October Is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month

helping-domestic-violence-sufferers

If you are being abused, here’s what you should do:

  • Trust your instincts and believe in yourself
  • Call 911 if you are in immediate danger
  • Call a 24 hour crisis hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)
  • Call a local shelter and go there for safety. When you call, they will tell you the location of the nearest shelter with an opening for you.
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Graduation Celebration—Divorce “Family Style”

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Josh had made reservations at two of Bloomington’s nicest restaurants to celebrate graduation weekend with his family.

True to his word, on both evenings, at each of the restaurants, Dick paid for our kids meals along with his and made me pay for my own. On top of that, the second night, he went above and beyond by asking the waitress for separate checks: one for the three of them and one for me.

Josh was mortified. Not only was it totally embarrassing and humiliating, the eatery was beyond busy with celebrating, happy families and didn’t need the stress of providing two checks at one table. Our server looked at us in total shock and disbelief, although she didn’t outwardly question anything and did as she was told. She must have been thinking to herself, Now I’ve really seen it all!

I tried to keep my wits about me and not react to what Dick was pulling. That would have given him so much pleasure to see me devastated. Obviously, he thought he was hurting me and making me suffer. What he didn’t realize was how much he was traumatizing our kids. Unfortunately, those thoughts never crossed his mind.

As if that wasn’t enough fun for one evening, during dinner, Dick announced that he would be throwing Josh a graduation party in a few weeks. Because he was such a nice person, he would “allow” me to attend. He was using HIS money for the shindig and was making all the arrangements.  He then proceeded to tell me that he would be inviting my brother, sister-in-law and niece. When I questioned him about whether my mom, sister, brother-in-law and their kids and grandkids were invited, he told me they weren’t and that it was his decision who was included and not mine.

I was seething at that point.

How dare HE make OUR son a graduation party for family and friends, include one of my siblings and his family,  not the other, and intentionally leave my mom off of the list — Josh’s grandmother??? We were still married at that point. The party should have been from both of us.

He was really pushing things way too far.

On top of that, my mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She still knew family and was able to participate in functions. For how much longer, no one knew.

What a low blow on so many accounts. Dick was stooping to levels I didn’t think were even possible.

It was scary to see what an evil, mean-spirited excuse for a human being he had become.

What a celebratory weekend that turned out to be!

Poor Josh. He deserved so much better than that. All he wanted was for his family to be able to put aside all hard feelings for one weekend, call a cease-fire and come together one last time in peace to honor that momentous occasion.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be.

My heart was breaking on so many levels.

Josh should have been feeling on-top-of-the-world about graduating and the wonderful future he had in store, instead of wishing the whole experience would be over as soon as possible.

As the proud mother of her oldest child completing college, I should have been on Cloud 9, instead of praying with all of my heart that I could just keep it all together for the duration of the weekend.

As the daughter who lost one parent to Alzheimer’s and unfortunately was  living through the nightmare again of watching her mom slowly slip away from reality, I was fuming that my not-soon-enough-to-be ex-husband could take away one of the last remaining joyous moments in Josh’s grandma’s life by not inviting her to the graduation party.

What a memorable weekend that turned out to be.

Unfortunately, those weren’t the memories I was hoping we would have been making.

 

