Never the bride

My Darren wasn't the marrying kind... or so he told me

Published by: Georgette Culley and Jean Jollands
Published on: 8 November 2012

My tummy had butterflies as I gazed at the wedding magazine on the newsagent shelf.
‘Look at that dress!' I gasped. It was an ivory number with a satin train - my dream dress.
‘Don't worry,' my mate Kadisha, 30, said, nudging me. ‘It'll be you one day, hun.' I rolled my eyes.
‘Chance would be a fine thing,' I grumbled. I'd been with my partner Darren for 12 years and we had a gorgeous daughter Chenelle, 11. But whenever I mentioned marriage, he clammed up. Most days, I was fine with it, but deep down it hurt me that he was reluctant to slip that ring on my finger.
Yet, at the start, I'd been so full of hope. When I was expecting Chenelle, Darren was rubbing my bump in bed one night.
‘Well, you have to make an honest woman of me now!' I grinned. ‘I love you more than anything,' he replied, quickly. ‘But I'm just not ready.'
That hurt. Surely a baby was the ultimate commitment anyway - marriage would just make us a complete family. But I didn't want to seem like a neurotic pregnant woman! Still, I was angry.
‘I was joking,' I said quickly, snapping off the bedroom light so he couldn't see my tears. By the time Chenelle was born, I was so caught up in her that weddings were the last thing on my mind.
But while we were so happy, every so often I couldn't resist dreaming about our big day. I counted my blessings that Darren was kind and loyal and doted on Chenelle.
And, the following year, I was ecstatic when I found out I was expecting again.
‘You're going to have a little brother or sister,' I told Chenelle. We were all so excited.
Then, just two weeks after the three of us had gone along to my 20-week scan, tragedy struck.
I went into early labour, and my daughter Rebecca was still born. ‘How will we ever get through this?' I sobbed into Darren's arms. ‘We will,' he hushed.
In the months that followed, I was so grateful for his support. When my tears wouldn't stop falling, he was there with a loving hug, when I got angry, he just let me be.
‘I love you so much,' I told him.
Another year had gone by when I took Chenelle to visit relatives in Uganda. When I tried calling Darren, who'd been too busy to come with us, I could never reach him. ‘He's in Scotland working on his music,' his brother insisted. Darren loved producing tracks in his spare time when not at his carer's job.
But, then, after we flew back home, I started receiving silent phone calls. ‘Just kids messing around,' Darren shrugged. And it was all forgotten the following month when I discovered I was pregnant again. But, just four months gone as I relaxed on the sofa, my mobile beeped with a text. I'm married to Darren and expecting his baby.
I read it 10 times. Was this some kind of sick joke?
My stomach churned as I went upstairs and shoved my phone in Darren's face.
‘What the hell is this?' I hissed.
‘I don't know,' he insisted. But then his face turned grave. ‘I am leaving, though,' he blurted. ‘I need some space.'
I collapsed onto the bed. ‘Why? What about our baby?' I begged. ‘I - we - need you.'
‘Sorry,' he muttered. ‘It's how I feel.' As I watched him walk out, I ached to follow him. But my hands were on my tummy.
I had to keep calm for my baby's sake.
So, all I could do was watch helplessly as Darren searched the internet for a new place to live.
I knew this had something to do with that shocking text.
‘You've got to stay strong for the baby,' I told myself. But five months gone, at my antenatal check, the nurse looked panicked as she scanned my tummy.
‘I'm sorry...' a doctor confirmed. ‘We can't find a heartbeat.' No matter what he'd done, I still wanted Darren. He was called to the hospital and he was my rock as, devastated, we let the nurses make the funeral arrangements for our tragic baby boy, Elijah. A few days later, Darren pulled his chair to my bedside. ‘Helen,' he whispered. ‘I need to tell you the truth.' ‘What? I gulped.
‘The message that woman sent you was true,' he blurted. ‘I married her behind your back in Nigeria when you were away. She is expecting my child. I'm so sorry.'
This had to be a nightmare. ‘I lost my baby but your ‘wife' is expecting yours?' I sobbed, bewildered. ‘My family pressured me into it,' he babbled. ‘They wanted me to marry a Nigerian woman.'
I'd spent years asking him to marry me and he'd tied the knot to someone else for flaming cultural reasons! But, despite my rage, back home all that mattered was my lost baby. As I sunk into depression, my GP referred me for counselling. Grief-stricken,
I even allowed myself to believe that despite Darren's wedding bombshell, we could still make a go of things. ‘You're the one I want to be with,' he said. ‘I've finished with her. I'll get a divorce and, if you'll have me, marry you.' Deep inside, I still wanted my happy ending, so I took him back. But, days later, Darren mumbled something about having to go away for work for a few days.
‘Really?' I asked, suspicious. ‘You never work away?'
‘I have to cover for my manager,' he insisted.
Over those next days he was away, I bombarded his mobile with calls but only got his answer machine. Finally, after three days of silence, and with Chenelle away on a school trip, I decided to visit Darren's work.
‘Is he here?' I asked his manager. ‘No. He's been on annual leave,' she frowned.
I knew it, the lying git! I fled, tears flowing, and, back home, I curled up into a sobbing ball.
I remembered the Valentine's Day club night Darren took me to just three months after we met. We'd slow-danced to Boyz II Men's End of the Road.
‘I love you,' he whispered. He didn't know what love meant! And when he came home that night, I let him have it!
‘You've been with her!' I raged. ‘No, I was, er, visiting my sister but knew you'd cause a fuss if I said so,' he babbled. I'd heard one pathetic lie too many. ‘Get out. It's over!' I fumed, scooping his stuff into bin liners.
Over those next months, I really don't know how I carried on,But, two years on, I've come a long way.
I'm now with a new man, Andrew, 43, and we have a four-month-old baby boy Samuel. He does want to marry me and while I'd love to be his wife, just knowing he wants to is enough for now.
Darren sees Chenelle and still asks me to take him back. But he can forget that one! Not marrying him turned out to be the best thing I ever did!
Helen Awor, 33, Chiswick, West London