Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's All About Choices...

House of Horror...

It was ten years ago this March that I left my husband.
It will be ten years this August that he killed himself.

Seems that I should be done with this by now. Right?
Apparently not. Perhaps writing this will put me another
step closer to being done.

Warning to those easily offended or sensitive to graphic description:
Stop reading now and come back in a few days. Or, scroll down to
other posts or read through the archives. It's all about choices...

Michael was a drunk. Likeable enough, as many drunks are, but a drunk
nonetheless. He was also a drunk who didn't like to work but loved
being taken care of. He walked out on good jobs without having another
job waiting. That meant no money from him for the six months to
eighteen months it took him to find another job. Correction: accept
another job. He was picky. He could afford to be picky. He bragged, often,
that his wife was smarter than him and always made more money.
That wife was me. Stupid. Enabler. Stupid. Scared. Stupid. Dumbshit.

We met at work in 1977. A shitty factory that hired shitty people.
He had left his first wife and moved back to his parent's home.
Ironically, he left his first wife because she didn't want to work.
Or so he said. I never talked to her.
I helped him with the do-it-yourself-divorce paperwork. Stupid.
We got married in 1978. On the beach at sunrise. Hippy-style.
About a year later, he quit that job. Walked out.
He said he couldn't handle the un-safe conditions there. People got
hurt there. That was true. I was very aware of those conditions because
I worked in their Emergency First Aid Department for two years
of the nine years I spent there.

That company hired him back a few weeks later, because he was a
damn good die-setter. He walked out again before two weeks went by.
That stretch of unemployment lasted about four months.
So began that pattern.

Did I mention he had a DUI on his record? From shortly after we
started dating. Before I married him. No driver's license. Stupid.

His next job was with a company that made cement blocks. Good wage.
Rotating shift. Close enough to the apartment that he could ride a
bicycle to work when our schedules didn't jive. He quit. No notice.
Safety issues there, too, he said. He wasn't comfortable.

That stretch of unemployment was enough to get the bill collectors
riled. Eventually, he talked me into filing for bankruptcy.
Perhaps the most humiliating experience of my life. Lied to my parents.
I borrowed the bankruptcy fee from them, but told them it was to pay
bills. They knew he wasn't working. I paid them back in full a year later.

I have no issues with bankruptcy for people who come by hard times
honestly. I didn't feel that we deserved that option.
He could have been working.

Did his family help? Fuck. Where do you think he learned all this?
I was buying groceries for them too. Stupid.

We needed to find a cheaper place to live and a job for him.
He found an ad in the paper for live-in managers at a motel
on the beachside. That meant I would be working two jobs. Stupid.
He loved it. Convenience stores within walking distance. Lots of beer.

I came home one night, after working a long day, and nothing had been
done at the motel. He was drunk. Of course.
My duties at the motel included all the bookkeeping and helping him
with cleaning, repairs and laundry. Plus, I did our shopping, cooking,
bill-paying and apartment cleaning. This night put me over the edge.

A bit of advice for those who might be dealing with a drunk: don't
bother talking to them when they are drunk. Not that they are any
more reasonable when they might be sober for an hour or two. But,
they might remember the conversation later if they're not drinking
at the time. Actually, if you are dealing with a drunk... just leave. Quickly.
And, don't look back.

To continue with the night that put me over the edge...
I ranted. And I ranted some more. I think it was the first time I let
him see me angry because of his drinking. We had been married about
four years at that point.
His response to my ranting?
He stood up slowly and pointed his index finger in my face.
His brow wrinkled, his eyes squinted, his face got red.
He said, "If you EVER try to make me choose between my beer,
cigarettes, pot and you? YOU will lose!"

Are ya thinking this might have been the time an intelligent person
would have packed her shit and hauled ass out the door? Yeah.
Stupid for another fifteen fucking years.

I can feel the bile rising in my throat.
Part Two will be continued later...


Anonymous said...

Remember: You will win as long as you keep moving forward. Letting yourself succumb to his stupidity is bad for everyone.

Jean said...

How's this for moving forward... I'm filling up dumpster #2!

Anonymous said...


How old were you?

Why did you choose to stay after that??

Yeah, yeah, I know, you're writing the rest. But you didn't have to leave us hanging like that!!

AspergantuS said...

Good for you. You are finally taking the psychological dump, the mental colon cleansing that you've needed for a long time. Write this story no matter how many parts it takes, when you are through, wipe and flush... then it will be over.

kdzu said...

They say that 'that which does not kill us, makes us stronger'.
Not sure if that's totally true, but we get damn good at patching over the cracks. On the other hand, you're still standing, and aware enough to know more about yourself than most..
which gives you a higher level of understanding or empathy. For good or ill. LOL

none said...

I'm glad you got away. It doesn't sound like he left you much choice.

Jean said...

LL - we were both 27 when we married.

Mick - I didn't want to make this a long, drawn-out story, but it looks like it may be at least 2 or 3 posts.

Larry - Life leaves us all with scars and callouses, eh? Sometimes the lessons learned take a while to surface.

Hammer - Prideful and stubborn... that's me.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we all, sister.

k said...

I'm with aspergantus.

I'm so glad you're doing this. You may be surprised at how much it helps.

You've probably heard this before: but stupid? No. Brainpower has nothing to do with situations like this.

One of the worst and most lingering effects of an abusive relationship is that shattered self-esteem. When we look back and realize how awful it really was, and how senseless, we go through such a conflicting variety of feelings.

Self-hatred can be a big part of that emotional array for a long, long time. For way after the fact.

Don't let it.

Another part of the emotional array can be gladness and pride. Listen: You're on dumpster #2. My God above, what an accomplishment.

You left. You did it. You made yourself free.

That's especially true in your case, Jean. Not me. I didn't leave, not with the first and worst bad one. Divorce was his idea, not mine.

It took a very long time before I stopped hating myself on that score.

One thing that might help? Just to try out? Take those feelings of liberation and release and accomplishment and wallow in them.

Role-play, even. Create a deliberate alter *mother* or friend. Become, for a time, your own advocate.

And then talk to yourself like you were that wounded woman, your daughter or friend, who needs true caring and friendship and forgiveness from you now.

Because I betcha $10 that if you heard a friend of yours talking about hating herself for putting up with an abusive relationship, you would not let her do that.

Don't be harder on yourself than you would be on your friend. Even if it takes a created alter person to talk nice to you.

Practice. Take that woman's hand and hold her and let her cry on your shoulder. Let her know it's over now and it wasn't her fault.

Jean. You've suffered enough.

Now it's time to learn to soothe, to heal the wounds, to rub balm into them instead of salt. Just as you would for an innocent friend who was hurt so badly at the hands of another.

And finish this story for us and for you.

Jean said...

Sparrow - unfortunately, sister.

k - You should be getting paid large sums of money for this.
I like your suggestion.
...and, I will finish this, once and for all.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Oh, God, Jean!

Jean said...

Eotr - part 3 soon, I hope.

Neuse River North Carolina said...

you have to move on in order to not gain pain..