Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

An Uncelebrated Anniversary May 24, 2013

Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of The Big Incident.

domestic-violence2

Picture links to a blog with another woman’s domestic violence story

It brought back a lot of feelings; a lot of fears. But it also brought the closing of the most difficult year of my life.

My therapist says things tend to get better after the first year. She says that the first time experiencing Christmas, and Thanksgiving and the kids’ birthdays, and our wedding Anniversary, and the Hallmark holidays without him, would be the hardest. But that when it gets hard during those important events next time I can remember that I’ve gotten through it once before, and I’ll know I can do it again.

I CAN do it, but it’s still hard. I miss the good parts of him. I miss his friendship. I miss the comfort of saying “husband” even though I was covering up the pain of what my relationship was really like when no one was watching. I’m still grieving him. I may grieve awhile.

Sigh.

For those who have never been in an abusive relationship, the thought of longing for someone who has caused pain and hardship is unfathomable. If you’d have read the police report, or seen what I’ve been through, or know how hard things are for me now, without also understanding domestic violence, you’d probably think, “Miss him? What is she, crazy? She must have enjoyed the abuse.” It’s difficult to explain, but I had so much faith and pride and commitment wrapped up into that relationship making it; I had so many childhood dreams tied to being with him…it seemed almost impossible to let him go.

And things weren’t all bad. Of course they weren’t. Had they been all bad it wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long as it did. There were periods of calm, of comfort, of deep connection, and quiet evenings, and afternoon hiking trips. There were pancake breakfasts, and road trips, and board games, and our first garden. There was our first car accident, and house, and child. There was the time I cut his hair and we saved it to donate to charity, but I forgot to research it and we found it in a Ziplock bag after we moved.

There were some really great times. We could have a lot of fun together. I considered him my best friend. But then…then my best friend would turn really nasty, and I’d never know when to expect it. He would lash out and blame me, saying things like, “You just can’t ever get too happy. Things get too good for you and you have to go make it negative!” While I’m reeling with confusion, trying to figure out what made him go from smiles to screaming, apologizing profusely for setting him off again, trying to toe the line to keep him calm so it doesn’t get worse, but knowing that whether I fight or stay silent things will get worse, and then hiding within my self, weakening, waiting, praying for my friend to come back again. The one I used to enjoy, not the one who makes me hate knowing him.

It’s complicated.

But I made it through one year. I did it. It’s a bittersweet accomplishment. I miss my friend. But that part of him isn’t, and never will be, all of him. So I’ll always miss him, and I’ll grieve awhile, but if the first year is the hardest…I can do this.

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Mythical Welfare Queen August 24, 2012

I could’ve lied. I could’ve said I was in undergraduate school. I didn’t have to mention the house. I could’ve pulled all of the money from my bank account. I could have let them process my husband for child-support (though they would’ve taken that had I received any). I could’ve gone so far as to get a fake ID, fake social security card, and have someone cover for me when I list theirs as my address. But alas, I am infallibly honest. There goes my shot at being a welfare queen.

The system may seem too easy, but it is in fact not as simple to get help as you may think, and those who get help are not getting a lot of money. I have disagreed with the idea of government welfare all of my life. I do not like the system, its record of being abused, or the way that the people who use it feel compelled to succumb to the rules of remaining destitute.

People’s reliance on the government has cut down on the reliance of people in one’s own community and that makes it much harder to determine who really needs help and who is simply looking for a handout. Shouldn’t there be something on the applications which can determine whether or not you are an upstanding citizen who is really just going through a tough time and could use the assistance? No one I associate with would prefer to be on welfare or stay on welfare or condone living off of the government as a lifestyle.

I have done my duty as a citizen my entire life. I have given to the poor because I had extra at the time. I have completed community service simply because I enjoyed it. I have never complained about my position in society as being due to my ancestors’ enslavement, or blamed my hardships on “The Man”.  Upon beginning graduate school I reestablished and became the president of a student organization (which received the award for Most Outstanding Graduate Student Organization of the year), was nominated to be on the board of directors for a prestigious organization in the city, and have received an A in all of my courses thus far. Everything fell apart a little (okay, a lot) in May of this year, but I do not plan to stay in this indigent condition long. For the first time in my life I could actually use a bit of help and it’s nearly impossible to obtain.

One of the top reasons why women stay in abusive relationships is because the male partner is the breadwinner and/or they do not want to lose their financial stability. I admittedly overlooked several years of unacceptable treatment as I was determined not to enter the impoverished single-mother statistical category. I can put up with his mood swings if it means being able to stay home with my new baby, I convinced myself. I’ve been through this for eight years already, it’d be better to stay together while I finish grad school; at least while I’m in class the babies will not have to be cared for by a stranger. If I leave him I won’t be able to afford the Montessori or have the freedom to homeschool. I don’t want to be like those other single mothers.

I stayed with him to stay off of welfare. I stayed with him to maintain the illusion of a two-parent home. I stayed to keep from needing to weigh my options. How was I going to survive on my own? How do other mothers make it possible? I no longer think there’s such a thing as an authentic welfare queen; the system demands that you be insolvent before you qualify, and I don’t know too many people who would give up the little they’ve got to get a lot of flak. But how could anyone stoop so low as to deceive…no…it’s not so unbelievable. I suppose if someone got angry enough with the fraud being committed by others and desperately needed assistance she might think to go to extremes. But alas, I am unfailingly truthful. No crown for me.

