Life, Love, Long Hair, Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth, and other mysteries

All this and more, from a semi-Serbian, slightly sane, former editor for physicians and surgeons, who is the mother of seven kids.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Why I Escaped and From What Did I Escape?

Why I Escaped

Why I Escaped
AND
From What Did I Escape?

Copyright 2005, 2012 "Steenybopper"

This only begins to tell the story. Much more detail exists still hidden, to be revealed as time and healing permit.


September 11, 2005 - (With addenda beginning March 2007)

To give you some detail, I will try to condense the long story which spans 20 years. And even this is only the tip of the iceberg. As time and healing permit, I may be able to write more.

Right after I escaped from X, he went to court ex-parte, which means he went without my knowledge, let alone my presence to defend myself. He told the judge that the reason he was doing it ex-parte was because he didn't know where I was and he feared that if I had custody of the kids I would take them and run to "who knows where."

Backing up a bit: I "escaped" from him?

By January 2004 he was watching my every move, knowing I was to the point of wanting to leave him for good. (I'd tried several times in the past, having been with him for a total of 18 years, since we were teens.) He watched my e-mail conversations, listened to my phone-calls, wouldn't let me go to town with all four kids and wouldn't leave me alone with all four either.

I'd already taken the four kids with me to a women's shelter in November 2003 and it was there that I decided the marriage was completely over. However, while we were in the shelter, X begged and pleaded for me to come home. I was confused. I hated him and feared him, yet my particular brand of Christian teaching told me that if I divorced I'd be an adulteress. I was finding, however, that that is not correct interpretation of Scripture.

During the months prior to that trip to the women's shelter, some of the members of the church with whom I had fellowship took it upon themselves to study whether or not it was right for one of the women to contemplate marriage to a divorced man. The woman in question was a friend of mine so I took a personal interest and studied it for myself. The more I read, the more I began to see that something wasn't sitting right with my previous assumptions about divorce and remarriage.

A turning point was learning that the Greek and Hebrew words for "divorce" and "put away" are NOT interchangeable. It made everything so much clearer to me and I began to feel hope. Up until then, all I had to look forward to in life was X's death or mine.

During the first five years with X, there was a lot of physical violence. The most severe cases resulted in my ear-drum being ruptured, my nose to have a deviated septum, and most recently I have learned that one of the assaults -- him throwing me face-first into a wall -- is responsible for giving me osteoarthritis in my neck. Even though that particular incident took place in the late 1980's, I had not gotten x-rays till the sporadic pain attacks got to the degree that they became. All those years, the pain was growing. The symptoms were there but I didn't realize what it was... I thought it was due to pregnancy and then working out, or a poor mattress, or "tension" headaches in my neck and head.

Some people wonder what I did to make him so mad. I was always very careful to try NOT to make him mad. Sometimes I couldn't keep quiet and would pipe up to defend myself and that only made him more angry.

The most I ever asked of him, and I did it very gently and kindly so as to not make him feel like I was nagging him, was ask him to take the kitchen trash out to the garbage can, and even for that I sometimes received his wrath.

So, it wasn't nagging on my part. In fact, it was him who nagged me. Most often it would be him getting after me about some perceived imperfection in my housekeeping. Even though people who visited often complimented us on what a pleasure it was to be in our warm and hospitable home, and how organized I seemed to be, X would find things about which to berate me. If he complained about dust on top of the door-frames, I'd be sure to cover that area. Then he'd find something else obscure another day.

I felt such fear at the sound of his truck coming down the driveway after work, never knowing if he would have a snide word to say to me, or treat me with the cold shoulder, or surprise me with a rare smile and hug. Stupid me at the time, I hung on for all those years because of the occasional scrap of positive attention, thinking, "Maybe he'll change."

In 1997, I talked to a telephone counselor at Focus on the Family. I told them how I was trying and trying to be a "good wife" but no matter what I did, I always fell short of the expectations of the one to whom I was married. I was blaming myself and asking how to make myself better, but the counselor turned it around as they asked me questions and came to the conclusion of a blunt, "You're being verbally abused and you need to get yourself and your children out of there to an emotionally safe place."

I'd never heard of the term "verbal abuse" before. I figured that since he had, for the most part, stopped hitting me, I was no longer being abused. I talked to X about what the counselor told me, and he said he would try to treat me better. But things kept on in what I now know to be the "abuse cycle."

I started looking into "verbal abuse" in books from the library. One that I borrowed was "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans.

A few years later, after we'd moved to a nice house in a different town, things were still bad. I borrowed more books from the library there, and again the Patricia Evans one cropped up, so I read a bit more of it than the first scan I'd done. When I read the part that told me to ask myself if I still want to be being treated this way in five years, in ten years, etc, it struck me that things probably weren't going to change. As I think back to the night I sat and read those words, I see that they indeed did not change.

Yet I still stayed. Hating my life more each day, I found out that I was clinically depressed. I went on antidepressants, which seemed to help after a few weeks. When the entire several month course of medication was finished, my doctor let me go off of them. I was fine for a few weeks, then slowly started to sink back into depression. The doctor put me back on Zoloft.

In 2000, I became pregnant with my fourth child. The entire time, I was on Zoloft. It helped me cope, but I began to think that my depression wasn't something that could be fixed by medication, because, as I said it, "How can I medicate away an abusive situation?" I began to tell my doctor a little bit about the type of relationship I had with X. One day, I wrote my doctor an e-mail, explaining that I was making detailed plans to leave X, even citing some "for rent" ads for houses I was considering for the kids and me.

My doctor was also a close friend of my whole family, so he knew X. Well, he knew the side of X that X wanted him to see. X is like a chameleon -- he quickly becomes like whoever he wants to be, depending on what he can get out of that person. Why, then, did he become so controlling around me? Perhaps he knew there wasn't much he could get from me because I was already giving him everything I could give. I carried four children. I home-schooled the school-aged ones. I baked all our bread from flour I ground myself. I cooked and baked and laundered and oversaw a farm and entertained guests and met his sexual desires and on and on, but it was never acknowledged nor enough.

