No, there aren't witch trails anymore- at least not in the sense you're likely thinking. The Salem witch trials, a dark series of hearings and prosecutions ended in the 17th century. Majority of people now see the hearings for what they were, mostly preposterous and fanatical with severe lapse in due process.
I found myself in a different kind of witch trial, currently known as divorce. And I was made out to be a witch, because it was in fact- I, that wanted a divorce. And I being the woman and us also sharing a daughter, made me out to be the worse kind of witch. A witch willing to destroy a family for her own selfish desires. Totally untrue, totally unjust and totally bullshit.
Women have always faced prejudice, biased, inequality and it still happens today, we are judged, sometimes, without even realizing it and most of the time by those we hold in confidence.
Here is the beginning of my sordid tale. I dated a man I thought I loved. That man lied and falsified stories that bonded us, traits he thought would appeal to me, and found clever manipulative ways to slowly chip away at my self-esteem and keep me in this cyclical loop of feelings of being unworthy of love and therefore feeling bonded to him. He was privy to the turbulent relationship I had with mother and well aware of the fondness I had for my father who lived a convenient (for him) 2,000 miles away and took advantage of slowly alienating me and ensuring I would remain with him by keeping me lonely. He knew I suffered depression, he knew I hardly had friends since I moved here right after high school, he knew my only true focus, prior to our daughter, was always academics and career. He never offered encouragement, would rarely congratulate and I just thought, "Well that's just who he is. A man of few words." Horse shit. It takes less than 3 seconds to tell someone "good job" and around 5-10 seconds to personalize it and make it a pinch meaningful. He knew apart from the one to two friends I had made in college, our friends were his friends from high school, his very small- very close knit high school friends, he also knew the women of said friend group were less than welcoming and constantly straddled the passive aggressive/down-right rude line and his only opinion on the matter was that I "didn't help myself by being quiet and sitting off on my own." He bought me dog, that helped and yet created another band that bound me. He then got a house and asked me to move in, yet another. I was looking for a job at the time and knew living with my mother would be another kind of hell on earth and at the time, I felt I was choosing the lesser of two evils. I felt I couldn't do it on my own. I felt I wasn't ready for the real world. After 6 months in the house living with him, I knew I couldn't stay, I inadvertently turned into his maid, what little money I made at my part-time job while trying to find my actual career went to his house and our bills, he didn't want to go out or do anything I did, all he wanted was to eat fast food and watch TV and call, or rather yell at me to come into the master bedroom to have the most mechanical, uncomfortable sex of my life.
Then I found out I was pregnant. When I found out and told him, his exact reaction was a 2 second glance to my face then to the positive pregnancy test and all he said was "Yea, you're pregnant dude." When I tell you I did not speak for the next two days, that is not a fabrication. I was in shock, scared, unnerved at the failed contraceptive (I was taking birth control pills and taking them on-time and consistently), I was silently mourning being another "unmarried, pregnant" statistic, I was saying my goodbye to my current life, and also trying to find faintest silver lining in knowing I would now be with this man forever. Because, yeah what choice did I have? We were having a baby, I had to be with him forever... right?
I found focus and happiness with my pregnancy. I was motivated more than ever to keep up with my physical activity and find a good career, his job- he had had since high school- offered no benefits so I knew it was up to me to really provide. I moved into the guest bedroom across the house, his night time cacophony of snoring and intestinal release along with constant state of disarray were the gems I cashed to write off that move.
Our daughter came and brought new meaning to my life. Of course, I did everything on my own- night time feedings, pumping, formula, baths, nails, play time, rocking, cleaning, washing, the list goes on- he still banks onto the two times he woke to help me and has cashed that check nearly ten times over, wears it like a merit badge and collects his praise and "such a great father" accolades. As always money was an issue and truthfully I felt depressed, not with being a mom or my daughter- those things were my only true source of happiness, but with myself. I had always excelled in school and knew I was meant for a great career. When my daughter was six months old I found it.
I was hired at a corporate company. When I got my official offer, he proposed and we were married at a Justice of the Peace office the officiant wore a cowboy buckle the size of a small salad plate and had dip tucked in his cheek. It was the most unromantic thing I've ever witnessed or have been apart of. I didn't wear a fancy dress. There wasn't a party. There wasn't even a cake. We signed the papers, went to dinner and went to bed in our separate rooms, my daughter and I in ours and his in his own.
