I don’t share much of my writing with others, especially on my blog. This last weekend I was cleaning out my email inbox and found “I Am More”. I’d written it last year before my mother passed away. This is one of the few non fiction pieces I’ve written, so I thought I would share.
I hope you enjoy.
I Am More
“Good-bye mom,” I said clinging to her like a small child. I wasn’t a small child. I was 27 years old with two small children of my own.
“Not good-bye Jen, we’ll see you soon.” She replied, wiping tears from her eyes.
I loaded my kids into the U-haul, closed the doors, and watched our neighborhood drift by as we left everything I’d ever known. My heart felt heavier than I could carry.
I wrapped my arm around my five-year old son while he looked out the window, tears streaming down his cheeks. His small shoulders shook as I rubbed his back.
“We’ll see grandma and uncle soon, honey.”
I hadn’t planned on moving, but my son had confided in his counselor concerning the abuse he and his sister had suffered at the hand of my husband. Legally, she had to report it, but if we stayed, my son would have to see him in court. He would have to look the monster in his eyes, and tell the judge what had happened. We’d been through enough. I couldn’t ask a terrified five-year old to do that. I had to protect us at all costs.
The kids and I also had a guardian angel who wanted to move. Kevin and I had met at work, and over time I began sharing with him concerning my marriage. He’d helped us escape, and chose to make the long trek with us. I felt safer with him driving the U-haul and sharing rent and expenses once we found a place to live. However, he was a long distance truck driver which left us alone for six to eight weeks at a time.
Six days and two thousand miles later, we arrived at our destination. Our journey had just begun. I found myself overwhelmed and terrified on a regular basis as I enrolled my kids into daycare and school. I also realized I lacked some important skills to improve my job search, so I enrolled in college. We found an apartment to rent, and although my husband didn’t know where we lived, I shook violently every time someone knocked on our door.
A few months later, I’d met some wonderful friends, enrolled the kids and myself in counseling and continued with my classes. I studied hard, played with my kids, explored our new state and tried to laugh, but I couldn’t stop the fear.
Finally, I decided I was tired of being a victim. I had to help myself in order to help my kids. I enrolled my son and myself in martial arts. My daughter wasn’t old enough yet, but when she was, she would train too.
We trained for several years, and I gained friends with third degree black belts that became our family. My son, daughter and I gained a confidence we’d never had before. We grew mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We began healing.
I had also landed a job with an attorney where I learned the laws to protect myself and my children. I asked questions, researched laws in the library, and planned to file for divorce. However, in most cases, even with domestic violence, the abusive parent would receive visitation. My son wasn’t his, but we shared our daughter. By filing for a divorce, I‘d notify him where we lived. But, if I didn’t file, and he located us, he could sign my daughter out of school and leave with her legally. I might never see her again. My options weren’t good. I began a plan to run again, if needed. After much thought and prayer, talking with family and my attorney, I filed the papers with the court.
The divorce took less than thirty days. I called my mother first thing.
“Mom, it’s over. He never responded to the ads in the paper and his mom didn’t respond with his new address. I never located him, and the judge granted me full custody with no visitation rights for my now ex-husband. That’s unheard of. God’s on our side!”
“Thank the Lord!” she whooped over the phone. “I’m so relieved honey.”
“Me too mom, me too.” I said while planting kisses on my children’s face and hugging them.
I remained a single mom for eight years. I cried myself to sleep most nights. My son and I suffered nightmares, and my daughter wouldn’t sleep alone. I wondered how I’d pay the bills, buy the shoes my kids needed, and continue to deal with the emotional wounds that haunted our lives daily. But, over those years I gained freedom inside myself. I raised my kids, while working two jobs, and attending college. I took back my life. I did it.
Those years gave me a confidence and strength I’d never had. I gained wisdom and insight.
After all those years of being a single mom, I remarried. My husband is an honorable, strong and patient man. He embraced my children as his; we bought our first home, allowing the kids a stability I’d not provided as a single mom. We knew we’d never have to run again.
Our seven-year anniversary is around the corner. I’m treated as though I’m the most beautiful and wonderful person alive. My children and I have seen firsthand what it’s like to be respected and what real love is, allowing us to heal even more. My husband’s more than I could have ever prayed for. And for the first time, I was able to bring my strength, love and independence to a relationship.
Those eight years that the kids and I were on our own were difficult, but I became a strong and independent woman because of them.
I am more than a statistic. I am a success story.
Until Next Time…