The Courage to Become | Kiema Rogers-Washington
They say,“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! As a mother sometimes we don’t know how strong we are until our motherhood is threatened. We as women give so much of ourselves to people, taking a risk to love and possibly not receive the same in return.
I met my son’s father when I was 20 years old and he was 37. I’ve always attracted older men, so this was no surprise. I had an 8 month old and I was out of a job. I met him at a party in Houston and fell in love with him through conversation. After leaving the party, we kept in touch through Facebook. I felt my young heart falling for him more, especially since he was sending poems everyday. It wasn’t long after I moved to Houston with him. I know it may have seemed fast, but I had made up my mind in the short 3 weeks of our dating. I didn’t know that he was a felon, nor did I know that we would be living with his 92 year old father. I was taking a risk by leaving the comfort of my mother’s home to go live with a complete stranger!
Soon we settled in and he revealed to me that he was a felon and it would be hard for him to find a job. I thought it strange but, because I was so blinded by what I thought was love, I decided to stick with it and do what I needed to do to make it work. But there was still a question in my head that needed to be answered, “What was I getting myself into?”
Although skeptical, I decided to ignore that little voice in my head. After all, he did help take care of a child that wasn’t his. As time went on he became more and more controlling.
I also forgot to mention that his very pregnant ex girlfriend (at least that what he told me) was also living there because she had no place to go.
I couldn’t go certain places or talk to family members.
I finally found a job working at Pappa’s BBQ in Houston. It was right down the street from Reliant Stadium where the Texans played football. My mother had come to get my son to spend some quality time with us and also, it was easier for me to work without having to search for a babysitter.
Back at the house my boyfriend was getting angrier and we were fighting more. He had thrown me up against the wall and choked me down to the floor. He was calling me all kinds of bad names like B-tch, worthless, and the worst of them all, you’re a horrible mother.
I was only falling deeper and deeper into depression, I couldn’t tell my mother or my family for that matter, how much hell I was going through. I couldn’t tell them that he was hitting me. I couldn’t tell them that he had gotten so mad at me that he tried to run his car into an 18 wheeler with my then 3 year old son in the car.
I stayed because I knew he was a broken man, he needed help and I thought I would be the one to help him. You see I’ve learned in this journey called life is that when you’re damaged, you have a desire to help those around you, who are just as damaged as you. But as I stated before, I kept this secret for a while. I continued to live with him and I surely didn’t want to lose my job and move back in with my mother.
Fast forward to get the real reason my life began but also ended.
The very thing that would give any mother a reason to keep living. The night was quiet and I had just gotten off of work. I was tired and just wanted to sleep. An argument was started between the both of us and I opted to stop and not say anything. Like a lot of the other fights that began, it turned into a physical fight.
Some may say, “Why didn’t I call the police?” Well, being that I had called the police numerous times and no one came to the house or he would use his prison wit to get the police to believe his lies. One thing he could do so well, was to get me upset and play it cool with the authorities to be make it seem I was angry and deranged.
As we fought and argued, I decided to just stop talking because it was only making it worse.
He threw me down and raped me.
It was the worst feeling in the world!! I didn’t want my boy considering he was an ideal example of a father.
I kept my mouth shut!! I never told a soul what happened that night since I was already a victim of childhood molestation and no one believed me anyway. I felt helpless!!
Time went on and I found out I was pregnant. At the time we were broken up and I was working at another job, living with friends, and I didn’t want to look back.
Nine months went by and I gave birth to son. I had been so hurt and broken, that I thought about giving him up for adoption. But as a mother I couldn’t allow my son to be raised by complete strangers.
When someone has hurt as bad as this man had and raped you knowing that you didn’t want to have a child by him, what would you do?
I am a Christian and I don’t believe in abortion so I thought adoption would be best. I had a cesarean section and I knew my recovery would be hard and long. Soon after taking me home to his father’s home, he came up with this crazy excuse as to why he had to leave me and the baby alone. I was left alone at home by myself with a newborn baby to fend for myself. The only thing good that came out of that was his 92 year old father felt so bad for me that he gave me one of his cane to help me walk on. I was lonely, scared, and on top of that, fighting bed bugs that weren’t there before I went to the hospital to give birth.
But I kept pushing through the pain. A mother’s love besides the love of Christ is the greatest of them all! We have to thank God for being able to display that unconditional love to our and for our children. Eventually he came back to the house and of course I was still on my own considering the fact that he never really helped with anything.
Some more time had passed and we were living in our own place. He had left us once again and I had gotten used to it. We were living there a year but he had left and gone to live with another woman whom he promised while we were together that they were only friends. He had also recently gotten out of jail from spending a 4 months there, due to my mom writing a letter to Board of Pardons of Parol to tell them of the abuse that I had endured from his hand and mouth.
You see, sometimes life gives and opportunity to escape, but because we’re so brainwashed we find it hard to leave.
Some women ask, “Why didn’t you leave?”
It was so complicated!
Since my first son’s father wasn’t in his life I was trying to do the right thing by letting him be a part of our son’s life, regardless of the circumstances. See, I tried to give him a chance. Do the right thing!!
In July 2012, yet another argument and he grabbed our son and took him to the car. I ran outside after him. He locked the doors, backed up, let the windows down and yelled “Fuck you bitch I’ll see you in court!” Sorry to be so uncensored but that was the worse day of my life.
I tried putting him on child support and reaching out to him but nothing worked.
I received a letter in the mail stating that he was suing me for full custody and child support. Seriously? The nerve of him. I was taking care of our son and breastfeeding him.
I didn’t know where he lived so it was kind of hard to put and address on the child support papers I had filed before him. I was angry and scared.
The day was April 10, 2013. I had been in yet another abusive relationship and had gotten pregnant. I was 9 months pregnant with my third son when we were due in court.
I had gotten a lawyer and all he was had was his girlfriend. I had the emails where he called every name in the book except his child’s mother. Even armed with all of that, I was still ordered to pay $125 in child support. What?
I felt like it was over! How could I have visited my child when I didn’t know where he was living? The police kept telling me that it was a civil matter.
I was broken, poor, and pregnant. My mother held me in her arms so tightly as I shed my tears.
How could someone I thought I loved be so cruel. I was also ordered to have visitation every first, third, and fifth, weekend and some holidays. I was 23 years old and I was lost!!
Eight days later I gave birth to my third son and he took away some of the pain, but my heart still ached. My first visitation began the day I gave birth in the hospital. I was afraid my son wouldn’t recognize me. But when I got him he was different, he wasn’t smiling but pointing to everything instead of talking. I didn’t know what was going on at that house but I knew my child wasn’t the same. Years went by and months but nothing changed. I had tried to fight it in court two other times afterwards but was unsuccessful. And to think that now til this day he hasn’t brought him to see me nor he has he abided by the court order.
I never knew how strong I was until being strong was all I had. Until God was all I all I had.
Here I am in 2018, happily married to my best friend and I’m now a minister. There have been ups and downs but God has kept me through it all.
I am due back in court April 6 of this year. Keep me in your prayers.
This is for all the mother’s who’ve lost their children and who have lost their innocence. Those who can’t seem to leave. I know how scary it is to start over.
And to those family members that don’t understand, don’t give up on them, they need you, their children need you!
Essay by Kiema Rogers-Washington