someone to talk things through with. Just tell the counsellor what you've told us and see what they can do.
Please feel free to post here as often as you need.
Take good care of yourself.
======= Date Modified 29 Mar 2012 22:17:55 =======
Heidi, you are not a failure! Your husband is behaving appallingly even if it is due to his illness.
I think you need some human contact to get you though this - is there a friend or family member you could call and see if they could come over? Even if you hate asking for help, don't want to tell anyone what's going on etc you need to talk to someone. Or what about a local support service? It's great that you've got legal representation - that shows however defeated you feel right now, that you are not giving up! You will find the strength to protect yourself and your daughter however it feels right now.
As far as the PhD is concerned, is the deadline really completely inflexible? What would they do if say you were lying in hospital? Can you talk to your supervisor at all or a director of graduate studies to see what possibilities there are? If you can get any sort of extension, do so. If it's completely impossible, I think you need to try and break it down as far as possible into daily amounts so that it doesn't feel as overwhelming.
Finally could I suggest you edit your post a bit to take out some of the bits like locations that make you identifiable to anyone who knows you? If your husband is going to be difficult to deal with, it might be safer.
Thank you, I just need to keep breathing! I will call the research dean tomorrow and explain the situation. Failing that I shall sit down and work out how many words a day I need to get written - and rely on the lawyer to protect my family. My daughter just needs love and cuddles - I have plenty of those to give her. I will book in with a counsellor to get myself more empowered - things will get better. I am sure of it. Its just been horrible. Thank you, thank you. Your kindness tonight has been so appreciated.
Finally, I am not sure if my original reply was delivered. It has not popped up on the screen. The essence of it was - thank you for your kindness and care. I am truly humbled. I just needed a little help - even just to be heard. I will try and start thinking with my head over the next couple of months: starting with speaking with the dean tomorrow to request an extra eight weeks. if that is not successful then working out a daily amount of words to achieve - and remembering why I am doing this - for my daughter. I will also put my trust in my lawyer - he can handle my husband. I will speak to a counsellor to help empower me to start to be a lioness for my cub - and i will try and let someone in. Thank you. I am overwhelmed by your help. I will follow all the advice - and have edited! Goodness I am a plonker at the moment. Thank you.
Firstly, I commend you on how well you seem to be handling this awful situation (even if you don't think so). What you are going through is an extreme case and your university should definitely be able to make an exception with regard to deadlines. Even if means you have to be more open about your situation than you might like. These people are human and I'm sure they will have some compassion.
You have obviously done the vast majority of the work and to have so many publications you should feel confident that you can put your daughter and your personal situation first for now. You WILL submit when things have settled down a bit. Like others have said, get support in your university and on here. Look after yourself.
Thank you - I have actually just written to the pro-vice chancellor of research - the graduate school have been pretty unhelpful to date - so I have laid it all out - and asked for a tiny bit more time. I pointed out the number of publications I have written for the university, the teaching years, etc - and indeed how much I love my University. In the morning I will give him a call once he has had a chance to have a think about my situation - and then either way I need to get myself together. I just need to keep saying...I can do this. Thank you for your thoughts and support. I am literally amazed that anyone can ever hear me. I have felt so ashamed of not being able to hold my family together that I have not spoken to anyone about it. So thank you. Thank you.
HI Heidi, I really don't know what to say, except that you are clearly amazing. You sound like a wonderful mother and a brilliant student (how many publications?! - what an ACHIEVEMENT!). And to have achieved it all while having such a difficult time... you are clearly a survivor. I agree with others - certainly try to get that deadline pushed back. Failing that, remember that you are only human, and there's only so much you can do. Set yourself small, realistic goals and slowly but surely, you'll make good progress. You're clearly very capable and as others have pointed out, have done all of the hard work. Writing up now is just showing all of that amazing hard work you've done. I think you can do this, because you seem very strong and capable. I'm so sorry to hear you're having such a hard time. Stay strong and hang in there. You're not alone in this. Keep us updated. Purpleflower x
Thank you purpleflower xx It is a new day - you have to open up the curtains to let the light come in - and that is what I am going to do. First job - contacting the university - I shall report back tonight to let you all know how I got on - fingers and toes crossed for me. On a brighter note, my daughter slept like a new born baby badger last night - which is good! Thank you xxx
I am so glad you posted on here - I hope you are feeling more supported. You are going through a shockingly difficult time and are being so humble about it. Many people would have completely - and understandably - crumbled by now. You have a wonderful PhD ahead of you in such a necessary subject and a beautiful young daughter. I know you are focussing and anchoring on these positive parts of your life, but yes, you also need a more compassionate solution to completing your PhD than a strict and ensuing deadline. I hope your university will be supportive. In any case, whilst you say it is your husband who is powerful, I think you have the power to achieve anything - power is not power if it is accompanied by abusive action. Please keep in touch with us, and do PM if you like. You are not alone, and you will get through this for sure.
