Twice the Work Part 2

“You do have strep throat, I can put you on an prescription or give you a shot?”

I knew an antibiotic prescription would take a while to get in my system and do it’s job”How soon does the shot start working?”

“Right away.”

I was exhausted I sat in the stale white exam room weighing my options. I had only just recovered from the stomach flu and now strep? My body was worn out and my brain was barely holding onto all the daily activities I had to do. I’d only been working two jobs for the better part of a month. I could not afford to take any time off.

“I’ll take the shot.”

The doctor looked at me, surprised. “Most people prefer the prescription.”

“I just want to get it over.” I slurred.

When the nurse came back with the needle, she asked me if I’d ever had one of these before. Something triggered in my brain. The peanut butter shot? My sister had one, and they called it the peanut butter shot because it was thick, and had to be pushed in slowly. It was supposed to hurt. Bad.

“Nope.”

“Well, it hurts a bit.”

She pulled the back of my pants down so she could get to the designated spot. I braced myself as the nurse prepped my skin and poked me. I felt the pinch and sting turn to a burning as she slowly depressed the medicine through the syringe into my blood stream.

Lesson 3 Ask for Help

For so long I thought the true mark of strength was proving I could do it all on my own. Being a single mom, I felt it was my responsibility to fill both roles of both parents at all times and in all places.

It’s a trick I got hooked into, as so many of us do, thinking we must do it all alone. As we allow others to help us, we actually get many benefits, we allow a flow to come into our life of give and receive. A flow is what we want, a flow of money, and flow of growth, a flow of love. Asking for help humbles has and prepares us for better and greater blessings to come into out lives.

Even knowing all this, and that, in reality, it takes true strength to stop and ask for help, I still have a hard time actually doing it. Letting go of that pride and control is a hard and scary thing to do, especially after having been deprived of control over my life during my abusive marriage.

I had no choice but to ask for help as I was working two jobs Help getting my son to and from school, help getting him to speech therapy, help taking care of daily tasks. I was so worried I would be taking advantage of other peoples plans and time, that they would see myself and my son as an extra burden, and. since I had to rely on them so heavily on a daily basis, that I would burn them out of ever wanting to help me again.

What I found is there are many people out there who are more than willing help, and giving others the opportunity to serve blesses their lives as well as mine. Most importantly, I learned asking for and receiving help reduced stress, worry, and concern in my hectic life and it was perfectly okay during this temporary hardship in my life. That it is a blessing for us to be given circumstances to learn humility and that we all experience this ‘humble leason’ at one time or another in this life.

Lesson 4 Find the Positive

Day after day I felt like a drone. Up and ready for job one, then to job two, do homework with my son, feed him dinner, bathe him and put him to bed, get ready for the next day, put myself to bed.

And yet, through all that, I was so greatly blessed. It seems in our darkest hour is when God hovers over us the most orchestrating our lives on a daily basis to help us learn and grow and make it.

I began working my second job end of November, as this point I had one of those guys in my life, you know, the boyfriend I had dated for six months, we broke up (which was heart breaking) and still tried to ‘be friends’ we were texting everyday, spending time together, and talking on the phone, he said he wasn’t dating any other girls at all, I told him I was gonna still date other guys, it became hard and full of negative feelings for both of us, I felt he reeled me in and out of his life at his convince and I’m sure he felt similarly. Finally we had enough. We cut things off between us completely and for good the beginning of December. I was devastated.

This is where Job 2 became a huge blessing. We had many of the same friends and while this group of friends (including the ex boyfriend) were going to holiday parties and activities, I was ‘stuck’ working two jobs. At first I thought this was unfair and I yearned to go out and be social with these people, then I learned it was really a blessing in disguise, giving me needed time to heal, spend time with my son, and ponder my life and my direction.

After the holidays I was blessed with a new man unexpectedly and blessedly walking into my life, the debts I had were being paid off, I had strengthened my relationship with my son and grown even closer to God.

It wasn’t just automatic, I remember in the beginning purposefully choosing my thoughts, I remember as thoughts of despair crept into my head, I consciously replaced those with thoughts of finding the positive, of seeing my life with a different perspective. And I was blessed for it.

I was lead by The Lord through what could have been months of pain and misery, and I chose to make them months of learning and growth. Which they were. During this time I got to do things I had always wanted to do, but never had. I got to go snowboarding, I got to sing in the church choir, I got to run my first half marathon and I began a relationship which I love, honor and cherish with a man whom I love, honor and cherish.

I know making the effort to ‘find the good’ is what created the good during this time in my life. I know I am a co-creator with God in creating the life I want for myself and my son. I know we all have the gift, blessing, and ability to each do this in our own individual lives.

I was in a hard period of my life, and despite that, I felt the peace and happiness and joy as I concentrated on what I did want and focused on finding the silver linings in my then dull and grey world, rather than dwelling on the sadness, woe is me attitude and grief.

It is a practice I do and will continue to use, I’m not perfect at it, I forget to find the good sometimes, and I continue to do it anyway, practicing until it becomes second nature in my life. It is a practice all of us can do. And I urge you to remember it and to try it. Write about it, share it with others and see what blessings ensue.

