Sunday, July 24, 2011
I walked away a survivor
He really tried.
But he didn't win.
Thirty years ago I was married in a civil ceremony to a man that in the beginning was incredibly nice. He took care of me when I was ill. He opened doors. He was a modern day Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
I was raised in a good home. We attended church, there was no alcohol consumption, no smoking, no bad language to speak of. Definitely none of the really vulgar words. If either my brothers or I dared to utter a foul word we learned exactly what soap tastes like. Coming off a bad marriage, but civil divorce I had moved into a place of my own. It was a small mobile home in a park with a less than stellar reputation, but it was my new temporary, home.
At the time I talked on the cb radio. That was where I met..him. On the radio he was always so nice. When I met him, he was just as nice. After I married him, Mr. Hyde showed himself. He was a raging alcoholic. He was also very controlling.
I came home from work one evening and he demanded money for beer. Money I didn't have. That was the first time he struck me. He threatened to burn the place down going so far as to hold a lighter to the curtains. Somehow or other I scraped up the couple of dollars for him to get a six pack. It wasn't what he wanted, and we had to drive a good way to get his beer..but he had something to drink and he was again the good Dr. Jekyll. But it only got worse. Especially after the move.
His brother called him and told him that he could get him a job in Louisiana. So we packed up everything and moved from North Carolina to the Lake Charles, LA. area. I made a few friends, got a job and watched as he also finally went to work. For a while, it was good. Then he got hurt and things were never the same. He drank and he used the pain pills. My job was very low pay, but it was enough to scratch by as long as he was drawing workman's comp. When that stopped and my small check was not enough to cover everything and get his beer Mr. Hyde was back.
It was then that his brother and sister-in-law introduced me to wine as medicine. As long as I was drinking I was on his level and he left me alone. If I were stone cold sober I was a target.
My so called life was one of threats, fear, confusion and drinking. I was miserable. Then on my birthday he had planned a surprise party for me. Apparently it went on too long and he was not the center of attention. He demanded that I say goodnight and get in the car. Once in the car he calmly drove up the street and made a turn. He then showered down on the gas getting the car up to a frightening speed on a short neighborhood street. Slamming on the brakes he slid through a stop sign and hit the gas again. Back and forth again and again he did this. Finally I had all I could take and the next time he slid through the stop sign before he could get the speed back up I jumped from the car.
I grew timid. I was afraid. I was always hungry. Then the day came of my awakening. I don't know what set him off, all I know is from the minute the beating started I thought I was not going to survive it. After a while I wasn't feeling the blows any longer. It was as if I were up above the battle watching it continue below me. When he finally grew tired I didn't move. I waited to see what he was going to do next. What he did was demand I clean up a mess he had made and prepare him another plate for his dinner. I knew then....I had to get away.
I set up a very elaborate escape plan. It almost worked, but the person who had driven me to the bus station betrayed me. As I waited for the bus, he showed up. We got into a verbal sparring match. It never grew overly loud. It never grew violent..it was close at one point but didn't reach it. But the ticket agent had called the police, they saw that I was able to get on the bus that had waited for me. It was a long lonely ride home. But I was going home and I was going home alive.
Thirty years ago- I still remember. I have deliberately blurred the details here because they are not the important part. The important part is that I left a very bad relationship, a verbally, mentally, physically abusive relationship alive. Very sore, underweight and weakened in many ways. But I was alive.
He had tried
really tried to beat me.
But he failed
and I walked away