Friday, October 17, 2008

Chapter XXI: reunited

Despite the fact that Mitch didn't even spend an entire night in jail, thanks to my parents' willingness to pay money they didn't have to bail him out, I did not see him for several days. While I took a deep breath and committed myself to giving this marriage thing one last shot (until June I resolved), Mitch stayed with his brother, who happened to live with Mitch's best friend, in an apartment complex only a mile away. Mitch was already spending a great deal of time over there, so a few full days at once should not have made much difference.

I learned a few things about domestic violence that March. Despite the fact that I begged and begged the police not to arrest my husband, I was told that in the case of a domestic violence call, they always have to separate the couple, even if the only violence is a broken plate. That broken plate example stands out to me. I believe the explanation was repeated to me over the phone after Mitch was taken away and I was waiting for him to come back. It was repeated to me by my parents after they spent several hours completing the paperwork at the city jail to retrieve their son-in-law. But there weren't any broken plates at my house and I was in the process of convincing myself the police over-reacted.

Out of fear. I needed to convince myself that it was someone else's fault because I was afraid Mitch would view it as my fault.

In times of deep emotional stress I have two extreme reactions. I either burrow myself deep in bed or the couch under a heavy quilt and refuse to move. Or, I become extremely ambitious and keep myself excessively busy. Hence, my propensity toward being a work-a-holic at times - it is a coping mechanism for emotional stress. Hence the job hunting. But that is not all I busied myself with. I also set about cleaning the house to prepare for when Mitch would be allowed to come back.

Another automatic feature of a domestic violence arrest is the implementation of a temporary restraining order. What is known in legal circles as a TRO. Normally, an application must be made to the court to have a TRO issued, but in Mitch's case it was perfunctory. Although I never saw it, I assume the TRO prevented Mitch from coming within a certain number of feet of me and our home for a set time period. A TRO is issued on very little to no evidence of wrong doing with shortened notice of an evidentiary hearing for either a temporary or permanent injunction. TROs are issued to prevent all types of behavior - not just to keep pissed off husbands recently sprung from the clink away from vulnerable wives.

I don't remember the length of time Mitch was kept away but I do remember that during that time I went on a crazy cleaning binge of our apartment. While tackling the cleaning and organization of our second bedroom, I came upon some pamphlets that were given to me by the police on top of the bills and random papers I was sorting through on the desk. I didn't look at them that dark night and with a couple of days' removal from the incident and the sun shining in the window, I felt they were irrelevant and swiveled my chair toward the garbage to toss them. But as I turned to do so, something on the back of the pamphlet caught my eye. I believe the word "pets" jumped out at me for some reason. I believe the back side of what was most likely a standard domestic violence pamphlet contained a list of warning signs. The one that caught my eye and made my stomach knot up was "abusive toward pets." I glanced at Stuart, our not-so-bright charpei/chow mix puppy mindlessly chewing on his bone in the middle of the room.

In a flash, scenes I had dismissed flashed through my head. Scenes that pain me to admit. Mitch kicking the dog. Mitch throwing the dog across the room. . . I really can't write about it, even now. Besides, I think the worst of it came later.

The list was in check-list format and that one item caused me to inspect the list more closely. I picked up a pen and ticked off the applicable indicators. I was stunned at how many were there. I abandoned the pamphlet along with the organizational project and walked out of the room - leaving the pamphlet with its neat little checks sitting on top of the desk.

By the time Mitch was allowed to come home, I had a new job. I was contrite and apologetic and sympathetic towards Mitch, if you can believe it. I let him rant at the police and whatever neighbors were nosy enough to call the police and apologized profusely. Over and over. I begged him to forgive me for getting hysterical that night. He just glared at me accusingly telling me I had no idea what that felt like to have to go to jail for no reason.

I asked if he could ever forgive me.

He said no.

A few days after he was back, I re-discovered my pamphlet with its accusatory check marks torn up in the garbage.


[As a side note, if you would like to read the entire story from the beginning or you want a link to the whole story for your blog (I'm not assuming anything here, just giving you information), you can get it here. But the most recent chapter appears at the top so you have to scroll to the end to start at the beginning. If I were clever, or if my brilliant web designer were so inclined (Please Emily!), I would add a link on my sidebar. Until then, just search for the label "divorce" and the complete story will show up.
Also, THANK YOU one and all for coming out of the woodwork (blurkdom) to answer my questions. I am completely surprised and absolutely touched by how much my story resonates with people and I have some curiosity about my audience (wasn't sure if this only appeals to those from a similar culture/background or if it has a broader appeal). Also, while I AM going to select a winner after the 25th, I'm not really trying to bribe you for comments - that question was just thrown in for fun. I just want anyone who reads this to know they are welcome to do so whether you know me in real life or not and if you leave a comment all the better. Your kind words have been incredible motivation (and reassurance that people are still reading) to keep writing. Thank you.]


