Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ali is my new therapist

Ali over at www.runningwithspatulas.com asked this today:

 Question – have you ever try to push negative feelings aside? is there something for you that triggers sadness around this time of year?
 
Since I couldn't fit this all in the comment section I had to make my own post. 

 
 Dear Ali, (my new therapist)

   I do try, but I don't like holidays.
   I also have Dad issues, and Mom issues, and all that comes with it.
 
 I didn't feel much love while I was growing up. My mother never read me a book, we never went to the store together, she didn't teach me how to be a wife or a mother. What she did teach me was that "do whatever your husband wants and you will be happy". I took this advice into my (first) marriage, and I failed miserably. 

He was abusive physically, verbally, and mostly mentally. After five years of this treatment I gained enough strength to file for a divorce. Short version is that he convinced me that I was worthless and a crappy mother and that our children would be better off in his care. He promised that he would drag me through the mud and force our children to sit through the court hearing while he shared how bad I was. I believed him and I surrendered custody, thinking that I would enjoy my time with them often. 

 In my mind it would go something like this: He would go to work and I would have the kids during the day. We would switch off on weekends, and everything would work out great. His family had money and I just wanted my girls to be happy. Somewhere I had learned that money equals happiness. Mistake number one. My girls were 3 years old and 13 months. Oh, it still hurts my heart to say that. My baby was only 13 months old.

My plans went nothing like I thought they would. Our divorce was finalized very quickly, because I asked for nothing. I was just a silly 23 year old who agreed to whatever he wanted. All I wanted at that time was to be out of an abusive relationship. I believed that I was bad and it would be wrong for me to raise them on welfare. (yeah, that's what I thought the only alternative was) Within weeks of our divorce it was very clear to me that he thought he still had control over me. I would call to talk to the girls and he wouldn't let me. Keep in mind that this was in 1987 and our divorce papers only said "reasonable visitation", which I found out later meant if he decided that I could see them. He never decided that I could.

Imagine being so close to them and not having contact. He basically told them that I left them and I would not be back. Every day I called and he would insult me and hang up the phone. The police said they could do nothing. They told me to get a lawyer and go back to court. I had no job, no support from family, and no confidence.

What did I do? I ran far away.

A man that I had met invited me to California to visit and bought me a plane ticket. Three months after my divorce I was on a plane, running flying 1200 miles away, and I never looked back. What was supposed to be a visit actually lasted 15 years, but that's a whole other story.

I still called the house to talk to the girls and he would tell me that they were better off without a mom. I seriously thought that he had told them I had died. Looking back now I cannot believe that I didn't fight harder. It pains me to know that my self confidence was so shattered that I didn't know that there was something that I could do. If I could go back I would slap myself HARD. I would also slap a lot of other people who I think should have stood up for me. Not one person in my life told me not to give up custody of my girls. Not one person told him that he needed to let me talk to them. Everybody accepted things as they were.

Birthdays and holidays would come and I curled up into a fetal position and bawl for hours. I screamed at the top of my lungs on the shower floor, begging for help from above. Many, many hours and days were spent with tears streaming down my face as I ached to be with my girls. I did send gifts and it was reassuring to me to know that they did receive them. Many tears were cried on those presents as I crafted them specifically for my girls.

Finally a day came when I would return to Nebraska. It had been 18 months but had felt like a lifetime. During that time I was finally able to talk to my girls on the phone and my mother would send me photos in the mail after he would bring them to her house for a visit. I cherished those pictures and hated them all at the same time. My baby girls were growing up without me, just like he said they would.

So here I am now, back in Nebraska, and I call him to ask if I can see the kids. After many tries and a lot of begging on my part he finally agrees that I can come to the house and see them. And this is where it gets even sadder for me.

My sister drops me off at the house. How strange it was for me to be there again. It was probably the most excited that I had been in a very long time. I was FINALLY going to see my girls. Seeing him repulsed me as all of the bad memories came flashing back at me. I entered the house and looked for the girls to come running into my arms, but they are nowhere in sight. And he says to me:

"I have changed my mind and put them to bed. I don't want you to wake them up and confuse them, but you can sleep here and you can see them in the morning." This hurts me, but it also makes perfect sense. (sigh) The last thing that I want to do is upset my girls or to confuse them. As I am writing this I want to scream out at the young me. Why didn't I run into that house and call for them? Why didn't I push my way into their bedroom and announce "MOMMY IS HERE!!!!!" Why did I let that man control me to this point? Those answers will never be known.

