Chapter 9 Things are finally beginning to change

Sitting here now with tears streaming down my face, wondering how could this have happened to me. What did I ever do to deserve this. To this very day I just can’t imagine how I survived. Well getting back to the story. Spring came with more of the same. I had finally after years of procrastinating I finally went and took my G.E.D it was a proud moment for me when I received the diploma in the mail. Earlier that winter Harry had received his journeyman’s card, and despite of how he was treating me I was still very proud of him. In fact I had given him a celebration get together with some of his closest friends. But when I got my diploma there was not even a congratulations for me. Oh well I guess it really wasn’t a big deal to him, but it was for me.
I had planned to get a frame and hang it on the wall. Needless to say that never came about. In May of 1986 mother’s day I was again living in a shelter. The difference this time was that I had begun divorce proceedings. I know I should have been happy, but I was very alone and very afraid. Harry had attacked me again, and forced me to leave the house without my children. I called the shelter, and after talking to them I went there.
The next morning they had a Legal Representative there her name was Sue Smith and she was very supportive and instrumental in helping me to get my children back. She had talked with me, then went and had my divorce papers drawn up. She told me that in order for them to assist in getting my children from Harry I had to file for a divorce. At the time I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing, but I knew that I would do anything to get my children from him.
By Afternoon Sue Smith had a court order for me to get my children back. She called the police, and they told her that I had to be present when they went to the house. We went there, and after much heated debate between her and the officer’s. I was forced to go to the door in front of them. They said no officer should have to face danger in order to do his job.
Sue told them that I should not have to go to that door, and that they would be held responsible if anything happened to me. They finally agreed that we would all go to the door, Sue Smith in fact stood in front of me to protect me. Finally I got my children after having been away from them for two or three days.
When we got back to the shelter, and had settled in the best gift I got was my baby walked to me on Mother’s day. Also the staff at the shelter provided the ladies with mother day gift’s. I had never gotten a mother’s day gift, and it was really nice to know that someone else thought being a Mom was important. The next week Sue Smith had not only gotten me a order of protection, and a order for child support, and an order to get my children. She also got an order for me to regain the exclusive use of the home.
I was very happy knowing that I could go home, but to my total dismay, when I got home there was nothing there. Harry had taken all of the furniture except for Nookie’s bed and the Baby bed. I walked around in total disbelief thinking how could he be so cruel. I discovered hurt after hurt as I found pictures destroyed, and all my clothing cut to shreds.
Seemed that I saw my whole life flash before my eye’s, and I know that I was too shocked to cry or anything. My sister neicy had came there with me, and she brought me piece after piece of busted up trophies. Trophies I had won in shows and trophies I received for my organization of different fund-raisers for charities and legal defenses over the years.
It felt as if someone had taken my breath away, and I just continued to look around as if to find something left to identify myself with. When she brought me my diploma, I knew then it was all of me, all of my life, everything that represented who I was, was gone. I sat on the floor and just shook with pain. I said of all the thing’s to do “WHY did he take my life away.”
Later that night I collected my thought’s. I knew I didn’t have much money, but I also knew that we had to have somewhere to live. Believe it or not he had the audacity to call that night, and he said he was very sorry, and promised he would bring everything back.
I asked him why did he do this to me, and what did I ever do to deserve this? He said that I had done nothing, and that he had just felt as if he had lost everything and wanted to hurt someone.
I hung up the phone, and continued to think of what I could do. The next day I went and applied for welfare, they told me they could not give me any money right then, but that they could give me food stamps. When I left there I went back to the shelter, they gave me some furniture items they had. On my way home I stopped at a rummage sale, and I bought a table and chairs they had. I carried all the items on top of my car. And even though I felt ashamed, I knew that I had to provide something for my children. I didn’t have the refrigerator and nor could I afford to go buy one. I did however buy a cooler and filled it with ice, and I was satisfied to at least be able to remain somewhat independent until times got better.
That afternoon Nookie was outside playing with her friends, she came running and screaming into the house saying ” mama it’s a lot of worms outside” I told her to calm down, and asked her to show me where the worms were. She took me behind the garage, and what she thought were worms were in fact maggots.
Harry had taken all the meat out of the freezer and put it in a box behind the garage. It smelled so bad that it made me sick. There were flies everywhere, and I told the kids just to go in the front yard and play. I could not believe he could do anything like that. But then I thought if he could tear up his own baby’s picture, then why wouldn’t he be able to make sure we were left hungry!
I called Sue Smith, and told her what he had done. She immediately filed for an order to appear for a show cause hearing, and she said he will either give back the furniture or he would be made to pay.
As the days went by, I was getting tired and more sickly. My baby was due in less then a month, and the doctor was still warning me that my blood pressure was dangerously high. I had not told the doctor what was going on, and each time he would suggest that it may be my husband I continued to say everything was fine.
Trying to get on welfare was really causing a lot of stress for me, seems I had to provide everything short of the kitchen sink, and wait for every piece of information to be verified. Finally I gave up, and told Harry that he could come home. Besides I didn’t know what else to do. The baby was due in two weeks, and I had nothing other then the items Tami had outgrown.
I knew I was having a boy and I knew that unless my water broke he would be born on July 10th. Harry immediately came home, but he didn’t bring the furniture. All along he had been claiming that he had it, and I thought by allowing him to come back he would bring it all back. He brought back the refrigerator and the stove, and he told me that the other he would replace. I was too tired to worry at that point, but in my heart I knew I would never see the furniture again.
