Category Archives: abusive relationship

Update

It’s been a long spring and summer so far and I haven’t kept up on this…

Sam Sr. passed away this spring. Sam sent an e-mail telling me to tell Max that his grandfather died. Nothing else: nothing about if it was peacefully in his sleep, if he’d been ill, when the services were; he didn’t include a “Tell Max I love him” or words of sympathy for our son.

I felt it was important for Max to go to his Grandfather’s funeral, but I also didn’t want to run the risk of taking the focus off of Sam Sr. by attending myself. I was worried that if I went, Sam and Francine might start in on why Max hadn’t seen their family in years. I also didn’t want to have to defend myself and the court’s decision to pull Sam’s visitation rights or explain that just because Sam couldn’t see Max, it didn’t mean Sam Sr. couldn’t. My sister and I talked about the situation and possible complications, and she and her husband agreed to take Max to the funeral.

Max got new slacks, and he got to pick out a new dress shirt and a new tie along with a tie bar. We researched tie knots and how to tie them so we’d get it right. It was the first time he’s pulled together a more formal outfit on his own and he was nervous about making sure he looked nice enough to make Grandpa Sam proud. He did. He would have no matter what, but he did a good job.

The day of the funeral, my sister and her husband arrived and accompanied Max to the funeral and they walked back afterwards so they could talk about anything Max wanted to talk about. Max kept talking about his Grandpa Sam and the funeral when they got back to our apartment. Max found new connections with his Grandpa: “He was a trickster, just like me, Mom.” “You know that one song I like, about the ring of fire? Well, that singer, Johnny Cash, was Grandpa Sam’s favorite.” He also found out new things about his Dad. “He has a new girlfriend. She was more upset about Grandpa being dead that Dad was, or at least, she looked sadder. She cried more.” “She looks like Grandma S,” (my mom). “He looks different and I must look different, Mom.” And then he stopped talking.

I spoke with my sister about a week later while Max was at a friend’s house. It turns out she had to introduce Max to Sam three times before Sam realized Max was his son. That broke my heart more than a lot of the other things Sam has done. I know he hadn’t seen Max in years; I know that Sam’s addictions have probably hurt his memory retention, but I can’t even imagine how much this hurt Max. Three years. Max hasn’t changed THAT much. He generally looks the same at 10 as he did at 7, a little taller, his hair is longer, but he’s still Max. The same coloring, same facial structure, same eyes, same walk. Max.

I guess to be fair, I should also mention that Sam then introduced Max to his aunt, uncle and cousin as if they’d never met before (even though they have and each of them recognized Max right away). He also repeatedly made the mistake of telling Max that his cousin was his Aunt. I don’t know if Sam’s cognitive abilities have declined that much, or if he was on something to get through the funeral, but I’m finding it really hard to forgive Sam for hurting our son this way. I know it’s not rational, my anger and hurt on Max’s behalf, but it’s there.

I think one of the other hard things for me about losing Sam Sr. has been letting go of the guilt over Max not seeing him. When Sam lost visitation rights because of his relapse and events with Ingrid, both Sam Sr. and Francine stopped seeing Max also. I felt like in trying to protect Max from Sam’s addictions and abusive behavior, that I had also robbed Sam Sr. of time with Max, and Max time with his grandfather. I did try: invitations were sent to Sam Sr. for birthdays, Grandparent’s Day’s at Max’s school. Offers that we could arrange time for him to do stuff with Max were extended. Only one offer was accepted: a Grandparent’s Day tea right after Sam lost visitation. I recognize that it wasn’t my choice to keep Max away from Sam Sr., but it’s still easy, sometimes, to forget and let the guilt sneak back in.

Max still doesn’t want to talk about his father, but he will talk about his grandpa. I hope he knows he can talk to me about anything.

It’s late…

and I can’t sleep.  That’s not really anything new.  I’m sitting here listening to the wind rattle my home, shaking it… Up to 50 mph tonight. Windy nights are my favorite.  If it was just me, I’d be walking in it, along paths through the woods, just to feel it rush along, to hear it push through the trees… But it’s not just me and Max is sick. Just a cold, but he’s mumbling and tossing in his sleep. So I sit here, not asleep, and just listen.