I don't think I can add anything extra to what others have said, except you need to concentrate on what is most important to you. Your daughter is everything and you need to do your very best for her.
The PhD can and must wait if possible. How can you concentrate? The University must have a suspension of studies option available in what even they will recognise are extrodinarily difficult circumstances. For a situation like this where your husband has kicked you and your (and his) daughter out, you need time to sort yourself out with more permanent accomodation and to being the difficult process of divorce from him. Perhaps the post traumatic stress disorder is making him behave irratically, but to either throw you out of his life or to control you in the way you describe suggests he is possibly a very disturbed individual. His own family must see he needs to seek help if that is the case.
If you cannot get this extra time, then there are plenty people on here that will offer you moral and emotional support during your last few weeks. Also pop by your University Counselling Service so that at least you can talk to a real flesh and blood person.
Chin up, you will get through this. Just know that there are decent people out there who care.
Thank you....when I read it all back - everything I wrote last night - it puts a huge lump in my throat - because firstly it makes it all real and, secondly - it has just been horrible and I realise how lonely I have been. I think being alone on the island - and perhaps isolating myself - because I feel ashamed that I cannot keep my family together - is not really helping me. Today, I called the VC dean of research - and the graduate school - they said that the person who can sanction extra time for me is currently on leave...so I have to wait. They did say that they could see this was a 'challenging time' - I asked whether I could even be considered for maternity leave - as my baby is so young (they gave me four months before)...again I am waiting for them to decide if they feel they can help me. I have asked for a six week extension - so not a massive amount of time - but enough. I think the last few weeks I have been in shock and trying to understand what my husband is doing and why. Also if I can support him. However, he does not wish that. He has locked down his life to us. He planned it fairly well as I popped to the UK to see my sister for two days - and when I got back the locks were changed - and his father stood over me saying I had only 1 hour to get my things - and would not let my daughter be with me in the house (as we could have stayed forever if he had). I would have lived in a cardboard box with my husband. I just loved him. My husbands father has always been very dominate in our lives. He does not like women to be independent and have careers. I cannot even imagine what my husband must have said to him to allow all of this. As we have never even had an argument. Its very confusing. Since I employed an excellent family lawyer - my husband has been much more reasonable. Its just a roller coaster depending on his mood. I suppose I feel a bit lost as he was our moral compass - our protector of the family. I trusted him. He was my best friend. I use to be pretty and cute - but these days I am more likely to have baby sick down my top - he then goes to the office with all these beautiful women - I probably can't blame him. I just miss my best friend. Now, all that aside...I still need to work out a way to complete. This is one thing I can control in my life... I think completing will do me the world of good - and for my daughter too. I will then always be able to provide for her. So this is my plan (or rather two plans) the first is day by day completion plan without the extra six weeks - and the second is with the extra six weeks. I have a nanny/childminder who can help me with my daughter - so my daughter can keep in routine, as well as have a serious supply of cuddles and play from me and the nanny. I have a lawyer - and I now need to trust him to fight for our interests. I do not want to make this difficult or harm my husband. So I will go for a quick settlement - and let him keep his millions. In the end, I have the most precious thing - one bundle of love. He may not realise it yet but life is about families. If you push everyone away to get to the top - and then you get there and there is nobody to share it with - thats a lonely place to be. I would rather have less and a life filled with happiness and love than the money. However, I do need to be practical. Our daughter is signed up for private education - I shall secure that. I will secure enough for a home for us and maintenance. My husband has said he does not want this to go to Royal Court and be public. So I expect he will be happy with my wishes. I know in the short term this is my pain - and in the long term his. I guess what I do not understand is why people cannot see how truly lucky they are. Thank you everyone for being so thoughtful. Perhaps there is hope for humanity yet! With love Heidi
======= Date Modified 30 Mar 2012 15:15:17 =======
Are you in the Channel Islands per chance? Seriously, don't answer!!! Your reference to 'Royal Court' suggested that.
Finances aren't going to be a problem to see you through and I'd be out of the bedsit as soon as possible.
Why do you feel a failure if it's your husband's family that's initiated all this?
Reading between the lines (sorry if I'm being presumtuous), I sense other things (reference to 'all those beautiful women at work') and that's even more reason not to blame yourself.
You're clearly still in love with him despite everything. Perhaps if his family was out of the picture, you'd get a clearer picture of how he felt rather than how his father felt. However, I wouldn't in all sincerity hang your hopes on that.
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