March 25, 2015

“I would still go through hell for my children”

I was a single momma for 4 years before a friend hooked me up with one of her husband’s friends. “Dan” was a truck driver and nice at the beginning of our relationship. He taught my three children how to tie their shoes, how to ride a bike, removed splinters, you know, endearing things their father just didn’t have time for. We bought a house, and got married. What I didn’t know was when I was in night classes “Dan” was physically and verbally abusing my children. One evening, my son was waiting for me on the stairs leading up to his bedroom. He said he needed to talk to me, tell me stuff, he was 11 years old. He told me while I was away to class, “Dan” was calling them names and when they didn’t move fast enough doing their chores he would smack them around. Yes, of course, this made my blood boil.

I woke “Dan” up at 10 pm by flipping the light on and getting in his face by confronting him with my son’s accusations. “Dan” said kids lie and he didn’t do anything. My son woke his sisters up, they were standing behind me. Then I saw it, the change in “Dan”. He grabbed my oldest, my daughter who was 12, punched her twice in the chest and continued to erupt. We didn’t have a phone in the house, “Dan” didn’t want one. I grabbed his work cell phone and dialed 911. We lived 2 miles from the police academy, the police were at our front door in minutes. My son opened the door for them while “Dan” was physically abusing me. “Dan” was immediately put into handcuffs while his rights were read to him and he was taken away. “Dan’s” responsibility was to pay the mortgage, I paid the rest of the bills. I didn’t know that the house payment was 3 months behind, it was on its way to foreclosure. His addiction to meth was more important.

I taught my children to tell the truth. I even told them my side of the story when I divorced their father, who was emotionally abusive, even it if made me the bad guy. I asked my children for forgiveness for putting them through “Dan”. Their responses surprised me. My daughter said, “Mom, if it weren’t for ‘Dan’ I wouldn’t have known how a man is NOT supposed to treat his family. He taught me how to stand up for myself. He taught me what I DON’T want to be when I grew up.” My son simply said, “Men aren’t supposed to beat women, period. He was hurting you, me and my sisters. I wasn’t going to stand by and let him know that behavior was allowed. You taught us to tell the truth no matter how ugly it was. You needed to know.” He was right.

When my children went through their respective boot camp and basic training, they both admitted they envisioned “Dan” as the challenge. They survived before. J., the 11 yr old boy who told the truth, survived the Crucible and is now a Marine. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 for 7 months. I was in college at Eastern Washington University and thankful I had something to do or I would have climbed the walls. One night he called at 9 pm, he said the national news was going to say ugly things the next morning but he wanted me to know he was ok. He told his first sergeant he needed to call home and talk to his mom or she was going to call the Red Cross, “My mom went through hell for us kids, and I cannot leave her hanging.” The next morning the national news said 12 Marines killed in Kandahar. My son had the where-with-all to call his mom and tell her he was ok. Another time he asked me to Skype, so we did. When my camera focused in, he was holding an index card that said, “I can’t talk right now, security issues, I only have a few minutes…I just needed to see your face.” I put on my best smile and blew him kisses. He smiled with emotion in his eyes. That Skype call lasted 3 minutes. When it was done, I hung my head and cried long and hard. Sobs came from my soul. J. returned from Afghanistan, he is still serving and has one year remaining in the Corps. He has a girlfriend with a 5 year old boy that is not his but, he is positively protective over both so much that he bought a house. He is also going to college online getting a Bachelor’s in Business. Every time we talk on the phone or even in person, he hugs me tight and tells me he loves me. I cannot imagine what he has gone through or what he has seen, I will be here when and if, he is ever ready to share his story. He knows he has PTSD, and he talks with others about the shared experiences. He talks with my current husband, they get along very well and I’m thankful.

My oldest daughter, J., the 12 year old who survived 2 punches in the chest is in the Army Reserves. She is married and living in another state. She is also going to make us grandparents any day now. She lost her first baby in utero, she had a month to go. This second pregnancy we are just as excited but also anxious. We talk almost daily.

When I graduated from EWU, with honors, my daughter wore her dress greens and escorted me to and from graduation ceremonies. I will be graduating from Gonzaga University in 45 days. I have requested my son wear his dress blues and escort me to and from graduation ceremony, he says if he can, and not out in the field with maneuvers, he will be there.

My husband and I are civil servants; volunteer fire fighters/EMTs for a rural town. All four of us are able to share our stories knowing those stories and shared experiences are confidential.

I would still go through hell for my children. I raised them. I defended them from the bad guy, now they defend this nation.

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