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A Story of a Small Town Girl in Kansas

Just Trying to Be the Best Mom I Can

I am an assembly mechanic at a small aircraft machine shop. I've never really been a girly girl and I've worked in a male dominated profession my entire life. I got married young, very young; I was only 18. I would like to give a brief account of my life before Kyle (my first ex husband; yes, I have two). I was raised mostly by a step mother who did not care much about me and my grandmother on my father's side. My father is an alcoholic and my mother was addicted to Meth for nine years. After the age of 5, I only saw her once or twice before I was 14 or 15. (Excuse my lack of exact ages. I don't have many memories of being a child.) So in short, when I met Kyle at age 16, I was starving for love.

I met Kyle at a party at his house. His cousin Chris invited me. There were three or four other underage girls there. I had never tried pot before. Kyle offered us beer, vodka, and weed. I became so intoxicated I was not even sure of where I was. I have patches of memories of Kyle leading me to his room, a flash of him kissing me, but that is all. When I woke up, I was naked in his bed. He confirmed that we had had sex.

We did not speak for a couple months. I was mortified and shocked that I had apparently slept with a stranger. He started coming around McDonalds where I worked with his cousin Chris. We started dating. Over the course of that year and a half, he broke up with me on six different occasions for some miniscule error or fault. I became immensely dependent on his love.

When I was 18, we were married. Things began to change. Before we had gotten married he would come with me to see my family or my friends. At first, he just stopped coming with me to see them. Then it became a fight if I went to see them. Before I knew it, I had no one left. I was surrounded by his friends and his family.

He would always say things like, “I’m the only one who has ever been here for you,” and, “I’m the only one who will ever really love you” whenever we would fight. It was not hard for me to believe this because I did not have a support system anymore. I was terrified to leave him. Then we had kids and it seemed impossible. I had never been on my own, never hooked up a TV, never signed a lease.

Finally we separated. I was staying in our house and he was staying with his mom and dad. He put a tracking app on my phone and could tell where I was at all times. On three occasions, he came into the house while I was asleep and I would wake up to him having sex with me. Finally one night I was sitting outside smoking a cigarette and a coworker of mine had been visiting the neighbor. When he was walking out to his truck, he saw me and came by to chat for a bit then left. As soon as his truck was out of sight, Kyle came zooming around the corner and tried to accuse me of sleeping with my coworker. He had been parked behind our circle in another circle watching our house. I locked the door and went to bed. The next day he shows up and comes into the house. He then demanded to go through my phone, yelling, calling me a whore and a slut. He took my phone and keys, padlocked us inside the house, made me call into work, and said we would stay there until we got this talked out. Trying to get away from him, I ran into the bathroom, shut the door, and sat in front of it. He demanded that I open the door. I refused. He then said that if I did not open the door, he would call the police and tell them I was trying to kill myself and take my kids away from me. I still refused to open the door. He called the police, told them his story. I had no self-inflicted marks or scars anywhere to confirm his claims. I did, however, have marks on my arms from him pinning me down to take my phone and my keys. He was arrested for criminal restraint. I, of course, did not press charges because I was convinced that he was only doing these things because he loved me so much.

When he was arrested, there was a no contact order placed so that we could not see nor talk to each other unless it directly related to our children. He broke this order for Christmas so that he could come to the house and spend Christmas morning with the kids. After Christmas, I moved out and moved in with my parents. At some point during this time, he filed for divorce. For two months, I had had the children and he had gotten them on weekends. When I found out he had filed, I was extremely distraught. He was supposed to be the one who would always be there for me… I waited a few days and had still had not been served. So on my way to work, I stopped at the sheriff office and requested the paperwork. I was served in their office and then they asked where the children were. I said, "With my mom, why?" They went and took my kids from my mom’s house. I barely beat them there to hug them, tell them I loved them, and that mommy would see them soon. It was extremely traumatic for the kids to be led away by a sheriff.

His parents could help him financially, as I assume they’re doing now. They got him a lawyer and I had been served with divorce papers so my family scrapped up enough money for me to retain a lawyer. I had to pay him $100 a week on top of the $1,500 we gave him up front. I was living in Udall and working in Winfield (30 minute drive) and I had had to purchase a car from a buy-here, pay-here dealer because I had no credit at a very high interest rate and payment of $550 a month. I was making around $11 an hour and had been up until that point supporting the kids completely. To say I was stretched thin is an understatement. He eventually out-moneyed me and I was forced to let my lawyer go. He wore me down and now we have the agreement that we have followed for the past five years. Every other week, 50/50. One week with mommy, next week with daddy. It is not as golden as it sounds.

