Bringing Shade into the Light
Hello, My name is Shade, or at least that’s how I feel most comfortable identifying myself (to protect my identity and that of others involved). I’m 33 years old and today, I am ending my silence…
My story is that of so many survivors.
I stayed too long, I tried to get out…I failed.
Perhaps my biggest failure to date as a parent was trying to leave and not being successful.
I worked, I focused, I planned…I walked on egg shells (for months) in fear.
I stopped sleeping well, I was terrified and I was constantly saying things like “why are you so angry?” Or “why don’t you care that you’re hurting his feelings?” Some of the worst events we experienced surrounded his ongoing struggle with alcoholism including the night that changed everything. I had established a long-time rule that there was not drinking around my son (while we was awake) as I was drained and sick of seeing his feelings or person hurt because his Father behaved either coarsely, violently, or simply scared him and would not relent (my son is under the age of five so this is hard to write).
If you’re sitting there reading this and a man has hit you, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no matter what he says…IT WILL happen again. He may blame you, but if he is controlling, if he berates you, if he hurts your pets or children (even if they’re biologically his), your first responsibility is to GET OUT.
I began planning to do exactly this, in fact, I began cleaning stalls, working nights, and working freelance projects to begin saving to leave.
So many nights I had reminded him I wanted to breathe, I was feeling constantly hurt both physically and mentally…my emotions toward him began to turn off…
My plans were entirely derailed recently, when life hits you like a storm it isn’t a test of strength, but rather a challenge of endurance and dedication.
I thought “A few months of saving, and I can leave and we can simply share custody…”
I (wrongly) assumed that if I stopped engaging in arguments or left I would be able to save enough to get out and experience the peace we (my son and I) never had at home.
Sometimes though, even if you’re careful, things escalate.
You see, I’d convinced myself, that I was his trigger, I thought (wrongly, again) that I needed to change, I needed to be accepting and try and help him because we had a child together.
We went through months of couples therapy (nearly 10 months) where I fully invested my heart and soul into the process, but still found him to be lacking motivation. For a time, he played along, (begrudgingly) he attended the therapy, took the medication and sobered up. But this?
This was bait, you see…
He knew me, He knew that if I saw what appeared as lasting efforts and changes, I would eventually let him in, and my guard down. But I didn’t do so easily either. I had already had my arm broken by him, I was already afraid, I had even kicked him out and stopped seeing him as regularly and focused on my son (and myself). I attended every couples session, voiced my concerns (fears of violence but also of not being heard and emotionally degraded…) and after following his advice, trials and goals set out for us we began considering a future with one another again (or I did…). I thought the best thing would be to try things on weekends and in neutral places, we stayed in hotels which I funded so he could sleep somewhere and have time to bond with his son.
He was living out of his truck and refusing to get a place to rent because he refused to accept my decision to break up and not live together as it stood then. By the end of 10 months of sobriety, I was proud of how far we’d come, what I felt we’d both learned together and achieved…life was good.
But as many demons do…sometimes they re-emerge (that is, if and when you let them).
He began drinking initially when he was out of town, he lied about it but I knew he had been drinking with his family (who I doubt knew he was 10 months sober when they handed him a handle of Tequila, but if they did know and did it anyway I’m not shocked he has no sense of boundaries himself).
I confronted him about it and he eventually admitted it, regretfully he said it was just to “fit in” and celebrate…I tried forgetting it. Well, he wouldn’t continue…I thought-
Within a short few months he went from that first drink to drinking nightly, spending money constantly on Amazon (gifts for himself and neglecting to pay his own bills on time or even a single effort to pay for the needs of my son) and alcohol. He justified the change “I like to relax when I get home…” he’d say, 6 beers or more later he was saying things I couldn’t forget and my son was there seeing it because he was now back to drinking excessively around him.
He told me I was trying to control him, but what he failed to see is I saw how he acted when he’d been drinking and my son, didn’t need to.
He began doing the things that change a person, following me, constantly angrily texting me, not letting me have time with friends without an argument he’d later blame me for. But those were our issues…until they weren’t.
I remember watching him pull up at 6:30 (he gets off work at 4:30 so this was a sign he’d been pre gaming a recent add-on to his drinking habits). He didn’t know I was sitting near my bedroom window, as he finished his beer in the car, threw it into the trash can, and walked into the house without a single thought. I knew that if I said a word he’d get angry so I left it for the night.
