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Some days I get so frustrated because I just want this to all be over. I want my divorce to be final. I want my husband and my brother to tire of harassing me and just move on with their lives.  I want out of poverty.  I get so sick of all of it. It is just dragging on for what seems like forever.

This morning we actually made it to church early, so I had time to greet people and then sit and catch my breath before the service started.  I looked around the room.  There are new faces, and there are faces missing.  I got a little nostalgic glancing around at everyone.

We didn’t help with the Thanksgiving baskets this year, and last year my boys all did.  We also didn’t receive a basket this year.  I felt a little left out of the loop on both accounts.  It got me wondering why no one offered us a basket.  Don’t they realize that we aren’t any better off than we were last year?  Are they sick of our tale of woe?  Isn’t it obvious that we are stuck in this awful place?

People often comment on my children’s growth, on how tall they are all getting. I don’t notice it until their pants are riding up above their ankles. I see them every day, and the growth occurs so slowly that I don’t realize how rapidly they really are growing. However, when someone doesn’t see them for a few months, the difference is surprising.

As I pondered the church’s apparent disregard of our stymied life it dawned on me that perhaps I just haven’t noticed that my pants are above my ankles.

A year ago this week my dad was sick, coughing up blood.  He could hardly eat because the food either came out of his nose or he choked on it.  My brother was intolerably mean to him, but Daddy refused to move his trailer from my brother’s property and onto mine.  He knew it would anger my brother and that he didn’t dare do that.  It was excruciating to watch.  Daddy now rests peacefully in the arms of a loving Savior who welcomes even men who struggle with the weaknesses of their flesh their entire lives.

A year ago this week my oldest son was staying with me.  He couldn’t find work back east without going back there, and his savings was dwindling as he paid for one deferment after another.  I needed him home and he is so good to his siblings and to me, but I knew his heart longed to get on with his own life.  This year he won’t be eating Thanksgiving dinner with us, but he’s enjoying his master’s program and has a good job and a decent place to live.  He’s relishing building a life for himself.

A year ago I was in counseling, fearing I might be crazy.  Why else would I have chosen to marry an animal like my husband?  Why else would I feel absolutely nothing upon my own mother’s passing?  I was desperate to know what was wrong with me.  Now, I’ll stand and argue with you that their sin was their sin, and I am not to blame for the evil they inflicted upon me.  In fact, if I can’t change your mind on that I’ll walk away thinking there’s something wrong with you.

A year ago my 12 year old and 16 year old were in counseling.  They were angry and broken–angry at their dad, angry at me, angry at the world, angry at God.  Tonight when my 6 year old said he is sad that he was born into this mess (because he is stressed and doesn’t want to visit his dad for the holidays) I didn’t know how to respond and hesitated.  My 16 year old, however, immediately jumped in and very tenderly said, “J, do you know why God let you be born into this?  It’s because He sees something really good and strong in you.  He has a big job for you to do someday, so He’s letting you be born into this to make you even stronger.  He sees something really, really special in you, and He knows you can make it.  You should feel honored that God trusts you so much.”

A year ago I had absolutely no income.  Though I haven’t received any child support in over a month now, I know they’ll eventually catch him and I’ll get some again.  And, I have my little cleaning business and my clients I love so much.

A year ago this week I was in court, fighting to keep a restraining order in place.  I sat on the stand for two long hours, reliving the nightmare of my existence with a psychopath.  I dissociated and hyperventilated frequently, in and out of court.  I experienced full blown panic attacks every time I saw a little red car.  Now, I can load my pistol in just a few seconds and fearlessly search for an intruder in my home.  Now, I can stand and visit and laugh while waiting to go into the courtroom.  He doesn’t scare me anymore.

A year ago I was still suffering weakness, dizziness, terrible diffuse pain, and regular seizures.  I had one small, brief seizure on Friday; it was the first one in over a month, and that one was the first one in several months.  I am strong enough to clean for 8 1/2 hours a day and come home and tend to my responsibilities.  I took ibuprofen one day last week, but I had not taken any in so many months that I cannot remember when the last time was that I took anything for pain.  A year ago I called it vitamin I and took it regularly every day.

A year ago I laid awake at night, watching my children sleep, wondering how much longer I had with them.  Everything we did was tainted with the fear they’d be taken from me and I would miss out on those precious moments.  Now, though he still refuses to sign the divorce papers and is objecting to the judgment, he did agree, before a judge, in September to me having full custody.  My 16 year old’s counselor submitted a report to the court detailing the violence my husband perpetrated on our family and the safe haven I have created for the children since he left.  I think he realizes his ploy for custody is fruitless.  I sleep sound, cuddled with the children I will raise, snuggled into my dad’s bedding.

A year ago in my domestic violence support group we were asked to create a list of goals.  My short term goals were: 1.  Divorce final, including full custody.  2.  Job.  3.  Kids out of counseling and into hobbies.  4.  Get back on whole food supplements.  My long term goals were: 1. Write.  2.  Move.  3.  Figure out who I am and not who others have told me I am.  4.  Finish family cookbook and pictures for kids.

Short term goals realized:  1.  We did settle the divorce and enter it before a judge in September.  This court date in December is futile.  His days are numbered; I’ll soon be free with full custody.  2.  I didn’t like the job I found, so I created my own job–one that I love and that allows me more time with my children.  3.  The kids have graduated counseling and are enjoying music and swim lessons, youth group, and community volunteering.  4.  I have my supplements but don’t take them regularly because I feel so much better.

I’m still working on the long term goals.  But, I’m growing faster than I had realized.