My daughter, Alex, and Ty’s twin brother, Jess, had age-appropriate sicknesses and little childhood traumas that needed tending, but Ty’s hearing, eyesight, lack of speech, and overall delayed developmental issues were so huge that they became all-consuming. Every day, I struggled with bills, scheduling demands, sick children, and now a controlling boyfriend who wanted attention and sex. Just like when I was married, these stressors caused severe physical reactions. At least once a week, I had either an ulcer attack or spasmodic gastritis so painful that I spent all night on the bathroom floor.
Fast losing ground in a number of ways, the final straw came the day my health insurance premiums doubled. The premiums shot up to $350.00 monthly, which was more than my monthly child support checks. I was scared to death. My son’s problems demanded that I maintain health insurance. My stress became apparent to everyone around me. I was losing weight, not sleeping, and stuttering more frequently, and my drinking and smoking increased.
Desperate, I rented out my little house and moved in with a girlfriend and her two young children. We worked together in the real estate office. We thought we could help each other with babysitting and expenses. Unbeknownst to me, she was already a full-blown alcoholic; and as circumstances proceeded, I was not far behind.
Then came the day I returned home and Ty had destroyed his bedroom. The curtains torn and shredded, the dresser drawers pulled out and overturned, the children’s bedroom looked like it had been struck by a tornado. I hit Ty so hard across the face that I left a hand- print on his cheek that lasted for the next few days. The look of stunned disbelief on my little boy’s face will haunt me for the rest of my life. Shocked and devastated by my behavior, I felt all of my demons closing in. Nothing I tried dug us out of the black hole that was enveloping us. I had never hit my children before, and I did not want to become an abusive mother. It seemed I could no longer trust myself. I was defeated. In my insanity, I thought that God was punishing me for all of my past, sinful ways. Why else would He want to take away my babies?
Bo helped me devise a plan as a possible way to ease my situation. Since Bill had returned to Florida from California, there might be a way to force his assistance, even though he had refused to help with his son’s transportation or in any matter regarding his children. The three of us decided that my roommate would drop the children off on their father’s doorstep and say that I had gone to California in some measure of defeat. While I had become numb, Bo was elated to get rid of my children.
Once I knew the children were physically safe with their father, I did fly to California to see if my family could help with the children’s care. I researched the possibility of any specialized aid, housing, and childcare for disabled children. I called my brother in Colorado and begged him to take my daughter and other son while working out a solution for myself and Ty’s special needs. He was unable to do so. Nothing worked out. I was foiled. Defeated. Finished.
When I returned to Florida a few weeks later, I realized my earlier lie to my ex-husband was a mistake. Bill was now telling everyone, our children included, that I had abandoned them and that I had never loved or wanted them.
With my children now gone, my house rented, and my soul nowhere to be found, I moved in with Bo. It would be only a matter of time before the first beating occurred. Wounded targets are easy prey.
I don’t remember much about the first beating except wondering what I had done to cause it. I determined that whatever it was I did, I would never do it again. Of course, he was very sorry and pointed out how I had brought it all upon myself. Just like in Catholic school, when he said I deserved the whacks, I believed him.
Bo also reminded me of my sexual inadequacies, patiently explaining that all of his other women were multi-orgasmic and that my single orgasm was quite disappointing. He fancied himself a great lover, when in truth he confused staying power with sensual expertise. He would not even kiss, much less caress. But at that time, those were not my thoughts. Inundated with past memories, I was sure that he was correct in his sexual assessment.
I believed from past experience with my first husband that I was truly a sexual disappointment. Ignorance, two failed marriages, three children, lack of money, sexual inadequacy, bleached-blond hair, and weekly vomiting did little to enhance my self-esteem. And now, adding to my list of self-incrimination, I was an abusive, abandoning mother, who was fast becoming a lush.
The second beating was totally unanticipated and unprovoked. I had just arrived home from work, and simply walked into the bathroom to wash my hands. The next thing I knew, he had me up against a wall pounding on my head and face. I was screaming and begging him to stop, all the while hearing a ringing in my ears. I did what I always do in the face of terror—I did nothing to escalate the situation. I stood frozen until I was spoken to, and with his permission I sat on a chair in the living room, waiting for him to make the next move. When he said I could leave, I carefully, and as quickly as possible, gathered as many belongings as I could carry to my car. With heart racing and tears streaming, I quietly drove off into the alone.
For the next week, I slept in my car, washing up in the early morning at my real estate office before anyone showed up for work. Unable to go to my rented house, I found an affordable apartment that didn’t require the first and last month’s rent. It was so dilapidated that the first time my daughter, Alex, now six, set eyes on it, she cried. I felt like the trailer trash that I thought I had long ago escaped being.
Eventually able to move back into my house, I now had to drive by the gas station that I had financed in order to get home. It took every ounce of restraint I could muster to not drive my car right through his/my plate glass window. The window I had unwittingly purchased in good faith now sparkled every day like a beacon, taunting my stupidity.
Over the next year I tried in vain to get the money that Bo owed me. My escalating rage over his theft frightened me. The last time I had felt that kind of rage I was seven years old and had set a field on fire. Fortunately for both of us, I feared his stalking behaviors more than I relished revenge and decided to leave well enough alone. As God is my witness, I could have killed him.
Ultimately, this was another turning point for me. It seemed necessary that I go through such extremes to learn some of life’s most basic lessons. I would never again be anyone’s physical or psychological punching bag. It became my bottom line deal-breaker in subsequent relationships.