The cages that they put us in may have different names; pretty names, ugly names, godly names, logical names. It’s all the same. A cage is a cage, a prisoner is a prisoner.
My cages came in the form of no finances, isolation from family and friends, owning nothing, being no one, and lastly… step babies. Oh, how those beautiful boys wiggled into my heart and dug right in.
(It is painstaking, trying to pull some of these words from my heart. They’re thorns buried under skin, painfully abscessed.)
We were still newly “married” when we found out she was pregnant. Some lost girl he was sleeping with while we were dating. Twins. He swore up and down they weren’t his. She lived on the streets, bumming floor space for a pallet in dope house after dope house. Painfully skinny and strung out. He took no responsibility.
This man who claimed to be a righteous christian, laid with this lost girl and threw her away like trash. He left her to wander in the wilderness alone, while his sons grew inside of her.
I can be a crazy lady, and this situation was a crazy lady time. It was heartbreaking. After praying, I begged, after begging enough, he said yes. I picked her up (her cheeks were hollow, her belly beautifully huge) and brought her home. I fed her, I drove her to doctor’s appointments, my church ladies gave her a huge baby shower. I came to love her.
The whole time he is swearing; they’re not mine, I can’t have kids, just watch those babies are black.
A month before she went into labor, I found out I was pregnant too.
I had actually moved out a week before, after he had pushed me out of his truck into a ditch and then came back and pulled me back in by my hair. I had blood caked in my hair, blood dried to a crust on the back of my neck, a gash in my head. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. The screaming, being physically assaulted, being left in a ditch, trying to limp home in the dark, dizzy and nauseous, his brakes squealing and headlights blinding me as he came came back. When I found out I was pregnant, I disconnected from myself and walked back into my cage.
I drove her to the hospital when her water broke, I called him and told him to hurry, not to miss it. He missed it, he was late. Which of course, was my fault.
They were beautiful little miracles. And they were his. He sent me home, he didn’t want me there, forbade it. I had fallen in love with those boys months before they were born, and being cut out felt like rats scurrying in my stomach.
The night after the DNA test came back (or the next, it all blurs) was the only time he hit me with a closed fist. Blinding pain, to be hit like a man. Why? Frustration at her for not letting him name both of the twins.
I left again, I went back again. I left 8 times before I stopped going back. The scars I gave my own children in the process….. I’ll pull those thorns out one day, Right now I can’t look at the memories long enough to give you those words.
By the time my daughter came, I had the twins by myself day and night. Coming home with her, already exhausted, I now had 3 infants to care for. Not one of them slept for more than 3 hours at a time, which meant my longest span of sleep would be 2 hours, usually one. For a year.
I would fall asleep terrified that I wouldn’t hear them cry and he would be woken. I feared they would be punished for waking him up. Tiny fragile things, my responsibility. My responsibility, my love, my cage.
I started sleeping with them. Twins laid perpendicular on one side of me, their tiny feet pushed against me. My daughter on the other side, her breath a whisper on my cheek. To my surprise he approved of this, bragging about it to others.
Lack of sleep; caring for 3 infants, having my own sons to protect, keeping a house clean and running, every where I went I had three car seats, three infants. The twins were almost 5 weeks early, baby girl was a week late. All three have always been the same size. Triplets.
I saw life through foggy and cracked glasses, nothing was quite real. The disconnect from myself, and my children, and the world grew by miles. Nothing was real.
The abuse became a whisper, physical punishment was rare that first year of the babies’ lives. He didn’t need to, I was already being beat down by the weight on my shoulders.
Rare, but not gone. He went through a phase where he insisted that I breastfeed the twins as well as my daughter. I couldn’t do it, it felt so wrong. I let my milk dry out instead. I fought that battle silently and stubbornly. He was anything but silent, and that battle started the hair-pulling- face-smacking-while-driving-punishments I told you about before.
One day he was going to whip my youngest son, and when I came between them and stopped him, he called me into the bedroom. He took a baby out of my arms and laid it on the bed, close enough to the edge to give me a panic.
Being choked, having someone’s hands around your neck, watching the world grow black as your body fights for air; it is an ugly and terrifying thing. Your body seizes from lack of oxygen. Flight or fight kicks in but you can do neither, and your brain goes into complete panic screaming that you’re going to die, your going to die right now.
And then you wake up, all sense of time and space gone. Your dizzy, confused, your neck a ring of fire, your face covered in your own spit. You can’t hear over the pounding of blood racing back to your brain. And everything around you looks like a movie with the brightness turned up way too high.
I remember this instance so vividly because when I regained consciousness he was standing over me messing with my sweater. He apologized repeatedly for tearing it and wanted to replace it. He almost killed me and he was worried I’d be mad over a ripped sweater. The absurdity of it struck a cold fear in my heart, the irony made me laugh out loud. My laughing made him grin that grin and he gave me a peck and walked away humming.
He took my love for his children, my sense of responsibility and duty, and he built a cage. When they turned 6 weeks old, he came home with them and laid them in my arms. I didn’t want them, I didn’t. But I loved them anyways. Months later he showed me the paper work giving him full custody and I heard the door slam and the lock click.
He still tries to use those innocent children to hurt and control me. It took 11 months for me to see that it was hurting them as well. He’d give them to me, and then take them away. If I was compliant I could have them, if I said no he’d rip them from my arms again. They’d scream for me, scream for mommy as he left with them, and he’d scream back… she’s not your mommy.
I’m still establishing boundaries. I only keep the twins for a few hours, two days a week. No overnights. I pray that their relationship with their mother will be restored and I advocate for her parental rights. I pray for their safety and I plead the blood over them. They need a mother, and as much as I love them, that mother is not me.
I have four children that God gave me authority over, four children that have been neglected and traumatized because of my choices and my weakness. Four children that need me. Not six. It took me 16 months to be able to say that. I have four children, I do not have six children.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends
Sisters, if you trapped, abused, scared.. reach out. There are people waiting to help you. Jesus is right there, weeping, arms open waiting for you. Sisters, do not fear;