Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This I know To Be True


So, the aftermath of last nights domestic violence case (see previous blog--just right below this one) is that the neighbors in question seem to be putting up a united front.

After their claim of "innocence" and no wrong doing to the officers I called to their volatile residence ("Everything is fine here, officer--we truly have no idea to what the neighbor who called you is referring to") I am left in a state of bewilderment and awe--in the worst sense.

Gone is the husbands work truck--presumably to meander off to work without a care in the world only to tell his co-workers that he had a great night, perhaps watched a little T.V. with the wife and kids after his devoted wife made him an awesome meal which they all enjoyed at the family table.

Gone are any traces that anything violent had taken place the night before.

While their house grew dark and and quiet last night, my lights were on until nearly 2:00 a.m. as I was wide awake, only to rise again after about 5 hours of restless sleep.

I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around what happened--or, I suppose what I should say is what didn't happen. No arrests--only denial where handcuffs ought to have been.

Over 22 years ago, I found myself pregnant at 19 from a "man" I hardly knew. A man I met in a bar/nightclub. A man that should have been a one night stand (yes, stupid I know--hindsight being what it is...), a man that lied to me (about some pretty BIG stuff), disappeared on me (only to return days later with apologies, no explanation and flowers), a man who left his pregnant and scared girlfriend alone way too much only to return just in time for the premature birth of their daughter. A man who hit me. A man who turned my life asunder from which I don't think I have ever recovered.

The last time I saw him, our daughter was 10 months old. She is now nearly 23.

After a particular brutal beating from which I was kicked, hit and dragged by my hair while holding and protecting our daughter, I made the choice to leave him, leave the state in which we were living and move back to California.

I took only what I could carry in my suitcases, leaving behind many mementos, baby items and a car my Dad and step-Mom had bought us--which he then kept--and would have come in handy for a single Mom who had to start from scratch.

I had much help from family and friends who cared enough about myself and my daughter--even when I didn't--to try and pick up the pieces of my messy life.

To those people I owe an eternity of gratitude.

I was lost and damaged and began a downward spiral.

I worked and lived with my Mom and later some friends. I tried to apply for food stamps when I found myself suddenly on my own--never receiving child support (NOT ONCE!) and unable to keep up with car payments, insurance and childcare.

I found myself living without utilities and going for several days at a time without eating making sure she always had food and milk, which was kept in an ice chest. However, the state of California--and the people they employ--decided in their wisdom that I was more than fine and made enough money and, therefore, would not approve me for any state assistance.

My daughter went to live with my Mom up north (after she herself moved) for about 6 months while I *regrouped.

*Euphemism for partied, clubbed and dated.

I was a terrible, shameful excuse for a mother who could hardly take care of myself, more less a child.

That guilt has never left me.

Dr. Maya Angelou has a saying which I refer to often; "You do the best you know how to do and when you know better, you DO better."

I met a man whom I am married to now. A man I knew would never hit me. A man who I knew would love my daughter. A man I loved and still love to this day. We had a son, now 19, and were married a year after his birth--our daughter had been back with us long before this time. After our marriage, we began the process of adoption for my husband to adopt my daughter. She received a new birth certificate with his name on it to which I envisioned a new and bright future for us all.

I wish I could say we all lived happily ever after but the truth of the matter is that our daughter herself is now lost and damaged. After years of us taking her to therapy, one therapist told us that regardless of how much hubby and I love her that she has "a hole in her heart from never knowing her biological father".

And unfortunately, I can't help her. His real identity is a mystery as are his whereabouts.

Now we're in this financial mess and I find myself again feeling lost.

Would I do it all over again?

Yes.

In spite of this turmoil, I know I did the right thing by removing her and I from a situation that would only get worse. If I did nothing else right--at least I did that. But trust me, there is no patting myself on the back or tooting my own horn here.

So, I see the neighbor woman with her kids getting into their car for school this morning.

No visible damage to be seen.

But there IS damage--of that I can tell you. If I know nothing else from my experiences, the damage is indeed alive, well and present. And will remain so for years to come.

I don't know what the woman should have done last night or said to the officers--I don't know anything about them other than what I heard for myself.

I don't know if there are any right or wrong answers here.

I only know what I what I know from my personal experiences.

I only know that as I saw the kids get into their mothers car for school this morning, that while everything looked to be fine from the outside, I know all too well that there is nothing fine about them--or their mother.

I may not know much, only that I know I wish for them to fare better, to find the strength to put their kids above themselves and to find the truth in all of this.

For the sake of the kids.

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