When you are divorced with kids, there is typically that little thing included in the divorce decree that outlines a custody and visitation schedule for said kids.
You quickly figure out that even though you aren’t married anymore, you still have a connection with this person that you divorced, that you will for many years to come have to deal with them, or maybe a new spouse of theirs.
Most days, I know that it would not have been the right thing for them, We were unhappy, I was lost and depressed and oppressed and just … I think that if I had stayed, what good would it have done my children to watch that , and the fights as they grew up?
I would have probably plodded though a life made eventful only by occasional outbursts of violence, and constantly in search of something that I would never know was inside of me because if was hidden by the constant tape that played in my head that said I couldn;t do it right I wasn’t good enough and I was worthless that was put in place and on repeat by the voice outside of my head that said it to me all the time, no matter how hard I tried or how well I did, it was, and I was, never good enough.
As people, deep down we all fear rejection almost more than any other thing. Whether we know it or deny it, or think we are immune to needing validation from others, it is an inherent part of the human condition.
Over the years it has occurred to me that in our efforts to make sure we aren’t rejected. there are some who go to the extreme of doing everything in their power to cause the person they supposedly love the most to feel rejection, thus lose self-esteem, and ultimately never reject their tormentor because by the time that person is done with them, they actually feel lucky they could find anyone at all to love them. IN fact its a common utterance of abusers of all kinds,
You are lucky that I love you, no one else would put up with you.
You will never find another person to love you like I do.
If you would just listen to me, you wouldn’tt be so (stupid, inept, worthless, etc etc)
Even if you are a ware of what is happening, of the tactics and the abusers rhetoric, even if you think because you are aware of it, you wont be crushed by it, if you stay, you will.
Being able to name every time another piece of your soul was taken away, every incident that took your very spirit away, like the time your ex MIL sat you down and told you that she didn’t see any promise in you , as a wife or a mother, while your husband, her son, sat nodding his head, or the time you got your head smashed into a cupboard, or any of the other dozens of times, does not lessen their impact on your being.
You do not come out of it feeling less empty, worthless, or soulless just because you are able to see what is going on.
The very things that he said he loved about me in the beginning are the things he could not tolerate about me in the end. My sense of humor and optimism, my forgiving nature, intelligence,and willingness to stand up for what I believed was right. My spirit, my laughter, my love.
The sad thing is, the person who uses abusive tactics to try to prevent their own rejection, who needs to control others, who puts someone down to feel better about themselves or to kill another’s ability to think about leaving, to even think for themselves or dare to, loses the very thing that they wanted to hold onto more than anything. In my case, my experience, that has been the truth.
I would have tried harder to stay with my ex husband if he had not insisted on crushing my spirit. I never realized how badly he did until he was gone. He could not accept me the way I am, the way I was,
Once I realized that no matter what I did, even if I did it the way he wanted to have it done (it being whatever the issue at hand happened to be), he would never give that to me, I began a silent rebellion of tactics designed to push the envelope. If I felt the tension building to a place where it was bound to explode, I pushed harder to get it over with.
Apparently that is common. And it was subconsciously, not planned or plotted. At least until my therapist pointed it out to me. Then it was only because that is all I knew to do to get it over with.
Round we would go with it, him never once admitting that he hit me or hurt me or emotionally eviscerated me. Not. Once. Ever.
That is no kind of environment to raise kids. I would never have been whole. No kid needs a shell of a woman with a crushed spirit for a mother. No kid needs to see that their father is an abuser.
There are days that I forget this and wonder if I did my kids wrong.
They are few and far between but they are mostly connected to the days I have to put them on a plane and watch them go. It’s a tough thing to say if you are right or wrong not living in the same town or very close to it, that your ex lives in if you have to send the kids for visitation, I never have and it has been a theme with all of them, probably a grass is greener kind of thing.
Why can;t we live near dad. Then we could visit when we wanted and …..
That’s hard. It brings a lot of sadness and some guilt that your child is hurting and they are hurting because they don’t yet understand that you are a better parent for being a single parent, as messed up as that is, and that they too have a better chance of not continuing the cycle of abuse if they aren’t raised in the middle of it.
My ex husband is the one that left me. After I said I had enough and we went to counseling and I was pregnant with my youngest child and it just didn’t work. He found his highschool sweetheart, seems to have become a theme with me.
He left when my 5 yo Mr. C was only 3 months old and went far away. He did not see his kids again until Christmas break after Mr. C . turned one and then barring one trip he took 11 yo only for spring break, last summer was the first summer in four years that he exercised his right to summer visitation of 7 long weeks. First summer in four years he spent any significant time with his kids since the divorce and that first Christmas after.
I insisted. It was time.
