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...I'm not new to divorce, but just thought I'd pop over here and I felt compelled to introduce myself. I dont know if this board fits me but I feel like I can relate to what some of you ladies are going through. I'm happily married to a wonderful man, we got married in March 2009. But before then my life was under a black cloud. I got married young, 2 weeks out of high school to my first love. I also got pregnant right away, I found out like a week before the wedding. Well shortly after the marriage started, so did he, to the point that I didn't know who he was anymore. I thought maybe it was just me, that I had changed, and divorce in my family was forbidden. Well I was 5 month pregnant when he lost his temper and took the first swing at me. His fist luckily hit the wall next to my head, I dont know if it was on purpose or if he just happened to miss me. But he said 'that was almost for you'. I was scared to death but when he calmed down we reconciled. He would blow up a lot and tell me very belittling things like 'I feel sorry for that baby that you're it's mom' and things like that. But as soon as he calmed down things went back to normal. I dont know if I was too naive to leave or if I thought that if I stuck with it long enough he would get better. The baby was born and things got better for a while, but not long. I quickly found out that I would be the only one to take care of the baby. He refused to change a diaper, wake up for a feeding, carry the carseated infant in from the car to the apartment, and might I add I was also recovering from a cesarean section! His excuse was that 'he was the one that worked so he shouldn't have to do any of that stuff' ... again, divorce never even crossed my mind. I was raised to believe that you only got married once, that was that. Things got worse and then better, it was a roller coast, or a 'cycle' as I learned later on. For the next two years he was on and off jobs as he pleased, we moved half a dozen times all with family members, bouncing from one house to another. Anytime I spent so much as five dollars I came home to a fight, even if it was baby formula, diapers, or food for the house. I was shaking every time I went grocery shopping even if he knew. Because if the cost of a weeks worth of groceries was over $25 he would blow up. It wasn't the money I found out later, he just felt he need for power and control. December 2004 I found out I was pregnant again. I was excited! I thought perhaps this is what we needed to get back on track, sort of a new beginning. Well during that pregnancy, he had two affairs. One with an old high school girlfriend and one with a co-worker. And my mother is the one that caught him, there was a big talk between him and my dad and he straightened up. I was pregnant and had a 2 year old, plus I was still holding the belief that marriage was forever, no matter what. Divorce never even crossed my mind. My second daughter was born August of 2005. He seemed happy and started being more attentive, that is until a week after she was born. He didn't do well with the sleepless nights so he started sleeping on the couch. His choice completely. And so I was left to fend for myself with an infant and a two year old, with no help from him 'because he was the one that worked'. Things seemed to get better for a while, the holidays were nice. He seemed more attentive to the family and what not. Then the following summer, fourth of July. He had a meltdown. We had very little in our bank account, because he had spent it all. Yet somehow it was my fault. He was blaming me left and right for everything wrong in our marriage. We were due to go to a family BBQ and so I got the kids and left. I had a hard time enjoying myself that night but I put on a smile for the kids. They had a blast, and it was the baby's first 4th of July. After we got home we had a talk, and it was the first time I brought up divorce to him. He said he was sorry, that it was just stress. And I said I understand, but if it keeps happening, I'm not going to take it. So chance #howevermany I gave him, again...after that, he really started to turn into a person that I didnt know anymore. And I changed too. I was 21 years old with two babies and stuck in a miserable marriage. My old high school friends were all graduating college and single and free. I never regretted my kids, and never have, they are what kept me going. However I felt myself starting to sink into a deep depression. The fights got worse. He would blow up and knock over furniture, dressers, dishes, anything in his reach when he got worked up would crash to the floor right before he would storm out. I found a way somehow to try to tune it out, and focus on my babies, and trying to make a stable environment. And in the meantime I started to think about what life would be like without him.. That October, we moved. Into a house of our own. But it was in the middle of nowhere. And