Definition of epiphany
What’s the most important job in the world? Nope, not being the President of the United States, although we are learning right now how leadership in that role can influence how others think about us. But few of us can do that job well, and so, not just anyone should assume the mantle.
I’m speaking about parenting. Many of us are parents, have been parents, or want to be parents. Many of us should NOT be parents.
Ouch! Was that too nasty? Perhaps….and perhaps not.
Let’s take an example from something on my Facebook feed today. Facebook is an excellent way to measure the values of your extended community. Some people who post on your feed are people you know well, others not so well, and others are “friends of friends” and you don’t really know them at all. It’s a microcosm of society. Facebook is NOT good for trustworthy news….make sure to check everything you think is news there. But Facebook is good at understanding people’s viewpoints and that is what makes up society.
This morning a friend shared a concern that a teacher friend of hers had with parents of elementary school aged children. The teacher had posted that she starts the school year each year for the past 25 years the same way. She sends home papers for the parents to complete. We know this pile, and yes, it is an annoyance. But she sends home one more that she originates. She asks for information about the child: likes and dislikes, attitudes about going to school, family life and activities and more. She said she used to receive these essays from 98% of parents, she said in the last decade she has noticed a huge decline. Only 20% of parent’s participate in this.
Yes, I know we all work long hours. Yes, I know there is a lot that needs to be done each and every day. But, this is parenting. You had babies. Now, the question becomes, what kind of adult do you want to grow?
About 30 years ago I had to make a decision about my marriage. I had two small children (ages 1 and 3) and a husband who was self-centered and diagnosed with several mental health issues. When I saw the toddler mimicking his father’s behavior I knew I was not raising those kids in a healthy environment. I knew that my job was NOT what made money and supported the family (he had stopped working) but to raise those children to be healthy adults who not only could function in society but contribute to it.
We have lots of complaints about kids’ behavior and lack of ambition. We hear all too often that some kids lash out in anger over disappointments. We hear that there have been three generations of families on support programs. We have a problem and it IS us.
It is parents who are not emotionally mature enough to recognize that their priority for the next 18 years after giving birth is to raise a child who finds joy in life, is excited to be intellectually curious, and enjoys participating in community service to feel a part of solutions.
What? No time? Unless you are physically out of the house trying to earn a living 16 hours a day, that won’t fly. And if you are out of the house that much, who has your child? Surely you will place your child with a caregiver who will be teaching them how to tackle life’s challenges and embrace the wonderful things.
But I think most people are not away from their children. Most people may be struggling themselves with the burdens of everyday life and may be focusing on their own needs as their first priority. And that is still not the best.
Yes, you need some alone time to regenerate energy. No question about it. I chose 5am-6am. I asked no one to disturb me even if they were awake. That was MY time.
Then at 6am we could start the kids’ day. They had picked out their clothes (with my help as age appropriate) the night before so there was no “where are my shoes” emergencies. There is time for breakfast and packing a lunch before needing to be out the door for the bus or walk or car ride to school when you start early enough.
Can’t get up that early and be functional? Why not? What time did you get yourself to bed to sleep? What kind of “help” did you use to relax the night before that leaves you sluggish in the morning? What are you teaching your children about responsibility and how they will be as adults? They will mimic you.
When my youngest was in high school he ran cross country and track. After the first track meet I saw I would be sitting in the stands for 5 hours between his first and last race. The next meet I brought my camera and started taking photos. My husband did also. We were recognized as team photographers and allowed on the field and for 4 years we captured photos of all 80 kids trying their best.
I posted the photos on a site where (with a password) anyone could grab them and just about all the kids and some parents thanked us for our effort, but no one took over when we “graduated”. It really amazed and saddened me when most parents never showed up to the high school track meets, even when they were held at our school. No car? There’s a bus and there are other people you can call for a ride. There are ALWAYS solutions. It depends on you and what you want to do with and for your children.
