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? :)