“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”- Maya Angelou
Don't hold they're nose!
A realization of why my children dislike having their face covered.
I reminded back to a day when Rob was arguing with me and he was threatening to kill our daughter, Jessica, if I stopped being disobedient.
The details of the fight is not important, but I recall seeing her little arms and legs flail, her eyes grew big and her little face was so beet red! I, of course, begged and obeyed so he would stop.
Many of our "incidents" magically were forgotten. Bruises would draw a blank or confused look, he deny remembering any of it. A pinch, pulling of hair, was little things that would not draw attention, as these were easy to hide under clothes.
Pinching or even a foot out to trip one of the kids or me was a regular occurrence. Each of us appeared clumsy, so that was the excuse. The scraps, bruises or mishaps that I am aware of didn't draw any attention.
I visited my in-laws in 2006, it was a wonderful spring day, warm enough that I wore a short sleeve shirt, with no jacket on. My father in law watched me closely from behind and as we walked into the house, he asked me what I did to my arms?
I had new dark, purple blue marks on my triceps, where Rob had pinched me that morning because he was angry that I gave him breakfast that was served on a cold plate.
Normally, I pre-warm his plate, but in haste and due to time I had to quickly make breakfast. He would eat it on the toilet, which I warmed up for him as well, by turning on the shower.
Neither of these work day tasks had been done appropriately in Rob’s eyes. He shook me fiercely, pinching me under my arms as punishment.
I didn't even think of the marks when I got to the house! I was embarrassed, back pedaling to think of a good excuse. Thinking of none, I looked sheepishly at my feet.
He asked if Rob did those to me. Did I need him to talk to Rob?
I was horrified and tears spilled down my cheeks as I pleaded with him not to say anything! That would only cause trouble for me and Rob would get back by doing something to the kids as punishment!
He grudgingly agreed, but added that Rob didn't deserve me. He said, his son was an asshole. He was sorry that I was going through this and it was wrong, he said he wouldn't say anything.
I was speechless but grateful for his silence. At the same time I felt relief that someone knew. I did feel as though my hand was in the cookie jar.
When I saw Rob that night, I was nervous because he said his Mom left him a voice mail that she needed to talk to him when he had a chance.
My knees felt like rubber. I busied myself in the kitchen for dinner, while I listened to him dial and speak to her.
He was chuckling over the phone and was saying “Yes” a lot. I had beads of sweat over my eyebrow, I was fumbling to get dishes on the table, and Rob eyeballed me curiously.
I just smiled a cheesy smile towards his way.
He got off the phone and told me that they had great time visiting his sister. She was replaying some of the antics of my sister in laws pets.
I must have looked relieved, Rob asked, “What’s wrong?”
I jokingly said, “Nothing, just happy the smoke alarm didn't go off for dinner.”
He didn't seem to buy it but he let it go.
I thanked God and his angels for continued safety!
“It’s crazy right to love someone who hurt you? It’s crazier to think someone who hurt you loves you.”- Unknown
Let’s go shopping!
Rob had a habit of spending money we didn't have. There was no arguing with him about it. You just went along with it.
There was fun during these times feeling mildly normal, though we didn't have extra cash to spend. I was bewildered by these random acts of kindness for the kids or myself.
The kids were tickled to get a new toy and I was happy to have a peaceful time. Rob only seemed happy when he was spending money.
He enjoyed “Keeping up with the Joneses”, I had every kitchen gadget and doo-dad that were available on late night infomercials! Bills were behind, our credit was shot, and our home was in foreclosure on more than one incident. We filed for bankruptcy on two occasions.
Family or friends would gush about this or that new item; Rob would beam about this or that new toy.
I was never impressed. I didn't need these things. The one thing I wanted passionately was love, safety and no more hurting.
The kids figured this was Rob’s way of buying everyone’s love. They felt it was worth it.
These gifts came with a price, as with any seemingly generous offer from Rob, whether it be to be thrown up in one’s face later or to be crushed when Rob became upset.
Though appears that our lives were depressing due to bad memories. Often these times were over shadowed of waiting for the other shoe to drop, which would happen in an instant.
After we left, I researched everything I could on the emotional and mental labels placed on Rob. The textbook symptoms of a person in his state of mind were classic.
Shopping sprees, anger outbursts, suicide attempts, violence, isolating us, and more confirmed all of our experiences. Had I listened and trusted my gut instincts early on all of these experiences may belong to someone else.
“You can’t judge my choices, without knowing my reasons.”- Unknown
Losing your marbles
Our youngest daughter, Alex, recalled that we used to have a marble game. She remembers one incident in which she had taken it upon herself to play by alone since one else wanted to play with her. She found a pair of gloves, one had a hole in it so stuffed all the game pieces in them.