Yeah, yeah, this sounds like a sob story. Or should I not be saying such a thing? I don't know. I’m just learning about things such as self-esteem, my value as a person, and how to be assertive. I spent so many years being told that my feelings didn't matter, implicitly as well as explicitly, that I am not sure what is a healthy way to "be". Any time I had a problem, I had a hard time bringing it up because X would say things like, "Wah wah wah, stop feeling sorry for yourself. You have so much to be thankful for. Why can’t you be more like so-and-so’s wife? She obeys her husband and look how happy they are. Aren't you EVER happy?"

So I'd have to be very careful about what I said, the manner in which I would say it, to whom I would speak, and when I would even be safe to talk to him. And he forbade me to tell anyone about our "problems" so when he found out I'd told our doctor, he blew up and accused me of "hitting on" him. He said things like, "That's how the doctor will take it, that you're hitting on him, by letting him know that things aren't so good in your marriage, to let him know you're available."

The doctor also happened to be the elder in the small church fellowship with which we met, and he asked me if I would mind if he spoke to X, to try to come to some kind of understanding, to offer some help, to let him know some of my concerns I'd mentioned in the e-mail. I gave him the go-ahead to share the whole e-mail with him if he wished. I was at the point where I just wanted to get far away from X, and didn't care how he was going to react. So, that is how X found out I'd told the doctor.

Anyway, we had "marriage counseling" from that doctor, which I now know is contraindicated in relationships where there is abuse and control. Looking back, I can see why. The things we discussed in the sessions troubled me because X never revealed the full truth about how he treated me, and I was afraid to tell the whole story. So the advice we got was like getting the wrong kind of medicine for the illness at hand. We were told to read the Bible together more. OK, so we did. And when I would try to ask a question, X would tell me that it was not my place to question things because he was the spiritual leader. I was not told kindly. I was shushed by X with an angry look on his face, which cut me to the heart (after having had it done thousands of times over the years, it no longer rolled over my head).

I was told by the doctor to anticipate X's arrival after work and to try to make the home as comfortable for him as possible. Well, I had already been doing that all along, knowing that if things weren't quite to his liking, I'd have to hear his negative words in a disgusted voice that made me feel two inches tall. The kids, too, had learned that when you hear Dad's truck, you scramble to tidy up....OR ELSE! None of us liked to hear his anger or sarcasm. It kept us all on edge much of the time.

So when something wasn't quite to X's liking, after the counseling (we had three or four sessions together with the doctor, once a week), X would refer to something the doctor had said and throw it at me, like, "You're supposed to be making things better for me when I come home after a hard day at work." If the kids were being wild or noisy or fighting, it would reflect on me as "not doing my job as a parent", although when I was home with them I was forever trying to mediate fights between them, spanking when necessary, praying with them, meting out negative consequences and positive reinforcement, trying to establish schedules, get them going on their school and chores or whatever, meanwhile also trying to make time for fun with them.

I felt so guilty about not getting to do as many fun things with the kids as they wanted -- they were always asking me to come out and jump on the trampoline, or go for a walk to the hay field or the creek, etc. I'd say, "As soon as I finish this chore, I'll be there..." then another chore would crop up, and next thing I knew it was time to cook dinner, and if dinner wasn't ready when X got home, I knew I was in for bad news, either in the form of silent treatments and cold shoulder, or sarcasm, or outright criticism.

I always had to try to foresee whatever would prevent further pain to myself, yet telling myself, "Your pain doesn't matter. This is a labour of love. Don't think bad thoughts about your husband." Then so many other times, as tears crashed to my pillow, I'd wrench out the thought, "I HATE HIM! I WISH HE WOULD DIE, OR I WOULD DIE, SO I CAN BE FREE."

I'd been taught, by Christians with whom I associated, that we should never say bad things about our husbands. Therefore, I resisted telling other women in the church about what I was going through.

Finally, however, I couldn't hold it in any longer and I opened up to one woman. I felt I could trust her because she had told me she had been abused by her former partner. She left the abuser and married a man who treats her like the woman he loves, and she loved to let everyone know it. I couldn't believe that he was really as nice to her in secret as he was in public, and so I asked her about it. She assured me he truly treated her with respect.

I was becoming cynical about men in general, almost believing that they were all secretively controlling and abusive. (My dad had been the same with my mom -- being nice to the outside world, but yelling and violent within the family. I now realize that is part of the reason I ended up with an abuser myself.)

Well, by early 2003, I was really struggling with "should I stay or should I go." I'd tried to leave a few times in the past, but always went back out of sympathy for the children. They love their dad. I can empathize with them because I love my own dad, and loved him even when he was mean to my mom and to me and my sister.

But it got to be more than I could stand. The hypocrisy was driving me crazy.

We held a small group Bible study in our home on Monday nights. Almost every time (not that even once is OK), right up until the minute our guests pulled into the driveway, X would crack the whip at me with harshly spoken orders, and often he would yell at the kids too, to get the house ready. We'd usually already gotten it ready, but he wanted it even more perfect. One time, he raged at me, calling the kitchen a disgusting mess. I went in there to see what he was talking about and all that was "wrong" was I had left a recipe book neatly lined up on the corner of the counter (because I planned on using it again very soon) and the dish soap was pushed about eight inches away from the sink's backsplash instead of right back behind the sink. I remember the details because I went to my room to write about it afterwards while waiting for the guests to arrive.

By the time the guests would arrive, most of the time I was still laying on the bed, recovering from the verbal assault I'd just endured. X would sometimes come in and issue a hurried apology, saying he wishes he could control his temper and he is so sorry he went overboard and that I was a wonderful woman who didn't deserve someone like him, yadda yadda yadda. It had long ago turned into "yadda yadda yadda" in my ears, having heard it over and over and never experiencing lasting improvement.

Yet the Christian woman I am whispered to me, "Forgive. Seventy times seven." I was feeling guilty for not being able to forgive.

So, I'd muster up the strength to get off the bed and walk to the living room to greet our guests. When asked if I was OK, I'd usually say, "I'm just tired." Except one time I couldn't do it anymore. One man asked how I was doing and I said, "Don't ask."

