Restoring Faith

Today was rough, but nothing a good cry and nap couldn’t solve! It’s Friday. I had a good day at work- as I always do. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just feeling down! Really, really down. It could have been triggers. It could have been my realization that I was doing too much, and had to let some things go… That sense of not living up to my own high standards and expectations. But you know what? It’s going to be okay.

My visit for Sunday was cancelled because of my case moving from Clarke County, Georgia to Gwinnett County, Georgia. This was a hard blow, and very devastating. As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again- these visits are so crucial for the boys and I right now. My understanding, is that there will be a recommendation for no supervision which will mean that the foster parents and I can work out my visits without a third party. This will be so much easier for us!

I drove home from work today, bawling my eyes out. I had the widows rolled down and my music turned up. My hair blew every direction, but I didn’t have a care in the world. I’m sure the banker thought I was some sort of character, rolling through to deposit my check- eyeliner streaming down my face.

I wiped my tears and put the best smile I could find. I went back and forth in my head on what to do. I decided just to go home. Upon receiving the message from my supervisor that my visit had been cancelled, I wrote an entry to vent on one of my domestic violence blogs. I messaged a few friends, and collapsed in my bed. I fell asleep, lights on and everything.

I woke up to a phone call from my two superheroes! Tony was out of school today because he has strep throat and croup. He tried to talk to me, but his voice was so hoarse he sounded robotic. Jake was able to chat, and we had a nice conversation. He told me that he wanted to make “sad decisions like daddy did”. I told him that I needed him to be better than that. “Make good choices, because sad choices result in consequences.” I told him I know he can be a “good guy”. By the end of our conversation he said that he changed his mind, that he wants to “make good decisions”.

I was so happy to hear this.

It makes me angry and sick to my stomach sometimes when I see how much of an impact my abuser had on our two boys, their emotional well being. On us. How could I have fallen for the lies- over and over and over again. Why did I think he would change? Why did I think I was even capable of making him be a good human being? All the signs were there. The entire time. But I turned a blind eye to all of them.

Secluding me from all of the family and friends I knew and had ever known. Taking my personal property and rights away. Stripping me of my own freedom. Who does that?

I remember in the Athens house, the night leading up to my hospitalization in April of 2016. My abuser had a group of his friends (who didn’t know me), come to our house. My abuser and his girlfriend and these “friends”, (drug acquaintances) came to what they called a “Prayer Circle”. Now, I’m not exactly sure how to put this, and I’m not trying to offend anyone.

But- I know that my abuser had no spirituality. And if he did, it was dark. He said he believed in good things, but his deeds would prove otherwise. Nonetheless, he has identified himself in the past as “Wiccan”.

I am a Christian, whole-heartedly. That never changed, although I lost my own sense of spirituality within those seven years tangled up in my violent relationship. It was my God, who helped me survive. He never left me. He was always there- waiting for me to accept his help. That night, I laid in my bed. My abuser came in first, and then the girlfriend. They told me just to stay in the bedroom. I can’t even tell you what was going through my mind, because all I know is I felt like I was dying.

I was skin and bones. I was constantly afraid. I looked in the mirror, and did not recognize myself. This was during the time period when I would get in my car to drive, not remembering where I was going or what I was doing.

I spent more of my time in a trance- dissociating from anyone and everyone around me. I remember feeling enraged. I pushed my bookshelf in front of the bedroom door, hoping to keep my abuser and his girlfriend out. They were setting me up to make me look like I was crazy. My abuser had called his friends- stating to several of them to not be surprised if I ended up dead from a suicide. He spoke of my death to them, and I never believed that until I actually heard it for myself. I went back and forth to him because I felt like I needed answers. One way or another- no matter how dangerous, I was going to get the answers so that I could find peace. I could move on.

I realized, that with a sociopath, you will never get those answers. And all it really took for me, was time. Time would tell everything. Time would tell exactly what was more important to my abuser. It wasn’t his wife, it wasn’t his kids. It was his reputation. It was his control.

