I was in the hospital for just a few days. He came every day and when I was discharged, I went with him, to our home.
The kids didn't know - they'd been with him out of state when I'd sent him the letter saying goodbye and they'd not yet been back when the police and ambulance that he'd sent came to get me. While I was in the hospital I called them every day.
I was only home a day when he and I were fighting, when he was telling me how manipulative I was, how "sick" I was. So I left. I went back to my lonely smelly miniscule apartment.
I spent two weeks going to a group program discussing feelings, boundaries, coping and self soothing techniques. And I went to my job, and back to my empty apartment, and I saw the kids a few times. I was exhausted, broke, and sad. He was controlling and demanding and nothing was different. By now I'd lost almost a full 25 lbs and I looked horrible. I refused anti-depressents because of how they made me feel actually crazy instead of just sad and hopeless.
He said if I didn't take them, and tell him, then I wouldn't be able to have the kids overnight.
It was a few days after our 14th anniversary, which we didn't celebrate obviously, when he again took the kids out of town with no notice, not asking if it was ok, and not allowing me the option for any time with them. He'd already placed our 11 year old in a daycamp instead of letting her be with me, and he'd arranged to take our 13 year old to relatives to stay for a week.
I worked and supported myself, but it wasn't enough. I saw the kids when he said I could, but I had no say in it, wasn't given the chance to actually parent them. If I worked more, I saw the kids less. If I worked less, I couldn't afford to see the kids more. If I was sad and told him, he said I was "sick" and needed help. If I was sad and didn't tell him, he said I wasn't "dealing" and could never be "healthy". I figured, what the hell. Nothing I did was right, there didn't seem to be a way to get ahead, and I was so broke I couldn't pay my bills or buy groceries for myself much less buy gas to visit with my kids. He was taking them away, again, and since he'd told me I was irresponsible and unreliable, I decided I might as well really act that way.
I took a road trip all by myself. I packed my car and got in and started driving. I stopped by the library to load up on audio books, maps, and tourist books. I packed my most important papers all together and brought with me. I didn't know if I'd be coming back. I researched mental health facilities in case I thought I needed one. I drove.
It was lovely. I called the kids every day. He wanted to know what I was doing and where I was but I wouldn't tell him. He was out of state and it didn't matter, nor did he have the right to know. I drove thru the August sun. I went to the beach. I drove through the mountains. I drove and drove and drove. I went camping.
And then I stopped.
And I checked myself into a mental health "retreat" of sorts.
And would you believe that things got even worse after that??