Thursday, February 22, 2007

I can't think what to title this post.

I don't quite know how to write this post either.

I feel as if I'd be whining if I wrote it one way, and I feel as if I'd be laying it all on too thick if I wrote it another. I don't quite know how to begin or end this idea. Well, it doesn't have an end yet, so I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.

I have a good friend who's been through every single step of my issues with my son. There's a long story in here about how I left that daycare and how she found me another daycare with a loopy Wiccan who played Jethro Tull for the kids. The Wiccan has her own story too.

My friend is super down to earth. (Well, the Wiccan is too. Not much phases me as long as I know that the kids are safe and OK.) My friend has had a huge medical issue for years. Something like fifteen surgeries on both her knees. Her cartilage won't heal, and the other leg suffered stress fractures from supporting the weight of the damaged leg. She has three kids, all from different marriages, and she supports herself by watching kids and getting paid under the table while she's waiting for the permanent disability to come through.

This year, she's been picking up my youngest from Kindergarten and has been my rock for my son. If he's pissed at me, he goes to her house. Her High School son is calm and gentle with my son. A great Big Brother character for my son, the High Schooler has taught him about football and baseball and how to play a game without losing your mind if you lose the point.

This year she had her seventeenth surgery, which absolutely refused to heal. She was on crutches forever, and the drain from the surgery which was supposed to come out within a week, stayed in for three weeks because nothing would heal. It's been a mess. Sometimes I bring her cash. Sometimes I bring her meat from the Butcher shop.

The surgery process freaks me out, because my aunt died after having her leg amputated. My friend called me one night crying because her doctors had told her that since her surgery sites refused to heal, and since she was too young for a double knee replacement, they were considering amputation. Oh lord. I can't go through this again. was my first selfish thought. Her dad came down from Seattle to fight with the HMO doctors, and it seemed as if things were getting better.

Two weeks ago she called and started asking me questions about Special Ed and IEPs and how to request testing for her Middle School son. What could I as a Board Member do for her? Who could she write to? Why was her son failing courses, and why didn't the Middle School intervene before he fell so far?

And then she started saying weird stuff.

Stuff which set off my alarm bells. Things like, "I can't tell my husband about this meeting, because he's got it in for that kid." Things like, "My husband won't have anything to do with getting him tutoring, because it's my kid, not his. If the oldest were in trouble, then he'd do anything, but with that one, he doesn't want our business out on the streets."

"Out on the streets?"

"He doesn't want any kid in our family to see a therapist or a tutor, because you never know what they might say to someone outside the family."

Ding Ding Ding Ding. Alarm bells. What's he hiding? Why does she think it's OK to hide school meetings from him?

Monday I got a call from her. "I can't pick up your kid on Tuesday. In fact, can you do me a favor?"

"Yeah. You want me to pick up yours?"

"Um, yeah. Could you?"

"Sure. All three? Just the youngest? What's the scoop?"

"Well, the oldest moved out, and uh, we had a bad Saturday. My husband's in jail."

"Whoa! You OK?"

"Um, yeah. Now I am. He got really drunk on Saturday and threatened to kill me."

"Holy Christ! Are you OK? Do you have a restraining order? What Happened?"

Long story goes in here about drinking eighteen beers, a fight with her at a friend's house, a hit and run with a parked car, and then knocking her down when she got him home. Fortunately her friend had called the police and followed her home, just in time to witness her getting slapped through the kitchen window. He got her out of there, and the cops took her husband to jail in his boxer shorts.

Since Saturday, she's been navigating the legal system, getting a restraining order, filing for legal separation, and learning about his past. The past which includes amongst other things, knocking a pregnant girlfriend down some stairs. Detectives have interviewed all three kids, and all three have said that he slapped them when he was drunk. (The Kindergartner, not so much, but it sounds as if he was escalating.) From jail he called her eleven times in one night, until she informed the jail of the emergency restraining order, and they stopped him.

We sat outside her house late the other night, shivering in the cold, puffing on illicit cigarettes, and she started the tales of I Should Have Known.

I should have known that he was bad news when he took pride in calling himself a Mean Drunk. I should have known that something was wrong when he made me cut off all my ties with my parents and my family. I should have known that I needed to kick him out when he pushed me off my crutches. I should have never let the kids see me lying on the floor with him standing over me, cursing at me because I never gave him enough sex. "And this was AFTER my surgery! I had no legs and he's angry that I'm not spreading them?" I should never, I should have known, why did I?

We talked about her safety. We talked about her finances. We talked about her need for a lawyer. We talked about her safety some more. We smoked a little more. I congratulated her on getting her kids to a therapist as soon as she did. We talked about how they were going to act out at some point, that at some point they may be angry at her for sending him to jail. We talked about her Kindergartner. We smoked some more. She apologized to me for having an abusive husband. I told her to knock it off -- there was nothing she could say that was going to shock me, so just give it a rest. I told her that I was going to stay a friend of hers as long as she kept herself safe, but that my kids weren't going to be able to come over until I knew they would be safe. And she agreed. I told her that I would still pay her under the table the same amount that I had been when she was watching my daughter, because she needed the money. Or I could keep her in groceries (or at least meat) for a while. She opted for the meat.

There's a terribly selfish part of me which is depressed that all this happened. It's a nasty little nibbling part of me, covered in pus in some wretched corner of my mind. That part whispers from time to time, "But she was my best babysitter! Now what do I do?" Ugh. I hate that part. But it's there. Yuck.

Overall though, I'm impressed with her forthright attitude of "That's it. No more." I really believe that she means it. (I think. You can never be totally sure if that will completely last. But with her, I think it will. I think.)