we only had one car that he took to work. He also closed our joint bank account and opened one of his own. I was stuck at home, with no way out, no money, and two kids. He was isolating me and controlling me to the enth degree. The fights were still escalating and I needed to reach out. I had some online friends I talked to every now and then, I started to tell them what was going on. Most of them said 'why can't you just leave'. The answer was simple, I just didn't have anywhere to go. MY family wouldn't take me in, they would make me go back. He even had my own mother coming over to my house telling me that I was being a bad wife to him and a bad mom. One of my friends happened to be a councellor in a DV shelter, and the other was a psychology major. Their support was what really helped. They mentioned a DV shelter. I said, well that's for women who get beat up! And they said abuse is more than just physical. I looked up emotional abuse and mental abuse, and I sobbed. For the discriptions are what I'd been putting myself through for years! I looked into it, but I wasn't ready. It was a huge step. It would be the first time ever that I would be on my own. I had two babies to think about, what it would do to them. It seemed like the distance between the threshold of the door and the porch was the size of the grand canyon! My friends told me that they were here for me, but only I could be the one to choose when to go. I counceled with them for a few weeks, and the stress and fighting and depression worsened. I wasn't sleeping more than 3 hours a night, I drank about a gallon of coffee a night, I was too afraid to close my eyes. I was afraid that he would hurt me. He would often tell my 3 year old that 'Mommy doesnt love Daddy anymore' and 'Here I'll read you a book, mommy has better things to do than sit with you' to lash out at me. It was then I knew I needed to form a plan. I called a DV shelter and talked to a councellor. THey were very comforting, and said when I was ready to come. December 10th 2006 I made the decision that it was now or never. He'd blown up at me the night before, throwing things at me and then taking off in the car. He was sweet to me the following day, but I knew that was part of the cycle, and it was only a matter of time until he blew up again. I asked my sister to come pick me and the girls up and told him we were going out for ice cream. I'd asked him for the car, but he said he had plans with his dad and needed it. So after he left my sister came over and she said we're not going to the ice cream parlor are we? I broke down and told her everything, and she asked where I needed to go. We went to the hospital and I called the DV shelter and they were so nice, they sent an agent out to talk to me and she brought us to the shelter. I was terrified, and exhausted both physically and emotionally. I just sobbed through the whole entry process. I tried to stay strong for the girls, but when she started explaining the cycle of abuse I lost it. I'd just lived in denial of that fact for so long, it was just hard to take. I cried for about two days straight, and then three times a day for a week. My oldest was concerned, she didn't leave my side and kept giving me hugs and kisses and asking if I was ok. I tried so hard to keep things from her but kids are more observant than we give them credit for. For my safety, three days after I entered the shelter I was put on a train and went down to a shelter in Los Angeles, 6hrs from home. I was by myself, carting two kids, carseats and some luggage (the shelter gave us some clothing since we left with the clothes on our backs!) The trip was long and grueling, but we made it to the new shelter and I felt a little relief to be far away, and that my new life was starting, I didn't know how but it was. And they said they would help me however they could. I was there for two weeks, Christmas was hard, we were on our own. The shelter provided gifts for the kids so they didn't have an uneventful christmas, but being by myself and alone was hard. I cried. I was brought to meetings and they were a big help, all the women there were in the same spot I was in. After two weeks though somehow, he had found out where I was. So they did an emergency transfer to another shelter, only on had an opening and it was 3 hours away and in the San Bernadino mountains. A shelter volunteer drove us so we didnt have to take a bunch of buses. It was straining, and by then my 3 year old was starting to act out, and misbehave, due to her lack of control. Her environment kept changing and it was freaking her out. I did my best but there was only so much I could do. The shelter was horrible. They treated everyone like an addict. Though a lot of the women there were recovering addicts, some including myself, werent. We were forced to go to AA meetings, were only allowed out of the shelter for 10 minutes at a time twice a day. And we were on a strict schedule. I was still having anxiety attacks