Thursday, December 6, 2012

Heal the Blind

I just woke up from the most horrific dream. I was having supper with Jake and he served a baby. A human baby for supper - yes, that's what I said. And I ate it like it was completely normal.

Then I woke up shaking in a cold sweat. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!

It only took a minute for my waking conscious to understand the metaphor (and to resolve never to forgive my inner-self ever again for creating it). I want to explain it to you, but let me do it through some flashbacks.

Flashback 1: The first time Jake was arrested, back in February 2011, the investigator who found child porn in Jake's office immediately turned on me to accuse me of knowing about the child porn and suggest that I was using it myself. I was excessively offended that someone would ever think that of me . . .

Flashback 2: One of Jake's sisters, while absorbing the shock of her brother being arrested, told some of her friends about it. One of her friends told her, "Well, his wife is probably a part of it. The wives always know."

Flashback 3: I had to prove to social services that I was taking this all very seriously, so I did some serious reading. I picked up some books on sex addicts (not to be confuse with sex offenders, but sometimes an addict becomes an offender, like Jake). It was very enlightening, but the material regularly offended me. Spouse's of sex addicts are sometimes known as "coaddicts" meaning that they are somehow supportive and complicit in the addiction.

I have asked myself over and over since this whole drama started if I was a coaddict. The coaddict of a child molester. I want to scream "NO!" I have always prided myself on my morals. I want to assure myself that my instincts as a moral person and as a mother would always steer me in the right direction. But really, as my subconscious has pointed out, there is a part of me that wonders how stupid I really am. Could Jake have placed his sins right in front of me and I would have lapped them up and called them delicious? God, please tell me that is not the case! Luckily, my time with Jake was cut short. I don't have to be tested. But I still am driven to understand my own character, so I find myself doing a lot of searching through memories to find answers about who I am. Here are a few more flashbacks combined with confessions.

Flashback/Confession 1: When Jake and I were dating, Jake told me that during his first teaching assignment he had a romantic interest in one of his students to the point that they even went on dates. This strange turn of conversation was off-kilter with the man I was falling in love with. I asked him a few questions like, Didn't you know it was wrong? Is it over? Are you sorry? His answers were all the right ones, of course. I keep trying to relive that conversation to get at a few other points. I keep trying to part the fog of my distant memories to find out if I asked him if he slept with her. If I did ask him that . . . if he said yes . . . if I still decided to date him and marry him . . . what does that say about me? I would never forgive myself. (That student, by the way, brought charges against Jake at the beginning of this year and he will be sentenced for those charges in just a few weeks. He did sleep with her while she was a student and he even carried on an affair with her after we were married)

Flashback/Confession 2: During our dating or maybe early in our marriage, but definitely before we had kids, Jake would come up with weird sex games sometimes. Once he suggested that I pretend to be a daughter walking in on her father masturbating. I freaked out with the grossness of it. Another time, he suggested that I pretend to be a young girl that he would help teach about masturbation. In a moment that I am proud of, I did tell him that his idea was horrible and innapropriate and I asked him if I needed to worry about him with our future kids. Yes, let me repeat (if only to make myself feel better) I asked my husband point blank, "Do I need to worry about you with our kids?" He said no. The confession part of this is that I didn't see the reality of the danger. I actually thought that by putting him on notice like that I had cancelled out the danger . . . Almost daily, I am thankful that my kids won't become the subject of Jake's fantasies. Because they could have . . . God, they really could have.

Flashback/Confession 3: Jake liked to read erotica. He found a website with erotica stories. I read a few with him and they all seemed quite harmless, although I normally rolled my eyes at them. One story was about the man coming over to clean the pool and ending up in bed with the lady of the house. Typical men day-dreaming. Another story was a memory of a girl's first make-out session with her high-school crush. There wasn't even sex in it, just sort of a hollywood level of teen romance. But then one day I sat at his computer when he wasn't around and I saw the website was up, so I read it with an attitude of, "What stupid man fantasy is this?" It was a story set in Sparta, Greece in which a father prepared for battle by raping his own son. In the story it wasn't portrayed as rape, of course, they were both wildly turned on . . . I shut down the website and walked away. I later told Jake that I didn't think he should keep reading that site, but at the same time I was too embarrassed to talk to him about that particular story. I wish I had. I would be more satisfied with myself if I had told him that the story was wrong. If only I had made a big deal out of it and really let him know that it was horribly misguided and should not be giving anyone pleasure! Instead, I let myself be reassured by the fact that I never saw him on that site again.

All of that happened before we had kids. In fact, after we had kids he never said or did anything that I would call suspicious. Obviously, he was doing it elsewhere . . . or in a more concealed way. Now that I reach the end of these flashbacks, I am more convinced that I was never complicit in his problems. Unlike Jake, I see a child as an innocent person needing protection from adult sexualization. He sees children as potential sex partners or, worse, as sex toys. If Jake's crimes were "served up" to me, as the metaphor in my dream suggested, I would truly scream and point it out for what it is. My problem is not a moral one. My problem is that I lacked suspicion and sense for the insidious nature of Jake's crimes. It never occurred to me that his moral compass was broken or that he would be sneaking around hiding things from me. In the simplest terms (the ones that I will use to berate myself with for the rest of my life) I am an idiot, a stupid love-blinded patsy.

Sadly, I'm unsure if my blindness is cured. It's not love related anymore, it is just plain good-person, never assume the worst blindness. Even sadder, I think I am not alone in my blindness. No, I KNOW I'm not alone. One in four girls are sexually abused in their childhood, usually by a relative or friend of the family. The amount of boys who are abused is not much better. All of those children probably have someone like me in their life. Someone who has an intact moral compass, but is blind to the signs . . . Someone like you, too, dear readers. One in four. Keep that in mind as you watch your children play on the playground or perform in a concert. Look at all the kids around your own kids and start counting. One fourth of all those kids are being abused and exploited for the sexual pleasure of an adult. Let's not be blind any more. Don't let the bad guys serve babies up on platters . . . God, I want to wash my brain now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Is change possible?

Dear Anonymous who wrote the following:

"I don't want to be deceived and betrayed again. But is change possible for some? And even if it is, how does this color the rest of our lives? Will it ever be truly behind us?"

Change is possible. I'm not sure if you're wondering about change for yourself or for the sex offender in your life, but the answer is yes either way.

For a one-time offender, the chances of them re-offending is very low (that's with legal intervention, court-ordered therapy, and terribly restrictive probation).

For someone more damaged, like a sex addict, like my husband, I'm not sure what the chances of change are. I thought that being arrested and losing everything he's worked for would push Jake to change, but he continued to lie about his crimes and affairs. Through his demeanor, Jake has made it clear that he doesn't care how much he has damaged the lives of his victims, let alone his family. I'm not sure he will change. I believe it will take decades, if at all.

Don't let Jake bring you down because we've all heard come-back stories of alcoholics and other addicts. Sex addicts can choose to change. They can take control of their lives and their addictions. They can learn appropriate behavior, empathy, and other needed qualities for healthy sexual choices. There is always hope.

I think the more important question is whether you are going to change. I'm not suggesting a drastic change, like leaving . . . unless you want to, of course. I'm suggesting a change in how you perceive yourself and how you make your choices. Since my personal nightmare began, so many people who care about me repeated the same wish: that I start making choices based on what is best for me and the children. He has made selfish choices that have hurt and broken the family, so it is fair to set his desires as less priority than those of the other family members. If he is really interested in changing, then he will accept - perhaps even embrace - this new decision making process. Once I started operating in this manner I could see that Jake was not on board. He was not willing to accept the needs of his wife and children as priorities over himself. It was incredibly telling . . .

So ponder this: Are you making choices with your own best interest in mind? Or are you ignoring what you need because it will hurt the sex offender in your life? When you love someone and have practiced for many years to make mutually beneficial choices, it is hard to make this change. I suggest reading something healing and inspiring. I read Eat, Pray, Love.

I also wrote a lot of letters to my daughters. It helped me to imagine how I will explain this all to them some day. If I felt like I was making excuses and apologizing, then I knew I needed to review our circumstances again. My letters to them are much happier and less apologetic now. If you don't have children, write yourself a letter to open in 10-years. Will it be an empowering letter? Loving letter? Apologizing letter?

I think it impossible to avoid being deceived again by someone, somewhere. But now that you know there is a liar in your life, you are much less likely to be deceived by him again. About the time I realized that Jake had been truly unfaithful, I finally decided that he no longer would receive the respect for privacy and trust that I give all other loved ones in my life. This is actually an important decision for a person who is sharing part of their life with an addict. Addicts NEED other people to call their bluff and check their story. Again, if he doesn't like it then he isn't ready to change . . . probably because he is still hiding something.

Yes, this will color the rest of your life. I think about this daily. I hope that it will color me more sensible and careful with relationships and money. I hope that it has sharpened my ability to protect my children. It has injured my trust - and even my interest - in the opposite sex, but that will likely fade.