Twice the Work Part 1

Where have I been? Have I disappeared from the blog world? It feels that way to me. And for good reason. I have found myself working two jobs for the last three months. And despite leaving my house at 5:30 am and getting home between 6:30 and 7:00pm, losing time with my son, missing out on fun social activities being constantly on the move, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, I have enjoyed this experience and learned Four lessons I could not have learned otherwise.

The Jobs:

My day job is as a government worker. It’s clerical, and very cushy. I’ve worked there for the last 11 years and am so very grateful for it. The promotions I have had, the people I have met, and the experiences I’ve been a part of have all been times of great learning and blessings.

My second job I picked up out of necessity. I wasn’t brilliant in my money choices and found myself with extra debt I needed to pay off ASAP. My best friend owns a daycare center, I gave her a call, she was short staffed and could use my help, I started working there three days later.

The Lessons:

1- Play More

I remember when I had the one job, I would come home, and to be honest, (I am embarrassed to admit this) I would not always be willing or excited to play with my son. I was tired and worn out. I would sit and watch a movie with him, or sit and read to him, but to physically interact with my only child, I was not always super excited to play his juvenile games.

In my second job I suddenly found myself immersed in a room full of 2-4 year old, all demanding my attention and wanting to play. It didn’t matter that I was exhausted, I was working for my best friend, I wasn’t going to let her down.

I had to fight off feelings of guilt and disappointment in myself. Here I was playing and spending time with other people’s kids when I should be home with my own. I decided not to let the negative thinking get to me, and instead focus on when I would only be working the one job and how I would change things and spend more time playing with my son.

2- Be Grateful

I spent a lot of time being exposed to so many different families and people and got insight into how their lives are built. So many children with divorced parents, some with single and dating parents, some with step parents, some with parents in jail, some with parents who passed away, some with military parents away on assignment, some who were being raised by grandparents, aunts & uncles or adoptive parents. It has been a wide awakening to me, and I see so many kids who are struggling, and yet surviving. They don’t always understand their circumstances and rarely have control over them and I see a lot of scared kids.

I also see a lot of love. No matter what their circumstance, I see adults in these kids lives who do their best to show this kids love even though it may be imperfect circumstances, love still exists

I have spent much time feeling guilty for my sons life circumstances. I did not intend to be a single mom. I remember as I was growing up there being times I wanted my mom and times I wanted my dad, and I could go be with whichever whenever, my son doesn’t have that.

I have begun to remind myself to think of and be grateful for what he does have. In my home, he has a loving mom, grandparents and an aunt, in his dads home, he has a loving dad and step mom.

Life is never perfect. Circumstances aren’t always as we plan them. Love fills in the gaps, imperfect people carry us through and God and His angels open doors we cannot see on our own.

You Are Getting Divorced?!?!?!?

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she is getting a divorce. Ugh. Anybody can be married to anybody else if they just work on it. There has to be more she can do to make her marriage work. I doubt she is doing everything she can possibly do to make it work. I just know she is giving up. my 19 year old self thought as my coworker walked by. The news of her newly divorced status rumors of the work place. And I meant it. I judged her harshly without even knowing the reason or truth behind the separation. Without even bothering to ask, to care, or give her the benefit of the doubt.

Six years ago today I found myself walking into a woman’s shelter, and walking out on my husband for good. I felt it was the best option for both myself and my 12 month old son. I ate my 19 year old words as I began the long divorce process.

I went from living in my own home, having a house to entertain, to decorate, to make my own, to staying in a women’s shelter for three weeks, with a dozen of other women and their children coming and going, and then renting my parents basement.

I went from being married, and having a companion, a person to share my life, dreams, and hopes with, my challenges, stresses, and difficulties, a partner to get through the ups and downs of daily life with to going it all alone mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Being the only one to put my son to bed, or take care of him even when I’m sick or tired or don’t feel like it.

I have made the choice for myself to only have sex within the bounds of marriage, and loosing that part of life has also been a challenge. I do miss the love and intimacy that comes from a sexual relationship with my husband.

And yet, my life is happier and better now than it would have been had I stayed. I sometimes wonder what my life would be had I stayed. How many children would I have? What kind of relationship would they and I have with my family? What kind of job would I have? Where would I be living? What car would I be driving? What kind of abuse would I be experiencing? What state would my marriage be in? That alternate universe I am grateful I can do no more but daydream about.

The lessons and things I have learned because of my divorce and the healing process are painful, beautiful, educational, and irreplaceable. It is a journey I would have never placed myself in, and a journey I am forever grateful I have had.

I love listening to podcasts at work, especially Joel Osteen I want to share a quote from it with you that gave me hope:

“In life we all experience times of loss or have situations where it feels like something has been taken from us. Sometimes it is because of other people’s choices. Other times, it is because of our own choices.