Because how the hell do you tell a child that of course their daddy loves them when he hasn’t bothered to do more than send a toy store full of toys for xmas, when the kids want only to be with him? How do you console a child crying himself to sleep at night because they miss their daddy and hate you for divorcing him…,
How do you tell a child that their dad fought tooth and nail in court for a visitation schedule that included every single holiday on the calendar, plus birthdays, his and mine, to have the right to visitation every other year on said holidays, and 7 weeks in the summer, and then didn’t take advantage of not one single one of those days.
How do you try to explain to a child who never got more than a week with him at one years old that
yes darling, he is your dad too, same as 8 yo and 11 yo, I promise,
every time he refers to him as 11 yo’s dad.
How do you explain to them that if you had stayed Daddy would most likely have killed Mommy, if not literally, then surely metaphorically, spiritually. emotionally. ?
You tell them he loves them, that he is working a lot (true and aways the excuse for everything) that you are sorry that you and he could not work it out and that one day they will understand, you promise and that first thing in the morning, they can call their daddy and talk to him.
And then you go and cry yourself to sleep.
Last year that changed. He got remarried and other changes and I told him that he needed to take them, or lose them. Not by my doing, by his own …nondoing.
It wasn’t easy. Like giving up another piece of my heart. But it needed to be done.
And so that brought me back again to the airport, where I was already a pro at putting my babies on a plane and letting them go.
No matter how many times you do it, as you sit there and watch the plane back out of the gate, and wait for word its off, and then watch it leave the ground, the thought that you have put your babies, your very heart, onto a tin can hurtling through the air and only have blind faith and hope that it will make it to its destination without mishap, never goes away. Ever.
I used to sit in the airport and bawl openly. I couldn’t help it if I tried, so overcome with emotion and praying to the powers that be to please keep my babies safe.
As adults, we know the horrors that are possible and the thought of them being alone, and if the absolute worst and them frightened and wanting their mom… and knowing that if that happened, you are the one that put the whole thing in motion by not staying together, that you put them on that plane alone, that you are the reason they were ….
It is unfathomable. The worst feeling in the world. It is an emptiness and guilt and ..shame.
The more you do it, you only learn better control. I still cry buy not openly, I still feel empty but I smile, my throat constricts and as long as I don’t have to open my mouth to speak, so that there is a way for it to get out, I can keep it in and look like it’s all good and no big deal.
Last summer their older step sister flew out, and flew back with them. It made it a little easier, just to know they weren’t all alone. This year, well 5 is the age that you can start putting your child on a plane all by himself, and 8 yo and 5 yo did just that.
Tonight, they came home. I have felt anxious and out of sorts for days, worried that I didn’t put my time away from them to good use, and other things. Tonight as I sat at the airport, I realized when their plane pulled in to the gate that I felt none of that anymore. My babies were home safe and sound and all is almost as it should be. I felt like crying but it was more from relief than anything else.
I had a brief hope that I would get a surprise and my 11 yo would be with them. He stayed to live with his dad last year and doesn’t start school for another month. I had hoped that he could come back and stay here for a while, and he wanted to as well. I have not seen him since he got on that plane in June of 2011. Not once.
I wont go into details but I could not afford to buy him a round trip ticket… and I thought maybe since no one had made a big deal about it lately that he was indeed going to be there too. An early birthday present or something. Sadly it wasn’t so. But I still have hope I can do something to get him here in the next month.., I miss him terribly.
The moment your heart walks off that tin can that only moments ago was hurtling through the air, is indescribable. It is joy. It is love . It is Peace
They are home. my heart is almost whole. As whole as it will be for the time being until i figure out how to set other things right.
I still don’t know the answer if its better for the kids to stay together. I think no, but I watch my beautiful little girl, now a mama herself, struggle to keep a relationship with my grandson’s father together because she never wants to put her kid on a tin can to feel the way she felt, never wants to feel what I felt.
It breaks my heart and I want to tell her, baby, the chances of a tin can falling out of the sky are less than the chances of you being crushed, but how do I say the tin can is the price you pay for the return of your spirit and of you?
How do I tell her?
All is well, the little ones are tucked safely in their beds, the stars are aligned, there is Peace in the Valley, and all is ok again with my world.
At least for tonight.
Let them come bouncing in at some ungodly hour in the morning and it might get much less peaceful. But only for a minute, maybe two.
- Divorce, Custody and Visitation: When a Child Wants a Change (blogs.lawyers.com)
- Columnists: Dave Owens: Deconstructing the kind of daddy I am is simply child’s play (walesonline.co.uk)
- How do you move on in a healthy light from an abusive childhood? (ask.metafilter.com)
- At What Age Is It Best to Talk to Your Child About Not Having A Dad? (dangerouslee.biz)