Looking Backwards..just for a second


My son is starting a program at the local Technical College on Monday to get a jump start on completion of his high school diploma, so that he can finish high school a year early. I don’t know about you – – but I know I wasn’t that motivated to enter adulthood at that age. But he’s a different sort of individual, really – he just kind of blazes his own trail. Always has, even as a tot. In some ways, I’m very proud of that piece of him. In other ways, it has given me more migraine headaches than I can possibly tell you. I am SURE that this part of his personality and character will serve him well in his adult years… won’t it? (PLEASE say yes!)

When it comes to school – he would just rather not, thank you very much.

He aces all of his tests – but just would rather not do homework. He participates in class and his teachers all love him – except for the fact that he has all that brain power, but just flat out refuses to do things the ‘school way’. And we are all just supposed to understand that, right? Well, his school understands. They understand that when he does apply himself, he absolutely excels. However, if he just doesn’t see the point in something – in his mind, he’s just not going to waste his time doing it and he will argue endlessly about the “point”.

You know. THE POINT.

That’s the first question he ever asks when presented with anything… “What’s the point?” – if he finds one, he’ll perform and perform well. If he doesn’t find one – he will move on to something else that does, in his mind, have a point. The solution is this program that will allow him, essentially, to ‘test out’ of high school – obtain his diploma so he can go about his business of getting on with his life. It’s a really solid program, actually. Vastly different than a GED program, becase he will also be accelerated into the college program of his choice at the end…. a year earlier than he would have, had he stayed in ‘traditional’ high school. In additional, in the end, he has a diploma – not a GED.

So, anyways – this isn’t really what I started writing when I titled this post “Looking Backward..just for a second”. My plan was to start out with a short explaination as to why I needed to go to my local courthouse today to get a copy of my sons birth certificate. We needed it to enroll in this program at the college. So, let me start my story here (maybe Ben isn’t the only one with ADHD?)…

I haven’t been to my local courthouse in approximately 7 years, give or take a few..or several months. Anyways – it was in 2000 that I was there last time. I had to go today so I could visit the Register of Deeds office, plop down 12 bucks and get a copy of Ben’s birth certificate because we’ve lost his. I have everything else in a folder in a file drawer.. his sister’s birth certificate, all our passports, our marriage certificate, social security cards, etc… all neatly tucked in there. Except for his birth certificate. I know what happened to it, though. I had to give it to him when he applied for his job 4 months ago… I think I never got it back.

So, I pull into the parking lot and hop out of the truck and start walking the long pathway and stairs to the front door… and visions of my visit there 7 years ago start flooding my senses. Ever have moments like that?

The last time I was there, I attended with my lawyer. I was facing my ex in court that day. I was walking toward the courthouse, biting my fingernails, sweating, my heart pounding out of my sweater at the prosect of taking the witness stand and recounting all the horrid, abusive details of my relationship with him. At the end of that day – he was in jail and I walked out with a restraining order that vowed to keep him away from me, my home and my children.. forever. Of course, he’d have to serve his time in jail first…but after that, he needed to stay away.

Turns out, he died shortly after that time…. Stop looking at me that way!! I didn’t kill him, for crying out loud! Actually, he suffered a heart attack alone in his new apartment that he set up for himself after being released. They didnt find his body for 5 days.

The point (The POINT) of this is my walk up the courthouse steps today – 7 years later. My heart actually sped up a bit as those visions came into my mind. Almost as if I could see myself, walking with my lawyer. I remember my frame of mind and my fear. I remember the people in my life during those years who helped me face what needed to be done – because I would not have done it myself, if left to my own devices. As I walked up those steps today – I did not really recognize the girl who was invading my thoughts and memories. What a different person I was back then to put up with what I put up with during the time I shared my life with him.

Who was that? She seemed so … little… in my memory. So scared, intimidated and mild. So not who I am today – a mere 7 years later. Less than a decade has gone by – and I look at her like she is someone I don’t really know at all.