X piped up in a mockingly guilty voice, making light of the situation, "Yeah, she's mad at me. I admit it." I went about the kitchen doing more work, putting away dishes and stuff. X then ordered me to come sit down, as he often did when the study was about to begin, as if to demonstrate his "leadership" to the guests. Usually, I'd put on the dutiful wife act and pretend to be what he'd call "submissive" and demurely sit down on the couch.

But that time, I sarcastically said, "Oh? You mean you want me to stop CLEANING?"

The guests heard it, and I wanted them to hear it. I was dying to let people know, aching to ask for help, but didn’t know how.

The wife of the man who'd asked how I was doing later slipped me a card with a note to say she understands what I'm going through and that she is praying for me, yet also added words to the effect of, "But at least we have what Rebecca dearly wishes she had."

When she mentioned our friend Rebecca, I knew she was referring to "a Christian husband." Rebecca made no secret about bemoaning the fact that her non-Christian husband treated her like dirt. We all felt so bad for her -- yet there was I, being abused by a husband who claims to be a Christian, who was and is regarded by many as a fine, upstanding citizen, and nobody knew the reality of it but me and the kids and a few select witnesses.

So, when I got the courage to leave, I was disbelieved. After all, how could that fine, upstanding citizen be abusive?

By the time I left with the four kids in November 2003, I fully hated X. I felt guilty about hating him. Not supposed to hate people. Couldn't make myself love him, despite years of praying to love him as I believed I ought. I even used to tell people that I loved him, yet I knew it was a lie. When I try to pinpoint when I stopped loving him, it's hard to figure out. Then I question whether I ever actually loved him, or was it just youthful lust and imagination, dreams of what could be, wanting to make a good relationship happen?

When we went to the women's shelter, I didn't know anyone in that town other than a man I knew through mutual friends who had a few months prior relocated there from my old town. I had grown attracted to him over previous months, but didn't know the depth of his feelings for me. He knew I was married so didn't show any obvious interest other than to be a friend with whom I would often joke around and laugh.

A whirlwind of stuff went on in the next few weeks. I phoned this man friend, W, and let him know I was divorcing X. W came to talk with me at the women's shelter, being a kind and understanding listening ear. He could very much relate to things I told him, as his parents had similar problems and he was abused himself by them, and then by his old girlfriend. (I had heard about the way his old girlfriend treated him, from mutual friends. Eventually I talked to her myself and she told me she was indeed abusive to him but that he is a really good guy.)

W had learned a lot over the years he spent being out of the abusive relationship, working on himself with self-help books and some counseling, learning about how to deal with past pain and stuff. Books and tapes by John Bradshaw played a large part in his healing, and he shared a lot of that knowledge with me.

W and I soon realized that we were very compatible and that the attraction I had for him was mutual, and that it was more than attraction. It is love like neither of us believed was possible in real life. We had found the one for each other and both believe that God allowed all the things that happened in our lives so that our paths would cross when they did and that we would be drawn to each other at that time.

W and I share so many things in common, including our desire to grow spiritually, and to learn and apply all we can about healthy communication and building each other up. He's had a lot more years of healing than I have, which has been so very helpful to me. I almost feel like it's unfair that he has to wait for me to catch up on my own healing, yet he doesn't see it as any form of competition and accepts me for who I am. He understands the stage in which I am, for he has been there himself.

W takes joy in helping me, watching me grow, the way I take joy in watching my children learn and grow. And I take joy in helping W (he has mild dyslexia and I help him with improving his reading), never feeling like I "have" to do anything out of obligation but rather taking pleasure in doing things for him because I love him and will do whatever I am able. And I think that is what submission is all about -- willingly giving yourself in love to another person, not because someone orders you to bend to their will. I do it for him and he does it for me.

W had lost a job he'd had for eight years at a mill that shut down. Lots of former employees were left without work. He was just getting back on his feet after several temporary jobs. Then when he "got together" with me, and X got wind of it, X phoned his room-mate and told him, "W is hanging around with MY wife."

The room-mate didn't realize I had settled it long before in my heart that the marriage to X was over. He didn't even know me, and only barely knew X from meeting him a few times at church. The room-mate told W that he can't live with him anymore because spending time with me was "wrong."

So W was without a home in winter, sleeping in his little pickup truck up the road from the women's shelter, going to work each day and trying to save up enough money to establish his own place.

X fluctuated between threatening me and begging me to return to him. A few days after I'd left him, he came to the town where we were and begged me to come home. I refused, wanting to have time to figure out what I needed to do, and to rest. I had had little sleep with four kids in a bedroom at the shelter, the youngest having just turned two at the time so he still needed naps, around which we attempted to order our days.

The older kids were bored in the shelter, and I told X that if he could take one or two of them for a few days, I could get some rest and then I'd return (but my plan was REALLY that I'd take all the kids and leave for good, but I couldn't tell him that for fear of what he might do to stop me. And I didn't yet know HOW I would get all the kids. I needed time to think without being yelled at and followed and watched by the crazy X.)

X said he'd take all the kids or none. I did not want to go back with him. I hated him beyond words. I had years ago grieved the loss of the relationship and already cried every tear I was going to cry for him. And now I was in love with W.

A few days later, it got really cold and I couldn't stand the thought of W sleeping in his truck in the snow. We decided to get a hotel room, confident that we were both mature enough Christian adults to not give in to temptation before we were legally married. We shared the same convictions about "waiting till marriage." We did fine the first night. The snow hadn't let up so we stayed a second night. That's when we couldn't resist any longer. Long story short, we went further than we thought we would and I became pregnant. But before I learned for sure that I had conceived a baby, W and I already knew that we wanted to be together forever. We knew that before we ever even went beyond a hug.

Several days later, I went back to my old house, hoping to convince my kids to come with me. They were pretty stressed over the fact that their parents’ marriage was breaking up. They saw and heard their dad with all his begging and alternating jumping up and down and pounding counter-tops and yelling horrible names at me.

I didn't want to ruin the kids' Christmas so I stayed till after the planned family visit to X's parents’ place was over. I had told X I'm pregnant with W's baby. X was very upset, told me to abort, then told me to lie to everyone that it was his baby and he'd raise the child. I silently screamed, "NO NO NO! NEVER!" keeping it hidden in my heart what I planned, which was to escape with the kids as soon as it was possible and safe to do.

