So, on this day, I came home to find I had been served with divorce papers.
That was not entirely unexpected, but I was a bit surprised to find out that after a year of my having custody of the kids and possession of the house, he’s asking for both. The house is not so important, but the kids are a different matter entirely. Now we have to go to court, and I have to say things I would rather not say. In fact, my heart is pounding now, even thinking about writing what I am about to write. See, it appears that I am pretty much wide open on this blog, but there is so much more that I never say, because I am basically a pretty private person, and my only goal in this divorce was to save myself and my kids. I knew if the truth came out, it would probably ruin the reputation he has been carefully crafting over the past 12 months. So, I kept quiet.
Quiet has cost me my reputation among my old church friends, because they have been led to believe that I am a tramp. In fact, when I pulled up Sunday to drop off the kids for visitation, two of my “friends” saw me and turned their backs and walked into the church. I do not want to tell my truth, because it shames and embarrasses me, but I cannot not tell if my children are at stake. Remember the goals of the divorce? To save myself and my children. If only I escape, then …. well, that is not acceptable. And since I have to tell it in court now, I thought it would help me to write it all out for you guys. I can pretend that all of you are just one or two close friends, and start getting used to the idea of people knowing the truth. Before I have to say it in front of a bunch of strangers.
So why would a dedicated Christian up and divorce her husband of some sixteen years?
I knew that Pat did not love me any more back in the fall of 2008 when he left me to mow our half acre yard that had grown so tall over the summer that snakes had started coming into the yard, while he went and sat in the air-conditioned dentist office with the kids and read a book. I had my suspicions the day before I actually did the mowing when I saw a snake bigger around than my arm under the shed and called him with my voice shaking and he told me to quit being a pansy and hung up. From the day I mowed the yard, we no longer lived as husband and wife. That was October 7th, as near as I can figure out from the entries on my blog. But that’s not why we are getting a divorce.
He let the house and vehicles fall into disrepair and he quit his job with 7 kids and a wife looking to him for financial support, but that’s not why we are getting a divorce.
He exposed my children, myself and even casual visitors to my home to screens of internet porn for years, but that’s not why we are getting a divorce.
See, I knew that when I married him, I didn’t just make a commitment to him. I made a commitment to God. And then as the children came, it was a commitment to them as well. None of those things were Biblical reasons for divorce. Well, the porn was, but I didn’t see it that way at the time.
The weekend of January 18th, we went to Polkton to visit with my family. Pat got drunk and he spoke about me in sexual terms to my cousins. As an aside, I have never in my life seen two grown men leave a room so quickly. It would have been funny if I hadn’t been standing there with my face alternating between beet red and death white. He also stumbled around the house there and broke a lamp, shattering glass down onto our son and wandered in and out of bedrooms occupied by other couples. I told him that next night on the way home that he needed to leave the house for a while until I could get over what he had done. I truly meant just for awhile at that point, but he refused to leave and instead we went to counseling with Pastor Chris for some six weeks. At that point, we were alternating nights sleeping on the couch, because I could not bear to be physically near him, but even that is not why we are getting a divorce.
At this point, Pat apparently found religion. I can’t speak much to that, because we have never discussed it, but I do know he goes to church each Sunday and that he also goes up to speak to the preacher each Sunday and that whatever he says can be heard by those up near the front.
Not long after this, still in January, I came home to see that Pat had changed the background picture on his computer. Now, his computer was in the living room. Back when things were better between us, I had allowed him to take a picture of me in a private moment. That is the picture he chose as his new desktop background. And all of my children saw it. Two girls, then ages 15 and 13. Three boys, then ages 10, 9 and 7. Two more girls, then ages 4 and 2. And then I told him to get out, get out, get out get out GET OUT. We are getting a divorce because he showed my children a picture of their naked mother.
I felt totally violated by that, as if he had raped me in the living room there in front of my children. And from that point on, that’s how I have thought of him. And every time we discussed it after that, he denied that what he had done was wrong. He said he had done nothing to me, and that he hadn’t hurt me, that I just thought he had. And every time he said that, it was like he was assaulting me again. And still Pastor Chris advised that I not make him leave, but I could no longer function in this house with him in it. I came home and I went to my room and that is where I stayed unless he was not here. And since he was no longer working, I spent a lot of time in my room.
Even today, of Pat is physically near me, my stomach turns and I flinch away from him. If we accidentally touch, I end up in tears. There is a restraining order against him, because he drove by the house twice a day for months. He called and harassed me by phone, and he called me nasty names both to my face, via text and also during visitation with the children. He also hit the wall of my home while the kids were here and said “at least I didn’t hit you.” His list of sins is long and grievous, and there is no need to list them all here.
There are always two sides to each story, and I certainly have my faults. The ones of which I am currently being accused are lies, though. I was faithful to Pat as long as he was in this house and did not even date until we had a signed separation agreement and for some weeks after that. It appeared that our separating was a sudden event to the community, but in fact, it was not. Remember up there I said I was a private person? Even though I knew he didn’t love me any more back in October, very few others did. But I had begun the emotional and mental work of separation back then. I truly intended to continue to live with him and parent our children together until he talked to my family about me that way. And I even thought I could continue to do it, if he’d just give me a little space to heal from that, until he showed the children that picture. I do not want my girls to ever think it is ok for a man to treat them that way, and I do not want my sons to think it is alright to treat a woman as an object.
I guess…..for my children’s sake, I wish I had made him leave the second time I caught him looking at porn in front of them, instead of waiting until he made me the star of the show, but it is done now and it cannot be undone. My boys will have that image in their heads for the rest of their lives. And that absolutely haunts me. When they grow up and they get married and they see that look on a girl’s face for the first time, they will remember seeing it on mine.