Tis the season to be blah

Thanksgiving behind me, I began to look forward to the promise of a New Year and the hopes for healing and peace in my heart.

The sickness from Thanksgiving lingered for a few weeks, but life returned to normal. Work had become really busy, it was time for all the company holiday parties. I was scheduled to work six nights a week, every week, until New Year: my financial future was looking good, every party on those books had $$ signs shining through the pages. As the first of the parties began, it was to my disappointment, that my greedy boss and her daughter decided to hire a young man to help in serving food and busing tables, in lieu of having any of the wait staff help, and cut into their tip. This continued for the entire Christmas season. We would have parties scheduled for over 150 people, with an open bar and live bands. The bosses daughter was a horrid person, as time had passed, her true colors began to show themselves and this woman simply, was a monster. She was the type of person who everything was about her. If you cut your finger, she had cut hers worse when she was 7: if you were heartbroken, her life was horrid because her husband did not give her enough attention, etc. She was overweight, lazy, u un-compassionate and had not a bit of couth anywhere in her body. The nights the Christmas parties were booked, she would have the bus boy serve all the food and alcohol, as she sat in the back of the kitchen playing on Facebook. I would wait the tables that came in for the restaurant, unless a known big tipper came into the front door, and then her mom would wait the table for her and slip her the tip.By the end of the night, she was walking out with several hundred dollars, after paying the bus boy an hourly minimum wage and rubbing it in my face that she was making bank. Finances were not well and none of this was helping my mentality. Since I had left the first restaurant at the end of June, I had placed over 100 applications for “real” jobs, finally throwing in the white towel, I had decided to take a break for the month of December, regroup and begin again in January. Of course, I was depending on making enough money to place into my savings through the holidays, now everything just seemed out of sorts again.

The closer Christmas came, the more anxious I began to feel. Thanksgiving was horrid, the sadness and loneliness had almost consumed me for that short four day weekend. Christmas was due to be a 6 day weekend. No invites were offered my way for Christmas. Though I had not acted upon any of them, I had been invited to maybe 6 different homes for Thanksgiving, but nothing was looming for Christmas.

When my ex had placed my items into our storage unit over the summer, he had warmly and nicely packed every single Christmas decoration that referenced our past and had kept every single Christmas decoration that had not. I found this out after deciding one Sunday to at least decorate my balcony and condo door. Over the years I had acquired several nice door wreaths from Macy’s and Dillard’s and just last year I had purchased a few boxes of icicle lights and four crab pot Christmas trees. (only sold in our area for the time being, eastern NC) I had driving to the storage room, almost excitedly packed my car with the two storage containers and the 4 crab pot tress and drove home humming Christmas carols. Maybe this was just what I needed to put me in the mood! Upon opening the two storage containers and barely leafing through I quickly figured out the motivation to be so “willing” to set certain items free. The first container was full of CHristmas decorations, the decorations I did not want to see. Or first Christmas, our first home, our wedding cake topper, etc. The second storage container was filled with our entire families stocking, FAMILY stocking holders, even our puppy dogs stocking and Christmas decoration. (the puppy dog he still has). I threw the lid on the storage containers, through them in the back of what used to be my daughters room and sat in the dark, crying for hours. There were no outside lights, no door wreaths, no tree skirts, or tinsel: he had purposely gone through every single decoration and pushed them out of his home, heart and memory. I really did not know what to feel.

The days moved on, finally, I pulled up my boot strings and stopped into Wal Greens to buy some lights for my balcony and a tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree for the condo. That was the extent of my Christmas decorations.

Two weeks before Christmas, Bryan and I still doing our thing, he told me his daughter would be down for a week before Christmas, he was going to his brother’s house on the opposite end of NC for the holidays and would not be home until after New Years. My only hope of entertainment now gone, my heart-felt sad, I have never felt so alone.

My youngest son, who is stationed in Macon GA phoned my just before Christmas. He was scheduled to have a ten-day holiday but didn’t want to spend the money to come home and was worried about being so far away from base for so long. A light bulb in my brain snapped on, my one mainstay financially has been my Marriot rewards card, I had enough points for a three day free hotel stay, why not drive to Atlanta and see my son for Christmas! GENUISE! I shared the idea with my son and he was excited at the thought. Immediatly, I hung up the phone, booked a hotel room, and that was it, Christmas was now back on. I phoned my oldest son and daughter to let them know I would be away for Christmas but back right after: they could have cared less. My oldest son even gave me a “Huh?! Ummm ok, why are you telling me this!”

I worked Saturday night, excitedly came home to pack and leave on Sunday morning. It was going to be an eight hour drive, but well worth it to make son happy for the holidays. All my life, I have always gotten great pleasure at making my kids smile. The entire nine-hour drive, visions of sugar plums, smiles from my son, dinners together, walks through the park amid all the Christmas lights and maybe even a nice Christmas lunch dance through my head.

