7.8.98

“Give the girls a kiss for me.  Tell them I love them.  You’re alone now.  Goodbye.”

I became a single parent the day my now ex-husband uttered the above words.  Even now, eight years later, I hear his voice in my dreams sometimes.  His tone, the traffic behind him, the click as he hung up the pay phone, the cloudy sky outside my sliding glass door, the sound of my daughters playing with their friends in the living room…all are parts of the soundtrack that will forever define that moment.  He had stormed out of our home in anger only minutes before the call.  I was supposed to feel guilty and beg him to come home.  I didn’t.

I wouldn’t learn more of the story until an emergency room nurse called me hours later to let me know he was there and over 150 pills had been pumped from his stomach.  She was very kind while telling me it was impossible to know how much damage there was to his kidneys or if he would live through the night. 

By this time, I’d called the police to report his phone call; been interviewed by the kind police officers who came to get details; spoken to his doctor and counselor and my own therapist; talked with my dearest friends and they were with me at home while we waited for word; explained in very broad terms to my children why all these people were in and out of our house and wondered constantly what the fuck I was going to do now.

This particular episode in a long history of such episodes began weeks before when my husband hit my oldest daughter so hard she fell down.  I wasn’t home at the time and when I arrived a couple hours later, the mark was still on her face.  As I learned what had happened, it became crystal clear the time had come to get out. 

I hadn’t forseen the hell that would break loose when I told my husband he would have to live somewhere else while he attended anger management classes.  His therapist had the nerve to actually find him a place to live and we had told him the night before that he would need to move there while we worked this out.

As a “christian” trained to follow those in charge of the organization I was a part of at the time, I did what I knew to be the “right thing”.  I called the “older men” and let them know what was happening.  I must say, it wasn’t the first time I’d been told that a “christian wife” must stay with her husband because marriage is blah, blah, blah (insert whatever rhetoric you’d like in this space).  It was however, the first time, I decided to follow my heart.

I cried myself to sleep that first night.  I was heartbroken and terrified.  As the week wore on, it became obvious that my husband would survive this attempt to end his life.  I decided to follow through with my original plan and not allow him to come home.  I packed his clothes and delivered them to the hospital before his discharge.  His doctor, therapist and I made it very clear that to come home would require alot of work.  My husband was not amused. 

My daughters and I lived in our house for two more months before we moved into an apartment.  During that time, my husband paid several visits to our home.  During one of them he completely trashed the place in anger because he couldn’t come in.  During another, he had gifts to go along with the begging and tears.  There were many visits that landed in between those two extremes.  After we moved into our apartment, he would call me and scream into the phone that I’d moved our children to an unsafe and horrible neighborhood.  Then he would show up on the doorstep and yell and threaten loudly to do something about it.  Yes, all my neighbors heard.  Yes, they all gathered to keep my girls and I safe.  What a blessing those people were.

My husband asked me if he could come home one more time that year.  It was right before Thanksgiving.  It had become obvious that he was not going into anger management classes so I told him I appreciated his feelings however, there was no way in hell it would ever happen.  He promptly went out and “found a new girlfriend” as a new country song says.  (!) 

My daughters continued to see their father every other weekend and that went pretty well for quite sometime.  That is, until he became engaged to another woman.  In June of 2001, he dropped off the girlies at home one day early and left.  He didn’t see them again for three years.  He just vanished from their lives with no explanation.  The girls were confused and heartbroken to say the least. 

He has disappeared from their lives again over the past two months and they are, again, filled with confusion.  A bright spot, for me anyway, in the situation is this:  Daughter #2 is finally allowing herself to feel the anger she’s kept stuffed inside for 8 years.  For this entire time she has always said “I’m not angry with him…just sad.”  She could win ribbons for stuffing feelings!  It is so hard to watch and yet it is such a relief for me to see these long hidden feelings finally come out of her.  I believe it’s a good sign even if it is difficult. 

As I read over these words of mine, they feel so choppy to me and yet, this period of time has often felt that way as well.  There is so much I don’t understand and so many things I wish could have been different.  I feel like there have been a gazillion stops and starts you know?  So perhaps choppy is a good thing for now.  At least there is movement.  What a journey this 8 years has been.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  I am however, grateful to be traveling this road. I’ve grown so much and am so blessed.  It’s pretty amazing how one small change, one small stone in the pond, can affect change.  We don’t always know if the change will be positive or negative however we can learn something from either one.  I hope I’m learning.  🙂

Peace.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by scribbleandscribe on Saturday, July 8, 2006 at 8:36 am

    yes you are learning, those are hard lessons for a child too.
    Mine still defend their father, as I did too for their sake. They will know in their own time.
    It is so sad that these guys dont understand what they do to kids. In your case, all of it, from the attempt to take his life to the disappearing acts. It all hurts.
    We lived through the banging on the door, the bargaining… all of it.
    I’m so sorry you and the girls did too.

    Reply

  2. Posted by The Boston Pobble on Saturday, July 8, 2006 at 8:51 am

    So glad you’re all safe now. I should have something deep and erudite and meaningful to say here and all I’ve got is So Glad You’re Safe Now.

    Reply

  3. It’s not right when the kids get stuck in the middle, but i’m sure he was only thinking of himself. Your kids will see the true coward that he is in their own time.
    Peace

    Reply

  4. Lives so full of the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Strange as it may sound, I am not so sure that I would pass on any of it either. Sometimes choppy and sometimes smooth as a sheet of glass. Rollercoaster highs and bottomless lows. None would I change because it has become the me that is me and I am thinking I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think you are thinking the same even with the why’s and what if’s that are always attached.

    I do not understand men like that. People who are so unattached that it simply does not make their heart hurt when they are separated fromt he ones that they love. Maybe I never will.

    I am glad you are moving forward. Always.
    Loving you,
    Lighty

    Reply

  5. You are so incredibly strong! I’m amazed to know you and glory in courage you have shown. What an amazing role model to your girls you are.

    Hugs

    Julie

    Reply

  6. I echo what Julie said. That’s just how I feel about you, too. Sometimes you say more by just being yourself than you could ever teach with words. Your girls will be fine because of you. *hugs*

    Reply

  7. Wow. Honey, I just don’t have words for this, except that I’m amazed at the strength you have and glad that’s not where you are now. And I’m glad your second daughter is finally allowing herself to feel her feelings, too. Sometimes you have to grow up a little to really understand them, and I don’t just mean kids.

    Reply

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