When I left, besides clothes and some toys for the kids, I took two things. I took my Precious Moments collection, because I knew that he would destroy them when he got home and I was gone, and I took my computer. It was my lifeline and I also knew that he would have taken a baseball bat to it as well. He had told me as much.
In 2000 we got our first computer. I had worked at A&M while I was pregnant with A and discovered the internet. Wow, I was enthralled! After she was born, I was back to staying home, and we decided that it would be good to have a computer. So, we bought an HP computer at wal-mart. We put it on lay-a-way and when we picked it up, I was so excited! I’ve always liked computers, and now I had one of my own! From the beginning, it was my computer.
We got online, dial-up, with at&t. I was so excited! I had an e-mail address. Excuse me, WE had an e-mail address. One e-mail, after all he said, why did I need one separate from him, was I hiding something? Of course not, so *we* decided together that one e-mail was all we needed. Anyway, we were living about 100 miles from all my family, he was working as a truck driver gone 3 or so days at a time, and I had this wonderful machine. I discovered usenet! At first, when I opened outlook express the first time and it asked about newsreaders, I thought, “oh, that’s neat, I can get the newspaper in my e-mail, how nifty!” Then I slowly discovered what it was. I found a haven, alt.mothers. It was this group of mothers who posted about all things relating to motherhood and mothering and mothers. I loved it. One day though, this *place* changed. Trolls, nasty little people who post arguments and nasty ugly things trying to get people to fight appeared and invaded our little place. We tried fighting back, but that didn’t work. So, someone suggested we should all just leave. If there was no one to post to, and no one replied, then the trolls would leave. So we did.
Someone, I forget who exactly, and I apologize if it was you, set up a message board somewhere and our happy little group posted there for a while. The joke was that since we had just abandoned the usenet group, we were all going to Mars, and Marsmoms was born. Once things settled back down, several moms left and went back to alt.mothers. There were about 20 or so of us who stayed though. We set up a yahoo group to send our messages. It was this wonderful amazing thing that happened! A few more left, but there was still probably 15 or so of us there. We developed friendships, love for one another, and this amazing thing was happening to me, I was discovering that I had worth, that people did like me, and that I wasn’t just this loser with no education who would never be anything without this hurtful man to take care of me. More people left, some of us had babies. Some of us got degrees, some of us got jobs. We had problems and hurts, and we all cared for each other. It meant so much to me to be able to log onto yahoo messenger at any given time and know I had a friend there to talk to. I learned how to properly say “Crikey” and what it means, I had late night chat sessions with friends in Canada, England, Australia, Hawaii, all over the US. These women cared about me. When I hurt, they listened. One of the Marsmoms was having problems with CPS and another one came to her rescue, she contacted a housekeeping service in the town where she lived, and had them come clean her house.
During this time, he slowly realized that these women were really becoming friends. He tried to alienate me from them. He would read the e-mails and interrogate me, what does this mean, what does that mean? Why are you chatting with that one more than the others, are you having an affair with her? He would tell me that he should just throw out the computer, I was becoming a different person and he should just bash the computer with a bat. Do you really think they would like you if they *knew* the real you? What he didn’t know was that they did know the real me. For some reason, I shared everything with these women from the beginning. I told them things that troubled me, that hurt me, that I was scared about, at first, I expected them to ostracize me. To reject me and say, “we don’t want you here, you are a lousy person.” They didn’t though. They hugged me (virtually of course), they loved me, and all that time, they were slowly helping me to realize that what I was living was not what I deserved. That I was/am a good person, and I deserve happiness and peace.
One night, a Marsmom posted a picture of herself with a black eye. Her husband had punched her in the face. She kicked him out. I was amazed. I never would have thought that one of my friends could possibly be living the same horror I was. She & I talked, and I told her that I truly understood what she was living. Eventually, she let him come home, and after that, she drifted away from Mars. I was sad. I started reading about domestic violence. I learned that most women will leave 7 or 8 times before they make a final break. I still had not told everyone about my biggest secret. The fact that I was living a nightmare. I soaked up the love from these women though. These sisters who loved me for me, because I was and am always honest with them. I never hid myself from them. They are the first *true* friends I have ever had.
After one fight with him, and this was very close to the time I left, I remember posting something to the effect of how do you know when you have had enough and can’t go on? I was referring to my marriage, but I still remember the frantic phone call from one Marsmom asking if I was ok. She read my message and thought I was suicidal. She was terrified that she was to late, that I had done something. Shortly after that, I left. Those wonderful women gave me the courage to do the right thing for myself, and for my children.
When I was living with my family, I didn’t have internet access at home, I went to the public library to post to mars. I got phone calls from them all the time. Cards in the mail. They even took up a collection and sent me gift cards to do something fun with the kids. I don’t know if they will ever know how much their friendship means to me. They TRULY saved my life, because I have no doubt, if they had not come into my life and helped me realize my worth, I would not have left, at least not until I was in a body bag.