Sustainably Single Parenting

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

Tough Week May 10, 2013

This has been a really tough week for me. I tried to relax and enjoy the fact that I’d have two full weeks between semesters. I tried to take it easy and just work slowly, calmly through my to-do list. I tried to keep up on self-care and CBT and even toyed with the idea of doing some guided meditations. But none of those things happened.

TheKillerSpeaksAfter a few days of cleaning I wound up freaking out that I was running out of time to get things done. I had that horrible nightmare (I mentioned it in my last post) and sleep has been impossible ever since (I’m not staying awake all night, but committing to sleep isn’t easy. Once I am asleep I have intense, violent, and exhausting dreams). I got an A in my class (yay!), but the joy faded quickly. I saw myself in a friend’s mirror, and within hours I was picking apart the image I’d seen. I’ve been watching The Killer Speaks way too frequently. It frightens me. The killers’ personalities are eerily similar to my husband’s.

I am feeling all out of sorts. Things are just swimming through my head. There’s so much to accomplish, but I have so little energy, and so little desire. Everything I do with my three young daughters takes an entire day. Every trip to the grocery store, every support group, every karate class, every therapy session; I only plan to do one big thing each day, if at all, because the simplest things take us five hours.

Even when we stay at home we’re busy from breakfast to bedtime business. It’s insane, and I’m completely drained. I would never really, but I wish I could just run away and do absolutely nothing for a couple of days. I need to rejuvenate. I want to rest. But that’s waaaay too much to ask. It’s tough to think that this will be my life, more or less, for another two decades.

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Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe it will get easier over time. No. Not maybe. It will. I  am just very overwhelmed with right now. And to be completely honest, right now is not all that bad. I get to be at home with my daughters. Yes, the housework is endless, and everyday presents new challenges, but everyday I’m presented with their smiles and bright eyes, everyday I get to kiss chubby baby thighs, and when I do finally manage to get some sleep at night it is in a safe place.

There are people who care about me and my daughters. I am two courses shy of finishing my Master’s degree. No matter how hideous I feel there are people who reassure me of my beauty. I know that I still have the potential to go after my dreams. This week has been tough for me. I’ve been feeling low, but this week is just one more hurdle. I refuse to drop out of the race.

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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.

 

I Should Feel Fine March 1, 2013

So far I am keeping it together…mostly.

I wouldn’t quite call it baby blues or postpartum depression.

I am just…slightly…less happy today. I also felt this way yesterday…and the night before.

The day before last I made my first true attempt to start back on my coursework for the Directed Study I’m taking this semester. I couldn’t find the time to read more than twenty words of my textbook. I felt like such a failure. I was so overwhelmed.

I’m doing wonderfully with the housework, and with keeping the girls on their daily homeschooling schedule, I’ve stayed caught up with the bills (which I’m paying primarily with my school loans, though we did eventually qualify for some government aid and, though my politics disagree with welfare on the whole, we would be a lot worse off without at the moment).

Things are okay. Quite honestly. I should be happy. There aren’t any dishes in my sink. I only have one load of cloth diapers waiting for me to fold. Nohra was NINE POUNDS at her one week checkup! My milk is so abundant that next week I’m going to start donating it to women who have lower supplies. I should feel fine!

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But I don’t. I’m feeling kind of low.

I’ve tried not to think about my husband…my…I don’t know what else to call him. I mean, he is still my husband, for the time being. Although I haven’t seen or spoken to him since May, and although I filed for divorce in August, and although he’s being charged with a felony for what he did to me, I still call him my husband. He will probably keep that title indefinitely.

I’ve tried to stay in good cheer and not spend too much time considering the things I haven’t been able to accomplish. My midwife tells me to go easy on myself. She says to keep in mind that it has only been a bit over one week since I gave birth and the fact that I’m even keeping up with the girls’ schedule is amazing. She says that most women find caring for three children difficult even when they have a partner’s assistance, so I shouldn’t get upset with myself for not being able to do everything so soon after the birth.

I am upset with myself though. I’m upset for not being able to find the time to accomplish more coursework before the birth. I’m upset that I’m not finding the time and energy to accomplish everything now. I am not upset at my babies; not one of the three. They are everything wonderful to me. I am upset that I cannot spend more time and energy on them exclusively.

Being upset doesn’t help anything really. It motivates me somewhat to do better the next day, but ultimately it just highlights everything I haven’t done. My midwife says to try focusing on the things I have been able to do, and to try to feel good about that. I’m trying, but it isn’t easy to disregard the growing mound of additional obligations.

I know that I will get through this. I know that I will be strong. I just wish the days were ten more hours long.

