Today I cut my hair. It may not seem like much to you, but for the last almost 10 years, I’ve changed my hair every time I faced an event in my life that I felt changed me. When I had my daughters, I cut my hair into something more manageable, because I needed it. When I started talking to the guy who would become my first serious boyfriend, I went for blunt bangs. When I went to court against someone who once terrified me, I cut the hair I had been growing out for 3 years, up to my shoulders. You get the idea.
With every struggle, I showed the world around me that I was changing inside by changing my hair. And today, I showed that I am changed once again. Let me tell you why.
Almost 6 years ago, I met a man that was wonderful. He took care of his children, he went to work and paid his bills. He was so good to me then. But I didn’t know that he was fighting his own demon, a demon that I would eventually have to face. Addiction. He never lied to me about it. He told me up front that he had once been a drug addict and had been really strung out, but he was almost 3 years clean. I was naive then. I thought addiction was something you went through and got past. I didn’t know it was something he would deal with for the rest of his life. I will never forget the man he was back then.
Fast forward a year and a half and we have a son together, in addition to my two daughters and his son and daughter. I drank with him for New Years and then let him drive my van to the store. He wound up going to an entirely different area than he was supposed to, all the way across town. He was pulled over, going 70 in a 45, and arrested. DWI. I was in a panic. As a stay-at-home mom, my children and I depended on him and he was due to be at work in a few hours. With the help of my mom, his dad, and my uncle, I managed to bail him out, get my van out of impound AND have him to work on time. It was less than 2 weeks later that we found out I was pregnant unexpectedly.
From there, everything went downhill gradually. He took the money that was meant for our bills and spent it on alcohol or drugs. It became more and more frequent as time went on. There were nights he didn’t come home at all. He lost his job with good pay and benefits just before our daughter was born. He never keep a job for long after that. His longest over the next 3 years was 4 months. I kept trying, kept fighting. I learned about addiction and did everything I could to try to help him out of the hole he’d dragged our family into. I told myself that if I got it just right, I could lead him back to the light. I was convinced that I was doing something wrong.
Then, in December of last year, he took money from me (I was the working parent now) that was meant for Christmas presents for our 6 children, to buy drugs. I was heartbroken and tired of fighting. I asked him to leave after Christmas, but he wouldn’t go. Over the next few weeks, I dreaded going home. I would do anything just to make it bearable and avoid fighting with him.
February 1st, I came home after not being able to work due to a power outage. My kids were running around alone, and he was asleep, with beer on the table beside him and music blaring in his headphones. I turned his music off and woke him up. I asked him why, but I didn’t listen for his excuse. I picked up his e-cig and walked outside to talk to my brother who had driven me home. Looking back, I should have known something was different. His demeanor was dark. But I blew it off and blamed it on the alcohol. Our older children came home from school, and after saying hello and bye to them, my brother left.
I sat down on my bed, right beside him to talk to my kids about chores. He pulled my hair down to the bed. I ignored him and he let me go. My kids were already crying. I assured them that I was okay and he hadn’t hurt me. As much as I hate to admit it, if it had stopped right there, I probably wouldn’t have done anything, but it didn’t. He pulled my hair again and twisted my face to look at him. This time, I got up to leave and told my kids to get one of our neighbors. I knew something was wrong, and I wanted them to be away from it. I don’t know what my kids actually saw after that. I didn’t see their faces again until everything was over, but I heard them. I will never forget that sound. He grabbed the hood of my jacket as I reached the doorway and yanked me backwards, flipping me onto our bed. He climbed on top of me and I knew what was going to happen. I yelled again for my kids to go get our neighbor. I saw his fist come toward me that first time and then I kept my eyes closed. I can’t tell you how many times he hit me or how long the assault went on. I was focused on the cries of my children and how I didn’t want them to be so scared, especially of their dad. He hit me until I slid off our bed and fell to the floor. When I did, his e-cig fell from my pocket. As he was about to lean over me and start hitting me again, he saw it and stopped. Apparently that was all he wanted. He grabbed it, stood up and walked toward the back door. But he wasn’t done crushing me yet. He yelled that he was through with me and glad that he would be rid of me. He told his two children, that had been my kids for the last 5 1/2 years, to pack their bags that they didn’t f-ing live with us anymore. And he walked out. He paid no attention to the pain or the fear in their eyes. I followed behind, bloody, swollen, and broken. My kids rushed to me, cried, and hugged me. I assured them that I was okay, while they insisted that my face looked really bad. I called 911, told them what happened, and gave them my information. Then I hung up the phone and called my brother, who hadn’t even made it home yet. He didn’t answer, so he didn’t head back until after he made it home and got my message. Then I went to look at my face. The kids were right. It was bad. I didn’t even recognize the face in the mirror. No one got a picture of me that day before the paramedics cleaned up my face, not even the police, and for that I’m thankful.
After being questioned by the police, I was asked if I was going to the hospital. I refused. I was NOT leaving my kids. He asked me to at least let the paramedics check me out and clean my face up, so I agreed. After A LOT of arguing with the paramedics about receiving medical attention, my brother showed up and told me to go to the hospital and he’d watch the kids. So, I finally agreed. They loaded me into the ambulance and checked my heart rate. It was so high, they said I was on the verge of a heart attack and wanted to place an IV and administer medicine to lower it. I refused. I had to sign paperwork saying that it wasn’t their fault if I had a heart attack. They hooked up a monitor and watched my heart rate all the way to the hospital. The doctor that saw me when I arrived was convinced I had multiple broken bones in my face. I received a CT scan and an x-ray on my face and neck, and surprisingly, nothing was broken. They sent me home hours later with prescriptions and a note for work. I took a picture later that evening, the earliest one that’s still around.
I missed work and wasn’t able to take care of my kids for days. I couldn’t eat because my cheek was so swollen that my jaw wouldn’t close. I still have problems with dizziness and migraines due to what happened. I still have to see multiple doctors and they are still trying to find out what damage he did that is causing the problems I’m having now.
I filed a restraining order after this happened and was granted custody of all of my kids, even the two children he had when we met. It took an enormous load off my shoulders. Then I carried on with my life the best I could. I worked. I took care of my kids. I paid my bills. And I started dating someone new who makes me happy.
I found out recently that because my ex is from Canada, that being convicted of what he did to me will result in him being deported. I have been so lost. I have been trying to wrap my head around everything and figure out what was the best thing for my kids. What was best for me, or for him, never crossed my mind. Justice, revenge, all of that was so far from my train of thought. I toyed with the idea of not going to court, so that his charges would be dropped and he could still be near his kids. I weighed the pros and cons of each outcome. It was eating me up inside. I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Then I got a letter. A letter that I wasn’t even supposed to receive. And he asked me, he actually had the audacity to ask me to not go to court and said “I think deportation is going too far.” I was so angry. I still get angry when I read it or think about it. I’m angry as I write this. I thought about it over the next day. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he needs to be held accountable for his actions. As hard as it will be for them, my kids need to see him held responsible. My boys need to learn that there are hard consequences when you make the decision to do things like that. My girls need to see what they should do if anyone EVER treats them that way, and they need to see that the behavior he displayed and his actions are never okay amd never appropriate ways to treat someone.
And just like that, my mind was made up. The peace and pain I feel now have changed me. I am a different person because of this whole experience. So, as I resolved the turmoil in my mind and moved past these awful decisions I was left with, the only thing left to do was show the world in my own way. So, I cut my hair today.