I have to explain one thing to you before I go ahead with my story. My youngest son is ADD and suffers from EXTREME middle child syndrome.I had all hopes when he joined the Air Force, they would break these issues, but I think they have actually became worse. On the way down, I texted my son when I was half way there. His home base is only an hour from Atlanta so I had told him to give me three hours and then begin his journey to meet me at the hotel. Did he listen? No, do they ever? When I arrived at the hotel, I found my son sleeping in his truck, in the hotel parking lot, with a tow truck backing in beside home to tow him away. He had left Macon at 12:30 and had been asleep in the parking lot since 2, I arrived at 5. I had to rush inside, tell the clerk who he was, check us in, rush out and beg for forgiveness from the tow truck driver: all the while, my son is still sleeping. After the tow truck pulls out, I bang and bang and bang on my sons window, for a moment, I thought he may have been dead. He finally wakes up, clueless to the action that took place only a few moments before. I am livid. He explains that he “forgot” I told him that it would be a nine hour drive for me, rushed out to meet me, and then when he realized that I was still a ways away, he tried to check in and had an argument with the hotel clerk. (the room was booked in my name) He didn’t think to call me, he says!

We settle our vehicles in the parking garage, I open my trunk and begin to pull out my four pieces of luggage for our three-day stay. (a girl must be ready) My son walks over, grabs two bags and stands there. I ask is he going to make a second trip to get his bags. He doesn’t have any bags he answers. WHAT?!?! You have nothing, no toiletries, no change of clothes, nothing. Nope, he didn’t think he would need anything for just one day! WHAT?!?!?! One day, I told you we would be here from Sunday-Wednesday! Oh, he says! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN OHHHHHH? I think in that first ten minutes of arrival in Atlanta, I felt 100 new gray hairs blossom on top of my head!

How we made it to the room in one piece, I cannot explain, but when that door opened, and I saw that nice King bed and those beautiful shower stalls, I was in heaven. Nine hours in a vehicle, driving alone, in traffice, two days before Christmas, had not made me a happy camper. Then to arrive to that fiasco, Mama was ready for a nap, a shower and then a nice sit down dinner. My son was not having it. His ADD afire and well rested after his three hour nap in the parking lot, he was pinging all over the hotel room with franetic energy. I could not stand him at that moment and I began to realize, those visions of sugar plums, yeah, they were popping around like a little kid blowing bubbles out of a bottle.

I rushed to take a shower, rushed to dress, after all, this trip was to keep him entertained and make sure my 21 year did not spend Christmas alone. We drove over to one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta, Gordon Buersh. At least I could get a cold beer, a nice hot sandwich and watch Dallas in the division title game. Maybe that could give the relaxation I needed. There I went thinking again. My son was like a three-year old, non stop chatter, bouncing around in his booth seat, and anxious to make plans for that evening. I had found several things for us to do over the three days, his ADD was wondering why we had not done them already. He barely touched his burger and I could not enjoy my chicken salad for his constant bouncing. I gazed around. I was in Heaven, with the exception of my sons presence. Fresh ale was brewing in the window behind me, the bar was lined, I MEAN LINED, with nice looking gentleman sipping beer and watching football ALONE!, my salad was refreshing, Dallas was winning..I wondered how I could make my son disappear long enough to slip my single self up to the bar and begin a NFL conversation with this one gentleman that was catching my eye?

Again, my bubble burst, dinner was over, we walked out with 2 To Go plates and we headed to downtown Atlanta for a little ice skating in the park. The traffic was horrid, parking was expensive and the line to the skating rink was over three hours long. The rink closed at 10, it was 9. We walked through Centinnel park for maybe ten minutes and my son was out did. His excitement gone, his temper in full force, he began to whine like a three-year old. I was tired, my excitement gone, I began to whine like a four-year old and just like what normally happens when you have a whiny three and four-year old, you send them to their room for time out. A $30 dinner sitting in our hotel fridge, $20 parking lot fee, and one ill me later, we were in our room by 10 and lights out.

The next morning was Christmas Eve, there was a sad and cold cloud of rain over Atlanta and the weather channel called for it to settle in. It mimicked the coldness in my heart. My son was awake, depressed, irritated and not the person I wanted to be around at all. HAving battled the ADD the night before, it was now time to battle the middle child syndrome. My kids father was having his annual Christmas gathering at his home that day. Every year for 15 years, he has had a massive amount of people from his neighborhood come to his house, grill out, open presents, play games, etc. The kids have always loved it and that was where my oldest son and daughter would be. My youngest son felt left out. After all, the middle child never gets his way. You have to understand, when my son gets in this mind frame, it is horrible. He stomps, pouts, sighs, kicks, curses, you get the picture. The rain settled in and my plans for our Christmas Eve were shot right out of the water. The walk through the Botanical Gardens and the return trip to the ice skating rink were now off the options list. It was Christmas Eve, though we were in Atlanta we didn;t really have any options. Across the street was a huge shopping mall and one entire end was Macys. I decided to walk over and spend a few hours walking around, my intention, to get away from my son, but no he decides to follow me over. This lasted as long as ten minutes, after the 50th time of him walking ten steps behind me cursing under his breath and mumbling, I grabbed him by his ear and pulled him out the door, like I used to when he was 6. ENough was enough, this was not going to happen!

