Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Dreaded Christmas Letter

Ahhh, the dreaded Christmas Letter.  A couple of good friends who I think the world of send these letters out.  They inevitably make my eyes rolls and my stomach start to hurl.  While I don't begrudge these women their supposed perfect lives, I want to say, "Come on, is everything in your life really that rosy???"  It's healthy to focus on the good things but a bit unrealistic to think one's life is all about promotions, trips to Hawaii, and your child's straight A's.

I laugh to myself when I think about what my own Christmas Letter would be for the past year.  If, of course, I was being realistic.

Let's see.  My year started with having my husband arrested for domestic violence. 

He unfortunately assaulted me the day after Christmas in front of our son.  He had pushed me around before, but nothing so violent as this night.  I called the police and he was put in jail for 48 hours.  The months of January and February were spent getting restraining orders, meeting with lawyers, visits from Child Protective Services, and seeing a therapist.  My husband was on assignment in TN, so he immediately flew back to his apartment.  No words can describe the feelings of betrayal, guilt, shame, and sadness during this time.  Fortunately, my son is a beautiful, sweet boy whose resilience and strength amazes me.  And I am extremely grateful that I have a good paying job as an engineer. So as scary as it was, I was not bound to stay with my husband for financial reasons. I realize there are thousands of women that do not have this luxury.

In March, I decided to get a new pug puppy we named Polly  I thought we needed something in our lives to bring back a bit of fun. April brought thoughts of attempting to reconcile with my husband hoping my husband had learned his lesson.  After a spring break vacation in Black Mountain, it became apparent that my husband was who he was and no amount of counseling and anger management was going to change him.  I immediately started preceedings for a legal separation. 

In May, I rented a small beach cottage in Emerald Isle for Memorial Weekend just my son and I.  I was scared going on my own with my son, but the trip was relaxing and rejuvanating for me and stregthened my already close bond with my son. On the way home we stopped by the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.  My son loves ships!

In June, I decided to put our house on the market.  One, my husband was not paying child support or helping with mortgage.  And two, I needed to be closer to my son's school,  if I was to continue doing school drop off and pick up.  On a positive note, my son was able to participate in some wonderful summer camps where he learned about electrical circuits, robots, and building construction.

My son and I again went to the beach for his last week of summer vacation.  I was able to rent a ocean front beach cottage on Ocean Isle, a beach that has always a special place in my heart.  He played in the sand and water while I collected seashells, read, and worked on my tan.  I wrote in my journal, read self help books, and drew in my art journal at night.  I watched the pelicans, crabs, and sea gulls, and tried to find peace in the sound of the ocean and the warm sun on my body.  During our stay, we flew a kite and visited the Carolina Coastal Museum and learned about seashells and sea life.  Again, on our way out town we stopped by the NC Maritime Museum in Southport.

September, my son returned to school with new teachers and new friends.  I was able to open my heart a little and start a new relationship myself with a kind, sweet, geniune and funny man.  I'm still not certain where this relationship is headed, but it is wonderful and sweet.

October and November have been blur.  The fall weather has been wonderful and we've spent many days outside walking and hiking.  I ran in a 5K that supported Interact,, the local non-profit that supports families of domestic violence. I visited a local Unitarian fellowship in an attempt to find solace, peace of mind, and a sense of community. In addition, I have started new job with an engineering company whose office is closer to my son's school and makes my commute much less stressful.

December continues to be hectic with house showings and preparing for the holidays.  I gave a presentation in my son's class on the Winter Solstice where we had a mock bonfire and asked for the sun to return.  I feel proud of myself for getting our Christmas tree up (with a little help from my neighbors) and decorated, holiday lights outside, and cards sent (without a Christmas letter.) 

Monday will mark one year from the beginning of this ordeal.  I continue to see a therapist, write in a journal, and feel gratitude for all the small things in life.  I have many blessings to be grateful for.  My son and I have a warm house, I have a job, we have each other, and we are safe. 

I wish everyone a blessed holiday and a peaceful new year!

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