Oh.

You let your mask slip tonight, and I’ll never forget it. You’d successfully fooled me into thinking maybe we could be friends, and maybe the caring you once showed still existed. I’ll hand it to you: you’re good. You’ve fooled so many.

But not me. You’re not good enough to fool me. Yes, you played me enough to rip my life apart, but you had to get rid of me because I’ve always seen through your facade. You are empty and cold inside. And your life is devoid of love because you are.

I slipped up tonight and messaged you something very important. It was incredibly crucial to me, and meant more than a little bit. Your response?

“Oh.”

Wow. You must have been sleepy to let that go by. The true face shines through. 

Oh.

Yeah, you know what? I’m damn lucky I got away. Damn lucky.

Don’t Get Divorced

I’m sitting here making a very controversial statement, but with very good reason. Hear me out, perhaps you’ll find some merit in what I’m going to say. And if you disagree, drop a comment because I’d love to have a dialogue on this. 

Why do I think you shouldn’t get divorced? I suppose I should preface that by saying that in the case of abuse, please get help. That being said, I was viciously emotionally and verbally abused for years. I stuck through it because I have an old fashioned sense of commitment, and also because I was trapped, both figuratively and literally. 

My ex didn’t allow me to leave the house. I’m not even exaggerating. He told me how to wear my hair, who to talk to, and didn’t allow me to see my friends. Why did I marry him after all that? I wish I knew. Abuse/control creeps up on you, like boiling a frog. One minute you think you’re in a great relationship, and suddenly you turn around and you’re a shadow of your former self, with your life managed and controlled by someone else.

I got pregnant at 23, while we were engaged. I had been trying to figure out how to break up with him, because I’d seen his abusive nature and wanted out. But then the pregnancy. It consumed my focus. We still had horrible fights, where he would threaten to kick me out of the car in the middle of nowhere and disappear from my baby’s life, leaving me a single mom.

He kept that promise.

That pregnancy turned out to be a complicated twin pregnancy, which we lost at 22 weeks. In the shock of the loss, we had a rush wedding two weeks later. We promised we’d get away and buy a house and start over. 

I found us a great starter house that month. $70,000 for a 2 bedroom starter home on an acre of land. Remember, this was 1998, and the housing boom hadn’t happened. It was perfect, and five minutes from his job and my family. But his father (another abusive man) talked him into buying/building a duplex with him instead of getting our own house. The idea was we’d live there a few years, sell, and then split the money and go our separate ways.

I begged him not to. My pleas fell on deaf ears. I was dragged into this duplex idea, in a town an hour from anyone and everyone, in the middle of nowhere. And that’s when it went from bad to worse.

The building process took way longer than it was supposed to. I got pregnant again, and our plans to give birth at our new home quickly dissolved as the duplex took longer … And longer … And longer. We didn’t move in until our daughter was 8 months old. And that was when I found out that his father had left my ex off the mortgage, so he was the only one who owned the duplex, even though we had contributed half the down payment, closing costs, etc. And we would get none of the tax benefits. But he still promised we’d get half the profits when he sold it in a couple years.

As I’m writing this I’m floored with how stupid I was. I still stayed. I persevered, trying to make this work. And I got less than nothing for that.

As I said earlier, we lived an hour from anywhere. We had one car, and I was forbidden to use it. Ever. I begged to drive him to work one day a week so I could get together with other mom friends and our daughter could play with their children. I was never allowed. My only trips out of the house were doctor’s appointments, when my father would drive an hour each way to take my daughter and I to the doctor’s. 

Sometimes if I was really lucky he’d stop at the grocery store.

That was my life. For seven years, and two more children. During that time his father told us he’d decided not to sell (surprise!) and the housing boom happened. All our money had gone to this house we didn’t own and couldn’t profit off of, so we were truly stuck. I had no friends I could see, no way to ever leave, and was constantly berated by him.

One time during our many fights he woke our 3 year old daughter up because I wouldn’t continue the fight. I was done and wanted to go to sleep. He dragged her screaming out of bed, telling her that “Mommy won’t talk to Daddy anymore, and I’m lonely.” So I toed the line, to shield the children. Many, many, many other times, he threatened to take the kids from me if I left him. He said his family would all go to court and paint me as unstable and unfit, and I’d never see them again.

