Tag Archive | divorce

Revealed Chapter 6: Trading Faces ~

I’m not sure how much longer I maintained my marriage to BH after I got back from my Great Meadow conjugal visit.  I don’t think it was long.  Somewhere in the midst I picked up the girls and we moved to Auburn, NY, we three.  Again, low income housing, as although I’d graduated from business school, I couldn’t yet find a job that would pay me enough to put Kristen and Karalyn into full time day care.  Kristen would be in Kindergarten that year.

 BH was moved back to Attica shortly after I moved to Auburn, and he put in for another conjugal visit there.  But when the time came and it was approved, I made up an excuse that I couldn’t go.  He never was very understanding.  But I think after my trip(s) to Great Meadow, and the conjugal visit fiasco (for me!) there, I’d lost my interest in being an inmate’s wife and all the “responsibilities” that came with it.  It was only a matter of time before I got busted bringing contraband in once again, and it brought with it a reality that I might end up in prison, myself.  It was no longer worth the risk… if it ever really was.  What the heck was I thinking anyway?  I’ve got two small children who rely on me, only me. 

 I was making new friends in my public housing arena.  I still spoke with BH on the phone, but my visits ~ even the “normal” ones, waned.  Time for a new adventure!  My newest and closest friend in Auburn was a woman with three growing boys, and she lived about a block from me and my girls.  We became fast friends, and she in turn began introducing me to her friends.  One such friend was a young woman with a developmentally challenged son around 2 yrs old, plus she was very obviously pregnant and close to delivery with her second child.  We’d hang out together during the day and chat about kids, school, husbands.  She had divulged that her husband of a year or maybe two, was seeing other women, but that she didn’t care as they had an “open marriage” and she was seeing other guys.  She knew of my marital plight, and that I was new to Auburn and lonely, so she nicely offered to send her husband to my apartment to let me “borrow”? him for as long as I wanted!  After the initial shock of the offer, and realizing that she was dead serious, I quickly declined this rather weird and uncomfortable offer, then took every opportunity to avoid her from then on.

 As fate would have it, some weeks later I happened to meet this wayward husband of hers at my original girlfriend’s house while he was doing some maintenance work for her in her kitchen.  My friend introduced me to BB, but did not tell me that he was the wayward husband until much later.  I just thought he was some guy, moderately attractive and seemingly single.  Ok, sure, I flirted, so what?  It was harmless.  The guy didn’t wear a wedding ring, I wasn’t “seriously” flirting, just having fun.

Eventually he was the one who told me that he was married and who he was married to.  However, he made it clear to me that he was “interested” in spending some time with me and wanted to know what I thought.  The whole thing was just a little too bizarre for me… imagine that, after what lifestyle I was still trying to recover from!  Anyway, I said thanks, but no thanks, and went on about my way.  Though somewhere in the back of my mind, I did entertain the idea.  What could it hurt?  He was in an open marriage, and I already had his spouse’s approval ~ indeed, encouragement!  Still…  Well, I was pretty lonely.  And I was resigned to the fact that I would never have another conjugal visit, no matter what.  And, even though I was still married to BH, it was really only a “technicality”, so what could a little “fling” hurt?  I’m only human after all.  And BH didn’t really have to find out.  I mean, how would he find out anyway?  This was something to be seriously considered.

I may have considered it all overnight, maybe that long.  Maybe less.  But I met up with BB the next day and gave him the okay to stop by my apartment that evening after he got done with his work.  I’d figured we could chat and get to know each other for awhile until the girls went to bed for the night.  And sure enough, he showed up on my doorstep around 8 pm with a smile.  And this was to be the not-so-innocent beginning of a 13 year relationship full of tumult and chaos.  Granted, there was some fun mixed in, as BB was like a kid ~ a BIG kid at 6’4″ tall ~ himself.

 It didn’t take long… less than a month… of “seeing” each other before BB was staying over at my apartment regularly.  Even though his wife had just given him a son, the two of them eventually split for good, and she took the newborn and her other son and moved out of Auburn.  She would soon give up that newborn for adoption, and BB would never see him again… nor did he seem to care.  A legal divorce between them did not seem to be a priority for either of them, nor me, as I had no plans to make anything legal with BB either ~ especially since I still had a husband of my own to contend with… and he was a very dangerous force.  At this point, I didn’t know that I was trading one dangerous force for another.  That would come much later down the road.

