Accept Help and Keep Fighting by Katrina Darrah

TDP Katrina Darrah

Katrina and two of her three children.

I was a single mom to my four month old baby boy when I met my second husband. I had just got out of an *abusive marriage and was in therapy for PTSD/Anxiety. I was always scared. When I met him, he immediately jumped into the role of dad to my son and protector to me. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe – and that made it easy to fall. We got married after six months of dating and a year-long engagement. I Our marriage wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible either.

I got pregnant with my daughter two months after the wedding, and when I was four months into my pregnancy, my son spent a week in hospital where he was diagnosed with a seizure disorder.  Between caring for my son, my morning sickness and my high risk pregnancy, my husband soon realised that he wasn’t the center of attention.  He joined a dating site and met not just one someone, but two! Although, I found out a couple of months later, I made the decision to give him another chance. I really didn’t want my daughter to be without her dad. My husband had some anger issues, but he went to anger management. He became as involved in our church, as I was, and went to a long discipleship training that taught him to be a better husband and dad. Things seemed great.

We decided to try for another baby when our daughter was 7 months. We got pregnant right away but lost this baby. (This was actually the second miscarriage we suffered together). I was devastated but we got pregnant again the next month and I experienced another high risk pregnancy. I was a stay at home mom (aside from being in the air force reserves and working in our church nursery). Balancing two kids and bed-rest was practically impossible. Bed-rest itself was impossible. My husband stepped up more than I could have imagined, but I still did as much as I could manage to do. My water ruptures at 34 weeks 6 days and our son was born the very next day. He spent 3 weeks in the hospital.

In those three weeks my husband came to see him only once after my discharge. He prioritised on everything else over me spending time in the hospital with our sick baby. When our son came home, the struggles continued because our tiny baby had colic and severe reflux. He cried ALL the time, and I was tired and stressed.

For the second time in our marriage, my husband wasn’t the center of attention. I knew something was changing and I suspected he was cheating. I’d ask, he’d chew me out, and then I would drop it and force myself to trust him. He would tell me about how his brother was complaining about how lazy and bitchy his wife was. I asked him if he thought that about me and he said he didn’t. He would tell me I was the perfect wife and he wouldn’t change anything about me. I would ask him to promise me that if he didn’t like something I was doing he would tell me and I promised him that I wouldn’t get mad. At this point, I thought our marriage was as strong as ever.

The next week he had a family dinner for his Sunday school class and I was very hurt when he said he didn’t want me to go. So I took our three kids out to dinner instead. That night, after we both got home and we were sitting on separate couches, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I don’t love you. I want a divorce. I’m leaving.” And with that, he walked out the door, clothes in hand. He didn’t even say goodbye to the kids. Bawling my eyes out, I called my parents and made arrangements to go home to them the following day, which baby’s dedication at church. I called his mom who came rushing over. She was stunned. We both tried calling him with no answer. After a sleepless night and an emotional morning at church, I loaded the kids for the 9 hour drive home to my parents. On the way home, it hit me that he had left to go to the same girl he had previously cheated with. I was able to confirm this by looking at her facebook page.

From my parents’ home, I started the process of calling lawyers. It was only three weeks before Christmas, so it made it a bit more challenging. I had $82 to my name and no job. I had to have my son in Texas for Christmas with his dad (the first one he would ever spend with him). This meant Christmas alone with my younger two. Their dad didn’t even call, let alone come see them. He would promise money and never follow through. I received bills letters showing that he hadn’t paid our cars in months and they were on the verge of being repossessed.  He hadn’t been paying the mortgage either, and the process of foreclosure had begun. Church members were buying us groceries and paying our bills while I searched for a job. And this is when I decided to move home to Missouri. I gave him a month’s advance notice of my move. Although he only came to see the kids twice for twenty minutes, he was quick to tell everyone I was denying him visits.

After I moved, we got out first court date for temporary orders. He showed up with no lawyer, so a lawyer sat down with him. Since he was expected to do 100% of the travel for access visits, he said he only wanted one Saturday a month for four hours, and he gave the impression that that was all he wanted. A couple of weeks later my lawyer was served – my ex had filed for joint custody, regional restrictions, 50/50 possessions, and costs. I was devastated, but I was also angry. We had already set up a life in Missouri. He hadn’t seen the kids since we left and he had not called them once since HE left before Christmas. We went back to court. We sat down for mediation before we went into court, and I said flat out we weren’t moving back. I offered him standard visitation and to only meet him halfway for extended visits. I said he could visit them anytime he wanted to, and for as long as he wanted, and that we would do opposite holidays etc. He agreed.

I was also awarded all of our possessions.  He agreed that he would take the house debt and the vehicle debt. He was told to move all of my stuff into a storage unit and put the unit in my name. I had moved to Missouri with just some clothes and a few toys. He was to pay for the first month. A few months later, I called the storage unit and after fighting them to get them to tell me where my stuff was, they informed me it has been emptied a month and a half before. I asked him about this and he told me he gave it all to Goodwill – couches, toys, clothes, everything. My entire house-full of stuff was gone. Hospital bracelets, footprints ETC – all the keepsakes were gone. I have filed a police report and I am in the process of taking him to small claims court.

In the meantime, my kids and I are working hard to start our lives over. He doesn’t call them. He doesn’t visit them any more than the court order says unless I bring them to him. He doesn’t send them anything. He quit his $20/hr job for a minimum wage job so that I would only get a TOTAL of $300/month for child support. This doesn’t even cover day-care. I think that the family court system could better help people in my situation by holding parents accountable. There should be legal repercussions for somebody abandoning his family to the extent that they had to rely on others to pay their electricity bill and put food on the table. Parents need to be held accountable for their family and their responsibilities they helped to create.

The best advice I could give to others is to accept help. I am a very independent person, but I had to swallow my pride and accept help in so many ways from other people. Without their help, I never would have made it through. Also, fight for what you and your children deserve. Do what you think is right. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re wrong for doing what you need to do.

*For more about domestic abuse and violence – please click here.

About Katrina: Katrina is a mother of three – Ryan is 5, Gracynn is 2, and Eli is 1. She has sole physical and legal custody of her oldest son. After four years of not being involved, his father has finally stepped up and practices visitation as often as possible. She has joint custody of the younger two but their Dad only visits as little as he gets away with and has NEVER called them since he left them in December of 2012. While she tries to have a good co-parenting relationship with her younger children’s father, it is a continuous struggle as he is not interested. Katrina is currently on active duty orders with the Air Force Reserves and is waiting for the opportunity to get hired into the position as a civilian. She is also currently enrolled in school full time pursuing her Bachelors in Criminal Justice, and is working towards a career as a Criminal Investigator with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. In addition to full time work and school, she runs two small businesses (one with handcrafted items and one as a distributor of a well known product) to make extra income to provide for her family.

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TDP – Your Stories is a safe space for readers to share about life as double parent.  I call this space “Your Stories” because I hope many of you will be brave enough to share your stories, questions, inspirations, struggles, tears, triumphs etc so that we all may glean from and contribute to the collective wisdom. Please feel free to comment and if you would like to share your story then please contact me by clicking here.

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