It worked. I was terrified, isolated, and willing to do anything to stay with my children.

Finally, when our 3rd child was born, we got a second car. I couldn’t believe it. I went to Walmart one day, and was screamed at for not asking permission. But eventually I was able to wear him down to allow me to go to the store or mom’s group once a week. It was like coming into the bright sunlight after being in the pitch dark for so long. 

Then, he had finally had enough of his father using us, and we scraped together our savings to buy  small home. (Oh, remember that starter home we could have bought for $70,000? It sold two years later for $175,000. Not bitter. Nope). We got away and I thought maybe now things could get better.

I tend to be naive.

You see, living like that, being abused and trapped for so long, had destroyed my health. I developed an autoimmune disease, but we didn’t know it yet. The symptoms included instability, which was actually severe blood sugar crashes … We just didn’t know it yet. I was terrified, he was less-than-supportive. We fought almost daily at that point.

I was tired, so tired of being called names, and told horrible things. I started fighting back, yes, I gave what I got. Is it right? No. But at the risk of sounding like a 5 year old, he started it. After the second time I woke up to him raping me anally, I was well and truly done. Yet I *still* stayed.

That’s when I finally got my diagnosis. We started trying to treat my condition, and discovered quickly that managing a thyroid isn’t always easy. We couldn’t get it stable, and as I went through med change after med change, I was subjected to a physical roller coaster on top of the daily abuse.

I reached out to a good friend, and confided everything in her. She was my daily confidante. She worked hard that year to gain my trust, and would message me all day long. Eventually she presented her idea to both shield me from his never-ending verbal assaults and keep my family together. 

I said yes. It was the worst decision of my life. Worse than staying with him. They teamed up within two months, and then I was treated as an outsider in my own family. I was completely ostracized, and yet still stuck by them, doing the housework and child care so they could spend as much time as possible together. 

I don’t think I even could fathom the level of cruelty they exhibited those two years. To take an abuse victim, promise them help and peace and safety, and instead laughingly rip their family apart … I don’t get it.

So, two years after getting out of that horror show, I’m sitting here telling you don’t get divorced. And why? Well, because I was subjected to horrific abuse for over 15 years. I lost my health, and most of my young adulthood. And now I’m a single mom of 4, renting because I can’t save enough for a down payment. And my abusive ex?

He’s living with my friend, in a Mcmansion. They go on wonderful getaways and multiple couples long weekends away. They have a pool, trampoline, wooden playset, basically all the luxuries you could ever ask for. I share custody so a little less than half the time I’m heartbroken and missing my children. My kids have gone through varying degrees of mental anguish from the split, and have needed therapy.

Please, someone show me what I got out of this. I fail to see anyone who benefited except my ex. 

Don’t Get Divorced

I’m sitting here making a very controversial statement, but with very good reason. Hear me out, perhaps you’ll find some merit in what I’m going to say. And if you disagree, drop a comment because I’d love to have a dialogue on this. 

Why do I think you shouldn’t get divorced? I suppose I should preface that by saying that in the case of abuse, please get help. That being said, I was viciously emotionally and verbally abused for years. I stuck through it because I have an old fashioned sense of commitment, and also because I was trapped, both figuratively and literally. 

My ex didn’t allow me to leave the house. I’m not even exaggerating. He told me how to wear my hair, who to talk to, and didn’t allow me to see my friends. Why did I marry him after all that? I wish I knew. Abuse/control creeps up on you, like boiling a frog. One minute you think you’re in a great relationship, and suddenly you turn around and you’re a shadow of your former self, with your life managed and controlled by someone else.

I got pregnant at 23, while we were engaged. I had been trying to figure out how to break up with him, because I’d seen his abusive nature and wanted out. But then the pregnancy. It consumed my focus. We still had horrible fights, where he would threaten to kick me out of the car in the middle of nowhere and disappear from my baby’s life, leaving me a single mom.

He kept that promise.

That pregnancy turned out to be a complicated twin pregnancy, which we lost at 22 weeks. In the shock of the loss, we had a rush wedding two weeks later. We promised we’d get away and buy a house and start over. 

I found us a great starter house that month. $70,000 for a 2 bedroom starter home on an acre of land. Remember, this was 1998, and the housing boom hadn’t happened. It was perfect, and five minutes from his job and my family. But his father (another abusive man) talked him into buying/building a duplex with him instead of getting our own house. The idea was we’d live there a few years, sell, and then split the money and go our separate ways.

