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revolverI awoke with a bang at 4 a.m. after only sleeping five hours.  “Lord, help me,” I prayed repeatedly.

By 5 I was still awake, so I decided to quit fighting it and just get up.  I poured a cup of day old coffee from the carafe and heated it in the microwave before sitting down to do the books for my little business.

In spite of being thoroughly exhausted and totally overwhelmed, I can’t sleep.

I’ve been anticipating this for months.

R called E’s phone Friday morning trying to weasel out of visitation.  I knew what he was up to.  He wanted to go through the stuff his brother recently collected from my front yard and didn’t want the kids in his way.  His voice resounded with agitation.  That was familiar.  I knew I was in trouble.

When E called him back, R told him to put me on the phone.  I didn’t like hearing his voice, especially not that tone.  I was instantly nervous, dare I say panicked.  I was triggered.

Suddenly, I was even more overwhelmed than usual.  I began to fret about the wood situation and how are we ever going to get wood in for next winter.  I doubted my ability to clean six days straight while dealing with some very sick children.  I worried about everything and was overcome by a spirit of fear.  I wanted to sit down and scream, “I can’t do this!”

When we got there, it was all unloaded.  Everything.  All of the stuff from the cab of the truck, the bed of the truck, and the large cargo trailer.  And, it was all sitting in the middle of the driveway for me to see.  It was like a large sign, “Look what I took!  And, I see the terrible condition it’s in, and it’s all your fault, L!”

I waved goodbye to my children, scared to death he would retaliate against me by hurting them.  He views the children as property, and my greatest fear was that he would damage what he sees as my “property” since he would be blaming me for damaging his.

When I was nearly finished cleaning the rental job I texted E and asked if they were okay and did their dad want to keep them a half an hour longer.  He texted back that they were fine, but Dad said I needed to come NOW.  So, I hurriedly finished up, locked the house, and attempted to leave.  My car wouldn’t start.  Of all times!  I tried again.  And, again.  It sounded like it wanted to.  It was trying.  I pushed the pedal to the floor and after several seconds, which felt like minutes, she turned over.  Even with all of that though, my total time from texting to leaving was less than fifteen minutes.

Within five minutes I arrived at R’s mother’s.  He was playing guns with J.  In the driveway.  Amongst the stuff.  He knows I don’t like the kids playing guns.  It doesn’t teach them a healthy respect for them, nor does it teach them any safety skills.  It’s just stupid.  So, he did it anyway or to spite me.  And, they wove in and around what used to be my furniture as they did it.  All I could do was sit and watch.

As soon as I pulled in the drive, R turned and glanced my direction.  But, he kept playing.  I waited a good fifteen minutes before he stopped playing and went in to get the other kids–the other two, whom he had not engaged.  I was afraid to turn my car off for fear it wouldn’t start again.  God forbid it happen there!  So, I sat there in a panic, waiting for my empty tank to run out of gas.

He called again the next morning and again wanted to talk to me.  It was obvious that he didn’t want the kids, but I assured him that they wanted to visit and that we would be there on time.

It was unusual for him to ask to speak to me, so I felt pretty certain it was a flexing of his muscle.  He was making me listen to him, making me deal with his manipulation, instilling fear in my heart with his agitated tone.

The kids told me later that they had gone through the stuff with him.  He told them he’s just going to burn the furniture and that he thought we would be keeping it, that I would need it.  And, he drilled E about whether I’d replaced it; he wanted to know what we have.

He told E to look under the hood of the truck.  He told him there should be a “bell” under there for the horn, but it was now gone.  A bell?  Really?  [eye roll]  E felt that his dad was insinuating that I’d removed said bell in order to disable his horn.  The horn NEVER worked on that truck, but the kids wouldn’t remember that.

I had scheduled a small job for Saturday morning since he usually takes the kids from 9 to 1.  However, that morning he told me to pick them up by 12.  I didn’t tell him why; I just said that it would be 12:30.  I felt rushed and panicked, knowing that I didn’t have five minutes to spare after cleaning before I had to pick up the kids.

And, I felt controlled.  Instead of there being a set time that we can go by, he’ll tell me when to drop them off, when to pick them up, and he’ll decide it at the last minute.

I felt under the gun all weekend long.

He is probably back in his new hometown by now, but I’m still reeling from the experience of him pulling the “trigger” on me again.