It’s Just Us

On St. Patrick’s Day I always make Corn beef and cabbage. It’s kind of a tribute to my Irish heritage. A week before St. Patrick’s Day I asked my son if he could cook it because I work a 10-hour shift. He replied, “Ok, but it will be just us are you sure you want me to cook it for just us?” I told him he was right it made little sense to cook a holiday dinner for just the two of us.

I went to work, and it kept gnawing at the back of my mind. So what are you going to do Teri quit celebrating holiday’s because you’re not married anymore? What about Christmas and Thanksgiving?

Friday night at D.V. group I was still irritated with the situation. When my turn came around I inquired how other ladies handle holidays. The answer was disheartening, most had similar reasoning and agreed that it didn’t make sense to go through all the hoopla for just them and the kids. They were too tired, or it cost too much and how they can’t do everything. After several women gave their opinion Karen asked what I thought of the feed back. Weird question from her.

My forehead scrunched up with confusion, “Why? Did we only do it for him?” I was staring at the light hanging from the ceiling. “Yes, I can see now that even after we leave, they still win. We quit living.” Taking a deep breath I looked around, “Why would I be too tired to do all the hoopla when I just have my children to celebrate with and not be too tired when I am living with someone who drained the life out of me?” I looked at Karen, “Why is it if we are no longer with our abuser we are no longer a family?” Slightly shaking my head, “I’m sorry, I really think I need to live even if he isn’t there. My family is me and my kids right now! Why would I give us less than I would him? Personally, I will not let him win by only existing without him.”

Karen smiled at me, “You are learning a new way of thinking.”

My son and I feasted on the Corn beef and cabbage he made. It was just us and we had a great dinner.

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Why aren’t you afraid?

granby-co

Almost every Friday I set with a group of women who like me are victims of emotional and physical abuse. This is a closed group with strict rules: be faithful, honest, and listen to the feedback.  It’s a tight group with a committed core. I sat perched waiting for the talking ball to be passed to me. I usually come in and say little, but tonight there was a plan, I wanted to vent…..

I received information that D is setting himself up as a victim. He told his transgender group I am leaving him because of his chosen lifestyle. He’s never mentioned to them his conviction of domestic violence. I’m sure his affairs or the years of gaslighting me until I began to believe I was crazy never came up. He told his family that I am leaving him because he doesn’t make enough money. Twenty-nine years of marriage and over twenty jobs with years of unemployment, yes money was an issue!

Yesterday was the last straw I damaged my van, the second I pulled up in front of my house he was waiting on the curb. I watched as he paced around the van, arms crossed, eyes glaring at me. I joked with him, “Aren’t you glad I’m getting the van in the divorce?” It was met with a cold face as he muttered, “I haven’t got any divorce papers.” His response is confusing, it’s illogical. One would assume only the person making the payments on the van would have an interest in the damage. What isn’t understood is that D thinks of me as property and anything of mine is his.

I sat listening to a young woman who had attended about three meetings. We had spoken a couple of times after group. As she spoke she reminded me of myself about 10 years ago. I was thinking, I hope she gets out sooner than I did. With no warning, she looked me in the eye and asked: “why aren’t you afraid.” She tossed the talking ball to me. Startled I half-heartedly laughed, “I’m afraid, very much so.  I’m afraid of everything: to write a blog, of losing my job, of not paying bills, of what people say, of disappointing my family, of my kid’s opinion of me, of the silence when I enter the church, of his silence.”

“I can see what’s going on around me. I sense the escalation; his panic with every box packed. He yells at our kids, my dog, and inanimate objects; anyone, anything but me. I’m like the forbidden fruit. His anger management class training is being stretched to the limits. I realize if he crosses the line he won’t stop. Knowing he feels he’s losing control and all of this adds up to a ticking time bomb.” The talking ball rolled back and forth in my hand I sat silent for a while before continuing, “I made a choice some time ago, that no matter what he did I would stay with him until my children were out of college. I wanted them to have a chance at a great life. I wanted them to have choices. I chose not to tell anyone what was happening. If people regard him as a victim and they can’t see through the layers of lies; that’s their problem, not mine. Don’t know what will happen in the next couple of months if he’ll let me slip away or if he will snap. I am afraid” I stopped and focused on trees outside the window.  Lowering my voice I continued, “I also made the choice he wouldn’t do it anymore. God gave me peace with this decision, my pastor blessed it. For this change to happen I kept moving forward with my fear.” I looked her in the eyes, “You need to keep moving forward with your fear. The fear we share is of the unknown because we both know it can get worse. How many times have you said ‘it can’t get any worse’ just to go to a new level of hell? I came here tonight to vent, but now I realize it was a step backward. People will think what they want. If I stress over my ex’s behavior it won’t accomplish anything except maybe make him happy.”

She asked, “How are you moving forward?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. I pack hoping God has a place I can afford.  I pray though in my heart I believe God favors D. I force myself to do things that will make me more independent. God whispers and I listen that’s it.”

After the meeting, we exchanged phone numbers. I promised to text her every day.

I left focused: my fears in one hand, my goals in the other, and my ears on God.