I cry and I beg some more, but he doesn't budge on his thoughts. He convinces me that I should sleep in his bed and he will sleep on the couch. We wouldn't want the girls to wake up and see me on the couch in the middle of the night would we? (yes asshole, we would) I want to leave, but I am so afraid that if I walk out that door I will never gain access again. Certainly I can last just one more night, right? So I go to the bedroom; the one that had so many bad memories, and I try to sleep. My girls are so close and yet so far from me.

Somehow I do fall asleep; I imagine it is from exhaustion. The next thing I know, he is there with me. He covers my mouth and demands sex, something that he had done often while we were married. He whispers to me in his evil way, telling me that I will ALWAYS be his and that he can have me any time he wants. I am so afraid to scream. So scared that the girls will hear my muffled cries and come to investigate. I fight for as long as I can and then I surrender to him, one last time. Once again he has crushed me and I feel that I have nobody to blame but myself. I believe what so many victims believe. He raped me and yet I felt that it was my fault.

And he says..."I hope that you can't get pregnant." I know that I was already pregnant before I had arrived, and I am thankful for that.

And then he says...

"I changed my mind and I don't think it is a good idea for the girls to wake up and find you here in the morning. Help me get them into the car so that I can take you back to your sister's."

HUH???

I am numb, I am confused, and I am beat down to nothing once again. Within five minutes I am sitting in the front seat of his car with my baby girl (now she is 3 years old) laying in my arms, sleeping. I am kissing her face over and over, wetting her precious cheeks with my tears, but I am not speaking a word. I want to bottle up that moment and save it forever in my mind.

Our oldest daughter (now 5) is wrapped in her blanket on the back seat. (this was before the car seat laws). He pulls up to my sister's house and tells me to get out of the car. My oldest daughter wakes up and stares at me. I will never forget the way that she says "Momma??" as she looks at me. Tears are rolling down my face as I look back into her beautiful eyes and I tell her. "Momma loves you babygirl. I will see you tomorrow." As sad as that memory is to me, it is also one of my most loving memories. My babygirl still knew who I was, and that meant the world to me.

The "tomorrow" doesn't come, because he changes his mind again and forbids me from seeing them. I am sure that my little girl thought that she was dreaming it all. What a nice dream that must have been for her. I call the police and I ask for help, telling them that he won't let me see the girls. There is nothing that they can do. I do not tell them about what happened that night in the house, because at this point I still feel that it was my fault. Oh, the things we would change if we could go back in time, right?

  (side note: Years later I called the police department and filed a report. Too much time had passed to act on it, but I could still file a report. Some time after that he admitted to me on the phone that I did say no and he forced himself on me. I think he even said he was sorry)

Flash forward to July 1990.

   I visit Nebraska with my 2nd husband, my 11 yr old step-daughter, and my little girl who was celebrating her 1st birthday. It had been another 18 months since my last visit. There had been more talks on the phone and more gifts sent in the mail. My girls were now sending me drawings and postcards in the mail. Holidays and birthdays were still very hard for me, but my little baby girl had given me new hope. I call her my lifesaver. She taught me that I really was a good mom, and that I was needed.

The asshole tried to keep me from the girls, but I had grown a backbone and insisted that he let me spend time with them. It was a brief visit, maybe lasting a week, and I had an amazing time with the girls. They came to my mother's house with us and even spent the night. It was the beginning of new hope for me. It was so wonderful to have my three girls (four, counting my step-daughter) all together. We went shopping together and the girls were such happy little girls. To this day I am in awe when I think back to that time. If people saw us together they would have never known that we had been apart for so many years.

We kept in contact much more often, although I have to admit that I didn't call them nearly as much as they would have liked. Fear of the unknown always held me back. By that I mean not knowing how he would treat me when I called. Just hearing his voice on the phone would send my head spinning with flashbacks of so many things that had happened in the past. He often belittled me and I would pass the sadness and anger onto my new husband. Every 2 or 3 years I made it back to Nebraska for a visit. He stopped trying to keep them from me, and I stopped letting him control me. The girls got older and they were able to speak up and tell him when they wanted to talk to their mom. Yes, I still cried on their birthdays and holidays. There was always something missing.

  For many years I had referred to the older ones as my "other girls" and now I am happy to say that I have not used that term for over ten years. It always made me sad to say it, but that is just how it came out when I talked about them. It was very hard to try to explain to people how I could have two daughters that live in another state and even harder to explain that I gave up custody. I am sure that I was judged by many and a lot of people probably thought that I "lost" custody. I don't really know which is worse. I made the decision to not have custody?? Really?? Who does that??