Just as lust is not love, having sex does not mean you should have a baby. But if you DO have a baby (and this is for men as well as women) you have just assumed responsibility to raise them. To be better than you are! To learn right and wrong! To develop solutions to problems! To recognized they are part of a community and receive benefits from that community so make time to give something back in service!
Because parents are ducking their responsibility, the concept of “life 101” classes to be held in middle school and high school needs to include a lot of things parents USED TO teach their children. How to develop a budget and live within it. How to balance a checkbook. How to cook so you can make healthy meals and not need to depend on frozen options that are full of chemicals. How to sew so you can at least put a button back on a shirt. How to iron. How to change a tire. How to make a goal and work towards it. How to how to how to. The list goes on.
How to adult. Just because you are over 18 and legally an adult does not seem to equate to maturity with many people. My parents had a saying that irritated me but it was a truism. At that time 21 was the age of legal majority so they would say “You do not automatically become an adult and know how to do everything when you are 21.”
They taught me much of what I needed to know and yes, some of their concepts were outdated and I rebelled. I failed and picked myself up again and went on. That is also part of what we need to teach our kids. How to be resilient.
So, when you look at that beautiful newborn and get teary eyed over his potential, develop your plan of action. When you catch yourself spanking the 2-year-old trying to explore her world, change your parenting discipline to one that teaches with reason, not pain. When your 7-year-old tells you he hates you, explain calmly you know that feeling because perhaps right then you are hating their behavior, but you know they can choose to behave in a way that is better. When your 10-year-old gets Cs, look to your own time helping with homework; if you haven’t been you should be able to help pull that grade up to a B at least. Long before your 15-year-old gets pregnant tell her age appropriate information about the physical and emotional responsibility of actions….ALL actions. (Get over it people….you had sex and guess what, they will too!)
It takes work to be a parent. And to be a good parent takes a lot more work than many people are putting in.
Look around you. How many people are lonely? Their kids have flown away and hardly ever come to visit or have contact. How many people are so judgemental that if the child had opinions that differed from the parent the kid was told they were wrong but not why the parent feels that way. I talked to an elderly man who was trolling the parking lot of the church looking for his daughter who was homeless. He told me how he hated her having a Latino boyfriend and had told her she could come home but not with him. He did not see he had built the wall that his daughter would not climb over. Do you know people like that?
It starts with babies. How you raise your kids makes a difference. Remember that each time you are ready to condemn the actions of “kids today”.
In the past seven years I have really been involved in the local farm-to-table food movement. I urge people to cook from whole foods. They will enjoy the flavor so much more and they can control ingredients, getting away from preservatives that very well could be influencing your health. But all too many people have the same answer: “I don’t have time to cook.”
Years ago I was ecstatic that my oldest son’s elementary school offered a parenting course when he was in 1st grade. STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) helped me recognize nonverbal signs when things were heading south in the kids’ behavior or my own response. I learned to stop things from escalating out of control and how to talk in a way that taught and provided discipline instead of punishment. I helped my kids learn to take responsibility for their actions and how to communicate their feelings, especially when their emotions were roiled up. And it seemed to have worked, because even if the three of them are not perfect by any means, they are wonderful active adults contributing to their communities. I have suggested this course or some other to many friends who are frustrated by their children’s behavior, since it really helped us. But all too many people have the same answer: “I don’t have time for a 10-week seminar, one hour a week.”
Each of us makes choices, many of them, every single day. We decide simple things, like what to eat for breakfast and what to wear. And we decide harder things, like identifying the goal of the day.
Some of us are planners; we think about what we want/need to do and figure out the various ways to achieve that with all their pros and cons. Some of us never plan; we are reactors. We respond to things that go on around us. And much of the time we are surprised and maybe a little bit (or more) angry because things are not always the way we want it.
I want to share with you the story of one woman I never got to know until after I moved from West Virginia. Having common friends, her comments on Facebook resonated with me in many ways. A few issues were not in agreement and it was in private conversation that I learned that this woman understood her position. That nothing about her was merely reactive.