God is a God of restoration. With powerful scriptures such as Joel 2:25 “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten…” And Psalm 66:12 “We wet through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance,” you will feel hope knowing nothing in life is ever wasted. God can make up lost time. He will bring you out better off than you were before if you trust Him and develop a restoration mentality.”

Year later when I left my husband, my 19 year old thoughts echoed back to me in the form of words from another concerned person. “Are you sure you did everything you could? Don’t you thin you could have tried a little harder?” I did do all I could I tried harder and longer than I needed to. I made the right choice for myself, and my son.

My story is not over. There is still so much for me to do, I do want to be married again, to the right man, in the right time. I want to help others who have gone through or are going through divorce and/or domestic violence. I pray I will continue to learn the lessons I need to learn, and help the people I need to help right now as a single mom. Sometimes I feel I need to be at a certain station in life before I can make a difference, then I am reminded it doesn’t matter where I am or what I do and don’t have, I can be a blessing in other people’s lives now. And so can you.

I urge you to share your own story, teach others the lessons you have learned. Reach out to those who stand in need. There is much you can do, right now, as you are, to help others.

Crawl

I was writhing on my bed, the ache in my heart was so deep, it pulsed pain through my limbs and back again, moving my body against the sheets seemed to soothe the hurt. Tears gushed from my eyes, blurring my vision and flowing red hot down my cheeks, my nose was so full of mucus I could hardy breathe, the sobs rocking my body and exhausting my lungs as I let them cry out from my mouth. My room was dark and cool in my otherwise silent house, such a contrast to the hell I was feeling, my head seemed full of chaos and my skin felt like it was trying to crawl off of my body.

I felt like a complete and utter failure. Heavenly Father, I pleaded, Why do I have to go through this? Why couldn’t I have just married the right man in the first place? I try so hard to be a good person and do what is right, I am a good person I try my best to do what I have been asked to do. I just want to be married to a good man, to have more children, to create a happy family. Why do I have to go through this?!?!

Sometimes it is the pain of not knowing, of not understanding of trying and failing that hurts the most, and when the time is right, offers the sweetest victory.

In my journey to heal and grow from being in a marriage where I experienced domestic violence, I have learned a lot of hard truths, like we are the creators of our own life, and we bring into our lives the experiences we have. I still am expanding my understanding of this, and for me, I believe I have discovered a bit of why I allowed Domestic Violence to be a part of my life.

Part of it is because I have always been a people pleaser, I learned this technique as a child, when I did things like clean my room and do my chores, my parents were happy, when I did not, they were angry, it seemed simple. My actions made other people happy or angry.

I have had challenging relationships with men in my life. My grandfather sexually abused me as a little girl, between the ages of 4 and 8, my dad, while he loved us dearly seemed to always be at work and has never been the physically affectionate type, my brother was six years younger than me and we spent little time together, I grew up away from most of my family and so did not have uncles or cousins (male or female) to play with. All of these factors culminated in me being very uncomfortable around men. To this day I still have to consciously allow myself to not back away from men and not distance myself from them. It is an ongoing challenge.

I did not date in high school, primarily because I think I must have had this giant don’t come near me vibe going on. So when I met my ex, two years after high school, he became my first ever boyfriend. It felt good to have a man in my life, and to receive that love and attention we all long for. In retrospect, I see I was also giving off this vibe of My job is to please you, and I do not know who I am, you can tell me what to do. Little wonder I ended up in a relationship with just that.

Now I have to make an effort to change my thinking, to change what I want in life and out of a relationship. It isn’t easy, as with all things worth while, it takes work. I still have failures and I still have heart aches, and I still keep going.

Every morning I say this out loud, I wrote it to help remind me how amazing I am and to retrain my brain. Some people call this kind of affirmations or declarations. No matter what you call it, I just know it works.

I am amazing. I am worth fighting for. I am worth making sacrifices for. I am worth being in a relationship with as I am right now. I am worth marrying. I am worth spending time with. I am worthy of gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, appropriate physical touch, and quality time. I being told I am beautiful. I am being spoken highly of by others. I am being supported in my role as a mother and a future wife. I am happy with my present and my future. I am strong. I own up to my own problems and work to improve my life. I love my son and I am grateful for how amazing and smart he is and his potential. I parent him well. I am confident in my ability as a mother and future wife. I am knowing my ex has no effect on me, our son, or my marriage. I am giving it myself freely and unconditionally. I feminine and embrace both my feminine and masculine energies. I am good at causing men to see, feel, hear, and know what an amazing woman I am right now.

These are the affirmations/declarations I need for me in my life right now. I suggest you get some for you. Feel free to adopt from these the ones that work for you and change and update them as needed.

Also, I suggest checking out Co-Dependent No More. It is a great book to explain co-dependency and learn how to change it.

Legal Ease

I was walking down the sidewalk, alone, heading for the parking lot. I had just spent the afternoon in Juvenile Court. The Protective order my husband had filled against me on behalf of our son was still in place. The only restraint being that I was refrained from harming or threatening to harm my one year old son in any way. Easy enough. I just wished they had taken it off my record. I had to do a psychological evaluation and go to court ordered therapy first.

