Archive | October 2012

Revealed Chapter 3: D-I-V-O-R-C-E ~

MS, my new Marine Corps husband, and I moved down to Jacksonville, NC, shortly after the wedding in September, 1977.  I was due to have our first child in March 1978.  Our first “home” was a 10 x 50 mobile home in a small mobile home park not far from Camp Lejeune’s Main Gate.  The entire park, White’s Trailer Park, housed about 10 mobile homes of varying sizes.  Ours was the only one available at the time in our price range ~ cheap.  We joked about how we could sit in the livingroom and our feet would be in the kitchen.  But, hey, it was ours and we were in love.  My first Christmas away from home was spent without a Christmas tree, and I was extremely homesick and lonely.  MS introduced me to some of his friends and their wives, and I quickly learned “the ways” of the military and their spouses.  First up, washing and ironing Marine “utilities” ~ their uniforms; blocking and baking caps, and spit shining boots and shoes (oh yes I did!).

 Our gorgeous first-born daughter, Kristen, was born in March 1978 and now, at age 18, I learned to become not only a military wife, but a new mother.  However, things began to change over that summer and my newlywed husband seemed to wander places, not only without me, but places that I was not familiar with… taverns on the “other side of the base”.  Fights ensued, and at one point, with the intention of helping MS move out of our newlywed home, I threw everything that belonged to him into the sandy front yard ~ everything.  It didn’t take long for other violence to come into play, and become so serious that one night my beloved threw me out of our house while pointing the barrel of a rifle at me.  I had no choice but to leave and leave my 6 month old daughter behind… for the time being.  Not having a vehicle, I walked to the nearest public telephone and called my father crying.  He was to leave New York the next day to come and get me with his pickup truck.  I began the walk back to our trailer, but not before calling my old boyfriend, ST (at SUNY Oswego) and crying the blues to him as well.  ST was sympathetic and attentive (as usual).  We would make arrangements to see each other when I got to New York.  On the walk home, I knew I would have to calm things for the night, and I began to plan my exit strategy as I walked.  I would apologize, make up with MS, then take him to work in the morning on the pretense of needing the car for the day to run errands etc.  Then I would return to our trailer after dropping him off on base, pack the car with everything I could and more, leaving room for the baby, and head for Goldsboro, where I would meet my father at a relative’s house.  One possible glitch… well, our car was a 1977 Mustang… very small!

 Not to be dissuaded, I made my plans come to fruition, and the next day I was in Goldsboro and by dinner my new husband was wondering where his ride home was.  It didn’t take him long to track me down and hitch-hike to Goldsboro that night to try to convince me to come back.  Dad and I drove back to Jacksonville the next day, to pick up all of my and Kristen’s other belongings that would fit into the truck.  I took our daughter and moved home, leaving him the Mustang (and the car payments).  It did not take me long to reconnect with ST and plan on getting a divorce.  ST even asked me to marry him, once divorced.  However, I remembered how things had been in high school, and I eventually changed my mind and returned to my husband.  The summer of 1979 was spent family intact back at White’s Trailer Park in Jacksonville.  And before long I was announcing that we would be adding to our little family in March of 1980… right about the same time that MS announced he would be shipped to Japan for a 12-month stint overseas.  THEY CAN’T DO THAT!  Can they?  They did, he went, and I moved back home yet again for the duration.

 In March, 1980, Karalyn was born in Syracuse, NY.  MS arrived home on leave about a week before I went into labor, so he would’ve been there for the delivery, if he hadn’t bailed on me.  So my Mom (who had taken Lamaze childbirth classes with me) arrived just in time to see her granddaughter born and be the first to hold her.  After a few days of being on leave with his family, my husband had to return to Japan to finish his tour of duty… but I was optimistic as his leave would end that late summer and he would be at his new stateside duty station before Christmas, and we would join him there.  At the time, he believed he would be re-stationed in Virginia, and indeed he was.  We were in frequent telephone contact, and each time I asked him how things were coming with getting housing for us, and each time I was assured it was in the works.  As the weeks, then months dragged and we were still in Plainville while he was in Virginia, I became impatient.  Finally the news came that he had secured housing for us and that we would be moving by Christmas!  Could it be that I was finally going to have my white picket fence?

 In the beginning of December, MS called me, and I was excited about the anticipated news of our move to be a family again.  However, this time was very different.  And I still remember the conversation:  he told me that I would not be moving to Virginia, and that I should find an attorney and get a divorce from him.  He’d found housing, and he had another woman living there with him.  Then he hung up the phone.  I did not hear from him again for months.  And, although he was getting additional funds from the military for having a wife and two children, he did not make any effort to support us while we continued to live with my parents.  But I did as he said, and borrowed the money from my parents to hire an attorney and move on with my life with my daughters as best as we could.  My attorney also made efforts to try to get MS to send us money for the support of his children, but my husband eventually went AWOL from the Marines and “disappeared”.   In fact, his superiors contacted me and accused me of harboring him and I was threatened with legalities.  After much going back and forth with Virginia, I was granted my divorce in late 1981 and was free to move on as a single mom supported by public assistance with no plan for the future.