I begged him not to. My pleas fell on deaf ears. I was dragged into this duplex idea, in a town an hour from anyone and everyone, in the middle of nowhere. And that’s when it went from bad to worse.

The building process took way longer than it was supposed to. I got pregnant again, and our plans to give birth at our new home quickly dissolved as the duplex took longer … And longer … And longer. We didn’t move in until our daughter was 8 months old. And that was when I found out that his father had left my ex off the mortgage, so he was the only one who owned the duplex, even though we had contributed half the down payment, closing costs, etc. And we would get none of the tax benefits. But he still promised we’d get half the profits when he sold it in a couple years.

As I’m writing this I’m floored with how stupid I was. I still stayed. I persevered, trying to make this work. And I got less than nothing for that.

As I said earlier, we lived an hour from anywhere. We had one car, and I was forbidden to use it. Ever. I begged to drive him to work one day a week so I could get together with other mom friends and our daughter could play with their children. I was never allowed. My only trips out of the house were doctor’s appointments, when my father would drive an hour each way to take my daughter and I to the doctor’s. 

Sometimes if I was really lucky he’d stop at the grocery store.

That was my life. For seven years, and two more children. During that time his father told us he’d decided not to sell (surprise!) and the housing boom happened. All our money had gone to this house we didn’t own and couldn’t profit off of, so we were truly stuck. I had no friends I could see, no way to ever leave, and was constantly berated by him.

One time during our many fights he woke our 3 year old daughter up because I wouldn’t continue the fight. I was done and wanted to go to sleep. He dragged her screaming out of bed, telling her that “Mommy won’t talk to Daddy anymore, and I’m lonely.” So I toed the line, to shield the children. Many, many, many other times, he threatened to take the kids from me if I left him. He said his family would all go to court and paint me as unstable and unfit, and I’d never see them again.

It worked. I was terrified, isolated, and willing to do anything to stay with my children.

Finally, when our 3rd child was born, we got a second car. I couldn’t believe it. I went to Walmart one day, and was screamed at for not asking permission. But eventually I was able to wear him down to allow me to go to the store or mom’s group once a week. It was like coming into the bright sunlight after being in the pitch dark for so long. 

Then, he had finally had enough of his father using us, and we scraped together our savings to buy  small home. (Oh, remember that starter home we could have bought for $70,000? It sold two years later for $175,000. Not bitter. Nope). We got away and I thought maybe now things could get better.

I tend to be naive.

You see, living like that, being abused and trapped for so long, had destroyed my health. I developed an autoimmune disease, but we didn’t know it yet. The symptoms included instability, which was actually severe blood sugar crashes … We just didn’t know it yet. I was terrified, he was less-than-supportive. We fought almost daily at that point.

I was tired, so tired of being called names, and told horrible things. I started fighting back, yes, I gave what I got. Is it right? No. But at the risk of sounding like a 5 year old, he started it. After the second time I woke up to him raping me anally, I was well and truly done. Yet I *still* stayed.

That’s when I finally got my diagnosis. We started trying to treat my condition, and discovered quickly that managing a thyroid isn’t always easy. We couldn’t get it stable, and as I went through med change after med change, I was subjected to a physical roller coaster on top of the daily abuse.

I reached out to a good friend, and confided everything in her. She was my daily confidante. She worked hard that year to gain my trust, and would message me all day long. Eventually she presented her idea to both shield me from his never-ending verbal assaults and keep my family together. 

I said yes. It was the worst decision of my life. Worse than staying with him. They teamed up within two months, and then I was treated as an outsider in my own family. I was completely ostracized, and yet still stuck by them, doing the housework and child care so they could spend as much time as possible together. 

I don’t think I even could fathom the level of cruelty they exhibited those two years. To take an abuse victim, promise them help and peace and safety, and instead laughingly rip their family apart … I don’t get it.

So, two years after getting out of that horror show, I’m sitting here telling you don’t get divorced. And why? Well, because I was subjected to horrific abuse for over 15 years. I lost my health, and most of my young adulthood. And now I’m a single mom of 4, renting because I can’t save enough for a down payment. And my abusive ex?

