Due to safety concerns and an overall need to get away, I spent a week out of town after court. I enjoyed my time with family- swimming, walking around the shops, visiting Cade’s Cove, and writing. I bought the boys each a black bear from the Smoky Mountains (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee). I found a beautiful dreamcatcher that was colored white, pink, and teal- made from beads to give to my daughter.
As of now, I have a visit scheduled with the boys this week. I am extremely excited! I spoke with my caseworker a few days ago, and he gave me a basic outline of the requirements that I will need in order to obtain back custody. I am feeling very motivated, determined, and optimistic.
Officially, I begin school on July 31st for teacher planning. I decided to go in and work in my classroom to get ahead, and also because I know of a handful of upcoming court dates that I have coming up.
I’m keeping myself busy, which is a good thing. I’m still experiencing a lot of anxiety and restlessness.
My therapist came to visit me at school this week. She asked me to reflect upon fears that I have, and how likely they are to become a reality.
As I was driving home from my meeting at work last night, 104.7 “The Fish” radio station talked about fear, ironically.
I know that my God is speaking to me, telling me not to be afraid. I know this.
I don’t know how much sense I’m going to make, but here’s how fear affects my everyday life:
Some days, I feel strong. I feel like “yeah- I got this”. I’m not scared. “If God is for me, who can be against me?”
Other days, I re-live the violent episodes that consumed me every single day for seven long years. I seep into a deep depression that I feel is almost impossible to get out of. I’m scared. I can’t sleep, and have no appetite. My house would be in shambles, a complete disaster. If you don’t hear from me, then you know. You know that I’m gone. I don’t reach out. I don’t answer messages or phone calls. I don’t really want to talk to anyone.
I isolate. I want people to respond, but when they do- my anxiety strikes. It’s a never ending battle with myself.
What exactly is it that I fear? Well, I would say my abuser getting out of jail, but that’s already happened. I guess I fear being found. I know what happens when I’m found. My life was in constant chaos for a really long time. I don’t know if I would survive another round.
I am going through exactly what my mother did. The only difference, I’m 30 and I escaped. She passed away at 45-years-old. I think she grew tired. Someone once told me, “Your mom always said she never had to worry about you, you always had your head straight on your shoulders“.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I needed my mom. I still do.
And that’s my motivation for continuing my fight. My children NEED me, and I need them. I know what it’s like to loose a parent at a young age, and I don’t want my children to ever have to experience that.
I remember sitting in the office on the couch with the children’s advocate at the domestic violence shelter. After collecting information, I was told that my case caused significant concern. In some cases, women and their children would be forced to uproot to a town they have never been in before- out of state, somewhere far, far away. Some women have to change their names, their social security numbers. Some have to leave and never tell even their own family members.
They just disappear, as if they never existed.
I felt shock hit my system. I can’t be one of those cases. I can’t run anymore. I’m just too tired. For years, I dreamed of what it would be like living in my own little place, just me and my children. I would become involved with extracurricular activities, enjoy going to church and outings with friends. You know- normal stuff. I never thought it would actually happen though, it was just a dream of mine.
It crossed my mind. Running away to the other side of the country. But why? This is my home. This is where I will stay. My reality, is that I have an overwhelming amount of support, and as long as I am doing what I need to, and what is right- good things will continue to happen for me.
I spend every hour of my days doing something- I’m blogging, working, attending therapy, church, recovery groups, meetings, talking to DFCS, lawyers. I am constantly keeping myself busy.
I still feel a sense of loss. I feel a void.
I know that my babies are safe, so that brings me peace. I have a lot to look forward to.
For years, I felt like a burden. I felt extreme shame and guilt. I could never do anything right. I was never enough. But you know what? I’m proud of myself. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, but I am now.
I have come so far. I still have my days, but overall- I’m at peace. So, I’ve talked a little bit about fear and how I try and manage it.
I endured a lot those seven years, so my healing will take awhile. I still remember the fear I felt every time I angered my abuser. I still feel fearful at times, because it’s just what I know. I’m standing up for myself now. I’ve gained a voice and I’m advocating against abuse. I’m doing everything my abuser NEVER in a million years expected from me. So, yeah- that brings some fear.
I fear what happens if or when he finds me. I fear him getting to my children and that I’ll never see them again. I fear being set up or somehow tangled back up in his web of torment. People like him, they don’t just walk away. They don’t give up. That gives me a lot of fear and apprehension.
I fear him coming after me and killing me. How realistic is this? Well, according to my lethality indicators, it’s likely.
I’m going to go back in time to February-March of 2016. My abuser and his girlfriend hung a hammock up very high up off the ground on our patio area. He kept insisting that I climb in it. Afraid of heights, I objected. He kept on persisting, so I climbed up. He was already in it. As I heard what sounded like a chain snap, I started to say, “Did you hear…” but it was too late. I feel head first on the hard wooden floor. My body was bruised from front to back. I could barely walk. My abuser had jumped and his girlfriend, too. I was the only one who got hurt that day. I had my suspicions.
I went into work and tried to explain my injuries away. Instead of taking me to a hospital, they gave me something to knock me out. I don’t remember much after that.
I would hear conversations between my abuser and his girlfriend about their cocaine dealer, and how he had a record and wasn’t afraid to rack up more charges. I was always told that if you ever ratted these people out, they would come after you.
My abusers girlfriend- she put her own children in the trunk of her car one time. I remember her son confiding this to me. I noticed how grungy they looked, and I carried them towels and clean clothes to bathe. She said, “Why are you giving them baths? They are just going to get dirty anyway.” I had woken up early that morning to fix breakfast.
My abuser never helped with anything. He ridiculed me and put me down every chance he got. Once, he wrecked his boss’s car. His license was suspended because he was thousands of dollars behind on his child support. He asked what he should do.
I told him, well- just tell the truth. He refused. He acted almost like “how dare you tell me to tell my boss the truth!” He called the insurance company and forced me to say that I had been driving the car, so the company would pay for the insurance. I told this to the district attorney’s office, the victim advocate. My heart felt so heavy- I just knew that the longer I kept going back to him, the more risk I ran of loosing everything I had worked so hard for, including my very own life.
I had to walk on eggshells all of the time. I was exhausted because of the energy it took to “keep the peace”. I tried to keep the children quiet when he was home, to avoid his narcissistic rages. I would clean the house from top to bottom before ever sitting down to eat. Most days, I couldn’t eat because I was so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs.
Honestly, right now… I’m extremely fearful. I have two court dates next week. Tuesday, I will go to a DFCS hearing (which I am not worried about at all), only that he will be present. On Friday, I have a court date to address my motion for a permanent protective order. I feel like at this point, he’s very desperate. He has nothing left to loose. I start to get comfortable, and try to- because I’ve never felt this free before. At the same time, I’m worried that “getting comfortable” or letting my guard down will be opportunistic for him.
It’s draining. It’s emotionally and physically draining. I’ve been having to take my sleep medication at night, but I’m trying not to since it makes me feel groggy the next day. I’m happy, I’m content, and at peace- but I still have this nagging feeling in my gut. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being paranoid? But statistics show that an abused woman’s intuition is the strongest indicator of future violence.
I’m so used to thinking “worst case scenario”, but at the same time- I try and be optimistic. It’s confusing. But no matter what, I have to be prepared. I just want to know that my babies are taken care of, loved, and safe.
I just have to trust God that he will protect me. Whatever happens, will be His will, and I accept that.