part fifteen

The baby cried ALOT. I was constantly worried that I was doing something wrong. R was not much help at all of course. My parents loved her but  my mom would come home from work, Erica would be crying and my mom would ask me “Why is she crying all the time?” Like I knew?

I have no idea exactly what R was doing (I just can’t remember) but when the baby was three weeks old, my parents sat me down and said “Trace, you’ve got to leave him. This is just not ok.” They had more to say but that’s what I remember most. I can still see my Erica Rose and what she was dressed in that day and I can quite literally hear those words from my parents. I know they were trying to help but they had no idea what kind of conflict that generated for me. I listened to them, then looked them right in the eye and said “I can’t.”

My mom looked at me in absolute disbelief and said “What do you mean, you can’t?” I just said “Mom, you don’t understand. I just can’t. I have a baby now and I have to make sure she gets into the new system of things. That is my job. I cannot leave him.” My parents didn’t want to let it go but they did.

I went back to the meetings when the baby was a week or two old. It didn’t feel very welcoming but I went anyway. I was always worried and nervous while there. What if the baby made too much noise? What if I wasn’t doing something right and everyone was watching me? We spent alot of time in the bathroom because my girlie was not happy. I kept thinking she was in pain but every time I took her to the doctor, they told me nothing was wrong with her. I somehow knew better but could find no one to listen to me.

Once while at the Kingdom Hall, this older elder walked up to me to chat. I was immediately wary because this guy was ummm…difficult. He spoke for a moment and then said “You know, maybe if you’d do better with that baby, your husband would come back to the meetings.” He also informed me that it was not ok for me to be living with my parents. I was grateful at the time to be able to use my husband as an excuse.

I struggled with severe post-partum depression. Looking back, I understand, but then, I was heartsick. I would hold my sweet girl while she screamed and sob at the same time. I felt so guilty. I loved that baby with everything inside me but I was not enjoying being her mommy. I cried all the time. She cried most of the time.

By the time Erica was 8 months old, I was convinced there was either something drastically wrong with her or there was something drastically wrong with me. One afternoon as she was screaming and screaming, I literally heard this voice in my head say “If you just throw her out the window, she’ll shut up!” I was so terrified that I took her upstairs, lay her in her crib, closed the bedroom door and walked back downstairs to sob some more. I knew I was having such a difficult time of it because I wasn’t doing what Jehovah wanted me to do. I just knew it.

During this time, R lost a couple more jobs and my dad was getting pretty sick of him. I’m not sure how many times my mom talked with me about R but now it seems like alot. The brothers and sisters in the congregation didn’t have too much to do with me either. I wasn’t disciplined or anything for living with my parents, but I wasn’t welcomed with open arms either. I knew it was because I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. I felt quite alone. The baby was still difficult but I was feeling a bit better. It is difficult for me to stay hopeless for very long. I always put on a good face and was never too aware of my feelings or connected to them. I think it made surviving easier. Of course, it’s a bitch now but we learn coping mechanisms as children for a reason.

We lived with my parents until Erica was 15 months old. R finally got a reasonable job and we found a house to rent and moved at last. We’d never been in our own home with our baby girl and I was excited but sad because I knew there would be issues with my parents now. When we got settled, I began attending meetings in our new congregation. I connected with several other young mothers and became close with a few of them.

We eased into our life as a little family. R had many violent episodes. There was no way to predict what would happen when. I was talked to a lot about my husband as if it was my responsibility to bring him to the Kingdom Hall. He was never held responsible for one of this actions. Not one. I was always told that if I was a better christian wife, he would do better. I always thought that if I could just be better and keeping the house clean, or the baby quiet, or whatever…that he would be different. I could never do it right enough.

My father-in-law continued to try making things difficult for us. There were rumors about me in several different congregations where he knew people. There were several meetings with elders about the various stories and while I was not officially disciplined, I was strongly cautioned about my behavior. R would alternate between being chummy with his parents and avoiding them totally. Whenever R would spend time with his family, he would come home spewing hatred towards me. In the 17 years R and I were married, never once did my FIL stop trying to break up our marriage and control R.

While I was pregnant with our second daughter, R’s episodes became closer together and more unpredictable. I kept it to myself for the most part because no one believed me when I would mention it. R was always so personable when anyone came over. R and I talked about it during his reasonable times. I continued trying to get him to the doctor. I was scared and worried and figured it was a place to start anyway. After the baby was born, R got a job driving long haul trucks. He would be gone for days at a time but he would also have fabulous insurance. I remained hopeful that once the insurance kicked in, I could convince him to go to a doctor.

The day after our insurance went into effect, R had a doctor appointment. This was the first time I heard the term Bi-Polar Disorder. Yes, I went to the library and checked out every book about it I could find. R ended up at the office of a psychiatrist and was told he needed to be admitted to the mental health unit of the hospital so they could try some medicine and monitor him. I was relieved that he’d be somewhere else but I was nervous because up until then I’d known psychiatry was discouraged for Jehovah’s people. Worldly influences were frowned on and the concern was that mental health professionals would encourage JW’s to do things contrary to Jehovah’s will. I felt guilty for being grateful someone else would deal with R for a few days.

to be continued

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2 responses to this post.

  1. {{{{{{{{Traci}}}}}}}}

    Reply

  2. I continue to be astounded…….at the nerve of the people who “grew you up,” married you, etc., but also at the wonderful strength you’ve developed in the process. Don’t know how you’ve done it, but very, very glad you have. You’re sumptin’, girl.

    Reply

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