Somebody who wasn't raised with confidence; that's who. Somebody who was taught to do whatever the man said; that's who. Somebody who was told that she should just keep her mouth shut; that's who.

Let's do another flash forward, shall we?

2002 I leave California, basically running again from a bad marriage. Things are much different this time. I am older, wiser, and I do not give up custody of our child. She is 12 at the time. She would have it no other way I am sure, because I am a GREAT mom. (smiling)

Because there is a whole other story in here that is unrelated I will skip to 2004, where I move back to Nebraska, and I am close to my girls. I am there when my middle daughter has a terrible car accident and we don't know if she will survive. Her father does his best to keep me from seeing her in the hospital, but eventually I am allowed to see her. Can you believe that somebody can be so cruel? I won't dwell on that, because she recovered fully and it all turned out fine. ASSHOLE !

My girls are all amazing and I have a great relationship with each one of them. I was there to watch my middle daughter graduate high school. I don't remember if I saw her first steps, but I did get to see her walk to get that diploma, and I was so proud to be there. Both of her sisters sat with me, and I have to admit I felt a little smug as I glanced at the asshole and his family.

He couldn't keep my girls from me. He couldn't kill the love that I had given to them when they we just tiny little girls. He may have broken down my spirit over and over again through the years, but he could NEVER remove the bond that I have with my girls.

I did leave Nebraska again in 2007, when my youngest daughter graduated high school She attended the same high school that I had graduated from 25 years prior. The same high school that my mother had gone to 25 years before me. It is still hard for me to be in that state. My whole family lives there, but I just can't do it. Holidays are still difficult and I am usually the last one on the list when it's time for people to make their rounds. It gets old.

The girls are all adults now and I have spent a lot of time with them over the past 10 years. You may have found this a hard post to read, and I must admit it was pretty hard to write as well. I cried some heavy tears as I put these memories in writing, but I found it very therapeutic. It makes me sad when negative things can hurt us so many years later. There are times when I don't understand how it all happened and in all honesty I really can't believe that this was my life.

If you know anybody who is keeping their children from the other parent, please try to talk some sense into them. And if you know anybody that is going through what I went through, please tell them to not give up.

I used to tell my girls that once they turn 18 nobody can keep us apart. Yes, we missed out on a lot, but we have an amazing future together.


Ali rocks..  go check her out 
 www.runningwithspatulas.com

4 comments:

  1. Ronalee. I can't believe this. I can't imagine having to be a part of that awful man's life. I have a deep seeded hatred towards men. Much of it is gone but reading this post makes it burn with a vengeance! I know that everyone has their issues but there's NO excuse for a man to take advantage of a woman. I have been sexually assaulted and raped in a relationship. Many times I would simply consent to sex because the alternative was worse, so I feel your pain.

    In regards to your girls - wow! I can't imagine. First off - thanks for putting this all out here. That's amazing and it means a lot to me that my post triggered this. When I wrote my post out about my father I too found it very therapeutic. I can't imagine not being with Logan. I'd die. You just kept trying and you know what - they saw that. There are so many shitty parents out there and you're not one of them, or those girls wouldn't have wanted to build a relationship with you. You are amazing!!!!

    I am so happy to hear this story does have a happy ending. I hope that ex of yours gets his. That's awful!

    I was in a horribly abusive relationship and they really take YEARS of working through all the brainwashing. xoxoxox

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  2. Smiling.. thank you for triggering this post.
    I dislike remembering, but I do love knowing that every day I am one step closer to healing.

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  3. Ronalee, thank you for sharing. I can feel the pain it took to write this and am just amazed that you were so strong. YES!!! you were. You kept trying, you keep going, you kept loving. The A.H. of your ex...well he'll get his, the Lord will see to that. I am so glad the girls felt that love for all those years and now are a big part of your life and theirs yours.
    Take care Ronalee and try to have an amazing and blessed Christmas.

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  4. Sending you much love my wonderful friend I know what it is like to open yourself up and being knocked down I swore because of what my own mom was with me I would never be with my kids they would never go to bed wondering if I loved them or I would protect them I would NOT be my mom and I wasn't my kids know their mom loves them just like yours do from you good job mom and hang in there during these difficult times of year. I can not tell you how many times during these triggers I have wanted to end my life had my letters written saying goodbye but by the grace of God I fought thru it and here I am reaching out to others saying you are BETTER than you think and there is so many who DO care.....I CARE DEAR friend and I thank you for sharing your story. ~Janice~

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