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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Incredibly Close April 26, 2013

I’m proud of myself. I’ve managed to stay in graduate school throughout this ordeal and I am almost finished. I will have my Master’s degree in Publishing and Writing this summer. Getting my MA from Emerson College has been a dream of mine for quite some time, and within a few months I will have accomplished my goal.Goals

Moving to the Boston area was difficult enough. I knew around 2006, when I graduated with my BA in English, that I wanted to attend Emerson. Five years, two children, and a wicked roller-coaster of co-dependency and manipulation later I finally made it to my first semester as an Emerson student. It was magnificent. I was meeting people in the industry, I was learning the history, I was witnessing and mastering the revolutionary technology affecting publishing. As the president of an organization I hosted events and ran meetings, I attended readings and collaborated on projects with my talented classmates. Graduate school was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Then…The Big Incident changed everything. It’s not as though my marriage had been peaches and cream before that night. No. Far from it. But after that night, after his arrest, after the restraining order, it has been a different type of hard. Finding a way to pay for things, staying healthy during the pregnancy, dealing with the insomnia and the court cases and the uncertainty, dealing with the loneliness, the embarrassment, and the grief. Finding support and regaining my strength. Working constantly to become a better mother, and doing my best to help my babies transition smoothly.

Igoals2t has been very difficult, but very rewarding. So when I look at the mountain of coursework in front of me, as it is finals week…and as I look at the massive amount of assignments I still have yet to complete before I graduate…I try to think back on everything that I’ve already accomplished. I look back and remember how incredibly impossible it all seemed. Then I cannot help but to feel proud of me, because I’ve already done such amazing things, and I know that I will get through these next two courses because I am too close to finishing to stop fighting.

 

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.

 

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?

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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.

 

Prego Project – Voicing Violence Award December 17, 2012

My dear thanks go out to Prego and the Loon for nominating me for her Prego Project – Voicing Violence Award.

This award was created in support of those affected by domestic violence. Victims are not only the people being abused; friends and family members of the abused suffer as well. pregoprojectpresentedbypregoandtheloonThis award was created to build unity among victims of domestic violence, to shed light on the truth behind closed doors, to give a voice to the pain so often locked in silence and hidden by isolation.

It is a bittersweet honor for me to accept this award. I never wanted to be seen as a victim of domestic violence. I stayed in denial for so long. After nearly eight years of pretending that I had the perfect marriage while my distance grew between family and friends, and the relationship of my dreams was draining me of all happiness and all hope, I broke the silence.

Speaking out about what happened to me kept me from hiding it from myself. It was so much easier to handle if no one knew. I could almost pretend that nothing had happened if I didn’t tell anyone. No one had to know of the names he called me, of the spit in my face, of being forced down the staircase with my neck in his grasp. But if I’d just stayed silent about it, nothing would’ve change.

Here’s to hope that my voice, my stories, and other victims’ bravery to tell of their experiences with domestic violence, will have a positive effect on the statistics of these incidents occurring.

 

PREGO PROJECT RULES

  1. Kindly thank the person who nominated you, and provide a link back to their blog.
  2. Attach the Prego Project Award presented by Prego and the Loon to your site.
  3. Provide a bit of hope and inspiration for those currently dealing with domestic violence.
  4. Nominate some other bloggers whom you feel deserve this award!

 

I am blogging with a candor that comes intrinsically, but I haven’t told you much about what happened to me.  Telling you everything could jeopardize my safety and the legal proceedings revolving around The Big Incident.

NO_MORE_STACK_RGBI will say this much for now – my husband was indicted last week. The grand jury’s decision to charge him with a felony for what he did to me during The Big Incident came after nearly seven anxiety-filled months of me not knowing how my case would be handled. The waiting has been very hard for me. I have gone through every conceivable emotion regarding this case and someday I will explain more about the specifics of being a victim in a case such as this. I am still terrified that he is going to try to kill me, especially now that he may go to jail for decades if he is convicted. I still do not feel safe, even though he is supposedly living over 1000 miles away.

The restraining order has given me the façade of safety. For the first time out of the many that I attempted to leave him I have the freedom from hearing his voice compelling me to come back. He cannot sway me with his poetry, or guilt me with suicide attempts, or cry his way back into my arms. He cannot tell our children that “Mommy doesn’t want me in your life,” while hugging them and crying, strategically placing the children between our ability to thrive and our victimized lives. He cannot be around me; just feeling his energy and seeing his face make me want to say “to hell with the charges and the past, he is going to change. All he needs is my love. We can make it.”