and crying spells, but it was better than being at home. We spent new years there and about a week and a half after that, I'd had it. I just couldn't stay there anymore. The kids were getting sick from the cold and high altitude, and I just wanted to go back to LA. They told me if I wanted to leave I had to find a way out. So I called other shelters and found one that would accept us. The shelter I was in gave me two bus vouchers and I was on my way. At 5 in the morning I left with three suitcases, two carseats, two children, and only two arms. Somehow I got on and off three buses and a taxi. That was probably one of the hardest things I'd even gotten through, I didn't know if I would make it. So I got to the shelter and it was wonderful. The ladies there were incredibly nice and accepting. They offered real councelling, and helping women get on their feet. I felt like I finally had something promising. Plus it was only a short bus ride to the beach and the kids had a blast there! I got to talk to my friends for more then three minutes at a time (which was a rule at the other shelter) and I felt some peace finally. Unfortunately that didn't last long. On January 28th 2007 they called me to the office and handed me court papers that were faxed over. He'd found me and he'd filed for custody and blamed possible abduction on me. The DA for the county called shortly after and talked to me, he seemed nice, and said he didn't think I'd abducted my children but I need to make my courtdate or they'll take the kids and give them to him. So I had 3 days to find a way back 'home' to make the courtdate, find a place to stay, and daycare. I called my mom, and she wasn't very happy at first. She'd asked the court to give the kids to their dad, but she said that I could stay with her until I figured everything out. So she came and picked us up in LA on my daughter's birthday. and the next day was the court hearing. He showed up on the doorstep that night, wanting to see the kids, my parents let him in. after a few dirty looks from him and my parents pleading with me to talk to him I did. He said that the time away gave him a lot of time to think, and he realized he needed to change. I said that's great but I'm still not putting myself in that position again. We got joint custody, and were ordered that the kids needed to stay in the county. My parents said I could stay with them until I got on my feet. I spent the next two years struggling to find a job, dealing with kids under your parents roof, and him trying to get me back. It was hard, to turn down the stability so to say, and the security that someone 'taking care of you' is. But it was HARD to get out, and I was already out, I knew if I went back I might not have the strength to do it again so I stayed out. I dated a little, but nothing serious. My focus was my kids, I started school again and found a good part time job. And after two hard years I found myself. I found out who I was, and where I wanted to go in life. He remarried, and though I was happy for him, that he'd moved on, it still stung a little. But am happy that she's a nice person and a good step-mom to my kids. I met my husband earlier this year and we married in March. We also moved out of state for better job opportunites, and he's (the ex)been difficult with a reasonable custody agreement, DH and I have had to travel from state to state a few times for court hearings that he keeps filing. He just doesn't seem to be happy unless it's his way only. I'm starting to feel like divorce never really ends... my husband told me that 'you'll always be married to him in a sense' and though I disagreed with the way he put it I know what he meant... It seems like a never-ending battle, something is going to come up. But I just thought I'd share with you ladies, and maybe those going through it know that there is happiness at the end. But you have to make yourself happy before you can have happiness with someone else
Thanks for letting me share, sorry it was long.
Raean, 27 - single mom to Chloe (1.31.03) & Savanna (8.26.05)
I knew that if I stayed much longer it would get physical, and possibly even turn deadly. I think the statistic is that a third of women are killed by their partners. I didn't want to be another statistic, and I dont want anyone else to be either. Taking the first step is the hardest but most liberating. Only you can take it. And I hope you get out before it does turn physical.
Raean, 27 - single mom to Chloe (1.31.03) & Savanna (8.26.05)
WOW! That is truly an amazing story! You have been through so much at such a young age! (I hope that you won't take that as condescending or patronizing) Your story is so inspirational though for women who are facing the same sort of situation. It's so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you're in the thick of it, as you know. Hearing someone's story lets you see that there is hope for a new life and that it can be the life you have always dreamed of.
