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Friday, 14 June 2013

Invisible Scars, Broken Lives, No Turning Back

By Sharon Ostrow who blogs at It's All About the Journey

I sit in the front row of the courtroom finding it hard to breathe. I feel powerless, like an insect suspended in a spider’s web. The thick hush of the room is punctuated by noises: the clock’s tick as another minute passes, a sneeze, a child’s whisper.

Deep inside I am angry, but most of all I am afraid. I am not given a chance to give my reasons for running away from my husband or describe how I was terrified for my life.

Across the aisle is my batterer. For appearances, he has shaved off his beard, cut his hair and donned a suit and tie. He has put on the disguise and demeanor of a clean cut business man and wields his power well.

Behind this is charming façade, he is a manipulator who twists the truth to suit his own needs. My leaving him is a blow to his ego and he does not approve of the lifestyle I have chosen. He is using my love for children as a way of hurting me and I feel powerless against him.

The judge is an older man with a grandfather’s face but he does not look kind and I can only guess what thoughts are going through his mind.

I know what he sees as he looks at me from his judiciary perch. He sees a woman several months pregnant wearing an ankle length, loose-fitting purple dress. Her straight brown hair falls past her shoulders and she wears no adornments or make up. She is very quiet and her replies can barely be heard when she responds to questions.

“The custody of these two children is awarded to the father.” In that instant I realize that my children are truly lost to me and my heart clenches with the pain of it.

I want to stand and shout, “This is wrong! Can’t you see him for what he is?”

Instead I sit in stunned silence. The judge has been conned into giving the primary care of the children to this unstable and violent man. I knew what the judge did not - that his decision would set off a series of events that will, in time, completely destroy the fragile bond I have with my children and leave them motherless. I feel sick with the knowledge of this.

My batterer complies with the visiting arrangements at first but it isn’t long before these sessions become distressing.

He insists on being present to control every conversation and make the children do his bidding. They are afraid to disobey him and won’t even hug me because he has made sure I am seen as a bad person.

After these visits I am physically drained, emotionally exhausted and profoundly miserable.

The inevitable happens and my ex-husband flees the state with the children and his new wife. I am glad that he has gone but this does not ease the kicked-in-the-gut feeling when I am given this news.

My heart aches each and every day for my children and my efforts to find them over the years are fruitless.

For too many years I acquiesced to those whom I perceived as stronger than me and I lived with a subtle, ever present fear of those “in power.” Because of domestic violence, my children and I were torn apart. I can’t change the past, erase their pain, or give them back their childhoods.

It is this that haunts me in the quiet, dark moments of the night when I am alone. Time does heal some wounds but not all.

My children are scarred in their souls and I grieve for our broken lives. The truth is that we can only go forward, for there is no turning back.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Sharon, you are a brave warrior of a woman. I have been reading some of your blogs--and you are a powerful writer as well.I hope for more posts from you.

Thank you Lyn. I appreciate your input!

Such loss is endured, but healing? I'm not so sure. Your writing gave this story wings, I have so many questions for you. I wish you well.

How tragic it must be to have had your children taken away by their abusive father. And what must their lives have been like when he remarried and moved to another state. Perhaps his new wife tried to protect the children as best she could under the circumstances.

I appreciate your honesty and courage in sharing your story.

I know mothers are supposed to be strong, but isn't this too much for a mother to bear? My deep feelings go out to you and your children. May your absent spirit guide them.

Writing about it helps, I think. I know I always feel better when it is down on paper. My brain seems to move on then, but some things are too difficult.

Children are remarkably resilient, so hopefully they are sharing some of your genes and goodness.

Fine writing.

Been there; done that. The scars haven't ever healed and probably never will. We are sisters. Feel free to email me.

This is a sad story, but very well written. Eventually the children will reject the father and seek out the mother. He will die alone and miserable and she will spend her later years in peace and happiness. As an aside, I have found judges to be increasingly incompetent, probably due to their insularity, detachment, and mindless adherence to protocol. Keep writing, you have real talent.

I wanted to ask if you were pregnant by this abusive husband. This is so sad, but as others have said, well written. I hope your children will realize their loss and return to you later in life.

My heart cries out for you. I hope that someday you and your children will be able to connect.

Thank you everyone for commenting. I like getting responses & hope to connect & keep writing.

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