He’s living with my friend, in a Mcmansion. They go on wonderful getaways and multiple couples long weekends away. They have a pool, trampoline, wooden playset, basically all the luxuries you could ever ask for. I share custody so a little less than half the time I’m heartbroken and missing my children. My kids have gone through varying degrees of mental anguish from the split, and have needed therapy.

Please, someone show me what I got out of this. I fail to see anyone who benefited except my ex. 

Yes, I Really Am Wonder Woman

That’s a title kind of like “I’m Batman” from … oh my, 1991’s (??) Batman movie. But, it stands. I am. And it hit me today kind of like a semi on my way back from the new Wonder Woman movie. Before I completely lose all my followers, let me try to explain …

When I was a little girl I watched Wonder Woman with my mom. I loved the show. Then my mom died of cancer when I was 5, and it decimated my entire world as I knew it. I’ve never really dealt with that lost little girl who just wanted her mom back. But I can finally see what happened because of that little girl.

I can remember daydreaming, as a 5-6 year old child, about how amazing it would be if Wonder Woman were real, and she turned out to be my mom. Before you go writing me off as delusional, I didn’t for a moment think it was true. But I wished it could be. I would daydream about Lynda Carter’s strong and warm Wonder Woman turning up in my life and being my mother, the mother I had just lost, and was so desperately looking to replace. It makes sense, in that light.

Sidebar: It speaks volumes that the only woman I thought worthy to step in for my mother was Wonder Woman. I’m just saying …

As I got older, I was always drawn to strong females whether in music, television, or real life. I no longer imagined them being my mom, but the draw was the same as it was for little-girl-me, trying to find the best replacement for my mom I could. I don’t think I realized it, and I really didn’t grasp the scope of it until tonight, when all of it suddenly lined up and made sense in my head.

The only problem with searching for a Wonder Woman in your life is that you never learn that you have your own power. The little girl who had lost her mom, her role model, her anchor … never had the chance to realize that you don’t get strength from without. You get it from within.

So fast forward some years. I was married, with children, and my husband was emotionally abusive. He put me through horrendously damaging situations, and the scars I bear from the threats and insults he hurled at me almost daily are still present. But did I leave?

No.

I stayed. I justified it a million different ways, and although I don’t blame myself in some ways because of the threats he gave me, like threatening to take my children and keep them from me … I know that I should have been stronger. But I wasn’t. I’d never learned how to be strong, and instead of seeking out my own strength I’d spent my life trying to be close to strength exuded by others, whether in real life or imagination when I was younger.

The result of that was my life living with an abusive man, and I wanted out but had no personal power to draw on. Granted, when you’re abused that has a way of sucking the strength from you. And so that was the entry point for the destruction of my family.

My draw to strong women, that little girl who wanted her mommy, was the in for her. And she knew it, too. She knew all my weaknesses. She knew exactly what to say and how to say it. She knew exactly how abusive he was, and promised many things, including deflecting his anger. She would put on big shows of putting him in his place anytime he talked down to me.

That was it. That lonely little girl inside me figured she’d found her Wonder Woman, to protect her and keep her safe. There was just one problem: none of it was true.

How do I know this? Well, what happened speaks for itself. Once she had me, she moved onto my abusive partner, and became a completely different person almost overnight. She engineered the destruction of my family and my life that I worked so hard to build, and I don’t see any evidence of regret. All I see now is her in a codependent relationship with my ex.

What I needed to see all along was that all I had to do was open my eyes and see my own strength. And since she kicked me out of my very own family, that’s what I’ve had to do real fast. I’ve drawn on more strength in the past two years than ever. I single parent my 4 kids and do a damn fine job, rivaling two-parent households with ease while working full-time.

But back to Wonder Woman, because that is why we’re here, right? I left the movie tonight, and I looked over my entire life, and all I’ve been put through. And I realized that the little girl searching for a strong mother figure had it all messed up. First of all, there’s no replacing your mom. But second, I spent my entire life searching for strength outside of myself, instead of nurturing my own.

I’ve been the victim of an abusive husband, and then worked over really good by a woman who triggered all my mommy issues. I was told my emotions were weakness and other’s coldness was strength. But you aren’t strong by blocking yourself off from feelings and looking down on those with strong emotions. 

