I’m beside myself… My 11 year-old daughter recently decided she wants to live with her dad, citing that she’s not happy living with me. Unsurprisingly, this has elicited within me feelings of failure as a mother… I’ve loved her and always provided for her as best I could as a single mother (with a hell of a mother wound myself) since the day I found out I was pregnant with her. I’ve sacrificed, fought back tears from her dagger-like words and given SO MUCH of myself that some days I don’t know who I am anymore.
I’ve been in therapy for a year working on my past traumas, as has she. I have offered myself as a safe space to her and have used every parenting tactic known to the human race… I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless, hopeless and want to crawl in a hole and bury myself. She has told me she wants me all to herself, doesn’t want to share me with her sister or anyone else. She’s also been mean, verbally abusive and morbid as long as I can remember. Her dad can’t believe the behaviors I’ve described to him, as she’s never that way around him.
I feel like giving up, folding my cards and letting them fall as they may. My health, both physically and mentally, has deteriorated tremendously over the last several years and I simply don’t have the energy to keep fighting.
The day I started dying inside, I was nineteen. I was shy and socially awkward; a late-blooming virgin, clueless about relationships. He was married with children, almost twice my age. I met him on campus where he worked as a security guard. He reeled me in by pretending to be my friend when I was feeling lonely.
Then, like a swimmer struggling against a tide, I found myself steered into a relationship that I did not want. A relationship I knew was wrong.
At first there were brief, stolen kisses and awkward gropes when no one was watching. Two weeks later, I found myself alone in my apartment with him. I didn’t think anything was going to happen. I’d planned to pick up a book and return to the campus library to complete an assignment due the following day.
He suggested that we hang out for awhile; sit on the balcony and have coffee. I thought, “Why not? What harm can there be in taking twenty minutes to have coffee?”
I was so naive.
I went into the kitchen to set up the coffee maker. As the coffee dripped slowly into the carafe, I went back into the living room – and stopped dead in my tracks. He had closed the blinds so the room was dimly lit. He had stripped down to his underwear and placed a box of condoms on the coffee table.
I was speechless, flustered, panicky. My heart beat so loudly so I was sure he could hear it from the other side of the room.
“We’ll need those,” he said, pointing at the condoms.
He walked slowly towards me, with an odd smile on his face.
“NO!” I said, the fear evident in my voice. “I don’t WANT to!”
I suddenly noticed the difference in our sizes. He was almost a full foot taller than me and built like a tank. I felt very small beside him.
Then, somehow I was lying on my back on the floor with him straddling me. He ran one finger down the length of my neck as he quietly but menacingly said, “We’re going to do this whether you want to or not.”
I let him do it then.
I did not fight him.
I did not try to stop him.
I did not scream or call for help.
I just laid there and let him do it.
Even though I hated it, even though the tears were rolling uncontrollably down my face.
Ever since that day, I have felt haunted that I didn’t stop him. I cannot escape the humiliation and the shame I still feel. I wonder maybe if I HAD stopped him, my life wouldn’t have gone into a free fall. I wouldn’t have experienced the next two hellish years.
A while back, I was spending some time reading the blogs here on Band Back Together. Usually I travel over to Mommy, Alcoholism, or other topics….this time I fell upon some PTSD posts, and thought I should share my story.
Back in February 2010, I was in a car accident that changed my life. I have a multitude of physical injuries with muscles and nerves and emotional/brain issues. At first the doctors were hopeful that time would resolve these with physical therapies but it’s a really slow process. I’m now under the care of a neurologist, undergoing testing. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something I was diagnosed with when I visited a therapist who sat me down and did a simple checklist with me. Imagine, that one Big Black Thing can be determined… with a checklist.
What it’s like in my head is so difficult to describe, because words get mixed up in my brain. It’s been almost impossible to describe because it is unclear to me. I lose words. As I write blog entries, I have volumes of words in my head and cannot seem to get them out; they elude me. I tend to type paragraphs or sentences while chapters are locked in the prison of my mind. It is a very dark place I rarely explore these issues outside of therapy offices anymore. There, at least, they have the right questions, the ones that can open the cell door a bit.
Life hasn’t changed on a day-to-day basis. If I had a new ball of yarn, tightly and neatly rolled, I could easily begin to knit a scarf. If I took that new ball of yarn and allowed a puppy to play with it for an hour, it would still be a ball of yarn with the same length, color, and overall properties, but it would have imperfections. I can still use this yarn to knit a scarf that will keep me warm but the imperfections can be apparent if you look closely. The strength, however, will not be the same.