Until the shit hit the fan. Already a breast cancer survivor, you would agree with me that that should be all Paige should have had to deal with, but no. Her beloved husband collapsed with a brain aneurysm and she had to explain to their two young daughters that Daddy was never coming home. You might agree with me that that is more than any woman should need to deal with in her life.
But no, still more. The cancer was back and fully metastasized throughout her body. Paige, above all else, is a realist. She understands there is not much time left.
The pain of knowing she will not see her daughters graduate gets eased for minutes as she makes memories with them. She’s getting things in place, knowing they will be well loved by others to reach their goals, but it is not enough. There is not enough time left.
And then she posted this photo, and I looked at her…..and I see it. Life. In the moment. Participating. Grabbing all of it. Pain. Joy. Achievement. Struggle.
So please please please look at your own life. Are you living? Go. Do. You DO have time….you have today.
When I was in first and second grades my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, helped establish a wonderful foundation for the love of learning. One year, for example, we built a list from encyclopedias and other little kid references for each day of the month of February. We all know February 2 is Groundhog Day but did you know that February 1 is Victor Hugo’s birthday? Imagine knowing at age 7 who he was and what he did!
She had a bowl of those tiny hearts with sayings on them that are sold around Valentine’s Day. They were a treat, a carrot so to speak, for achieving something good. Most typically they were for behavior not scholastic performance, so achievable to everyone equally. With those small bits of sugar she taught us self control.
A little less than a decade later my mom often criticized the hippie concept of “do your own thing” as a problem. I guess, Mom, you may have hit part of the reason we’re so messed up now on that philosophical rebellion against the establishment. If only we were satisfied to stay in the proscribed roles, our society would have been “great” all these years. And yet, there was and continues to be good reason to make noise about some of what the people in power have foisted on us.
To put it mildly, this movement to break through conventional gender roles, color barriers and more upset the Establishment. Those of us who are old enough to remember the late 60s and early 70s also remember how divided this nation was. There were those who supported the way of life that had been good enough for generations and the fact that those conventional mores restricted equal protection and application of the law was not recognized by people who perhaps felt threatened by others being given “equality”. And the fight continues.
As we’ve moved away from back fence discussions with neighbors we know to the faceless aspect of Facebook, these discussions often become rude and completely worthless as an exchange of concepts. Part of the population never quite understood that “political correctness” just meant being polite to all people and most of the population never learned how to hold a persuasive argument. If a person has no way to frame their position like a salesman, gently showing the benefit to the “prospect”, that person has no recourse but to say the same thing again and again and then, in frustration, turn to denigration.
I have a good number of friends that I have made in places I have lived. While we never really talked about politics until recently, I had commonalities with them that nurtured our friendship. Some of them have disowned me; others continue to today and are able to present their viewpoints and respond to mine. What’s the difference in broad terms between these two groups of people? Generally, it is their own self confidence in the life choices they have made and their self control in the way they live and speak.
I have other friends on Facebook, people I have never met face to face. They became friends because of some commonality. The farm-to-table movement attracts people who are concerned about how the food we eat affects our health, and politically, we are all over the spectrum. It amuses me that one of the people who “likes” almost every food warning I post on Facebook is unable to write out her own feelings on the political issues that shake us, and relies on some of her Facebook friends to engage with me.
It doesn’t bother me to have discussions with people who hold opinions different from mine. How can we ever find our commonalities and perhaps solutions to these issues without sharing our concerns?
But there are many people who degrade rapidly or eventually. It’s as if they just can’t handle the points I raise. Perhaps they start to agree but their longer held position pulls them back and scared a bit, they lash out. Perhaps they just can’t imagine that anyone who holds a different viewpoint is worth their time, a classic example of cognitive dissonance.
It doesn’t matter if they are smart or average. It doesn’t seem to matter what their financial status is. It DOES seem to reflect on their love learning or lack thereof.