But X kept a close eye on me. He read all my e-mail conversations and listened to all my phone calls. He never let me take all four kids to town with me, and when he went out he'd never leave them all home with me. He followed me from room to room. I couldn't stand the sight, sound, or smell of him, and I'm not trying to be funny. I literally gagged at the smell of his breath and cringed at hearing his voice. To look at him made me feel sick so I avoided contact with him. I slept on the couch for the entire six weeks it took me to escape.

The day I made a break for it was a Sunday when X took two of the girls to church with him. I stayed home, sick with the pregnancy, with my little son (X never took the kids out with him when they were very young -- they were expected to stay with me). The oldest girl had been staying at the home of some of our church friends because her violent outbursts were more than any of us could handle, and she was furious at me for becoming pregnant by another man. She had hoped her dad and I would "work things out" but she saw this as the last straw.

X put on quite an act, trying to convince me he was going to change and that he could be a good partner for me and offer me all the love and compatibility W offered me. Yet when I failed to respond, he would fly into a rage. He would eventually apologize and resume the act. At one point, he tried to take one of my journals from me in which I was writing. I told him not to touch my property. He said, "It's not yours. I paid for it. And if it comes down to it, it'll burn. It'll ALL burn. I am fully willing to accept you back into this relationship, but if you leave, you are enemy number one."

So the day I was able to leave, a lady from the local women's center was going to come pick me up and drive me to the Greyhound so I could go back to the shelter. I phoned W to let him know. He had the evening off work so he drove up and got me and my little boy, and as many of our belongings we could stuff into the back of W’s truck, and covered it all with a tarp to keep out the snow.

I did all this while knowing that X would be gone overnight. He had called me from church to tell me he was taking the girls to another town (the town where the women’s shelter is located) so that they could get to enjoy a waterslide and pool at a hotel, seeing how he'd taken our oldest daughter on a bus trip with him earlier that month. I later found out that this overnighter at a hotel was just an excuse for him to get to a lawyer.

Then another thing I found out later was that the reason he hired that lawyer was because he was planning on going to court without me, to get custody of the kids, as he did within a couple days of my leaving. He got interim residency and I had to send my son back to him. My son got put in daycare and my three daughters got put into public school, all against my will.

When X told the judge in the ex-parte court hearing that he had no idea where I was, he was lying. The number for the women’s shelter appeared on the phone bills -- incoming from myself with the calling card and collect from the payphone, as well as direct-dialed from his place -- at least once a day, for more than a few minutes each time – I have copies because the phone was still in my name -- on the days before, during, and after court, yet he never told me a thing until I found out when I went to the court house myself to apply for custody to protect the kids from possible vengeful acts by their angry father whom I feared.

During my first days at the shelter, I was so confused, sick, tired, and running all around town trying to get things figured out with Legal Aid, Welfare, housing, etc., and I had no idea I had to go to the court house until a friend told me about it several days later.

I never had any intent to run to "who knows where" nor to keep the kids from X. I just wanted to have interim custody to be sure I could continue homeschooling them and have them safely and legally removed from the home to partake in counseling for children who've witnessed abuse and until the whole custody issue could be worked out. I had all these good intentions like, "Well, I may hate X, but the kids still love him and need a positive relationship with him, so I will give him reasonable and generous access." But he had other plans.

It was several months later that I learned of such a thing as "Parental Alienation." Whether it is an official "syndrome" or not, the signs are blatantly there in my now 11-year-old daughter who hasn't spoken to me since January 2004, other than to swear at me and call me names and say "I hate you."

This daughter, CJ, knew I was pregnant with W's baby. X had blurted it out loudly to the kids after I told him. I didn't want to tell him till the kids were safely away and my doctor was present (he was on his way to our house to be there for the telling, but X got suspicious when I told him the doctor was coming over, and he asked if I was pregnant, so I had to say yes.)

CJ, then nine years old, had been taught indirectly and directly by me and others that divorce was wrong and remarriage, too, was wrong. That was what I had been led to believe through traditional teaching of the Christians with whom we associated. But with my new understanding of what the Scriptures really say, I wanted to explain what I was beginning to learn but didn't yet know how to put it in terms a nine-year-old could grasp.

All I could do was reassure CJ that I love her no matter what, and I told her I am very sorry for having not gone about things in the order in which I believed to be proper and getting pregnant while not yet being married to W. I asked her what her feelings were on what I had done, and she said she didn't really understand but that she did forgive me.

It was only a few weeks between the day CJ learned of my pregnancy and the day that I left X for good. CJ still hugged me, sang and danced with me, prayed with me, and even kissed my belly goodnight as she had done with the other two babies I carried since she was born. But when I left her dad, her affection for me died. She turned bitterly angry, echoing words she surely must have heard from her dad, things like, "You ABANDONED us." US. Like not just X, but ALL the kids as well.

Yeah, I know, some say it sounds like I left a marriage "for another man," but I cannot emphasize enough how dead the marriage was. Try as I did, I had no success in forcing myself to stop hating X any more than I could force myself to stop loving W when he entered the picture.

I've even had some people tell me that I am to forsake my relationship with W, based on some erroneous interpretations of the Bible, and live alone for the rest of my life. (More information on that in another writing - here:
http://thanksgiving2003.shawwebspace.ca/pages/view/what_the_bible_says_about_divorc/ )

W and I now have nearly two years of love for each other. We communicate together in a loving and respectful way, the way all people should communicate. Never do we use harsh tones or accusations or manipulation or any of the other negative things that were a "normal" part of my life with X.

W and I laugh together every day. Contrasted against my past with X, it is like black and white. Quite the opposite occurred with X as he would deride me for laughing too loud or too much, criticize the way I laughed, so I would have to stifle my sense of humor. Not that I had much chance to laugh when he was around anyway, the mood was always so somber and touchy.

I have learned through the relationship with W that not all men are secretly abusive, and that true love does exist. We would have gotten officially married long ago if not for X's insistence upon making me "pay" for leaving him and refusing to be reasonable in any way.