“Brandy?” I looked at the tall, thin, blonde woman approaching me. My mom has done in-home daycare my entire life and this was one of the former parents. She had gone through a divorce a few years back and her daughter was old enough that she no longer needed daycare. What were the odds I would run into her here? “Oh, hi.” I replied, my brain beginning to turn, “Actually, I’m really glad to see you.”

In the process of her divorce, this woman’s ex husband had gotten a really hard core lawyer. She fought tooth and nail to gain more custody of their daughter, and her ex’s lawyer saw to it that she did not get that time. When she found out I was going through my divorce, she suggested his lawyer to my mom for me.

People choose different lawyers for different reasons. The lawyer I currently had was amazing at what he did. He had done great representing his clients…. in criminal law. He knew little about family law and had actually borrowed one of the books from me I had picked up on divorce. I chose my lawyer based on money. I had little of it at the time. I got a discount on certain lawyers through work, and his name came up. It had been eight months since my divorce process began and I was seeing few results.

This woman had told my mom months ago about her ex’s lawyer who she referred to as “a barracuda in court”, and warned my mom that she costs a pretty penny. I had no way to pay for this lawyer, so I chose to stick with the one I had. I knew that my husband would be a pain to battle in court (all said and done it took 3 1/2 years to get the divorce final and another 5 months to sell our home) I was beginning to think this pricy barracuda was worth it. I remember actually praying saying Heavenly Father, I know I need help with either lawyer I end up with. If I keep the one I have now, I will most likely have to do most of the research and work, if I get this other lawyer I’m considering, I will need help paying for her.

When I saw this former daycare parent I knew it was time to change lawyers. All she knew was the lawyers name, and I began my research, trusting that a way for me to afford this lawyer would come.

Three months passed.

I was driving down to meet with my new lawyer for the first time. It had been a year since my divorce process had begun, and nothing had changed. I remember driving down snow ladened streets in my clunker car hoping and praying this change would be worth it.

I had been able to arrange a loan through my parents to pay the $5000 retainer. Since then I have paid thousands more to my lawyer, I have been blessed with a way to pay every time. It has been worth every penny. I like to refer to it as “paying the bigger bully to fight my battles.”

I know for me, God, the Universe, Spirit, what ever you want to call it was on my side, leading me and guiding me in the direction I needed to go and providing me with the means to survive my divorce and afford a lawyer.

I know how scary this process is, and there were so many times I remember being afraid and uncertain and filled with anxiety. And I got through all of it. Every moment one moment at a time. Even when I thought there was no way.

Trust yourself, you know more than you realize, trust your higher power, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Here is a book I found to help navigate through the legal process:

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CRASH!

CRASH!!!! CRASH!!!! CRASH!!!! The locked door bowed in and creaked as my husband repeatedly slammed all of his weight against it. I sat on the toilet, stunned. I could hardly think as all my senses attuned to the cracking door and I focused my gaze on the door knob. I could see the wood around the latch splinter as the door began to give way beneath the pressure. CRASH!!! CRASH!!!! How long would it hold?

I knew he was angry, I had not yet seen him exude such physical force during a fight, I was frightened what would happen once the door gave way. Maybe if I could reach it and unlock it first, he wouldn’t be so mad and he wouldn’t be ruining my door. It’s funny the thoughts that float through your mind when something like this is happening, I was really concerned about the state of my door? The problem was, I was legitimately using the toilet. Before I could finish my business, jump off the toilet, and open the door, it gave way with one last harrowing CRASH!!!! As my husband stumbled into the room full force he was fuming, chest heaving up and down, eyes laser beam boring into mine. And I sat there, dumbfounded and frightened, on the toilet, completely helpless. I couldn’t even hide or climb out the window; I was stuck.

As a person who is experiencing abuse, your mind set is completely focused on survival, on not getting hurt, the choices you make and things you do all focus on keeping yourself (and often times your children safe).

You do your best to hide what is really going on behind closed doors from your friends and loved ones for several reasons:

• You don’t want people to think poorly of your spouse.

I know this sounds weird. Why protect someone who is hurting you? The best way I can explain this is you do still love the abuser. We as people tend to do things to protect the ones we love.

•You don’t want people to think poorly of you.

This kind of goes hand in hand with not wanting people to think bad of your spouse. You want people to think you are smart enough to make good decisions about who you allow into your life.

• You have been threatened by your abuser.

The abuser actually knows what they are doing is wrong. The abuser also knows in order for control to be kept, there needs to be silence. No on else can know. The abuser can either threaten verbally or through their actions.

• You are just plain scared.

As a person experiencing abuse, you don’t really know the lengths the abuser will go to keep control over you. You hear stories in the news, and you see your abuser do things you never thought they would. I remember when the cases of missing and murdered women began to surface (such as Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking ) my husband said, “Is that the norm now? Is that what I need to do to you to fit in?”. I didn’t know what to do or say. and my fear of him grew.