The job was in-office and my mother offered to watch my daughter while I worked for a $1200 a month, which I accepted. When I started my job I was not prepared for the awakening I would have. The respect I would be given. The admiration and praise I would receive from my colleagues, new found friends and management. The shell I had been living in was cast away and it was as if the real me- that had been withered and dried up inside had found nourishment and life and this robust sense of self. Like, I was taking a deep breath for the first time in a really long time. I wasn't just maintaining, I was thriving. This vigor slowly seeped into every part of myself. I started training and running marathons, I joined and became a leader in a work group and hosted multiple donation drives and workshops. I had friends, my own friends. I was being a mom, and a damn good one. I didn't just find a job. I found me.
Confidence and self-love are so underrated. We hear a lot about finding love, finding the one who will make your life great. Without getting sardonic, the odds of finding the one are nonsensical and foolish at best, the focus should be on self-love and you making your own life great- but I'll save that tirade for another time.
As you can imagine, with this new sense of self-discovery came an unwillingness to accept the life I was living. The more I became the harder he tried to secretly undermine me or ridicule me, he would refer to my job as "easy" as "high school with pay", he would make fun of my new friends, he didn't want to go to support any of my runs or work family functions. And the more he tried to diminish me the more I saw him for what he truly was. His untruthful stories that he shared that shaped who he was were revealed as the falsities they were, his lack of interest in any physical activity or outdoor activity became highlighted, his sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle got worse and his refusal to even so much as pick up his own dirty clothes became unbearable. He became angry and resentful, he would say hurtful things to me and ridicule me, he even went as far as actually threatening my life and wishing my death.
I love my daughter more than anyone or anything I could ever love. I also love me. Don't get me wrong I still suffer from depression and likely anxiety, but I do love me. I didn't want to be with him- I couldn't. I knew my worth or was beginning too and I was worth a hell of a lot more than what I was getting. But then came the flip side, by leaving I was taking away the traditional family life my daughter had every right to have. Two parents, one home, Christmas morning in matching pajamas sitting on the floor, family vacations, photos, family dinner... all the things I grew up with. To this day thinking about still makes me nauseous. But what good would be those things if they never even panned out that way? What good would her parents sleeping in separate rooms indefinitely be? Her parents arguing? Her parents never being affectionate or giving her an actual representation of what a healthy loving partnership should be? What good what, what kind of "family" life would I really be teaching her? To suck it up? To do what "you have to do"? Would I advise her to remain with a man like he was simply to benefit her child and paint a false portrait of family life? I couldn't and I wouldn't. But to everyone around me, my own mother and sister included, his family and his friends especially, I was abandoning my family for my selfishness.
Our relationship had been deteriorating for months so it came to no shock to him when I finally announced my intent to leave. However, he played it off as shock, he acted as if we were this blissfully happily married couple. He branded me with my very own scarlet letter, every where I went in that damn small town, I wore the stigma of the philandering mom who abandoned her family and left them for money and men. He lambasted me, slandered me and spread malicious lies about who I was and the kind of mother I was.
Now, my mother and father are also divorced, my mother has never agreed with divorce and the divorce came from my father, they had been separated for over 10 years and when my father met someone he found true love with, he wanted to make their separation official. My mother will always hate him for it. My ex found an unlikely ally in my mother and spread his malicious lies and stories to her and she ate them up. Already on shaky foundation with me due to our years of butting heads and me continuing to have a close relationship to my father and now step-mother, it was an easy win for him. And when someone's own mother starts perpetrating lies and stories about them, how can one not believe it? As a mother, I would never and could never spread anything malicious true or not about my daughter.
They've accused me of whoring, drug use, having a sugar daddy, abandonment, and even of physically assaulting my ex. I've read and heard things about myself that I've never thought I would. I've been met with glances of disgust when I see people who know me at the store. I've walked by and heard their comments. I've been shamed online and social media. I've had his friends approach me attempting to "say their peace" and give the most outlandish ridiculous "advice" and comment on my selfishness and vanity. I have read what they say about me and what he intended to include in his court documents. Fake numbers have been created and used to text me as if coming from men soliciting me or drug dealers, in sick attempts to frame me. And why? Because my ex resents me for leaving him and in a sick twisted way, him manipulating me and alienating me all this time has taught me to be okay with being lonely, my loneliness has been the ace in my pocket, I am okay with being alone, I am okay with it only being my daughter and I, I can get through this and he knows that, so now his chief goal is to take the one thing away that makes me happy which is my daughter, so he has conspired with my mother and his family to create deceitful shaming lies in a wicked attempt to have my daughter taken from me.
I am a modern day Salem witch and my trial starts now.