BH had determined that something was “amiss” since I came to see him less and less, and refused his collect calls more and more.  So when I visited him in August 1984 to let him know that I no longer wanted to be his wife, nor the responsibilities that come with it, he flat out asked me if I was seeing someone else and I had to confess.  Not only did I have to come clean about that, but also that I was now pregnant with BB’s child.  My husband was “gracious about the news, he even was amiable about granting me a divorce, even saying he would pay for it (through his parents, who had $$).  Yes, things were going swimmingly until the very last few minutes of our visit in the visiting room at Attica State Prison when he leaned over to give me what I thought would be an amicable kiss goodbye on the cheek.  But instead he said something to the effect of:  “You do realize that one day I’m going to get out of here, and if I ever see you on the street, I’m going to kill you.  So long as you know that, we’re good.”  I looked at him with his sinister smile and, if I ever knew anything in my life, I knew that he meant what he said.  We’d had plenty of discussions of how to dispose of people you don’t want in your life and either make it look like an accident, or they just “disappear” ~ yes, he knew how to make it happen and not get caught this time.  Even my bones would never be found.  This was a threat to take seriously, and to watch my back for the rest of my life.  My only consolation was knowing that he wanted to commit the murder himself, which would mean I at least had until his minimum parole date (another 3 years) before I needed to be cautious.  I considered myself lucky that he didn’t decide to have one of his prison connections just take care of things for him immediately.  My blood went cold as I walked out of the prison that final day, and I knew I should probably start watching my back right then, just in case he changed his mind.

However, I had other things on my mind as well.  A new baby was on the way, and I had to facilitate getting my second divorce.  I was now living full time with the new father, or I should say he was living with me and my two daughters.  I would soon forget about the prison life and the dangerous man I left behind, or would I?  My soon-to-be ex husband and my new companion shared the same first name… an uncommon one at that.  I would later discover that names are not the only thing these two men would ever have in common.

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Revealed Chapter 4: Imprisoned ~

*Note ~ the next few chapters are especially hard for me to reveal, as they show me at my weakest as a woman, and as a mother.*

 In 1982 I moved my little family, which consisted of a divorced me, and my daughters Kristen and Karalyn at ages 4 and 2 years old, into the city of Syracuse.  I decided that, after the divorce, I needed to do something to propel my life forward on my own, so I enrolled in business school, attending nights while I took care of the girls during the day.  We moved into some low income housing only a block or so down the street from the school, and we relied on public assistance for our rent, meals and utilities… and pretty much everything else.  I had a car, and attempted to keep it road-worthy, but it wasn’t working most of the time.  Thank God for buses! 

 But I got a good babysitter for my daughters while I attended school evenings.  She was also a business school student, who attended school during the day.  We became fast friends.  I also made other friends at school, one of which used to share her (what I thought at the time) unusual lifestyle of being married to a prison inmate.  Still, I was curious and we often talked of how she visited her husband at Auburn Correctional Facility, and all the various trappings that came with the lifestyle.  One evening she asked me if I was interested in being a pen pal (yet again) to a friend of her husband’s in Auburn Correctional.  I pressed her for more information, and then agreed and got the address and wrote my first letter that very night.  Within a few days, I received an answer back! 

 BH was a charismatic inmate, 3 years older than me, and with much more worldly experience.  He was in his 3rd year at Auburn Correctional of an 8 ¼ to 25 year sentence for the manslaughter of his second wife.  He never even bothered to profess his innocence to me, as most inmates do.  He accepted the fact that he’d injected her with too much heroin when they had been partying together.  She died from the overdose.  I don’t know what it was I found so fascinating about this man that I had to meet him… perhaps it was his history riddled with crimes, or his exciting biker lifestyle (he was a member of a gang out of Rochester that was notorious for violence).  But I decided I wanted to get to know this person.  I was shown the processes involved for visiting an inmate in a state penitentiary, and made arrangements to visit him on the same day my friend was visiting her husband, so she could show me the ropes.

 Upon arriving at Auburn Correctional, you are required to wait outside the welcome area until it opens up.  A myriad of people wait with you, first come, first serve.  Sometimes buses would pull up and dozens of people would disembark from New York City or other distant places, coming to see their husband, father, uncle etc.  Once the doors opened and you went inside, there were lockers to place anything you would not be allowed to take inside… which was pretty much everything.  You would have to submit to a metal detector, and a pat down once through the metal detector.  Then you would pass through double barred doors to get into the visiting area, which contained tables and chairs, a few vending machines, doors to public restrooms, and guards.  Lots of guards, who watched your every move.  They chose your seat for you, and you would report to the guard desk and they would tell you which alpha-numeric table you would be seated at, then you would go and take your seat to wait for your inmate to be called out from behind locked down doors.  After the usual 10-15 minute wait, BH strolled into the visiting room.  Having never seen me before, he approached the guard desk to ask which table he was assigned, then he found me at the appropriate assigned table.  He was my kind of attractive:  blond, muscular from working out daily, although he was rather unassuming and the same height as me.  He sat down and introduced himself as he looked around to see what other inmates were coming into the room to visit with their loved ones.  There were women with children of all ages, and men visiting their sons perhaps.  BH was surveying the room to see if there were any potential confrontational inmates there ~ guys he didn’t get along with on the “inside”.  Seeing no rivals, his once guarded disposition easily melted into happy to see me.  We would visit for about 6-8 hours before being ushered back out of the visiting room at the end of visiting hours ~ around 4 pm.  We’d say our goodbyes and make plans for the next time I could get to see him.