We drive to a restaurant, order lunch, and I proceeded to down four beers, just that fast too, gulp gulp. I think the waitress thought I was off my rocker….now that I think about it, I think I WAS off my rocker. By 2 p.m., we were back in our room. All I wanted was to come home, at least I would be alone, literally alone.  I feel asleep and by 4 p.m. things were at their all time low, my oldest son had texted photos to my youngest son of the crowd exchanging gifts and playing horseshoes. My youngest son was unmanageable. I called my ex husband, passed him the phone to talk to his son, and proceeded to listen to a 2 hour conversation between he and everyone else at his Dad’s party. I felt sad, lonely, and not enough. I had traveled nine hours to make this holiday a nice one for us both and all my son was focused on was what he was missing. I knew what I was missing and did not want to think about it! I stood at the window, on the ninth floor of our hotel and watched as 6 p.m. came, the stores turned out their lights, the traffic whitteled down to nothing and Christmas Eve settled in. My brain took me back to all of the Christmas Eve’s before. The ones with my first husband we spent with his parents, siblings and neighbors, opening gifts, eating lots of food and then packing the kids in their car seats to anxiously wait for Santa. The ones in my former single life where there was no father figure, I was Santa, Chef Du Jour, and entertainer all in one. We would bake cookies on Christmas Eve, make hot chocolate and my three kids and I would sit in the floor and unwrap toys and play for hours. Then there were the Christmas Eves with the ex: I would cook appetizers for us all to eat as we opened gifts and then we would drive to his brothers house for dinner and gifts there. I remember the 22 years of the kids excitement and energy over Santa. I remembered it all, this year there was none of that, and I felt sad.

My son gave me my phone back and when I turned to face him, tears streaming down my face, for one second, I saw the happiness in his eyes and I thought there may be hope for my Christmas Eve. True to the male gender, he never noticed the tears, never saw the sadness his mom was feeling: he had decided, as a gift to his Dad, he was not going to tell anyone but me….he was going home for Christmas to surprise his family, his family being his Dad and Step mom.  Just the thought of it, made him excited and happy, so much so, he was ready to leave right that minute for the nine-hour drive home. It was 8 p.m. Christmas Eve night. I talked him into waiting for the next morning, I never made mention that I had driven down just for him, I was the one who would be alone the rest of the holiday and how much it broke my heart that he didn’t notice these things. By 5 a.m. Christmas morning, he was gone. Excited and bouncing around like a happy three year old, he was gone. I ventured down stairs for a treadmill workout, informed the clerk we would not be needing the last nights stay, at my continental breakfast alone, packed my bags, and by 8 a.m., I was on the GA interstate making that long trip home. I was let down, heart-broken, and totally alone.

What felt like years but was really 7 and one half hours later, I pulled into my condo. I was achy, tired, and did not have much energy. I made it in the house, threw my bags to the side and passed out on the couch. The next morning, I woke up with the flu. Yep, you read that right. That nasty bug that is still dominating our country with fever, fatigue, aches and pains: that was my day after Christmas present. I thought I was going to die, literally, I have never been so sick in my life.

From Christmas Eve night on Monday, until Friday morning, my phone never rang, dinged or vibrated. No one called, inquired about me, or knew of my existence, not even one of my three children. At one point, my fever was 103.7, my chills were dominating and my achy body could not be still: I pictured the landlord knocking on my door in early January and entering the condo to find me cold and hard, dead for WEEKS. Headlines in the local paper

SINGLE WOMAN FOUND DEAD IN CONDO FROM FLU. AUTOPSY FINDINGS REVEAL SHE HAD BEEN DEAD FROM STARVATION AND DEHYDRATION FOR WEEKS BEFORE BEING FOUND BY MONEY HUNGRY LANDLORD WANTING RENT MONEY. Family attempting to be notified, if anyone has any knowledge of Jane Doe please phone our local Sheriffs office.

Oh the life of a single woman! By Saturday, I had survived. I was walking, more like the walking dead, but walking, talking and eating again. My kids, remembering they had a mom, decided to make a day trip down to see me that weekend. (how nice of them) They arrived around 12, the flu still lingering but ,as I stated, I was functional, we decided to ride around in my oldest sons new car and stop in at some of the local surf shops discounted summer sales. My daughter was involved in a text argument with her boyfriend, my oldest was engrossed in a text conversation with his new love pursuit and my youngest son was yet again, bouncing off the walls in anticipation of the nine-hour return drive to GA the next day: I stopped, watched them, and listened – at that moment, I realized I was not suffering from empty nest syndrome, I actually FINALLY understood why spiders eat their young! Not two hours later, boredom had settled in, the attraction of Saturday night dates and the lure of the opposite sex was too much to take, and just that fast, they were gone! That was their Christmas gift to me, not one phone call, not one gift or card, only a day trip to spend three hours ignoring me. Merry Christmas to me!

This was Santas gift to my kids this year!

This was Santas gift to my kids this year!

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The Final stages

My relationship with Chris’s family was pretty close to being the same as the relationship with my husband. Getting to know his family, it was easy to see where his personality flaws came from.

Chris was the fourth in a family of five boys. When I met him, his father had passed away two years before but his mother was still living. The year I met him, was the year that he had moved out of his mom’s house and purchased the townhouse. After college, he had lived with a roommate in a neighboring town, but once his father died, he moved back in with his mother to take care of her. From an outside perspective, you would immediately think how sweet that is, but once I tell you the story, everything will be clear.