She finally ended the conversation with: "I know he's coming after me. The minute he's out, he won't come around in daytime, mind you, but the minute he's out, he's coming back. He's either going after his eldest kid and his ex-wife, or he's coming after me. About this time of night. Not in the daylight, but when it's quiet, he's coming back. I think I can get to the phone in time. I don't think he'd hurt the kids, but I think when the cops get here it's going to be all over."

Jesus, woman. Can you get yourself in a battered women's shelter? Can you get to a hotel? Do you want to bring the kids to my house? He won't mess with me--he's scared of me because he thinks I'm a bigwig in town. Don't stay HERE.

Yeah, but he's not getting out. It's a felony. I stay up night worrying, but he's not getting out for a while.

OK, if you say so.




Today he was released ROR. Shit.

8 comments:

CindyS said...

Holy shit - that's bad and I knew he wasn't going to stay behind bars. I'm shocked at the legal systems (both Can and Am) thoughts on domestic disturbances. Isn't that a prettied up way of talking about being beat and threatened?

In law class many years ago we watched a documentary on a woman who survived getting stabbed 7 times by her ex-husband who had a restraining order against him. I believe the police were actually there when he chased her into the backyard and started stabbing her. Ever since then I have realized that if someone is unfortunate enough to get involved with a man like this, the only option is to run.

And remember, he probably didn't start with 'I'm a mean drunk' when he met her - he was probably all sunshine and happiness and it is a slow process. It's only when it all blows up that you see the things that you 'should have known'.

I really hope that she is able to stay safe. And of course there is a part of you that thinks 'damn, my babysitter!' Doesn't mean that's the only thing you are thinking.

Case in point, one of my best buds has fallen in love and is moving out west. I want everything to work out for her and this man (even though some of us worry) and I want her to live her life to make her happy. I'm still sad about the fact that one of my best buds, the one who loves me just the way I am and who visits me regularly will be leaving me. I'm not sure I have processed what it all means to me but I know I'm going to have some abandonment issues but that's not her problem. It's mine and as long as it remains my problem and my heart sends her off with all my best wishes then I'm still a good person.

I'll just be more depressed ;)

CindyS

Suisan said...

This drama set up all sorts of issues for me, because I was Theeez close to falling into an abusive relationship. It never got physical (well, he once punched past my face and drove a hole into the wall), but it was getting there. And I completely "get" the early stages of this thing. Not a mean drunk early on, but a superbly attentive and protective person. Sort of like all those Alpha romance heroes I read about. (Which is why I really can't get farther along into BGB. Wrath freaked me out enough as it was.)

She's still talking sensibly. She wants to sell the house and distrusts his every move. There's no inkling that she'll take him back, but she's reluctant to go to a shelter. Tough chick; she's pretty sure she can take care of herself. Which in and of itself is dangerous.

Agh, it's such a bad scene. :shudder:

Angie said...

Yikes! I hope she can come through this safely. She's lucky to have you to help her out--even if you do have the niggles. That's okay, those are natural, I think.

The legal system, to me, has never seemed to favor the abused/stalked woman, but rather the abuser/stalker. It's frustrating in the extreme.

Megan Frampton said...

Suisan:

Man this stinks. I hope she gets the help she needs, and asks you for stuff if she needs it, too.

The most heinous crime, to me, is any that involves children. I fucking hate those people with a passion. I hope she can protect them.

Kristie (J) said...

Wow! I hope she sticks with her plan and stays away. And I hope she will be all right since they released him. As friends when we hear this kind of story, it's so hard. I had a friend once who was married to an abusive mean drunk. He was horrid and she was always telling me nasty shit he did. At the same time I got frustrated because she stayed. Finally she got enough gumption to move out - and then moved back within a month because she loved him. I was furious at that because he really did a number on their kids. I finally had to cut ties with her because I would come away from visiting and seeing that she never would do anything and she was almost as bad as him and I was so depressed afterwards. So here's hoping for much better things for your friend.
And as for your other thoughts - hey! We are human so of course you are going to think how the loss of her with affect things with your son. She has been so good for him and you want the good to go on. NOthing at all wrong with that.

Tara Marie said...

Yeah, but he's not getting out. It's a felony. I stay up night worrying, but he's not getting out for a while... OK, if you say so... Today he was released ROR. Shit.

Ultimately what can she do but hide. I never understood the logic of issuing a "restraining order". Lock the bastard up until trial then there's no chance that she'll be stalked.

Suisan said...

I'm annoyed that he was Released on his Own Recognizance (ROR)--not even a hint of bail.

Supposedly he's going into AA and he's moving into a "sober household." He's saying all the right things to his sister, but no one really believes him. On the other hand, he seems to be ready to give the kids the financial help they need while leaving my friend alone. He's more interested in making a good impression on the High Schooler than he is in intimidating his soon to be ex-wife. I think.

Hate this crap though, because it brings up all that old stuff in my own life. Makes me question whether I woudl have left my own abusive relationship if a High School graduation hadn't neatly stepped in a separated us. Twenty years ago, woman. Give it a rest.

Robin said...

Suisan,

freebatteredwomen.org recently gave a presentation in my Domestic Violence Law class, and even though they deal with victims of abuse in prison, they have a resource page that includes a Northbay organization,http://purpleberets.org/index.html, that provides some resources, including information for women who want to handle their own abuse case.

Women no longer need to go to shelters to get help, but I'd recommend contacting an advocacy group, maybe starting with Purple Berets or Free Battered Women. Good luck to you and your friend.

Also, I've NEVER heard of any responsible physcian advocating amputation rather than knee replacement (and I'm a young potential candidate for the replacement). That's scary.