And I want to stress here that this kind of childish behavior is displayed by people throughout the political spectrum, not just one side or the other.
So, if you, like me, wants to see us avoid another civil war, I urge you to get a handle on your self control.
It has been easy, since the campaign season, to compare statements and actions by Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler. Also comparable is the excited reaction of support by a significant minority of the population. Additionally, what can also be compared is the silence of a larger minority of the populations, providing tacit approval. These two groups provide a majority base for power.
So, using Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s as an example, why do “good” people stay silent when witnessing discrimination of others? Later on, it can easily be understood that they were frightened that they too would become a target for internment or death. But at the beginning of the growth of power, why the silence?
All the insight I have is based on discussion with people I know who supported Trump during his candidacy. I was told “He doesn’t mean that” many times. When asked how they knew that, the discussion faltered, but the tenacity to that one statement was evident, “I know.”
Each of us is indoctrinated to think certain ways. It may be the way you were raised, or it may be completely opposite the parental viewpoint, but our upbringing-the ethics displayed in our households, the education we had (meaning how we learned to learn, not just how we did on tests), and the people in our close circle all influence the way we think and act.
I, for one, was taught early and often about World War II. My grandparents were immigrants in the early 20th Century and we lost family members in the Holocaust. It was personal and there was no doubt about it but I was taught to hate Germany. As young as 3-years-old I watched the documentaries showing newsreels of US Army liberating the death camps. I know what slow starvation looks like. I also know what determination to survive despite the odds looks like.
When I had the opportunity to travel for work to Germany to spend six months there on a project working with the US Army, I was uncharacteristically slow jumping at the chance for free travel. I understood why and I tried hard to face that prejudice, learned as a baby, and overcome it logically. And I accepted the assignment.
Waiting at the Frankfurt airport for another part of the team to arrive from the States, I had plenty of time to people watch and came to an obvious but, to me, important understanding: they look just like me. And when our coworkers arrived, we got on a train to head to Kaiserslautern, and I thought, oh yeah, here I am, a Jew, on a train in Germany. The next morning, reporting to the military office, I noticed the swastikas that were part of the architecture. The base had been built in the 1930s. The spector was all around me. Despite my best intentions, a certain low level anxiety showed I had carried much of my baggage with me.
So why did “good” Germans and others in occupied Europe, for the most part, stay quiet about the actions being taken against the Jews, the Communists, the homosexuals, the gypsies, the handicapped? Was it mostly fear that they might be next?
Or was it that they really agreed that these groups of people were inferior and the nation, the world, would be better off without them?
We see denial of similar issues here and now in our own nation. For example, we hear lots of white people complaining about the silent and nonviolent kneeling protest during the national anthem at professional football games. They believe, because it is the information being presented by news sources they trust, that the protestors are not being respectful of the flag and thereby the veterans who fought to protect our rights. They will not recognize the actual purpose of the protest. They believe that people have trouble with the police because they are bad people, but 100% stop talking about the issue when I asked what a 12-year-old sitting on a playground swing holding a toy gun did so bad that he was shot dead within seconds of the police arriving on the scene.
This lack of facing facts is a clear sign of cognitive dissonance, the stubborn and willful choice to not consider information that is not aligned with their convictions. And all of us have some level of this infliction.
It is so very easy to think that what I believe is THE RIGHT WAY TO THINK and that everyone else is crazy or stupid. But that way of thinking is also cognitive dissonance.
This morning there are statements by various high level Republicans who have an opinion about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual behavior affecting the upcoming election for Senator from Alabama to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that if the allegations are true, Moore should step out of the race. But other Republican leadership are once again blaming the women (why did they wait so long?) and are supporting Moore fully.
