Monday, December 6, 2010

The Girl Who Lived ... One Year Later

In the Fall of 2009, I posted a couple of things that were very honest and very open about the situation I was in. Those posts were hopeful - they were very much "I WILL live through this" - it was me at my optimistic [in the face of all rational evidence] best.

I've been meaning for two months now to write an annual update. In my "Girl Who Lived" post, I had marked on my calendar one year later - Oct. 14, 2010 - as the date that I would be doing so much better. I have avoided this update for some time because I wasn't sure how to handle it.

When I wrote those two posts in the Fall of 2009, I thought the worst was behind me. I was wrong about that. If I had known then what I know now, I doubt I would have put that shot gun away - I would have gone ahead and pulled the trigger, because I would not have believed I could really endure what was coming.

In the 14 months since then things got worse. A LOT worse.

I lived through the death of my best friend [and main support system] to cancer. I lost my "common law" sister in law when her relationship with my brother came to a spectacularly bad end after almost a decade. Both women were people I felt very close to and whom I cared for very much.

I lived through surgery on my kidneys and major surgery on my thyroid. I took care of my children while recovering from both surgeries. I had pneumonia 4 different times in 9 months, including an antibiotic resistant bout that lasted more than 5 weeks. Through which I cared for my children and never rested. We lived through 3 different [*confirmed*] bouts of the flu. We lived through 2 different bouts of Norovirus/Rotavirus - one bout over Christmas and one bout over Easter - which began 24 hours after my thyroid surgery and left me home alone caring for 6 extremely ill puking children with very high fevers - a virus that lasted more than a week with each child and took about 2 weeks to run its course through the whole family. I'm left with terrible scarring on my neck because what should have been an uncomplicated surgery turned into a gaping wound that bled non-stop for weeks and never healed right - due, in large part I am sure, to the fact that I didn't get to sleep or rest at any point in my recovery period [and when I say I didn't get to sleep, I mean I did not sleep for more than 30 minutes in a row for 2 weeks because of puking, desperately ill children].

Every month has been a struggle to keep food on the table and to keep a roof over the heads of my children [even though our current rental house is a nightmare, at least it is a house]. I live in constant, gnawing fear of potential homelessness.

I was able to get my old job back in September of 2010, which was a blessing. It has helped some financially [but not as much as I expected because my pay was cut to 60% of what it had been previously and I drive more than an hour to get to work]. It has also led to other stresses - being a single mother of 6 and trying to juggle a job are not easy things.

There is ongoing drama with my Ex husband. He disappears for weeks or months where the kids don't hear from him, he won't return their pleading calls, he rarely ever visits the children, when he does visit he leaves early - and yet, now he's taken me back to court to demand that he be given week long visitation out of state. Given his mental health history, I would never have dreamed it was possible that he would be granted this, but I was wrong. Now I have the added stress of preparing children to go visit a father who was extremely neglectful of them even in the best of times and who was physically and emotionally abusive to them in the worst of times. They are going up to stay with him in his girlfriend's house [the girlfriend whom he described to me as "a terrible mother who gets drunk every night and neglects her child severely". Oh, and also he described her as "psycho-controlling" and "extraordinarily lazy"]. Not an environment ANY decent mother would want her children in.

The kids go *insane* every time he actually does come for a visit - nightmares and depression for 1-2 weeks before a visit and 2-3 weeks afterward. They fight like cats and dogs and the stress level in our home surrounding his rare visits is *catastrophic*. [Their therapist calls this "displaced rage" - they can't focus it at their father for fear of further abandonment so they focus it on each other and, in the case of one child, on me]. They are clearly traumatized by him, and their therapist was willing to testify to that. But her testimony doesn't matter and the children's testimony doesn't matter because by golly, a man has a right to see his own children NO MATTER WHAT HE HAS DONE. My testimony doesn't matter because everything I say is dismissed as me being a "scorned Ex wife", so of course I'm lying. And I can't subpoena his psychiatric records to prove what I am saying because of my Ex husband's "right to privacy". [What about my children's Right to Safety?] I have so much more I could say about this, but in the interest of keeping this post a readable length, I'll stop.

In the midst of all that, I've been trying to help my children have good feelings about their father - there is a gag order around here - nobody is allowed to say anything bad about their father in front of them no matter what he does. I feel it is important for the children to believe that their father is good - even if he isn't. THEY need to feel that they came from goodness and not from evil. Which makes things hard. We continue to be chronically victimized by this man but I am faced with the need to be his "PR" agent in so many ways to keep the children from hating him. [And I don't do that for HIM - I do it because that hate would eat my children alive and damage them.]

