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.

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Nobody Said This Was Going To Be Easy March 15, 2013

I am incredibly overwhelmed.

I put off my coursework to care for my kids.

I do my housework since I’m not doing coursework.

I put off my housework to do my coursework.

While doing my coursework my kids wreck the house.

The baby will not let me put her down.

I am constantly nursing, changing diapers, leaking milk, burping, soothing, being spit up on, peed on, pooped on.

I am constantly serving meals, washing dishes, pre-washing cloth diapers, grooming my children, educating my children, feeling guilty that I cannot find the time for educating myself, running errands, running myself into the ground.

I want to cry like my baby. Her cry is so committed, wholeheartedly unabashed.

I want someone to hold me, to rock me, to love me, to shhhhhhhh in my ear while I cry.

I want so badly for things to be alright.

 

 

The Home(birth)stretch January 25, 2013

IMAG0277I am still doing daily prep for baby, but I’d say the insanity of nesting hit its peak a week or so ago. I finally got the bookcase disassembled and made a run to our storage unit. I’ve got her crib set up, all besides the mobile. I’ve got her dresser cleaned out, but I’ve yet to fill it with her clothes. I’ve got the cloth diaper supply ready to be washed and sorted. I’ve managed to move all of the baby gear from the cellar to the living room, but I’ve yet to assemble anything.

There are still things that need to be done. Washing all of the covers to her various seats, washing my boppy pillow and her tummy-time mat, washing the stroller and her shopping cart thingy. Maybe I am still nesting…but I’m not feeling as incapable of balancing it all lately. I’ve reached a peace with this pregnancy. Now that I’m due in just over two weeks, it’s all a little bit easier to handle.

Not that the pulled groin muscle, pain in my hips, pressure in my pelvis, and continuous sleep shortage are easy to deal with, I just don’t want to complain about them anymore. Maybe I’m trying to build character. I’ll need it when I’m in labor.

It’s nearly impossible not to think about how the birth will be. I’m trying to keep the thoughts on how I’ll handle the actual labor and delivery, instead of contemplating how it’s going to feel with him not there beside me. There are good reasons why he should not be at the birth, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

This has been so difficult. I’m full-term pregnant and I may be extremely hormonal, but being in my situation would be challenging either way. I cannot help but to look back and think about how much different life was before the conception of this baby.

Nine months ago I couldn’t have ever conceived of there being a time in the future where I’d go over six months without speaking to my husband. Nine months ago I couldn’t have imagined being pregnant, single, still in graduate school, victim to a felony, seeking a divorce. No…those just weren’t the thoughts I was thinking. DSC07109

So baby is coming soon, and the rush of birthing and the anxiety of transition and the newness of change makes me want to reach out for something old and comfortable and reliable, like being his Babydoll. I want to hear him call me by my pet-name again. I want to hug him while he’s shirtless and breathe in the scent of his skin. I want to run my fingers through his hair. I want him to validate me. I want him to possess me.

I do not really. But the familiarity of my marriage is my latest craving. I want to call him. I want to hear his voice. I want to hear him say that he still loves me. I want to know where he is and how he’s doing and whether or not he still thinks I’m pretty. I want to find out if he’s seeing somebody.

But he is not mine any longer, and I should not contact him. I know better than to think that just because he tells me sweet nothings something will change. I’d be a fool to have built up my strength for nine months and then give it all away in one conversation. I must remain strong, and alone.

It does get harder though, knowing that our third daughter will arrive any day now. I wonder if she’ll ever know her father. I wonder if he’ll even care about her at all. I wonder if he thinks this entire situation (court cases, failed marriage, fatherless children, etc) is my fault.

But I should spend my time assembling the swing and washing everything. I should not brood over what he might say were I to call him. I need to continue to build my strength, not slip back and allow myself to be weakened once again by his words, his eyes, his demeanor. This time should be about my daughters, my household, my impending homebirth. It’s just so hard to build a nest when someone significant has been banished from it.

