Now I try to get into some sort of routine being the only parent. This is actually not as difficult as you might think because Brad was not that much help before. Being the only one responsible is somewhat of a burden, but it’s also a relief because I can do exactly what I want. I don’t have to worry about what Brad thinks, especially since he was so opinionated and always thought what I was doing was wrong.
Now I start obsessively checking the credit card charges, bank transactions, and cell phone records online, trying to figure out what Brad is up to. Turns out he’s checked into a hotel and has spent a lot of money at a liquor store and not much money on food. A little worrisome as it appears he is attempting to drink himself to death.
Now I start gathering the mountains of paperwork required for divorce proceedings to continue. This will consume a lot of my time for the next year.
Now I try to stop being jumpy when the phone rings. I try to stop worrying about putting dishes in the dishwasher ‘correctly’. I try to stop remembering what Brad did or did not want me to do with the kids. Brad is an oppressive presence in the house even though he is gone. Reminders of him are everywhere. I put a few things away – electric razor, toothbrush, etc. It’s not enough, but I don’t have the time or energy to do more.
Now I try to get back into work and tell my team what is going on in general terms. I give my boss more specifics and he is very supportive and lets me work from home one day a week.
Now we try to stay healthy, but it does not work. I get a cold, Luke gets head lice, I get laryngitis – all in two weeks.
Now I reconnect with my family. I talk to them a lot and my dad is in the best position to come visit quickly. He visits seven days after I left Brad and helps when we go to Luke’s soccer game. I am very nervous, though, looking out for Brad in case he decides to crash the soccer game. My dad, aka 'Papa', provides a male figure and some family connection for the kids It is nice to have him there for a little relief from constant parenting.
Now I start mentally preparing for the next step. The temporary protective order is in effect until March 9, less than two weeks from when Brad was forcibly removed from the house. We’ll go back to court on that day and Brad will be there to speak his peace and the judge will decide whether to extend the protective order. I have asked for another year. Brad has a copy of the affidavit of abuse with the details of the worst of the worst, so he knows what he is being accused of.
In the last few days before the hearing, I am very stressed about having to see Brad for the first time in two weeks. I get a call from Brad’s best friend John the day before. He’s in town to support Brad. I am glad of that, because I don’t want him to feel truly alone. I think Brad is going to be very angry and ‘shooting daggers’ at me with his eyes the whole time. My general plan is to avoid him. I’m actually not even sure he’s going to show up, since he’s obviously in an intoxicated state. I am sick to my stomach as I drive to the courthouse and go up the escalator to the third floor. When I get to the courthouse and I see Brad at the top of the escalator with his friend, he looks beat down. He is visibly shaking as he hands me my other car key and mumbles something. I don’t remember what exactly, but it was along the lines of “Can we talk?” I say no and head to find my lawyer. The worst is over. I’ve seen him and I survived. I am clearly the stronger party right now. I feel a little sad for him, but not much. He did all of this to himself.
John comes up to me and says Brad is in terrible shape. He has basically only been drinking for the last two weeks. They had dinner together the night before, but Brad could not keep it down. John asks for Brad’s medical insurance card and plans to drive him directly to rehab after the court hearing. This is a curious development to me. I knew Brad drank a lot, but I would not have classified him as an alcoholic. But perhaps since I was focusing so much on the abuse, I did not see how much worse the drinking was getting as things deteriorated between us.
We go into court, and I indicate all of the items in the affidavit are true; and then in a shaky voice, Brad basically agrees he is guilty of the items in the affidavit and that it’s best to have the protective order in effect for another year. I am quite stunned. My lawyer had discussed the terms with him and this will be the source of much stress later. But now, I think to myself – maybe he understands, maybe this won’t be so bad, maybe he won’t be the complete jerk I assumed he would be in this process. This is not the first time I’ll get my hopes up only to have them dashed against the rocks later.
And finally, now I have some vindication that what he did was wrong and that I should be protected from him. It feels good.