Sustainably Single Parenting

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

Still I Wonder…About Him March 29, 2013

I tried to convince myself not to worry about him months ago. I tried reminding myself of the bad times. I tried focusing on the felony charges, the reason for my restraining order, the pain and embarrassment of the entire situation. I tried telling myself that I was only feeding into his narcissistic desires if I spent my time and energy on him. I tried to reason with myself that with my heavy load I didn’t have strength left to carry the burden of continuing to worry about him. To wonder about him. To wish it were different.

But still I do. I was conditioned to put his needs ahead of my own, and even though I have not seen or spoken to him in ten months it’s terribly difficult for me to let my worries go. I still wonder what he’s thinking about me, about everything, and lately especially about our newborn baby. Does he blame me? Of course he blames me. What is he telling everybody? How has he framed things? I’m sure they all think I’m a monstrous psychotic manipulative bitch. It pains me. I miss his family, but they will never love me again.

I wonder if he still loves me. He never loved me. I know that he never really loved me and I still wonder if he still does simultaneously. QuestionMarksMaybe I am crazy. I wonder if he’s with somebody. What is he telling her? Are they the same things he told me about the mother of his first baby who he never sees? Is he convincing her that really I’m the abuser? That I caused all the hardship? That’s I’m insane? Of course he’s telling her that; he’ll never take responsibility for anything.

So why do I worry about whether or not he’s eating alright? Why do I care if he’s losing weight? Why do I brood over his ability to sleep at night? I spent the majority of my pregnancy an insomniac. I have no money to pay our bills in New England, but still I’ve made EVERY mortgage payment on our Illinois home since he left though he’s probably living in it. I have our three children, our three daughters ages five weeks to five years and I’m getting nothing from him.

So why the hell am I worried about him? Quite obviously he’s being well taken care of. He has more than likely convinced his family members of his innocence. He has probably started training a new woman. He is making calculated decisions regarding his legal proceedings. He doesn’t give a shit about me. Maybe that’s what bothers me? That I’ll always care for him even though he wronged me and it’s so easy for him to let go of me, of all of us.

It’s our second daughter’s fourth birthday tomorrow. Is he thinking of her? He never cared much for our second daughter. Maybe he’s happy to not be here. I have no idea. The not knowing anything is so hard. I think he knows that the not knowing is hard for me. He is probably loving every minute of my misery. I want to stop myself from wondering, from worrying, but some part of me might always be focusing on him. In spite of everything a huge part of me wants him to be alright, wants him to love me, wants him to care about our family. That part of me may be unwilling to allow myself to let go of the fantasy. The fantasy is better than constantly thinking he’s plotting to kill me…though him wishing me dead is probably closer to reality.

Still…I wonder.

 

Maybe I’ll Cry Myself to Sleep November 12, 2012

It seems as though my get up and go has gotten tangled up in the struggle; my overwhelming list of things I need to accomplish.

When I say need I really mean NEED and not want.

I WANT to find a hairdresser and get my dead ends cut off; it has been over a year since a professional touched my hair and this pregnancy is not favoring the weeks that I go without washing. Washing natural African-American hair is time-consuming. I do not have time.

I WANT to sit down with my daughters and color. Play board games. Have tea parties and play dress up and do each others hair. I want to pull out the couch bed and pop popcorn and watch a silly animated movie.

But first I’d NEED to get the six loads of clean laundry off the couch and folded and into drawers. I need to run another load of dishes before we run out of spoons. I need to take a shower…not sure how long it has been. I need to do my schoolwork…

I NEED to sleep. But even on the weekends, when I should have more time for peace and should worry less because I don’t have to wake up at 5am to get everyone up and out the door on time for class, I cannot sleep. I have not been able to sleep properly since The Big Incident, but lately it is worse than ever. I sit around like a zombie, always tired, but never able to settle down. When I do sleep, I have these terribly vivid and horrific dreams. He is always in them. He is always in control.  Upon waking I feel like I have just finished the fight of my life. Sleeping is more exhausting than staying awake.