I’m grateful for second chances in this life. I’m more than grateful for those folks who helped me. Even if I didn’t WANT their help. Even if I yelled, kicked and screamed until I finally saw the light of day. But you know what? I saw the light of day when I realized I had had enough – not when someone else told me that I’d had enough. When I encounter women who are currently going through that… currently in the midst of what I used to live, I empathize. I understand the anger and the lashing out towards the very people who love you and just want to help. I also understand that these women will help themselves when they are finally able to draw the line.

However – for those that love people like that? Don’t take that to mean you should give up and take a passive back seat and stop trying to help. The words make it through – they really do. Plant those seeds in her mind – I promise you, it will give her something to think about when she’s alone and it’s dark. Those words will go through her mind the very next time she is facing down the abuse. Those words, sentiments and offers of help wont just go through her mind – – they will ECHO. And eventually…. little by little, the layers will peel away and realization will dawn on her…..

…and maybe 7 years later, she’ll look back with a small, sad smile on her face as she remembers life how it used to be, compared to life as it should be.

I went into the courthouse and got Ben’s birth certificate. I walked back down the steps and toward the parking lot with a little extra kick to my step on my way out. He starts his new program at the college on Monday – – I really hope he sees the point!

5 thoughts on “Looking Backwards..just for a second”

  1. You’ve shared this story concerning your ex with me in the past. It gave me the courage and strength to not give up on another dear friend who was in a similar situation. I thank you for that. And good on you for actually continuing the walk into the courthouse.

  2. I remember telling you about his death, shortly after it happened. It was after my first visit to NYC in 2002 (two years had past and Chris was in my life by then and some of the healing had already taken place, and I was well on my way to recovery)… when I flew back to Wisconsin – I called my mom to let her know I landed safetly (I’m 30-something, but she still worries, and I still call her). She said “Oh good, you’re back – we got this call while you were away and I didn’t want to tell you about it until you returned from your trip – I didn’t want to ruin anything or bring back any bad memories while you were on vacation….”

    Then, she told me. He was dead. Just like that. Dropped dead from a heart attack at the young age of 36. People around me say things like “Good – it’s karma” or, …. “Perfect – – but not a brutal enough death for someone like him.”

    For me? After the initial “wow” moment was this amazing sense of relief followed by pity. What a lonely, awful moment that must have been for him. Even after everything… you always hope for rehabilitation in people like that, don’t you? You really hope to see the day that they’ve really learned that lesson and have turned a new leaf – though, he never did. His life was stopped too short for that.

    If it’s true that your life passes before your eyes at the moment of death – – what an awful flash that must have been for him. Because it was such a miserable life, when all was said and done.

    I’m glad you were there for your friend, Chelle. It can be SO frustrating to try and help someone who, seemingly, does not want to be helped. But I believe they do – but the whole experience is such a clash of conflicting emotions, I can’t even begin to comment on how hard it is to weed through and sort out in order to get the point of release. My parents, my friend Tom and my friend Deb were the ones who were on the receiving end of my anger.

    But – my anger was not directed towards them. (In years past, I have communicated these things with them.. just so they know.) My anger was directed at myself, mostly. For not having the strength to get out… and not having heeded the warning signs when I saw them coming, to begin with (I was raised Catholic, naturally I blame myself! heh).

    When she lashes out – it’s not at you… 10 to 1, she’s lashing out at herself…well, and him… but mostly herself.

  3. Maybe you just didn’t recognize her because she didn’t have so much grey hair… :d

    I was much the same way in high school. My senior year I needed one class for half the year was all. So I took a few college prep classes and a bunch of slacker classes (Metal Shop, Minnesota History (for dummies), Outdoor Food and Clothing…). Does Wisconsin have post-secondary option where kids can take college / vo tech classes as part of their regular school curriculum? A few people I went to school with basically disappeared senior year because they switched over to the vo-tech school next door or took off for the state colleges…

  4. It is amazing how we go through things in life. Each thing being “the worst thing ever” until the next “worse thing ever” happens.

    Glad your worse thing ever is behind you and is just a memory now.

  5. It’s very true… been there. You can’t fix someone who doesn’t think they need fixing. Unfortunately, for some, it takes longer for them to get to the point of reaching out. (sigh)

    i’m so proud of you. (hugs)

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