• Religious beliefs

This was another factor for me. Being raised in the Mormon faith, which really emphasizes the importance of family and marriage, it was hard for me to make the choice that would end my eternal marriage. I prayed, fasted and pondered. Even after I left, I wondered if I had made the right choice. I can tell you this: I know God would not desire any of his children to live a life of hurt, fear, control, and abuse. That is not his plan, and as I look back, I can see his hand in my life as I took the steps to leave and stay away from my husband.

If you know someone experiencing abuse, you may not understand what they are going through or why they make the choices they do. You may wonder why they stay when it seems so obvious to you that they should leave. Know that this is their choice and something they will have to live with. Know that they are afraid and insecure and uncertain. Just be there for them as they need you.

Divorce or Death

Can’t he just die in a car accident on the drive home today? I sat rocking my baby in the glider and let the thought entertain in my mind and play out for a bit. I knew it would be so much easier than divorcing him. I was afraid to leave him and divorce him, his family had much more money than mine, I wasn’t sure I could afford a lawyer, and I knew I would need one. My husband and his father had expressed their comfort with the court system and suing family members for possible future disagreements. The words of my father in law from the first time I had left floated around in my mind almost constantly. I have worked for the county, and for the city, I know all the judges and all the judges dirty laundry, if you ever leave my son again you will not gain custody of yours. I knew that blood meant more to them than anything else, and they would fight for one of their own tooth and nail, and once I left my husband, I would no longer be a part of that family, though my son always would.

I remember when I was pregnant with my son, my husband’s family treated me more kindly and differently than they ever had, making sure my every need was met. When I was in labor, his family converged on me in the hospital, I only got to call my mom after my husband had left the room, and I begged his sister to give me the phone. After my son was born, when we were at family gatherings, my husband would control who got to hold my son and spend time with him, my turn only coming when he needed to be nursed, if my family were present, their turn never came.

And still, I loved my husband, and his family, all of them. I have a big heart, and can see the good and possibility that exists in all people. I did not want to lose his family either, as I knew I surely would when the divorce process began, lose them and have to fight against them. I knew if I divorced my husband, my son would have to go back and forth between two completely different homes, I knew I did not want that for my son. If my husband were to die in an accident, it would be different, I would be able to keep a relationship with his family and raise my son the way I chose. I even went so far as to think of what I would do with the life insurance money, paying for the funeral costs and paying off debts.

My mind flitted back to reality. Death was not an option, not physical death of my husband, and not emotional or spiritual death of myself. I knew I would have to face the court system. Divorce it was.

Sigh, the court process. There is so much that goes into the court process and it can be an exhausting and difficult road. I have come to learn along the way, things are what you make of it, if you expect to have a difficult and hard process though court, you will, if you expect to have it flow easily and seamlessly, it will, even if the exact same circumstances surround you going to court, you’re feelings of the matter, will make a significant difference.

My first contact with court came while I was staying in the shelter. It was such a relief to allow someone else to take me under their wing. I had to wait for the day after Christmas before anything could be done in court, my biggest concern of course being retaining custody of my son. There was a woman who’s entire purpose was to help me begin the court process. She had the paperwork to file for divorce and gain temporary custody of my son, I filled them out in the shelter with her direction, we left my son in the childcare there, and headed to the court house a few blocks away.

I remember the cold, dim, wintry gray day reflecting off every surface in that building. It was like the entire world was gray and cold. As we began filing the paperwork, we found my ex had already been there and filed paperwork for divorce that morning. The bonus? I didn’t have to pay the filing fee. We filed the temporary custody papers and left.

A few days later a police officer contacted me, he wanted to serve me with papers. I was terrified the officer would come, serve me the papers, and take my son away from me. Thankfully I was able to get back in contact with the woman who had helped me file my paperwork, I don’t even remember her name. I told her of my fears and worries. She calmed me, assured me, and agreed to meet the officer with me outside the shelter and created a plan. She would tell the officer I had agreed to meet them at the shelter, not admitting I was actually staying there, giving me peace in not admitting to my ex where I was yet. We met the officer outside the shelter as agreed, I had even left early in my car, to drive around for a bit, and then show up in the shelter parking lot to give the officer the impression I had come from where ever I was staying, my son buckled up in the backseat. The officer had me sign for the paperwork and handed it over, then left. It was simple and easy, my son still in my custody.

I opened up the packet to find my ex had filled a protective order on behalf of our sin against me, claiming I was abusive to our son, the only facts he had to rely on were the thoughts I had expressed to him when our son was first born.

Shortly after bringing my son home from the hospital, I became hyper aware of all ways he could possibly get hurt. What if I dropped him down the wooden flight of stairs? What about the fireplace; all we had was a suddenly flimsy seeming fireplace screen. There were so many things that could harm my new baby and I thought I had already baby proofed our home. I shared those thoughts with my husband and those were the things he wrote about in the protective order.