I find it amazing that being this long away from Sam I still wait. When will the other shoe drop? What will he do next that will have ramifications for Max and I? Is that why I’m up tonight? Habit? It winter, cold and dark this far north. This time of year life with Sam became more unpredictable. I remember lying awake at night listening for him walking back and forth to the fridge for another beer or glass of vodka, or listening for him to stumble back to the bedroom late, late at night. I remember that if i did doze off, waking up in a panic because I heard him stumbling his way back to the bedroom. Would he be coming back to pass out? Or to pick a fight over something I’d done, or not done, during the day, the week, the year? Did I put away his clean clothes or had I forgotten them in the dryer? Was I about to be harassed for ‘being frigid’ or for the affairs he imagined I was having? If I pretended to be asleep, would he decide the discussion could wait or would it make him madder?

It’s taking a lot of conscious thought to remember that I’m not back in that apartment, in that room tonight.

We, Max and I, haven’t heard from Sam since the end of July when he called Max. Max hasn’t seen Sam since the middle of April when he (Max) called me crying and in a panic saying he didnt feel good, please come get him, NOW, get him now. It’s not fair to Max that that’s the memory he has of his most recent visit with his father….

I filed a motion with the court in June. Asking that Sam’s visits be changed to a supervised dinner every other week, because of the last visit and because he was back to his pattern of no-showing for his visits with Max. After I filed, Ingrid kicked him out, again, and secured a protective order against Sam. Sam didn’t show for that hearing, or for the hearing on the custody modification. The court approved my proposed change and further ordered that Sam not see Max at all until he talks to the court to explain what steps he’s taken to address his addiction and compliance with the order to attend counseling for his abusive behaviors.

I don’t think we’ll hear from him. Not for a long time. And I think that when we do, it won’t be in compliance with the court’s orders. Because I don’t see him ever admitting his behavior towards me was wrong or agreeing to counseling, and he’d have to do that before filing anything with the court.

In October, the state sent a notice to Sam requesting the status of health care coverage for Max through his work. At the beginning of November, I received confirmation from Sam’s employer that Max is covered. At the end of November I received notice that Max is no longer covered. So Sam’s annual job shuffle has begun. One year, it was 3 jobs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (The year I filed for divorce, it was 8 jobs in… 7 (?) months. And according to Ingrid at our divorce hearing, that was my fault.)

I have no idea where Sam is living. I’m not sure I care. I hope we’re too far from town for Sam to bother driving out to our home. I hope that it’s been too long since he knew he could take out his…. disappointments, anger, frustrations, on me, that he forgets that he can try to do so.

Have we been gone long enough to be safe? I want to believe so. I really do. I’m waiting to see if it’s true.

Alcohol Abuse – Alcoholism – Parenting.com

Sam’s alcoholism is such a huge part of…. the problem, the relationship, him (?)…. that I have a hard time separating it from the abuse that he subjected me, and Max, to. Support group friends that I talk to about this – regardless of which support group it is, Alanon or the group for DV survivors – usually respond with “Does it matter if his abusive behavior was because of his drinking or if it’s just the way he is?” They tend to lean towards the it-doesn’t-matter side.

I’m torn. Part of me believes that it doesn’t matter. He was abusive. That’s all that matters and all I need to know. I don’t know why, but there is another part of me that really wants to know: would he have started treating his family the way he did if he didn’t drink? Are they two completely separate issues or two closely entwined issues or part of the same one? I don’t know. I don’t know why I feel I need to understand.

I came across this article today. I’m still amazed how reading accounts like those in the article can bring me right back to those dark little apartments, hiding in the back room, trying to keep Max safe. I have to remind myself as I read: we’re gone from that last apartment; we live in a cozy little home of our own; we are safe from Sam.

Alcohol Abuse – Alcoholism – Parenting.com.

Insomnia

I’m having trouble sleeping again. I’m so tired, but I can’t find the off switch for my mind. I’d have thought that with the recent court hearing on the visitation issue (I probably need to write that out – maybe in the next couple days), that I’d be doing better.

I think it’s a plus that I’m not constantly getting up and checking all the locks and windows, but I’m so tired. And I’m finding it hard to follow my ‘get to sleep routines’. What’s going on? I’m not sure…

Katie – Violence Unsilenced

I haven’t been around lately. I think a part of it has been because again, I’ve been having a hard time calling the relationship with Sam abusive. However, I came across story on Violence Unsilenced that sounds so much like life with Sam.

Following is a link to Katie’s story on Violence Unsilenced
Katie.