I remember the first time I met his mother, I was so nervous and excited all in one. My first marriage had ended with me still having a great relationship with my former in-laws. They were great people, with a big heart, who let me into their family and treated me as their own from the first day. I was excited to again get that same feeling of family, considering I had no relationship with my parents and am an only child. We went to her house to pick up Chris’s jet ski for a day out with friends. I was really shocked at our first meeting at what I encountered. Chris’ moms house was in horrible shape. She was a massive hoarders and there was barely a clean spot on any counter in the home and you had to make your way from room to room through pre-cut paths. She was an overweight woman, she had only 1/4 of her teeth remaining and during our entire visit she mainly sat in her recliner and stared at the TV that was not on. Chris introduced us and quickly went back outside to gather the items needed for our day trip. We sat in silence for a bit until I attempted to begin any kind of conversation with her. Before I could even utter the first sentence she begins to tell me of Chris’s ex girlfriend. She asks me if I have heard about her, then she proceeds to tell me not to expect to be in his life for long, that his ex is missing him and wants him back. What do you say to that? I replied with “that’s ok, I’m not very concerned”, to which she responded “you should be and don’t ever get sassy mouth in my home again.” We sat in complete silence until Chris returned. After we left, he asked how our time was. When I told him of the conversation, he began to chuckle, obviously thinking it much more funny than I did. When I seemed upset over his laughter he simply let me know that was his mom’s way and to get used to it. Again, I pushed my better judgement aside and let things be. Not a few weeks later, his mom came to our home for dinner. The very second that Chris left us alone to answer a phone call, she began again on the ex girlfriend conversation. She then proceeded to tell me that she did not like me and to never think that I was good enough for her son. This was the mentality that I dealt with for 11 years. On more occasions than need mention, I was informed that I did not belong and never would. I even remember a time when my ex mother in law was battling breast cancer: it was a few weeks before our wedding and I was sitting at her beside, feeding her ice chips after her mastectomy. My husband was reading the Bible to her, I accidentally dropped an ice chip on her bed when he sarcastically informed to “tighten up” and not make a mess. I responded for him to just mind his own business and keep reading. Before I could get the ice chip off of the bed, my mother in law looked at Chris and informed him there was still time to back out of the wedding, “I know you are not going to marry this damn dingbatter!” (a dingbatter is what people in our area call someone they think is retarded or really ignorant) My husband looked my way, began chuckling uncontrollably, and told his mom he was considering backing out. I put the ice cup down and spent the rest of the visit in the waiting room.

His four brothers were no better. We visited one of his brothers, a few years into our marriage, at his home that was 4 hours away from ours. The visit was going well until his brother began drinking moonshine. It was his brother and sister in-laws 15 year wedding anniversary. My husband, myself and his brother were sitting in the yard swing, when my sister-in-law attempted to join us. She had been in the house washing the dinner dishes. My brother-in-law informed her to get back in the house and finish her domestic duties, I thought he was joking with her, and encouraged her to ignore him and come out with us. He became angry and began yelling at me to not tell his wife to not listen to him, he was the one with the 15 year marriage, I was nothing more than a washed up, dried out divorcee, with three bastard children. I look over at my husband and he is in turn looking my way with the biggest shit eating grin on his face. He again, thought it was funny. I asked him if he was going to say anything and he responded, “I guess the truth hurts sometimes.” I entered their home, went directly to bed, cried all night and did not see my husband again until the next morning. Not one person, my husband or his brother, acknowledged the evening before in our awkward 6 hour stay that afternoon. I sat in silence, in the corner, praying to go home. Once we left, my husband began the four-hour assault on my personality and how embarrassed he was of my actions. When I tried to defend myself, his only explanation was “that’s just how my brother is.” I can tell you, I never stepped another foot in that mans home nor he in mine. I laid the law down and informed my husband that his brother was not allowed into my home until he could apologize. That one night, at his family’s home, created many fights between us for years to come. I was devastated that evening, to realize that my husband would never defend my honor, he agreed with the nasties that his family were throwing my way and I could never fully be a part of any of their lives.

Around that time, I realized our marriage was never going to be forever. I was suffocation in the world that I had allowed him to create for us and I needed some type of recreational therapy of my own. I enrolled in college and began my venture towards my two-year degree. I worked full-time, my sons never returned to my home full-time but my daughter did, so my days were spent around her, home and school. Our marriage began to unravel in that time period. Now the jealousy was focused on my time spent on myself and my children and the deprivation that was created in his life. None of his family or friends knew of my schooling, he never bragged to anyone about anything good that I was doing, and he did not ever want to discuss it in public, it was our private business he would state. In my lack of attention to him, he began to join fraternal organizations in multiples and our time actually spent together was, thankfully, few and far between. He became a mason, joined a rotary club and began attending every bible study session at our church. I worked, studied, cleaned the home, cooked and spent evenings with my daughter. I am assuming this is the only reason we were married as long as we were. Once I graduated college and obtained a full-time position in a neighboring town, life continued to be isolated and boring. I had to beg for date nights, evenings with friends were void (considering the only friends in our life were his), and any social interactions with us together were too stressful for my mind, so there were not any. My sons visit were becoming fewer, in this time frame they were in their teens, had drivers license and more interested in their friends than their mom. On the outside my world looked wonderful. We were living in a 2500 sq. foot home in a gated community, my teen daughter was thriving and activity in lots of school activities, I had the perfect professional job with a great income, and my husband was as smooth as a politician. Holding babies, shaking hands, and smiling to everyone he met, our community thought of him as a great man, who provided well for his family and participated in giving his time to his public activities. On the inside, my heart was empty, my life void and my soul was numb. I had everything in life that a woman could ask for, other than happiness, and I was miserable.