In Utah when a protective order on behalf of a child is filled, the person filling out the paper work just has to go along the list of questions prompting for information and check anything they think applies. My husband had checked several options including me turning custody, the car seat, and diaper bag over to him, not harming or threatening to harm my son in any way, restraining me from owing a gun, and restraining me from drinking alcohol while I had my son. I could not believe the lengths he would go to to try to gain custody of our son, he knew I do not drink, and did not own any firearms. I felt he lied and marked anything he could to win. Thankfully the only piece the judge signed off on was me not harming or threatening to harm my son in any way. That was easy, nothing would change. And this began our long 3 1/3 year divorce process.

So what do you do? Where do you go? How do you begin? I suggest getting a lawyer if at all possible. It makes a big difference, I saw no way for me to afford a lawyer, and I knew it was the only way I would be guaranteed I would end up with custody of my son. I made it work, and I am so grateful I ended up with the lawyer I had, I truly believe God placed her in my life with divine intervention.

A great place to start looking for options is womenslaw.org Keep in mind: What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to lose? I walked away from my home, and most of my possessions. I could have fought him for those things, however the most important thing to me was custody of my son, because I knew I did not want my son growing up thinking the way his father treated me was the way my so. should treat women. I wanted my son to be safe. I wanted to give him a better life.

Safety Plan

Thinking of leaving your abusive partner?

Looking for a safety plan? Leaving is the most dangerous time for a person experiencing Domestic Violence, an abuser will do whatever they can to keep you from leaving.

Reasons leaving feels so scary:

  • You don’t want others to think badly of you.
  • You don’t want others to think badly of your spouse.
  • Packing up and taking kids makes you more vulnerable.
  • You’re afraid what will happen if your partner catches you.
  • You don’t know how he will react after you leave.
  • You don’t know what to expect from the legal system.
  • You don’t know where you will be safe.
  • You’re afraid of him getting the kids.
  • You don’t know where you will live.
  • You don’t know how you will support yourself and your kids.
  • You may not have a job.
  • You may not have transportation.
  • The unknown.
  • Your abuser may have ties to police, judges, or other authority figures and you don’t know if they will favor him.
  • You’re afraid for your life and the life of your kids.

Reach out! Get help. There are several resources available to make leaving easier. Here is a great place to get started!

http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/plan.htm

First Flight

“I don’t know mom, sometimes I feel like I should go to St. Johns.” I breathed into the phone receiver of my land line. I had called my mom to wish her a Happy Birthday on the wintery February Utah morning, my two month old son rocking in his swing, sleeping snuggly. I was enjoying being home with my infant son, the gift of being furloughed from a government job.

“Then go.” Came her simple reply. Then go. Those two words hit me hard. Then go. They pounded in my heart and thrummed through my veins. Then go. My fingers began to tingle, my body, heart, brain and soul all coalescing. Then go. I had my answer. It was like I was just waiting to be given permission. The next hours passed quickly and in a blur. I must have told my mom I was leaving, though I do not remember anything more of that conversation.

Once things were set into motion, everything else fell into place. I began planning and packing. Valentine’s Day had come and gone and I still had decorations hanging through my house, the carpets needed vacuuming, the bathroom scrubbed, the kitchen swept and mopped, the dishes put away, the laundry done, and our fridge was nearly bare. I felt a strange urge to clean it all up, to leave my husband a clean house and frozen meals. I would need clothes and a few toys for my son and me. I had no cell phone, and no money coming in, my ex and I had separate accounts; I had no access to his money. My mom called my dad, and when he told his boss his daughter was leaving an abusive husband, she practically pushed him out the door. Out of the blue my best friend who I hadn’t talked to in weeks, called my house, I told her what I was doing, and she dropped everything to come to my house. As my human angels converged on my home, I packed and cleaned; blessedly my infant son slept on and needed little attention from me. As soon as everyone got there, my friend volunteered to go shopping for me while my parents helped me pack my car and prepare my house, I wrote a letter for my husband, explaining I was leaving with our son, and that we would be safe, I placed it on the coffee table.

We stood outside in the cold winter air, my son buckled into the back of the running car, I gave hugs to my parents and friend, my parents gave me my dad’s cell phone and their debit card and the cash they had been able to quickly scramble together. It was around 2 o’clock in the afternoon by this point, my husband would be getting off work around five and driving home through the rush hour commute after that. I needed to get on the road.

The car I was driving was a 9 year old, white 97’ Ford Escort, it had manual roll up windows, a moon roof that leaked, side view mirrors that had been wired on, and mechanical problems on and off during the last few years. I was running off faith it would make the 595 mile drive. I hardly remember the beginning of that drive, it wasn’t until I had been driving for about an hour, and driven past my husband’s place of work that I finally let loose and began to cry. I was overcome with emotion; my thick, hot tears blurring my vision, a prayer in my heart as I faced the most frightening experience in my life to that point. I was frightened the instant my ex came home and saw the letter, he would know exactly where I was headed, and he and his father would come after me. I literally had visions of him dragging me back home by my hair.