Thank GOD I had my old furniture in the basement, and when he came home he brought it upstairs. I went to the hospital on my due date, and the next morning I was blessed with a 8 LB 10 oz baby boy. I was really worried if something would ultimately be wrong with him, because I knew he had gone through a lot the last 9 months in my womb. I was very pleased when they told me he was fine, and even more pleased when he opened his eyes and smiled at me as if to say ” things will be different now that I’m here.”
I stayed in the hospital about a week, and was happy to know that in spite of the past year, I would be home for my anniversary. The days since Little Harry’s birth went by rather quickly, and already it was one year since I had been married. Harry had asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate, and knowing in my heart I had nothing to celebrate I said whatever he wanted to do was fine.
He suggested we go to dinner, and maybe a movie, after he took his bike ride. While he was gone I tried to cheer myself up, and I got dressed for my night on the town. The hours went by without any sign of Harry, and finally I took off my clothes and got into bed.
Harry came in rather late. He got in the bed smelling of alcohol. I laid there for hours without saying a word, and finally I got up when I heard the baby cry. The next morning we were awakened by the sound of Stephon’s voice, he was saying he came to get his house keys from his dad. I got up and asked Stephon “what is your dad doing with your keys” he said he took them when they were together yesterday. I went in the room and asked Harry where was Stepson’s keys and more importantly what was he doing with them. He got up without saying a word, got the keys and gave them to Stephon.
Again I asked him why he had his ex-wives door keys and all he said was it “isn’t what you think.” I thought you lying SOB.
That whole afternoon I became more and more angry. here it was my anniversary and you have the nerve to spend it with your ex-wife. I told him I thought it best he leave, and after much cussing and threatening he finally did. I was surprised to see that he left without hitting me, but I felt he knew I had a restraining order and that he would likely go to jail if he did. I was continually hearing scratching sounds during the night, but I refused to become paranoid about them. At 5:30am I was up getting the baby a bottle, and I happened to look out the window and saw Harry getting out of the car. He came to the door, and I asked him from the window what did he want? He said he only wanted to talk to me, and he went on and on to defend his being with his son’s yesterday. he said he felt that was no reason to put him out, and continued to defend his innocence.
I sat on the chair and was feeding the baby, I act as if I had not heard a word Harry had said. I took and laid the baby down, and came out and told him I thought it best he leave now. He grabbed me around my neck and slammed me to the floor. I could feel something pull in my stomach. I told him I had just had surgery, and begged him to please get off of me and leave.
He continued to cuss and slam my head on the floor, saying don’t no bitch treat him the way that I did. He went on and on talking about all the make believe men I supposedly had, as he continued to choke and sit on my stomach.
Nookie finally came into the living room, and he jumped up and ran towards her as I told her to call the police. He snatched the phone out of the wall, and said he wasn’t going anywhere until he said what he had to say. I continued to lay on the floor in a lot of pain, and my head felt as if it would explode. He finally left threatening to blow me away if he ever caught any man in or near his home.
Another day another beating, seems the violence went on and on. The welfare still had not given me any money. Nor had the child support begun. In August tragedy struck, my brother-in-law who acted as Harry’s best man in our wedding shot his self through the heart. It was a very hurtful time for me.
I thought about all the times I sat up all night and talked with Tony. I remembered all the times he said he loved my sister and just could not understand why she didn’t love him back. I recalled all the times he would call and ask me if I would come pick him up. Somehow when everyone else thought he was just talking, I knew sooner or later he may act on his thought’s.
When they called and told me he was dead, somehow I felt like I had lost a trusted friend. I couldn’t help but feel like if only I had done more, then maybe he would still be there. it was hard dealing with his funeral, his family was somewhat distant, and I knew it was because my sister had left him. After his death I got a job as a clerk at a 7-11 and again I had to allow Harry to come back home. I had no means to pay the bills, nor did I have a sitter to take care of the children. He came home, and everything seemed to start working more smoothly. He would tend to the baby at night, while I worked 3rd shift. He caught up the bills, and allowed me to do what I wanted with my money.
For the first time in the last year I was starting to feel a sense of independence and security. While I was at work though, Harry would call or come up there. he would say that he didn’t want me to work, and wished he was better able to provide. I enjoyed my job, and it gave me an outlet. So every time he would suggest getting a part-time job I would tell him I didn’t think that was necessary.
I worked at the 7-11 for two months, then I got an interview at Red Lobster. At first I told the lady thank you but that I thought I would much rather continue with the store.
I remembered her telling me that my application would go into the refusal pile, and also that I would not be considered for another position there within a year. Oddly that night or the next couple of nights while working at the store, a strange man came in and threatened to harm the security guy and myself. he was standing at the counter with a peculiar look on his face, watching my every move intently. I acted as if I was not afraid, and I continued to insist that he leave.
After he left the security guard who’s name was Eric and myself had words. I told him he was being paid to provide security. He said he was doing his job, and I told him that I didn’t think he done anything to protect me or the store. The next day I called Red Lobster, and I asked the Manager if I could still come in for the interview. I was walking on air when she told me yes, and I had also recalled that she said I could make a lot of money.
I went for 2 interviews, and got the job. I started in training on Dec. 14th 1986, and by Christmas I was officially serving tables on my own. I had been noticing how much money the server’s were making, and I was hoping to make at least half of that once I started. My first week on the floor I made over $300.00 and earned my name embroidered on my apron. The manager and also Amanda was very happy, but they were no where near as happy and proud as I was. Even Harry was acting like I was finally somebody, and though I don’t recall whether I got anything for Christmas, I was still blessed to know that I was finally making a living for myself.