His need to control was contingent upon his own survival. With that being taken away- he grew crazy. He talked about wandering the streets. He said he was heading to a hospital, when in reality… he was not. Cool, calm and collected. That’s what he was on the occasions that police would arrive for a “well-check”.  Nothing as described in the frantic messages that were always- “911 emergencies”.

Lies, lies, AND more lies. Manipulation. I told him- I told him the day that he slapped me as hard as he could across my face and called me every curse name he could think of- I told him that one day I would see to it that he would be exposed for who he really was. It was that day, his mask slipped. His intense build-up of rage filled as he stared me in the eyes. There was always something about his stare. His eyes looked black, and his gaze would pierce straight through me. You know that saying, “If looks could kill?” Yeah. Kind of like that.

The night of the “Prayer Circle”, I laid in bed, alone. I felt like I was up against an army. I saw no way out. I got down on my knees and crawled to the window that was sealed shut. I lifted the very bottom blind just enough so that I could peer outside. The last thing I needed, was for one of them to know that I was still up. I remember feeling so drained. It was almost like, what’s the worst that could happen? I asked that several times around that time period.

I watched my abuser hug, kiss, and be intimate towards his “girlfriend”. I watched as they, along with other friends stood at a campfire. Not that I wanted to be apart of this evil ritual, but this was definitely something I was not invited to. One of his friends, wrote me a letter. He left it for me to read but my abuser found it, and threw it in the fire.

I still wonder what that letter said.

My abuser would come in, banging on the door. It didn’t take much to bust through the door. That’s why I moved the dresser in front of it. But, I knew that would only last for so long. I remember him spitting in my face. Grabbing my arms and knocking me down to the floor. I was gasping for air. Out of shock and panic, I used every bit of my energy to take the dresser and knock it down right in front of him, as to make it harder for him to get to me. He stopped and stared at me.

He left the room.

That was the last thing I expected. I ran to my children’s bed and climbed in under the blankets with them. I overheard him talking to his half brother about my “mental illness” and how crazy I really was.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

As I laid in bed, they talked by the fire. I felt this heavy pressure, almost like even if I wanted to get up, I couldn’t.

I was in shock.

There were times when I was in so much pain, I prayed to God just to let me die.

Looking back, I don’t see how I could have ever wanted that. Maybe I was just desperate for help.

Rewind about a year earlier. We were living in a house in Barrow County, Georgia. This was the same home that would be searched by members of law enforcement. My abuser, a convicted felon, kept several guns in the house. I recall him owning a shot gun, and a handgun, although I can’t remember what it was called. He would use these weapons at times to intimidate. I remember shaking as he held one to my head before. “Pop”, he’d say. He would smile. How was I supposed to know the gun wasn’t loaded? And what if by chance it had been? He was reckless, and careless.

My abuser would use the gun as a way to control me even more than he already did. He took “mind control” to a whole new level.

He would gently drag the gun to my chest, slowly down to my private areas, caressing each leg.

Grabbing my head and pulling my hair, he would force me to perform oral sex on him. I felt as though I had no choice. And I didn’t.

I did things that I am not proud of. I said things, to my abuser- to survive. My life for seven years was spent in a state of survival.

Honestly, I have no idea what my future holds for my children and I. I know it will be successful. I know it will be bright.

Despite everything, I am humble. I am more appreciative of my life than ever before. I don’t take things for granted like I used to. I still struggle to understand, why?

Although I know that question is irrelevant, and I know it will never be answered.

God has bigger plans for my life, more than I could have ever imagined. I have always felt connected to a higher power. Even as a child. To this day, I know that there is a purpose for everything that has happened.

While I may not see it right now, as the next couple of months continue to unfold- I will understand.

My faith is restored.

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“Mothers Be Good to Your Daughters, Daughters Will Love Like You Do”

9/11/01. The day that America will always remember and hold close to our hearts. I remember exactly where I was that day. My mom picked me up from Dacula High School for a counseling session. As the buildings were hit by the planes, I was in the counseling office watching the TV. It was hard for me to grasp what happened that day, back then.

Our school was on lockdown.