It was during this time that I began to drink on regular occasions. At first, I did not drink on work nights or alone. I would have the random mixed drink with my husband (who drank around a fifth in three nights) or on a weekend off, I would have a few drinks around the fireplace or on the porch. The numbing effects of alcohol became my reprieve and eased the awkward moments or de-stressed the painful nights that I had to listen to my husbands demeaning comments and rampant demands. Before I realized it, I began drinking on work nights and on weekends I would drink in the evenings until I passed out in a drunken stupor. Of course, this did nothing more than egg my husband on, not only was he married to an idiot but now I was an alcoholic as well. He would constantly tell me how embarrassing I was, even when it was just he and I sitting at home alone, he would tell me I had psychological issues and that I needed therapy and rehab. I, in turn, would drink more. In my drunken stupor, I would beg him to love me. I would ask him why he married me, why we did not have friends, why he was so embarrassed by me and he would ignore my questions with angry silence. I see now, that the pain was surfacing more rapidly than my mind could handle and I grasped onto the first thing that brought me comfort. I knew he did not love me, I was his play toy that he could control and I so desperately wanted to break those barriers. I wanted to break them with love, I wanted to see that look in his eyes when he looked at me, I wanted us to be together, happily in love, forever. Even at this point, I wasn’t ready to leave. I maintained the hope that one day I would be good enough. What I didn’t realize, was my life was beginning to spiral out of control in a dark abyss that would last for a few years.

Reflections part 3

Little did I realize, just how dramatically my life would begin to change soon after we moved in together.

While I was working two jobs and venturing from doctor to doctor trying to find a reason for my health issues, my kids were suffering. Night after night they watched their mom struggle around the house, feverish, cold, and in pain: I tried hard many days to mask what I was feeling, but some days were so intense there was no ignoring the pain. My son approached his Dad about my health, my ex phoned and offered to take custody of the kids for the entire summer to give me time to heal. I was adamant about it, but I agreed. The month before Chris and I moved in together, I packed my kids bags, and watched as they left to spend 3 months with their Dad. Something in my belly gnarled at me and my heart-felt heavy, it was like they were never going to come back.

With the kids not around, Chris felt it safe to offer me a place to live, and I backed out of my lease on my apartment and eagerly packed my belongings and moved into his townhouse. The first few days were wonderful, the greatest dream come true. He was so attentive to my needs and I was excited everyday to see his par pull in the drive and hear his keys in the door. I was in love and for the first time in years, I felt happy. He attended doctors appointments with me, carried me up the steps at night when the pain was too intense and spent hours researching my symptoms in trying to finally have an answer to this medical mystery.

In the meantime, my best friend was getting married on the beach to her boyfriend of 4 years. In route to the wedding, we stopped and picked up my girlfriend to ride with us. On the drive down, she and I were making casual chit-chat and I mentioned that we should have given the bride a bachelorette party. My girlfriend laughed and said “Yeah, we could have held it at your apartment and had Sam strip for us.” (refer to chapter 2) To which I laughed and responded “Yes ma’am she would have loved that. She always had a crush on Sam and his body!” The conversation continued and I began to notice Chris had become really quiet and withdrawn from the conversation. We arrived, the wedding was held and the reception was inside a rented beach house. Chris had not spoken to me since the drive down and I approached him in the corner of the kitchen and attempted to wrap my arms around his waist. He looked at me with one of the most hateful glances I have ever seen, shoved (yes shoved) me across the room and walked away. I stood, feet locked into the floor, trying to make sense of what just happened. I walked outside to get my thoughts together and get a breath of fresh air. Chris was on the front porch making small talk with the brides dad: he beckoned me over, wrapped his arm around my waist and began to tell the father of the bride what a catch I was and how blessed he was to have me in his life. Again, I stood with my feet rooted to the ground and could not think of a thing to say. Did I just imagine what happened? Was I loosing my mind? I watched in awe, as Chris worked the room, charming everyone with his smile and his great manners. I was very lucky to have such a man in my life, but who was the man who shoved me across the kitchen while no one was looking? The reception began to empty out, the bride requested all of us “younger” people head out with her and her new hubby to the local Tavern to dance the rest of the night away. We all agreed on a meeting spot and time and parted ways into separate vehicles. My friend whom rode with us to the wedding was not going to the Tavern and caught a ride home with someonelse. I cheerily enter Chris’s car and reach over to kiss his check while saying what a perfect wedding it was. The evil man was back: his eyes were raging, his cheeks beet red and if looks could have killed, will I would have not survived. I retreated in shock: he then informed me that we were not going to the Tavern with the rest of the wedding party, we were going home. He angrily and demeaningly told me how horrified he was at my Sam comment and just how much I had embarrassed him by even thinking of talking about another man with him near. I was confused and could not understand what I had said that was so offensive. He called me a few harsh names.put the car in drive and we rode in awkward silence to our home. As soon as we entered the house, he quietly went to bed without another word. I sat downstairs trying to figure what I needed to do next. Do I go to the Tavern and leave him alone with his pout? Do I go up and try to talk to him? Do I simply stay home but fall asleep in the separate room? I decided to try to talk to him and receive some clarity on what had been said and just how it had made him feel. He was not open to talking, he kept his back turned to me the entire time and would not remove his hand from over his eyes. I finally became angry and told him that I was just going to the Tavern without him. In one short second, he removed his hand from his face, grabbed me by the wrist and told me if I left, not to return. The look of anger and evil in his eyes was one I will never forget. He then informed me that I was to immediately end any and all relationships, friendships, acquaintanceship that I had with any men in my life or again, I would have to leave his home. I cried, agreed to his demands and crawled into bed in hopes of sleeping away the entire night. unbelievably, not long after I laid down, Chris is rolling over, holding me, and telling me how happy he is to have me in his life and he begins to tenderly make love to me. I laid rigid: I was terrified to do anything. I had no idea what would trigger his next rile of emotions so I laid perfectly still and quiet, until it was over.The next day we awoke and he never mentioned it again.