With the recent #MeToo social media campaign I remembered and told my kids about one incident in my life where my boss tried to inappropriately insinuate himself into my life (I was 24 at the time and he was 49). Recently I read there is a new social media campaign gaining ground to “Name the Pig.” Instead of telling how we were assaulted, we are encouraged to name the person who behaved illegally and unethically. So, I think about that former boss of mine. He would be 88-years-old now, if he is still alive. What good would it be to “out” him? None, I believe. (I dealt with that boss directly, facing him and telling his he had been inappropriate and it had to stop. He listened and complied…..at least with me. ) But I also support every woman, from Anita Hill to the women who named Bill Cosby to the ones in the Moore situation, for speaking out when we are dealing with a man who has been a role model or could become politically powerful.
Meanwhile, we continue to have at the head of our government a man whose code of ethics seems to be best described as “ME FIRST.” The die hard supporters still believe in what the rest of us know are empty promises (I’ll get your coal jobs back, I will make sure everyone has affordable health care coverage….and more, so many more). One supporter, in the course of a calm and reasonable conversation stated, “I think Trump is the savior of this nation.” I knew that the ground had tilted and there was no middle place to find a commonality there.
So why are these people this way? Simply, they are not hearing nor reading what the rest of us are learning. They typically rely on media that comes from the same viewpoint and never cross check with other news sources to see another aspect of the same issue. Before condemning him or the countless others, think first. Do you? Do you cross-check issues that are getting your blood pressure up? Or do you just confirm with other sources that are in the same camp?
Most of us react emotionally first and often speak next. Few recognize that if the information just received appeals to your sense of greed or outrage it MUST be verified by cross-checking across the media, liberal and conservative. I urge everyone to take the few minutes it takes to do that search and read before climbing aboard some bandwagon that you might not like to own later.
Remember, the “good” people of Germany allowed things to take place that eroded their prior sense of right and wrong because it was not directly affecting them…until it it did, and then, it was too late for most to take a stand.
We live in a nation that has an amazing set of laws backed by the Constitution that provides protections for all people here to speak their mind, gather in public, practice their faith, purchase weapons for home protection and hunting, keep from illegal search and seizure, protection from having soldiers living inside your home, certain rights of prisoners and people arrested, and other rights kept by the people and by the individual states. The NRA has massaged the fear of firearms being confiscated to drum up massive purchasing by frightened people. The fact that some news agencies report on the inept leadership currently in Washington does not mean they are fake news; it means the people responsible want to distract you by blaming the messenger.
Don’t ignore the message.
Sorry for mixing my Broadway musical metaphors but I need your two cents because, like Tevye, I’m getting a lot of On The Other Hand in my decision making.
Back in January I wrote about my experience with six decades of wading through medical care with all its various changes. (I wrote that blog to help people who might not understand why the ACA is so important to people who have difficulty obtaining health care that can be within financial reach. Many of the comments I received were that people were sad I had gone through all that. The point was, many many many people do.) And even as I wrote of all my issues, that was before my left hip started protesting loudly the year plus of walking “wonky” with my bad right knee. After a gait adjusted for pain, my pelvis had tilted. It wasn’t enough to juggle the stupid knee and then the cornea transplant, I had a new medical issue that provided a new education. Lucky me.
The increased level of pain led me to think I would have to close my business, Can-Do Real Food, My logic said that was the right decision. My emotions were not in agreement. (You can see how Tevye’s dilemma discussion seems to be part of my DNA, or at least cultural norm.)
My regular doctor offered me pain pills. While I filled the prescription for the muscle relaxant, I soon discovered not only did it not work, but neither could I with a muddy head. I decided to go outside of standard medical practice and found a chiropractor who might help move that pelvis back into alignment. Between his gentle pokes and prods as well as physical therapy inside his office environment, the screaming pain has diminished and I can see a glimmer of dim light ahead.
But then I ran out of insurance benefits.
The chiropractor reminded me it had taken me a year to get into the twisted position and it would take a while longer to get out of it. His thinking was once I got that part aligned I would be functional and need only pop back in to see him when I realized I was hurting again.
But I can’t afford him.
