Mitchell and I’s divorce was final August 5, 2008. A piece of me died that day. My desire to be married, once and forever was dissolved. Hope and I would never have the life with him I once dreamed of.
My attorney drew up documents to determine paternity, custody, child support and visitation. We filed those documents in September. I requested supervised visitation and no child support. The case is very drawn now. We tried to serve Mitchell at home and work five or six times. We finally satisfied the courts with service by publication. Our case go to court for nine months.
Hope turned two that year. I invited Mitchell’s sister and her family to Hope’s birthday party. I explained to Sharon that I wanted them in Hope’s life. I knew Mitchell’s choices had nothing to do with them. They didn’t come to Hope’s party. They didn’t send a card, call or e-mail. I’ve never heard from them. Hope didn’t receive anything from Mitchell either. My heart hurt for her even though she didn’t realize she missed anything. Eight birthdays and eight Christmases have been experienced in her lifetime at this point. Mitchell has acknowledged one birthday, nothing more.
I saw on social media Mitchell married Johnnie, one day shy of it being three months from the day of our divorce being finalized. I disliked Johnnie. She had never done anything to me. I was bitter and felt like she aided in shattering my dreams. I felt insulted. I couldn’t imagine Hope ever having a step mom.
I started dispatching again in mid-November. I worked for a 911 center in my area. My trainer was hateful. She wouldn’t allow me to learn the easiest way for me. I wanted to assault her physically in the worst way. I wanted to quit that job multiple nights after dealing with her. I ended up being put on a permanent shift with her as my partner. We sat in silence for 24 hours’ worth of shifts. She hated me just as much as I hated her. One day we started talking. We connected on a soul level. We’d always look forward to working together. Today Beth is my very best friend. She’s walked through fire with Hope and I. I couldn’t; I wouldn’t ever want to know what life would be like without Beth.
We moved to a bigger, nicer house. We made the immediate friends with our neighbors. They have babysat Hope, offered parenting advice, and have a daughter close to Hope’s age. Their daughter has been Hope’s best friend since they were two and four years old.
In June 2009, my attorney and I went before the judge. The judge looked over the documents I filed. He told me Mitchell asked that no visitation be awarded for him. He explained that in cases where the child had state medical (she did) child support had to be ordered. He ordered no visitation and child support to be paid the first of each month.
Charles and I split in November of that year. We weren’t getting along. I found out he had a relationship with a man while in jail. He had also been bringing another woman to our home and having sex with her while I worked. I was angry. I was hurt. He told me he never loved me. I still so desperately wanted Hope to have a dad. I told him he could have her any time on weekends he wanted. He took her for one weekend in December. She came home with a bunch of new toys. I’ve always believed that was his way of telling her goodbye. He never asked to see her again. He never called to check on her. He wouldn’t answer or return my phone calls. He quit on her too. Jamie and I talked after Charles and I split. She told me that while in Colorado, one night while I was sleeping. He fondled her breasts and asked her to have sex with him. She was scared, she was 12. She laid down with Katie to get away from him. I didn’t realize it at the time but, I’d truly dodged a bullet with him.
One day in January while getting Hope dressed for the day, I told her she wouldn’t be able to go to school if she didn’t start using the potty and walking by herself. I finish dressing her and put her leg on. I stood her up in the floor. She took off walking with no support. She has never stopped. She also daytime potty trained within a week. She really wanted to go to school!
My story is Hope’s story. She lived through all of it. I am so ashamed of what I am sharing next.
The last name Smith was painful for me. The name was a constant reminder of a man I loved with all of my heart. I was also reminded constantly of how he quit on Hope. My name was used a lot at work. I felt I had to get rid of it! He in February 2010 high married a friend I had known since middle school. Marrying that friend was a convenient way to get my name changed. We divorced in June.
Hope started head start in August. Her teachers came to our home a couple weeks before hand. One teacher worked with me setting goals and signing paperwork. The other teacher interacted with Hope. Hope showed her where she slept and where she kept all of her toys. The first day of school was emotional for me. Hope walked in the classroom. She was so excited. She said “that bye mom” she didn’t even hug me or anything. I realized that day that my baby was growing up. She didn’t need me as much. I took college classes while she was a school. I worked 12 hour days on the weekends. Hope stayed with my grandparents. I volunteered a lot of time in Hope’s classroom that fall. One day while I was volunteering, the class bully walked up and slapped her across the face. I told the teachers I would step out while they handled it. I really wanted to jerk the boy up and spank him. One day when I picked Hope but from school her teachers told me I needed to talk to Hope. They were in the bathroom when another child asked Hope what happened to her leg. Hope said “my mommy just cut it off with scissors!” I got Hope out to the car and buckled in. I adjusted my rearview mirror to where I could see her. I asked what happened to her leg. She said “oh the doctor put me to sleep, I didn’t even feel it”. I asked why she told her friend that I cut it off. She laughed hysterically and said “because”. I reminded her that it is better to be honest when others ask. I said “tell them that’s the way god made you”.
October 17, 2010 my boss fired at me from my job. I hadn’t had any write ups. He told me the employment was “at will” he didn’t have to give me a reason to fire me. I’ll always believe he fired me because he knew that I knew about him relentlessly sexually harassing an employee who quit six months earlier. I was completely devastated. I didn’t know how I was going to take care of myself or hope. I filed for unemployment. The 911 center disputed my claim. They were able to slow down the process. In the end, I was awarded the unemployment. They could not show proof of misconduct.