We'll heal, if we're making good choices for ourselves. I think I'm getting a lot better about that and I hope you are, too.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Sunny State

The last time I posted was in June. I made a big decision around that time: to leave. I decided to get out of Colorado and return to my hometown in California. The move happened the first week of August. I would have left sooner than that, but arrangements took a while. Right before the move, I had become really scared. I wasn't sleeping out of fear. My in-laws could sense something happening and they started sneaking around behind my back. I believe they thought I was going to sell my husband's possessions, so they were taking them. Whatever they were thinking, they just ramped up my paranoia. The move itself took a big toll on me, the kids, and my immediate family members, but the shear happiness of knowing I was out - wow! I had reclaimed my life! I slept like a log for almost 12 hours the first night in California. I have had some emotional days since then - regrets, ideas on how I could have done things differently, fear of the future - but the happiness and relief have always won out. I'm really truncating this story to get back to my point . . . 

I could say that I stopped posting in June because I was spending all my time and energy planning a move, which was true . . . But really, I stopped posting because I thought this story was over. However, I just got a few reminders that this story never ends.

First, I had a visitor to my blog. It was woman who I believe recently became aware that her husband is a sex offender. She left some sympathetic and passionate statements that reminded me of comments I left on some other blogs when I first entered this arena. I remember searching the internet for other women like me. Were other women feeling the same emotions? Were they struggling with love in the midst of betrayal? How did they make decisions about their marriage? How did they face their community? How did they raise their children? What did they see when they looked in the mirror? A "co-dependent"? A "co-addict"? A victim?

Her presence, reminding me of myself about a year ago, made me want to stay active on this blog for the sake of other women.We have a lot in common and a lot to learn from each other. I hope other women will start their own blogs or volunteer or share their stories in whatever way they are inspired. Keeping the conversation going is important.

The second thing that brought me back was a mild panic attack over the safety of some children that I suddenly feared were being left in the company of a sex offender. I was relieved to learn later that they were with someone safe and measures are being taken to keep them that way. There is more to that story and maybe I'll tell it someday, but my point tonight is that there is an ongoing problem beyond my family and my marriage and my children.

 I think many wives (and other non-victim family members) of sex offenders hide themselves out of shame, and yet we have some valuable insight that could help others. My story is mine, but it echoes so many . . . if the many would connect, share, and learn from each other than we would feel less shame and start having the courage to say, "Hey, I know something about this problem. I know the warning signs. I know how to prevent this." Or, "I know how to help a family that is broken by this." If the presence of my blog helps a woman step away from her shame (undeserved shame, by the way), inspire her to reclaim her life (whether or not it includes the offender), and spread a little awareness then I'm here to stay.

California, by the way, is perfectly sunny. Colorado meanwhile is having a cold snap. I am very happy to be here despite my unemployment, impending divorce, and financial dependency on my parents. You'll hear about those stories another day, I'm sure! Anyhow, I'm thinking that I'll be a sporadic blogger, but I hope that anyone who comes across this blog will feel free to comment. All comments end up in my inbox, so you aren't talking to yourself!

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Happy Father's Day (except for . . . )

One would think that Father's Day would be a bummer around our household. I certainly thought it would. The week before, the daycare teacher told me that they were making something special for Father's Day and asked who Elise should make her gift for. I instructed her to make it for Grandpa (Jake's dad). I asked the teacher if that would be weird, but she said, "A lot of other kids don't have dads either." The idea that my kids aren't alone in their fatherless state is sadly comforting, but it still haunted me the rest of the week.

Understandably, Elise talked a lot about Daddy all week. She asked me again and again where he was and when he would come back. I used to tell her that he was on a trip or working. A while back she had commented on how long his "trip" had been, so I decided it was time to let the truth start creeping in. I told her that Daddy had gotten in trouble. I told her that he had made bad choices and because of those choices he couldn't come home. She parroted back something like, "Being in trouble means you can't come home . . ." I didn't want her to think that she would be banned from our home when she got in trouble next time, so I tried to clarify that it was only the kind of trouble that grown-ups can get into. She didn't care, she just wanted to know when he'd come home again. I told her that he was the only one who could make that happen by making good choices. She seemed to accept that and stopped worrying about it. I just wish I knew what she was thinking.

Anyhow, the week before Father's Day, Elise made up all sorts of sweet stories involving Daddy. She would tell me almost every day about things she did with her Daddy and absolutely none of them were true. But they were all happy stories, like how Daddy gave her a pet frog. I let her indulge in the stories because it made her happy, although I secretly worry that someday she'll think those are real memories and hold it against me for taking her away from such an awesome dad. If only she did have a dad that good.

Well, the weekend came. One of Jake's sisters brought her family to visit and we planned a big dinner on Sunday. I expected Jake's parents to be real downers because we just haven't gotten along well lately, but they really were fantastic. They came over to my house Friday evening just to help me inflate a kiddie pool. They didn't have a "shopping list" from Jake or any other motive to come over other than to help me - I almost cried with happiness! They even kept mention of Jake down to minimum all weekend, although they just had to brag about how great his wood carvings are. And on Father's Day there was just happiness among all the family.

It was a really good time and I am very thankful. It felt so good, in fact, that it made me think twice about keeping my divorce plans a secret from his family. I don't want to alienate them with this horrible surprise. I started thinking that I was probably being paranoid in thinking that Jake would ever try to hurt us. So that night I prayed that God would give me some reassuring dreams about this whole situation and set my mind at ease. Instead, I had really disturbing dreams in which I was living all alone in a very different life without my kids and without any purpose - depressing, but not scary. I started coming out of the dream, just enough to know that I was dreaming, but not quite awake. Then I heard a truly frightening sound that had me awake in an instant. It was the sound of someone walking through my house and into my bedroom. My eyes flew open and my heart was pounding in my throat. I stared at the foot of my bed a few long moments, trying to see who was standing there because I knew - I KNEW - that someone was there. Not having any better idea, I decided to turn on the light and face the intruder. No one was there. I was really scared the rest of that night. I was scared the next day, too. I don't have any weird notions that it was a foretelling of the future or even a sign from God, despite the prayer that led to it. It was just enough for me to have my subconscious reaffirm its fears.

So, the weekend as a whole was truly wonderful, except for that night. I will keep my plans to move as stealthily as possible toward this divorce. Simultaneously, I will try to indulge in the family love that really does exist here and hope that those ties are lasting.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Stoic Woman

In another life (or what feels like it), I lived in Riverside, California. I was young, single, childless and basically had very few worries. I lived with two other young singles in a house in a nice-ish neighborhood. It wasn't a fancy block of houses, but it was comfortably middle-class. Across the street lived a tall, sophisticated looking woman about the age of my own mother. I imagined that she was an utter snob because she was always dressed like Martha Stewart and she had two beautiful dogs that trailed along obediently. And she never ever smiled.

The only thing that didn't jive with my image of her was the two-year-old girl that she seemed to care for on a regular basis. Such a perfect snob of a woman, I thought, would never volunteer to babysit anyone, even a grandchild. It was even more strange that I never saw the child's parents.

One evening, a search helicopter was circling above our neighborhood. Things like that were always going on in Riverside, so it wasn't a big shock. We locked our doors and ate our supper while watching curiously out the windows. Then we heard the police car sirens. My roommate waved me over to our front window as the police cars came chasing a car that screeched to a stop almost directly in front of our house! We crouched down with just our eyes peeking above the sill of the picture window to see the action. A man jumped out of the car and ran into the woman's house just across the street. It happened so fast that I barely saw the man.

The police got out of their cars with their guns pulled and crouched in wait. It was just like a movie. Next, the SWAT team arrived - no joke! My roommate and I thought that the snobby woman was being held hostage or something . . .The SWAT team entered the house - again, just like the movies, although they didn't break the door down. We held our breath.

Then the woman came walking out of the house, calm and cold as ever. She didn't seem surprised or hassled at all. She was carrying the little girl, too, as if they were just on their way to the grocery store or park or something. Moments later, the SWAT team brought out a very tatooed individual in a wife-beater. He looked as criminal as the woman looked polished.

I remember being so stunned by the whole scene, but mostly by the woman. How could a person be so stoic in such a terrible situation? I was sure that she must have known the man somehow and so she wasn't terribly surprised that he entered the house. That would explain why she wasn't scared, right? But wouldn't a normal person be shaken, angry, embarrassed? Wouldn't a normal person be crying or yelling or hiding their head? Yet, she had the same demeanor that evening that she did every day when she walked out to her mailbox. It was just such a puzzle to me that her cool image is burned into my memory.

Today, that woman came to my mind and I realized that I understand her now. I know why she was so cool. She definitely knew the man and his ways, which is why she wasn't surprised. But, more than that, she had been through this before or something similar. She had been through this scene enough that she was tired of it. Maybe the first time something like that happened she had felt fear and shame and sadness. She had probably reacted with passion back then. But how many times had he disrupted her life? More than three times, I'm sure. Regularly, I'd guess. When it keeps cycling around to the same drama and same pain a person grows scarred and stops feeling anything. She just went through the motions and went on with her life.

I get it now.