That’s not strength. Strength is having the courage to actually feel and love and mourn and be ALIVE. 

So I thought about all of that tonight. And I realized that the Wonder Woman I’ve searched for since my mom died doesn’t exist, other than right here inside of me. I’m the one who kept going after losing my mother. I’m the one who put one foot in front of the other when my stepmother was less-than-kind. It was me who soldiered through an emotionally abusive marriage and did what I could to keep the kids together. It was also me when I put up with two years of being ignored as a partner and put through the absolute cruelest treatment one could possibly give a person .

And it’s me who has been a single mom to 4 kids for two years now, working full-time and paying all our bills. It was me. Me. ME.

There is no one outside myself to look for.

I AM WONDER WOMAN. I always was, I just needed to see it.

Besides … have you ever seen Wonder Woman and I in the same room together?

That Forever Stuff

Who needs it, right? You certainly don’t, based on the way you dismissed the entire concept recently. To be accurate, you addressed the promises you made me, and did so in such a crass manner that there could be no doubt about the fact that you never meant a word of them.

Once upon a time you spent a solid year grooming me. Yes, that’s what it was. I’m tired of tiptoeing around the truth: you groomed me. Don’t worry, I’m not letting myself off the hook, because I’m the naive person who fell for it. See? There’s enough blame to go around. Granted … one involves malice aforethought, and the other is an overabundance of trust. Hmmm … one of these things is not like the other.

You finally broke the last of my defenses with the use of your signature phrase: “infinitely and unconditionally.” I’ve referenced your use of this phrase over and over and over again. What was it? It was your promise to me, literally. I still remember the first night you messaged me with it, when you told me “And this is our new bond, I will tuck you in every night with these words. I love you infinitely and unconditionally.”

And so you did. Every night. And whenever I needed reminding, you told me again of your love for me and how it was never ending. (That’s what infinite means, in case you were wondering. Also, you might want to check out the definition of unconditionally.) Those words and the promise they contained were like a lifeline to someone drowning; they were an oasis in a desert of the abusive relationship I was trapped in.

But you knew that, didn’t you?

And so after I trusted and after I committed and after I gave you my entire life and after I had compromised myself … you not only went back on that critical promise, but you blew up every single thing you’d promised me was real. And in the process dismantled my life. You tortured me without any remorse, and moved right onto grooming my abusive ex … who you now make your life with.

And when I called you on all of the above, and you admitted intentionally causing me such pain, and I asked how you could so easily toss out your promises … that’s when you said you were all done with “that forever stuff.”

That forever stuff? That’s what you are calling “infinitely and unconditionally” these days? The words and promise carried therein, reduced to a casual phrase that you look on with scorn? You treat something that is to be revered with derision? Just exactly what kind of a person are you?

I know one thing. The two of you really were made for each other. You deserve each other … infinitely and unconditionally.

 

 

What’s Your Birthday Wish?

Today is my birthday. (Let’s not talk about what year.)

I started the day off with a plan for a blog post, and I was fairly certain I’d have it written before bed. Life has a way of changing plans, and usually for our betterment, even if we don’t see it right away. My plans were changed today, but very much for the better. And I am so thankful for that.

Holidays and birthdays are hard post-divorce. They’re even harder post-ugly-betrayal. And hardest when you have specific traumatic memories linked to that day/event. So since we’re talking birthdays, let’s do that! I started this day by telling a friend that I have Birthday PTSD. I’m not even sure if this is an actual thing, but it does – correction DID – exist in my case. The reasons? Oh my. Where should I start?

I spent 15 years married to a codependent man who emotionally and verbally abused me. Special days were when he liked to ramp it up. He would give huge, expensive displays in the form of gifts we couldn’t afford. (I loved trying to save our mortgage over and over due to his complete and utter irresponsibility with money) But personally? Name calling. Gas lighting. Vicious personal attacks. The one that sticks with me the most is the time he promised, 8-9 months before my birthday, to ruin my birthday simply because I’d done something he didn’t like.

He actually remembered. He picked a nasty fight my following birthday. I spent the day in tears. We had 4 kids, so this was how they were raised to treat their mom. (Three boys, so … ) And then he’d tell me to appease his anger I had to put on a bikini and walk around the house in it until he told me to stop.