I feed and bathe my daughters. I read to them – we’ve recently read almost every book in the Skippyjon Jones series and the How Do Dinosaurs (do various things) series several times each. I take them to their appointments and therapy sessions and sports lessons and educational programs. They are the focus of all of my energy.

I have no energy for me. I NEED to focus on me, because she’s inside of me, my growing baby. I am now 28 weeks pregnant, and she is growing steadily, healthily, and I’m hoping she comes out nice and chubby. But still, I cannot find the energy: to sleep, to complete my grad school assignments, to rid myself of my preoccupation with my husband. Why should I care about him? Why should I give him the satisfaction? I’m almost certain he’s not thinking about me. He is probably already wooing some other woman. And why should I care if he is with somebody? He DOES NOT LOVE me! But I do care…and I do worry, and I am afraid that he has already replaced me, and it still hurts, even though he has hurt me.

I am not certain that I need to weep, but maybe that would help me. I hear that crying is healthy, but I’ve always considered it a sign of being weak. I hate that once I start crying I find it hard to stop; I hate the lingering headache, the animal noises that come along with crying fits; the wetness. I haven’t cried since The Big Incident; I’ve been too busy with making ends meet, taking care of my babies, and not utterly failing at life, but maybe I can find some time to weep this week. Yes…I’ll have to schedule in crying. Maybe I’ll cry myself to sleep.

 

Carry On November 5, 2012

I’ve been trying to keep my mind off of…my mind.

Yes, it is as difficult as it sounds.

Not only is my mind riddled with worries, but my body is burgeoning with my growing baby, and every time she moves I feel a mixture of awe and grief.

I’m trying my hardest to eat more vegetables, get more sleep, and balance myself emotionally. I recently started a book on meditation. It has only been a few days, but already I am able to breathe more deeply, think more clearly, and feel more energy coursing through me as I bring myself into a state of awareness.

I’m in the process of selecting a therapist. I want to talk with someone, to disallow myself from falling into the depths of sorrow. I want to work on it now, because I do not wish to succumb to postpartum depression.

Somehow I must keep going.

Lately I feel so alone. It’s a complexity, feeling lonely while someone is growing inside of me; while most of my time is spent parenting two beautiful darlings who hardly ever give me a moment to myself; while commuting to campus and taking classes in the heart of Boston.

But I am heartsick, for I am without him. He was not good for me, but I was used to the small comforts, the familiarity, even the cycle of never knowing which side of him I’d be encountering.

How difficult I’m finding it to recondition my thinking, to force myself to stop thinking about him. I considered him in every decision I made for the past eight years and it is nearly impossible to stop myself from wondering how he will feel about or respond to the choices I make. I am still making decisions based upon my fears, trying hard not to do things that would make him retaliate.

But aren’t I free from those shackles? Have I not broken those chains? Cannot I think for myself nowadays?

I ridicule myself for my weakness. I want so badly to let go, to not allow him to continue to control me. How is it even possible? Nearly six months since The Big Incident and over 1000 miles between us have not yet proved enough to liberate me. I am still factoring him into my daily routine.

Am I cursed to forever be his worshipper? Will I bow eternally at his feet? Mentally, I’m still clinging to his approval. Parts of me will forever feel incomplete.

It’s difficult to balance sorting things out with trying to keep from thinking about them, but I am trying.

I will sustain.

 

Powerless October 8, 2012

Every month, every hearing I lose one week’s worth of sleep. From the days preceding the hearing to the days following I am incapable of focusing on anything but the fate of my husband. I worry for him, I wonder what will happen, I wind through a range of emotions. Fear is ever-present; an abundance of anxiety and tension. I try to relax by accepting that there is nothing I can do. There is no way to hurry through these stagnant periods to find out what the future holds.

The system will run its course, the lawyers will do their dances, the D.A. will push our case back to the depths of ItCanWait because of its insignificance to the community. And so I wait. Frantic, helpless, but hoping that this hearing will mean something different, that this one will possibly end my monthly torment, that something will come of it, or that they will dismiss it once and for all.

