Mothering and Life in General
Coming Back Again
Two months ago I had my life ripped away from me. I was healthy, my daughter was healthy. However my relationship, not surprising, wasn’t. It all started with a threat to watch a horror movie (Saw 3) in front of the girls, and it all went downhill from there. I saw the look in K1′s eyes with the threat that her only father, with whom she was supposed to be protected by, was in fact scaring her half to death. I had K2, coddled into my arms. I heard a tiny voice saying, “Mommy, Daddy is scaring me”. Then the Mother Bear came out.
A movie, a threat, a scare tactic, and then I let loose. I kicked DH out, not knowing I was not on the rental agreement as a tenant, just an occupant. Once finding that out, it was me that had to go.
With friends I did not want to burden, I turned to a Woman’s Abuse Shelter. With only 2 nights stay at a great friend’s house I was off with a suitcase and a diaper bag of belongings. With a shattered heart and an unseen future, I started to build my life again.
At first I entered the shelter, I felt like I had a house, but it was not a home. I felt there was nothing left for me to offer. I felt that I was the problem, and as a fixer what good was I? I started to really think I was the cancer ‘DH’ has called me many times before. I had hatred and pain for ‘DH’. I forbid myself to cry; to show how weak I really was. As I watched the friendly cab driver drive away I can remember thinking, “Is this right?”.
I went to my first group they offered there, it was Abuse Group. I remembered not saying anything or telling my story, I listened to the women who came before me, thinking I don’t belong here. I am taking someone else’s spot, how selfish of me to be here. I never had to go to an Embassy to return to my home land. I don’t fear for my life, I have never been threatened my daughter’s. I had never had my face bashed in, never was sent to the hospital. I never had to use make up to cover bruises. I just did not belong there.
That same day I asked to speak with my counsellor. I told her that I think I don’t belong here. I don’t think it was really that bad. I was only called a bitch, worthless, a cancer, and he only laid a hand on me once. I can think for myself, unlike another who was beaten so bad. I can just find a place and forget anything ever happened. What she said to me, is something I will never forget.
Just because I was not battered, does not mean I did not feel the same way as those who did. As I sat in that group, I thought about the physical being and not that words can make me feel just as the face, the scars, scrapes looks. Verbal abuse is a hidden injury to the depths of our soul. They don’t have groups to measure the amount of abuse we each have had, it’s not a competition. They have these groups because these are women who were strong enough to walk away… Just like I did.
There was nothing more to say to that. I guess I have issues with being a statistic. I am really no better than my mother, my family for that matter. I had not broken the cycle of abuse, and now I have to help K2 do it in her future. I walked away feeling no more hopeful than the moment I mouthed the words “GET THE FUCK OUT” a few weeks before. I felt empty, I felt like I just can’t be fixed, and I felt like I had made the biggest mistake for my daughter – I picked the wrong man.
How do you look into your child’s eyes and admit that you’ve done something wrong? When you, yourself is a perfectionist with every level of your life. With being a protectionist you are choosy with every person you fall in love with and have in your world. How do you try to get your child to trust you, when you don’t even trust yourself?
At the end of the week I vowed not to make friends, not to get my hopes up and be out in two weeks. I will go to groups with an open mind, I will enjoy my Vacation – it’s been so long since I’ve had one. Then my first Thursday came. And I was dreading it with every beat of my heart. It was Parenting Group. Now, I know an Abuse Shelter would not have a group where the instructor is saying I am doing everything wrong, but my mental being was not up for being rational.
I almost felt sick Wednesday night, I could not sleep, I was not hungry. Hell, this was worse than being at home drifting into Facebook because I just want to escape from DH. I smoked so much that my throat hurt, and because I made no friends yet, there was no one I could ask about the group’s motives.
You see, my parenting was the one of the main focuses of the abuse. DH did not agree with the way I did things, but he was never around to do anything anyways. Just like him being ‘picky’ with his environment, he likes things in a certain way but ask only that others do it for him. It’s like he’s the king and everyone is the servants.
That is what Parenting was like in my home. Even though that is what he expected, I don’t comply very much with forbidden things. I ask questions, bend rules and I am known of sanding against the grain in shop class. If it does not make sense then I follow my gut, because I am not a sheep. Just because it was done before, does not make it right for my child that I solely raised since she came home from the hospital. In short, I have learned a long time ago to think for myself. All this clashes with abusive people.
I did finally go to sleep that night, but I was not rested in the morning. As I awoke to hear the Good Morning call, my heart sunk more than it ever did before. I remember thinking, as I was leaving my unit, that I will never find my heart again. It has sunk so far within me that it will only beat, but never feel. I will remain living in total numbness. I walked down the hall to Child Care and I said, “Have fun” to my daughter. As I turned to the door where the group was starting, I remember thinking, “Being numb is not so bad”.