According to the Bible, X is sinning against me by refusing to give me a bill of divorcement, seeing how he long ago discarded me by abusing me and thereby destroying my trust in him - he broke the marriage covenant by failing to treat me with love.

Now that I have left X but haven't got a finalized legal divorce yet, I am not legally allowed to marry someone else or I would be a bigamist or adulteress or take your pick of a variety of derogatory and defaming terms you want to use. Divorce was implemented in the Old Testament ("certificate of divorcement") to protect women such as myself so that they need not be stoned to death for adultery if they marry someone else after their husband discards them.

Fast forward to today. W and I now have a one-year-old son who is one of the happiest babies in the world, probably at least in part because he has two parents who are so happy to be together and never speak in anything less than a respectful tone to each other and to him.

Neither W nor I could afford to live separately and alone, so we got a place big enough to have my kids visit. And yes, they are supposed to be with me every other weekend, but often their dad makes other plans for them.

(As of now, September 2005, I don't even know where my kids live. The house we used to have got sold. X moved into a new house and has told the kids not to let me know the address because he says I will break in and steal things. Also I have no idea who takes care of PJ during the days. I've asked for a phone number for his daycare but X says the daycare doesn't want me to have it. I'm not sure I believe that they would say that.)

At first, W and I had separate bedrooms. Then when my oldest daughter, N, got over her anger and started coming around, W gave up his bedroom so she didn’t have to squeeze into the other one with two of her siblings.

For awhile, W then slept in a tent in the living room, but by the time our baby was born, he had moved in to my room. We are still not entirely sure on what is right, Biblically, concerning sleeping in the same bed when we are not yet officially married even though we are 100% committed to each other in love. After discovering that I had believed some wrong interpretation of Scripture in the past concerning divorce and remarriage, I am all the more cautious about all kinds of other teachings. Right now we are questioning the assumption that "it is wrong to live together if you aren’t married." I mean, if we COULD be married, we WOULD be in a heartbeat. I wonder, though, on what Scriptural basis people assume it is a sin?

An older couple from my old town, whom I trusted as though they were my own parents, wrote me an e-mail to reprimand me for leaving X and for planning on marrying W. They didn’t know what went on in my relationship with X. To their knowledge, we had a "wonderful family." Furthermore, they say they do not WANT to know what went on.

Why would someone choose to turn a blind eye to a sister being abused by one who calls himself a brother?

When I wrote back to them, in all gentleness and sincerity I told them that I understood they were concerned about me, and that perhaps they would be willing to pool some money together with others from the church so that W and I could afford to live separately, as we simply had no other choice given our circumstances. They never wrote to me again, and the next time I saw them they acted like they didn't see me, although we were in the same room as them for a few hours at a Bible conference. For that matter, many other of our old friends did the same thing to us. Some I tried to greet, and they turned their backs and ignored us.

This, folks, is not what Christianity is about. We are not to shoot our own wounded, or any wounded.

Now that our dear sweet baby CWL is born and so very happy to be surrounded by both parents who love him and each other deeply, to have one of us move out so that we won’t appear to be "living in sin" by those who judge us from the outside could be detrimental to his development and emotional well-being. He sees both of us smiling at him as he wakes up in his crib next to our bed each morning. Both of us tend to all of his physical and emotional needs. We even took a parenting course, the three of us – finally, a parenting class, after I’ve had five kids! There is always more to learn and to reinforce.

My marriage to X, however, was characterized by much anger and instability. I attempted to put an end to the negative impact under which the kids lived by leaving him, with the hope of having them with me. Now that I am in a position where I have been able to heal and learn, I am a much better parent than I was while in survival mode.

What does the Bible say about the sins of the fathers visiting the next generations? I wonder if CWL's gentle spirit is because he has inherited it from his daddy, and on the other hand N and CJ are so mean to me because they inherited that from their father and grandfather? Could be? (SF and PJ are kind to me, for which I am thankful.) Or could it not be actual genes so much as witnessing a certain behavior for so long that they accept it as the norm?

Back to the issues of court. X was the applicant and I was the respondent. I tried to keep it out of court. I requested mediation three times through local mediators but X refused every time. My old doctor tried to get a hold of a Christian acquaintance who used to be a lawyer to see if he could help us settle matters outside of court, but for whatever reason that never did materialize despite my reminders to the doctor.

X and his mother collaborated on some lies about me, such as saying I shook my oldest child when she was ten days old (his mom said she walked in and "caught" me doing it, and that X reprimanded me for it in front of her. I sure don’t remember it and it does not sound like something I would ever do, and if I had actually done such a thing, why are they bringing it up NOW after nearly 13 years?)

Also, his mom lied about the relationship I had with my kids. She said that they all seemed scared of me, and she said that I was never close with my third daughter, SF, when the truth is that SF and I are very close – closer than ever, now, and she longs to stay with me and cries her eyes out whenever she has to go back to her dad’s place. She tells me how she hates it when he questions her about every little detail that went on while at my house, and she hates the way her older sisters torment her (CJ physically hurts her and X doesn’t do anything about to discourage it. N has always been mean to SF since she was born.)

X and his mom both went against the homeschooling I had done. X’s mom was always against it, but X used to defend it vehemently to his mother.

But after I left him, X put the kids in public school – part of his plan to keep them from me. After all, if he could establish a new status quo, he would have that in his favor for obtaining custody. Also it helps him look like the poor abandoned man, makes me look like I abandoned the kids as well, and garners more sympathy for him when he tells his half-truths and outright lies about why I left him.

The kids fit right in at the school socially and academically, CJ even being on the honor roll almost consistently since the first term. Yet X and his mom said I never did enough schooling with them.

X used to threaten me with putting the kids in public school if I didn’t do whatever it was he was demanding of me, as he knew what an advocate I was of that lifestyle, and he knew how much I loved my kids and that the worst way to hurt me was to keep my kids from me. Their social and spiritual development has gone severely downhill since starting public school, with the influences of peer pressure playing a large role in their attitudes, combined with long-instilled anger from witnessing abuse from their dad towards me and all the discord that went along with it.