I kept driving. Normally a very active boy who wanted to be held and cuddled often, my son slept on, only waking to be fed, I, still a nursing mother with no formula or pumped milk on hand, found places to pull over and nurse him for twenty minutes at a time, in a church parking lot, on the side of the road in the middle of a canyon, anywhere I could find, keenly aware it was all precious driving time I could have been using to get further away. I sat in the back seat, and fed my son silently and quickly and got back in the drivers seat. I kept driving. My dad had called ahead and arranged a hotel room for me in Moab, the half-way point, and temporary destination. When the time I expected my husband to be home rolled around, I could feel the anxiety rising up my body. I kept driving.

I pulled into Moab around 8:30 pm the skies were dark, and the buildings along main street lit up. I was hungry, I went through the Wendy’s drive-though, then continued driving until I saw the pre-chosen hotel. I pulled in and checked in as quickly as possible. They gave me my key, and I found my room and let my son and myself in. I was so tired. Emotionally, and physically exhausted from the drive and events of the morning. I remember turning American Idol on the TV, anything to drum out the thoughts and fears threatening to overtake my head. I changed my son and laid him out on the bed, I’m sure it felt so good to him to stretch and not be in that car seat anymore. I fed him once more and then took the time to feed myself. I called my parents to find out what had transpired since my leaving and let them know we were safe and in the hotel. What I found out surprised me.

Upon coming home and finding my note, my husband first called my parents. They told him they knew where I was, and that I was safe, but they would give him no more information than that. Shortly after, officers showed up at my parents door. My husband was trying to file a missing persons report. My parents explained to the officers why I had left, they asked my parents if they knew where I was, they said they did and that I was safe. “Have a good day.” Was the response the officers gave. Next, my husband tried to get an Amber Alert activated, saying I had kidnapped our son. That did not go through either. I also called my best friend to find out my husband had called her to try and get information from her as well. I am so grateful my family and friends were strong enough to stand up to my husband where I was terrified of him. While none of these tactics worked out the way my husband had intended, what they did do was scare me, that he was willing enough to do those things shot fear into my heart, what would he try next?

I tried to sleep, I kept waking throughout the night, sleep eluding me as my brain was hyper active with the possibility that my husband and his father would know intuitively exactly where I headed and were on their way to take us back. St. Johns is the small Arizona town where my mom had grown up, much of her family still living there. My uncle, who had married my mom’s sister, was FBI trained and the chief of Police, I would be staying with them. I knew I could stay there and be safe. Around 4 am when sleep would no longer come, and my adrenaline began pumping through my veins with anticipation of my husband showing up any minute, flight kicked in, and I quickly packed, when I went to go check out of the hotel, the lobby doors were closed, I slipped my hotel key though the crack, and figured that the credit card my parents had used to reserve the room would cover the cost. I began driving again on the cold, dark winter morning. It felt good to be in motion again, I knew I wouldn’t feel safe or be able to relax until I arrived at my aunt and uncles home.

The sun began to rise as the miles ticked away, I waited for a decent time to call my aunt and tell her I was only a few hours away. It still seemed so far, I had to talk the panic down that tired to rise up in my body. When I finally arrived in St. Johns city limits, I began to relax. I love St. Johns, I have so many memories visiting there, and living there for three years in my middle school days. My mom’s family is so fun to visit and I feel loved and accepted by them. I was looking forward to seeing my Grammy, and visiting my Papa’s grave who had passed away a few years previously.

I rarely fully look back at this day, and as I do now I can see the angels who were there along my way and the miracles that happened. I believe there were nanny angels with my infant son as I drove my car, lulling him to sleep and keeping him entertained so he rarely cried. I believe there were mechanic angels who kept my car running and made sure I arrived to my destination without complication. I believe there were guardian angels who surrounded us and protected us, who guided me and inspired me so we were safe. I believe my Papa was there with me, by my side the entire time, whispering words of strength and encouragement, watching over me, and just being there so I would not be alone. I believe the reason my ex did not automatically think I had driven down to Arizona was a miracle, granted by God, taking that idea and option from his mind. I believe the authorities who were contacted as my ex tried to track me down were comforted and prompted to know there was nothing to worry about and no reason to get involved.

I arrived at my aunt’s house uneventfully, it felt good to be safe and warm and out of my car. She greeted us, and got the chance to meet my son for the first time. She helped me unpack my car and got me settled in her son’s room. I found myself in a room with a queen bed and Dallas Cowboy decorations on the walls. My aunt had things to do, kids to take care of, errands to run. Life did not stop for me, life went on and so did I.

Growing Pains

I recently celebrated my 30th Birthday. As I sit in my bed listening to music while typing this on my iPhone, my mind can’t help but to wander over the last 30 years to all the culminating moments that have brought me here, to who, what, and where I am today.

I used to think that my life should be nearly perfect, with little to no mistakes. Being Christian and taught about the atonement of Christ growing up, I remember thinking as a teenager the fewer mistakes I make in my life, the less Christ would have had to suffer for my sins those 2000 years ago in Gethsemane. It took me a while to realize that’s not what the atonement is about. And whether you believe in Christ or God or a Higher Power or not, I think we can all mostly agree that we will make mistakes while living this life, things we realize after or maybe even knew before we shouldn’t do, and those mistakes are sometimes the best learning experiences in this life, we learn and grow from those mistakes and experiences more than we would in any other way, and so, suffering through the consequences of our choices and actions, can actually be a blessing and a gift, if we look for the silver lining, learning experiences, and tender mercies that I do believe exist in every circumstance.

