April 15th, 2012

Challenge Accepted- For One Brief Shining Moment

The very first concert

Stevie and Jacksons headbandThere are many of you who know my story, and there are many of you who dont. I dont talk about it as much as I used to because for almost 2 years now, we have been moving forward, but there was a time I expected to die in a pretty brutal way or I expected to have to kill someone to keep my children safe and happy. Its a horrible place to be. I lived in darkness and misery for a long time and it changed who I am as a person, and my struggles still go on, but my life and the lives of my children were changed soo vastly a couple of years ago by the strangest of things, in fact, if you really know me, it would have left you scratching your head wondering just what the hell had happened to finally make me find the strength to get up and say,”Im not going to wait to die, or to keep taking it, we are going! I am re-posting my contribution to a charitable fundraiser that explains some of the situation, but the rest of the story… well, that involves 100 Monkeys and an odd little sorta Texan named Jackson Rathbone that has somehow convinced my daughter that he hung the moon and lit the stars.

There are many of you who know my story, and there are many of you who dont. I dont talk about it as much as I used to because for almost 2 years now, we have been moving forward, but there was a time I expected to die in a pretty brutal way or I expected to have to kill someone to keep my children safe and happy. Its a horrible place to be. I lived in darkness and misery for a long time and it changed who I am as a person, and my struggles still go on, but my life and the lives of my children were changed soo vastly a couple of years ago by the strangest of things, in fact, if you really know me, it would have left you scratching your head wondering just what the hell had happened to finally make me find the strength to get up and say,”Im not going to wait to die, or to keep taking it, we are going! I am re-posting my contribution to a charitable fundraiser that explains some of the situation, but the rest of the story… well, that involves 100 Monkeys and an odd little sorta Texan named Jackson Rathbone that has somehow convinced my daughter that he hung the moon and lit the stars.

Almost Two Years Ago…

Three mismatched duffels, one red, one camouflage that used to carry my parents camping equipment, and one blue that was actually supposed to be a laundry bag. My carry on is a Makita tool bag that I rescued from the back of the closet because it was sturdy and fairly clean and would hopefully keep my meager electronics safe and useable. They were nothing remarkable, much like what they contained, the sum contents of my 41 years of life on this earth, my clothes, my boots, some documents proving achievement of a college degree at a second rate college, pictures of my children and family, memorabilia of my glory days, and a few books and my electronic lifeline and leashes. The rest of what most people consider their identity, had been signed over to my ex-husband just a few hours earlier as part of a deal we had hashed out that was to allow me and my eldest son and youngest daughter to escape the hell that had been life in Flagstaff over the last 10 years.

The arguments had been epic, loud and close to bloody and ashamedly, I tried to incite him to violence because I needed to prove to myself that the monster I knew lurked in him was either dead or hiding in fear of going back to prison. Much to my surprise he hadn’t risen to the bait, though I had seen the familiar signs of his desire to inflict on me the lessons in pain that he had previously taught me for such disobediences. Prison and time had worn him down, and my jibes and challenges to his abilities to manage the demands of running a household, went unanswered. He claims he could do it, and hopefully he can, but doubts remain, he has never, “manned up” in the past and the thought of my younger sons being left to their own devices while he either naps of stares at personal ads on Craigslist, leaves me sick with fear, but I have to go, and he has, “Rights”.

My oldest son is weary of the entire situation. He has been shuffled between grandparents, aunt, home and now we are moving to Portland in the hope of establishing a foothold in a new land and building a new life while he is still young enough to enjoy it, but all he wants is some stability, a room to himself, some good acne medication, reliable internet and driving lessons, for me to finally get over the anger and the rage. He is a very easy going kid for a former punching bag. He has forgiven him, and hell, he even jokes with him and shares music and jokes with him about girls, but that’s something I cannot do. That day is forever imprinted in my mind and when I look at him, I see that day when he was being beaten and punched in front of me and I did nothing. Though no, “Long Term” physical damage was done, and my ex was arrested and supposedly, “did his time”, there is time still being served, right here, in my mind, and until my sentence is up, and my son has the life he deserves, the sentence will continue to run.

The decision to leave was made a long time ago, but the ability to enact the plan always met one snag or another; lack of funds, no place to go, lack of understanding of the rights that were afforded by the child custody decree, fear of inciting him to violence beyond what he had been capable of before when he realized that it was being considered. As a former law enforcement officer and with a degree in Criminal Justice, I knew the stats and the risks that came with making the final break, so when the time came, it had to be decisive and sudden, so that he would not have time to contemplate all the implications, there would be no going back, no changing of the mind, no hesitation, it had to be something that was done with finality and with no room for negotiation, but as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men.