Another thing that went against me in court was the fact that I used to spank my kids. X did, too. Some of his relatives in Alaska, where we used to live, who are Christians, were the ones who first taught us that the Bible teaches we are to spank the kids consistently for willful disobedience, and he wholeheartedly supported that teaching and joined in on a study course we'd taken with them called "Growing Kids God's Way", which I now know to be controversial even amongst Christians but at the time I believed it was the right thing to do.

I didn’t question that teaching and tried to be consistent. X, however, did more threatening than actual spanking, and I would get frustrated over having to keep the consistency up by myself. Sometimes I’d whisper to X that the kids needed a spanking for a certain thing, and he’d purposely not spank them just because it was me who suggested it. He’d let the kids get away with disobedience until they were out of control and then he would blow up at them.

One day while some of my kids were here with me, about a month before my baby was born in the summer of 2004, my now three-year-old PJ kept climbing out of his bunk. I did with him what I had been taught to be right, which I had always done with the other kids when they climbed out of bed – I spanked him. Every time he climbed out, I spanked him again. I believed that if I were to let him get away with it after already having spanked him, he would get the message that it’s OK to push the issue till he wins.

So PJ got a lot of spankings that night. He knew he was doing wrong… he’d sneak out to the living room to watch me on the computer. I was doing an online course in medical transcription, which, when the kids were here, I was only able to work on late at night. When I turned around and saw PJ, he would run back to his bed.

The next day, the kids went back to their dad’s. I started thinking that maybe I should take a parenting course, to see if there are less painful and more successful techniques to deal with children when they are disobedient. I did some phoning around and left some messages. Finally I got a call back from one of the community services that offer parenting classes, and I got onto a 6-month waiting list for the next time a spot was available.

The very day I got my name on that list, a few hours later I got a call from X to tell me PJ would not be coming to visit me because of some marks on his bottom which were reported to the doctor, the police, and Social Services. Nobody ever even called me to find out what happened. This news was a shock to me. I believed I was disciplining PJ for willful disobedience, and if someone would have at least phoned me to check up on what had transpired, it would have been fair.

It was then ten weeks until I was allowed to be with PJ again, by the time the investigation on me was completed and I was deemed to not be a safety risk to my kids. A mediator was recommended by the social services, and she worked out a plan to gradually integrate PJ back into my life. I was treated as though I was a danger to my kids, although the older ones were still allowed to visit me, and PJ cried to be with me when he saw me from his car-seat in the truck during the times his dad picked up the other kids after visits.

Several months later, W and I got into the 12-week parenting course, which we later learned is one that is highly respected by the courts and social services. We completed the course, got a positive written report from the instructors, and gave it to my lawyer to use in court. I don’t think the judge even looked at it because in his judgment he stated that I need to take a parenting course to learn less violent ways of disciplining children.

By the time I was in the early stages of that court-respected parenting class, I didn’t want to spank anymore, and so I was looking for other ways to deal with PJ’s disobedience. I found a book called "How To Make Your Child Mind Without Losing Yours." In the book, it mentioned something I wanted to try in order to keep PJ from climbing out of bed if he was ever to try it again, which he did eventually do. The book said that when the little boy climbed out of bed, the dad put him outside on the porch and left him there for a few minutes as an undesirable consequence.

It was winter here, too cold to put anyone outside, so I decided to try putting PJ into my walk-in closet. Once I closed the door, he immediately started crying and saying, "OK, OK! I won’t climb out of bed anymore! Let me out! Let me out!"

The amount of time it takes to read the above quote is how long PJ was in the closet. He went back to bed and never tried to climb out again the rest of that weekend.

Then a couple weeks later, I got a visit at 9:30 on a Friday night from an after-hours social worker, wanting to check my children for bruises. The only one with me at that time was baby CWL, and the worker was satisfied that he seemed happy and alert and in no distress whatsoever. He told me it was my older children that he wanted to see, particularly PJ, as he had had a report that I had "punched him in the stomach and locked him in a closet."

I told him the whole story. First of all, there was no punching involved, I don’t know where he got that. And secondly, there isn’t even a lock on the closet door. Several days later I also received a visit from a couple of social workers who interviewed me and viewed the closet where PJ had been as I re-enacted for them exactly how the whole scene went.

A few months later, in court, I finally found out why I got reported. It was the babysitter X had hired, who had a bee in her bonnet against me because I was late for picking up PJ a few times, even though I always phoned her to explain and apologize when I knew I was going to be late – there was often one thing or another to cause a delay, such as traffic, highway construction, having to make stops on the road while I was pregnant (2 ¼ hour drives and pregnancy don’t go very well together) and then after CWL was born, nursing stops… even when I left plenty of time to make it there by 2:00, unforeseen things caused me to be late.

As the babysitter reported in court, she was playing a game with her daycare kids that involved going under a table. PJ said he didn’t want to do it because it was dark there and he was scared of the dark. Apparently PJ then said that his mom put him in a dark closet and he didn’t like it. The babysitter questioned him more and more and then next thing I know I’m being accused of LOCKING my kid in a closet AND punching him in the stomach, and it was another eight or nine weeks till he was allowed to be with me again. The investigation went on until I completed my parenting course. I was interviewed by the social worker in charge of the case, who was satisfied that I had learned some good parenting skills and I was not any risk to my kids safety, and PJ was allowed back into my life again.

Even though I was deemed to be no safety risk to my kids and I had successfully completed the well-reputed parenting course, these instances where my son was kept from me by social services were used against me in court. Those, the opinions about not doing enough homeschooling, the lies about my relationship to my kids, and one other woman’s affidavit to state that my kids had "poor hygiene" and "wore mismatched clothing to church" and that I was "moody" (she didn’t know that the times when I had tears in my eyes it was because X had just yelled at me for most of the ½ hour drive to church, right there with the kids as a captive audience)…

Also combined with the judge’s opinion that because I had never had a close relationship with X’s mother, I would be less likely to encourage grand-parental visitation than X would towards my parents (when, in fact, I would indeed encourage it because I know my kids love their grandparents, even though his dad threatened my life over the phone last New Years and I got it on tape and gave it to the custody evaluator)…

Even though the custody evaluator caught X in several lies, determined him to be verbally abusive and in the past also physically abusive upon his own admission, and all kinds of other negatives… he got custody. Just like he’d long threatened: "If you ever leave me, I will get the most expensive lawyer and you will never get the kids. I guarantee it!"