Beck said...

I think that you need to start putting these together into a book - they're absolutely gripping. Another terrifying, heart-breaking installment.

Misty Fowler said...

I recently walked away from an abusive relationship. Although I never got hit, the abuse was there, and when I really think about it, I have a hard time admitting that I'd let him do that to me. Especially since it was the same sort of thing that my mother did, which led to me becoming an "emancipated minor" right around my 17th birthday. The idea that I would abandon things that were important to me, and put up with him drinking a gallon jug of vodka in one night once or twice a month, and then excuse his behavior, really makes me question myself.

I'm finally all moved out (last Thursday), and trying to settle into a new home. I think if I didn't have my animals (2 sugar gliders, 2 cats and 1 dog) I'd probably go nuts. Yesterday was the first time I didn't have anyone over helping set up furniture or whatever. I've craved this kind of "alone time" for probably a year, and now I finally have it. I probably need to write about it, to get it all out and admit to myself what really happened, and also figure out why I let it.

Reading your story has helped me in so many ways. Thanks again for writing it, and sharing.

Tiffany said...

Good golly, I'm finally back to my computer for more than five seconds!

You've done it again. Another gripping chapter. Truly fascinating and well-written. And your parents impress me as much as you do. I can't imagine their worry and pain and wondering when/how to intervene. I imagine that one of the toughest things to do as a parent of adults is refrain.

Rachel said...

You have inspired me to go an write about my first while of marriage. It is drastically different from yours but I think needed to come out. My parents thought my husband was going to walk away from my marriage because of a persistant illness after 6 months of marriage and steroids that made me go from 130 to 180 pounds in 6 months. There are so many stories that people can read such as yours that people can gain strength from. Thank you for writing this experiance.

Megan said...

I found your blog from another blogger who recommended your series on your divorce. Your writing is amazing, and you should be proud of the fact that you can write about something so emotional in such an objective and generous manner. I'm hooked and can't wait to read the next chapter!

millefleur said...

You know, it's your parents that keep breaking my heart over and over again-- maybe because I know and love them. Maybe because that's the nature of parenthood anyway, just hopefully not so extreme. Tell your dad happy birthday from me and his would-be adopted son!

Dani said...

My mom was married to my dad for 16 years before their divorce was final. My dads suffers from a Bipolar disorder, and "nothing is wrong with him but the world is out to get him". They got married and pregnant rather quickly, my dad went through a a mood swing and flipped the mattress over onto my mom. She threaten to leave him but he promised never to do it again. He never did do that again but through the years, mirrors would be shattered, phones and pictures would make holes in the walls, my mother would be physically abused on really bad mood swings and us 3 kids would hide in our rooms hoping he wouldn't chase us down the hall to our rooms with a look of complete disgust and lack of control on his face.
It wasn't until my brother had a major issue in middle school where counseling would be advised. That is when the "divorce" word was brought up. My mother tried to save their marriage but my father wanted it done with. I think he yelled that at her while they were in a session, just the two of them, and threw the chair at the mediator.
My dad has since not dealt with his anger and is currently on wife #4. My mom remarried not as quickly as my dad did and does but married a wonderful man I loven-ly call dad and look to as the father I wish I would have grown up with.
My mother now about 10 years after still hasn't copped with everything, and while still dealing with custody issues with my sister its hard to move on completely. But she is happy and loving life, my father has shallow relationships with his children and most people around him as the front he tends to put on is no entirely him. I still love him but I pity him too.
I married at 20, and he was the same age, we both had college experience, me more then him due to his mission. We met in high school and after a few dates I thought he was weird and ended any contact. It wasn't till years later when he looked for me. He's wonderful and although so many things may have been "stacked against me" I'm glad I've pulled through for the most part. My husband is caring and level headed and a wonderful husband and father now.
Your story is heart breaking. And many things make me think of my mom and some of the things she dealt with. Your amazing and talented from what I've been reading about you. Congrats on your success and keep chugging along! I look forward to more you have to share.

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