She placed the gloves in the cabinet in the kitchen, she doesn't recall why she did so but she thinks it was just to be silly or to for safe keeping. Jessica and Matt still weren't interested in playing with her, so, she started to watch TV and forgot about the game.
Later in the day, out of the blue Rob wanted to play the marble game and there weren't too many games he would play. Rob played to win taking much fun out of playing games with him.
Alex got the game out, but forgot about playing with the pieces earlier. Rob looked in the box, saw it was empty asked where all the pieces went to.
He turned to Alex to ask if she could find them for him.
Alex remembered she bounded down and she looked in the TV cabinet and Jessica, said Alex was looking wrong. Matt looked by the window and then Rob was really angry, he was looking for them himself but he never left the chair. He told them to look elsewhere.
You can tell he was frustrated, his face was red. By this time she says I got home and he informed me that someone lost all the marble pieces and did I know where they went to? I said I didn't know.
He called all the kids together, and told him that she still didn't remember where that she hid them. She remembers that she was scared. I was putting groceries away and I was getting more nervous about the situation as well. She admitted that she hid them!
She checked in every room in the house and all the while he was yelling louder. Alex became upset and started crying. She said she was on the stairs and I looked scared and I told her to try to remember and she cried longer and harder because she was scared.
Rob was barking his head off. Jessica and Matt were frustrated at her, as they were looking all over. We already searched in most of the cupboards looking for them but did not find them quickly.
She checked on the kitchen and then she went to cry and Rob was yelling really loud and she said looked like I was worried. Jessica and Matt fled into the front room. She was whimpering on the stairs trying to recall what she did with them. She had the idea to look in the cabinet! She dodged around him, as he was yelling at me and she found the glove!
“Oh my goodness!” she said.
Jessica and Matt came out of the front room slowly.
Rob was still yelling at me and Alex said very loudly for the 4th time that she found the marbles!
She felt so proud. Rob picked up the glove, he said “Why on earth did you put them in this glove."
She had to explain herself, no one wanting to play with her, and then finding the gloves and putting them away to play hidden treasure with her brother and sister. She believes we were looking for 3 hours. He told her, "You should know not to do that!" He sent her to her room and he sat on the couch and watched M*A*S*H.
He dismissed the whole incident as though nothing happened.
She remembers that I came up to the bedroom to thank her for remembering where she hid them. I gave her a hug, kiss and told her it would be OK. Rob called me so I left the room. Jessica and Matt went to watch cartoons. After an hour she stopped crying, she went downstairs to look around. Rob yelled it was OK for her to come out.
She crept down the stairs, Rob was on the couch and I was somewhere else, something with papers at the table. He got up and walked to the table where he stood over me, still seemed frustrated about something but he calmed down about the game incident. She quickly shuffled into the Front room with Matt and Jessica to watch T.V.
Breaking the cycle of abuse is so important! I didn't wish for my kids to follow in our footsteps. The only way I saw fit to break this was to leave.
I am relearning how to have a relationship with other people. Regaining some balance for life and to know what is acceptable behavior in public and private, also healing physically, mentally and emotionally.
Children do not have the same capacity for healing as adults of abuse. Many times children may act out or there could be developmental delays.
“They don’t like the thought of someone else making demands on the person whom they see as belonging entirely to them.”- Jodi Picoult,
Signs to watch for in your children in an abusive situation
You may also notice your child may seem to have little phobias, rituals or what appear to be OCD moments. Such as, nail biting, twirling or pulling their hair, perhaps cutting themselves, acting out sexually or food addictions. These can also appear in adults!
Many challenges facing kids such as, asthma, allergies, autism, seizures and more may clear up or get better once they are out of the abusers home! This also seems to appear the same about adults as well.
I have done research on studies that link stressful situations to various ailments that seem to plague us. Even if you are not in an abusive situation, stress can cause many side effects that can show up in your health.
Children of abuse can have a hard time coping with these things. I have wrote about them from time to time and it is so near and dear to my heart that I cannot stress how important it is to get help or have patience with children in an abusive situation.
I myself have had so many experiences through the healing of my girls that has been a scary roller coaster at time. I want to tell you that everything has been easy.
That's a fib.
We have had tantrums, crying fits, fear, nightmares, mouthy times, running away (not far), suicide attempts, thoughts of harming someone else (My ex), disrespect towards me and depression. It is easy to say that these things happened right after we left my ex. These things continue to rear its ugly head, like a pimple that won't go away.
