Back in 1999, I was approaching my late twenties. Everyone else had children and were married. I was working a dead-end job at a printing company (one of many menial jobs I had attained in my early-adulthood). In an effort to offer my ego a sense of promise and hope, I bought into the ideology that college was right for me, and I’d obtain a decent office job upon completion of my formal education. I felt empty, despite my pursuits. I felt my biological clock was ticking. I wanted purpose in life.
I met my future husband in a chat for singles in northeast Ohio. I looked forward to chatting with him daily after work. When we finally met in-person, he seemed agreeable in both appearance and in character.
We married on August 11, 2001 (one month before 9/11). Admittedly, we both managed to work during the week and drink on weekends. For me, drinking was a social engagement, and I did not always wish to focus my life on social activities. On New Year’s Eve 2002, I pledged to give up drinking. Amid chuckles from New Year’s Eve revelers (mostly extended family members), I committed myself to Jesus. From that moment on, I gained purpose in many previously devoid areas of my life, such as work. I found it easier to handle my anxiety attacks, and I even quit smoking after several failed attempts.
In 2003, we had our first child, a boy, and in 2005, we welcomed our daughter. But something was different with my husband and me following the arrival of children. I did not feel connected to him at this point, and I believed I probably was never emotionally connected to him. I felt alone and isolated from every adult and supposed family member in our town. It was apparent from the birth of my children that I’d be on this journey of parenthood alone. I did not even mind at first. As long as I had the mental and emotional stamina to do the job, I was excited to be given the role as a mother.
My husband’s drinking continued. Soon he acquired a taste for rum and malt liquor. If we didn’t have money to pay the bills, he’d find a way to scrape up enough money for a forty-ounce of Steel Reserves. When the money ran out, he’d call his folks to go to their house and drink well until the next afternoon. I began to grow fond of the times he’d abandon the family because I’d get much needed peace and quiet. No yelling, no slamming or fighting, no violent tirades in the middle of the night, at least not until he returned home drunk on Long Island Iced Tea.
I had met a friend named Eva who educated me on matters of domestic violence. She encouraged me to call a local women’s shelter every time I experienced an incident at home. Each time I called I gained a little more information on the steps I needed to take to formulate an escape plan. One fateful day, I told my friend about bruises I had on my arms. She directed me to file a report at the police department. I’d be documenting the domestic violence for future references. But, as luck would have it, the officers arrested my husband after I was photographed and made the report. I was able to obtain a CPO (civil protective order) pending his arrest.
The court date was scheduled in a month. I had one month to get my ducks in a row and leave the marriage. I encountered too many obstacles the first time I tried to leave. Even after I stayed two weeks at the women’s shelter in Lorain, I returned home with our children to a drunken nightmare.
By 2008, our dissolution was final and me and the kids relocated back to the Akron/Wooster area. I secured an apartment in a public housing complex in the small town of Rittman, Ohio. A temporary employment agency helped me get my foot in the door at a local factory. Dylan and Olivia made friends and did well in school. In 2013, I saved up enough money to purchase a Freddie Mac house for $70,000.
Over the next few months, life seemed to be moving ahead. I felt compelled to make my failed marriage work. My ex-husband had told me he wasn’t drinking and he vowed to be a good father. We remarried in June 2014. I did not feel anything but annoyance at my husband. I needed to adjust to this change, but he took refuge, once again, in the bottle just two months after we tied the knot the second time.
He worked the graveyard shift at a company just ten minutes away from Rittman. Rarely did he come home directly after work. I’d drive by the other side of town and see his car parked for hours. I called the bank’s automated line to discover he was taking out several large chunks of money when he was gone. When he returned, he’d stand outside my locked door and hurl verbal abuses at me.
He never was the type of man to discipline his children with any degree of sensibility, only harsh words, no lessons to be learned, no encouragement or love shown towards them. He started to call them names and create divisions with the kids I worked hard to be unrivaled. Police tried to intervene on several occasions, but each time they left after receiving promise from my husband that he’d take a brisk walk to become sober. He’d simply walk down to Bert’s to get another bottle or case of beer.
In May 2015, I reached out to the domestic violence shelter in my county. I applied for a small grant to help offset my legal fees in my divorce. Within a few months, they approved my request and I obtained a lawyer to prepare my case. This divorce was not much different from the first. The child support awarded was about the same, I did not ask for spousal support (aside from temporary spousal support). I retained my home, and was granted the 2004 Chevy Cavalier that we’d had financed together. I was saddled with this $156 a month car payment after he had wrecked a car I owned free and clear. Additionally, I was required to make the $90 full-coverage auto insurance payment. He moved into his parent’s house once again. In February 2016, he elected to serve 6 months in jail instead of a 5 year probation for another DUI. He did not want to be troubled to drive to Wayne county each week for the probation.
He’s been released of his sentence today. His parents will be there to pick him up, feed him, support him and provide not only a home, but a refuge. In the cocoon of their house, a middle-aged man remains an adolescent, he remains unwilling to sacrifice his desires to become an adult. I scribble down a plan to stop using my credit card to buy groceries. Just a few months ago, the credit card was merely an “emergency” utility. It’s been six months since he has paid any child support. I have applied for home mortgage modification. Maybe once I hatch out my plans I can let go of this man-child. Perhaps I will pray about this matter.
About the author
Tracy Kocsis has contributed as a freelance writer for The Post weekly newspaper in Medina County, Ohio. She enjoys writing about local events that are relevant to her community of Rittman, Ohio. In addition to writing, she has also contributed photography to the newspaper and has published craft designs in Pack-O-Fun magazine (June/July 2004).