After our divorce was final, I married my second ex-husband. Our marriage was brief and volatile. I left after a physical altercation. I did not want to go down the same path I had with Kyle. I left my second ex-husband with $40 to my name. I was waiting to start a job at Koch industries but the only place I could stay was with my friend Stephanie Jeanes who lived in Udall, so it did not make sense to continue working in Newkirk. After two weeks living with Stephanie and her husband, I started Koch. By the end of the following month, I had rented my own place, a house in Udall. I was doing really well for myself. Then Kyle started coming around “for the kids” and at first it was him begging me to give him another chance. He was sorry, things would be different, he would go to work every day, he would quit smoking weed. Once I agreed, somehow he shifted the balance of power like he is so good at doing and all of a sudden I had to PROVE that I wanted him and us. He wanted me to quit my job, move in with him, sell my Mustang, and be a stay at home mom. If I did all this, then he would know that I was 100 percent in. My mother urged me not to do it, but I had to know without a doubt that I could not make it work with the father of my children.

I broke my lease and moved in with him. At first he did great, he went to work, and I didn’t see any evidence of any drugs of any kind. I thought he really had changed. Then slowly the control started coming back. He would ask to see my phone constantly. He had my email and Facebook password. He would put $5 at a time in his car so that I could take Trent (our oldest) to school but not leave town. On two occasions, the car ran out of gas and since he was working in Wichita at the time, his father had to bring a gas tank in the middle of winter to where the kids and I were on the side of the road. I had no access to money at all. If we needed anything, he would go to the store and purchase it. I was only allowed to leave to take Trent to school and to pick him up. Then one afternoon shortly before my mom died, I found weed in our entry room. I was devastated. I brought it up and he said, "Well, I only do it every now and then…"

When my mom died, I was pregnant with our youngest child. I flew out to Utah when she was in the hospital. One of the last things my mom ever said to me around the tube in her mouth was, “Please get away from him.” She died and everyone was so grief stricken and I was so worried that my grief would hurt our unborn child that I just shut the pain down and I planned the funeral, wrote the obituary, ordered the flowers, and packed up the house.

The day after my mother died, Kyle called me, yelled at me, told me I was selfish and inconsiderate because I had not called to check on him and the kids. The entire time I’m in Utah dealing with the death of my mother and packing her home, he was upset because I was taking so long. When I got back, I was just numb. We constantly fought. Stephanie said maybe he felt shut out because I wasn’t talking about it so maybe if I opened up and talked, he wouldn’t feel so insecure. So I tried and as I’m crying for the first time since the day she died trying to open up to him, he cuts me off and demands to know that no matter what, he and I will be okay. I tried to explain to him that I did not have anything for him at that time. I was just trying to be okay, get through my pregnancy, take Trent to school, teach Hailey her letters. I was just surviving. He demanded to know right then. Something in me snapped. I looked at him and said I am done. I left the next day with no job, no car, no money, and nowhere to go.

I looked everywhere for a job, but they would look down at my stomach and tell me they were hiring in a few months. I finally ran out of possessions to sell so I got on state assistance for two to three months. I moved from my dad’s home where I had been staying into a state housing apartment in Udall.

Then Zach came. I had a C-section. I had asked Kyle if he would come stay to bond with him after he was born and he refused. I recovered from the c-section alone with my perfect brand new baby. I kept Zach with me for the first month and we continued the every other week process with the older two. After a month, I let Zach go with his dad every other weekend for another month. From the moment Zach was born until Kyle finally took him, he did not help with one single thing. Not food, not diapers, nothing. In fact, he demanded that I give him half of my state assistance. I refused.

Finally at two-months-old, I let him go with his dad every other week. This was right about the time I started spirit. I had to work second shift. I informed Kyle that the kids would be in daycare on my weeks, and he became very upset, said that I needed to come talk to him and his mother. I did and they insisted that she watch the kids while I work second shift. I refused because I was afraid that they would try to use the fact that she watched them later. I expressed these concerns and I was promised that that would never happen. After a couple weeks of pressure, I finally consented. After the first month, Lori (his mother) said that the kids should spend the night there because of school. I did not want to but I agreed. I had Zach in the mornings and got the older two on the weekends. I hated every moment of it. I finally ended up seeking other employment because I couldn’t get off second at spirit.

In December 2015, I got a DUI. I was suffering greatly from the death of my mother and was drinking to excess. I have completed everything required and I am off diversion. I do not drink to excess anymore and I am learning to live with the loss.

His emotional and financial abuse has affected my life greatly. I have left him twice with nothing. Each time I come back stronger. I will not be controlled or abused any more. I will not allow this to continue onto my children as it has already started. Since I first filed for more custody, me having them through the school week and him having them on weekendsm he has done everything in his power to turn the kids on me and assure them that he is the one who really loves them, the only one who will really be there for them.

Now here I am, unafraid and unwilling to back down. 

Read next: 'Wonder'
Alondra Atkinson
Alondra Atkinson

I am a survivor. Life has knocked me down and beat me up. But I get up and I smile. Because it's not the big things. It's the little things. Smile every day, happiness is a choice. It is an action. And only YOU can make that happen.

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A Story of a Small Town Girl in Kansas
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