In all honesty, I have cleansed our home, pleaded the Blood of Christ and prayed insistently for my children. We have dealt with sullen children and I swear there were times either girl was possessed by some dark forces!
OK, OK! I didn't break out Holy Water, but there is something to be said for the power of prayer. I know I have made it clear throughout my blog that I have a strong faith and truly believe God has been always by my side.
I do hope my girls do heal well. They don't like the counselor that was appointed by the court. The counselor they did like ended up excusing herself due to fear of my ex. I have asked them to blog or write a story or just share with one another or us what they do remember.
Sadly, they don't do this often or hardly at all. I can see where this is a problem for them.
My youngest, Alex, is skittish, afraid of everything or if someone raises their voice (even if it is not directed at her), she does have a tendency to show signs of a nasty temper, in which she can snap if pushed too far. She doesn't have many if any friends, her appearance seem to suffer. She could care less if she bathes or even brushes her hair. She would live in the same clothes for weeks if she could get away with it! She gets picked on (bullied) at school.
Our oldest, Jessica, has a nasty mean streak, in which she reminds me so much of her Dad from time to time it is really scary. She likes to cause pain in others, verbal, emotional or physical. She can be a handful. But, she is a rising star at school, with gobs of friends and big plans for the future.
Both are very good students, of which I am very pleased! They are excelling at school very well. Our younger daughter, Alex, does have an issue with biting off more than she can chew with projects and also waiting to the last minute to do a project.
My prayers for them are to find normalcy.
A partner when they are older that cherishes them.
Become wonderful parents, leaving the abusive past in the past,
being able to move towards a future of joy and happiness.
I miss Matt terribly. My heart aches for him; my worry is that I will never be able to repair that relationship. I pray for him all the time. My prayer for him is mirrored those for his Sisters.
Raising children is never easy, while raising children that are survivors or victims of any type of abuse is super challenging. I pray often for Terry, who has taken my "Baggage" with the amazing patience that I never knew.
I'm not saying he has not been challenged or not frustrated. The relationship our blended family has continues to blossom, despite stepping into the shoes of a father of an additional 3 children, there is a respect that has grown into something I had never thought would be.
The understanding that we have is that he is the Man of the house. He is firm, but not abusive and there is no give in his parenting. The girls talk to him, lean on him and come to him for problems. I'm not jealous but do envy to some degree the relationship. He has been the rock for us when we have an emotional issue. I consider us very lucky for God placing him in our lives.
I challenge you to be there for your kids. Help them to trust and seek out normalcy.
Take off your Mom/Dad hat off, while listening, it can be hard to do but you may be amazed at what is shared.
Dream for the future- Creating a Wish/Vision board can be a great help to assist in making big dreams or even planning for a fun weekend!
Try not to bash your ex in front of your children
Encourage them to journal about the past experiences
Learning to love yourself is a big step in healing you! I encourage beginning to use “Positive Affirmations” daily! I do this with my children too, letting them know they are loved, worthy of loved and worthy of being loved.
Do not be afraid to let them see you cry if you are having a hard time. A build-up of emotions can lead to an explosive or depressive moment that you can’t take back.
Don't share anything that is happening legally.
Do try to remember good times shared in the past.
Children can pick up abusive patterns.
Healing your shattered spirit isn't something that will happen overnight. It takes time to heal and recover. It may have been years since you may have left your abuser and your child maybe pretty rough around the edges, but it you can do it!
This may take years of counseling or talking to caring friends or family to heal. Children seem to have a tougher time healing after an abusive relationship. They are too immature to explain or vent about how the abuse affected them.
Don't be surprised to see aggression, confusion, head banging, running away, verbal abuse, cutting, crying, depression, anxieties, withdrawing from you and more.
Like you, they need time to heal. Healing is slow. It can be frustrating. And that is my professional opinion as a Jack of all trades.
I am not a therapist or counselor. I have read much on the subject; spoke to various professionals (Legal and Medical) and of course my own firsthand experience.
The raw emotions in the beginning after leaving the abusive relationship are very strong! They can be overwhelming- I never did wear the Rudolph the booger nose reindeer look well.
Believe or not they will pass as time goes by. If you plan to live a charmed life soon after leaving your abuser, though that sounds lovely, in reality you may be dealing with someone that threatens your life or your children or is stalking you and the legal circus could have you in tears.
I am not sharing any of this to intimidate you, or cause you to think, "Maybe I'll just stay with Chet or Jane Doe to save myself the trouble or problems."
The road to recovery and freedom from abuse by far outweighs where you are now. Knowing that you can survive from this and you will survive should inspire you to stay strong.