 Being “wronged” as I felt I had been by MS, I was determined to find a way to get at least some funding from him ~ after all, he was getting half of those funds for being married to me and having two children with me, and he was not supporting us voluntarily.  I knew tax season was coming up, and that MS would be filing his return as everyone else, and that he potentially would get $1000-$3000 refunded thanks to his married w/children status in 1980.  After doing some research and making some phone calls, I sent a change of address form to his post office in Virginia, forwarding all of his mail to me at my Plainville address.  I was in touch with his post office daily checking to see and make sure that the refund check was sent to me rather than left there for him.  Eventually, I did receive it, and yes, I cashed it and purchased much-needed items for his children and his wife (this was before our divorce was final).  Several weeks later, he called me wondering if I had somehow gotten his refund check.  Needless to say he was pretty furious when he found out what I’d done… but he was still AWOL from the Marines and unable to do much about it without getting himself into trouble as well.

 That summer I was 21 years old, divorced single mother of two little girls (ages 3 and 1).  I enrolled into Central City Business Institute for night classes, moved my little family in to Syracuse and started my life essentially over once again.  It seemed awhile before I would be able to find that elusive white picket fence I’d wanted since graduation.  I had not given up hope.

Revealed Chapter 2: The White Picket Fence ~

In my senior year of high school, amidst all the drugs, alcohol and self-pity of losing my first love, a girlfriend of mine told me that her fiancé had a brother who is a Marine who is currently on a 3 month cruise and was lonely and wanted a “pen pal”.  What could it hurt?  It would give me something to do to take my mind off ST, and I loved to write because I had good handwriting skills.  So she gave me his address on this military ship in the middle of the Mediterranean and I wrote my first letter, never really thinking I would get a response, I guess.

 I did get a response, and MS and I continued our pen pal relationship for the three months he was overseas, and for a month or two upon his return to Camp Lejeune, NC, where he was based.  When he finally got leave, he wrote that he would be coming to Syracuse, NY, to see his family (his mom and brothers), so we made arrangements to meet in person.  By this time, I had my first car (a 1970 Maverick) and I had a job working at the Baldwinsville School District Offices as Receptionist after school each day… so I had $$.  Also I had “toned down” my partying from my own school locker, and was only getting completely wasted on the weekends.

This is not my exact first car, but exactly LIKE my first car (including the color).

 When MS and I finally met, it was pretty electric.  Wow!  I was a 17 year old high school senior dating a 21 year old Marine!  And I was finally able to get my mind off ST ~ okay, well, maybe not so much.  But who cares?  I was dating a Marine!  The mutual physical attraction was instantaneous, but then again, I’d had a lot of mutual physical attractions with guys before now… none were Marines.   I guess, by the time MS left Syracuse to go back to Camp Lejeune, we were “boyfriend/girlfriend”, and I promised to continue to keep writing in between infrequent phone calls, and I also had decided to make the trip to North Carolina right after graduation for a week or so of fun in the sun at Camp Lejeune.  I had relatives down there I could visit as well.  It was an exciting time … 1977.

 I’d planned that year to go to college after graduation with a business major and art minor.  I was looking into schools when I found out I was pregnant (yet again), and everything screeched to a halt.  What the he!!?  How did this happen?  And I had to tell that 21 year old Marine that we were going to be parents.  I had no idea how he would react, but was thankful it was positive.  He and I decided to get married and become a family with our little one due the next March 1978.  So it was that he managed to get back to Syracuse 2 days before our wedding day, and we said our vows in Plainville Christian Church with a reception following at my parent’s home where I grew up and would soon be leaving.  I couldn’t be happier!  I was going to have it all… a career husband who would make good money in the service of his country to provide for his wife and child.  And there might be more children, and eventually we’d buy a home somewhere and put up that white picket fence in rural America, get a dog and maybe some cats and live the good life and be in love forever.  I expected nothing less.  And I wanted to be a good mom and wife and do all the “stuff” that was expected of me once domesticated.

My ideal marriage/family dream. After all, the white picket fence holds it all together, doesn’t it?

 And all was well for awhile.  We learned to “play house” in North Carolina.  However, some things were just not meant to last, and my white picket fence was about to come crashing down.