I grew up moving across the country from state to state to state. By the time I was 12 years old, I had lived in Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Tennessee, and Utah, raised the oldest of four siblings and each of us born in a different state, we averaged moving every three years.

The downside of moving a lot? Always being the new kid. It was a challenge to find my way into new school’s social infrastructure, the smaller the town, the harder the task. I remember being teased mercilessly in elementary and middle school.

I started kindergarten at age four rather than five in Virginia because my mom thought I was ready, and I passed some test. I got accustomed to being a year younger than my class mates, though later on in life it caused me some frustration and anger.

In seventh grade our English teacher gave us an assignment to make a commercial, she assigned us to groups. The group I was assigned to was all girls, who I barely knew, and who were higher in the social food chain than I.

My group met together without me and created a commercial, then brought their creation to me. We would be advertising a perfume that would make the wearer look more beautiful rather than smell better.

My job? To be the ugly nerd before the transformation. The girls explained all I had to do was dress really dorky and tape my glasses. With the cameras rolling, I was to walk out of class into the dead end hall with our lockers, brag about my A+ on my math test, then a small group of kids would come out and make fun of me while I was at my locker.After they left I would spray the perfume on and then the girls would do my hair and make-up, and dress me in cute clothes to make sure I looked beautiful for the transformation, the transformation being the only reason I agreed to my nerdy part.

This did not go according to plan. I did my part, and after walking out of the classroom and saying my line, the “small group” of kids was actually dozens and dozens of kids who had all showed up to make fun of me, when I saw the mob heading for me, with their hungry eyes and angry expressions, I began to back into the corner. I was terrified. What were they going to do to me?

There was no exit open for me to take, the hallway dead ended into a giant brick wall, the mob blocking the doorways to all the classrooms and the only exit out of the hall. Fear began rising up in my throat, my eyes were darting from the faces of the kids, to the walls, to the doors, hoping and praying a teacher or someone would come out and stop the madness. I saw no out, I continued to back up toward the solid brick wall, my brain betraying me and rather than finding a way
to stop the mob, envisioned my seventh grade peers physically attacking me. I felt my back press up against the wall, and I pushed my body hard against it, as though I could disappear into the giant white painted bricks.

This was not the first time I remember feeling so backed and cornered, in my life. I was very familiar with this feeling. My mom has a temper, and, growing up, if things did not go according to her plan, then she would make sure we heard it. She would yell and yell and yell at us, over and over and over again, about the same thing, using the very same words. Out of necessity, I learned the trick of finding anything that would dissipate the anger and wrath of my mother and doing what it took; anything and everything I was capable of to make sure she was happy and content in order to avoid the pain and anger she could and would inflict on me and/or my siblings. A trait which I gained while growing up that transferred over to my marriage, and which, I believe, lead me to end up in such a marriage in the first place. And a trait that I battle still, nearly every day in an effort to have healthy relationships in my present and my future and to become stronger through continued effort and practice.

When I found my seventh grade self, huddling against that middle school hall, I will never forget what happened next, my male cousin who I always looked up to, despite being in the same grade with him, walked in to the middle of the crowd. He and I rarely talked in school, he in the popular crowd, and I not, I did not know what to expect, the very group of students he was standing in the midst of being his friends. I can only imagine he had been invited to be part of the mob. He never spoke a word to me, he simply told everyone to get out and leave me alone. I will forever be grateful to him for being brave enough to at least stand up to them and tell them to stop.

The kicker? Those girls never really intended I get the makeover. They made up some excuse, and instead filmed a gorgeous, short, petite, Hispanic girl with flowing ebony curls, shinning white teeth, and a striking smile, this was a huge contrast to my tall, medium frame, pale skin, frizzy,dirty dishwater blonde, self, and part of what I used as evidence to begin to believe I was not pretty. And such is life, we allow in what we choose to allow in and discard what we choose to discard, and realizing this and reprogramming the brain, while difficult, is possible through work and perseverance.

The bonus of moving a lot? I got near constant do overs. You know all those highly embarrassing learning moments we have as kids? Those moments we feel will live in infamy and we will never be able to live down? The kids I graduated high school with don’t know about the time I pooped my pants in kindergarten, or crashed on my tricycle at a school assembly in front of the entire school in fifth grade. I truly got to leave some of those painful memories behind. Who knows if the kids I did go to school with at the time remember those things or not, and it doesn’t matter, it wouldn’t matter if they did. They are and forever will be in my past. And while I understand it is important to own up to our own mistakes and do our best to make things right, I also feel that it is important after we have done what we can do to rectify our mistakes, we move forward in life, we forget them, and live as though everyone else around us does not even know it ever happened. I feel that’s what the atonement really is about.

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