Sustainably Single Parenting

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

Allowing Myself June 7, 2013

I’ve had some really hard days lately. I don’t know if it’s the fact that his birthday is right around the corner, or if it’s the pressure from the load I carry, or if it’s the stress of another divorce hearing fast approaching, but I’ve felt a hopelessness come and go with great intensity over these past two weeks. NTummyTimeI’m trying to allow myself these moments of sadness without being overcome by them. It’s a tough balance.

When my baby smiles I am overcome with such joy and such turmoil all at once that I physically ache from within. She is the happiest baby I’ve ever known and I feel like I don’t deserve her sometimes, because I cannot give her more at the moment. I cannot give her a stress-free mommy. I wish I could.

Sometimes I wonder if it would’ve been better to keep him around, to deal with his rage, wrath, and degradation. Maybe it would’ve been better than this? Than this mama who cannot smile without threatening the levees that hold back the tears. This mama who cannot balance cleaning the kitchen and getting her homework completed. This mama who, after a year alone and lots of therapy, still wishes there was a way to have her husband be the man he was in her illusions.

I’m allowing myself to miss him. I’m allowing myself to remember. FarmRICI’m trying to allow the bad memories as well though, because I also need to remember why it was better to let him go.

This has been a hard year, but I’ve gotten through it. I’ve cried more than I thought I would, but that’s another thing I’ve allowed myself. I have every right to cry sometimes. I’m allowed to feel sad. I’m allowed to feel let down by my situation. I’m allowed to take a time out from my kids. I’m allowed to hire a babysitter. I’m allowed to keep loving the bands he introduced me to. I’m allowed to change my hair, wear makeup, and find myself attractive. I’m allowed to watch what I want, eat what I want, and go where I want to all without being punished.

I’m taken aback by my newly acquired freedoms. I went from living with my mother to one year of college dormitory life and then moved in with him. This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been in complete control of my decision making.

It’s difficult, but I’m allowing myself to let go, and in that sense I am allowing myself to grow.

 

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.

 

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.