I've stopped being embarrassed by the monthly news article featuring my husband's mugshot on the front page. I don't cringe anymore when someone says, "You've been through so much. You're so strong." I even manage to keep my head up when I walk past the same police officers that once rifled through my home and accused me of child abuse. I'm not sure the shame will ever fade, but I'm done reacting to it. I may not have become that cold woman yet, but we have similar scars. I know that I have faced godawful moments with the same stoic face.

And that's yet another reason I need to get out of here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Feeling Territorial

This last month has been horrendous. Besides the dog dying, the water heater breaking, and the daycare incident, I haven't had the chance to tell you the more on-topic stories.

Before the water heater stuff happened, Jake had asked if his woodworking tools could be moved from our garage to his parents' shop. I arranged a day and asked some neighbors to come help. It was actually quite uplifting that so many people were willing to pitch in for my sorry husband (or maybe it was despite him). Most of the activity was in our garage, but I also had to go to our basement and pack a box of his woodworking books.

The next day my mom came to visit. A few days into her visit and Jake's parents said they were coming over to say hi to my mom. It was less of a friendly visit and more of a shopping run for Jake, since they arrived with a list in hand of all the things that had been forgotten. It was annoying, but I tried to be understanding. I did some barely audible grumbling when they said, "You forgot some books." Not, Oh please go look to see if there are any other books. Whatever, I soothed myself by thinking about how I'm unloading his stuff from my life.

My mom and I went away for a few days because of the broken water heater. When we came back, my mother was trying to put away the stroller and found the storage area locked - I never lock that door. I had to go find the key.

The very next day, after my mom had left, I invited Jake's parents over to visit the kids. They came with another list. This time, more of the items were in our house and basement instead of the garage. They barely looked at the kids. I stayed calm by imagining that this was the LAST time they would need to do this.

While they were collecting items from my house (without any please or thank you or do you mind?), I happened to mention the storage area being locked and asked if they had gone in there last time.

Kay said, "Oh, I must have locked it when we came over the weekend - you were gone then." Steam started blowing out my ears, I swear, and yet I smiled because I didn't know what else to do.

I said, "Well, I was really freaked out because I wasn't sure that I knew where the key was."

Big Rev shrugged, "That's okay, we had a key."

Are you kidding me people? They acted totally at ease with coming and going from MY residence without notifying me or getting permission! And they were completely unconcerned that I would be able to have access to my own possessions (but THEY had access, so it was okay).

Finally, before they left, I got up the nerve to say, "Next time you're coming over, let me know. The locked storage area . . . that was a little wierd."

And they did ask the next time. How many more times will they do this? I'm feeling threatened and encroached upon.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'd rather be the paranoid mom

This was a very interesting comment I just received and it hits at the center of many of my struggles right now, so I thought my reply was worth a whole post:

Not that this is an excuse for what happened, but as a child (probably around 9)I played a game with my neighbors called "the rape game." The game basically had each of the girls take turns and pretend to be sleeping. One of the boys would pretend to break into our room and pretend to take our clothes off. I don't think much happened beyond that.
I remember thinking that the game was naughty but knew that it was also safe. In fact, I had forgotten about it entirely until I was in my 20's and thought, ohhh my...I used to play "the rape game."
I think kids have to find their own way to explain complicated adult situations. It's possible these girls have see their parents shower together, so a group "pretend" shower might just be their way of understanding or just thinking that this is very normal behavior.
I think it's definitely something to keep an eye on but I'd be curious to see how many other adults have had similar playtime experiences."\

You know, I was bothered the daycare staff trying to reassure me by saying "It was all probably just innocent playing." I actually agree with the innocent part. As long as the kids don't know why the game is bad then they are still innocent. I remember kids showing each other their private parts when I was a kid in daycare and it was all innocent. However, even innocent play can cause problems for children in the long run.

Of my concerns, the mildest one (but a very real one) would be that my daughter would start to take lessons from these games as to how relationships work. Basically, she may think that sex has to be a part of every meaningful relationship or that it has to be the foundation of a meaningful relationship. That disturbs me greatly. On the same thought  line I would be concerned that the "rape game" would have taught some of the players that boys are aggressors who "take" sex and girls are helpless victims. That lesson can be instilled without any clothes being removed. Besides the inequality of genders in that situation, there is the added ingredient of violence that I never would want my kids to associate with sex.

Another problem comes with prolonged game playing in which the children start finding excitement and escapism in these games that lead to more mature forms of sexual escapism and addiction as adults.

Then, of course, there is my largest concern that my child might be coerced into sexual acts by someone older. The mother of the child who is starting this game should be asking herself this same question. There is a chance that her daughter just created this game to explore her curiosity about body parts OR she could have created it because someone has been coercing her into sexual behavior. 

I think the shower game up to this point was very innocent. However, I'm terrified to think that any caregiver would lean on this idea of "innocent curiosity" to avoid having to take any more action.

Back to the rape game, it sounds like you came out of that situation unscathed, so I'm glad. But it leaves me wondering, where were the adults who were in charge of those children? Nine-year-olds don't need constant supervision, but there should have been someone checking in often enough to interrupt a game like that. Someone should have noticed and stopped it with gentle guidance for all of you. Just because you didn't take any harmful lessons from it doesn't mean that one of the others didn't.

The consequences of sex play, even when it doesn't involve true abuse, can be serious. I don't want to be that mom who is always paranoid about this stuff . . . but I'd rather lean that direction then be the mom who blows it off as innocent while her child is learning the wrong things about sex and relationships.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Playing "Shower" - Part 2

At the same time I created my blog post about the "shower" game, I also posted this on Facebook:

"I think an older kid was trying to play an inappropriate game with my 3yo. I asked my daughter not to play that game anymore, but she seemed defensive. How do you explain this stuff to a little kid? She was hardly willing to tell me about the game, probably because she realizes I disapprove. How do I help her understand that I'm trying to help?"

I made it non-specific to place or people involved on purpose. I got several responses from my friends that are not part of our community.

The next morning, as I dropped off my kids at daycare, I went straight to the director to talk to her. A member of the daycare's board was also waiting for me. I was happily surprised thinking, "Wow, they're taking this seriously." But no, she was just there to explain to me how my facebook post could have damaged the daycare's reputation and endangered the children involved. Ugh.

I was horribly offended, of course. They seemed more concerned by my facebook post than the possibility that children were engaging in sex play. We argued a while over the facebook crap. She said that I signed an agreement with the daycare that I would take all problems to the director first. I told her my facebook post wasn't about the daycare, it was about me trying to talk to my child. "Do I have to ask the director's permission every time I post a parenting concern on facebook?"

"Of course not!" she said. But then she continued to compare what I did to a hospital employee breaking the HIPPA (sp?) privacy act. The more I think about, the more that pisses me off because I am NOT their employee and I broke no code of privacy! Grrrr.

She also explained that the comments following the post jumped to conclusions, which could make parents start to think that there is a real predator at our daycare. I'll let you all read the comments below and see if any are inappropriately scary (because I think they are dead-on appropriate).

In the end, I did apologize simply because we live in a small community, so any local parents reading my post could reasonably guess where this incident occurred.

And then we were finally able to steer the conversation back to how the daycare will handle this issue. Let me say that I really like the director and I do trust that she will work to prevent any sex play. The board member is also a woman I generally like, but I hope the director ignores her assertions that "It was probably all just innocent!" Well, it might be innocent, but it could easily start sliding toward the dangerous.

I had the bitter taste of politics in my mouth the rest of the day.

The following are the comments following my post:

From an old high school friend and mother of 2: " that's a tough one. at 3, not sure if I had to have a talk with K-, but we did have the "it's your body" talk and "no one can touch you" type things. but we've been lucky"

From me: "We've talked a lot about body parts and how we don't let others touch us. This game involved pretending to take a shower, including pretending to undress and wash, in a secluded area. When I told Elise that I didn't like that game because I don't want her taking her clothes off with other kids she said, "It was just pretend!" I told her that sometimes pretend stuff becomes real stuff. Then I suggested that we find her better friends to play with and she said, "Yeah, friends that don't want to take clothes off." I practically screamed HALLELUJAH!"

From a college friend and mom of an infant:" i swear that is one of my biggest nervous-ness-es (how's that for a word?) of parenthood.... figuring out the best way to address personal privacy, without going overboard. i would much rather have a girl that is ready to kick some a** for people getting too "friendly", than a girl who is in any kind of trouble and afraid to talk to me."

From a teacher and mother: "Evie, if they were acting secretive it can only be because the older child told them to keep it a secret. I'd be more worried about that child than how you handled it with Elise. It sounds like you handled that perfectly. If you can, you should share your concern with the other child's parents. Sometimes if a child initiates that kind of play with younger children (especially when they stress the secretive nature of the activity which indicates that they know that the activity is inappropriate) it can be an indicator that the child is working out some issues of their own. Many of the children that abuse younger kids have been abused themselves. You might stress to Elise that she needs to play where you can see her at all times. What a frightening incident!"

From a mother of grown children and wife of a teacher: "I agree with [above] and have the opinion that a three year old is too mentally and emotionally immature to plays out of sight unless she is with family or friends that you know extremely well and completely trust"

 From another mother of 2: "sounds like you did the right thing. and making it about talking instead of getting in trouble is ALWAYS the way to go." 