I was living at my father’s house at the time. My mom picked me up early to go to a therapy appointment for sexual abuse that happened to me as a pre-teen at the hands of my step-father. I only attended one or two sessions, they were extremely inconsistent.

My mom worried about me a lot. At that time, she had divorced my step-father and had none of her kids living with her. My sister and I did not reside with her, and it wouldn’t be long before my brother would end up living with my step-father, his biological dad.

I remember riding on the long car rides to pick up my brother for visits sometimes. I remember how she would barely talk to me. She would cry, tears rolling down her face, but she never said a word. Still, as I drive a good distance to visit with my own two young sons, this is a constant reminder for me. This was her life, just different circumstances.

I felt so much guilt. I felt I was to blame for her divorce, losing her house because she could not afford the payments on her own. I felt like if it weren’t for me, she would have her kids. My mom wasn’t a bad mom, she just didn’t know how to be a mom, really. Just like me, it’s a learning process.

Not only that, but she did not have a concrete support system. She was a home-body and did not like crowds. She had a few good friends that she worked with, and ones that she could call on the telephone and talk to. Other than that, I never remember her having strong ties outside of our home.

My step-father was abusive to her. I recall watching him choke her one time. I was awoken out of my bed from sounds of my mother crying.

I witnessed his hands grasped around her throat, holding her up against the wall. Screaming, yelling. I felt frozen. I was in fear. For her, for us. As my younger siblings slept soundly in their beds, I watched, holding my hands to my mouth, trying not to breathe too loud.

I wanted to run and fight him off her. I wanted to help my mom. But I couldn’t move. I don’t even know how old I was at the time.

They didn’t seem like they were in love. In fact, I only recall constant turmoil. My step-father was, an alcoholic.

I was too young to remember when they were married, but from the photos, I looked very sad.

He drank- a lot. He would get loud and listen to music to where the house would shake. I remember their parties. I remember asking my mom if I could go to bed. I was so tired.
I wanted that mom who would hug me. I wanted that mom who would tell me she loved me. I needed that and I never had it in me to tell her that. I felt betrayed in a way. I felt like drugs were more of a priority than we were. And don’t get me wrong, I love my mother- but it’s just how I felt.

I believe that my grandmother was the same way to my mom. I’m going to assume that my mom learned from how she was raised. She had no idea how to talk to us. Oftentimes, I felt ignored. I caught myself exhibiting the same behavior early on.

Avoidance.

At the counseling session that my mom took me to, I felt uncomfortable to talk in front of her. It was almost like I didn’t know her.

It would take me several years to even start trying to bond with her. It wasn’t until I became pregnant, age 16, that we began a relationship. I longed for her acceptance to the extreme of paying my own child support, unknown to others- so that not only would she stay out of jail, but so that she could see me. While pregnant and attending high school, I would pay her out of my minimum wage income to bring me to her house for the weekend so that she could be active in my life.

As a child, I would see all the other kids and their families. How happy they seemed. Each morning this one mom would stand outside as her daughter left for school. I would watch out the window as she would hold her hands up forming the “I love you” sign.

Secretly, deep down; I always wished that could have been me.

I felt misunderstood.

I felt like love and affection had to be earned. And this may explain why I ended up in some of the situations that I did as a teenager and young adult. Even now, I still struggle with this.

Taking this into consideration, I am lucky. I never realized my potential, my self-worth until fleeing my own violent relationships. I did everything I could to fit somewhere. I tried to belong- at any cost.

And now I know the devastating consequences and effects of this. My mom left her abuser, but it was too late. She was not strong enough to rebuild. She did not have it in her anymore. I was there, with her when she died. I remember telling her, “Mama, your going to be okay.” Once those words came out of my mouth, I felt a knot in my stomach. I looked at her as she laid in the hospital bed and watched her shake her head “No, not this time.” She knew she was dying. And I tried to tell her differently, but my heart knew- that strong intuition within me knew- that she was not going to survive this time.

All those years of resentment I felt towards her. It’s the same that I will one day face with my own children, especially my daughters. It doesn’t matter how I got here, how long it took, or what it took- the bottom line is that I did #breakthecycleofabuse.

And I never gave up.

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