I will be steadfast and strong, but my determination to persevere does not quell the discomfort of being temporarily powerless.

I have no choices left but to wait patiently or to wait impatiently. I long to know something…anything. I cannot plan for my future. I do not understand the system’s structure and processes. I cannot find peace. The most I can do to get through this is to keep my mind off of it, but that feels like an injustice to my husband. I am still compelled to protect him, to put his importance ahead of my own. But I cannot protect him any longer. I do not know where he is or what he is doing or who he has replaced me with. I cannot determine whether he misses me or wants me dead. I do not know if he will ever speak to me again, and it kills me.

I am incapable of controlling this aspect of my life. I wear the weight from day-to-day and fight insomnia at night. I wait…constantly battling inside. I suffer…but I survive.

 

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.

 

My Duty is Not to Control Them July 16, 2012

I always wanted to treat my children differently than I’d been treated growing up.http://www.strongdaddies.com/2012/06/to-spank-or-not-to-spank.html

I vowed to allow them choices whenever possible, and to provide logical reasons for denying their requests. I knew that I would never spank them and I never wanted to utter the phrase, “Because I said so.” Prior to conceiving, I had numerous conversations with my husband about how important it was to me that we treat our children respectfully, appreciate their individuality, and do the best job that we could as parents to protect their fragility.

These practices only lasted a short while for my husband. Our first born, Amara, was a very reasonable child. I’d describe to her once or twice why we didn’t do certain things (hit, bite, chew the window sill) and she would follow our lead. There was no need for anything more than explanation and empathy. When logic and positive reinforcement failed I turned to redirection, but this is where my husband began to draw the line.

“You’re just letting her get away with it” he would say, as though a two year old needed to brood over her errors. He began enforcing time-outs, which I wholeheartedly disagreed with.

When our second child, Terra, was born, headstrong, impulsive, and independent, my husband didn’t seem to care about attachment parenting or practicing gentle discipline anymore. We’d get into heated arguments about how the children should be treated, but this only led to shaming, blame, judgment, and “we’ll see whose method worked when they’re older.”

I felt so betrayed. I wanted our parenting to be a unified effort, not me doing things my way and him doing things so incredibly different. I felt like he was taking the easy way out, being the impatient and compassionless parent that he’d always resented his father for being. The way he treated them granted him instant gratification, but was ultimately damaging to our children. Nevertheless, he continuously demanded their respect.

They listened to him because they were afraid to do otherwise.

He would raise his voice and I would watch them cower. If they dared cry he would say “Whaaaa!” mockingly and make their whimpers turn to shrieks. Often times he would punish them without even inquiring about the situation (what exactly happened, what were they in fact trying to accomplish, how could we do this better next time to avoid a mess?). He’d tell them that, “It’s a man’s world” and that they needed to get used to taking orders from men without complaining.

I watched in horror as my daughters became crueler, bossier, and less compassionate toward others. They began hitting and throwing things more often, they stopped listening to logic and reason almost entirely and only responded to punitiveness.

http://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/11/I despised myself for it, but I began to use his methods, because the girls no longer seemed capable of listening if I wasn’t screaming.

Yelling slowly became routine. Instead of suggesting, asking, reasoning, and allowing them a decision I found myself demanding. I found myself threatening and punishing more, hugging and kissing less. How could this be? How could I have fallen into the habit of feeling as though my children owed me something? How could I have become the enemy?

Now, even with their father hundreds of miles away, the damage of our straying from attachment parenting and gentle discipline remains. Time-outs are a thing of the past and I am doing a lot less yelling, but bad habits take time to replace. We’ve been creative about handling our anger and other difficult emotions, the girls are in counseling to help with the transition of living without Daddy, and every day I strive to get a sticker from each of my daughters on my “Respectful Mama Chart” (my rewards are hugs and kisses).

My children constantly challenge me to be a better human being, and I will never again allow someone’s ill-intentioned resolve to get the better of me. It is not my duty to control my children, but to protect them from being broken by those who might interfere with their ability to thrive.