Finally, from me: "When I wrote this post, I intentionally left out details about the location and children involved. It was not my intention to scare any local parents. I was only trying to get some ideas on how to talk to my daughter about the situation. I want it to be clear that the organization in charge of the place where this occurred is taking the appropriate steps with care and concern for everyone involved. My family will happily frequent this location in the future because of how well they are handling it."



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playing "Shower"

My kids go to a great daycare. I feel very comfortable with the teaching style of the teachers. I'm even more happy with the very open layout of the facility. If there is a door, there is a big window in it. There are multiple teachers in the facility, constantly rotating classrooms, and there are parents coming and going at all times. The visibility helps set my mind at ease that there will be no funny business. Basically, I don't have to worry about sexual abuse.

However, when I picked up my kids today, I noticed two older girls, around 7 years old, coming out of a bathroom stall together whispering. I let the daycare worker know before I left.

At home, I asked Elise if she ever played with Casey, one of the girls I saw. She said yes and I proceeded to gently ask her what kind of things they did together. The more detail I asked for, the less Elise seemed willing to tell me. Finally, I asked her where they played and one of the places she listed was the "shower". I don't recall seeing a shower in the stall, so I asked her where the shower was and she said it was with the bathrooms. I asked her what they did in there and she said they took off their clothes to wash themselves. She quickly followed that with, "It's just pretend, Mom!"

I hugged her and asked her not to play in the shower with Casey anymore.

I feel rather sick about this. I'm not sure what to do. I guess I'm going to explain this to the daycare staff. At the least, I don't want Elise playing with Casey any more. I'm leaning toward asking them to have a talk with Casey about the inappropriateness of her play. I'm more than a little concerned why Casey came up with this game . . . What do you all think?

Pregnancy Dreams

One of the women that I share an office with is pregnant. The other woman is trying to get pregnant. Every day is seems like another member of the staff comes into our office to announce that they are pregnant! I'm getting really sick of pregnant women, especially since I've started having pregnancy dreams.

Last night, my pregnancy dream was enhanced by the full moon. Not only was I pregnant, but I met the leader of a cult and agreed to move in with him . . . to his remote cabin with no running water or electricity or heat . . . where his twenty children also lived . . . where they were expecting to be raided by law enforcement  . . . and I was due to pop at any moment.

That's not the end, though. When the sun set on this cult cabin, it was hard to see since there were no lights. After a little while, my eyes adjusted to the full moon (still in my dream) only to realize the place was crawling with alien caterpillars about the size of cat!

Lately, I've been looking at myself in the mirror and saying, "Evie, you are all grown up now. You have made foolish decisions, but you won't any more. You will be careful and discerning with all future choices."  But this morning I looked in the mirror and said, "You moved in with a cult at full term! Are you psycho?!" Okay, I don't think I'd really ever do that, but I think maybe my sub-conscious was warning me that I am still rather foolish.

It was also trying to tell me to watch out for alien caterpillars.

And no, I am not pregnant.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Water Heater Drama

I never knew a water heater could spark so much drama. Well, mine died a week and a half ago. My mother was visiting, so she volunteered to call a plumber while I was at work (after a very cold shower). The plumber discovered that the water heater had some serious problems, including the possibility that it had become a fire hazard. Basically, it was time for a new water heater.

I have been avoiding talking to Jake, but I felt the need to let him know about the water heater. I consider this house to be HIS house and, thus, HIS water heater and HIS cost to replace it. I thought it was a simple enough message that I could just tell his dad.

I called Big Rev and started to explain the issues that the water heater was having, including black smoke coming out the exhaust pipe. I told him that I had a plumber look at it. He said, "I wish you hadn't called a plumber because I can tell you how to fix it."

"Oh really," I said, "how's that?"

"Well, go down to the basement."

"Uh-huh." I wasn't moving.

"Now climb up on the counter beside the water heater."


"Unplug it from the battery back-up, wait a few seconds, then plug it back in."

"Are you kidding?! I just told you that BLACK SMOKE is coming out the exhaust and you want me to just unplug and replug it?!"

We exchanged a few more angry sentences and then he hung up on me. That did me in. I felt like Big Rev was representative of Jake, which meant that I was alone with the water heater problems. I was ready to move out on the spot! Unfortunately, it just couldn't be done in a day. After a frenzy of stamping my feet and cussing loudly, I ended up crumpled on the floor sobbing with my mom hugging me.

A little while later, Jake called and I answered it. He was calm and - dare I say it - comforting. This was the man I fell in love with. The man who solves my problems. The man who is on my side. He listened to my water heater problems and agreed to buy a new one without my asking. The conversation naturally moved to other things: his court date that I didn't attend, his treatment that he feels is not helping, and our relationship.

He acknowledged that I have a lot of reasons to be mad at him, but he wants to resolve our problems and move forward. I felt like such an ass while he was saying these things. He doesn't know that I'm planning on divorcing him. He's concocting dreams of our future and I'm planning my escape. I tried to gently tell him that I don't know if we'll have a future together. He suggested I come over and spend time with him so that we can know if we're "still compatible". I told him that we are as compatible as we've always been, but that didn't change the situation he's in, the damage he's done, and his inability to be a father.

He took a lot of offense to that part about being a father. I told him that, from what I could gather, he was likely to go to prison for at least a few years. He cut me off to say that he thinks he could just get probation. We bickered about the reality of that for a few minutes and then the conversation went on with him trying to explain how things can get better, if I can just give him that chance . . .

I had previously made up my mind not to tell him about the divorce until I file. Jake has never been hostile in my presence, but he's been deceptive so many times now that I feel I can't even trust my own belief in his apparent non-violent demeanor. So I have been mum about the divorce out of fear that he would react in a dangerous way. As we talked on the phone, I softened up to him. I never lost my determination to divorce him, but I started feeling bad that I was keeping it a secret. I started imagining the day that he would receive notice and how heartbroken he would be. I had to really struggle during the conversation to keep from blurting out, "I'M LEAVING!"

Somehow, I managed to hold it in, but I allowed myself to repeat what I've told him before, "I don't know how long I can stay here. I can't afford the mortgage and this isn't good for the kids. I might have to leave." We were both crying.

Anyhow, it ended with him asking me to call him again some time. "Sure," I said. I really meant it, too.

I immediately called my therapist because I felt deeply disturbed about the whole conversation - mostly because of how much he could soften me up with just a few kind words. She listened kindly and then asked me if I had read his psycho sexual evaluation. She asks me that every time I talk to her. For the longest time I had the excuse that no one had given me a copy. So she gave me a copy. Really, I didn't want to read it. I felt like I had already accepted that he is sexually disturbed and a likely danger to his own children, so why did i need to read the details behind those facts? Well, this time when she asked I felt moved to actually do it. I sat down and read about all the ways he is a sexual deviant.

The report was nauseating and sad. A few things stuck out to me. First, he is attracted to every age and gender. They have a special device to measure that, you know, but I don't really feel like getting into that.That part actually didn't disturb me as much as the next part about how he doesn't have proper empathy for others when it comes to sex. Basically, he is not able to distinguish if a person is desiring sex or not. This is dangerous enough when you're dealing with adults, but he could possibly misinterpret a child's innocent affection as a sexual advance. I thought about how he used to sit with Elise on the sofa and watch T.V. Did he make any misinterpretations then? Luckily, the next part of the evaluation summarized the polygraph in which he was found to be truthful in denying any sexual contact with his own kids. Thank God. The most painful part of the report was reading the statements of Jake and of the victim. The victim's statement was so damning. I expected that Jake would downplay his bad behavior - and he did. I was equally expecting that she would exaggerate it. But everything she said rang true. He came on to her and said inappropriate things to her. Everything she described had him down to the letter. I had previously believed that he had just got caught up in the moment with her, but now I know for sure that he was actively pursuing her. He was planning it and following through . . . and he was enjoying it. As if he was living out his favorite wet dream.

But wait, there's more! He told the evaluator that he had an affair when he was 33. That would be the second year of our marriage, about the time Elise was one year old. If I needed something to solidify my resolve in divorcing him, that would do it! Sure, I knew he had gone to massage parlors and had internet sex with strangers, but he wouldn't have called any of those affairs. And I think I know who it was with, which makes it doubly hideous, but that's another long blog post for a different day . . .

As I reached the end of the report, I was absolutely sure that this marriage was over and that our kids needed to be removed from this situation. There was just one thing that made me sorry about this decision. It was a line in the evaluation summary: "Periodically sad, empty, and lonely, he is likely to have deep frustrated yearnings for social acceptance." That is the kind of thing that makes me want to stay and give him the love he obviously needs because he will never have that social acceptance.

But every bit of energy I spend taking care of Jake (who can't return that love and care properly) weakens me and lowers the chances that our kids will have a healthy childhood. Our kids need me - and deserve me - more than he does.

