December 12, 1990:
I filed for divorce.
It was my 29th birthday.
We had 3 children and just 5 months short of 12 years together.
It was a day I can still remember so vividly. Getting the kids and myself ready that morning, the drive to the lawyer’s office.
It was the first time I can recall feeling numb. The world was moving around me, but I felt as though I was going in slow motion. Expressionless, emotionless, just barely breathing.
I was talking to myself in the car, “I have to do this. I can’t take anymore. The children are suffering. It’s a good thing. Happy Birthday to me.”
Even after years of planning this moment, I still had to convince myself that what I was doing was right.
My lawyer wanted to fight, the house, the business, bank accounts, alimony, child support. I deserved everything, he said.
I wanted nothing except my children and their safety. I wanted to be able to live without fear. To no longer have to question my every word and action because I never knew what was going to set him off. I wanted peace.
All true, but as I spoke, it seemed as though they were someone else’s words. As if they were lines from someone else’s story.
What I really wanted was the life that I had always longed for. I wanted my family intact. I wanted the loving husband that I thought I had married.
I wanted the impossible.
What I didn’t want, was to discuss my courtroom plan of attack.
September 12, 1991
Our day in court.
We were still living in the same house, which made it all the more awkward. I asked if we should drive to the courtroom together. He said no and looked at me like I was crazy. I guess asking that question was a little strange, given the circumstance.
I sat in that cold courtroom shivering. My lawyer offered me his jacket and even then, the day I was to be free of the suspicions and jealousy, I said no. I couldn’t wear another man’s jacket. How would that look? What would my husband think?
How conditioned I had become.
When I stood up to be sworn in, the tears started flowing. I sobbed through the entire hearing. The judge stopped to ask me three separate times, if I was sure I wanted to do this. “Are you sure you want to proceed?” “Are you sure you want to do this?” “You are clearly distraught, are you sure this is what you want?”
Each time he asked, I said “Yes, I’m sure” and cried even more. I cried so much, I began to feel my eyes swelling so, that they were barely open.
I used an entire box of tissues.
We continued to live in the same house for three more years. The emotional and mental abuse continued. The physical abuse had stopped years before, until one day in October 1994.
Another argument and he pushed me.
Minor compared to what he’d done years before. But this time, I felt more fear than ever before. This time it was in public.
This time…was the last time.