Cant Treat Me That Way

LOVE this song today: You Can’t Treat Me That Way – Kate Earl

You’re not the guy I met
And if you are only get
One chance to prove it
Baby make it count

Maybe she let you do that
Maybe some other fool had
Too many problems
To respect herself

You’ve go a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You’ve go a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You can’t treat me that way
Ooooh

I hope it’s my mistake
Simple misunderstanding
Trivial bull**** we blew into space
A common lovers rift
Uncommon words thrown like fists
Cause if you meant it
Baby it’s too late

You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You can’t treat me that way
Ooooh

You better make it better
You better make it feel right
You better make it feel the way it ought to feel
You better make it better
You better make it feel good
You better do it cause you know that you should

You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You can’t treat me that way
Ooooh

No Way Out But One – trailer clip

Link to the No Way Out But One documentary trailer

No Way Out But One – 13 minute trailer

2009 Summit on the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Photo credit: heraldpost)

I found the following interesting (I started searching after reading Claudine Dombrowski’s blog), mainly because I have felt so… alone, I guess, when trying to get safe visitation arrangements set up for Max and his father.  It didn’t seem like the court really understood what a risk Sam is.  The judge told Sam “This court is afraid you’ll teach your son to treat women like you did,” and then proceeded to laud him for voluntarily giving up legal custody, because “you get you’re not that kind of father.”

The following is from Eric Holder’s address to the National Summit on the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment in June 2009.

I hope you will especially discuss the most difficult issues I know many of you confront in your work:

  • Why are mothers who are the victims of domestic violence losing custody of their children to the courts and to the child protection system?
  • Why are children of color over-represented in the child protection system?
  • Do children need a relationship with their fathers even when their fathers have been abusive to them and their mothers in the past? If so, what does that relationship look like?

I ask that you explore all of these things while always remembering that the needs of children who are exposed to violence are inextricably linked to the needs of mothers who are the victims of domestic violence.

It kind of takes a little pressure off knowing that some one from the Justice system sees the damage that domestic violence does.  At the same time, I’m so sad, because this address was given in 2009, the only strides in change that I’ve seen are TV campaigns against DV…

Struggling — again

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I don’t know what it is lately. We’re gaining sunlight… It’s gorgeous outside with the frost and snow covered trees… I’m so, so close to a personal goal… And the depression is weighing me down again.

And what I’ve only told my therapist about: The desire to self-injure is so strong again. My sister, who I’ve told about everything else, the depression, the abuse, the rapes, doesn’t even know that I SI. I haven’t told her because I’m afraid she’ll equate it to suicide, and it’s not about that at all.

I’ve been told to work through how I feel when the urge hits, what I think SI will accomplish… OK…

I feel heavy, faded, hazy, unreal, unworthy, untouchable, disjointed. I’m afraid of myself, for myself, and by proxy then, for Max. Because if something does happen to me, he’s left with Sam. And that thought alone is enough to send me into a panic, because, Max… Max does not deserve to be treated the way Sam treated us.

What do I think SI will do for me?…. I’ll feel something physical. Something else to focus on. A different type of pain, one that I can control. I’ll feel HERE, less faded. Does that make sense? It does to me. It’ll bring at least one thing into very sharp focus.

After it’s done though, I’ll have to hide my arm again. Long sleeves. Vague sense of shame, but at the same time, in a very sad way, a sense of accomplishment. I can do this. Even if this is SI.

What have I done instead? … I’m writing here this time. Is it helping?

Oddly enough. Yes. Slowly. And… I’ve promised myself that I’ll let me get a tattoo where I usually SI when it heals and the scars fade more. A few lines that I love from a poem by Adrienne Rich:

The woman who cherished her suffering is dead. I am her descendant.

I love the scar-tissue she handed on to me,

but I want to go on from here with you

fighting the temptation to make a career of pain.

It’ll be just that much longer to wait if I do SI.

Here’s a link that I’ve been visiting lately that might help any one else struggling with SI (it will open a new window): http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/fself.html

I’ll be adding a copy to my Support Resources links, and any others that I find.

Feeling so alone

I feel so alone. Why would any one want me after Sam has ruined me? I’m damaged and today it feels like it’s beyond repair. My family loves me; I know, but even they don’t touch me. They don’t offer hugs when I’m feeling down. They do not offer their hands when I desperately need something to hold onto.

If my family can’t bear to touch me after Sam has defiled me, how will any one else ever want to?