The Main Event…Graduation

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Recognizing that things weren’t going exactly as Dick had hoped and planned, he quickly adopted a new approach to the situation.
“Since we are staying at the same hotel (which undoubtedly kept him up all night wondering how that happened) and going to the same ceremony (which shouldn’t have come as too big of a shocker), maybe we should all drive together to the campus,” he attempted to reason with me as the three of us sat at one of the tables sharing breakfast (will wonders ever cease) that the hotel graciously provided to its guests.
I almost acquiesced until we realized that two cars were needed after all.
However, we agreed to meet at the stadium where the ceremony would be taking place and would sit together as the one small, unhappy dysfunctional family we had become.
Amazingly, traffic was very light and I made it to the auditorium in record time.
Surprisingly, when I got there, Dick’s car was nowhere in sight.
This was a big shock considering that we left the hotel together. I couldn’t imagine what was taking him so long. Usually he was very competitive and would have gotten there way before I did…just because he always had to be the first and the best at everything.
I was also floored to discover that the parking lot was basically empty.
For the first time in as long as I could remember, I actually had the luxury of time.
So, just like Goldilocks testing out all of the goods in the Bears’ humble home, I leisurely began “trying out” numerous spaces to determine which would be the ideal one to be in when the graduation was over and the mass exodus of proud families would be attempting to leave the grounds.
Finally content with the one I claimed close to an exit, I made my way over to the building’s main entrance.
At that moment, Dick and Ashley drove up.
The three of us made our way inside the building, took our places at the beginning of the line and waited for over an hour in nerve-wrecking, stone-cold silence until the staff finally opened the doors to the arena and let the stampeding crowd in.
As the saying goes, The early bird gets the worm.
Since we were among the first to arrive we were able to secure great seats.
An aura of excitement began percolating throughout the stadium as the commencement ceremonies were nearing commencement time.
A plethora of announcements, pictures and information began flashing across the jumbo-tron. As the room filled, the reality of the moment settled in and a surge of emotion overcame me.
My baby was graduating college.
Where did the years go?
When did I get to be so old?
What was life going to have in store for me?
When the band started playing Pomp and Circumstance, tears started welling up in my eyes. While the faculty and the graduates began marching their way up the aisles, the floodgates opened up and I did what Oprah referred to as the ugly cry.
Damn. I hoped I wasn’t making a fool of myself. I looked around me and noticed several other moms were also wiping their eyes. Must be a maternal thing, I tried to reason to myself.
However, while the majority were quietly shedding tears of joy, I enviously realized that mine were an uncontrollable, mixed-up conglomeration of joy, fear, pain, depression, anger, sadness and loss.
Trying not to draw too much attention to myself, I focused on the meaning of the morning.
Quincy Jones delivered the graduation speech. He was quite interesting to listen to.
Every once in a while, he made references to his dear friend, Oprah Winfrey. Having been a major Oprah fan, those endearing comments brought a smile to my face and lifted my spirits.
Dick, on the other hand, was reeling and had a scowl on his face because anything that brought me joy made him miserable.
Just the thought of that made me happier and happier. The simple things in life really were the best!
With that in mind, I settled back and enjoyed the experience.
After the ceremony we found Josh and proceeded to take his and her family pictures.
Since Josh didn’t share with his frat brothers that his parents were getting a divorce, it was painful and obvious that something wasn’t kosher with us.
Unfortunately, under the circumstances, the graduation was more bitter than sweet and Josh had to suffer the consequences.

Graduation Weekend Continued…Day 1, Part 2

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Remember that Law of Physics…A body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion?

From personal experience, I can tell you that is absolutely correct!

When this body finally got a chance to rest, it did not want to be disturbed. All the tumult from the day’s activities up to that point caught up to me.

My body, quite content where it was, had no intention of picking itself off of Josh’s comfy bed and getting itself back into motion. However, when push came to shove, (literally…although I’ll spare you  the gruesome details) this body was forced back into high gear and for the next several hours stayed revved up and on the move just like he Energizer Bunny.

Fortunately, Josh decided to accompany me to the restaurant where we would be having our pre-graduation dinner. Thankfully, he offered to drive my car.

At that point, fatigue had settled into my bones like an uninvited guest crashing the hottest party in town. Not to be left out, hunger came as the “plus one.” Needing to be the center of attention, it rudely announced its presence loud and clear with a garish growl.

Oh well…at least we would be eating soon. I’d be able to relax, unwind and enjoy an outstanding meal at one of my favorite restaurants in Bloomington. What could possibly  happen to spoil our dinner?

Funny I should ask…

Josh and I met up with Ashley and Dick at the restaurant. We were escorted to our table and sat down. At that point, all seemed good. While looking over our menus, our waitress came by to tell us about the specials for the evening.

Dick eyed her impatiently and before she was done with her spiel, he blurted out that we would be needing two checks — one for the kids and him and a separate one for me. We all stared at him in shocked disbelief.

The waitress was flabbergasted. As my kids and I were, she was totally caught off guard and didn’t know how to respond.

I’m sure she didn’t get requests like that too often. I’d even go so far as to say, that was probably her first.

Needless to say, the mood at our table was no longer festive and upbeat. I wanted to pulverize my kids’ father. Josh looked completely demoralized. Dick was unfazed.

