It was an innocent enough question–with unimagined consequences.
Would I have asked about the checkbook if I’d known what it would lead to?
Would it have happened regardless?
I don’t know.
That day I had a migraine. My husband offered to go on a walk with our nursing 6-month-old daughter so I could take a nap.
We had just gotten our own place after living with his uncle and aunt our first month in Montana.
I’d never lived in the middle of nowhere before. I was born in Southern California! Had gone to college in New York. Studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.
Helena, Montana was a whole new experience for me. But I was up for the adventure. I mean, I wasn’t planning on hunting buffalo any time soon, but I could handle Big Sky country.
What I couldn’t handle was his family who hated me and only tolerated my presence because I was part of the baby/husband package deal.
So we were finally on our own. The promise of more military opportunities lured us away from Surf City to the place where buffalos roam.
It was a new beginning. The end of the drinking. Of the abuse. We would work on our marriage. Build our family with our new little girl.
This new world held so much promise for us, until that night.
The night where I lived an eternity of sorrow.
The night he kidnapped my child.
My nap lasted into the night. When I woke, I was disoriented and confused. Where were they? How had I slept so long? I called into our empty house, to no answer.
I called his cell phone. Same result.
I left a voicemail message.
The first message was calm. “Hey honey, I’m not sure where you guys ended up but please give me a call. Our girl needs to nurse so come home soon.”
The dozens of messages to follow increased in panic and fear.
By 1 a.m. I was in full-blown terror. I’d called the police. Filed a report. Called the few people I knew to see if they’d heard from him. Nothing. His voicemail was full so I started checking his messages. Most of them were my panicked voice pleading with him to call me.
It was a woman. And my child was screaming in the background.
“Hey guys, you need to bring the suds home. Your kid won’t shut up. She’s been crying since you left. Call me.”
That message was my undoing. What little hold I had on calm fled in that moment and I sobbed and sobbed until I used all the tears in my soul. Then I sobbed some more.
I didn’t know this woman. Didn’t know where he could have gone or who he might have left our child with.
What was she eating? Was she hurt? What was I going to do?
There are a surprising number of bars in that small town. I guess drinking is a favorite pastime. I tried to track him down, but couldn’t find him.
I did, however, discover that the missing checkbook that triggered this whole evening had been used to write bad checks at every bar in town.
I also discovered that while he was busy showing me houses he wanted to buy together, he was shopping around for a place of his own in order to leave me.
Was I married to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde? This was unreal.
I spent the entire night away from my child. The next day police found him and were able to bring her back to me. They wouldn’t tell me where he was and he refused to speak to me for many days.
I thought it was over. That we were over. That I wouldn’t ever recover from that night.
Little did I know that fate had other plans.
I discovered this in another dream. I was pregnant again. With another girl.
This is the seventh part of a 10-part series on domestic violence and relationships based on my life. Please come back next Monday for the next post, What Recovery is NOT, or follow my blog or sign up to receive email updates. You can also like my Facebook Page for updates on my blog, my books and more. To get caught up, start with Part 1: Why We Stay.