I find it hard to even put into words what I lived through last year.

Beyond the illness and financial stress and the stress of dealing with an unstable and highly unpredictable and controlling Ex who appears and disappears at random, it has been a hard year emotionally.

I had to come to terms this year with the extreme emotional abuse I endured throughout my marriage. [and other kinds of abuse that I won't detail here.] I knew for many years that the relationship was bad, but I stayed because I felt it was better for the children to have a bad father than no father at all. I stayed because I had promised "forever" and he was sick [mentally ill] and I would never have left him when he needed me so much. Now, in retrospect, I believe it was a horrible choice - I should never have stayed. The children [and I] have permanent emotional damage from the years of living with his craziness and abuse. That is my fault - my only defense is that I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. That is not a defense that gives me much comfort.

I still wake almost every night with nightmares about the things my Ex husband did to me and to our children. I started writing this post at 4:30 am - after waking from yet another nightmare and being unable to get back to sleep. Which happens to me frequently. I have panic attacks every time he calls or emails me. I live in constant fear of the "next crazy thing" he is going to do to us. My motto about my Ex husband is "the only thing I can predict about his behavior is that he will continue to be completely unpredictable". It is like living on Earth that randomly moves and tries to swallow you up and you never know where the next yawning pit will open.

I feel that the controlling and terrorizing that he does will go on forever and that I will never be free of him.

And that terrifies me and makes me feel hopeless. I cry for Sanctuary, but nobody can grant it.

Now you see why I put off this update. ONE YEAR was not a magical time frame that would make all things better. One year was barely a beginning on the healing that has to take place.

But, curiously, things ARE much better. Aside from our Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involving my Ex, our life is good.

I have come to be happy being alone - just myself and my children. I have learned to enjoy my solitude [a monumental task for me, a complete and total extrovert]. I have learned to make decisions without a friend or partner to discuss it with first. I have learned to be ALONE, in every sense of the word, and to be at peace with that.

I have learned to be happy living just with me.

My children are excelling - despite the trauma, despite my Ex husband's continuing cycle of neglect and then malevolent control, despite being poor as dirt... my children excel. All 6 of them are *really* nice kids. All 6 of them are really INTELLIGENT kids. The ones who are old enough to get grades are all honor roll students. The ones who aren't old enough to get grades will be honor roll students when they ARE old enough... LOL! I never cease to be amazed at what wonderful, amazing, kind, friendly, FANTASTIC human beings my children are. There is never a moment that I am not proud and over joyed to be their mother - it is an honor and a privilege.

It has gotten exponentially easier being a single mom to 6 young children over the last year - for one thing, the baby is now a 2yo and that makes a world of difference. For another, we have discovered routines and rules that work for our family and that make daily life survivable. And as the other children get older as well, they are all easier to care for.

In this past year other good things have happened too. I have become much closer to my father and my mother. I have written a book. I have a good start on another book [on childbirth]. For the last 6 months we have been remarkably healthy [I think we had every virus known to man last year and now we seem to be fairly immune to them all! ;) ]

I have learned who I am at a level that most people will never achieve - the crucible of my life has left me keenly aware of my own strengths and my own flaws. And I feel content that almost all of the time I am the person God wants me to be. I know how strong I am and I know that I will always make the best choices possible in the situation I am given. I know that I have the strength and the courage to always do "the right thing", no matter the personal cost.

Despite all obvious evidence, I have hope. Hope for our future. Hope that, like Job and Tobit, God will end my life in happiness and joy instead of pain and sorrow.

The Girl Who Lived is still alive and kicking.


  1. I love you Kelly. You may not see while in the thick of it, but you already are more than surviving. You are thriving in the desert. A beautiful oasis for six little monkeys.

  2. God bless you Martian Mama,
    You are in my prayers. Please visit I am beginning a ministry for single mothers. It is more a prayer group than anything. We are very excited to get something like this in our area because there is quite a need. Many women have to go through what you yourself are going through, and no one except another single mom understands what this cross is like. I understand, and I hope that your holidays go as well as can be. God bless.

  3. "Do not fear to hope, though the wicked rage and rise. Our God sees not as we see, sucess is not the prize. Do not fear to hope, although the night be long. The race shall not be to the swift, the fight not to the strong."

    Just remember, you are still there and you are still fighting. You are in my prayers.