This post has been a long time coming.
I try to be a green, natural mama. I try to rationally and peacefully deal with my children. And when that doesn’t work, I fantasize about selling them to the circus.
But here I am, with two young boys, starting over as a single mama.
I left because I was being abused.
I was silent about it for too long. And I stayed for too long. I could fault myself for those things, but instead, I’m opening up about it. Because if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.
I’ve considered myself a feminist for as long as I knew what the word meant. I helped friends get out of bad relationships and I thought that I knew the signs. I’m also the “mother-earth” type to some of my friends. Yeah, I’m crunchy, but I face the trials of parenting with a mix of peace and humor.
I never expected to end up with a man like this. But abusers don’t come with warning lights. And they should.
I met him when my older son, Little L, was 6 months old. We met through mutual friends, people whose opinions I respected. People he’d known for a long time. They didn’t know this about him either.
We started dating about a year after I met him. He had me: single dad, working hard to provide a good life for his daughters.
Now, 3 months have passed since I ran. And in that time, I’ve learned more about him and his past than I ever knew in the 3 years we were together.
I wish someone would have warned me. But I know now that he hid this side of him, that it was a part of him that no one can see until they’re much too close, until they’re much too afraid to do anything but plan. He’s done this to others, and I had no idea. It’s not something you talk about.
It started with awful arguments. When I was pregnant with our son, Baby E, there were screaming matches because I wanted to keep my boy intact. Once he even went so far as to say,
I wish you’d had an abortion and then we’d never have to fight about circumcision.
(Yes, the logic on that one is wonderful; “If you don’t cut off part of our baby’s body at birth, I’d rather he was aborted.”)
Then, after the birth, I was screamed at any time I questioned anything, especially regarding our joint parenting. Real peaceful, there.
The first time I was really frightened, he threw a computer I was sitting at. He was yelling at me, and I wanted to escape the argument, so I walked into the office to sit down and ignore him for a bit. He followed me and because I wouldn’t fight back, he threw the computer off the desk, somehow ripping out my earring in the process. I have the split earlobe to show now.
Other times, it was busting through locked doors, screaming at me while I tried to sleep or read or not participate. And often I did participate. I take full responsibility for arguing back, for the tension in our household during and after these storms.
But no one deserves to be abused.
No one deserves to be pushed into a wall.
No one deserves to have a window punched out near them.
No one deserves to be pinned by the neck.
No one deserves to watch doors get ripped off the hinges.
No one deserves to have their head repeatedly slammed into the headboard of the bed while breastfeeding their son.
No one deserves dirty name-calling and threats.
I didn’t deserve any of it, no matter my faults as a human being. So I left.
Because as hard and as scary as leaving was, I knew I had to. I had a job as a mother.
I will raise my boys to be kind and gentle and peaceful. I will raise them to treat women with respect, to be their equal partners. And if I was not showing them that I deserved that, how could I expect they would learn any differently?
Since leaving 3 months ago, I have had so much peace in my life. My boys adjusted well, and now we are in a small city. We have a great support system in the form of amazing friends.
Without my ex, I am a better mother. I have more patience. I have less daily tension.
I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect that will happen anytime soon, but I am free. And being free of fear and accusations and drama is a huge first step.