In fact, just when I thought that Dick had stooped about as low as he could possibly go, he proved me wrong. This guy never ceased to amaze me.

When Ashley, Josh and I finally recuperated from the shock over the waitress incident, Dick hit me with his next blow.

As we were finishing up our entrees, he stated that he would be making a graduation party for Josh and because he was such a great guy, he would invite me to the party.

Trying to maintain some sense of composure and knowing that my kids were spectators to the latest round of Dick’s sick game of “What Can I Continually Do To Make Your Life As Miserable As Possible So You Will Beg To End This Divorce Process Already And Give Me What I Want,” I tried not to show any emotion even though my dinner was rapidly working its way back up my throat and wanting to exit my mouth on the spot.

Again, we were all caught off guard by that announcement. Fortunately, our waitress was spared being a part of that episode.

What do you mean YOU are making Josh a graduation party?” I asked.

“I am making a party with MY money and you are welcome to come,” Dick retorted.

My thoughts were racing fast and furious.

Did the kids know about this? Who did he invite to this soiree? Was he planning on bringing Juanita to show her off as his…whatever???

I didn’t want to give Dick the satisfaction of asking him anything. Instead I just looked at him (with dagger eyes) and prayed that I was not in for more surprises that evening.

After we finished our meals and our waitress brought us our separate checks, I paid my bill and told my kids I was going to head out to the hotel to unpack. With that, I got up and left the restaurant.

It was about a 45 minute drive to Indianapolis. I wasn’t exactly sure where the hotel was and at that point, it was already dark outside. I was grateful that my directions were perfect and I made it to my destination without any problems.

I couldn’t wait to check in, get up to my room, relax and finally call it a night. After unpacking, I realized that there wasn’t a shower cap in my bathroom, so I went back downstairs to request one at the front desk.

In line ahead of me were a middle-aged couple and their elderly mother. I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation they were having with the woman behind the counter. It seemed that the elderly woman got a discount on her room by showing her AARP card.

Wow! I was also a member of AARP. I should have gotten a discount too.

So, when it was my turn, I shared the information about my club affiliation and I too received a discount and cash back on my reservation. It was true…membership definitely had its privileges.

I was so excited. I was joking around with the staff that this was almost as good as winning at a slot machine. We were sharing a laugh over this when I looked up and saw that Dick and Ashley just walked into the lobby.

The timing was perfect. I couldn’t have planned it any better if I tried. The look on his face was priceless. I wish I had my camera to capture it.

Finally, I was in control. I smiled sweetly at them and said, “Imagine this…what are the odds that we would be staying at the same place?”

Touche… Two could play at that game!

Friday, May 7, 2010…Graduation Weekend-Day 1, Part 3

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The ceremony was moving and touching. Pride filled me as I watched Josh walk across the stage, receive his certificate and be acknowledged by the University.

Finally, there was recognition for all of his hard work, dedication and perseverance.

After it was over, there was a reception in the lobby. Everywhere you turned, cameras were capturing once-in-a-lifetime images that would proudly be displayed in each graduates’ home. In Josh’s case, his parents were snapping “his and hers” to be displayed who knows where.

As it was the middle of the afternoon and it was too early for dinner, we decided to go back to the frat and chill for a while.

Dick, Josh and Ashley took of on foot. Since I had parked my car in the lot by the student union I had to pick up my car and travel solo.

I felt totally alone and out-of-sorts. The reality of the impending divorce was once again rearing its ugly head and as usual, I was fighting that disgusting monster all by myself.

Exiting the parking lot, I was also socked with the charges for leaving my car there for several hours. With my spirits scraping the ground, I decided to take my time meeting up with my then-broken family. With a gas tank near empty, I meandered over to a local service station. As I was paying the bill and getting ready to leave, Ashley called to ask where I was and what was taking me so long. At least my sweet, kind and considerate daughter realized I was MIA and had the decency to check up on me.

Eventually I made my way back to the clan. Fortunately, the air conditioner was blasting in Josh’s room. Completely drained and drenched with sweat, I curled up on his bed, closed my eyes, rested and prayed that the rest of weekend would go better than it was starting out.

Somehow I had a feeling that the answer to my prayer was going to be…not a chance in Hell!