July 20th, 2012 was the first time I saw it.
Black and white. In print. DFS Report #20121880066 with my name next to “alleged abuser.”
Anger. Helplessness. Rage.
Before, it was just words. Mistress. Paramour. Prostitute. Bug-eyed freak. Whore. Just to name a few.
Even Pat, the church secretary, called me a “slut” on a Sunday. The alienator had called earlier in the week to apprise her of “the situation.”
Nothing like it. Ever.
After all, it was her decision to hit Mary with a wooden spoon on December 28, 2005 and have her name on DFS Report #05362055.
It was her decision to lie to the police, her decision to hide the kids and her decision to hit Jack with a lamp on December 23, 2008 that led to her demise.
Without hesitation, worry or concern, I’d jumped in with both feet.
It was my decision to take on this responsibility. My decision to raise children that were not mine. My decision to love, honor and cherish.
To date, I’ve cooked 1,432 meals. Planned 26 birthday parties. Effectively executed 12 family trips. And arranged approximately 32 sleepovers. They were my children too.
I was a grownup who believed we could all be grownups.
That was before I knew the meaning of scorn.
Everyone was enlisted in the invisible war. No place was safe. Clergy, neighbors, friends, and school teachers.
Even Jack’s estranged, abusive parents jumped at the chance to rally around the hate.
Evil loves company.
And to recruit our very own customers by telling them your “abusive, alcoholic” husband had left you a broke, single mother of three. Ingenious.
There were no limits to her destruction.
Abuser, though, is just too far.
I picked up my sword and entered the battlefield willingly from day one. Not once did I hesitate. Not once did I question. After all, she was the reason for their unraveling.
It was never going to be.
Friends. Co-parenting. Doing the right thing for the kids. It would never be an option.
But I get it now. Admittedly, I had been that person full of questions and accusations. I’d been that person who could never begin to understand why anyone would just walk away. But that was before the dark and treacherous road full of cliffs, sharp objects and pitfalls.
That was before I’d seen up close and personal what true, intentional and calculated hate looked like.
That was before I knew darkness in a way I had never experienced.
Now I understand why someone gives up.
Now I understand why someone slams the door and locks it, never to enter again.
54-years-old and the only accomplishment in her entire life is effectively hating another. Pathetic.
Instead of a thank you, I received 32 false accusations and 16 court appearances.
Instead of a thank you, my name next to “alleged abuser” in black and white.
She would never get over it.
It would take 3 years, 25 days, a judge yelling at her to “Move On!” and a court order to make her sign divorce papers.
But the hate didn’t end there.
In fact, after 3 years and 25 days, she was just getting started.