Monday, January 6, 2014

Don't tell me At Least You Still Have Your Son

When I got raped, I was not the only one that suffered. My fiance lost his soon to be wife and my son lost his soon to be step father. So when people tell me to buck up and be strong, yes, I want to be strong for him, but this "at least you still have your son" is a bitter double edged sword. Because when I look at him the pain of what happens only increases.
My son has not lived a fantastic life. The most important thing I could give him, I could not provide for him. Instead of having a mother and a father, I left his father when he would not sober up. Being a single mom either means having a good job or living on welfare. Sometimes you can get lucky by having a great guy marry you or parents that fill in where ends meet. I had neither. That left me with finding a good job because I could not live on welfare.
With my many talents and interests, as well as my intelligence and love for people, I found nursing. When I decided to leave my husband, long before I did, I went back to college. Plus I worked. So when I left his father, it was just my son and I - mainly just me working and going to school while my son stayed with strangers. Luckily they were nice strangers.
After the first rape, I was left with nothing. I had to leave high school during my senior year because one job was not paying the bills. Instead I got three jobs. I worked one or two jobs for years and still only lived paycheck to paycheck.
After my ex was gone, I had to do it all by myself. There was not help from his father or my family. I worked full time and went to school fulltime. I still got great grades, but my son is the one that suffered.

My son's father never tried to take him for visitation after the judge ruled he needed third party paid visitation. My son started chewing off all his fingernails within about 2 days. Within that same week my 2 year old son screamed, "I HATE YOU!" as hard and as deep as he could. All my brothers are active military. He has never met my father or two of the three brothers I have. He has no male father figures. Every day he fought me because he is mad at me for making his father leave. Thats how he says it.
This whole time it has been just him and I. It was not supposed to be like that- my son was supposed to have at least one or two more siblings after him, in addition to the brother and sister he no longer gets to see. My son has been alone, even though I have tried to take care of him alone the best I could.
When I met my fiance, I was not ready yet for a relationship that ended in marriage. I did not want to be fixed. I wanted to have a break from my crappy life. I wanted someone to hold me and make me laugh. My fiance happened unexpectedly. He was supposed to be a rebound relationship before I found a husband. Trouble was we were fantastic for each other. After over a year of pretending it was just a fun relationship, I finally told him we were a relationship and that was the end of it. He started sticking around and playing with my son. My son finally stopped chewing off his fingernails that same week. I cried with joy. Not wanting to put pressure on my boyfriend, I simply thanked him for hanging out with my son. In the silence of that dialogue I said to myself everything I wanted to say out loud to him. He never heard how thankful I was. After another six months he finally admitted to being in love with me. For the next week every day he made a deeper profession of his love- that he wanted to marry me, have kids with me, and adopt my son. I was so afraid that if I let go and enjoyed, that if I believed what he said, that I would jinx everything for us.
Slowly, over the next few months, my fiance made me believe that what he said was true. That I could trust him. He took more and more interest in my son. I "saved" things for him to do with my son so my son would have "special man memories" with him.
Once my fiance left for Kuwait, my son started chewing off his fingernails again. Still I can remember calling my fiance crying to him in pain. My fiance would call my son and send him presents to make him feel special. It was not until after we moved to Texas that I started telling my son that instead of having a "guy to do dad stuff with," my fiance would be his new stepdad because "everyone wanted to be his dad."
The look on my son's face when he realized he would finally have a dad was one of relief. For the first time it was as if he finally felt he was worth something. So many times the word dad was thrown around him and he knew he did not have one. His father was a violent drug abuser that almost killed his own mom with him in the same room. It is a secret I have kept from him, but it has not been without its own consequences. Instead I toiled away in silence trying to create a better life for him- one that meant I had to give up something incredibly precious to me- my son's early years. This being someone's son made him feel great. He stood taller and fought me less. He was happier. For me, that deeply painful part of my soul where I hurt because my son hurt- it hurt a lot less.
Before we moved across the country and left everything my son knew, we got rid of and sold everything except for a small 5'X5' storage unit worth of stuff. We wiped our old life away clean. My son didnt get presents for his birthday- only giftcards for new toys "in his brand new better life." He was told to get rid of all of his toys except for a small box worth. The Christmas before he got fewer presents, "because we would only have to get rid of them- besides we would buy a whole bunch of new toys in our new house, in our new life." My son hated it, but every time I told him to wait for our better life, we talked about how cool it was going to be, and the dream made him sleep better that night or soothed his frustration.
When my son started school he bragged about his new stepdad when all his classmates asked where his dad was. The time came for my son to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels, so instead I found other things to do, so I could yet again "save a memory" for him and his new stepdad.
For my birthday- well a few days after my birthday, my fiance was supposed to return home. Roughly two weeks before my birthday, we received the call that he was going to be delayed 30 days returning home. So no fiance and new life beginning for my birthday present. That was fine. The silver lining was that we would have more money for Christmas presents. My son deserves more.
Then the drugging and the rape.
Then my fiance blamed me everything.
Then I had to tell my son.

First I had to tell my son delicately what happened to me. He was awake when I came home to him at my friends' house that morning I was raped. He was awake when they were trying to figure out where I was. He saw me acting really crazy as the drugs wore off and the realization kicked in. He was there at the hospital.

Then I had to tell him that his stepdad was not going to be his stepdad. That we were alone again.

We stayed the holidays with family and friends. I will never forget the look on my son's face when my friends' fiance tickled him, telling my son , "Who's Your Daddy?!?!"- like he had just done to his own kids. My son just stammered and said I dont know. Quickly my friend rolled with it and cushioned the awkwardness of the situation. Later that day, he took a little extra time and sat with my son while they watched football. I cried.

I was not the only casualty that day when I was raped. So was my son. So was my fiance.

Part of my grief is seeing my son everyday with this new pain. So when people try to console me by reminding me of my son, it backfires. It only reminds me of how one person can hurt everyone I care about, and I cannot stop it.