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Sunday, June 28, 2009

One Foot Still In the Door

Charlie found a place to live, but asked if he could keep his things in the garage. I didn't see any harm in that, not realizing at the time that he simply wanted to keep one foot in the door, as he continued to find excuses to come over because he needed something out of the garage.

A mutual friend of his and mine, who Charlie grew up with, had just gone through a divorce himself and was trying to "help" me understand that I could not wash Charlie's clothes for him and do little things for him because he was mistaking my kindness as a weakness to continue to be in my life. I was torn about this, but later realized that this was very true.

Charlie was very cooperative. He was paying the bills and coming over to get the girls to spend time with them and seemed as though he was truly making an effort to change. He was still going to therapy and was keeping me up to date on his progress, all the while still pleading with me to give him one more chance. Seventeen years of marriage... one more chance... Would I ever regret not giving him ONE MORE CHANCE?

The paperwork came for the hearing date for the divorce. I caved. I drove to the courthouse and let them know that I would not be continuing the divorce proceeding. I allowed him to move back in and within one week, he was back to his old self again. I could not believe it. I received a call from one of my job applications, and after a very positive interview, started a new job and in the same breath, told Charlie to get back out of the house. I filed for divorce again, kicking myself for not keeping a copy of the first packet that I filled out only a few months prior.

Why was Charlie so willing to leave? Many people were told by him and think that it was out of the "goodness of his heart" that he "gave" the house to me. In reality, he received over $40,000.00 cash and his untouched retirement benefits, which I was entitled to share, all of his almost 900 hours of PTO time, half the amount of alimony that the court ordered him to pay and all of his guns, which value at well over $20,000.00 or more. I received the house... no cash... but was happy to be able to keep the house for the girls and me. Charlie knew he was guilty of abuse... guilty of years of abuse to me and the girls were old enough to share with the courts and could answer any questions they had in regards to our life with Charlie.

The Beginning of the End

Funny how people say they will change and can change when reality smacks them in the face. I personally do not believe people can change. My life experience and the lives of my very dear friends have shown me that people simply do not change. This is my personal view and if you disagree, that's okay with me.

I mustered up the strength to go down to the courthouse and get a divorce packet. The divorce packet was almost a 1/2" thick and very intimidating. I filled out the divorce packet and asked Charlie to please leave. I had been sleeping in the basement for awhile and I had no desire to allow him to touch me ever again. He cried, pleaded, begged, got on his hands and knees and told me he was sorry and he would change. He told me that he knew that he had hurt me and that he was sorry, over and over and over again... I felt nothing. I had nothing left to give. I had nothing left in my heart. I had to fill out the packet if not for myself, but for my girls.

We had the paperwork notorized and Charlie went to therapy for two or three months. He was determined to show me that he would change. I had filed for divorce and there was not a day in my life at that time, that I did not take the girls to the bus stop and come home and lie in my bed and cry for hours at a time. I had no job. I had no idea what I was going to do financially... I was so confused and lost.... felt so alone and so ashamed of my life and what I had accepted as treatment from a man that didn't deserve the time of day from me, much less two wonderful children. I had to be strong, if not for myself, for my girls. Every day, I would get into the shower and I would cry and pray. The tears of hurt and sorrow washed down the drain and my strength was renewed enough to get me through the day. God's voice, every single day was telling me, "...this too shall pass...". That was my ritual... every day for weeks...

My Second Baby Girl

As I watched my first daughter grow into such a beautiful, sweet child, it weighed heavy on my mind to decide whether or not to have another child for her to share her life with. She was extremely close to me, but as she grew older, she showed a little more interest in her father, who was happier to spend time with her when she was out of diapers and potty trained. He never changed her diapers, so rarely would take her places or do things with her unless I was nearby. Her father loved archery and for Christmas one year, I purchased her a little red bow out of the Sears catalog. With the purchase of her bow, a bond began between her and her father and she loved more than anything to see him smile at her hitting the target. We had started going to 3D shoots and enjoyed the time we shared, walking through the woods and watching everyone in awe of a little girl with a pony tail letting go of a tiny arrow and smacking a target dead on from a few feet away. She was the youngest to ever compete in the IBO World Championship held in Flatwoods, WV approximately 13 years ago.

Archery didn't last long when Charlie started to try to change her and the simple things that she was used to. He began to turn something fun into something he wanted for her and of course, for himself, which was more competition. The fun was replaced with a release and expensive bow that she had no interest in picking up. All she wanted to do was shoot her little red bow without conditions and new equipment. That was the beginning and end of archery for her...

My second daughter was born when my first child was 4. She was a quiet baby and slept all of the time. I remember asking the doctor what was wrong with her. I would find her in various places through the house sleeping... on the floor, at the bar, under her bed... He told me to feel fortunate that she slept, as many babies did not. My second daughter was extremely close to me and seemed to cling to me constantly. She was always a very sensitive little child.

