I have been blessed with 2 lionesses in my life. Both are tall, fearless women with manes of blonde hair and fire in their bellies.
The second one is still in my life and you know who you are, but for now I want to talk of the first one, lets call her ‘The Terminator’.
Approaching the welfare was a terrifying business. They had been called before when the parentals believed I was running around clubbing and drugging – sad that, because in reality I was working and occasionally starving – but that’s another story. So the second time round was frightening but fortunately not only did I not have time to be frightened, I also had less opportunity once I met The Terminator.
I sat in her office and detailed what had happened and waited for the backlash of judgement – it never came.
Instead she stood up – which in itself was impressive because she was REALLY tall (I was the size of a hobbit next to her), and jumped into action.
Before I knew what had hit she had organised me an appointment with the childrens court to get a restraining order. The following day fiercely clutching the order – she went hunting.
I was horrified! The Tiger was going to attack her and then when he was done, turn his crazy on me. In perfect Lioness style she turned to me and (growled?) exclaimed – ‘Let him try!’
The Terminator, restraining order in hand and a quivering, jibbering ‘yours truly’ in the seat next to her started sniffing out The Tigers’ haunts.
Eventually we found him. I was going to throw up or die or both. Not the Terminator! She jumped out of the car and marched into this dark and murky hairdressing salon (he was friends with the owner), and read him the riot act. He didn’t say a word in his own defence, I think he even called her m’am once or twice.
Restraining order delivered, we left.
I learnt about the weakness of bullies that day. I learnt that people treat you the way you teach them to. I learnt to laugh again, because truthfully it was so comical and mixed in with pent-up hysteria it was the only response that made sense.
From there things started to smooth out. The Tiger made a few guest appearances – from a distance, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
My father had jumped into action and called an attorney buddy of his. They arranged for a lovely Afrikaans chap with the face of an angel (and the heart of a rabid rottweiller) to handle my divorce. Again, no judgement or criticism, just action.
I had a small hiccup in that Tiger had heard about my desire to divorce him and had begun to make himself scarce. If we couldn`t serve the papers, I couldn’t divorce him. So I woke up my wiley side and hatched a plan to catch him. I contacted him on the phone and told him that I was sad that things had gotten so bad and would he be willing to sit quietly with me and talk things through.
With the help of The Terminator we hooked up with a contact of hers in the sheriff’s department who agreed to help. So I set up a date with the Tiger, he arrived on time, as I knew he would, and as he entered, said sheriff walked up to him with an unaturally beautific smile and handed him the papers!
My attorney said that we would have to wait for a court date which would take at least 6 months.
I again called on God, the Universe and the Divas of foolish women and BADDA BING!, a cancellation had me divorced in exactly 3 weeks from the day I stepped into the attorneys office. With a fierce woman advocate I marched into court and exactly 90 seconds later I was free!
I learnt many lessons from that time which I`ll talk about later, but one of the most important was the more you strain against the Universe the worse things get. We ALWAYS know when we`re making bad decisions and no amount of excuses will exclude us from the consequences, no amount of denial will negate our responsibility for those decisions.
And more importantly than even that – man is not an island!
If you need help, ask for it!
Young mothers struggling alone will not flourish. I don`t care if every member of your family has shuffled off to Buffalo, if your priest and pastors are dogs, if your neighbours hate you, keep going until you can find one person who`ll listen. There`s always one, always.
Swallow your pride, straighten your resolve and knock on every door until someone listens. I did, despite my fear, despite my embarrassment.
As to the minister who’d told me I belonged in the gutter……
well a few years later I happened to attend a service where this particular minister was forced to resign and to make a public apology to the congregation for diddling the church books……