A few weeks later, Sam sent me a card in the mail after learning of my diagnosis with Lupus. I opened it, cried, ripped it to shreds and phoned one of my best friends to tell him he could not longer be a part of my life. I never told Chris about the card or the phone call: I guess he knew when I agreed to rid my life of my male friends, I would be true to my word.

It wasn’t long after that he began to place the same demands on my relationships with my girlfriends. Not to make this a detailed blog, because you can get the picture from the above situation, of what my ex’es mentality was like. Over time, there would be things he would find wrong with every friend in my life or my friends would see him for his true colors and make their own choice to exit my life. Eventually, at the end of our ten-year marriage, I had not spoken to several of my very best friends for years and I do mean years.

The passive-aggresive tendencies became more frequent, nothing I could do could ever seem to please him. It was not an insulting nature to where he would directly comment to me how useless I was, it was more of the passive-aggresive types that take you a while to realize you are being manipulated. For example, after moving in together I would spend hours cleaning our small town home knowing how OCD he was. He would arrive home and I would, literally, wait in excitement and anticipation for him to see how much work I had put into making our house a home. He would enter the door, look around, scowl and take a few minutes to comment. When he did speak, it would sound something close to ” I see you cleaned today, did you do it your way or did you do it the right way?” He would progress to teach me things such as how a counter is never clean until you wash it with soap and water first and then clean it with disinfectant. If you simply cleaned it with a cleaner, you were leaving dirt and bacteria to festure. He would then tell me with time my ignorance would disappear and he would help form some common sense in me.

The comments were directed at my children as well. Whenever my sons would do something immature, such as teenagers do, he would comment they were at the age that they were above being helped, all you could do was pray. He would tell my daughter how ignorant a decision she made was and would tell her the same, “One day, I hope to teach you how to have common sense”. So you see, I could never really put my finger on the emotional abuse, as it was put out as “constructive criticism”, though in my heart I knew, it was wrong. The absence of family and friends in my life isolated my thoughts even more. I didn’t have any one person to tell these things to and eventually I convinced myself that these aggressions were ok, especially since we were provided with a good home.

I began to place my focus on being the “stepford wife” that he wanted me to be and taking care of my kids. In public, I would smile politely and speak when spoken to, while in my heart I was screaming to be me. Those around us either thought I was shy or snotty at my lack of actively participating in conversations. They never realized that I was well-trained to not have a personality. On the few occasions, after us moving in together, that we were in a public setting and I showed my personality or involved my witty humorous side, I would be punished once we arrived at home. He would demean me and tell me how embarrassing I was to him, how I had revealed too much information or how my opinion meant nothing to anyone that was present in the conversation. With time, I learned it easier to keep my thoughts to myself and just seem mysterious to those around us.

Reflections Part 2

When I met my estranged husband 11 years ago, I was at a peak in my life. Finally settled into a routine of being a single mom with three children, life was flowing easily day by day. My time was busied with my children and bouncing between two jobs, one full-time accounting job and waitressing on weekends. Two weekends a month, my children would be at their dads, 2/3 of the summer and we traded holidays. My bills were paid, I had money in the bank to take random road trips and treat myself if I felt the need and my kids were healthy and happy. My love life, however, was a disaster. I had been in single mode for 4 years, one and a half of those years I had been in a committed, serious relationship that failed. That makes 2 and 1/2 years of dating and I do mean dating. No person I met lasted longer than 6 weeks, if we even made it past the first few dates. I was in my mid to late 20’s, the night clubs were full of men my age, but I wasn’t interested in picking up men in clubs, so most of the gentlemen I met during that time period were on dating web sites or through singles ads. By the time 2001 came, just before I met my husband, I was finished with men, dating, relationships in general. It was difficult to find a man willing to accept a woman who worked two jobs and was raising three children on her own. The men I did find that could see past those things wanted to move way to quickly for me tastes and usually disappeared within a few weeks.

