I was at Family Court yesterday for a Settlement/Trial Management Conference. I was joined by the wonderful Transitional Support Worker who I met when I left the Women's Shelter and together we sat in those uncomfortable metal chairs waiting to go into Courtroom 5. My husband was there as well, by himself this time (last time he brought his girlfriend's mother for support!), and I was reminded once again how surreal all of the court stuff can be. I mean, over there sits the guy that I married and had two kids with. He's wearing the suit that I remember buying with him and sporting the Fu Manchu-style facial hair that he thinks makes him look respectable (no comment).
Anyways enough of that. I do, however wish to say that I was granted sole custody of our two children and his access is now firmly determined. Talk about a huge relief; imagine an extra large smiley face emoticon here!
I have to go back to court in February to deal with his goal to get half my pension. This brings me to my point in writing this blog: Leaving an abusive relationship is a huge step to make, ENORMOUS actually, but it doesn't mean the stress stops. That's such an obvious statement, I know, and some of you are probably thinking "Seriously Cathy? That's pretty obvious." Not so obvious if you have never dealt with abuse. To some of our very well meaning supporters there is the assumption that the worst is behind us and they wonder how come we aren't more optimistic for the future. In leaving, you stand up for yourself and your children, you might feel shaky and terrified about what you are going to do or have succeeded in doing and hopefully you will feel proud of yourself. We are proud of you! But realistically, there are a whole host of stresses that will continue, certainly if you have children and even more so if your abuser wishes to continue to harass you and make your life miserable. OK! Enough you say! I know I'm preaching to the choir. Let's just be able to admit that things are difficult, that we are struggling and that we are tired of waking up in the night with thoughts that just won't stop, tired of emotional eating or of resorting to other even less healthy coping strategies and tired of waiting for things to get better.
There, I'm done my rant. As one of my treasured co-site creators said when I read this to her, this is indeed our "crappy reality". The abuse will most likely continue, only now he or she just isn't in the next room. They are creative and determined and they will use every tool they have.
Lest we end this on a totally negative note, it may seem small to say this, but you really are not alone in this. As sisters we are bound together by by our similar journeys. You are strong despite feeling weak. You are on this website after all!