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Divorced, young child, confused.

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I entered into an emotionally/verbally abusive relationship a few years back, with "Johnny". Johnny was the most confident, funny person you'd ever meet.. until he'd had a few beers in him. He would either be extremely happy or extremely angry, calling me every derogatory name you can think of. When he became sober again, he would either pretend nothing happened or apologize and promise to never let it happen again. Of course, then the next time it did happen, well.. that would really be the last; and so on and so forth. 


I met Johnny shortly after I turned 21, at a bar. At an emotionally vulnerable & immature point in my life, I decided to move in with him after only six weeks of dating. I was placed out of my hometown for a student teaching experience; I was afraid to move alone, so I rashly decided to have him move with me. The student teaching experience was difficult, and I clung onto any emotional support he occasionally offered. 


I accidentally became pregnant shortly after college graduation. I was brought up in a conservative household,and the pressure to make things work between the two of us, combined with the fact that he is the father of my child, caused me to turn a blind eye to his character defects. I found myself defensively providing excuses and money to cover up for him.


When I was about five months pregnant, his excessive drinking caused his verbal abuse and harassment to continually worsen. When I began to truly fear for my safety, I filed and was issued an order of protection. The order remained valid until I dismissed it, shortly after our daughter was born. When my focus became spotlighted on her, my perception of her father started to become disillusioned. Three months after the birth of our child, I agreed to marry him. It was the "right" thing to do. Six months after that, and before I could talk myself out of it, I found myself walking down the aisle.  


The marriage fell apart in the honeymoon. I wanted to explore, see new things and try new activities; he became extremely protective, controlling and jealous. He began coming home in drunk rages, destroying furniture and walls. A few months later, he escalated to physical harm. I finally made him leave. 


This divorce is taking an extremely long time to process. I constantly live in fear of him taking custody of my daughter. I've run into him numerous times on public outings; he has been kicked out on multiple occasions for attempting to instigate a fight with the person/people I came with. He began sleeping with people that I have known and gone to school with (he is originally from another town), causing me further emotional upheaval. He lies about my family and I, and spreads rumors about me. It's my worst nightmare, come to life.


With all this going on, it is hard, at times, to want to be a mother. I love my child more than anything in the world; I am just not emotionally or financially capable of taking care of her on my own, at this point. I have been relying on the support of my parents, whom I'm moving back in with. They love, and have an extremely deep emotional connection with, my daughter. I feel somewhat guilty, but I really enjoy the times I can comfortably do what I want, and also know my daughter is in safe hands. I've dreamed of attending graduate or law school, and it's so difficult to swallow the fact that I may have to throw those dreams away.


I just don't know what to do. Any advice? :)

post #2 of 4

hug2.gif It sounds like you're doing all you need to and can to protect yourself and your daughter. Good for you for kicking him to the curb! Many women would not have the strength to do that. It's great that you have parents you can rely on and who are good with your daughter. I see nothing wrong and everything right with them stepping in and helping you get back on your feet and also with raising your daughter.

I have heard that in some traditional / tribal / natural cultures, the younger people (age 16-30 let's say) would have children as is natural biologically, and then the grandparents (who would be around 40-60) would be the primary caregivers and "raise" the children while the biological parents went out to work, as they were more physically fit. It seems natural and practical. Of course we are not ancient tribal peoples anymore, but I just want to say that this structure does have something natural to it. Not that you're abandoning your daughter to your parents. You clearly care for her and want to be the best mother you can be for her. And that may include turning her over to your parents while you go out and finish your schooling. If you are all living under one roof then you can pour all your love and attention on your girl when you are there, but let your parents help out as much as they are willing and able while you pursue your other goals.


OTOH, many people find their life goals and path change tremendously once having children. I have a friend who had her daughter at age 20 and now, at 40, has just finished her masters degree. She also found that she lived her "wild 20s" in her late 30s as she was so busy raising her girl until then. Remember your daughter is only young once and even in a few years from now will need you much less than she does now. Maybe you could shelve your visions for school just until your girl is in school herself and you have more time. You are still so young, there really is plenty of time for you to achieve all your academic goals.


Just two perspectives there. It sounds like you have your head on your shoulders and a good support system, and a big heart for your daughter as well. I am sure whatever you decide will be right. Follow your intuition. Good luck!

post #3 of 4

If you like, post over in the single parenting forum as well, and request access to the private single parent area.  Not saying this isn't a great area too, but your post will be seen by many single parents who have been through similar things.  I will say that I have sort of been in your shoes...you have been through a few similar things that I have.  I would strongly strongly suggest therapy to help you deal with what you have gone through....perhaps through a local domestic abuse center if there is one.  If money is an issue, perhaps there are sliding scale options around.  I am glad you have supportive parents....I believe that it is very essential to have a support system, and it's even better that it is family. I wish my parents had a great connection to my kids like yours do....mine seem more to grudgingly help...they are more cranky and grumpy.


I don't think you necessarily have to give up your dreams of schooling per se.  It is possible that school is not possible right now, I don't totally know your situation.

When I was married my ex didn't like the idea of me going back to school, for reasons that are different then what he vocalized.  Now I am back in school, but as a part time student.  I only do 2 classes at the most each semester and generally I go year round.  I do as many as I can online, although unfortunately it isn't always possible.  I go after work or before work or on days I don't work.  It will take me a long time to get my degree this way but I can't do it any other way...I live on my own and that means working unfortunately. 

post #4 of 4
If you have a shelter for domestic violence in your area I suggest calling and seeing if they offer resources IR have a hotline you can call for guidance specific to your area. Where I live the Woman's shelter is well known in the community and they do group sessions, private therapy, a hotline, and much more. You can get a temporary custody order in the mean time and that may ease a little of your worry.
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