For example, I have a phone where all my appointments are stored, as are daily tasks such as picking up my kids from school, eating, sending paperwork, and calling friends to help with paperwork. I lose time. For example, last week I had a form to fill out to send away to the car insurance company. It was a very straightforward form but I would have to access other forms in my file folder to access my policy numbers and other information. I sat down to do this with the file folder beside me – everything I do has to be organized and focused. I got up to get a pen and ended up in a different room of the house doing something entirely different with no idea how I got sidetracked. I didn’t even realize until I walked past the table with the file folder on it.
I was immediately angry at this lost time.
I sat down again to complete the task. A while later my heart rate was up, my right leg was bouncing, I was becoming frantic because I just couldn’t understand it. I had rifled through my file folder countless times to find my policy number, which I knew was on many of the pages. Yet I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t remember how many times I’d looked through it. Did I look through it? I think I did. Try again.
My phone beeped to let me know I had to pick up my daughter from school in an hour.
What? I’d lost 2.5 hours! The pressure was too much. A huge breath exploded from inside me. I pushed up from the kitchen table knocking over my chair. I was furious! My head was pounding. I felt a stabbing pain at the base of my as my back spasmed and my hands were tingly.
The black doom was closing in upon me.
I ran to the bathroom, ran the cold water over my inner wrists, breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth, crying silent dry heaving sobs.
Then I was numb.
Breathing normally, I washed my splotchy red face and reapplied my makeup. I went to the kitchen for some Extra Strength Tylenol. It does almost nothing but I don’t take the anti-spasmodic medication for my back because it makes me a zombie. I tried to relax in my numbness and lost time until the alarm rang telling me I had 15 minutes to pick up my daughter.
I had 15 minutes until I had to be Mom, the mom I want to be – the smiling, patient mom. Not the numb, auto-pilot mom. So I put on the happy mask and prepared to give my daughters the memories they deserve, knowing that God provides me the strength. Until I can truly experience it, I will mimic it for them.
Just typing this makes me uneasy; it’s the tip of the iceberg for me. I don’t want to address the iceberg.
I implement controls for my daily activities, remaining hopeful that one day the PTSD will give up this lock on me.
I thought it would be my salvation when the doctor gave me the test results. I was twenty and my life was going nowhere. I should have known it would be a disaster.
I thought it would save me, though. I had seen him with his kids. I had seen how happy they were when they were around him, how he seemed to dote on them. He looked like a good dad who would never harm any child of his.
I thought that when he knew he had another child growing in my belly, he would stop hitting me, that he would want to love and protect this child as much as he did his other children.
I was excited when I told him. Smiling, thinking that he would be excited, too. He asked me how far along I was. “Three months,” I said. “I’m three months pregnant.”
He looked at me for a long time, saying nothing. I could not read the expression on his face. Then …
He kicked my baby out of me. He planted his foot repeatedly into my belly until I lay there in a pool of blood, mourning for the child that would never be.
My baby, my baby. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that you had to die so violently, while you were supposed to be safe and protected within my womb.
For a boy of only three, you have quite a story. Any attempt to write it all down will be like a Polaroid picture of an HD film – nothing will capture the life in your eyes. I am okay with that, I just need to put this all down.
My son, you are loved more than anyone could ever tell you. I know EVERYONE says that about their children, but you truly are. When we made the decision to place you with another family, I made sure that your bio-dad and I were on the same page – longing for your perfect future.
I am sorry – deeply, painfully sorry – that I could not see through your adoptive Mom’s lies. I kick myself for that. We’d hand-picked that family, a big family, for you. You have no shortage of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Even before the whole of you would fill the face of a quarter, I knew you deserved that.
I just found out that your parents are divorcing. I am sorry. I never wanted you to grow up in a single-parent family. I missed out on having a dad growing up, so I know the value of having two adults around to love and cherish you. I know two incomes are easier than one. We placed you because we were weak in our relationship and we wanted you raised in a mature, loving, rock-solid marriage. Now, I find out the marriage we trusted was a sham.
I know that your family still loves you dearly.
My son, my child, I am wrestling with the idea of fighting for custody. Your Mom has recently displayed violent tendencies. I cannot, in good conscience, leave you in that situation. Please forgive me. Your Dad adores you, as do your sisters and brother. I hate that I’m thinking of fighting for custody, but I don’t know how anyone can raise 5 children as a single parent.
I wish there was a crystal ball for me to shake, to see what the right answer is. I wish trusted the woman I picked to raise you, the woman that was there for all of your ultrasounds, your birth, your firsts.
I am having problems trusting myself at all. The decision to place you was one thing I’d been solid in.
I knew I had done what was right. Except now? Even that is shaky.