 

Due in 1 Week with Baby #3 February 4, 2013

Last week was an awfully trying week. Both of my little girls were sick and the weight of being a single parent was heavier than usual. The girls’ illnesses affected everything else. The dirty cups overran the sink, each having contained two to four ounces of a clear liquid; a multitude of cups used at once to encourage the girls to drink from the variety. The laundry kept piling up as everything was getting wet with one disgusting substance after the next. I got hardly any sleep; if no one was vomiting on me she was wide awake and wailing, having slept away the afternoon.

OverwhelmedCatI pushed through it, somehow. I really didn’t have a choice.

Maybe it’s the hormones of my impending delivery or maybe I’m just more depressed lately, but I cannot stop considering the bigger picture of my life. It looks like a catastrophe from a distance. How the hell am I going to get by? How am I supposed to manage caring for four human beings? How am I going to get through graduate school with all of these other responsibilities? How am I going to make it through these next few weeks without crumbling?

I keep finding my finger on the button with his name on it. Just one slip and I’d be calling him. I know I shouldn’t. I know it would just bring me down. What would he say if he answered? Surely nothing to ease my suffering at this point. What could he say to make this better? What could I believe from his lips even if they spoke the perfect words? What if a girl answered? Sigh.

I have more important things to consider at this time. I cannot get caught up worrying myself about his life.

Baby is still breech. I am willing to do whatever it takes to avoid having a c-section. I’m due in one week, but Baby might need more time to turn so I’ll be patient with her. These next few weeks may include hypnosis, acupuncture, a lot of time upside down, and if all else fails, a version. I’m not afraid of going past my due date, that doesn’t concern me. Getting cut open and needing weeks to heal while I’m alone taking care of three babies concerns me.

The Braxton Hicks contractions are coming on stronger and more frequently these days. My appetite is nearly non-existent. I’ve missed the past three weeks of sessions with my therapist so that’s probably another reason for the funk that I’ve been in. I just want to give Baby a happy, healthy welcome. I want to shower her with my affection, not postpartum depression. I want to be a good example for all of my girls. It’s just so hard to handle it all lately.

I cannot believe that in give-or-take one week I will have three babies. I really don’t know how I’m going to keep it together, but I suppose I do not have any other choice.

 

Deliver Me January 14, 2013

I am 36 weeks along today. Full term in one week with Baby #3.  I keep thinking that maybe if I say it enough, maybe if it’s written, maybe if it’s published it will seem more believable.

But this still feels like a dream. At times it has been a nightmare.

Somehow it was nearly eight full months ago that The Big Incident occurred. I found out that I was pregnant just over two weeks later. Being pregnant throughout this transition has made all the difference in the world.

The pregnancy has given me the strength to focus on something other than my feelings for him. Through it all, I still love him. I still miss the parts of him that weren’t abusive. I still wish there was some way it could have worked. Especially now, four weeks away from the birth of our third baby.

Every other pregnancy brought me back to him, but I knew that I could not allow myself to submit this time. I knew that I could not go through another pregnancy praying that this baby might help him to treat me better. Maybe if the baby were a boy? Maybe then he would think I was worthy?

The pregnancy kept me from going into a stupor. I could not let myself slip away. I could not bury my feelings in alcohol or illegal substances. I’ve had to face my situation without anything to numb the pain. I’ve had to continue eating, although I wanted to mentally and physically fade away.

This pregnancy has kept me focused. I remember vividly the feelings that I carried throughout my previous pregnancies. The constant wishing that we would be more unified by the baby. The contrasting resentment over being pregnant, being trapped with him again, because I knew deep down that things weren’t ever going to change.

Every pregnancy made me want more, but every baby born or lost led to worse treatment.

Had I not gone to the police the night of The Big Incident…had I gone through another honeymoon phase and allowed myself to be wooed again…the cycle would have certainly continued. I was so afraid. How could I leave him? How would I manage three children? How would I finish school? How could I reach my goals if I let him go?

This time the debate wasn’t as difficult. This time he was already gone when the pregnancy was confirmed. This time I could look at my restraining order instead of listening to his voice. This time I had vivid nightmares to remind me of The Big Incident, and a healing body to match the memories. In the weeks after The Big Incident I had no time to brood over everything I missed about him. I had to figure out how I was going to feed my daughters, pay our rent, stay in Massachusetts to finish my education. How could I possibly manage everything? How could I keep us safe from his vengeance?

Being pregnant has made me want to go back to him; I feel so dependent on our family unit when I’m carrying his seed. But how could I take him back after The Big Incident? How could I ignore the history of what occurred during and after my other pregnancies? In the end I knew that allowing him to return after The Big Incident would be allowing him to control me forever.

I had to do things differently this time. I would not allow another child to go through what my other two have already been through. I would not continue to raise them under his reign, trying to be the buffer between his rage and their safety. I would not allow them to grow up thinking that love was supposed to look that way. Things had to change. I did not have the strength to be apologetic to another baby for bringing her into the hell that was our household while he was in it.