 

Revealed Chapter 1: In the Beginning ~

I remember having a good, “normal” childhood until Junior High when I met my first love.  I wasn’t even interested in boys at all until then, until “ST” started giving me all this attention.  Wow!  I was getting attention!  And from a boy!  He made me feel good; good about myself, good about us.  It only seemed natural to kiss him and to let him kiss me.  And that felt good, too.  It only made sense that during April’s Spring vacation, when I was a month shy of turning 13, that ST should ride his bike the 7+ miles to my rural home while both my parents were working and spend the day with me.  After all, we really liked each other’s company. 

 I’d like to say I was naïve and that it was all his fault, but that would be a lie.  Although I was naïve and inexperienced, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I was just as much at fault as ST.  Ignorance is not bliss.  When we became intimate with each other, it was a life-altering experience for me that I could’ve never foreseen.  I did not understand that it would be a defining moment in my life that would set the tone of decades to come, effecting my lifestyle, my children and possibly their children.  Like they say:  “If I only knew then what I know now.”  But, would I have changed anything?  Could I have?  And who is “they” anyway?

 I must admit that the now intensity of our relationship built quickly.  We talked on the phone before school, saw each other and “made out” as much as possible during school, and somehow made arrangements to be together sometimes after school; and I was addicted.  We were in love… at ages 13 & 14.  Is that even possible?  It sure seemed like it then, and I can remember it and still feel it like it was yesterday.  I made it to the ripe age of 13 before I became pregnant ~ surprise!  I won’t elaborate on this time of my life, because I already have covered most of it in my “Forgiven and Set Free” post.  I now have a better understanding and am able to cope with the subsequent abortion, after which my son’s father wanted nothing to do with me… another defining moment.

 The rejection that ensued left me feeling desolate, inadequate and shattered my self esteem.  In 9th grade, I may possibly have been the only student at Baker High School that kept a bottle of liquor available in my locker for daily consumption… who knows?  I drank in private and I drank to replace the feeling of emptiness that was left behind when ST turned his attentions to other girls in school.  I experienced intense jealousy that consumed me every day.  It left me miserable, and desperate to find something, or a someone, to make me feel good again like he had.  So, “someone” it was!  Or perhaps I should make that plural.  Thus, I began what would be a series of “relationships” with pretty much anyone who would look at me and show me any attention.  I didn’t really care.  Some were friends from school, some were acquaintances or friends of friends, some I picked up in local bars. 

When I turned 16, I was frequenting bars in the Baldwinsville area with a girlfriend, and meeting men.  No one ever checked ID back then.  Even the guys over the age of 18 and 21 who often took me home ~ to their place or not.  Talk about risky behavior!  It didn’t feel risky to me.  I was just getting what I needed (attention) from whatever source could be obtained.  At 16 I was with a friend in my favorite B’ville bar, we were enjoying a band that we had been following, and this guy asked me to dance.  I obliged.  He was kind.  He stayed with us the rest of the evening, then took us home to my friend’s house (I was spending the night with her).  On the way, he talked me into meeting him the next day, and he would take me for a ride and we’d just talk.  How absolutely dangerous and exciting!  I had no idea who this stranger was!  But I met him the next day anyway, and got in his car.  He drove me back to Baldwinsville, and to his apartment.  After it was all over, he confided that he was a teacher in one of the middle schools there in Baldwinsville.  I didn’t care about any of that, I’d gotten the attention I craved.  His name?  Never got it.   Next!

 From that point on, it was one selfish, irresponsible thing after another throughout the rest of high school.  I’m not sure how I managed to get through the business curriculum I was enrolled in, and be exceptional at it, but I did, even after I began using drugs at age 16 or 17.  Well, because, all my other new friends were doing it!  And it made me feel good and/or made me not feel at all.  I don’t recall having a “home life” during those tumultuous years of sex, drugs and alcohol in school ~ everything pretty much revolved around getting away from my parents and my home and having fun.  Was this fun?  I couldn’t tell anymore.

Next Chapter:  Senior Year

Revealed: Introduction ~

It’s time.  This is it.  For so many years, friends and family have been encouraging me to write a book about my life’s experiences thus far.  It’s taken until now to finally feel the inspiration from God to put myself out there, after all, I have nothing more to hide.  I thought telling about my abortion at age 14 (Forgiven and Set Free) would’ve been the hardest thing to reveal, and I’ve done that.  It’s time to “come clean” with the rest, and pray that I can help someone else in the process.

I guess I would classify my story as surviving, what some could call, hell on earth, then finding my spirituality and turning my entire life around.  As shocking as some of my reveal may seem to some, it’s meant to encourage others to not give up, and to listen when God speaks to you ~ and He WILL, if you let Him, if you listen.  He can bring you through any circumstance, if you trust in Him.

