I've thought about posting here for a while, telling my story and getting some support & advice from those who have BTDT, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I still seem to have trouble thinking of myself as a single parent, calling myself a "single mother" even though I technically am now - kind of like I have trouble saying that my kids and I were "victims of abuse" even though I suppose we were, in a way
My STBX and I would have been married for a decade this fall, and had the four most incredible and amazing children you could ever imagine. I was told constantly that I had the "perfect" family - to all outward appearances, I did: we came from very fortunate backgrounds, had all the advantages you could want, my husband was a Ph.D. with an excellent job, we went to church on Sundays, we had large community of friends, we went to all the LLL events and he talked about how great tandem-nursing was and said all the right things and played with the kids and laughed with me and it all just seemed like the epitome of the loving, happy, Christian, attachment-parenting family.
But back at home, behind closed doors, I spent years upon years living with literally *constant* and extreme verbal and emotional abuse, and occasional physical abuse too (low-level in terms of the physical abuse, but plenty of threats regarding what he was going to do to me "someday"). He was like two completely different people; Jekyll and Hyde - and I never knew which was going to walk through the door. Most nights, I cried myself to sleep....or I fell asleep praying the Rosary over and over for God to help us, to help him, to help me, anything. I put up with a LOT when it was just me, but once he started turning on the kids (and they were old enough to realize what was going on, try to get in the middle of it, and clearly be suffering the effects of it), I gave him an ultimatum: get help, or we're leaving. In late May, I finally, finally made good on the 5,000 or so times I'd started packing a suitcase and threatened to leave....and I did.
I left with nothing: no money, no job, no home, no car, nothing. My amazing friends and family promised they'd help. Before long, I had a place to stay, a used car, and a loan of some money for living expenses. And my best friend from college, when she found out what I'd been hiding for so long, paid my lawyer's retainer so I could file for divorce.
And that's where I am now....I have an apartment, I am working on finding a job (preferably before I lose the apartment I just got!), I have child and spousal support coming in, I got basically 90% custody of my kids, and the divorce should be final sometime in late October/early November - right around when I had always dreamed we'd be in Paris again on a second honeymoon celebrating our 10th anniversary
But it still seems SO surreal....I walk around feeling shell-shocked most of the time. I've had a few days where I feel happy and hopeful and confident I did the right thing and that someday things will be wonderful again, but most days I am terrified, depressed, lonely, and afraid that I did the wrong thing, that I'll never be able to provide for four kids on my own, I'll be alone the rest of the my life, everyone will judge me for this...
I suppose that, deep down inside, the past couple of months I've always thought that at some point, he'd show up having had an epiphany, a changed man, begging me to come home and everything would be wonderful again. But no - he claims he's actually very happy and glad that I "finally left." How does any man - let alone a man who is smart and claims to be a Christian and pushed his kids on the swings in the yard and held them as babies and sang to them and stood on an altar promising to love me until death do us part let his wife and kids walk away and not even care, not even TRY? And why do *I* even care, when he hurt me SO badly in SO many ways for SO long? Why do I think of the good times, the funny times, the happy times....and start to think, "maybe the bad times weren't THAT bad...."
How do I move on from this? If you're a mama who left the man you fully intended to grow old with and bounce your great-grandchildren on your lap with, but he changed into someone you didn't recognize, PLEASE give me some advice. How do I get through this? How do I make this OK for my kids? How do they adjust to going to school (the older 3) and to daycare (the youngest) as I was always a homeschooling SAHM until now? (That's one of the hardest parts of it for me - having to leave my kids, send them to school and go back to work after 9 years of being at home with them!) How do you deal with the unfair stereotypes of single mothers? How do you keep your sanity so you can even BE a good mother? How do you ever trust anyone (or your own judgment!!) again?