Your husband is right in some respects about your ex. It does get easier as the children get older and are more capable of making decisions on their own about their father but you will always be tied to him. He will be there at graduations and weddings and births. Holidays will be split between the two of you and there will always be a bit of resentment of time spent with him--at least I still feel that way. Unless the kids decide not to see him anymore when they're older or he shuts them out of his life, it's always going to be a reality. As much as we hate to admit it, the children are his as well as ours and he has rights. It's amazing sometimes how deep the ties to the father goes--my kids have each endured horrific abuse from their father yet each of them still clings to the relationship. I've never forced them to see him or tried to keep them from him with the exception of my daughter when she was 13 and he became particularly abusive to her. I kept her from him for 4 months but even then I told her if she wanted to see him she could. She didn't then but eventually said she was ready to. (She was raped at 13 and he blamed her and would tell her so and call her ugly names and bring her to tears every time they got together. It was more than anyone should have to take so I called him and told him he could rot in heII but I would NOT allow him to see her and if he wanted to take me back to court he could do so but to keep in mind I was very willing to tell them why and would then push for supervised visits ONLY. He never pursued it. He knew he was wrong.) One of the hardest things I ever had to do was to allow my daughter to make the decision to see her dad again. He was good to her for a while, and never went back to the level of abuse he had heaped upon her before but he is still and always will be abusive. She's 18 now and has learned to stand up for herself and to let him know she will not stand for him to abuse her anymore. She'll hang up on him or leave when he starts.
How are your girls handling things with the divorce and now having 2 new families? Do they talk about how their father treats them? Does he have any other children yet?
There is another board on here called Blended Families--I belong to it but just rarely have time anymore to go there. The women who host it are wonderful! >waves< "Hi Chantelle and Becca!" and if you or anyone else has issues with blended families, you can get some terrific support and advice there. They deal with some tough issues like child support enforcement, discipline, two households/two sets of rules, abuse and neglect, adoption by step-parents and severing parental rights, etc. It seems to work very well in conjunction with this board. There are a few women who pop back and forth from this one to that one and as I said, so do I when I get the chance!
I hope you will continue to post here because I really think your story can help so many people with what they're going through. You are truly an inspiration!
Dani- Thanks so much for the warm welcome!! I really want my story to mean something, I want to know that what I went through wasn't for nothing. If I can help ONE woman, I feel like it was 'worth' it. Not in a sense that the abuse was ok but that my experiences made a difference in someone else. I'm am SO sorry for what you and your daughter went though, I'm glad that things got better. My kids are dealing alright with the divorce. It was a little traumatic for them I think at first. The baby doesn't realy remember us being togther. SHe was a litle over a year when I left. The older one asked for a while why I wasn't 'coming home'. And she still says she wishes that we (me, my DH, her dad & his wife) could all live in teh same house. I do my best to explain to her that that wouldn't work, and that she is special to get to have TWO houses. Their dad treats them well, A LOT better since he got married. I'm convinced that it's te new wife that's the center of his good behavior, maybe he realized he didn't want to be the monster he used to be anymore and ordered a fresh start. I really don't care about the motives just that he treats my kids right. They don't have kids yet, DH said he doesn't think they (or she) can. They've been married a while, and though it's possible theyre just not ready yet. He's done things to try to shut me out and push me away to try and make 'them' one big happy family. He has them calling her 'mom'. She's not an evil lady, and I dont' think that she has any ill opinions of me, she includes me in their lives more than he does, if there's an event they have for the kids she calls and invites us and what not. She's wonderful! It's him I have problems with. I'll have to check out the blended families board! It sounds like a good place to go chat and at times, vent!
Victoria- I hope you figure everything and a plan of action soon! If you need to talk about anything PM me I know exactly how hard it is. ANd I'm glad you want to get out before it gets even worse.
Raean, 27 - single mom to Chloe (1.31.03) & Savanna (8.26.05)
Raean you are obviously such a warmhearted person! I think you may be right...he may have seen where life was headed with that attitude and decided he didn't want to go there after all. I sure hope so! Your children's stepmom sounds wonderful! I wish my hubby's ex was like that. I gave up trying after the first year when she walked into MY house, told MY husband she needed to talk to him ...ALONE and then proceeded to ask his advice about her relationship withthe married man she cheated on Tom with. LOL Yeah she's got cojones alright!
Your story will help others. I guarantee it. We have a lot of "lurkers" and that's fine--I completely understand someone being cautious to post in here. I think a lot of them will be helped and you won't ever know. HOPEFULLY, they'll drop you a PM or something and tell you but if not, at least they're being helped.