Life is hard. For everyone. Sometimes it's a little harder for others. This post is going to be hard for me to write because it requires me to remember things that I have purposefully blocked because of the pain that always floods back when I remember. I touched base a tiny bit on the abuse from my past in this post, but today I'm going to start from the beginning.
I was raised with love. Love for family, love for friends, love for neighbors, love for strangers, and love for God. We were and still are a family that always accepted one another and stood by each other through everything. That included when I got pregnant at 17 years old. Were my parents shocked and disappointed? Yes. But, they moved past that and did what they always do, love me. Which is a good thing because I was a baby, having a baby...and I was very scared.
I never thought that someone could treat family any different than how I was raised until I met the man that fathered my child. It started like all relationships start, with a boy trying to win over the heart of a girl. Little did I know (even though I had been warned) that this boy had a dark and depressing past that caused him to not know how to love someone. Once I got pregnant, his true side started to show. Probably because he figured that I wasn't going anywhere now.
He started by convincing me that my family was out to ruin our relationship, and trying to isolate me from them. Abusers like to isolate. To make matters worse, I decided to marry this guy to "fix" getting pregnant while unwed. (FYI...don't get married just because you have a child with someone...it's not always the right answer). My mother cried most of my wedding day...not happy tears either. She was afraid for her daughter and grandchild.
Once we got married it go really bad. I was thrust into every responsibility known to man. If I didn't know how to do something, then I had better learn or face retribution. The checkbook (which I had never learned how to do before) had to be perfectly balanced, the house needed to be immaculate, dinner better be delicious and exactly what he wanted that day (since I was expected to be a mind reader) or it would be trashed and started over. He was to be waited on hand and foot, while I also took care of our son (and it was always him first, then the child).
Intimidation was his favorite method. I remember one time in particular that I decided not to back down (crazy I would have my own free will, right?) and he got inches from my face and started to scream and spit on me, my son (age 1 mind you) stepped in between us, and very bravely pushed his father away and reached up for me to keep his father away from me (his name means "brave protector" btw...I think that fits him). I remember another time when my son left a toy (a very heavy, metal toy) on the bedroom floor, which my ex tripped over, then picked up and flung at me because I did not pick it up...so I obviously caused him to hurt himself. On more than one occasion I got remotes thrown at me. He intentionally threw up on out bedroom floor and force me to clean it up because I needed to "learn to do that since we have a child". I was also in charge of shaving his back (not even joking), if I pulled a tangled hair or nicked him (which happened a lot since he has a massive amount of curly back hair), I was backhanded into the bathtub. Then forced to stand back up and finish without pulling or get backhanded again (apparently that was supposed to teach me to not hurt him?).
After a year of marriage, I had had enough and decided to leave. I already tried leaving before...sometimes he would hold our son hostage so I wouldn't leave, sometimes he would make promises to change so I would come back, and it would always work. But, one time, I got strong enough to stay gone. I had to do it while he was gone and quickly so he wouldn't try and take our son from me. I packed as much as possible as quickly as possible and called my parents to help me leave. He tried to make his usual promises about changing, but this time I was stronger and smarter. And once he realized I wasn't coming back, he went right back to his old habits...but this time, they were directed toward our son.
I hated sending him to his father. He would cry and hide every time that doorbell rang. I knew that he was hurting him, but I had no proof. Then one day, at 3 years old, my son was dropped off with my grandmother (she watched him while I worked) and she discovered bruises all over his backside. My dad took pictures and called me at work. The rest of the day both stood still and became a crazy blur at the same time. I know I went to court and got a restraining order, I went to the police to show them the proof, and I went directly to our pediatrician so that she could document everything for me. Then I called my lawyer and got the ball rolling. Now, if I were to post these pictures, you would think that he lost all rights. But he didn't. He took anger management and parenting classes and acted apologetic (like he always does when he's called out). And the court system decided to let this man have visitation rights to his child again. Fast forward 4 years, my son comes home with bruises all over him. According to my son, they were from his father repeatedly throwing a football at him and telling him that "if he'd catch it, it wouldn't hit him". I instantly did the exact things I had done before. This time, my son was old enough to give a statement to child services. But, according to them, he was so well spoken and mature with his responses, that someone had to have fed them the things he said. Needless to say, I felt let down by our system that's supposed to be protecting us. Eventually, my ex got limited visitation. And we have been going by the court ordered schedule since then. The physical abuse stopped, but, as most people know, abuse is not always physical. The mental abuse hangs on so much longer and does so much more damage, but it's a lot harder to prove.
My son has been counting down the days until he didn't have to see his father anymore. I have always been careful not to say bad things about his father. I never wanted to influence any of his choices about his dad. I wanted his decisions to be based solely on what he wanted without any pressure from anyone else. He confided in me that he wished to change his last name when he turned 18 (which honestly broke my heart because I couldn't imagine hating my father). He started resenting his fathers other children because they were being raised to be just like his father, so they tormented my son right along with him. He finally had enough, and got up the courage to stand up against his father, and he told him he never wanted to see him again. I have never been worried for, and proud of my child at the same time before. It's a strange feeling. I really wished that his father could see that he needed to change, but he hasn't yet. My son has been through more than most adults let alone children his own age has been through. His whole attitude has changed since he's made this very hard/scary decision. He seems care free and happy.
I don't know what the future holds. He might eventually come to forgive his father. His father might see where he has gone wrong and genuinely change (God can do anything right?). If and when we get there, I'll be here for my son because that's the way I was raised....and that's the way I will raise my family.