goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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How It Happened To Me

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. npr_abuse_

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.abuse power wheel

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.n-WOMEN-VIOLENCE-large570-427x178

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. no silence

 

 

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I didn’t see that coming

Parenting is hard. Parenting with a partner is hard. Single parenting is hard. Any way you look at it, if you are doing it “right”, parenting is more than full time and you HAVE to put your own ego, your own desires, your own agenda aside.

It was when my kids were two and four years old that it became clear that my job was not my work as a real estate appraiser. My job, much more powerfully important that getting someone’s mortgage to an approval and closing, was to raise those two little pipsqueaks to be healthy, functioning contributing adults. It became apparent when my marriage was on such shaky grounds that the analysis HAD to consider what the kids would be learning if I stayed with their father.

I erred on the side of being “nice”. I told him we needed to separate. I had no plans at that moment for a divorce but I knew the kids needed a healthier environment for their daily life. I allowed him generous time with the kids and had to talk with them quite a bit when he hurt them because their needs were not compatible with what he wanted to do.

And when he filed for a divorce because he wanted to control the situation, I was okay with that. In fact, I was kind  of worried that if he knew how okay I was he would withdraw the petition, but he didn’t.  He told the kids I divorced him. I refused to talk about it with them (until they were adults) saying it was a grownup decision and both mommy and daddy love them.

I read a lot about kids going through divorce. I participated in programs the elementary school offered and we all had counseling sessions together. I was asked in a session, what my goal was. I stated, simply, that I wanted us to get along well enough that we could sit together at school events so the kids only had to play to one part of the auditorium. He said that was not his goal. He never said what goal he had.

And so, at high school and college graduations, we sat apart. Often his family sat with me. Not because they were taking my side but because they were taking the kids’ side. They got it.

He never did. He married again, as I did. And life moved on. The kids are now adults in their 30s and sometimes we still talk about what might have been. They ended up with a new brother with me and two new brothers with him. They are close to my youngest. The other little ones need them, but the new life their father has built has pushed them away.

I got news today that my ex is in trouble. That choices he has made has once again brought him into a world of hurt and he is most likely scared and unable to figure out how things turned so badly.  He has a pathway in front of him that I never dreamed he would take.

My feelings are confused. I know, intellectually, that there is nothing I did or did not do, nothing I might have done, that would have given him a different pathway. I know, intellectually, that his actions must have continued after my time with him with little thought of the consequences.  I know, intellectually, that no one can make this better for him,

However, I am surprised at how much emotional pain I feel. The “what if I had made him do this or that” syndrome is running through my gut. It is a worthless exercise. I know that.

 

 

 


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Momisms

MOM-izm. (noun) A statement presented as a grand truth by your mother, so it must be considered to be reliable and accurate.

I don’t know about you, but I wised up to some of my mother’s momisms pretty early. They just had an otherworldly basis, as if there was no place for them in the reality of the world I lived in. So, it became a bit of a test for me to see if I could knock them down.

A GIRL SHOULD NOT GET MARRIED WHILE SHE IS IN COLLEGE AS SHE WILL NOT FINISH!  My mom worked at a nurse at the local university’s student health center and met a number of young women. Some she “adopted” and I soon had a number of “sisters”. That was cool…the more to love the merrier. But R met A and he was in the Navy heading to JAG school and then to assignment somewhere. Mom was sure R would not graduate, especially when she got pregnant, but sure enough, she walked with her class and then went on to do great things Mom admired. Amazing what you can do when you have a plan.   Later, I got married before I graduated, and finished my bachelor’s degree on time, no problem. In fact, the new location lead to an interesting job opportunity I would never have had if I had not moved.

DIVORCE IS FORBIDDEN! I knew my Aunt E was divorced; THAT was not a secret. The reason was, though.  E and her daughter S lived with my paternal grandparents and other than their rooms being very crowded and messy, nothing was unusual, really. But when my own marriage became emotional stressed I had this wall of forbidden territory I kept bumping against. No  method of trying to reach his head or his heart worked and it wasn’t until my mother came to visit and noticed how rude he was, even to her, she said to me “I don’t know how you can stay with him.”  It was like a ray of sunshine on a dark dreary day. Thanks for changing the Momism, Mom.


NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE! 
Get real Mom. Teach responsibility. (Don’t just leave books out for me to “find” and read.) Teach about not giving yourself away. Teach about birth control. Teach about how magical sex can be if the partner is a person who truly loves you. But also remember to teach that sexual urges are pretty darn normal.  So, yes, I had my early escapade, and shamefully but wisely went to the health center to get my birth control. Hid it in the sweater drawer when I went home for the summer. (Surely there was no need for Mom to go into THAT drawer.) What fools we be, we who try to deceive. Yes, Mom, the pills were mine.  I was being playful, but responsible. And get out of my drawers!!!sweaters

 

THE MAN IS THE BOSS. YOU WILL TAKE CARE OF YOUR HUSBAND AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU. Only problem with that one was he didn’t have the same mom so he didn’t get taught the same lesson. (Of course, if he had had the same mom, we would have been into a different forbidden territory-LOL) A corollary of this was told to my oldest sister who, when she achieved her Masters in Nursing and discussed continuing to get her PhD was told she would emasculate her husband who had been “working” on his PhD for 10 years. My sister did not recognize this was a Momism; she thought it was sage advice, and so, she did not continue her education.  That marriage ended in divorce, because, as I indicated above, I broke the taboo in the family.boss