I was working at my waitressing job and my two girlfriends wanted to hit the local clubs that Saturday evening. They were married and I was single but I was in no mood to battle the nightlife that weekend. Against my wishes the drug me out on the town but I agreed to be their DD, for whatever reason, I just did not want to drink or be around drunks. We hit the local Tavern and as I expected it was the same old crowd. We played some pool and they had drinks when I noticed a group of three men shooting darts that I had never seen before. One of them caught my eye and I was really disappointed when they left a few minutes later. My friends had my drive them to one of the local dance clubs that had just opened and they hit the dance floor, full of beer and wine, while I stood with my water to the side. I am gazing around the room looking for anything of interest when I suddenly see the guy from the Tavern standing with his friends across the room. I am staring their way when his friend senses someone looking and locks eyes with me. Embarassed I adverted my gaze to another part of the room and was a little put off when I looked that way again to see his friend still staring my way. After a few minutes the friend makes his way across the room and in not a very suave manner asks me why I am not dancing. I told him I was waiting for my girlfriends to come off the floor and he asked me to dance, I declined, again telling him I was with my girls. Getting the hint he walks away. He was totally not my type, he was blonde, balding, had blue eyes and dressed really preppy. The men I were attracted too looked like Greek Gods, brown hair, brown eyes, Goatees and if they had tatoos, that was even better. There was just something about a “Bad boy” that did me in and this guy was not even close. His friend suited my tastes just perfectly, so I made my way across the bar to where he was located and began a small conversation. I feel distracted by something that I cannot put my finger on and I glance around the bar, only to find blonde man staring at me talking to his friend and laughing hysterically. The blonde then walks over to one of my girlfriends and leds her to the dance floor. Not to be outwitted, once they return from dancing, I approach Mr. Blonde and ask him how many women he had to ask before he found someone willing to dance with him, he gives me a inquisitive stare and walks back to his group. I then go over to my girlfriend and begin bitching about the type of men in the town we live in, what type of man asks me to dance and when I tell him no then asks my girlfriend? Do men not realize that women know what you are after when you do things like that? My girlfriend then tells me, during their dance, all the blonde did was ask about me. He wanted to know if I were single, where I was from, what I liked, etc. I was shocked but intrigued all at once. You see, even today in 2012, men do not realize the way to a womans heart is as simple as making her feel like she is the only woman in the world. I had not experienced that feeling in my dating experiences until that moment. I looked across the bar at blonde man, and he was again looking directly at me. I made my way over and aplogized for being a butt. He told me the only way I could make it up to him was to save the last dance for him. I promised I would and true to my word, a little later, we danced the last dance together. He did nothing but ask about me. He never talked about himself, he wanted to know everything he could find out in the short 4 minutes we were on the dance floor. The song ended, my girls had already left the bar to wait outside, and he and I made our way to the door. As usual, a 2 a.m. bar fight was breaking out just inside the front door and Mr. Blonde grabbed my hand, wrapped his arm around me tight and led me protectively through the fight and out the door. Once outside my friends were no where in sight and he offered to walk with me around the parking lot to find them. We located them sitting on the hood of my car, Blonde guy held me hand, walked me to my car, opened the door for me and asked for my number. I told him I was not comfortable giving him my number but would take his if he wanted me to have it. We found him a pen and paper, he wrote his name “Chris” and his number and a small note that read “I’ll be waiting for your call at 6 p.m. tommorow night”, he pecked me on the check, shut my door and watched my friends and I drive off with this beautiful smile on his face.

The next day, I was baffeled at what to do. I was not attracted to him, in my 28 years I had never found a blonde attractive. His genuineness and his protective nature had caught my attention though and with curiousity killing me, I phoned his number at 5:30 p.m. He answered the phone “Hello Christie, I’ve been waiting all day to talk to you!” (this was before caller ID existed) I was shocked, he was literally sitting by his phone, waiting, and I was even 30 minutes early with my call. We talked for almost 2 hours, getting to know one another, exchanging information and laughs. Looking back now, even in that first conversation, there was signals that should have sent off my radar. Our phone call was on a Sunday and he asked me for a date that week, my only night off was Tuesday night. He informed me that Tuesday was his 27th birthday and he spent every birthday having dinner with his Mom. Red lights should have begun flashing and war sirens should have sounded but instead, I found it sweet he was close to his mother and offered to switch my night off to Wednesday. He agreed and as the conversation dwindled, he began to ask about me talking to his friend after rejecting his request to dance. I jokingly, told him that his friend was more my type appearance wise, but appearances can be deceiving. The other end of the phone became quiet, and the conversation was ended with finalizing plans for Wednesday.

First date night arrived, I was nervous, not excited, and could put my finger on why, but adorned myself in the cutest outfit in my closet and opened the door with a big smile when he arrived. He was taking me to dinner at a seafood restaurant on the beach and once again we shared casual conversation on the ride over. It was a few miles before the restaurant and I decided to go ahead and take the plunge and inform him of my chlidren. (he asked if I had kids) I truly believe his face went pale white and that awkward silence that you hate, hit the air. Not another word was spoken as we pulled into the restaurant and found our table. We ordered a drink and our dinner and the conversation picked back up until the appetizer arrived. I was horrified to sit and watch and again, silence was in the air, and Chris held his fork backwards and shoveled food into his mouth. I watched quietly, as we dined, and was really turned off at his table manners and lack of attention to myself: to be specific, the food was his focus, before swallowing his mouthful, he would shovel another mouthful in. Dinner was over, he requested dessert, and I let him know I had made him a dessert for his birthday and it was back at my apartment. My friend had given me this awesome recipe for butterscotch parfait cups and I had made one for him and one for me. I don’t recall much about the drive back, but I do know, I was not into another date. We arrived at my apartment, I led him to a seat at the bar, I pulled the divine desserts from the refridgerator and proudly sat them in front of him on display. He looked not so interested, to which I took offense and when he reluctantly picked up his spoon to try his I wrapped mine and placed it back on the counter. I was insulted at his response, I had put a lot of thought and attention into making those desserts specifically for his birthday, and his reaction was not what I had intended. Upon seeing that I was not going to partake in dessert dining with him, he placed his spoon to the side, never taking a bite, and refused to eat without me. After a minutes of banter, he left, and the door was shut with my intentions of never seeing him again.