I should have never been one of the statistics. I was never seen as the stereotypical ‘battered woman”. My father may have been a Veteran with a case of PTSD so bad that it made the stuff seen on tv look like Saturday morning cartoon fare, but he was mostly just a drunk that thrived on emotionally abusing me, he never laid a hand on me or my mom. My mom was a manic depressive that seemed stuck forever in the “Depressive” end of things, so we lived in squalor and it was a relief to finally escape when I turned 18 and left for college.

My life was always an adventure with bad men, and I seemed to gravitate towards the ones that thrived on inflicting pain, perhaps it was that was the masochist in me or some deeply repressed death wish, but who the hell knew, but by the time I met my final ex, I had scars of many sorts and I should have known my now ex-husband was trouble walking. He was everything that women are warned about, a biker, never been in a long relationship, no stability, and he had a record. But I was a cop and I guess I thought I could “fix him”? I was cocky, arrogant and figured that I had achieved everything else I had set out to do with my career and education, fixing a problem man should be no big deal.

He started off by throwing a plate against a wall one night when dinner wasn’t to his liking. Then it escalated to shoves, punching walls, insults, and emotional blackmail. I should add that by this time we had a child in common, a little boy that was born with a genetic disability that created a huge amount of stress upon me and that had also impacted my health a significant amount. I almost died having him, and it took months to recover, months that I didn’t have because I was expected to be providing for the family as well as keeping house. He became angrier and more stressed and the amount of tension in the house grew. The son I had from a previous relationship learned how to live like he was a shadow, trying to never make noise or get in his way. My ex lived in his recliner in the living room, watching tv and yelling at anyone who disturbed him. He was forceful and cruel and in spite of everything we ended up pregnant again. I told him I wanted to leave and he took a .357 magnum pistol and first put it to his head and said, “I am just going to shoot myself if you leave me! Will you do that to our kids?” I was so terrified because my sons were right there, and then he pointed the gun at us and he said, “Maybe I should just shoot all of us?” I begged him to stop and he slammed the butt of the pistol into the wall and walked down the hall and left. I didn’t call the cops I didn’t call until the time he took a straight razor to me. He grabbed me by the throat and slammed me into a dresser and held me with my toes barely touching the floor as he told me how he wanted to slit my throat, and take a picture of it and send it to all my friends after he dumped my body down a well on the Rez. When my kids started crying he let me go and I escaped. I called the police and he was arrested. He was given probation, but while he was in jail I divorced him even though we had 3 kids in common by this point as well as my son by a previous relationship.

When he was released he came back. We lived 10 miles from town in the country where it took the sheriff’s department 19 minutes to respond when I called. I endured the next few years, living in the hell thinking that I had no hope. His drug habit had increased to the point that we were always broke financially and I began baiting him in the hope he would leave to just chase his drug habit. It backfired on me and He just got more mean and angry at me, and my eldest son decided to step in and try to divert some of the abuse and my ex, who was a 6ft tall, 290lb biker beat my then 12 year old son, who barely stood 5ft tall and weighed maybe 130, in the front yard like he was a dog. It was then that I decided I was going to kill my exhusband.

I knew I could. I am an ex cop and criminalist and I knew I could probably even get away with it, but after being let down by the legal system in Arizona so many times, I just didn’t give a damn anymore. He was hurting my kids and I was done. I made my plans, wrote up a will and contacted a friend in Portland telling her that I was going to be giving her guardianship of my kids, so she was going to be getting a packet of papers with all their info as well as my financial records and such, but she should expect to have to come and get them pretty soon. Lucky for me, my friend is a pretty damn nosy and persistent person. She asked what was going on. She called me, emailed me and harassed me until I told her. The she gathered up everything and spent a few hours tracking down my exhusbands probation officer and she told him, “Unless you want to be short a probationer, you better get him quick, I know her and she is not messing around.” By 0900 on October 1st of 2007 my exhusband was back in jail and I was talking to investigators.

It was terrifying. I thought I was going to jail or that I was going to lose my kids, but for once the system sort of worked and he actually had to sort of answer for what he did. He got 20months in prison. I used that time to get my act together and to try and figure out what to hell to do with our lives. We couldn’t stay where we were, I wasn’t going to end up back in the same situation because I knew this time someone would die. I was worn out physically and mentally and I just didn’t know where to turn.. A black depression ate me up for quite a while and my kids and I struggled to even have enough to eat, and to get though my bout of H1N1 and a winter with 12 feet of snow. As time approached for him to get out, we realized we had to make a decision, and it was my small daughter’s love of a funky little rock band that finally gave us the strength to go.