I wonder how my kids feel about being used as a tool by their father to hurt their mother.

By the time the custody trial actually happened it was May 2005. That was 17 months from the day I found out X had done the ex-parte. X and his lawyer used some delay tactics, and there was always a long wait for the next available dates to attempt to have a trial.

I want to finish with "THE END" but it’s not the end. I am still chased by the lion of control as X metes out how and when the kids will spend time with me. I am always on the lookout for what he might do next, never able to fully relax and know my kids are safe physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

And I still am faced with CJ hating me, refusing to speak to me let alone visit me. One therapist that spoke to me, CJ, and X, determined that CJ has the worst case of parental alienation he has seen in ten years of working with children. He went to court to testify of this. Still, the judge doesn’t see it that way. X had a psychologist from the Ministry of Children & Family Development try to work with CJ, but his approach was to let CJ come to me at her own pace.

I have discovered that X and his parents have directly and indirectly caused and allowed CJ to continue her hatred for me, despite my attempts to reach out to her in love. Her alienation has only gotten worse as she continues to live in an environment that is hostile against me and W. The psychologist finally closed the file as there was no progress being made.

Now we are working with that psychologist again as per the court orders to try to come up with and instigate a plan to try to reunite CJ with me. I had talked to that doctor on the phone and via e-mail a few times and tried to tell him what X was/is like towards me and W, yet X never showed any signs of that to him. Of course not. He is a chameleon. And the psychologist believes that X can’t possibly be responsible in any way for causing and keeping CJ's alienation towards me but rather that CJ got to this degree of hatred for me on her own because I had gotten pregnant with W’s baby and left her dad.

CJ doesn’t seem to really want to be with her dad either. She said in the custody evaluation report that she’d rather stay at school than live with either parent, that maybe a foster home wouldn’t be a bad idea, and also that her dad "only thinks of himself" and that he "talks to me about him and mom splitting up and it freaks me out" and that he knocks on her door when it’s closed and accuses her of "writing letters to my mom" (as though that would be a bad thing?)

So, yeah, "THE END." I don’t think so. But what can I do?

We shall see how this all turns out and continue to pray that the truth shines forth, and that somehow God shall receive the glory despite all the pain.


ADDENDUM: March 2007.

The above was originally written in September 2005. A few things have changed since then. I've graduated from the Medical Transcription course and now work from home as a Medical Transcriptionist. We saved up enough money to move to a house much closer than my old place so instead of driving for over two hours one way it is now a five minute drive to where my kids live with their dad.

Also, CJ, who is almost 13 now, has come back into my life. Since we moved here in July, she has gradually come over more and more with my other kids.

And N, who is 14, has moved in with us full time.

My daughter SF is nine and has major sleep problems, I think largely due to the hypervigilance that comes from living with her dad who freaks out over the slightest thing with no warning.

PJ is five and goes to kindergarten. I am "allowed" to pick him up two days a week, but he goes to his dad's friends' house -- but I'm not "allowed" to know where it is -- the other three days after school.

My sweet W is still my loving man, never has put me down once. THIS is what a man-woman relationship is supposed to be like!

And little CWL is expecting a baby sibling this coming summer.

My old friends are still my "old" friends. I see them around town and they treat me like I'm invisible. It hurts me. The ex did his pre-emptive strike when I left him, telling them all kinds of lies about me to cover for his own evil, and now they support him and ignore me.

Even though I'm in a wonderful relationship and am free from abuse, I still have days when I feel sick from the memories of having lived under such abusive conditions. I pray that anyone else who is in even remotely similar shoes to the ones I wore for those 18 years will get out NOW. If he makes you feel bad now, think about this: Do you still want to feel like this in five years? Ten years? Get out! It's not too late. There are no prison bars holding you. It CAN be done, but it's hard to think clearly while you're in it.



ADDENDUM #2. March 1, 2008

Yaaaaaay, the divorce finally became final as of February 14, 2008. Happy Valentine's Day indeed!

So now W and I are trying to figure out where and when to do the actual wedding. We're thinking we'll probably just have the two of us, the kids, and the required two witnesses over the age of 19 to sign, plus the marriage commissioner or possibly a pastor to do the legalities.

I've been seeking out information on the history of marriage as we know it in our modern society and am finding that it is not what I was led to believe by traditional teachings. This is something about which I hope to write in more detail in future.

Suffice it to say that as far as W and I are concerned, we are committed to each other in love and equality regardless of what an ungodly government has on paper. Together we have two of the most beautiful sons on earth who daily witness the love their parents have for them and for each other. Ours is a peaceful home for which I thank God. Comparing my life now to my former life with the abuser makes me all the more thankful for this peace.

Yep, baby J is now born. He's six months old as of tomorrow. He's just plain cute!

CJ turned 14 last weekend and she was here for a Dairy Queen Skor Bar ice-cream pizza and general silliness amongst her and the family. We laugh about the craziest things and she says, "Mom, if ever anyone made a reality show about us......nobody would watch it!"

S is going to be 11 in a few weeks. We have a thing about the number "1" (see last sentence in above paragraph). Whenever we see a clock that says 1:11, or 11:11, we think of each other. If we're within earshot, we call each other to come see the clock and say, "Hey, it's oney-oney-one!" or oney-oney-oney-one, depending which time it is. So S will be turning oney-one.

PJ is now six years old. He and I had a special impromptu date a few days ago as we bought a couple of ice cream cones and then had a rowdy session of kickball till we both threw our coats onto the ground despite the barely-above-freezing temperatures of late winter.

As for CWL -- what a guy! He cracks us all up. He's not without his three-year-old "moments", mind you, but he sure is a sweet little gentleman.