So, back to my primary care doctor who offered to send me to the same doc who said my original injury to my knee in June 2016 was “only arthritis” and “I would never need surgery”, all without the benefit of a scan. I told my primary doc I would not go back to him. I expect my doctors to base their advice on information and avoid those who don’t.
Also, since I’ve been hearing I have arthritis for years now and the pain is increasing in the affected joints, I asked to speak to someone with arthritis expertise to give me advice. Turns out that specialization is a rhemolotolgist and the first clinic said I was not bad enough to take up their time and the second clinic gave me their first available appointment four months from now. Since I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis it is perhaps not a needed visit anyway, but it sure would be nice to get some better info.
Yesterday I had an appointment with a new orthopedic doc. I went in wanting info, very much convinced I am not a surgical candidate nor is my knee hurting that badly right now so why would I want surgery?
He convinced me I need to have the surgery. The pelvis will NEVER be right until I am walking more normally. My knee will never be better and will only get worse. I wanted to know the probably progression of the deterioration and he was able to take the time and explain it.
So, straddling the conventional/nontraditional medicine routes gets sticky when I opt to lean one way or the other; the other side of my care spectrum voices their concerns. Some are valid. Some may be self-serving.
Here are the issues of my dilemma:
And then, on the nontraditional side,
The new ortho doc said something that sounds real: “Many people opt to wait because they are not feeling “that bad”. And then something happens and they are in horrible pain, wanting the surgery and then needing to wait a month or two to fit into the schedule.”
And he also said “Most likely you will heal better and faster than someone who is in high pain prior to the surgery because you are still pretty mobile.”
We have mundane but real issues also.
So, like the King of Siam, it is a puzzlement to me. A time of change is upon me. A decision needs to be made that will have consequences. Those issues, with the exception of the health insurance costs, are not easily quantifiable.
I met him when I was 10 years old; he was 16 and to me he was totally cool. He was dating my oldest sister for a short time and after a few months she felt uneasy so broke off with him.
We had an issue with communication in our family. My parents wanted us only to express “positive” emotions, so her concerns about him were never brought up.
Meanwhile, my mom had essentially noticed he was a bit of a lost one who could benefit from a healthy family and so, “adopted” him. My sister never said much of anything whenever he showed up for dinner, but she always had a lot of homework those days.
He went off to VietNam for not one but two tours as a Green Beret. Special Forces, rah rah. Mom was so proud. He never told us anything, just brought gifts for each of us whenever he returned to the hometown and ended up at our dinner table again.
So, when he proposed 12 years later, I sort of knew him but only realized later that I had no idea who he was. I thought since he cherished his “home away from home” at our house, he understood and believed in the kinds of ethics and love we exhibited.
I was eager to get away from New Jersey and he offered a route away. I was such a fool. Naive. Innocent.
And so I jumped in, prepared to love this man until death do us part.
But on our first few weeks of marriage he wanted to invite another woman to join the two of us on his boat on one of Nashville’s lakes. I suggested he should not; that we could enjoy some “special time” in a secluded cove, but he was not on the same wavelength.
I had a friend from college visit and after dinner I drove him to where he was staying the night and he asked me how I was. He saw clearly that something was not right. I denied it. All was fine.
Still in the reserves he would go spend his weekend up at Fort Campbell where he worked in the hospital. He was trained as a medic and had dreams of becoming a physician’s assistant but had no sticking power in his studies. He would leave the house to go to school but I noticed he never worked on any homework. One day a woman called asking for Sargeant X. I gave him the phone and he took it into the bedroom for a private conversation that included a lot of laughter and lasted over an hour. When he came out he told me that she wanted to know who had answered the phone. He had not told her he was married.
One day while riding in his sister’s car we were struck by a truck. My head hit the side window hard but I recovered my wits faster and told her to put her foot on the brake as we were headed to a ditch. . When I called the place where he was hanging out (he should have been in school) he told the person who took the call to tell me he was in class. I told her to tell him we had had an accident and where it was. Believe it or not, he was there in about 15 minutes, an illegal driving speed was evident. But he did not go to me. He enveloped his sister in a warm and caring hug. She had started sobbing as soon as she saw him, and told me to get out of the way. On the way home he told me her stomach was upset and I needed to make chicken soup…from scratch…and have it ready fast. I was glad I had some in the freezer. But he never asked how I was and since I had a raging headache for 3 days, I probably had a concussion.
