For years I begged him to get help. Drugs and alcohol were his problems that only he could address. Mental illness was his issue, but he wouldn’t take his medication. Suicidal thoughts, criminal behaviors. So much wrong with him, but I was doing just fine.
Next week I’ll be starting therapy. All those years of telling him to get help didn’t work. I’ve finally realized that if anything is going to get better, if me and babybot are ever going to be safe or stable have healthy relationships, it’s on me to make that happen.
I used to work in drug treatment. Where no one ever uses the word “addiction.” They only talk about “recovery.” The entire system, doctors, therapists, social workers, residential staff, patients, they all act as if everyone gets better. The whole system revolved around the idea that everyone does. Mental health, disability, medicine. They all work on the principle that things get better, everything will be okay.
I guess that’s why I always saw it as a drug problem, not a violence problem. You would never tell an abuse victim that treatment works and the abuser will stop and everything will be fine. I no longer expect him to get treatment and get better. Suddenly I’ve gone from spectator to victim. I’m the one who needs help.
A part of me has known that for a while. It was more than I could handle even before there was a baby involved. That’s why I ended up drinking so much that I don’t remember the night I got pregnant. That’s why a month later I walked away from an enviable position at a great agency, and all of the professional and personal networks that went with it. That’s why I spent a week calling domestic violence agencies and begging for advice before I ever even thought about telling him about the pregnancy. But I kept calling them and saying he was abusing drugs, not abusing me, so they wouldn’t help me. I guess only a part of my brain was willing to acknowledge the reality of the situation.
It wasn’t until the stress actually started affecting the pregnancy that I finally realized how unsafe I was. I knew I couldn’t expose a baby to all of the conflict, violence, drugs and alcohol. But still the police wouldn’t help me. I begged and begged him to get help. I have him ultrasound pictures thinking he would be more motivated to change if he could visualize the little person depending on him. I gave him books about child birth and parenting so he could prepare himself and be supportive. I asked him to pick the name.
But instead he demanded money from me, threatened to throw me down the stairs or push me in front of a bus in order to cause a miscarriage. He insisted the child was a threat to him, that if it was a boy he would need to kill it in order to keep himself safe. If it was a girl, he could punish it, dominate it, break it of its evil ways.
When she was born, I was optimistic that he was doing better. Maybe I was just hormonal, but I really thought he would step up and get himself together. Instead he started saying the baby was possessed by demons. He said we should kill her and start over with another one. He talked about killing himself. Sometimes he said the baby wanted him to do it.
Now he talks about filing for custody.
Does that mean he finally feels he’s ready? Would he be willing to ask for help if he started having dangerous thoughts again? Will a judge recognize that he’s dangerous, or will they just talk about “recovery” and assume that he’ll get better, that everything will be okay? I lose sleep wondering if babybot will survive her first visitation with him.