 

Not Quite Home for the Holidays December 24, 2012

This year Christmas will be just my brood and I. Today we will bake cookies for Santa and leave carrots out for the reindeer. edibleart-beautifulhouseWe’ll gather moths for the gerbils so they can have their Christmas feast. We will watch Christmas movies, and possibly all sleep in my bed. Christmas will be peaceful; there’ll be presents and good cheer, ecstatic sisters, and a house filled with love and laughter. I should not be sad about the things we won’t have this year, but I am.

It’s not the lack of presents. The girls have so many toys already that I’ve stopped keeping most of them in our condo. This year I was able to buy them a few things that they wanted, but we are financially dependent upon my school loans, and as the semester came to an end, so did our living expenses. I was given, once again, a very generous gift from donators to my support group. Clothing and presents were provided for the girls and several gift cards were given to me. Everything will come in handy and I am sincerely appreciative. I am still so new to this idea of accepting things; I am so used to giving. Every time something is given to me I anticipate the day I’m able to give back. I will never forget what these gifts have meant to me. But not even my inability to participate in the cycle of giving has me down this season.

It’s the lack of family. It’s the loss of his family. My mother lives in Illinois, my sister in New Orléans. I already knew that we would not be spending Christmas with my mother and sister. All throughout my marriage spending time with my family was not as essential to our routine as spending time with his. When I entered my marriage I was already feeling at odds with my mother and sister. domestic_violence_400x258I was disconnected from them, and being with my husband gave me the permission to explore myself and my budding adulthood without their influence. I did a lot of the isolation for him; all he had to do was encourage me to not put up with the negativity I felt coming from them.

His family became very important to me. His mother was always comforting, loving, open-minded, and available. She assisted us with our sustainability efforts and treated our children well. His sister became one of my best friends. I felt very close to her and enjoyed the times we got to spend together. I always knew that leaving my husband might also mean that I would be sacrificing my relationships with them. I hated the thought, and on many occasions I chose to stay with him because I could not imagine losing my new family.

His mother and sister were amazing, but also his grandmothers, his cousins, his childhood friends. StabilityHe’d grown up with a security that I’d always envied. For most of his life he’d lived in the same house, with the majority of his family within a 10 mile radius.  Family gatherings were frequent and heavily attended. I hadn’t had that kind of life; my family was far away and slightly deranged dysfunctional. I’d always wanted the type of family life that being a part of his family provided. I wanted to be able to throw a party and have more than three people attend. I wanted to have a family member’s house to hang out at on the weekends. I wanted to be able to stop by unannounced and feel comfortable staying the night. I wanted to have the poker buddies, the fishing company, and the annual camping trips. I’d wanted the community of relatives supporting me unconditionally.

RedTelephoneI knew there’d be no easy way to leave him without the possibility of losing his family, but I didn’t think things would end as horribly as they did. Now, with the felony charges and restraining order against him, I have more than likely lost them. They have contacted me only a handful of times since The Big Incident, and all of those times have been extremely brief. The standard, “How are the girls?” and nothing more. Due to the restraining order, they aren’t allowed to ask me about the court cases, and I’d assume they want to avoid talking about my marriage, but how do you avoid those topics? So they avoid contact. I haven’t called them for those same reasons. I feel that it would be almost unfair of me. They must be supporting him, so I am now the enemy. And it’s not as though I don’t understand, but it still saddens me.

I did not want to lose them. I did not want to lose the Christmas’ with them. More than the mounds of presents; I enjoyed the family Christmas gatherings, my daughters’ excitement being with everybody, the chance to feel included in a clan of people who may not have looked like me, but who shared my last name, who would fight for me, who would be there for me and my babies. This Christmas will be the first of…how many? without his family. Will I or my children ever be invited back in?

Xmas2012

Mr.WorryIt pains me to think of this loss. I try to imagine that someday, after the court cases, after some time has passed, I will not have totally lost the relationships I built with them. Maybe he has not told them horrible lies about me. But as he never takes the blame for anything I’m almost certain he has been badmouthing me. Maybe somehow they do not believe the horrible things he is saying. Maybe they would like to contact me, to support me, but they feel like it’d be disloyal to him. Maybe they really believe his side of the story. I really don’t know what they’re thinking, because they don’t talk to me. So I sit 1000 miles away and worry.

