It was the year 2005. I was working at a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. I had decided to divorce my emotionally abusive husband in September, but he had beat me to filing and had me served the day before Thanksgiving that year. We had four children together, a beautiful girl and 3 handsome boys. I had not yet saved enough to move out of the house, and was stuck on the couch. I wasn’t even allowed to touch the heater, and was freezing to death. I had to resort to staying in a cheap hotel for a week just to have access to heat when I got sick, which he used to accuse me of cheating on him.
My ex-husband had begun keeping my children away from me. He locked them in the bedroom with himself at night before I would get home from work. I started staying out and going out to dinner by myself, or going to the mall, even the local Target until closing just to keep from having to go home and face the loneliness. Eventually, my ten-year old son gave up his room so that I would have a place to sleep. He wasn’t using it anyway since his father was making them all sleep in the master bedroom.
My ex-husband had also started sending the kids to a babysitter in the afternoon to avoid having them near me. When I went to pick up my 12 year old son from school, he told me that his dad had said not to get into my car. I was devastated and spoke to the babysitter about it. She naturally didn’t want to get involved, but at least told him she wouldn’t baby sit on my days off. At this point was when he started beating me home and keeping the children out until all hours of the night.
At this point in time, I was crying myself to sleep if I slept at all. I cried on my sister’s shoulder on a daily basis. I felt I had to keep reminding my husband that the children were mine, too. It didn’t work. He still kept them away from me. I found a lawyer who just told me to “sit tight.” I was still very obedient at this time, and did as I was told. I tried to tell my children about the abuse I had suffered, hoping they’d understand and come over to my side. They didn’t, especially my daughter. In fact, my daughter started acting emotionally abusive toward me herself. She started calling me by my first name instead of Mom, refusing to obey anything I told her, and accusing me of sleeping around.
The chasm between myself and my children continued to widen. I was lonely, depressed, and spent the majority of my time in tears. I bought some small gifts for my children and hid them in the trunk of my car. I watched in a fog as my children and husband put up the tree that year, an activity that usually brought me so much joy and happiness. I watched as my husband told the children flat out that they didn’t have to obey anything I said, and encouraged them to act abusively toward me, their own mother. I stood helplessly by as my life fell apart before my very eyes.
Christmas Eve came and my sister had bought me a dinner to eat with my children. I got home and cooked it, only to find that they had already eaten. I wound up burning the ham and eating it by myself. I got up the next morning. This was to be one of my last mornings with the children, but I didn’t know it yet, and cooked them breakfast. I quietly sat and watched as their father gave them gifts. He gave them expensive gifts that I could never afford. I left their gifts in my trunk because I was embarrassed that they didn’t measure up. I was moving out in two days, and thought I could have a special Christmas with them, so that they didn’t have to compare my gifts to his. My time never came. I moved out, and the children were not allowed over until late January, and even then he kept picking them up and taking them back to his house.
This was the Christmas that instead of receiving any gifts, I lost what was most dear and precious to me. I lost my children. I have another daughter now, and she is such a great joy, but those precious four that I had, can never be replaced in my heart. I do still see and talk to them on occasion. It’s just not the same anymore. I don’t get to kiss them good night. I don’t get to tuck them in, or read them bedtime stories. They still don’t understand why any of this has happened, and their father doesn’t want them to. He makes it difficult at best to see them, then turns around to them and tells them it’s my fault. I still cry at night sometimes because I miss them. I still love them and in a just universe, maybe, just maybe they’ll come home to me again. That would be my greatest Christmas ever, even if it came in the middle of July. Until then, I just keep loving them, and hoping that they’ll understand someday, even if that day is not today.