N is now 15 and living with one of my dearest friends, six hours away. She got expelled from the local school district. Her original plan was to move in with my friend, with whom I have been close since we ourselves were 15, but her dad and his mother talked her into moving in with the paternal grandparents in that same area. Too much time lapsed for her to get into a regular school program so all they could get her into was the alternate program, rubbing shoulders with kids who have the worst of the worst attitudes and lifestyles in that town.

N quickly fit in with that crowd. She turned real mean to me while she lived with her grandparents, but after about six months with them she got her way and moved in with my friend. She is happy there and now talks to me on the phone reasonably and is a joy for me to converse with. She's trying to find a job now and I think she's going to find that she really can set her sights as high as she wants because she IS capable of attaining them.

Need I mention that I am proud of all my kids?

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UPDATE:

On Saturday, June 14, 2008, W and I signed the papers of an ungodly government and made our relationship into one of legal marriage. Not that it changes anything as far as our love and commitment to each other goes!

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ANOTHER UPDATE:

Coming soon! In February of 2009, we will be face to face with another family member. Yes, W and I are expecting one more child! Lots of love between us two, never a disrespectful word, always supportive.

My oldest daughter, N, is still living with my friend six hours away, involved with a young man who's been her boyfriend for almost a year now, and working for a sushi restaurant while waiting to get into an alternate program at school. We keep in touch by phone and internet chatting. Latest news on her is she likes Miso soup, which I never thought any of my kids would do. Ha, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

CJ's in grade nine and comes over here to hog my computer when she's not busy cleaning her room at her dad's house or off with one of her many friends. She likes to raid my snack cupboard and threatens to eat all my Wasabi peas and Campinos when I hide the Runtz and fruit-juice-sweetened gummy bears. She is a huge fan of her two baby brothers and great at making them - and everyone else - laugh.

S is in grade six and is also a fan of her two youngest brothers. She and I have fun in the kitchen, cooking and using foreign accents and making up random song lyrics. Her specialty is French toast for Sunday brunch. She has amazing insight for one so young as to what it means to treat people with respect.

PJ is in grade two and yet another fan of those famous little brothers. He loves making and using jumps for his bike which sometimes cause him to become pond-slime covered but he has fun. He can often be found helping his stepdad with whatever outdoor chore is at hand, and in the house his forte is flipping French toast for Sunday brunch and giving his littlest brother walking lessons (not at the same time).

CWL is a card and a half. Unafraid to talk to anyone, he greets strangers and friends alike with a hearty "Hi!". His favorite things are toy cars of any shape, size, or color - and balloons. He recently turned four and after we had a family party for him, he insisted on taking a balloon to bed with him, along with his bag of cars.

J recently celebrated his first birthday and is almost walking. In fact, he's taken a few free-form steps, but still prefers to crawl. He can usually be seen smiling a big five-toothed grin. His favorite thing to do is be held by the nearest family member, into whose shoulder he'll snuggle with his thumb placed firmly in his mouth.
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Update: December 15, 2009
In February 2009, I gave birth to my seventh baby, a little girl, CHL. She is such a happy little camper and loved so dearly by all her siblings as well as her parents.
This month, December, my oldest child, NG, is back in my sole custody. She moved back in with me in August. She has been very hurt by her biological father. Perhaps someday he will wake up and see the damage he has done to his own children that has resulted in at least one wanting little to nothing to do with him, and maybe they can work on rebuilding a lost relationship.
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UPDATE - April 2010

As I mentioned above, my oldest daughter moved back in with me at the end of August 2009. I got sole custody of her in December 2009. She is 17 now and a whole new woman, with a positive outlook on life, moving forward, so strong, and I'm so proud of her! She has some struggles, though, with substance abuse, but the issues underneath run much deeper. She is now in rehab by her own choice and is finding healing and growth.

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Update, December 2011
As of 11/11/11, my second daughter, CJ, has moved back in with me full time. It's been over a month now and she has not even contacted her father. Things between her and him were not good. Maybe someday she will tell her story. I am so happy to have her home!


Here I am on my wedding day with W, and six of my seven kids. 
My seventh baby was newly conceived in this photo, and was born in February, 2009.



My seventh baby, age 1-1/2 in summer 2010.







Me with my seventh baby, on opening day at the local library's new building, April 2010.






_____________________________________________
To read a bit about what the Bible says concerning divorce and remarriage - and it may surprise you if you are thinking it is not allowed - check out this other post in my blog: 

The Bible Does Allow Divorce

And this, too: 

What The Bible Says About Divorce
(Which may not be as frightful as what you've been misled to think!)

And if you like my writing, check out the rest of my blog, which I promise is NOT all as serious as this!
Holy-Sheepdip Blogspot

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for telling your story and thank you especially for keeping it updated. Folks need to see how things work out in the years that follow, how truth eventually is revealed. So easy to lose hope when you're right in the big muddle and think all is lost.

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  2. those people are not understanding what is said if you are being abused there is grounds for that God does not aprove of it but in your situation it different you are not doing it for spite you are not doing it for hate you are doing it becuse you were abused that is the right thing to do God says strike no woman or man it a sin if those people dont agree they are a bunch os scocialist chirstians and have no murcy God allways has murcsy for the ones who fallow and obay the truth so stop feeling sorry for you self and feel you owe these people expination you dont the only one you owe is your self and God in the end that is all you got good luck and in these last year we have left on this earth make your self happy and enjoy being loved your truly one mans prospective

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, sir, for your understanding.

      I originally wrote this in 2005 as a letter to one stranger who had asked me some questions. Then I added more to it and put it on the internet.

      No feeling sorry for myself here! :) Just sharing my story for those who may wish to read it, and because I enjoy writing.

      I once felt so alone in it all. I was shocked when I found others had gone through similar things. I felt no hope while I was in it. If I had read some stories of hope, I think I may have found a way out sooner.

      Delete
  3. Good on you for knowing where you stand, and staying strong despite all the onlookers. You sound like an awesome Mum who would do anything for her kids. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Escapee

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    Replies
    1. Greetings, Escapee. Thank you for the encouragement!

      Delete
  4. Hi Steeny, it's Intuitive Feeling here. We know one another through the HSP group. I can relate to your story and the irrational way you were treated. It sickens me how the wounded are blamed for the abusive cycles.

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Talk to me - please.