I tell folks that we were drug to Portland by a pack of ragtag monkeys, but the truth of the matter is, I had promised my daughter we would see the 100 Monkeys in concert some day because they had been our sunshine in the dark times. Our happy when all was sad and they meant a lot to us. So we saved up our nickels and dimes, sold anything we had of value, and raised enough money to buy tickets to a show they were putting on in Portland, OR and then Amtrak tickets. We knew it was going to be a rough departure for us, the judge in our case had said that even though he had been in prison for,’Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon per Domestic x’2 and Aggravated Battery on a child as well as Unlawful Imprisonment with intent to injure”, and a wide variety of other things, he still had “Rights” to his children.

I had to make a deal with the devil to be able to leave to save our lives. I signed away my rights to the house, my van, all possessions in the house and I gave him temporary custody of our two sons because the judge said if I took them out of state without his permission he would, “Throw my ass in jail”. I was hoping that once we got settled in out of state and got established, I would be able to seek full custody of the boys and get them out of there, but I was able to get him to agree to let me take my daughter without any problems because she was so young.

He was released the end of June, we left the state July 5th, and though it’s always a delicate dance to appease him long distance, I have managed to at least be able to speak to my sons from time to time and they tell me how they are doing. It breaks my heart daily, to be away from them, and I often consider caving in and going back, but then my ex will get on the phone and I am given a reminder of just what a deadly decision that would be to make. My sons are well, I have friends who see them who also work in the schools with them so I know that at least he has not transferred his hate of me onto them, and once I can afford to fight him, he never will.

Life is not easy. We never have enough money, we have no car or many of the other things that people take for granted, and this was the saddest Christmas we have ever known, because we were apart from my two boys, but we are hopeful that the New Year will bring better things for us, we are healing and the weird little band that brought us sunshine in the darkness, still is lighting up our days and making us smile when the pain wants to pull us under.

 Almost Present day…

We got to see that concert in Portland. In fact, we got to see them twice that day and the first show was in a Parking lot at VooDoo Donuts. It was blistering hot, we had walked over 5 miles with less that $2.38 cents to our names and the little bit of money we had we spent to buy Stevie a can of Dr. Pepper and a bottle of water that we split 3 ways, but you know what? It was glorious! When those boys pulled up in that parking lot, I thought it was a bunch of lost college kids. They were kinda scroungy looking and they were friendly and the cars all looked like something wouldn’t look twice at on the city streets. Stevie spotted Jackson right away and it was like she had been struck by lightening. This is a child who was quiet, withdrawn and pretty scared of most men. I had keep a hold of her hand to keep her from running over!

We sat on a curb with a bunch of other girls and watched them set up and joke around with everyone. I was just gobsmacked, this was not the “Rockstar” kind of behavior I was expecting at all. They played their songs and my daughter just beamed with joy. It was as if the sun came out all over the place and I felt a load of pain lift off of us. As we were getting ready to walk over to the Doug Fir to watch the regularly scheduled concert, my little girl looked at him with such longing that I knew I had to find my nerve for once and do something I never thought i would be able to do, I walked up to a strange man,with my child and I asked ,(stuttering and shaking and in a whisper almost), if he would take a picture with her. His attention was all on her and his face lit up and he just beamed at her. He knelt down and hugged her and I had never seen such pure and utter love and joy on my child’s face as I did in that moment. He spent time being kind to her, talking to her and then when he stood back up, he smiled at me and patted my shoulder. My son gasped in shock because he knew I was already on overload for the day, but it was a good thing. He saw me smile. It was like a high hit us all and pulled us out of all the stress and fear and pain.

The next year was just as good, and when she saw him at the Best Buy table, it was like she was seeing her old friend and when he handed her his sweaty headband at the Wonder ballroom show she was delighted until she realized it was dripping with sweat, and then she had the typical 7 y/o reaction and went,”EWWW!”

 No doubts, never has had any. She loves all the guys and the band and as  survivor of situation where there was fighting and pain, she hates to see it spread to those she loves and she has the pure heart and innocence of a child when it comes to all things like that and I love her attitude about the whole situation which is ,”Its none of my business who is mad at who, I didn’t see it or hear it and I don’t know the whole story. I know I love them all and they have been good to me. Jackson has always been nice to me, Jerad has always been nice to me. People should be nice to each other, because there aren’t enough nice people in the world sometimes.”

Shes 8 and she gets it.

Our lives were changed by that little band, maybe its a crazy reason to finally leave your abuser because your kid wants to see a rock concert, but for 10 years I had just taken it when nothing else had done it. I now have all my kids and we are slowly but surely making progress even though its a struggle to support 4 kids on my own, but thanks to some monkey fans, I was able to rescue my boys when the ex lost the house I had to sign over to him, and at least we are together and safe for once.

A band of 100 Monkeys made  differences in a lot of lives, and I, for one, will never forget that.

  1. sosully said: *tears*
  2. katerinas said: And I’m crying now….
  3. jdcalamity posted this