After our son went to bed he walked into my room and said “why are you being such a moody bitch?” I assumed the question rhetorical so I didn’t respond and continued to fold laundry and say nothing. To be fair, I hadn’t been rude, I simply hadn’t wanted to speak to him at that stage as I found so many times the effort was draining and fruitless (for me).
He pressed me further “OOOOOHKAY BE MAD” He jabbed…
“Well if you really want me to answer that you already know” I said flatly.
“What? You’re always pissed about something…” He countered.
“I’m upset that you continue to break our rule of not drinking before our son goes to bed, it causes you to act differently and I don’t want him to be exposed to it.” I explained.
“On top of that you didn’t know I saw you drinking and driving and that is just reckless” I pointed out the selfishness of this alone removing all other reasoning before it just to see if it would matter to him (more than my opinion and words seemed to).
“Get off it, if I want to drink on my way home I should be able to, I’m a grown man and I work hard and you’re not gonna control what I do.”
Frustrated I told him I was done, a mistake perhaps in that moment, because this was not part of the plan. Telling him it was over before I was in a safe place? Was not part of the plan.
But there we were, arguing despite my efforts to immediately evade him. Within a series of moments I was grabbing my purse and headed to grab my keys when he yelled…
“WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING?” I told him, “I’m leaving I can’t take this anymore”
At that moment I was grabbed so tightly by the neck in both of his hands I instantly lost air.
He pushed me down to the bed and I began trying to push him off by his nails began digging into my throat…I was bleeding but didn’t know it. The last thing I remembered was my son running into the room yelling “MOMMY!” And I was out. There was nothing…it all went black.
I had no idea (and still don’t know) how long I was “out”, but when I finally came to, I saw my son, still there, crying so hard that his cheeks were turning a shade of purple I’d never seen before.
I picked him up barely able to get out words and said I was so sorry he had to see that (which I continued to repeat while grabbing him in my arms and resuming my search for my keys to leave the house). I sped toward the kitchen and stopped cold when I was reaching for my keys when I saw my boyfriend (now ex), the father of my son drinking a beer as if nothing had happened and his son was not screaming and crying in fear. I had no words. Knowing he heard my son and left me to die in front of him, that feeling will never ever leave me.
I tried getting him to leave, He refused, the cops asked him to leave, he laughed and refused again. I tried leaving myself, and there are plenty of situations where the police were called but nothing was done, until I broke down and went to court to see how to safely end this.
But now, I am a single Mother, I am driven, but fearful and about to try and craft a safe and loving environment for my son to thrive in. Where he can have success and support and fail too without fear. I want to build the life he deserves, but I need your help, really, we do.
I need gather funds to save to get out of our living situation and to establish a new home as the memories here (including the broken door) are hard for us to endure and reminiscent of trauma we both experienced at the hands of someone we both loved and trusted. I do work, but the issue is when my ex cleared out his things, he also took all of our savings and left me without a dime despite the bills coming out days later.
I am now not only without savings, I am overdrawn from the bills that have come in. I don’t receive child support, nor do I have family that can financially assist me. I can assure you of two things, first, that this story while not unique is true. Second? If I could do this solely without asking and offer an out for my son immediately, I would.
Before you think I just want a hand out, I want to share something personal (yes, more personal than all before this). I am a very hard worker, a business owner (the pandemic is reallllly ruining this though and I have not had clients as of late and that certainly hurts), a dedicated Mother and a loving friend. No single cent gathered in this fund will be used in any other way than get us to safety and a place where we can make new, peace-filled memories.
I will be sure to update as support is collected and let you know how we are.
Thank you for reading, for whatever reason you chose to do so.
If you can’t help by sending money, I get it, but if you could share it you will help it get the movement that I cannot. You could be the share that changes our stars…so no effort is unappreciated. Regardless of the outcome I can assure you I will always stand by my son, even if it means I am both Father & Mother, I regret nothing other than staying too long…a mistake I hope you do not repeat yourself should you find yourself in such a situation.
But if you do, I hope you will break your silence too, maybe even reach out to me, domestic violence is by far one of the most common forms of abuse and building your support system, creating a solid plan, and documenting (even if you’re terrified to do it, you have to, trust me) whatever abuse you can as you find a safe exit strategy. I hope you do. I hope you know you’re strong enough. I hope you know that I believe in you. Now I’m praying that you believe in me too.