Updated: Jun 15
I had my petition for the Family Violence Order about 12 days after being there. I am sure I sounded like a tape recorder to everyone around me. This petition was very important to me. I not only was fighting for my children but my life. I was constantly in a fight or flight state of mind. I did not know what Eric was capable of. He had already shocked the hell out of me. I truly felt like I did not know my husband because I did not know this other side to him. I always felt I could not let my full guard down. But I was blind sighted when he had taken it to this level, especially because he played a huge part in it. I felt like if he truly cared about my well-being, he would have sought out help and showed me love and support. Every single time he made me out to be the crazy one and abandoned me. I felt like I was being thrown away by the one man in my life that essentially was supposed to be my protector. I felt mishandled and mentally wrecked. My behavior was very rebellious; almost like a cry for help. I cried out so many times to my parents for help. They were always there. Eric would call my mama and say, “you need to come get her.” I felt abandoned, once again. It fueled my childish behavior. I soon fed off the chaos. I was treated like an outraged teenager by my family. I don’t blame them; I was acting very immature. The morning of my court date, I woke up early. Put on a pair of Natallie’s jeans and another girl’s shirt that looked nice, more presentable, than the dress attire I had with me. I walked up to the main house where I sat by Jack and others in a circle. I drank my coffee and smoked the cigarettes Jack gave me. We chained smoked, a lot. I was nervous, and did not say much. I could tell Jack did not want me to leave. I was notified that Charlene was at the facility. I looked at Jack and we hugged. A sense of relief overcame me. I told him I would be back later. He said, “you better be.” I smiled. We had an unspoken language that I had never had with anyone else. We could look at each other and know what the other one was thinking. It was electrifying. I knew I would be back. I had to see Jack again. I was happy to see Charlene! She met me with a big hug in the entrance way. I felt unconditionally loved by her and always felt she was a safe place for me to be myself. She said, “you look good, Hope! How are you liking it? Is it better than the other ones?” I said, YES! We talked, laughed, she lifted my spirit and reminded me of how strong I am. I walked into the Gwinnett County Jail. I hated this place. I had had enough of visits here. We walked through the detectors unto the desk where we got a visitor nametag. By now, my stomach was in knots. The last thing I wanted was to see Eric. I held my head high as I walked into the family courtroom. A sigh of relief came over my entire body when he did not show up. I stood in front of the judge and stated I was currently at Blue Ridge Recovery Center. The judge altered the restraining order. I now had visitation rights with my children with supervision by Eric or Charlene if Eric approved. I was happy. All I wanted was to see my babies. It was my top priority to do so today. I signed the new documents. I thanked God in prayer. I told Charlene that I needed to go to the house and ask Eric if I could see the kids. Charlene asked, “wouldn’t he be at work?” I laughed. I
guarantee you he is at the house. Let’s stop by the house. Please! “Hope, you know he could call and put you in jail...again, if he wanted to.” He won’t. He knows I am in rehab and the kids need to see me as much as I need to see them. This is longest I had ever gone without any contact with them. It was killing me on the inside. She finally agreed. We pulled in the driveway. His car was there. I said, I told you. I won’t be long. I am going to run in, ask him, grab some pictures and be on my way. I prayed as I walked up to the door. I knocked. He opened it with a surprise look on his face, but also relief. He was happy to see me. The first thing out of my mouth was, you know today was my petition on the restraining order. The judge granted me visitation rights with you present or Charlene if you approve. I really want to see the kids before I go back to rehab today, please. He said, “yes”. I asked if I could come in and grab some pictures. I walked in and went straight upstairs to our room. I was being nosy. I wanted to see what he had been up to. I did not see anything that made me concerned. Then back down stairs to find the photo albums. He was lying on the couch. As if he did not feel good. He was fine. He said, “you look good.” I said, thank you. I sat on the couch looking through an album. I pulled a couple of pictures out of the kids. He then, came over and pulled a couple out of me and him. “You don’t want to take any pictures of us?” I said, sure. I gathered the pictures and told him thank you for letting me see the kids. He stood up and gave me a tight hug. He said, “I love you, Hope.” I love you more. This is what toxic love looks like. I believe, he thought I was about to have sex with him. Any other time I would have. I had no desire to today. My mind was consumed of Jack; not the asshole who put me in jail and took my kids away from me.
I had taken longer than I expected. When I opened the car door Charlene said, “I was about to go in and check on you. Did ya’ll have sex?” I laughed. And said, no. I could tell he wanted too though. We laughed. I can see my babies! Charlene was so elated. She knew how much it hurt me to be away from them. I was never without them prior to this incident and the thirty-day program at Twin Lakes. Even then I still seen them on the visitation days. We drove to the daycare. It was a new daycare, cheaper, to help save him money. He had withdrawn them out of the pre-k program they were all previous in. I walked in, nervously, because I did not know what Eric had spoken to the employees concerning the restraining order. I stated my name, and requested to see Bentley, Everett, and Cooper before I had to go back to “work.” From what I observed, they were unaware of any restrictions.