The water heater, the phone conversation, and the psycho sexual evaluation left me emotionally drained. I spent a good portion of that afternoon unable to function, holding on to a cup of tea, and just shivering. Thank goodness my mother was there. When I resurfaced from my emo-coma, we made plans to get away for the weekend and get away for good. It's going to take a few months, but the plans are solidifying and I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On the path to divorce

Lately, as I explain to my closest family and friends that I am planning to divorce Jake and move away from here, they tend to say something like, "It sounds like you are on the right path."

My response to that is, "Sure, I'm on the path, but I have no idea where it is going or how to take the first step." But I guess it's good that I'm on the path.

This path is really freaking steep and rocky and you wouldn't believe what they charge at the toll booth . . .

Anyhow, I'm taking this divorce idea very seriously now. I talked to my lawyer about it. (By the way, every time I say "my lawyer" I squirm a little. I still haven't got used to the fact that there is a lawyer that I have paid enough money in the past that I actually call her "my lawyer"). She thinks it will be fairly easy, given the criminal position my husband is in.

I talked to a friend of mine that recently divorced her abusive husband. She was reassuring and full of advice. She also thinks this will be easy.

Easy or not, I'm still terrified of going through with this divorce. The worst part, I think, will be breaking the news to Jake and his family. I'm nervous about how Jake will take the news. I've never seen him act out in a violent way, but I'm still scared. Even now, he has no idea that I'm planning to divorce him, but he knows I'm mad at him and he knows that I don't think he's fit to be a father . . . and that's enough to keep me awake at night, scared he's going to snap and come kill us. I try to tell myself that we're safe because he has the ankle monitor on, but the ankle monitor will just alert the sheriff that he's left the property. It doesn't physically stop him. So, in theory, he could get in a car, drive the two miles of gravel road (straight shot to our house) and do damage before the police even get in their cars ten miles away in town.

It's paranoia, I'm sure. Again, I've never seen him be violent - self-centered, greedy, insensitive, but not violent. But just in case, I had a friend of our family remove Jake's guns and ammo from our house. To be extra safe, I'm keeping this divorce hush-hush until the day I file. That same day, I'm going to say good-bye to this house and drive off in a moving van.

It get's tricky after that because a person filing for divorce can't leave the state without the permission of the court. So I'll be in limbo for a little while. I'll stay at a local hotel or a friends' house - just as long as I'm closer to the police than Jake. That's okay, though, because I want a little time to tell my friends what's happening and say good-bye. I want Elise to be able to say good-bye to her friends, too. And I really want to tell Jake's parents in person about the divorce. My own mother cringes at that idea because she knows, as I know, that they won't understand. I am pretty sure they will only tell me I'm doing the wrong thing and think the worst of me. It's going to be tough.

It's also going to be expensive. My friend who divorced her abusive husband spent $3500 on the divorce. I have $4500 in savings. That money was intended for the move and living expenses when I get there. I'm just holding my breath that the judge lets me move sooner than later so I can find a job before the lawyer's bill rolls in!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The D-word


When Jake was arrested for the first time in 2011, I felt like everyone automatically assumed that I was going to leave him. I am very sensitive to the expectations of others, so this tore me to pieces. I didn't want a divorce then. I wanted to hold my family together, solve the problems and heal the wounds. I wanted to shovel the shit into my garden to grow flowers. Apparently I'm an optimist.

Now, I'm in such a different place. I really want to leave. I look at all the damage that's been done and I'm ready to walk away. My soul feels bruised. I think about having a second chance away from here and it makes me smile.

But still, as much as I want to leave, I don't want to go through a divorce. I know in my mind and heart that this marriage is done, but I can't get myself to move forward. I've been using that d-word more often in conversation with certain people I trust, partially because I need to try the idea on and exercise it a little. For so long, I've cringed at the word that it is hard to turn around and embrace it. I even find myself trying to puzzle out a way to avoid a divorce . . . but that would be cowardly and downright dishonest to myself and my kids.

I've also realized that I'm scared of what Jake will do when he finds out. I've never seen him violent and I've never worried about it before, but suddenly I'm obsessing over whether the doors and windows are all locked at night. I reassure myself that he's wearing an ankle monitor, but then I lie awake thinking about how it would take him less than five minutes to get here while the police would likely take longer. My fears got bad enough that I called a family friend and asked that she remove the guns from my house (two pistols, a rifle, and a shotgun that all belonged to Jake, although I only ever saw him shoot the shotgun and then it was at prowling coyotes) just to limit the weapons that could be used in a moment of anger. I'm also thinking that I won't file for divorce until I'm physically out of our house and staying somewhere closer to the police than Jake.

I have lingering guilt, too, like I'm breaking my holy marriage vows. Sure, he broke them first, but I'm a "turn the other cheek" kind of girl.  I never in a million years could have imagined that I'd be contemplating divorce. But here I am. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sick Family, Sick Dog

After that phone call with Jake, I didn't talk to him for more than a week and intended that to last longer. Life went on. He called me a few times and I let it go to voicemail. I realized that I could request a "no contact" situation again, but I kinda liked that he knew that I was ignoring him. Immature? Sure, but I think I deserve to be the one in control for a while - visibly in control. Jake's parents came over a few times for supper. They brought the food. I never asked who cooked the food and they never said, but I'm sure we all know. If I didn't really need a break from cooking I would have complained.

Everything was going pretty well until Sabrina got sick. I took a day off work. Then I got sick and spent the whole weekend on the sofa plus took another day off work. Then Elise got sick and I took three days off work. Altogether I worked 25 hours in two weeks. Paying the bills is going to be tight this month

In the midst of all our own sickness, I noticed that our dog, Barkey, was not looking so good. I took him to the vet only to find out that he was suffering from complications due to cancer. The vet said there was really no treatment that would improve his situation and it was already quite advanced, so he recommended euthanasia. It was a tough week, trying to plan our dog's last moments. I had it planned so that I would take Barkey over to my in-law's house while the kids were at daycare so that Jake and I could both be with Barkey as he died. I truly believe that it's a blessing to be with someone as they die, so it was important to me to be there with Barkey. Unfortunately, that was the day Elise vomited at daycare, so I had to stay home with her. I gave Barkey a big hug and watched him ride off, never to come home again.

I let down my guard during the whole Barkey situation and talked to Jake in person a few times. We both cried and sobbed while making arrangements. He made a motion to hug me, but I snapped, "I don't want to hug you!" He really started crying then. I felt like a monster.

On Friday, I received a letter from Jake. It mostly reminisced about Barkey. He had added a drawing of a punch-tin design to replace a missing window in our china hutch. The design featured a pair of love birds. My letter back to him started with "I don't want love birds in the hutch. Do you understand how mad I am at you? There may be no coming back from this. "  I didn't rant much more in the letter - not that I didn't want to, but I didn't have the energy.

I decided to throw an odd request into the letter. I asked him to give the names of all his victims to the court. He'll think it's a crazy idea and refuse to do it, I'm sure. I just explained that I couldn't support him or have any kind of relationship with him as long as I know that there are other victims out there who have yet to press charges. If he could sacrifice his future by giving up those names I know I would sleep better at night for the sake of those victims, but also because I would finally know that Jake CAN do the right thing instead of the selfish thing. But since I doubt that he'll ever do that . . .

I'm starting to plan my move. I wanted to move to the city my parents live in, but the housing costs are ridiculous. So now I'm researching the city that my brother lives in, just two hours' drive from my parents. I'm excited to live near my own family and be in a place where no one knows my husband. But I'm already mourning this house and this community and the lifestyle we live here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What does abuse look like?

Abuse takes many forms. It doesn't always leave a bruise. Emotions and self-esteem are damaged more often than flesh. Spouses abuse each other with words way too often. Sexual abuse doesn't always equal rape. An adult may be "consenting" but not actually want to do something. Communication, awareness for each other, and empathy are all requirements to avoid abuse, but are sadly lacking in most relationships. Boundaries break down as one person takes another's love for granted. The abused slowly loses sight of what is right. The temperature in the pot is steadily rising and they don't realize it is about to boil.

I believe I was in an abusive relationship. I was taken for granted and disrespected. He gave me all of his problems and then blamed them on me and left me to clean them up. Everything he did to me was legal. I could talk about most things in public without getting more than a cringe from my loved ones. It was very hard to decipher whether things were really wrong or just stressed. I took it all lovingly, as a good spouse should do, thinking it would get better with time. It took me this long to realize the damage it caused me. If that damage had been a bruise on my face, I would have been gone a long time ago.

How do we stop perpetuating abusive relationships when they are so subtle? How do we convince ourselves or our friends that they are being abused? How do we teach our children to avoid and prevent abuse? Harder still, how do we teach them to leave it?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Deciding to move on

A few posts ago, I said something about still loving Jake. Even though I thought it was true, it sort of irked me to say it. I started asking myself throughout each day if I loved Jake. For instance, I'd be washing dishes and I'd think, Do I love him? Taking a shower, Do I love him now? Processing data at work, Is this love I feel?  The answer more often than not was I don't know. It is strange and rather disturbing to have spent so much energy on him in the name of love and suddenly not feel that love.