Soon I will give birth to my third baby, but I cannot keep from feeling as though she has helped to deliver me.

 

It’s Our Anniversary December 21, 2012

MayanCalendarToday marks my sixth year of marriage. A day I’ve looked forward to since we decided to wed on Winter Solstice in 2006.

At least we would be celebrating when the world came to an end, we’d joked. I’d wanted this day to mean something. I’d wanted to live through the threatened Mayan apocalypse a more unified team. But this anniversary will be quite different. This year I am alone. I don’t know where he is, but the restraining order keeps him from being able to make contact with me legally.

And tomorrow marks seven months since The Big Incident. This won’t be easy.

I’m trying to take my mind off of him today. This means more leg work for me, but it will keep the tears at bay. Every time I close my eyes I see his face. Not only in my nightmares does he haunt me, but every day. Every time I do something that he would have frowned upon, every time I feel unsure of my decisions, every time I need another adult to talk things through with, every time I wish someone could hold me in their arms, every time I am feeling weak and wishing that someone in this world needed me for their strength, his image surfaces.

Not all of my thoughts of him stem from my fears of him wanting to kill me.BrokenHearts

A lot of the time I try to figure out what I’ll do when I see him again. At some point we will have to be around one another. If not some ways down the road for the sake of our children then possibly sooner, in a courthouse, in front of a judge, and possibly jurors. Will I cave? Those beautiful blond waves of hair cascading down his statuesque face, perfectly placed over the mole that I’ve grown to know and anticipate as I’d rub the surface of his skin from his cheek to his angular chin. Those eyes that could compel me to do anything. His energy, drawing me to him effortlessly; he fills a craving, a void that I didn’t know needed filling.

Without him I feel incomplete. But with him I feel insignificant.

I never fooled myself into believing that leaving him would be painless. I did not expect, however, that after being hurt by him so many times I would still find it so hard to put my feelings for him aside. I still love him. I always will. I will always miss the fantasy of being with the perfect alpha male. I will miss the deep conversations and the times we got to play. I will miss the comfort of knowing that he would protect me from outsiders. I will miss the dream of us growing old together, of reaching double-digit anniversaries and being among the few of our peer group to stay married.

CatLionThis isn’t going to be easy.

I will always wish it didn’t have to be like this. But it is like this, and it doesn’t do much good for me to wallow in it. So I’m going to do something to put my mind at ease today. I’m not going to think about him constantly. I’m not going to wonder if he’s thinking about me. I’m not going to brood over what could have been had things occurred differently. I’m not going to cry myself to sleep. Well, maybe I’ll cry myself to sleep, but only if I think it will be beneficial to my recovery.

I need to start seeing myself differently. I am not weak, as I was made to believe. I am not worthless without him. I am not incapable of thinking for myself and making good choices for my life and my children. I am not going to be possessed by him forever, and I will regrow my self-esteem. It’s going to take patience, honesty, and a commitment to seeing myself as valuable. I’m going to work on that today. It’ll be the only gift I get this anniversary.

 

The Good Things November 21, 2012

I’ve only been a single mother since late May 2012, but nearly every mother who has gone through a similar situation shares my sentiments:

We were single parenting long before we were actually single.

There are some things that have actually changed though. I may have had little time to myself before leaving him, but at least the children didn’t have to come with me to pap smear appointments. I no longer hold out the hope (though it usually wound up in disappointment and added resentment) that someone will help carry the load. I no longer have anyone to vent to about the children’s behavior on a rough day or the hardships of pregnancy. There is no soft skin to bury my face into, no strong arms to wrap around my waist and hold me tightly until I’m feeling okay.

There isn’t any abuse, but there aren’t any of the good things he brought to our household either. I miss the good things tremendously.

I miss the way he made me laugh. I miss our talks about the country, society, history. I miss him teaching me things. I miss his cooking. I miss his hair. I miss the smell of his skin, and the feel of his large hands. I miss the feeling of being protected from everybody; he was the only one who could truly hurt me. I miss the dream of loving each other eternally. I miss knowing that I had somebody.

I miss saying, “my husband,” in conversations. Now I don’t know what to call him. We are still married, but…

I miss his ears. He always thought they were too big, but his head was big and his ears fit it perfectly. I miss the way that he said my name. I miss watching him play video games that were too complicating for me to see how they could possibly be entertaining.

There were so many good things.

Tomorrow marks six months since The Big Incident, but somehow I’m supposed to smile and host a celebration.

Before The Big Incident, there was energy surrounding his presence. Whether he was raising hell or being peaceful, he was there. Whether he was gainfully employed or gleefully indulging in one of his vices, he was there. Whether he was contributing to my attachment parenting efforts or being a dictator, he was there. Now he is gone, and though there are countless ways things have gotten better, the reality of being alone, truly alone, makes getting things done just a bit harder than ever.