When I saw Bentley’s face. I wept. When she realized it was me, she began running toward me saying, “mommy, mommy, mommy!” We held each other so tight. I said, I missed you so much baby girl. I love you, I love you, I love you so, so, so, so, much. Then, comes walking out Everett and Cooper. My tears were overflowing although I tried my best to make them cease. I tried my best to be strong. They both ran and I held them in my arms while Bentley was hanging on to my leg. I told them how much I missed them and I would see them again, very soon. I walked outside with them to give us privacy. They gave Mimi big hugs and kisses. The boys started running around playing with sticks. Bentley began asking questions why I had been away. “Where have you been mommy? I miss you. Can we go home with you? Daddy moved us to this daycare. Are you coming home?” All I could say, I miss you so much and mommy will see you soon. I have to go back to school, but I will be finished very soon. I did my very best deflecting and acting happy. Although, at my very core, I was so broken. I said my goodbyes and felt confident that I was making the right decision to stay in rehab. It was the only route I felt like I had back to my kids. At this point, I knew I desperately needed help with not only my addiction, but figuring out what the hell is actually going on with me. I knew this was not who I was.
I resented Eric, much more, after the visit. Seeing my babies and Eric knowing my bond with them, had me disgusted. I felt like I was engaging with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I never knew what to expect. One month ago, he declared a FVO while wearing the biggest smirk on his face. Almost like it was a game; that he had won against me. And today he greeted me with much love. As much as I felt like I hated him, it made me feel good to know he loved me. We had major codependency issues. At that point, I desperately wanted to feel loved. I had lost all the love for myself. And while, Eric and I both participated in this cat and mouse game, we were hurting each other and our kids the most. It was time for me to get my shit together. I was determined to do it differently this time around.
When I arrived back at Blue Ridge it was early afternoon. All the residents were coming down the stairs from a group class. Jack’s face lit up when he saw me and gave me the biggest hug. He said, “I was afraid I would never see you again. Who am I kidding? I would have come looking for you.” I smiled. I told you I was coming back. He had the biggest smile on his face. As we walked outside, I showed him pictures of my babies. I left the ones of Eric and I out, of course. I told him about court and how I stopped by the house and Eric was there. I had never felt such a strong, protection from a man before. He did not like Eric. He felt like he was a ‘prik’, “a narcissist Douce bag.” I loved his fiery passion. We had just met a few days ago, and I swear I felt like I had known him my whole life. Or maybe I desired to be desired, protected, and loved. For a brief existence, he gave me that. Jack longed to kiss me. As much as I desired to feel his lips, it scared me. A part of me did not want to mess up the connection we had. What if the kiss was not good? What if it was? What if we got caught? What if we got kicked out? How could I explain to my family I fell for another drug addict in rehab? That would not have gone well. They may send me to the nut house if they received that news! It did not help we were both married with our own family. We knew the risk. The soul connection overruled every logical thought in our brain.
He slightly nudged me into a little hallway and did not hold back. He put one hand on my face and pressed his lips on mine. It was exhilarating. We did not say a word. We continued to walk out to smoke before anyone started to look for us. (Every five minutes, one of techs on duty, had to walk around and lay eyes on each of the residents.) I was slightly shaking. I wondered, what in the hell just happened? He handed me a cigarette and I thought to myself, I hope he does not notice my hands. We looked at each and were both speechless. The kiss sparked another level of intensity to touch each other. By day twenty, all staff were watching us closely; along with the residents. Jack’s counselor even had a talk with him. Treatment centers “hook-ups” are very common. The staff at Blue Ridge work diligently to help the residents focus on their recovery. In our case, it felt destined for our paths to cross. While we both worked on our recovery, we were highly distracted by each other. I remember one moment in particular, during small group, I had a breakdown. I faced myself and the negative choice I made to drive impaired with my children; on a few occasions. I began, slowly ‘peeling back the onion’ so to speak. I had so much anger, and bitterness towards Eric. But when I had to face the hurt, I caused my children, it felt like I administrated a dagger in my own heart. I was not quite ready to unfold all the layers. If I could keep my rage directed toward Eric, I felt like it gave me a false confidence that I was better than him. In reality, I was not. As the days passed at Blue Ridge, I was lifted up by so many amazing people. My counselor worked with me through a lot of my present struggles. She motivated me to go to sober living. I originally did not want to go. I did not want to spend another minute without my babies. It was an incredible tough time. I was banned from my home; and I did not trust myself to stay sober on my own giving the leaps and hurdles I was about to walk through. My dad agreed that I needed to go in a sober living, get a job, and get my life back on track. And “stay the hell away from Eric.” He agreed to pay for it. I wanted to go home. I wanted to go back to my cocoon and make all of this go away. I wanted to divorce Eric. I actually called an attorney while in rehab. I did not hear back. I wanted a new life instantly, and at times, despaired because it felt so out-of-reach. Jack and Davis were going to a sober living. I wanted to go to a women’s sober living near them. My counselor did not make it an option. Jack left a week before I did. I called him every day when he arrived at his sober living location.
I completed the program. It was my time to go home. My Daddy come to pick me up. When he arrived, he gave me a big hug and stated, "you look a lot better. You gained a little weight.” I smiled. Thank you, Daddy. I walked him in where I was saying my goodbyes. Everyone was speaking highly of me. It filled my love tank up and it was nice for my Daddy to hear. I felt like a major disappointment in his eyes; like another duty or “job” he had to go tend to...to shut my mama’s mouth. We left and were on our way to my next destination. Sober living.