“With God, all things are possible.”  ~ Matthew 19:26  

So, I’m not writing a book, exactly.  I’m going to blog about it.  Each post will be like a chapter, with this being The Beginning.  I’m not going to change any names “to protect the innocent”, but I will use initials out of respect for those who deserve it, and for those who have passed away ~ and, yes, even for those who don’t deserve it (respect)!  I make no apologies for what I’m going to reveal.  It is the truth ~ my truth, my perspective.  I will attempt to write each chapter in chronological succession, but I will be writing as my inspiration tells me.  I trust He will not steer me wrong.

Before I begin with the Chapters, I want to notably make clear that I had what I consider to be an awesome childhood.  I loved my parents, even though I didn’t know that until it was too late.  I love my siblings ~ all 4 are older than me, but not necessarily wiser… maybe in “some” ways.  I believe I had a “typical” childhood of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.  My parents were loving people, albeit strict and they believed in corporal punishment, as do I.  We vacationed as a family each year, went to the company Christmas party at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, I learned to wash dishes by hand before I could reach the sink using a step stool.  We grew up in rural Upstate New York, and strung toilet paper at the “four corners of Plainville” on Halloween night, then watched as the tractor trailers drove through them and blew their horn.  My story doesn’t really begin until I became a pre-teen/teenager.  I’ll get there.

I also want my four amazing children to know, before I even begin, that I love them above and beyond anything they can ever imagine.  I would not change one aspect of my life, as that’s what it took to bring them into this world and get us to where we are today.  They have survived the tyranny, chaos and abuse I raised them under, and have become incredible adults with gorgeous children of their own.

Lastly, and most importantly, I must acknowledge my husband, Al (whose name I won’t initial), for coming into my life just when I needed him most.  I must confess that it was Al that brought God into my life… or was that vice versa?  *smiles*  They came into my life simultaneously, and I have been abundantly blessed ever since.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

A starred sunset over Lake Ontario from Brennan Beach RV Park & Campground near Pulaski, New York.
http://www.sthomasphotos.com or Viewsinfinitum.com

Oh, and the photo?  I’m borrowing it from another site:  www.sthomasphotos.com   I also want to recommend the blog:   http://viewsinfinitum.com/ .  This particular photo is a favorite of mine and has the effect of calming my mind and my soul, allowing me to reconnect with my Lord and God when stress is particularly abundant.  This photographer has many such “calming” photos, many involving waterfalls, nature and landscapes.  The blog is well-written and insightful, always stirring my imagination and emotions.  Worth a look.

My Adirondacks ~

 For as long as I can remember, our family spent one or two weeks each summer camping and visiting relatives in the Adirondacks, right through my teenage years.  So it should be no surprise that I’ve always thought of Long Lake, New York, as my second home.  My mother’s sister and her family lived there, so we would go and visit and camp at nearby Lake Eaton each July 4th for the local Independence Day festivities.  While there we would swim, ride our bikes, go shopping and sightseeing at local stores, then sit around the campfire at night and roast marshmallows and see what local relatives would show up for a visit.  We were never disappointed.  And, although I’m sure we had our share, I don’t remember any time when it rained during our stay.  All I remember is the fun. 

A church steeple rises above the fall foliage as taken from the deck of the bridge in Long Lake, New York

A lone kayaker paddles in the colorful splendor that is Long Lake, New York

Now, as adults, my husband and I have visited Long Lake and Lake Eaton over the past couple of years, both in summer and in fall.  I’ve been able to share with him the members of my family that still reside there, the places we’d go when I was a child, plus we’ve experienced new places together and made new memories to share with others.  I never remember the fall being so vibrant and colorful in my childhood, and I’ve been able to appreciate it much more now. 

A view of Lake Eaton, New York, through the trees on the beach.

Another view of Lake Eaton as the light shimmers on the water and the fall foliage across the way.

 Al and I visited the Adirondack Museum during one of our stays in the Big Woods.  I think I’d been there as a child, but didn’t really remember.  Now, seeing it as an adult, I can fully appreciate the history and beauty that is kept in the museum and its many outbuildings.  There is even a small section dedicated to my Uncle Bob Wallace, who was a fixture in Long Lake for his entire life, and well-respected as they come.  I only remember him as being “larger than life” and very generous with a great sense of humor.

Al sits on this “larger than life” Adirondack chair outside the Adirondack Museum.

A hand made Adirondack-themed quilt on display inside the Adirondack Museum.

I’m so grateful that I have such memories of growing up in the Adirondacks each summer.  And now I have photos and even more recent memories to enjoy.  These photos are just a few of my memories of my childhood, my family, my Adirondacks. 

Buttermilk Falls just outside Long Lake, New York.

A seaplane takes off from the placid waters on Long Lake, New York.