A week ago, I packed up a bag of things for Jake, like his bills and checkbooks. I included a letter. It was the standard letter that I've been sending to him while he was in jail. I talk about the weather, whine about all the crap I have to deal with because he's not doing it, and then try to add something positive so he won't get too depressed. This time I also added explanations about the condition of all his accounts that I had been handling. There have been problems with the escrow on the mortgage, so after realizing it was too complicated to explain in a letter I gave him an invitation to call me last Wednesday.

Wednesday came and I had to take a long drive, which is why I thought it would be a good day to talk to him with few interruptions. I told myself that it didn't matter if he called or not. I was just trying to help him and, really, I'd have a better day if I didn't talk to him. But I anxiously checked my cell phone to make sure I hadn't missed his call. I'm so lame. At this point, I already had it in my mind that I maybe didn't love him anymore. Should I tell him that? How can I tell him about something so big if I don't even know for sure?

He finally called when I was 5 minutes from my destination, of course. At first, we talked lightly about the mortgage. I asked if his parents were keeping him busy, so he told me about the projects he was doing. He asked me if I would come over and spend some time with him, just visiting. I told him I wasn't ready for that. To be honest, I wanted to say yes. I wanted to just relax in his company, talk, laugh.

He asked about how we are going to communicate in the future. I told him that I was assuming we would use his treatment provider as the middle-man for a while again. That's when he told me that all the letters we sent through her before he was arrested the second time were now in the District Attorney's evidence folder. I was a little thrown back by that. I felt somewhat violated. There was nothing I said that they could be interested in. I mean, when you know that a letter will be read by your therapist and his TP, you don't put a lot of personal stuff in it. But still, the idea that my words and my relationship with my husband was now part of the evidence in a felony trial . . . I feel a little dirty. Jake suggested that we talk without her - "Even if we have to mail letters back and forth" - just to avoid that happening again. I kinda agree.

The next day he called a couple times because he needed some family financial information to apply for the public defender. I tried to keep it really "down to business" because I wasn't sure I wanted to encourage these friendly talks any more.

Late one night I woke up to all the battery back-ups in the house beeping. I couldn't figure out what was happening, so I called Jake. He helped me trouble-shoot. It was nice to have his help. I could tell that he was proud to be able to help, too.

The next morning, though, I was ready to push our relationship back to letters. It's hard to explain what I was feeling, but there was sort of a war going on in my head and heart that was making me depressed. I was physically in pain and couldn't concentrate. That was last Friday and I had to work. Around lunch time, I saw that Jake had left messages on my phone. He wanted me to call his TP and tell her that we were communicating so that he wouldn't get in trouble for it. I used my lunch break to call her. She was her typical straight-forward, no bullshit self. I explained that I wasn't comfortable with our communication becoming part of evidence. She explained that the police took it with a warrant.

I said, "And that could happen again, couldn't it?"

She said, "Yes, it could happen again, as other victims come forward."

That wasn't the topic I was aiming for, but I took the invitation. "How many more victims do you think there are?"

I'm not a complete fool, I know that there are likely more victims. I also know that she is in the business of expecting these things. I just hoped that I could listen to what she had to say and decide that she was being overly pessimistic . . .

"Lots more. He has revealed them on his sex history."

I started to choke up. "What kind of victims? More high school girls?"


Now I was downright sobbing, "When?!"

"I haven't reviewed the file recently, but I believe these were kids he babysat when he was 18 to 20 years old."

I was crying and blubbering so much that I can't remember anything else. I was mad at her for telling me that, but it empowered me to do what I had been putting off. I called Jake and let my anger fly. Sitting in my car in the parking lot at work, mascara running all over my face, I screamed at him. I listed every evil he has ever done to me and anyone else I could think of. He was panicked, flipping back and forth between defending himself and apologizing. 

I told him what his TP had told me and he replied, "They weren't children, they were like 13 or 14 years old." I couldn't even continue that line of conversation because I was so appalled that he acted like there was nothing wrong with that!

I decided to stick to me. I told him that I didn't want his love because it full of lies. He denied lying to me. I told him he didn't act with any respect toward me when he was sleeping with other women. He denied cheating on me. I screamed at him "LIAR! LIAR!"

Then I finally released the one thing that I hadn't told him before. "I read you face book messages."

He didn't understand at first.

"You know, the ones where you were inviting women over to our house for sex because your 'wife and daughter were out of town'."

"That doesn't count! Nothing ever happened!" 

"It does count! If they would have said yes and come over, then you would have slept with them. It counts." I could tell that he still wasn't sure what I was talking about. I told him that I think he is lying to himself and not really facing up to the things he's really doing wrong. This part was more heated and argumentative then I can convey, but basically he defended himself against everything. He really doesn't see all the damage he's done. He really doesn't understand how hurt I am and that he might never be able to repair the damage.

I told him that his TP thought he was a real risk for molesting his own kids if he had a chance. He vehemently defended himself on this one. I brought up a certain video that the DA had described at his sentencing last November in which a 3-year-old boy was basically being raped. This is one of the videos that Jake had downloaded and watched.

"If that is something you'd watch, then maybe it's something you'd do to your own child!"

"Or maybe I watched it because I remember being raped at that age and I was trying to figure that part of my childhood out."

"Well, maybe you're one of those people who figures it out by doing it to someone else." It was a cold thing to say, I know, but that's on my mind and I was being as open as possible for once.

It sort of sent him over the edge. He started ranting about the things he had to do for that farm hand, the things he endured as a small child (the same age as our Elise right now). He ended the rant with "I KNOW I'M A MIND FUCK! I KNOW I NEED HELP!"

I think I said something like, "I hope you'll get help. I've got to go back to work."

And I haven't talked to him since that.

Basically, that left me sure that I can't wait around for things to get better. Looking forward, I see this cycle repeating agian and again of victims coming forward, jail time, court time, lawyers, treatment, prison maybe, and then when things seem a little settled another victim comes forward. I've thought about asking Jake to just give law enforcement a list of names for all his victims so that maybe there will be an ending to this madness. But he would never do it.

So the next day when I was talking to my parents I said, "I think I've made my mind up that I'm ready to leave. Will you please look at the listings for farm houses in your area?" They tried to hide their relief that I finally FINALLY came to this conclusion.

I don't have a plan and it may take months before I can concoct one (I don't move quickly), but my heart has flipped and my mind is set. I'm leaving. I'm moving on.

So, do I love him? I still don't know! I must, since he causes me so much heartache. Or maybe I don't since it feels so good to think about leaving. I just don't know. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who's paying for all of this?

Welcome to the end of another long week. Yet again, I am playing catch-up with laundry, dirty dishes, and a long "to do" list. On the bright side, one of my big chores today is to put together all of Jake's bills, statements, checkbooks, and whatever else he needs so that he can take care of them by himself (imagine that). I feel like I'm shedding old skin as I create the pile to send to him. The only problem is I don't know how I will get it to him. The last time he was living with his parents it was strongly recommended that I not use my in-laws as messengers. I could drop it off with his PO, but I didn't really like the results of that last time . . . So I think I'll mail it, which is so weird because they live just two miles away (in the country where there is only one house every mile, that isn't very far!). The post office is going to think I'm crazy.

I've had to explain the new situation with several friends and family recently, so I think maybe I need to explain it here. Jake is out on bail for the current case against him (sexual assault against a minor). Last year's case (attempted sexual assault against a minor) ended with a sentence of 90 days in jail OR one year work release, either option being followed by ten years of sexual offender probation. He chose work release because it allows him to be out of jail twelve hours each day to earn an income. When he was arrested on the new charges, he was only a few months into his first sentence. Obviously, to be jailed for new charges meant that he couldn't exercise the work release option, so it reverted to a regular jail sentence. His first jail sentence is therefore served and all that is left is the ten years of probation. If you followed all that, you get a gold star!

His bail terms now are identical to his probation terms with the added security of an electric ankle monitor. Probation for a sex offender is much more intense than for any regular convict. I would even consider the probation to be more of a punishment than the jail-time. He is not allowed any contact with minors. He has VERY limited places he is allowed to go, approved by his PO and TP, and supposedly monitored by the anklet. I believe he has to call the local sheriff every time he arrives at a new location, too. He will attend treatment with a specially trained sex offender treatment provider (TP). He will have monthly "maintenance" polygraphs to make sure he is obeying the terms of his probation. He will also have one big "sex history" polygraph to set the foundation for his treatment and ensure that he hasn't done anything illegal. In preparation for the sex history polygraph he has to disclose all of his sexual activities (yes, I said ALL, legal and illegal from his entire life). That disclosure can be used in new investigations against him, which is likely how they found the accuser of the new charges.

Did I miss anything? The probation is pretty daunting, right? Well, eventually, a sex offender can work toward contact with his kids and other minor family members, if those people are receptive to it. And after a few years, with really good behavior, an offender can petition to be removed for the sex offender registry. So there is hope to someday lead a normal life. The problem is that the probation is very stringent for the sake of public safety and holds so much stigma that, in my mind at least, it adds more stress to the already injured psyche of the sex offender. More stress equals higher chances of offending. From what I can see, it's a lose-lose situation for the offender and our society. In fact, the legal system seems full of lose-lose situations. I don't know the answers, but I sure wish someone did.