I do NOT have a bikini body. I do NOT feel comfortable in one. So it was humiliating on EVERY SINGLE LEVEL. Happy Birthday to me?

I found another partner and thought I had finally stumbled upon a healthy person who would treat me right. I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. This person came on like gangbusters with all the tender love and care that I so desperately needed as a result of my abusive ex. WHICH THEY KNEW ALL ABOUT. This one was more subtle, and sneaky. They played the long game, and really worked me over on a mental and spiritual level. Their horrendous treatment of me was actually worse than his due to many things, but ultimately because they promised to right his wrongs and protect me from him. When instead they waited until I was hooked and then cut me off emotionally, spending all their time BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP WITH MY ABUSIVE EX.

What kind of person treats someone in such a disgusting manner? Well, I found one. No, I don’t know why someone would be so damn cruel. I really don’t. I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy. But then I don’t think that way.

Oh, but birthdays. We were talking about birthdays, and I still haven’t explained why I had such challenges with them. Well, you know part of it. But the new partner, the one who promised the world and stabbed me in the back for fun? They had a fun new twist. I was with them for two birthdays. Each year they planned a party for me, and to take the day off work.

Each year they went back on the day off work and canceled the party. EACH. YEAR.

The second party cancellation they promised no other birthday party would happen in the house (other than for kids) until my party was rescheduled. That was 2014. Should I still be waiting?

So I have a bit of caution with this birthday stuff. I don’t trust, and I am so wounded by the lies of my past I don’t know how to proceed. Thankfully, there are people out there who are family. Real family, not the pretend family foisted on me by people with obvious agendas that only include me in terms of stepping on and over me.

I’ve been out of that unhealthy relationship for two years now. The first birthday was hard. It was not long after getting out, and a milestone birthday. Last year I was surrounded by family and it was a good day. But today?

I think today cemented what I’ve been being shown. My dad and sister coordinated a surprise party out with me and my children. We laughed until our sides hurt and relished being together. It didn’t escape my notice that even though they are both very busy, they made time to come make me feel special on my birthday.

That’s what shows a person’s heart. If they take time to make you feel special, and give of themselves … that’s real. That’s family. I was given a good reminder today of what family is, what it does, and what it means for both me and my children.

I’m so grateful to have a solid family that loves me and my kids, and isn’t deceitful or bitter with time given. I have a heart full to bursting with the time, love, and care given to me today without a second’s hesitation.

I love my family. Yes, that includes my good friends. No, it doesn’t include any pretenders. My wish for them is to have only other pretenders, for the rest of their lives.

Seems like karma would approve.

Prom Night

Prom. It means many different things to many different people. For me it was a memory from many years ago, of a formal event I went to with the man who became my husband and the father of my 4 children.

But THAT is another story, thoroughly detailed in my other posts.

Then my oldest child, my daughter, started talking prom. Boy, did that change my focus fast. First, when did I get old enough to have a child going to prom? Second, wasn’t my prom just a few years ago??

There aren’t so many chances to spend quality time with your child once they are 17, have a license, a car, and a job. Take every opportunity you get. I am not kidding on this. Yesterday was one of the best days ever. My (not so) little girl and I were together all day. We spent the day talking and hanging out. She chit chatted with me during prom prep, and then the moment came.

Her boyfriend arrived, and it was time to take pictures. THOSE pictures. The ones that I have in a box in my closet of me at her age, when I thought I was SO grown up but in reality I wasn’t … when the world was still a big opportunity waiting for me to dive in.

The looks on their faces as they laughed and smiled, simultaneously looking like kids and adults, the innocence fresh on their faces … my heart. ❤ I don’t have words for it. And then the moment passed, the pictures were taken, and they went off to their first prom. It was their first step into an adult world, in formal dress, to be kids yet not for the evening together.

I spent time pondering all of this while I waited for my daughter to return. I can still hear her little girl giggle as she ran down the hall; I close my eyes and I see her, asking me to have a tea party with her or play dolls. The tea party set has been passed on to someone else and the dolls are long gone, and the little girl who eagerly played with me is now dressed in a gown and eager to go off into the grownup world, where tea parties no longer happen and dolls are a distant memory.

But that little girl is still there in her laughter, and in her eyes, and in my heart. Never change, my child. Know that I will love you every moment of your life, and I couldn’t be prouder of the woman that little girl has grown into.