I am too far past that to really believe it is true. I know now that no matter what I went through, no matter how much I loved him (and still do), no matter how many times I came back and gave him one more “one last chance,” I would have been abused. Every time I came back to him the abuse was more violent. Every time I chose to stay silent about it, the cycle continued.

power-controlOnly after The Big Incident, after an event so scarring and debilitating, where I was stripped of every ounce of control, did I find the strength to start speaking out. I could no longer be in denial. Ignoring my situation was no longer an option; if I didn’t tell someone, if I didn’t go to the police, if I didn’t get a restraining order, if I didn’t find a support system, if I didn’t get away from him once and for all, it would be the end of me.

The thought of living the rest of my life being abused was too much for me. For eight years I’d held out hope, I’d nurtured the illusion of him reaching his potential with my assistance. I’d bowed down and worshiped his entirety. I wanted so badly for him to approve of me. I tried everything to earn his love. After The Big Incident, however, I’d had enough.

At 27 years old I finally stopped denying that the man I had loved since I was a teenager wasn’t ever going to change. He wasn’t ever going to be the man I needed him to be or love me the way I wanted to be loved. He wasn’t ever going to treat our children the way I felt they deserved to be treated. He wasn’t ever going to see me as anything other than his possession.

After The Big Incident I could no longer let it matter to me if he was abusing me on purpose or not; if he knew how badly he’d hurt me; if he acted this way because of his painful youth and negative upbringing; if he couldn’t love me because he couldn’t love himself; if he swore that he needed me, and that we needed one another. He would always abuse me. And I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

DomesticViolenceRibbonThis is only the beginning of my journey. His influence is still evident in my decision-making, in my views of myself, in my preparation for the future. I still worry about him daily and wonder what he is thinking about me. Our three children, one still growing in my belly, will forever remain a link between us. I will always wish there would’ve been something I could’ve done to have made my marriage work.

The legal proceedings may take years before things are completed, and I may never stop having nightmares. I will, however, continue to speak out about domestic violence. Too many abusers aren’t held accountable for the pain they cause, the fear they inflict, the lives they ruin. Too many victims are voiceless. Too often society imagines domestic violence as a problem of the past. Domestic violence has not gone away, it has adapted. Every victim’s story gives another the strength to speak out. I hope that in some way I have helped.

 

Bloggers I’m Nominating for the Prego Project Award (these bloggers have been affected by domestic violence in some way and/or are advocates for victim education and safety)

  1. Fighting for Autumn and Ivy
  2. Clementine Morrigan
  3. Should I Stay or Should I Leave Him
  4. Combat Babe
  5. Moved By Faith
  6. Bruised Woman’s Blog
  7. Go! Win! Fight! Fly Free!

No one deserves to be abused.

 

The Haunting Continues December 12, 2012

It had been so long since he had haunted my dreams. A week or so of semi-peaceful lack of sleep. But last night he returned with a ferocity, a vow to ruin me, and my well-crafted safety plan does nothing for me while I’m in an REM Cycle.

Sometimes I don’t realize it until waking. Sometimes, like the first of my four nightmares last night, he is back to being my typical husband. In my dream, I go through the motions of “staying in my place” (something he repeatedly instructed me to do throughout our eight year relationship). I ride the roller-coaster of our marriage through my dream and everything feels strangely familiar. I even feel the knot in the pit of my stomach and the frog in my throat; that constant conflicting feeling of wanting to avoid confrontation while simultaneously aching to defend myself.

In other nightmares, The Big Incident occurs in the same way that it did, or varied ways. The result is my pain, my fear, and my lack of control. He always wins.

If I were to believe Freud, then every one of my dreams is some form of wish-fulfillment. So in some sick subconscious way do I wish that my husband was still here, controlling my life, haunting me day and night? I suppose there was comfort in the familiarity of our relationship. There is something addictive about abuse.

But despite my loneliness, my constant state of uneasiness, my inability to control his presence in my dreams, I do not want to return to the daily terror of being his lady. How is it that after nearly seven months apart, a restraining order and other legal proceedings taking place, and with over 1000 miles between us, he still possesses me?

I want to feel free; if only in my dreams.