Days passed, my kids returned home, and life went on. Four days after our horrid first date, I had reevaluted and revisited that night over and over agian. I was so in love with the attention he had given me the first night, that it was making me forget the awkward, lack of attention on the second night. Just before the weekend, thinking everyone deserves a second chance, I picked up the phone and called him. Chris and I spent another hour having “honest” conversation. I felt the first date was not up to par, he agreed: I felt maybe I was a little forceful and emotional with the birthday dessert, he agreed: I felt maybe I overanalyzed things and we needed to try again, he agreed. (notice he simply agreed with everything being my fault) We set date number 2 for the next evening, a quick burger and bowling.

Saturday night arrived, Chris arrived at my door in Kahki pants, a polo shirt, and brown loafers….ok. We head to McDonalds, shared a burger and hit the bowling lane. It was a great night, we laughed a lot, avoided any serious topics and simply enjoyed each others company. It was early when we left the bowling alley, so Chris asked if I would like to see him home, it was a townhouse that he had just purchased a few months earlier. Curious to see what his life was like I agreed and we headed to 7 miles to his home. Just before you arrive into his hometown (which is a small fishing village just off of the Atlantic Ocean) you must cross a drawbridge. That evening, the drawbridge was open as we approached and traffic was backed for miles, no one was going anywhere for a while. Chris stopped the car in line, put the car in park, turned off his lights, leaned across the console and we shared the most amazing first kiss ever. I am not sure how long we were waiting for the drawbridge to open because we never took our lips or hands off of each other. At his home, he gave me a small tour of his residence, it was small, but well decorated and I noted, immaculatly clean (OCD type clean). He offered me a drink and before I could respond, we were on his sofa, making out and then I was led upstairs to his bed. We spent the evening in wonderful sexual bliss. IN the early morning hours, as I began to drift off to sleep, I didn;t feel regret or guilt, only this uncomfortable fear as I began to notice the nice little cuddle we had settled into, had turned into more of a possesive chokehold, with his entire body draped over me and his arms wrapped tightly around my neck. The sun arose, and I was awakened with a huge smile and one more make out session. There was really no awkwardness as he drove me home, it was nice and different in the sense that he held my hand tightly the entire drive and kissed me at every stop light. I had never received attention like that before and was really unsure as how to respond. He walked me up my stairs to my apartment, kissed me goodbye, gently stroked my cheek, secured another date, and then whispered in my ear before walking away “You know, you are going to be my wife one day.” I stood, jaw dropped, unable to respond as his car drove away.

We began to date steady, against my better judgement, I would push away the red lights as they crossed my path and find an excuse for his behaviors. No one had ever showered me with the affection the Chris was showing: he wanted to know everything about me: wanted to touch and have every part of me and wanted every minute of my time. In hindsight, I can see, this is the point where the manipulations and the passive/aggresive tendancies began. Before meeting Chris, I had a male roommate for two months. The night I met Chris, Sam had moved out the day before. Sam was in the Marine Corp and was retiring after 20 years of service. Sam and I had attempted a few dates in the day, but our personalities did not mesh as lovers, so we simply became protective siblings to each other. Sam sold his home two months before his retirement date, was going to rent a weekly hotel room for those months, I had an extra bedroom, needed the extra help paying the bills and offered him a place, he accepted and for two months, I had a live in bodyguard, brother and best friend. There was never a thought of romance during those months, we were just two friends helping each other out. A few weeks after Sam moved to Florida, he was returning to town to pick up the last of his items from storage. Chris called and asked to see me, I told him he could come over after 8, Sam would be over for dinner at 5 and I was going to spend a few hours with him before he left for Florida permanently. I had been honest with Chris about Sam from the begining, though he never believed we were not intimate. He wasn’t happy about my dinner plans and decided he would go out to the bar in a neighboring town with friends. I think he believed I would be angry about that, but I was not, and I could sense his shock when I told him to just call me later.

Sam phoned and canceled, his son was out of school and he wanted to spend that time with him: I put the dinner in the fridge, opened a bottle of wine, and settled for the evening Sex and the City. Around 7 my phone rang, it was Chris. He had attempted to go out with friends, could not get me off of his mind, and was on his way to my apt, he had something of the utmost importance to tell me. I was shocked, but told him ok. He rushed his way through my front door, dropped to his knees in front of the couch, grabbed both my cheeks, stared me dead in the eye and old me he was in love with me. I was speechless, we had been dating less than three weeks, was he crazy? He waited for a response and I gave him none. I took his hands off of my face and told him there was no way he could love me, he didn’t know me at all, never had he met my kids, my family, and I had plenty of baggage that he knew nothing about. HIs face turned red, his eyes looked angry, and he stood up, swore he was in love with me and soon enough I would be in love with him and his wife, and he left.

He didn’t phone for a few days, which was good, but when he did, he made no mention of that night or the things he had said to me. We continued to see each other and less than three months later, I was moving in with him. My health was failing, I was unable to work the two jobs any longer, I had been to doctor after doctor and we could find what was wrong. Unable to pay all of my bills, terrified of my health issues, and worried about my kids, Chris was my knight in shining armour the night he asked me to move in with him. He would take care of me, he promised to always take care of me.

(to be continued)