I had become as much of a buffer as I could when it came to disciplining the girls. I knew too well what Charlie was capable of doing and was always on guard and on edge, watching and waiting for every moment and movement that he would make when one of the girls did something that he was not fond of. He was extremely tough on the girls and made them eat at the bar instead of the table with us because he didn't want them getting food or prints on the oak dining room table. Shoes were and had to be left at the side entrance door and he had a sign made that was professionally engraved that read, "PLEASE REMOVE YOUR SHOES. THANK YOU." This sign was placed on the kitchen entry door and when someone did not remove their shoes, I had to hear about it after they left. No eating was ever allowed in the vehicles. He had a habit of kicking their toys out of his path and then screaming about it. If he got annoyed at the girls, he would lift them up by their arms and sling them into their bedrooms.

My oldest daughter started to have coughing spells late at night. Charlie went to bed early and got up very early to go to work. I would take the girls to the basement with a snack and water and keep them down there until bedtime so they would not wake him up. My oldest daughter woke up one night and could not stop coughing. Charlie was livid. He jumped out of bed and screamed at her and yelled that HE had to get up early and could not sleep and slammed the bedroom door. I went in with her and tried to help her stop coughing. I finally decided that I was not able to do anything for her and took her to the ER. The ER doctor immediately diagnosed her with asthma. There were many trips to the ER until I figured out what worked best for her here with her nebulizer and how to control her asthma before it got to the point that she needed an ER trip. This was simply an inconvenience to Charlie and he still would get annoyed at her for coughing and more annoyed at me for not being able to quiet her.

One evening, I walked by my second daughter's room and saw her sitting on her knees on the floor with a Barbie Corvette and scotch tape. I went into her room and knelt down beside her and asked what she was doing. She told me that daddy kicked the car and broke it and she was trying to fix it. At that point, my heart exploded into tiny pieces and the realization came to me that Charlie had not only hurt me, but was hurting my children.

Time To Move

The log house had served its purpose, but the cold winters and maintenance on the logs were a bit more than I cared to continue to deal with, as did Charlie. The winters were so cold and the dusty gravel road that we lived on left a film on everything constantly. Our well had gone dry and we paid to have another drilled that only produced 4 gpm. I wanted to get rid of the house before the second well went dry and I was simply tired of the woodpeckers, bore bees, and money spent on sealant for the exterior...

The property went up for sale and $40,000.00 was profited and put into our new home. I had no regrets and was happy to get rid of the house. It seemed to have drained me emotionally, financially and physically. I had used a hand saw to cut trim for the doors and mopped plywood floors until we were able to afford the walnut flooring that we wanted. The two woodstoves to keep going was overwhelming by myself, especially when Charlie was gone to hunt the huge black bear he never got, or that record breaking white tail deer, and wood had not been carried from down over the hill closer to the house. We had electric baseboard heat, but if you have ever had it, you know that it will eat up electricity and leave you with extremely high electric bills.

I live in the house that we built after we sold the log house. My daughter and I LOVED being in the yard every spring, summer and fall, planting bushes, trees, perennials and annuals. Everything was planted for a reason and in a specific place. I edged every tree and garden and mulched every inch that was bare. Spring was my favorite time of year, as God rewarded me with the most beautiful blossoms on everything I planted. Every spring was a new beginning for my garden, a new year for me and a step further away from the past...

My First Child...

As tormented as I was about my life and what to do next, my "biological clock" was ticking away, so I was told by all of the friends around us that already had children. My logic, as much as it could be called logic, was telling me that things were pretty much as good as they were going to get and the outbursts that were bestowed upon me no longer effected me emotionally, as I had learned to let them bounce off of my heart and memory...

In April, my first baby girl was born. From that moment on, my priorities and my life changed once again. I protected her with all that I had and immediately began preparing her to become and independent little being. Still tucked down inside my heart and the back of my mind, I could not completely diminish the thought that someday Charlie would harm me again. I wanted my child to be ready if anything was to ever happen to me and be able to do things by herself.

At the age of two, she was able to sing her ABCs and speak in complete sentences. She was with me everywhere I went... in the yard, in the house, my constant shadow. She absorbed everything that I had to offer her and then some. She could dress herself and brush her teeth with ease. Sometimes her tiny clothes were on backwards and didn't match that well, but she could get dressed. She learned to brush her long beautiful hair and could pull a chair to the cabinets and counters, under my watchful eyes, to get herself a snack. By the time she went to kindergarten, she was well advanced and very bored in school. She enjoyed helping her peers reach and attain the goals she had met long ago. As she grew older, she continued her successes and habits that she learned at a very young age...