ADULT CHILDREN SHOULD LIVE NEAR THEIR PARENTS, TO BETTER HELP THEM WHEN THEY GET OLD. I was very very young when my paternal grandmother came to stay with us to recuperate from a heart attack. I do remember that she decided that I, at age 3, was too old for my favorite bedtime blankie and made it disappear.  I imagine my mom had issues as well because Grandma did not come back when she had a subsequent heart attack a few years later. Mom had my vote on that one, not that she asked.  When I ended up living 1000 miles away from my parents as a young adult, my mom asked why. I reminded her that she had taken us camping around the US every summer; that if she wanted me to be convinced that New Jersey was the center of the universe she should have never shown me the world.

sleep-walking-01CHILDREN NEED TO…….(PICK ANY) WAKE UP AND PERFORM WHEN RELATIVES STOP BY AFTER BEDTIME, GET ON THE PHONE AND TALK TO YOUR GRANDPARENTS EVEN THOUGH YOU VISITED THEM WEEKLY, GIVE KISSES TO PEOPLE YOU DIDN’T KNOW BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS SAID IT WAS WHAT YOU MUST DO…(the list goes on and on and on). One morning my mother told me that I had played my violin very well for the second cousins who had stopped by (we were just off the New Jersey Turnpike so it was a friendly pit stop) on their way home to Albany around 10pm. I was 10 years old and I’m sure it was no more than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but golly gee, I had no memory of it. What a talent! I could play in my sleep! This “late night” performing did not bother me as much as the enforced phone conversations and I never made my kids get on the phone. Interesting enough, they often wanted to. Amazing what free choice can do.

OUR RELIGION IS THE ONLY RIGHT ONE. Well, no. Simply, no. Since people started sharing their thoughts about their place in the Universe there has been over 3000 interpretations of man’s relationship with God. And all, every single one of them, was “manmade”.  (very few women have been involved in the major Western religions.) So, let’s toss out “my way is the only way” and get to the basics-teaching morals and behavior based on treating others the way you want to be treated. I dare say if we comply with that, as simple as it is, we will be happier as a people.

IF YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING I WOULD NOT LIKE, YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING IT.  Yikes, Mom…not fair! Although you smoked, it wasn’t pot. You didn’t cut school.  You didn’t hitchhike. (Well, considering how scary that one was, I never did it again.) You didn’t get mugged in the New York subway with your best friend. (And I couldn’t tell you about it because it was one of those days when I had skipped school.)  My mom’s voice was in my head when I started a misadventure but I always told her to be quiet, I had thought it through. So, when it came time to raise my own kids, I modified it. IF YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING YOU KNOW I WOULD NOT LIKE, BE SURE YOU WANT TO BE DOING IT.

It would be interesting to read my kids’ version of this essay. LOL

 

 


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So Long Ago and Moreso Today

After I published this a friend told me I was too oblique, so let me explain simply why I told this story today. Today, we have a lot of people who seem to be pretty darn angry about almost everything. They blame the dissatisfaction in their lives on others and that is confirmed by their favorite talking head telling them that they are being mistreated. It is time for you all to wake up. There is no one more responsible for your own pathway, your own circumstances, than you. The choices you make or the choices you fail to make, have consequences. Those are not my fault, nor the single mom down your street, nor the man who is our President. You want change, work for it.

And now, back to my original post…..

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So long ago I had an inkling that my marriage to my then boyfriend would not work out; that we had a fundamental difference that would prove to be a problem.  I asked him what his goal was in life. We were pretty young (compared to now for sure) but in our mid 20s, so had had some adulthood experience. He told me he didn’t know. He had never thought about it.

That was not the problem.

A minute later he was excited…he knew what it was. He wanted to be rich!  I laughed. He scowled.

I asked him how much would make him feel rich. He didn’t know. A million? No. Two million? No, not enough. I asked him if he had a plan to get to this unknown number and he looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. (To him, the concept of earning your goal was an idea that WAS foreign. He just expected it to happen.)

Then he turned to me and asked me what my goal in life was. I told him I wanted to be happy. He laughed . I scowled.

He told me no one is ever happy. They always want more.

And THAT was the fundamental difference.

Two ways to look at life. He needed something…an unknown and no plan how to achieve it….that was outside himself to provide his goal.

I needed something inside me that would tell me I had enough and it was good.

So long ago, and yet this seems to be more so today. So many people are living in the moment, wanting more and no idea of how to get it. They want for themselves and there is not much space for anyone else.  Their partner and their kids are not as important as their feeling that life is just not right, it is unfair, there is more they deserve. And so, unhappiness and another generation who is not taught life skills.

By the way, although that marriage ended in divorce, I have two wonderful children who are priceless to my happiness. I would go through it all again just to share my life with those two fine people.today


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Divorce-Once Removed

Watching my children make life decisions can be exciting and it can be painful. Right now, my daughter is going through the awful realization that her marriage of four years is not viable. There is no life support that can revive it.

They are who they are. She had a dream and he wanted to come along so that was what they used as their foundation. It never happened. Life got in the way.

They are who they are. He is a nice guy, fun to be with. Energetic. Athletic. Wants to explore and experience. But has issues with the mundane issues that life requires. Can not stick to a plan. Can not do what he says he will do.

They are who they are. She is a planner. She sets her eyes on a goal and plans out the steps that will get her there. She makes lists and succeeds. She makes friends easily and holds them dear, but will not tolerate someone who hurts her.

They are who they are. They are trying to get through this next phase as “friendly” as possible. No kids. No property except what each of them purchased out of their own funds for their travels. So the process is as simple as the law permits.beach

But there are missteps and pain along the way. Communication to explain how a misstep caused an additional problem. Excuses given.  Tears flow.

All I can do is tell her she will wade through this and life will get easier.  All I can do, if he reads this blog, is tell him the same.

Life’s mistakes are opportunities for personal growth.  The only thing we can control in some situations is our attitude.  Chose the high road. And parents-watch what you say. It is not your life. Let the adult child make the decisions.