Okay, so I hinted that a long detailed post chronicling the Journey to Freedom would come, and when my Independence Day came, I couldn't find the gumption to do it. In thinking about how I wanted to convey the terror and tumult of that night, of that week, I realized something. Something HUGE. I have begun healing. That is significant. In trying to recapture how hard that night was, I realized I could no longer conjure the emotion attached to it.
For me, that is massive. I am an emotional person. I form attachments to events, people, places, memories, THINGS. I will remember a smell, how the light looked in the instance, the background noise, the positioning of the people, their expressions and body language, and it will trigger an emotional response. When I look back at that night, I can remember how things happened, the phone call from Janet, her urging me to leave Anthony. The call to the women's shelter to ASK THEM if I had "been abused" by describing my life to them. Them telling me that YES, I had..
The terror at the realization that I HAD a way out, and the knowledge that I didn't know what time He would come home from class, and that the intake over the phone would take an hour. KNOWING I would run out of time before he came home, and that I'd be stuck. Then the call from Lorenzo and Lien, urging, begging, pleading with me to leave. Then, most bizarrely, my rush to clean the house before he came home.
Yes, I had been told "you have suffered abuse, and we will take you here" I had been told by my friends, ANTHONY'S friend from before the marriage that what was happening was inexcusable and WRONG, and I vacuumed and was washing dishes before I packed everyone up and flew. I was terrified, I was shaking and on the verge of tears as I told everyone to get shoes and socks on, grab their blankets and we were going.
I didn't leave a note. I grabbed the CD of family photos, hoping to get one with Tatiana in our house, to PROVE he had been committing adultery. Then we flew to the police station, I called Liz when we got there to tell her where we were, I called work to tell them I couldn't come in, didn't KNOW when I WOULD come in. Then I waited for the people from the women's shelter to come and meet with me. Liz came with toys and color books for the kids. She gave me her cel phone so I could keep in touch.
I have never done anything SO bold, so brave in my entire life. It took every ounce of strength and courage I have in me to do it, and I am glad for the impetus of my friends behind me. The terror I experienced that night is unlike anything else I have ever known.
We arrived at the shelter about 10 at night. They situated us in a multi-family room, so all the kids and I could sleep together. They didn't go to school the next day, or the day after, as we tried to situate ourselves and recover from the shock. No one wanted to call dad. No one wanted to go home, OR to school. Then, 3 days later, he found the house, took the car, and we were forced to move to another shelter to protect the anonymity of the women there. We moved to Santa Barbara.
The shelter there was larger, a converted motel. It had less of a 'safe" feel to it, and it was there that I was informed that I had made a mistake. See, in all the rush, I had asked "DO I need to do anything? I don't want him to say I kidnapped the kids" They informed me I hadn't. I found out in Santa Barbara I was supposed to have called the DA and filed "good cause" so that they COULDN'T say I kidnapped them. I immediately did, and she thanked me for calling, but that I SHOULD have called the night I left. I told her I was informed I didn't need to call anyone, and she was miffed, but excused it.
That's significant, because the next day, Anthony filed a motion with the court to get the kids returned to him under an emergency custody order. He claimed I was mentally ill (I was in therapy) and that I had 'real issues coping with the children by herself'. YOU Try taking care of 5 children, cleaning a house, sleeping 4 hours a day AND putting up with your husband bringing a woman into your home, and tell ME how you do? Mmmkay? Because I had called the DA, because I was at the police station that night, because I went to a domestic violence shelter, criminal charges weren't filed (he did try to get me for kidnapping), but the children WERE remanded into his care. I found out about that at 10am, by the DA herself, who called my cel (thank you, that was more than you HAD to do), and told me that I had to contact A's attorney.
I did, and returned them THAT night. I went to live with Liz and her family for 3 weeks, where I did much crying, raging, and began to heal.
I got the kids back.
I am on my own now, with a better paying job, and I have healed significantly.
And I wouldn't change ANY of that. ANY of it. I needed to go through that hell before I could sit here today and tell my story. I have left out details, and the journey AFTER freedom has been equally as hard as the breaking free was. There's responsibility in freedom that you have to learn. Especially when your freedom impacts 5 people. The gratitude and love I feel for 'my people' is tremendous. I am blessed AND loved.
Ultimately, though, I am free. This post is more than a week late, but it's still timely and significant. That I can't recall the emotions readily is important to me. I am over Anthony. I am. He irks me, because he's just an ass, but I don't feel loss toward him. I don't miss him. I don't even miss the marriage anymore. :D
THAT is wondrous.