The first few years with my new, live-in “beau” were common. In March of 1985 I gave birth to his son, and we began to move around (relocate) quite a bit. BB was a farm hand in rural Cayuga County. Before I met him, and for several months after we first began living together, he worked on his family’s dairy farm. For whatever reason, he decided he no longer wanted to stay on the family farm, but was hoping to “advance” his career by changing jobs to a different farm in the area. Often dairy farm jobs come complete with housing for the farm hand and family. Thus, we began to move as he would take a job, decide he didn’t like it or it didn’t pay enough, and get another job with housing… dragging us from place to place in the process. The children and I were still receiving public assistance in Cayuga County, but BB’s paycheck was barely $150-$175/weekly, plus the “housing” (which was usually bleak at best, but included utilities, typically).
As what often happens when two people co-habit together without even knowing each other, it didn’t take long for our true colors to begin to show. I learned quickly that I had chosen to be saddled with another “child” rather than an equal adult to help me carry the family responsibilities. And I think he learned that I had a quick temper and low tolerance for stupidity. I grew tired of moving around and uprooting the family and changing schools simply because he could not get along with his employers time and time again. Often I would have to intervene between him and his supervisor or the farm owner just to try to keep him employed and us in one place for more than a few months. This would be a regular pattern throughout the upcoming decade.
It didn’t take long for the arguments to begin in earnest. I learned early on that this was a person who literally believed everything he said and did was right. Needless to say that verbally fighting with such a nut case is beyond frustration. And, as the months and years went by, I discovered that it was not simply just a tactic he used to try to “right fight”, he actually believed whatever he said was true and correct. This would be his delusion right to the end.
Add to that the fact that BB was a drinker. He came by it honestly enough… all the “men-folk” in his family consumed mass quantities of beer at the local watering hole, where BB was literally raised. I guess that’s pretty much when and where the violence began between us. He was not a “happy” drinker, but was belligerent. It began with just a push here and a shove there, then a punch in the arm and a kick under the covers in bed at night. Admittedly, I fought back…. though my 5’6” against his 6’4” made it pretty futile. I was not one to take things lying down, despite the fact that often I had no choice. On more than many occasions when BB wanted his way in bed and I refused, I found myself being kicked and shoved onto the floor and screamed at and ordered out. When he got tired of me picking myself up off the floor and sleeping on the sofa (because I wouldn’t let him have his way), he decided to forgo the kicking and shoving and just not take “no” for an answer. I contemplated over and over about having him arrested for rape, but I had no income ~ well not enough to support my growing family on my own. So I remained quiet… for now. I’d grit my teeth and wait the few moments it would take for him to finally leave me alone, then I’d cry from frustration. I would eventually be quoted giving a description of BB to sheriff’s detectives as a sexual addict. That was neither a lie nor an understatement.
In late 1986 I would announce that we would be adding one more to our family, as I was pregnant again. We were still bouncing around to various farm jobs, but at the time we were living on a really nice farm in Skaneateles, NY. Despite our differences, I always thought we could work things out and maybe, eventually, find a way to exist together. I wasn’t so much a realist back then. Well, not until I went for a prenatal checkup and found out that I was walking around with a venereal disease that went undetected! I think I was in shock at my OB/GYN’s office. Never ever had I had such news! I took great time and care to question my doctor about everything to do with it: how it’s transmitted, symptoms, treatment. I wanted to know everything. I was informed that I would’ve had to have gotten it from my partner (BB), that there would be no other way possible. Well, I guess that would mean that he must’ve gotten it elsewhere… which would mean I was not the only “girl in town” for him. Not such a big surprise. When I got home and confronted him, he denied, denied, denied. Like if he said it enough times, I would believe it like he does. When a major argument ensued, he left the residence and didn’t return home until the next day after work. Hmmmm. To keep peace, I let it slide for the time being, but did not forget nor forgive.
Katie was born in May 1987, and in August 1988 I finally landed my first job… well, other than when I was in high school. This was to be my first real job: an intake clerk for a weatherization program for a non-profit agency in Auburn, NY. I was excited. We managed to move into some low income housing in Auburn that wasn’t far from my work, and they had programs for both preschoolers Brian and Katie to attend, while Kristen and Karalyn went to elementary school.
I don’t know if it was the fact that I was gainfully employed that made me feel better about myself, but things began to change for me, and hence my family ~ and not necessarily for the better. It was common knowledge to me and anyone who knew him the BB was not with me exclusively (to put it kindly). He decided to revert back to his old ways of “open marriage”, even though he and I were not married ~ he still wasn’t divorced from his first wife. In a way, it was relief to me, since he left me alone more often, and I soon began to explore my own other interests. BB decided to leave the farm hand life, and he took a job as a cab driver in the city of Auburn. He worked nights and slept days, which seemed to suit us well. I was making new friends, who soon became drinking buddies as we made our rounds to various bars on Friday and Saturday nights. Kristen would’ve been about 12 years old then, and I had no qualms about leaving the other 3 smaller children in her care while they were in bed so I could pursue my own carefree fun. I was coming into my own “all about me” phase that would last decades before I would wake up and see the light. Right now, I was of the opinion that I deserved to have a good time, whenever/wherever I wanted to. After all, I worked hard, I took care of my kids and I tolerated an idiot ~ who would deny me a little fun? It would be a little more time before I would come to realize that “fun” had all of its own costs.
~ To be Continued in Chapter 8…