Speaking of losing battles, the legal system is a financial trap for offenders and their families. After Jake's sentencing, when he was promptly jailed as part of his sentence, a bill arrived at his parents' house from the court. When I got a look at it, I was appalled. They sent Jake a bill for court, jail, and estimated probation costs that totaled more than $10,000 with a message at the bottom along the lines of "If you don't start making payments immediately, we will start adding fines." Um, they did realize that the man they were billing was in jail, right? That he wouldn't receive the bill? What a trap! So, of course, his dad started paying the bill. Then we found out that they don't actually supply anything for inmates beyond a set of clothes and food. Shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and anything else must be purchased by the inmate. How do they purchase these things? Their families put money in an account with atrocious processing fees or it goes on some mysterious bill that will likely be sent to their home with an absurd message like above.

I can't wait to see the bill for the electric ankle monitor!

While I'm on the topic of money, let me explain how bonds work. Jake's bail was set at $100,000. If someone wanted to pay bail, they could give the court the full amount as a sort of assurance that Jake would appear in court without fail. At the end of a trial (and someone can correct me if I'm over simplifying this), the full bail amount will be returned to whoever it came from. Most people can't afford to set bail, so that's where a bondsman comes in. To get Jake's bail, his grandma paid 10% of the bail amount to a bondsman. The bondsman then posted the full bail to the court and now the burden is on the bondsman to assure that Jake goes to court. At the end of the trial, the bondsman will get all his money back AND he will keep the 10% that grandma paid him as a fee for services. Except for the occasional hiring of bounty hunters for those people who do flee, the bondsman gig is pretty cush!

Anyhow, Jake finally did get out on bail yesterday. I have more to say about that, but all this explaining now has me burnt out. I'll try to write more tomorrow. Back to laundry!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Out on Bail

No joke. Jake is going to be out on bail any minute now.

Frankly, I'm a little blown away. The judge lowered the bail from $250,000 to $100,000 considering Jake's cooperation and previous good behavior on probation. That is not the part that shocked me though. I figured it didn't matter what the bail was because none of us could afford it. But after the hearing, his parents were having serious discussions about contacting a bondsman. I asked how they were going to pay for it and Big Rev said, "Grandma's paying for it." Jake's Grandma could probably pay the whole bail amount upfront in one check, but I never thought she would. Well, I guess people never cease to amaze.

Jake will have to follow all the restrictions that were a part of his probation terms when he was sentenced last year. He will have very limited places he can go, mainly his family's farm, and will have an ankle monitor. He will be allowed to go to treatment weekly.

I am unsure how I feel about this. I'm a little dismayed. I keep thinking I have a grip on my reality and then it shifts again. I haven't quite learned to embrace the change, I guess. I was getting comfortable with him being in jail. I was in control of everything. I had built-in boundaries that even I couldn't screw up.

I'm trying to remind myself that he will now be able to take back many of the responsibilities that I don't want. He can manage his own bills and business. I can stop wasting my time shoveling his shit, as my mother once said. I should be relieved.

Also, which I maybe should have mentioned first, his accuser was in court today and gave a statement. It hurt to see her. It hurt when she made eye contact with me. I felt like she was seeking some sort of approval from me. I felt like I was supporting the wrong side of the law. Her statement was simple. She just told the judge that she would always struggle with what Jake had done to her and she wants to protect others from the same thing, including me and my children. Honestly, I feel a little disgusted by her bringing my children up - I'm their mother, let me protect them. Mostly though, I felt guilty for supporting the man who hurt her.

After court, in one of the weirdest moments of my life, I drove over to the Social Services office and asked to see Umbridge. I detest this woman, but I didn't know who else to talk to. I told her that I wanted Jake's accuser to know that I'm not against her. I want her to know that she is doing what I would want my daughter or sister or friend to do in her position. I also made it clear to Umbridge that I DO NOT want to communicate or have any kind of relationship with this woman.

Umbridge said, "You want her to know that you're okay with this, right?"

"No, I'm not okay with this. I wish none of it was happening. Just let her know that this isn't her fault and she's not doing anything wrong."

I'm still not sure why I did that. Will I regret it later? 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Feeling Spry (in an unwelcome way)

What is it I'm supposed to be doing right now? Oh yeah, pay the bills, that's right. Well, too bad, I feel like blogging. I have blog-fasted all week. I feel so starved that I don't know if I can even do it anymore, but I'm willing to try!

So the job is going well and I'm starting to get the household back in working order. The kitchen is getting cleaned every night and we're all putting on clean clothes every morning, so I haven't fallen apart completely, right? In fact, I have moments when I feel quite alive and vibrant (in between the moments when I feel like a dismal wreck). I'm trying to convince myself that those moments are the reality that I'm moving toward.

I've mentioned before that somewhere in my brain lurks thoughts of moving on in a romantic sense. Well, those thoughts have moved from my dreamscape to the forefront of my mind. I was embarrassed to mention this before, but I've been having moments of antsy feelings - the kind of pleasurable discomfort that normally leads to a person spending some romantic alone time with their significant other. Only, I don't have a significant other, do I? I mean, technically I do, since I'm still married, but it hurts to think about anything intimate with Jake because it opens the wound. So where does that leave me? I just tried to ignore the feelings for weeks.

Then I started this job. I'm surrounded by lots of people - a situation I'm unused to because I've been a stay-at-home mom for three years. It was heaven at first. I realized how lonely I had been. I'm working with a lot of women that I immediately targeted as potential friends. Being around people again was like drinking water after a long run on a windy day. I smiled A LOT for the first week.

But then the weirdest thing happened. I walked past a man at work and felt uncomfortable. It just barely registered at first. The next time I saw him I felt so uncomfortable that I could barely smile and nod, which I do easily to everyone else. I started mentally reviewing these feelings. It wasn't the creepy feelings I sometimes get from people. It wasn't that he had done anything out of the ordinary to make me feel weird. It could only be one thing - and I was really scared to admit it to myself - I was attracted to him! OH MY GOD, WHY? I had never even talked to this man and know nothing about him. There is absolutely no reason for me to feel like this.

It has been years since I've been attracted to anyone other than Jake. As a teenager I was constantly distracted by the opposite sex to the point that I even prayed for a while that God would take away my sex drive and let me be normal! Somehow I managed to not get into too many dead-end sexual relationships, but the few I had were enough to leave me shamed. I was glad when my sex drive finally diminished with marriage and motherhood. I was especially glad about it last year, since I felt like sex was the root of all our problems. Several times I have wished that sex would not so easily control people, the way it seemed to control Jake. I still wish it.

So why do I find myself suddenly as randy as a teenager? It's not because of loneliness. I've been feeling lonely for over a year. It must be the sudden contact with people. Yes?

And why this particular man? I have no idea. Unlike a lot of people, I don't seem to have a type. It's always just been chemistry with me. My personal theory is that I'm particularly receptive to some special brand of pheromones (the ones that belong to losers, as far as my past demonstrates). There are many men I pass in the halls at work. Several of them are around my age and good looking. I have no problem looking them all in the eye and holding a full conversation, except for this one man. His presence turns me into a blushing school girl who can't even squeak out "Hello."

At first, I was mad at myself for being so childish. I was determined to act normal around him. I was going to get over this hormonal BS and be mature. I held a few little conversations with him along the lines of  "Hi, how are you doing? What are you having for lunch?" I gave myself some mental pats on the back . . . Until I realized that acting normal around him did not make me any less attracted to him. In fact, it made it worse. I caught myself a few times having romantic daydreams about the man I know nothing about (except what he ate for lunch)!

Now I've changed tactics. I'm ignoring him. I'm going to pretend he doesn't exist. I've already gone out of my way to avoid places I know he'll be at work. Childish, I know, but it involves much less guilt!

After all, I'm a married woman - aren't I? In case you're wondering, all this new hormonal stuff has not taken away my love for Jake or my sense of commitment to him . . . It's just become more confusing. Oh lord, that's a whole other conversation that I'm suddenly too tired to have.

Well, expect to hear from me sooner than later because Jake has a hearing this Tuesday. It is very likely that nothing will happen. We spent the better part of last year waiting for hearings that never gave us answers to our questions. I've given up expecting any progress to happen in a courtroom . . . but maybe, just maybe something will happen this time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pictures for Jake

Jake can't have any contact with his kids, including photos. He requested some wedding photos, but in a rare moment of strength I told him no. However, as Spring wakes up our yard I'm reminded that caring for these plants is one of the things that he really did right, so I thought it was fair to give him some of their beauty.

Tulips in front of the house. 

 Nanking cherries in the windbreak.

An apple tree in bloom.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekend Blogger

As the title suggests, I think I will now become a weekend blogger. Working a full week just does not allow for any extracurricular activities. In fact, I barely have time to cook supper and clean the kitchen each night before it's bedtime. I had the day off today (Good Friday) and I almost screamed when I opened the bedroom door this morning because the house was so disgusting. Toys, dirty clothes, and other clutter covered the living room floor. The dining table was piled with unopened mail from the week. And the few loads of clothes I had managed to wash during the week were still in the basket getting wrinkled. I feel like a whining wimp saying these things because I know there are moms that handle multiple jobs and still keep the house clean, but that's just me. So I spent all day cleaning and you can hardly tell - mostly because the kids "helped" with everything.