This Christmas will be filled with so many good things. My daughters and I are thriving, my pregnancy is going well and is almost at its end, my schooling is three courses shy of being complete, my daughters will have a mini, mama-made feast and they won’t notice the lesser number of presents from Christmas’ past. Our condo is comfortable and safe. We don’t have any money, but I have a plan for ways to make it through until my next school loan check is disbursed. Red-Christmas-decorations-christmasWe’ll be okay.

I don’t know if I should mourn the loss of his family. I’m holding out. I’m hoping I don’t have to let them go. It will be impossible to not think of them on Christmas. To not think of him being with them, enjoying them, being accepted and loved by them as my daughters and I used to be. It will be hard for me, but they are his family, and maybe I never really had them anyway. Maybe they were never really mine. But it felt like they were mine, every time we traveled to see them at Christmastime.

 

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.

 

Oh Christmas Tree December 3, 2012

We’ve been given another gift of generosity. This time, a free live Christmas tree! I couldn’t believe it when we got the voucher, it seemed too good to be true. We’d just purchased an artificial tree on Black Friday and I’d been meaning to set it up, but time (and my reluctance to love it) kept me from opening the box. Good thing, because we got to return it after we used our voucher.

XmasTree2012

On Saturday morning we went down to the farm where they were giving the trees away. I figured it would be some slummy setup with the poor-people-trees in a shabby corner and the others spread about the farm. I wasn’t going to complain either way. How could I? A free tree. A live tree. A guarantee that we’d have help strapping the thing to the roof of our vehicle.

XMasTree2012-2What really occurred nearly brought me to tears. We were greeted by the farm workers as though we were family. The girls giggled with Santa Claus and told him what they want for Christmas (Dinosaur Train toys and Hungry Hungry Hippos) while a woman took my voucher and showed me the stations I was supposed to visit.

At the first station we indulged in cookies, brownies, cider, and candy canes. At the next station I was given three bags of ornaments (typical gift bag sized bags, there were about 40 ornaments total). The next station had specialized ornaments, decorations, and household items (candy dishes, candle holders) that had been donated and were free for the taking (I choose two packages of purple and gold ribbons to tie on our tree). The last stations were for getting a tree stand, and choosing a tree.XMasTree2012-3

We all agreed on a chubby tree that Terra wanted. It stands about five feet so we were able to fit it into the back of the van easily. I got it into the house by myself and got the stand set up. I even found my husband’s saw and cut the branches from the bottom to make enough room for the trunk to fit securely in the stand. I could not, however, jam the trunk into the base of the stand and screw it in without assistance, so I called a friend.

XMasTree2012-5Tonight the girls and I decorated the tree. It looks amazing to me. The first tree of our new beginning. I am still holding back my tears though. This is so difficult. Being without him…trying to stay strong. Last year he decorated the place so beautifully. There were lights around our entire living room and our tree looked amazing. He bragged that we had the best decorations in the condo association, and I (more humbly) agreed.

The girls think the tree is perfect. They do not see it as small and don’t know how it compares to our previous trees. They do not notice the personalized ornaments missing. They do not know that the afghan I’m using as a tree skirt was a free gift from someone who makes them and donates them to the domestic violence center. They do not know that every time I get a whiff of the needles I am crying inside because my wedding anniversary is on Winter Solstice. They do not know how much it’s killing me to stay merry, to teach them how to appreciate everything while I’m still mourning.

XMasTree2012-4

It’s good that they do not know. I want them to enjoy the tree. I want them to enjoy their Christmas. I want so badly for them to just be happy children, and not let any of this other stuff bring them down. I am very happy for our Christmas tree. It’s going to force me to cope with these painful memories, compel me to address these unhealed wounds. But it’s a beautiful tree, and I am very grateful indeed.

 

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.