Going back to why I needed to leave is to let my kids know that there can be a really good chance of “Happily ever after. . . “
“Do not allow him—the abuser—to tell you who you are or take the blame for his actions.”- Source Unknown
Joined a cult
During the course of my marriage, my faith grew amazingly more. Not having much of a background religiously, I had found great comfort in learning all I could about God that I sought growing up.
As must people of Mexican descent, Catholicism held a mystical interest to me. My Grandmother, Jenny and several Aunts had told me about the Saints and Angels. My Grandma Gwen, gave me comfort about Jesus watching over me. Prayers to God, Jesus and especially, St. Jude were common for me anytime I needed to feel safe or when I was afraid.
Later, I would glean information from Baptists, Wicca, various world religions that gave me a broader concept about what I wanted to learn more about as I grew older.
During the planning of the wedding, we couldn't get married in the Catholic Church because I was never a regular attendant nor did I have did I go to Catechism.
I found a Methodist church that didn't mind if we held our nuptials there. Despite, going through with the marriage and beginning to attend regular service, I didn't feel like I belonged.
Eventually, Rob eventually grew weary of attending, so we stopped, only to visit once I was pregnant with our son Matt. I wished we could have stayed for fellowship longer. I enjoyed the sermons deeply, even buying a Bible for myself to read when Rob wasn't around.
Once again, we stopped attending regularly, as Rob became bored. We move early in 2002, I found a church that felt very special to me. A Methodist church but everything seemed to click. The people there were very welcoming.
My spirit was soaring!
Despite the turmoil at home, I felt great comfort at attending church. Rob stopped going long ago, but I attended as often as I could with the kids. Rob made sure he timed how long we were gone or he would interrogate the kids to see if we did indeed go to church.
I joined a Woman’s group, choir, and morning Bible study. Singing was very much a part of my life as a child; I participated in school from as long as I could remember. I would sing all the time. I had stopped after singing to Rob when we were first dating, and he informed me I was too “Nasal”, I wasn't singing right or
I didn't sound good. So I stopped singing in front of him.
I was excited about all these things in church, of course asking for permission to participate, as always. He was hesitant but allowed me to attend.I would get all my chores done prior and even made sure dinner was served, kids were bathed and in jammies for the two evening activities I had attended on once occassion.
I went to one Woman’s group meeting and one choir practice, leaving halfway through the practice and I was informed that I had to quit both. He called me every 10 to 15 minutes to ask when will I be done, who was there, why was it taking so long. Rob would accuse me I of having an affair with a church member or someone else. Perhaps I was banging the Pastor and he saw these groups taking too much time away from the family, even though I only went one time. That was time taken away from him.
I grew restless but leaned on my faith and reading my Bible regularly. Making notes when a verse popped out at me, the Bible becoming worn from the use. And I had grew bolder and would leave Rob verses that spoke to me in his lunch box or wallet. He would sometime scoff or make fun of me, saying the church is brainwashing me. Than there were other times we would discuss what the verse could have meant or why.
One Sunday, I didn't ask Rob for permission to go to church. We had a pretty good week, I had been praying for Rob’s salvation, our marriage and difficulties to pass. I had asked God to work in Rob’s heart and to help me to become a good Helpmeet.
He was lying in bed as the kids and I had gotten ready for church. He didn't say a word, listening to his music so loud the windows were rattling, or he would don a pair of headphone and listen loudly, but on this day he was listening without the headphones, which made me yell and wave at him to get his attention.
I smiled and he turned down the music, asking me where I was going.
“Church, its Sunday!” I said.
He glared at me, not saying a word.
“Okay, we will see you after lunch.” I added, while waving and starting to walk away.
I grabbed my purse and Bible, heading for the door. The music went quiet. I thought maybe he turned on the headphones and I kept walking.
In a flash, Rob came up from behind, yanking me backward by my hair, yelling that I wasn't going anywhere.
I was caught off guard, falling over my feet, surprised.
“You’re staying home! You’re not going to your fucking cult that you belong to!” He snatched my Bible from my hands, throwing it against the wall as he screamed that I was being brainwashed by “those people”.
I was crying telling him okay but I needed to let the kids know what was taking me so long and that we are staying home instead. Though the kids didn't have patience for church the Sunday ritual became a safe time for us to have peace.
He stormed up to my face, announcing that I was never going to church again! He picked up my Bible from the floor, pointing out I made him lose control and now there was a hole in the wall because I being disobedient. According to him, the teachings of the church were to disobey my husband!
He stormed into the bathroom and I could hear him flush the toilet.