We did Effective Communication that day, and the instructor was great. Deep down inside I knew they would not have a group to tell you more of how bad you are, but when you live with the fight of someone calling you useless and you saying back “NO I AM NOT”. You tend to think that everyone else feels the same way. You tend to shut people out in fear they will feel the same way and with every ‘same way’ feeling someone has, is calling you a liar. I don’t believe I am useless, I am good at many things. However, I grew to understand, some feel differently.
I was the last to leave the group, for the first time I was the LAST one in and the last one out. As the instructor was packing her stuff, she looked up from her bag with questioning eyes. Only one thing I said, which did leave her puzzled about why anyone would ever wait around so long to say it, was “Thank you” and I turned to leave the room.
As my second week approached, we began to have morning rituals. We would go to the kitchen to say thank you and good morning, we would also add in “Without them we would not eat”. We would go to the Front Desk, the Children’s Councillor, the Common areas and greet people in the same way. Every day we were there, K2 and I did this. Without even knowing that slowly we were making a start of a brand new life, with appreciation.
We built our new life on appreciation. We built it and it will sustain.
After finding a source of income, I was looking at places every day. By bus, K2 and I were viewing two places a day for 2 full weeks straight. The Housing Worker seen us leave one day and had quickly spoken to my counselor. Upon my return, I had a letter that they both wanted to meet with me immediately in the morning.
The following morning I met with the two, to find out they fear that I am running my energy into the ground. They said it’s great how proactive I was, however they requested, that I give myself two days rest. I miserably agreed, thinking that these two days would be the days that I would have found our place. I did not view places, nor called, but I did write some more numbers to call after the two days were over. Again, finding loops into what people say.
After those two days, I understood where they were coming from. I was over working myself again. Something that is very common for me to do. When I am put into action I don’t sleep, eat, or care about my needs. Everything becomes actions and procedures. Life slowly moves away. I had never been good at balancing things out, to say stop and let things slide a bit. I will not lie, taking time off is not my nature so it bugged me every moment in those 48 hours. I hate waiting on people, but I also found out I really hate waiting on myself to recover moreso.
I watched K2 play at the park, I checked in with some friends. I watched a bird fly over head without the thought of it may poop on me – for the first time. I let myself enjoy something out of life, which is unusual for me when there is a list of To Do’s. Every time I thought about finding a place, I would call out for K2 and ask her to come sniff a flower. As I would sniff the flower I would close my eyes and say, “I deserve this time, and thank you for allowing me to have it”.
I wont say I was rested, but I was clear-headed. I started becoming my own cheerleader, just like I am for everyone else. I would talk with K2 about the sort of place we would both like, only asking for things in reason. “We want a 2 bedroom basement, with Laundry, Cable and large-for-basement windows. We want pets to be welcomed. We want it clean and well maintained. We want a window in both bedrooms with enough space for all our things. We want Landlords to understand that not all children are loud and crazy, and to do any work on the place with pleasure when requested. Our place will be all this and more.”
Every time afterwards, we would chant this back to each other, remembering the things we liked in previous places, wishing it will mingle all into ours. After another two days and 4 places looked at, we finally found our home. We could have our cat, Meekah, they fell in love with my daughter, they were ok with payment arrangements and they seemed like great people. We walked into this home, K2 claimed her room, there was no guessing, I knew it was our new home.
My tiny world that I have held on my shoulders for so long was coming together to maintain its own weight, and to carry me for once. Things were looking up, I started to appreciate my small time of eight weeks at the Shelter. To some a shelter is the last place they would ever think to go to. I do know there are some that are like how TV presents to you. Our shelter was like an apartment. Some units have kitchens, a few do not. Those few have the common kitchen cook for them, the others gets our groceries and we cook ourselves. We had one large room, a full bath, a living room with basic cable TV. We had a table with chairs to eat at. It was nice and it was cute. Our unit locked when we left, and we had the key to enter in again. It was ours, and our responsibility to keep it clean and maintained.
After a while we did make friends and we started noticing that the children were calling this their ‘safe home’ others were told it was a hotel. In all, the children became adjusted to their new life there, and loved each other. They had become extended family to us, where we wanted to know their ups and downs. We began supporting each other, giving leads on places or stating which ones were a waste of time.
One day as five other women were out in the backyard park, I realized something.
All throughout motherhood, we hear a quote stating it takes a village to raise a child. I finally found my village. This place, when the doors open up, your last piece of your old self dies. There is no one to call you names or hit you. You are hugged and loved. You are forced to groups to reflect and focus on your healing while your children are having a grand time in child care. This place, with great people, help you build yourself back up again. They give you resources you never knew were available to you. You do things that you never knew you could do or knew that could happen. These strangers were the people who all the women leaned on, and these people gave endless love back. For the first time, I asked for help and I received help, in the way I would help another.
There was a time when I walked through the Shelter’s front doors and thought it was a mistake. Now, I walk in and out of my own front door and I am glad I did not do it any other way.