 

Mourning My Marriage July 27, 2012

You might think that any woman who has been abused will be elated once her abuser has been removed from her life.  I used to think that way. It seemed so simple. I would scream at the women on my television screen who’d continuously profess their undying love for men who were clearly undeserving.  Why doesn’t she just leave? What is she thinking? I thought they were fools. I thought they were weak. I swore it wouldn’t happen to me.

Movies don’t really prepare you for modern abuse. It looks different in real life, and it may be harder to recognize when it’s happening to you. I spent so much of my relationship in denial; justifying his behavior, striving to be a better partner, trying to prevent his wrath. Lately I look back and find it hard to believe that I really put up with so much crap, but it didn’t always seem unreasonable.

I fell in love with an amazing man. He had so much potential. He was sexy and intelligent and a little bit of an asshole, he had all the makings of being the alpha male of my dreams. He had a past filled with problems, but now he had me, and together we could do anything. We would rule the world. Or, at least that’s the way it seemed that things could be in the beginning, and intermittently throughout the next eight years.

When you haven’t been in an abusive relationship it’s difficult to empathize with victims. When you haven’t had your perfect love take a nose dive into domestic violence, then try to recuperate from its depths, it is almost impossible to understand why anyone would risk it happening again. Abuse can be very complex; for me it was interwoven with times of peace, understanding, reconnecting, and revisiting the dream of being the perfect team, the perfect family, an enduring example of unity.

I have since learned more about abuse, and I realize that these periodic “good times” were just a part of the cycle. Before, I thought that they were signs of hope.  I look at the wheel of power and control given to me by my counselor and feel ignorant to not have realized the truth earlier on.

I had refused to see myself as a battered woman. I didn’t want to leave and become a single mom. It was embarrassing to admit how I was treated, and I’d told no one the full truth in so long that I was terrified no one would believe me. I also had hardly anyone I could tell, because I’d lost most of my support system when I fell under his spell. Even still, I didn’t want to give up on my husband, so I continuously convinced myself that things were not so bad. I desperately clung to the idea that we could make anything better together.

Now I am mourning the loss of my dream. It’s difficult to realize that I never would have succeeded, no matter how much I suffered, how hard I tried, how much he meant to me. I am finally removed from the relationship, but I will always love him, and I will always wish that things could have worked out differently. Just like those impossible women on my television screen I couldn’t relate with long ago.

 

Not the Fairy Tale of My Dreams July 13, 2012

I never wanted to be a single parent.

I was raised in a single-parent home, and there was nothing glamorous about my mother always being gone, or tired, or depressed and withdrawn. There was no financial cushion, no stability in the successive string of relationships that followed her first divorce.

Thus, I grew up awaiting my fairy-tale marriage. A handsome older gentleman would sweep me off my feet, kiss me awake from the hazy dream which had been life before us meeting, and we would love each other passionately forever after. When I met my charming, gallant, blond-haired, blue-eyed, six-foot five dream guy, a few weeks after my nineteenth birthday, I was immediately enraptured.

Pic Originally From: http://indulgy.com/post/RmR93GNAE1/vintage#/search/vintage/page/2

Eight years, one mortgage, two daughters, and a baby-on-the-way later, my prince turned out to be a man who needed more saving than me, and although I tried everything, my love would never be enough to keep him from abusing us. I never would’ve thought that I’d live the life I’m living. I prided myself on my roles as a steadfast wife and model mother. But what good role model allows herself and her daughters to submit to a man treating them in such disrespectful ways? What becomes of the steadfast wife who doesn’t leave, but breaks a little more every day?

I never wanted to be a single parent, but it wasn’t my intention to marry an abusive man.

Beginning this journey (51 days ago) was intimidating. Could I go to the police? Would they even believe me? Was he going to kill me? How would I get through the first week? How could I keep life balanced for my young family? I didn’t know that I was pregnant with Baby # 3 until day 16 of the separation, and trying to figure things out was already terrifying.

More than anything, I wanted my children to suffer the least. One of the best things about being a mother is the bravery you inherit from birthing. You aren’t afraid of killing spiders when one is crawling near your sleeping baby. You aren’t afraid of the dark (but you admittedly used to be) when your toddler is sleep training. You are no longer afraid of the unknown, but eager to explore it with your babies once they are ready. I was afraid to leave, and I am unsure of our future, but I am showing my children the courageous side of me.

I’m giving my children the best life that I can now. I will not have the comfort that comes with raising them in the same household as their father, but I will not have the discomforts either. My attitude toward them will remain respectful, the discipline gentle, their individuality valued unconditionally. We’ll certainly pinch pennies, upcycle more frequently, continuously enhance our ecological sustainability, and there will be some major changes after the birth of Baby # 3 (EDD 2.11.13), but we will get through this as a team.

I never wanted to be a single parent, but I didn’t know that it’d make me indomitable.