16 June, 2011

a recovering life

What I'm really interested in is recovery. How do women move on after a violent marriage crumbles? How do we learn to trust, to love, to allow myself to be vulnerable again after the man to whom I devoted my life and my dreams disappears? I  remind myself, over and over, that I can trust myself and my life and m journey. I didn't deliberately, consciously choose someone who would beat me up, and leave my son locked in the car during the winter. It wasn't on his CV and those kinds of questions never occurred to me during courtship. Even if I had asked them he wouldn't have been able to answer honestly. And, like all his other women, I was swept up in the romance of the moment. The possibility of happily ever after, seduced me, still does. We all grew up on that fantasy and it simply never dies. And I loved him. I believed in him. And I believed the stories he told me of our future together. I always said yes, until the cold winter day he left my son in the car. First time I said "no" to him. And it nearly cost me my life. It did cost me life as I knew it. Were there hints of his violent nature? Red flags? Hindsight is so interesting and memory plays tricks with us...I saw how he treated other people, but I thought I was different, and that he would never treat me with that cold arrogance. His unshaken sense of entitlement, he allowed himself to behave inappropriately no matter who would be hurt, even his 2 year old child. It was difficult to live with him, but it was even more difficult to break the spell woven by my desire to believe his words. I looked at his actions with disappointment yet magical thinking convinced me that it was just a matter of time and that we were a work in progress, learning how to communicate. I waited, at first patiently, and then my patience wore thin. One day he began screaming at me, slamming chairs around the room.  I was grateful that it wasn't our kids he was throwing against the wall, as he had in the past. And I still had hope, even when I requested that he live somewhere else, temporarily, while he sorted out his issues. I said "anger issues" because I had learned that the term "domestic violence" was a trigger for him. Insane, but not a deal breaker, yet. In fact the whole time we were separated I continued to believe he was in outpatient treatment and working hard on his program, his case plan. And I had a copy of "Assessing Risk to Children From Batterers". The July 2006 Newsletter of the Commission on Domestic Violence. I was still more concerned about the effects on my kids than myself. And I used the check list: assessing change in batterers. There are 8 points on the list, none of which ever changed as far as my observation was concerned. 

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