Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Daughter's Sexual Abuse: Processing The Despair (Part 3)

CJ's story is being told in a series and from a mother's perspective. This is the second installment in the series. If you missed the first installment of the series, please click here. If you missed the second installment, please click here.

I remember sitting in a little room with a Federal Prosecutor and the FBI, and I had them laughing about the fucked up situation we were in. Because really, what else can you do? You can lay down and give up or you can fight like hell. Option B is ALWAYS better.
Not to say that there won't be days when it's all too much. There absolutely will be. Ten days into our nightmare, I just couldn't do it anymore. We had been to the rape crisis center. We had met with police officers. The FBI had been by to confiscate my computer for forensic testing. We had met with DHS. And I just didn't know how I was going to do it. I was a SAHM. How was I going to feed us? How was I going to keep a roof over our heads? How was I going to protect my child? My children?
We had to look for news vans before we could leave the house for a week.

The letters started - two the first day. The first was addressed to my daughter. The second to me. I had managed not to cry yet that day until that moment. I read them both. They were a swirling mess of words. I wasn’t being a very good daddy. Remember that God will get us through this. Our marriage isn’t broken. This is your fault too. My head was swimming. I wrote back. I’m not proud of the things that I said, of the things I hoped He’d have done to him, of the places I inferred that he should go. It was vile.

Ten days in. I laid on the concrete floor in my bathroom and formulated a plan. Two of them actually. I was going to end it. I knew my children would be better off with someone else. I was a shit mother. A good mother would never have let this happen. They didn't need me. I would only make it worse. And I laid there. For an hour. Two. Three...

Four a.m. I decided to fight. I said no. I got up. I got in the bed. I cried myself to sleep. I had won this one. 

More days, more self-pity filled letters. More blame and more distance from what he had actually done. Ten more days.

When I was asked if I needed help, I finally said yes. I had lost 11 lbs in ten days. I hadn't eaten more than a chicken nugget at any meal. I talked. I laughed. I owe my life that night to a friend. She came over when I told her no. She made sure that I got help. I finally got help. Therapy and medication. Zoloft. They saved my life. Without a shred of exaggeration, they saved my life. You are not weak to need help. I needed to hear from a professional that the feelings I was having were valid. That they weren't selfish. That beyond the guilt and horror and pain I felt for my daughter, I also felt those, in a way, for me.

One month to the day and he finally had his first court date. I did what any adult would do in this situation. I checked my street for news vans and then I fled. I left. I drove to M’s house in the middle of nowhere, where cell service is spotty and the air is clean. I ran away. We played outside all day and ate chicken nuggets and tried to forget about what the TV and internet were saying about my life. M and I had not been friends for long. She was actually the friend of a friend, and an ex-girlfriend of an ex-boyfriend. But through all of this, we found each other. She called me in those first few days and I have talked to her almost every day since. It was an instant connection between two people that were doing the best they could. I love her to the moon and back. I think running away that day was one of the best decisions of my life. It was self-preservation at its finest.

Over the next few months, the letters continued. Back and forth. Me saying everything that I needed to say. Some of my letters were so very broken and shocked that this man I loved could have done this. Some of them were angry at the betrayal of my deepest fears and the horror of the crimes. His letters begged for second chances. They admitted to being a bad father and husband, but he never accepted responsibility for what he had done. To him, it "just wasn’t that bad." The absolute final straw for me was the letter that complained about the food in jail and about the inhumane way that he was segregated twenty-three hours a day. How he couldn’t eat another bologna sandwich…. It was that moment that I put the paper down, threw my hands up, and said out loud, "I’m DONE." Seriously. You’re complaining about the food?!? I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to feed, clothe and house my children, and you’re complaining about the uncomfy conditions in JAIL. Boo-fucking-hoo!

Things changed pretty quickly when I decided that I was done. It was as if a switch flipped. Don’t get me wrong. I had, and still have, bad days where the horror pops up and hits me, but I was figuring out our new normal, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

People come and go in life, and, in the ugliest moments, I have found the greatest friends. My tribe.

At the beginning of October, I had started smiling on a regular basis. I was making plans. I was pulling this shit back together.

October 9th was one of the best and second worst nights of my life…

Please tune in again for the remainder of CJ's story in the coming weeks.

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