I needed my wisdom teeth extracted. He came to pick me up about 2 hours after I called him I was ready and then dropped me at home and took off to join “the guys for a drink”. I truly felt unloved.
But I was raised that all issues in marriages can be worked out and that there would be no such thing as divorce in our family. So I tried all different things. I tried being nice and sweet. (okay, it was not as hard a stretch at age 23 as it might be now…quit laughing) I tried to be firm and strong back at him. He only raised his voice and got angrier.
My sister, his old flame, came to visit with her husband. She told me later that he hit on her, but at that time she shared a technique she had been learning while pursuing her master’s’ degree in psychiatric nursing. The treasured “When you do such and I such I feel this way” which is a fairly non confrontational alternative to “What the hell are you doing treating me this way!” He got angrier with that one also.
There was no way to escape his anger. Basically, there was no escape. He had the car and a motorcycle and never gave me a set of car keys. He often would leave the house on a weekend day on the motorcycle, taking the car keys and not tell me when he would be home.
All this is classic emotional abuse. It was my fault there were red lights. It was my fault it rained. It was my fault if I did not automatically intuit what he wanted for supper. But I kept hoping things would get better.
My period was late one month, something that never happened. Yes, I prayed. I knew children with this man would be a mistake. The prayer worked a couple of days later. Thank you Lord.
And then he announced we were going on a honeymoon, about 15 months into our marriage. He wanted to go scuba diving at Grand Cayman. Cool. I also learned to scuba.
But I anticipated a new beginning. I bought a new negligee and was ready to play the excited and eager bride. He had selected a place to stay on the eastern side of the island, far away from all the touristy things. I loved it. It was a small place where each room had a slider out to the beach.
I suggested we go for a walk on the beach and he angrily said no. He then proceeded to rape me.
Some people believe that in a marriage there is no such thing as rape. I anticipate a lot of women snorting when they read that statement. We know, so without getting graphic, let me explain.
When you want to make love you spend a bit of time making sure your partner is relaxed and then titillated. That caresses and kisses help build the energy and help the juices flow.
When you have a man who has no concern other than where to put HIS body part, it can be a long, dry, painful experience.
The next evening, when he expected the same activity, I smiled in what I hoped was a sweet way and suggested we make love.
He hit me.
Immediately I knew he could kill me. I grabbed my clothes and went out on the beach. I sat there, waiting for him to come out, to apologize, to realize he had chosen something very wrong.
After 3 hours I went in. He was snoring.
The next day he told me he would prefer if I would leave. From Grand Cayman. When he had the money and the tickets and was supposedly the man who had promised to care for me. I stayed.
Grand Cayman has a bit of a volcanic section called Hell. It has a post office and I actually had enough chutzpah to send him a postcard at home that said simply, “The next time you tell me to go to Hell, I will remind you that you drove me there.”
He was not amused.
Everything came to a head about a month later when my parents came to visit and he was rude, even to my mother, someone who had always given him love. She said to me “I don’t understand how you can stay with him” and the gates permitting me to leave opened.
I left the next day, after my parents were gone. Three weeks later he came over to my friend’s house where I was staying and tried to rape me again. I was able to get him to leave.
Valentine’s Day came and went with no comment from him, not even a “I know we’re in a tough place but we can work this out.” I filed for a divorce the next day.
I had nightmares for years.
So when I see women in a similar situation, particularly women I know and consider friends, I don’t avoid the issue. I want them to know I have been there and they need not stay there.
Most never make a move. Most continue the same way.
Someone posted today on facebook that about a third of all women have been the victim of domestic abuse. I think that number is low.