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.]