I've already decided that weekend blogging sucks because during the week I had so many things to blog about, but I've now forgotten half of them.

Ah yes, I wanted to tell you all that I have lingering guilt over my last post about my friend who returned to her unfaithful husband. She called me the next day and, as I saw her name appear on my phone, I was prepared to give her a piece of my mind. But the instant she greeted me and I heard the happiness in her voice, I lost all my nerve. This may be a huge risk that will end in disaster, but I can tell she really wants to give it a chance. Who am I to judge her? Her situation is different from mine. Her husband is not a sex addict or a child molester. I don't even know their situation well enough to know if he has cheated more than once. Maybe there is real hope for them. Maybe a few years from now he'll have tears in his eyes as he explains to his son that cheating on the one you love is the biggest mistake you could ever make. Maybe they'll have a long, beautiful marriage. One can only hope, right?

I, however, will only have weird relationships for the rest of my days - either with a man who is sexually disturbed and can't ever be a part of my life as a normal spouse again due to restrictions of the law, or with someone else who will have to help raise the children of that sexually disturbed man, which will definitely be awkward. (By the way, one of my great character flaws is that I try to think too far ahead.)

I don't know if I've ever mentioned before that I write a column. It's very local, small time. It's a funny thing to be a columnist because I'm never surprised when complete strangers know who I am. For instance, my new office mate knew me from my column before we worked together. In my column, I recently revealed that my husband is not in the picture any more. For a full year, I had carefully concealed it, but it was getting too hard. Besides, most people had connected the front-page articles with Jake's mugshot to the columnist in the middle of the paper anyhow, so I figured I wasn't really going to reveal anything shocking . . . But in the last few weeks I have been amazed at the number of people who have NOT connected me to Jake. They must just flip to the columns without really reading the front page. Or maybe they don't think too much about two people having the same last name. Well, anyhow, my office-mate Sandra (who is very cool) is one of those people who haven't made the connection. I realized this one day when I stuck my foot in my mouth. A customer walking through our office heard my name and stopped to say, "Aren't you . . ." She looked so serious that I thought she was going to connect me with Jake, but then she smiled and continued, "the one who writes that column?"

Like an idiot, I replied, "Yes! I'm glad that's where you know me from!" She gave me a questioning look and I quickly said, "Oh, just joking." She nodded and waved good-bye, but my coworker continued to look at me strangely for a few more moments.

You know, I've skated along the last year and few months without a lot of social damage from this whole affair. Outside of his job, Jake wasn't very involved in our community and people hardly saw us together. That turned out to be a blessing for me because people who just know my face and my first name don't usually make the connection. For those that did make the connection, they've been completely charitable in their consideration of me as a person independent of my husband's wrongs. I grew quite comfortable with this situation and thought that I had grown past the fear of his crimes hurting my reputation. But now I'm feeling the fear because in two weeks he'll appear for a court hearing and, like clockwork, our local paper will print an update of his case on the front page with his mugshot and our last name in bold capital letters. Will everyone at work suddenly realize who I'm married to? Will they whisper behind my back? Will they treat me like a leper? I wonder if I should forewarn my boss. Would that help at all or just guarantee awkwardness?

One more story: I was at a thrift store yesterday and was juggling Sabrina alongside several shirts on hangers as I headed toward the fitting room. A woman noticed me struggling and offered to hold Sabrina while I tried on clothes. I said no thank you. She replied, "You can trust me, I'm a social worker." I repeated my answered as I tried not to make a face at her. You see, having a sex offender as a husband invites Social Services into your life, and not in a good way. I would have loved to tell her that her title only lowers my trust for her, but I didn't (because I'm nice). But really, isn't that a stupid thing to say. You know who else says, "You can trust me . . . " KIDNAPPERS!

. . . and sex offenders . . . and cheating husbands . . . 

Oh wait, I've got one more thing and then I'm done for the next week. Jake called today. Until today he hasn't called unless I've invited him to, which I've only done once. I answered, thinking it might be an emergency or something. He just wanted to talk. I did my best at giving him the I'm-not-that-interested-in talking-to-you attitude, but it's not like I hung up or anything. It just left me wondering about my boundaries. Obviously, they aren't very strong. The biggest problem is that I want to talk to him. I want to have him in my life. I struggle with the idea that this man I love to talk to is also the person who has hurt me the most. I know that I can't trust him, but I don't feel it in my heart. Damn it, just answering that phone made me feel like an idiotic. I think I'll have to tell him in my next letter that I'm not ready for phone calls. I may convince myself some days that I'm not a mess, but I really really am.

Now, let's all go celebrate the season of rebirth! Even in my un-Christianly spirituality, I love Easter and all it represents. I can't help it because it means hope. Hope that stems from nasty, dark death scenarios must be the best kind, right?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A friend returns to her cheating husband

Recently, I made a new friend. We didn't know each other very well, but we had coffee a few times and bonded over the pain of cheating husbands. I thought I would see her last week, but she wasn't returning my calls or emails. Finally, her mother (also a friend of mine) called to let me know that she had returned to her husband. Wow. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

It was amazing to me that she had gone back to him. She had gone to a lot of trouble to move herself and her two kids away from him in the first place. I actually admired her. Unlike myself, she had the guts to leave. I wished sometimes that I would do that. BUT THEN SHE WENT BACK!!! I was kinda mad at her. I still am.

It just happened that I got that info on the day that I was taking our tax papers to the jail for Jake to sign. It also happened to be visitation day at the jail. I haven't seen Jake in person since before his sentencing in November, except when I saw him at the advisement hearing for the new charges. I've been practicing strict boundaries with him since he was re-arrested, only allowing him to communicate with me through letters unless it is urgent (and I get to decide urgency). It gives me a sense of peace for myself and justice towards him to have these boundaries. And I hope it protects me from being manipulated by him.

Anyhow, I was thinking about visiting him that day, although I was really on the fence because I knew there was no good reason for visiting. Then I found out about my friend going back to her cheating husband. That tipped the scales for me and I did not go see him. In fact, I took a little pleasure in the idea that he would know that I came in person during visiting hours but chose not to visit . . . Actions speak louder than words, you know?

I guess the point of this entry is to describe how much easier it is to make a judgement call about someone else's life. I can easily say that my friend should not have returned to her cheating husband because he is so obviously a jerk and will never change and together they will just ruin the lives of their kids. And yet, here I sit. Lame, right?

I have oodles of loved ones and caring friends saying, "Leave, leave!" I hope they all know that their words are not wasted. They make me feel safe and strengthen me. I think I am leaving in my own way. I'm setting up boundaries and testing them. I'm dividing our accounts and possessions. I'm making plans independently that won't change based on his situation. I am setting up a new shop, so to speak, it's just in the same location. Some days I get giddy thinking about myself as the "new sheriff in town" (the town being our household). I may be moving at a snail's pace (and I may make lots of excuses for the silly ways in which I do things), but I am moving forward. And I am building my own life.

The only question is, if there was a nuclear war today that dissolved all societal structure and Jake came walking up to the house as a "free" man, where would my boundaries be then? It is likely they would crumble. That is why I usually count his incarceration as a blessing!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shoveling shit and feeling depressed

I was really affected by the pastor's wife suggesting I needed anti-depressants. When she said it I thought, That's funny, I don't feel depressed. But now I feel depressed!

I just had one of those funny days where I was having a good time while the sun was up, but now that the sun has set and I see the time creeping toward bedtime I'm getting really down. I find myself sighing a lot and thinking negative thoughts. The majority of those thoughts are about money and how I'm not making any. I seem to work, work, work, but have nothing to show for it.

When my mother was visiting, she witnessed this constant "work" I'm doing. A lot of the things I do involve sorting out bills and obligations that Jake left hanging. It involves lots of phone calls and research on the internet and sorting his junk to sell online and the like. At the end of one exhausting day, I couldn't think of a single thing I accomplished. I asked my mother why I was so worn out and she said, "Because you're shoveling shit. And it's not even your own shit."

It was sort of a surprisingly crass thing for my mother to say, but it defined my life right now so well that I think of it at the end of every day. I'm shoveling shit. I pour myself another glass of wine and raise a toast to all the shit I shoveled each day!

That brings me back to depression. I was trying to think of what was making me depressed. The shit shoveling.  The lack of alone time. The lack of parental support . . . Yeah, yeah, but those are old news that I thought I had gotten used to. The stress of a new job? Sure, but that is equally balanced by the promise of a paycheck. So that brings me to the wine. Yes, I think I will blame the wine that I started drinking again when my mother visited.

It relieves some pressure to have something to blame, even if it is an unlikely one. It gives me something to change - something within my power - with the hopes that I'll feel better in a few days. So tonight I had a cup of my favorite tea instead of my usual glass of wine. Cheers. And here's to a brighter tomorrow.