To me, this week has flown by! I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. Monday night, my sister picked me up and took me to 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, to attend “Celebrate Recovery”. People attend these groups for many reasons. I was there for domestic violence and co-dependency. My twin sister sat in the group with me. We were given Re:generation daily devotional books to work on throughout the week. One of my goals is to start spending more one-on-one time with God. I pray often, but I would like to know more about Him. The women that I have met are incredible. It’s amazing how similar some of our stories are, and how much I can relate to them. I can’t wait to go back next Monday night!
Tuesday, I met with my best friend from childhood, Kristin. We have been friends since the 5th grade. My husband never allowed me to have friends that he didn’t approve of, so we had been estranged for several years. I would see her every now and then, but nothing like the good ole’ days. We went to Target with her two little ones- I refer to them as my “niece” and “nephew”. They are ADORABLE.
I immediately checked out the #dollarspot and picked out all kinds of school-related materials for my classroom. I bought alphabet puzzles, a flag, alphabet and number decals for the wall, a teacher lesson plan book, a cute little pencil and apple holder, among other items. Nothing excites me more than shopping for my classroom. I love school. I always have, it’s my safe place.
Our get together was last minute, we did not plan for it. Storms that day were bad, but I was so excited to see her. I remember thinking to myself, “So this is what it feels like to just jump up, get dressed- and just go out.” I was never able to “go out” before. Not having to ask permission to go to a store… or feel guilty about spending time with a friend.
You see, things that people take for granted, things that are “normal”, were restricted to me. When I first left my husband, I found myself in a new world. What do you mean I can just go to the grocery store and choose what I want with my own money? I could buy my children the things they needed such as clothing and not have to worry about being “in trouble” about it later. My personal rights and freedoms were stripped from me. And I’ve recently taken those back.
Over the course of seven years, I had forgotten who I was, what I enjoyed. I was enslaved. I’m beginning to remember now. I loved to write. I loved photography, painting, and listening to music, baking. It’s all starting to come back to me.
After seven long years, I am, discovering Jennifer.
Wednesday, I met with my attorney in Athens to file for my divorce. It went very smooth. After discussing my case with her, she walked me down to Probate Court to get our documents notarized, and then to the Civil department at the Clerk of Courts Office in the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse. It was filed on July 12th, 2017, and the ladies at the desk said that they would walk the paperwork down to the Sheriff’s Department to have them serve my husband while he was still incarcerated at the jail.
As I drove on Highway 316 to get there, I listened to 104.7 The Fish on the radio. The song, “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again”, by Danny Gokey, came on and it brought tears to my eyes. “Thank you, Jesus, thank you”, I said aloud. He was speaking to me through the radio. There is no song that could have played that would have been as perfect as that one. I knew, I was doing the right thing. It was long overdue. It was time.
After filing for my divorce, I met with my DFCS caseworker. He called asking to see if he could swing by my attorney’s office so that we could catch up. I sat in his vehicle with the air conditioner running, out of the heat. For most people, I think the Department of Family and Children Services can be a frightening thing. For me, I feel as though they are apart of my team. We work together.
My caseworker told me that the boys were relocated to a different area than we had originally thought. I asked, “Are they still together?” He held his breath. I about freaked out. “Yes, he said, and smiled”. I responded, “Thank God, you had me worried!”. He smiled and told me that it had just been a long day. He said he was trying to work with other organizations on transporting the children for my visitations. As of now, we are discussing Saturday or Sunday’s as possible days. I’m entitled to visit them weekly. Of course our goal is reunification, and with my recent employment in teaching, this will more than likely happen quickly.
I told him a little bit about my job, and how I was attending “Celebrate Recovery” at my local church. I let him know that I met with my new therapist, and am approved for therapy sessions beginning the week of July 17th, 2017. He was of course, ecstatic about my divorce filing.
We talked about other ways that I could be supported. I will hopefully be receiving my case plan in the mail soon. I will be taking parenting classes and be subject to random drug screenings. – No problem there. I really think that this fresh start will be beneficial to the boys and myself. I know now, 100%, that as hard as it was to ask for help, I made the right decision.
Right before I was about to get out of his vehicle, he said. “I met with Dominick in jail a few days ago.” He stammered a bit, trying to think of how to word what he was about to tell me. “He said, he wanted me to relay you a message.” I sat there thinking, “Really, again?” “The main thing I think, he was getting at, is that he wanted me to tell you that he would support you if you chose to eventually retain back custody of the boys- he will not fight you.”
I was confused. I didn’t really respond to that, but later I thought, “I don’t need your support. I’m bringing my boys back home. He’s just trying to get to me again. He’s trying to be the ‘good guy’.” So, I let that go in one ear and out the other. I really don’t need his input.
So that brings me to today. I slept good last night, I think I’m just finally at peace about the direction my life is headed. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience the lifelong effects of PTSD at times, that will never go away.
I woke up and had a cup of coffee with my aunt. I listened to stories of her past experiences with domestic violence during her early teenage years. She had been through some very hard times. Like I’ve said before- it’s a vicious cycle. My aunt became emotional. I hugged her neck and told her- you too, are a very strong woman. You are a survivor. I would like to point out that the stories that were told were not of her deceased husband. My Uncle Nick, was and will always be, a good-hearted, loving man. He will always hold a place in my heart!
I don’t have any plans today. I will probably rest and prepare for my big day tomorrow. In less than 24 hours, I will face my abuser for the very first time since his incarceration. I will read my #survivor Impact Statement to the judge, in court. Tomorrow will be a LONG all day event. I have to be present for two hearings. One will be at 9:00 a.m. and the other will be at 1:30 p.m. Somewhere in between, I will meet with my attorney and my DFCS caseworker.
I know that God will be in that courtroom with me. I know that everything that’s meant to happen will happen. My stomach isn’t in knots, at least not yet. I just know, my gut tells me- everything will work out just fine.
I am empowered. I am brave. I am strong.
I’ve got this.