“Go get the damn kids from the van, you Moron!” he barked as he slammed the door to our bedroom. The music went back on, the house was vibrating. I couldn't hear myself think.
I quickly wiped my face and went out to see the kids, who were quiet and had concerned looks on their faces. Jess had asked me what I had done to make Dad mad.
I cringed; telling them to get in the house, Dad says we are staying home from church. No one said anything as they walked in. We couldn't hear anything if we tried to talk to one another due to the music.
The rest of the night was filled with silence and strained smiles. No one wanting to make a sound or cause any trouble while the kids played throughout the day and evening as to not have Rob be upset.
At bedtime, Rob announced to me that he was sorry; I could go to church but not for a while. I was hurt and sadden to hear the news. He told me that he had fished my Bible out of the toilet; he felt terrible and promised to get another one for me.
It would be several years later, another move later; the kids are I were allowed to attend church again. As promised, he attempted to buy me a new Bible during a shopping spree years after the incident, but I declined, saying no thank you. Not feeling that I wanted his false generosity.
In 2010, after leaving Rob well over a year, Terry had bought a KJV Bible from the church we belonged to. It means a lot to me, the worn pages giving me continued comfort, it was given without any strings attached and love.
“When you are with someone who is never pleased, it is time to stop trying to please him.”- Source Unknown
Whatcha got in your wallet?
There were regular purse checks. He would empty my purse, as I telling me, “You are a pig and this purse was disgusting!”
Anything that seemed off or wrong about the contents of my purse were scrutinized heavily, if anything was found questionable I better have a good reason for whatever it was.
I would have to stand patiently next to him as he poured over it. He would mumble about how many pens I had or how come I wasn't giving him receipts.
He didn't understand why my purse was so messy. I had all but given up on the contents, with nothing much in it that could be damaging; even a small candy wrapper would unleash the wrath of hell down upon me.
I would make sure to go through my wallet or purse on my own regularly. Since I did have contact with customers in our business, there would occasionally have a random business card or I would scribble down someone’s name to contact further for whatever the reason, all of this would have to be verified. He would either call the person or grill me for several minutes to hours to make sure my story about this person hadn't changed. Any change in position or stance or quiver would have me guilty of a crime of adultery.
Feeling as though I was living in a glass house where nothing was left unquestioned. I was hesitant and felt powerless to do anything, talk to anyone or go anywhere.
“I dream of a day when no child watches her mother being beaten by her father, when no child needs to cover her ears to block the screams”- Wynona Ward
The bad girl
In 2005, I became a bad girl in need of a spanking or punishment.
Somewhere down the road I was told to drop my pants and bend over to get my punishment. To make matters worse, he was beginning to train the kids to spank me.
Telling them “Mommy was bad and needs to be punished.” The kids looked horrified. I could see they were conflicted to do what Dad wants and not hurt me.
Jessica, our middle Daughter cried and begged him not to hurt me. Pulling on his arm that was ready to swing down and whack me. Rob pushed her away and told the kids that if Mom promises to do what she is told they won’t have to punish her but they may have to watch if I’m a bad girl again.
On more than one occasion Rob would break out a belt or wooden cutting board to paddle me with. On one occasion he became so enraged that he broke the board during a spanking, due to the force he was using.
He saw that and he laughed. He thought it was hilarious, he laughed for some time, asking me if I thought it was funny. I was trying not to cry during these exchanges as not to make him angered further.
After this exchange, he calmed down he suggested we go out to buy a new cutting board since I would more than likely need it later that evening to make dinner.
I breathed a sigh of relief as my punishment was done! This gave me a break and broke the mood, no pun! There was something twisted about having to go shopping for a tool to beat you.
For some reason once we were out looking, I couldn't help to find the irony in this. He settled on a sturdier plastic board that would hold up better to the many uses this would have. I cringed at the thought.
My oldest daughter bravely would bring me ice for any bumps or wipe my tears or help with any bloody lips. We would panic if we heard him come back in the room or house. She would rush out of the room quickly as not to get caught helping me.
The amount of cruel intimidation continued through our marriage until a bubble burst where it would end up in a fists flying, insults and apologizes.
I have learned later that the cycle of abuse runs to a “Honeymoon phase” where the abuser becomes so kind, gentle and the person you long for he or she to be, you actually believe this is going to work! Your walls that you build to protect you or insulate yourself may come down.
The Honeymoon phase doesn't last long but does vary from time to time. From a few hours to months or years, you never know when the other shoe will drop.
While this phase can be joyous and wonderful, you may have a part of you that is hesitant to embrace the change at first. If you have been through the Honeymoon phase numerous times, it loses its sparkle and this may also infuriate your abuser.