 It didn’t take long, maybe 5 or 6 visits, before BH began to pressure me to bring him “things” into the prison.  Sometimes it would be a simple “care package” of foods that he liked but couldn’t get inside.  But he was not shy about telling me his penchant  for alcohol and drugs.  He explained that he regularly made his own “alcohol” behind bars using potatoes and bread ~ the fascinating process has been long-forgotten.  And he was not without his marijuana as well, but now, he explained, he wouldn’t have to buy it on the inside, I could bring it to him.  Of course, everything was at my expense.  Me, depending on public assistance to support myself and two daughters, and now an inmate.  I was dutiful.  He seemed to really like me, and I wanted to keep it that way.  This person was the only prospect I had for male companionship at the time.  So I learned from my business school friend, and from BH, how to introduce illegal contraband into a state prison for consumption and resale.  What an adrenalin rush!  It even sounded cool.  About once every couple of weeks I would come to Auburn Correctional with a “package” for my new boyfriend, and I learned the in’s and out’s of how to bring it in internally, and how he would take it back to his cell internally (if you get my drift).  After a couple of months of operating this way, now he had me believing that I “owed it to him” to help him out in this manner.  I was his girlfriend, and potentially soon to be his wife, so it was my duty to bring him whatever he asked for.  Eventually, this included prescription Valium. 

 I never knew that there were physicians in Syracuse that would see a patient for the sole purpose of collecting the money involved in the visit, plus give that patient pretty much whatever prescription they requested.  I was connected with two such physicians for the purpose of getting Valium for my inmate friend.  Boy was I scared in the beginning, but the docs made it easy.  No questions asked.  In fact, I was prescribed Valium (a downer for BH) and amphetamines (for me) from the same physician!  All meds available on Medicaid at no cost to me.  (thank you tax payers!) 

 The one day I was scheduled to bring in some pot during a visit, I wasn’t feeling well and could not internalize the contraband… so I just stuck it up under my bra and hoped for the best.  I also brought my two daughters with me to visit BH (they’d been there before).  I had no idea that the guards were actually anticipating my arrival and would be taking me aside and into the “inner workings” of the prison to be detained on suspicion of having contraband.  Oh yes!  I was found out and arrested that day.  I was taken from the prison to the state police barracks nearby where I was processed, my daughters in tow.  Was it fortunate that I had them with me?  The troopers said I would’ve been sent straight to jail but for them.  I was absolutely terrified.  I eventually found out that my own friend had been the cause of my demise, as he’d bragged to someone on the inside about having a reliable source of “stuff”, and word got around.  It only takes ONE rival to snitch to a guard that you’re coming and they’ve got you.  How naïve was I?!  A friend helped me get and pay for an attorney, and the charges were pled down and I got probation, plus I was banned from visiting BH (at any prison) for a period of one year.  I felt I could breathe easy for awhile, since I wouldn’t be pressured to bring him anything again for at least a year.  But, I soon found out there are other ways that inmates can have things on the inside.  “How about sending me some homemade Christmas cookies” he told me in a letter.  The letter included all the instructions on how to crush up the Valium pills into a fine powder and make blue icing (Valium pills are blue) for the Christmas cookies.  I was of such low self esteem that I was allowing this person to control my life from inside a state prison, pressuring me to do things that I really didn’t want to do, but chanced it anyway.

Auburn Correctional Facility, NYS DOC, Auburn, NY

 The next year was spent like this, letters and phone calls from Auburn Correctional, and I continued on with business school and raising my daughters.  Within 4 or 5 months, I got word that they were transferring BH to Attica State prison near Rochester/Buffalo.  The state doesn’t need to give a reason or have any rhyme to what they do, inmates can be transferred without notice to any state prison in the NYS system.  And so BH was gone from being local to me.  We continued to write, and he’d call when he could, and we’d decided that, once the year long ban was lifted, he and I would get married.  In the Spring of 1983 he was transferred back to Auburn, the ban was lifted in August, and in September 1983 we got married inside Auburn Correctional Facility.  Two of my friends from high school attended (best man & maid of honor).  The honeymoon, however, would have to be put off for a little while.  Conjugal visits were not easy to come by, but the day after our wedding, BH put in the appropriate “application” to be with me.  By Christmas he was transferred back to Attica, where he would have to re-apply.  I think it was around April or May before the application for a conjugal visit was approved by NYS Department of Corrections.

 This milestone in my new life involving the Department of Corrections would set the stage for a scary ride into my second marriage.  My life was already a train wreck waiting to happen.  Soon enough, soon enough.

 

 

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.