(www.TheSingleMomClub.com) – As domestic violence survivors who were forced to abruptly leave the only home we had ever known and all the friends we’d collected along the way, it’s safe to say that my child and I have been through a lot. When you’re escaping domestic violence and trying to stay safe, you have to employ some safety rules that most people never think about. While people say they understand, they don’t. It’s especially hard for kids who may have trouble knowing who to trust.
That’s why I’ve kept a very short list of people who I allow around my child. About a year ago, we met a mother and her child at a community event. Without expecting to, we really took to them and vice versa. I tried to keep things light because I felt that my child’s desire to belong sometimes means she gets attached. From time-to-time, we’d hang out with them at the park or some other kid related event. I especially liked that the mother and I shared a similar parenting style, but when I found out that she was a social worker I decided I didn’t want to run the risk of having her too close to us.
In our experience, social workers treat domestic violence victims like projects that they need to fix. They usually cause more trouble for us and it’s just not worth the risk because I’d decided we’d have to stay where we were for a while and I didn’t want to be forced to move. But, this mother seemed different. She was one of the few really good social workers I’d ever met. Still, domestic violence survivors have to put up a safety wall. Sometimes, I think I’ve built the wall too high but for the sake of my child, I try to stay the course. After all, I’ve been working with domestic violence advocates to help craft the safety plan and I didn’t want to compromise it.
My child and the other little girl bond immediately. It was intense. They literally had a soulful bond that I could easily see continuing their whole life. Little by little, the little girl and her mom because a bigger part of our lives. I know the mom was sensing my nervousness so eventually I was forced to tell her about our situation. She seemed understanding. Our friend grew just like our children’s but the kids were definitely the glue.
Due to the circumstances surrounding the domestic violence, I’m forced to go back and forth to fight my abuser in court. It costs hundreds of dollars heading toward $1,000 to go back and forth. I’m alway strapped for cash. It’s a long, long way away and each time I have to go back I’m forced to relive the nightmare. It’s beyond upsetting and disrupting but it’s a necessary evil to rid our lives of it for good. I cannot afford a car and used to ride a bike back and forth to the grocery store while my child was in school. when the bike was gone, I was forced to walk but it didn’t bother me at all. I would do anything for my child. On weekends when school was out, I couldn’t do walk anywhere so we’d have to find things to do at or near our home. There’s a community pool at our home so we found a lot of things to do. We built a kind of oasis for ourselves. We always had a good time but I could sense my child’s desire for a friend.
I usually never discuss the domestic violence with anyone but my child’s godparent but I slipped up and talked about it with my child’s friend’s mom. She seemed ok with it at first but I think it just became a burden. I started feeling judged and tried to share less. It was too late. I’d opened the door and there was no going back. She asked more and more questions. I felt uncomfortable at times because I didn’t think she understood that some of the things I left out were on purpose to protect us or to abide by our safety plan. I knew I needed to share to keep the friends alive but I thought at times she asked too much. I never asked a lot of questions about her situation. I try to give moms space to share when they feel it’s appropriate but she’s a social worker. She meant it in a positive way.
Abruptly, after a year of friendship, the mother stopped returning my phone calls and ignored my child’s request for play dates. There was no goodbye. There was no explanation. There was no consideration to how my child would cope. My child kept asking about her friend. It was devastating to see my child cry for a friend I knew she’d never see again. While I sincerely miss my friend, the heartbreak my child is experiencing is epic. I have to get my child professional help to cope with the loss. I’d definitely fearful to allow anyone else to get that close to my child.
As a single mother with an order of protection against our abuser, I didn’t have to worry about my child getting disappointed when daddy didn’t show up or stood her up for a visit. It never occurred to me that my child would feel the abandonment at such a young age by another child. I’m sure that the other child is also feeling the loss. We spend so much time together. I even moved our home to be closer to them. My child could walk to their home with her eyes closed and asks about her friend often.
I have not found the words to tell my child what happened. A part of me was holding out hope that their relationship – even if not the mommy friendship – could be restored. I have finally accepted the abandonment and am working on a strategy to prepare my child for the devastation.