"Poisonous relationships can alter our perception. You can spend many years
thinking you're worthless... but you're not worthless, you're unappreciated."
- Steve Maraboli -
(continuing from last time...)
When I hung up on my ex after informing him that I was pulling the plug on the car arrangement, I left with my kids to take my older daughter to her Beaver Scouts meeting, which lasted about an hour or so. When we returned home, my ex was waiting for us outside. He had parked his car in the driveway, blocking my access to the garage, which is where I always put my car; something he knew.
I parked on the street; my heart pounding so hard, I could barely breathe. I hadn’t expected him and I knew that his being here so soon after that phone call was a very bad sign. I got the girls out of the car, and with the baby in my arms and my older child by my side, I walked quickly to the house, never once looking at my ex. My older daughter kept repeating “daddy’s here” and I whispered to her as I pushed her along “When we go inside, I want you to go straight to your room, close the door and do not come out until I tell you to. Do you understand?”
My hands were shaking so badly, I had trouble unlocking the door. I stepped in and instructed my daughter to get to her room right now as I turned around to shut the door with my baby still in my arms. But my ex had followed us up the stairs and was now standing in the doorway. I told him to go home but he wouldn’t leave. Instead, he waved a cheque at me and said angrily “Here’s your fucking money.” I didn’t take it. “I don’t want money.” I said. “I want you to find someone else to register the car to. You have until the end of the month.”
|Despite having witnessed one too many things|
in her primary years, my older daughter grew into
a strong, well-balanced and beautiful young woman.
“Take the fucking cheque” He shoved it at me. I refused. Told him once again to go home. That he had no business here. He didn’t live here. We weren’t together anymore. I wasn’t going to cater to him anymore. And I certainly wasn’t going to have him driving around without a license in a car that was registered and insured under my name. “Find someone else.”
And the bomb went off. Enraged and shouting like a maniac with hatred in his eyes, he called me every name in the book, telling me what a fucking bitch I was. How I intentionally pissed him off. Did all these things on purpose. “You fucking bitch. You stupid, crazy FUCKING BITCH. I can’t fucking stand you. You make me sick.” On and on he went as I kept telling him to stop, go home, our children are here. “Don’t tell me what to fucking do, you bitch. YOU FUCKING BITCH. You always have to be so FUCKING difficult.” His anger kept escalating and then suddenly he lifted his hand into the air, made a fist, aimed it towards my face and through gritted teeth said “Nothing would give me more pleasure right now than to punch you in the fucking face.”
Time stood still as my ex held that fist up, face red with rage and body shaking. A foot taller and 100 pounds heavier, a punch from him, something he’d never done, would cause serious damage. In all the years I’d known him he broke things and punched holes in walls because, he said, “If I don’t do that, it’ll be my fist your face instead.” Exactly in those words. But he’d never hit me.
And thankfully he didn’t hit me that evening. Instead, he pushed me, I fell against the wall and the baby I'd been holding all this time bumped her head. My ex raced into the house and down the stairs into the basement where he unplugged the computer I was using for school. “If you’re not nice to me, I won’t be nice to you.” He yelled and started running out of the house with the computer in his arms.
In the meantime, I'd grabbed the phone and dialed 911. I explained what was going on and when asked where he was headed, I gave the route and described the car my ex was driving. And while still on the phone, the dispatcher said to me “They got him. It’s okay now; the police got him.”
Relieved, I sobbed as I kept repeating “Why can’t he just leave me alone? Why can’t he just leave me alone?”
Two officers showed up at my home within a minute. I told them the story, wrote up a statement, pressed charges, agreed to the ‘suggested’ restraining order against my ex and gave them permission to speak to my older daughter who confirmed that “daddy pushed mommy and ran in the house and took the computer”. Despite my firm instructions, she had come out of her room and witnessed the whole thing.
Later that night, a detective called from the police station to give me an update. He explained that my ex had been arrested and charged with a few things. And because he was driving without a license, the car had been impounded for 30 days. In addition, it was decided that my ex would be kept in jail overnight because he was absolutely livid and there was concern for my safety.
He asked me to tell my story and listened patiently as I did; from the period before the separation till that moment. Sighing, he said “Smart guy, eh? Expects his wife that he’s separated from to keep a car in her name because he has no license, so he can drive his girlfriend around. A real smart guy.” When he asked why the computer was taken, I told him that he was punishing me for not doing as I was told. Because I had young kids, I couldn’t stay after class to do lab work. I did my assignments at home after my children went to bed. Without it, I would fall behind in school.
We spoke for awhile longer, he thanked me for my time and told me he’d be in touch again. “Get some sleep.” he said. “We will keep him here until he calms down. You’re safe."
I don’t think I slept a wink that night. Or for several nights afterward. Looking back now, I realize that it could have gone much worse. When I told this story to the most amazing man in the world, he said “You are so lucky. He might have snapped and really hurt, even killed you.” He's right. Engaging with someone like him and in that state was actually foolish. And dangerous.
And did my ex learn anything from this experience? Like assuming responsibility for his actions? Being accountable? Regret? Remorse? No. The next time my 6-year-old daughter returned from a visit with my ex, she said “Daddy said it’s hard to see me now because you took his car away. Why did you do that mommy? Why are you so mean to daddy?” In my ex’s mind, he was the constant victim and everything was always someone else’s fault. And in this case, but for my calling the police, the car wouldn’t have been seized. The fact that he was driving without a license had nothing to do with it.
Two weeks later, riddled with guilt for who knows what reason for the millionth time, I headed to the police station to drop the charges. And the officer I spoke to pointed me in a new direction that would eventually change my life.
To be continued... (click here)