We’ve taken up residence, the kids and I, in two separate battered women’s shelters in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties between 1990-1998. On more than one occasion, we had to move out of our home while BB was away (he was an over-the-road trucker this time) and enlist the help of friends, relatives and people with trucks to do it. Our moves were always clandestine. While we lived in Cayuga County, it was difficult for me to get any “action” from law enforcement there, because BB’s family were all “buddy-buddy” with sheriffs, judges etc. ~ it seems everyone was a farmer out there! If I called the sheriff for domestic violence, if they did manage to come, they always poo-poo’d the circumstances, even the time BB assaulted me in public in the Sears store in Fingerlakes Mall, then went and slashed my car tires afterwards so I “couldn’t leave him”. Law enforcement assured me things would eventually “calm down”, and that I shouldn’t do anything rash. Feeling thwarted by those who were supposed to help protect me and my children, I always wound up going back to him and reconciling just to keep a roof over our heads and some continuity in our lifestyle. Does that even make sense?
The stress of living in this fashion, never knowing where you’re going to be from one day to the next, was not without it’s humorous and even memorable times. Once, my eldest was on a class trip for the weekend, and returned home to find to her surprise that we had (yet again) moved.
We spent an entire summer at Vera House in Onondaga County. Kristen was on her own by then, so it was me, Karalyn, Brian and Katie staying in their suburban accommodations. Karalyn got a job at the nearby Burger King, Brian joined a summer soccer camp and we all spent time at the nearby town pool. Additionally, Vera House provided for miniature golf and other activities. We took walks (it was in a nice village), and watched the fireworks on July 4th over the river. I was able to retain my car for the time being, so we had transportation, and yes, I looked for a job.
But, in the end, I always caved in and ended up back with BB ~ usually I would get an apartment and he would eventually moved back in with us. I was weak… what can I say? you don’t know it until you’ve lived it. Yes, I would time and again put myself and my children in danger by my actions… I am absolutely guilty. It is a domestic violence “mentality” that I can’t even begin to reason.
I remember those last few years (before I was finally able to get up the backbone to be on our own) by incidents rather than a time frame. Most memorable was the fight that BB and I had that turned very physical and could’ve been tragic. I was throwing him out of our house this time, rather than me taking the kids and running. But he wasn’t going to go without a fight, and without whatever money he could steal out of my purse before he took off. Once I realized what he was really after ($$), I made it my business to defend what little money I had from working with which I had to support my children. I wasn’t going to let him get it. Somehow, we wound up in the kitchen, both of us tearing at my purse and he was about to gain control when I decided it was time to put this to an end. I grabbed the nearest butcher knife within reach and I sliced at him with it. I didn’t connect, but it must’ve been enough to make him realize how serious I was, as he let go and bolted out the door.
Another “memorable” event that still makes me cringe to this day was when we were driving in rural Cayuga County on our way to “somewhere” that I just didn’t want to go, but he was making me. We were about a mile from our current residence on Blanchard Road, and he was driving his pickup truck with me in the passenger seat. The truck’s brakes needed considerable work, and I was afraid to ride in it, but he insisted we had to go. As we proceeded up the road towards Montezuma, I continued to protest and complain that I didn’t want to go etc. He finally became so furious that he suddenly slammed the transmission of the truck into reverse (without stopping!) and the truck jerked to a halt then went into reverse as BB had his size 13 boot on the accelerator all the way to the floor. The truck bolted backwards and BB floored it until we were headed backwards at about 50-55 mph on a rural (but not untraveled) road back to our house. It all happened so fast that I was in a panic and utterly terrified. As we crested the hill that led DOWN to our home, still going backwards, he tried to brake to slow us down but the truck’s brakes failed miserably. We must’ve been going around 55-60 down that hill backwards when he shifted the truck down into a lower gear and threw on the emergency brake as we approached the house. We slowed somewhat, but he eventually decided we would have to go off the road in order to stop, so he passed our driveway and hit one of the trees in our yard at about 30 mph. It demolished the rear of the truck, needless to day. Too scared to be furious, and too furious to be scared, we went at it with each other with an intensity that wouldn’t be rivaled. Finally he left, in that battered piece of crap of a truck, and left me shaking and crying and marveling at the fact that I made it out of that escapade alive. It was one of those many, many moments that I wished he was dead.
There were so many other “incidents” where violence played a part in the lives of my children and me. Far too many to list here in detail. There were many court dates, orders of protection, move here, move there. One of my biggest humiliations, oddly enough, was having to go to work, my place of employment, with a black eye on numerous occasions. I was always nursing bruises, cuts, abrasions. And the non-profit that I worked for sponsored one of the domestic violence shelters that took us in!
The start of 1997 was really the beginning of the end of this chaotic fiasco that had been a relationship with BB. I was finally able to secure a decent apartment for me and my family, without him. I had a decent job at a local manufacturing company in Auburn, and was determined to rid myself of the lifestyle that had kept us all hostage for 13 years. I must admit, it was miserable trying to break free of it. Even though we were at peace, for the most part, I was lonely and depressed. Over the summer of ’97, BB finally found someone else to prey on. And, although he and I were still dealing with issues like child support and visitation, at least we didn’t have the “in-house” violence and stress that we’d had for the decade prior. It was oddly difficult for me to adjust to the independence, even though I welcomed it! Me and three of my children were now living in an apartment “alone”, and I was solely responsible for it all… first time in my life. What a scary prospect! But this is what I had wanted, and now it was mine. I did finally feel safety was at hand for me and the kids, well, as long as BB was preoccupied with the new love of his life… he wasn’t bothering us. Brian and Katie went to visit with him on some weekends, during which time I was guarded. But things were starting to become a new normal for us, with only my temper to have to deal with, and that was more than enough for all.
I’m not sure what led to it, but over the months until around early August 1997 I became more and more depressed and lonely. It’s a self esteem thing. But I was sure that I was never again going to find happiness, and I was still wallowing in that “all about me” phase that seemed to go on for years! I was occasionally “seeing” some of my FWB (friends w/benefits) that I’d accumulated over the past 7-8 years ~ I haven’t mentioned much about that phase, but I had a “collection” of FWB, some that I had been seeing short term and some longer term to fill the various voids in my life starting around 1990 or so. But something was missing, something was tugging at me and I was looking for that white picket fence yet again. I simply refused to let that dream die. But now it seemed like an impossibility, and the thought made me despondent.
One night, after the kids were in bed or watching t.v. downstairs (I really didn’t keep track), I was in my room and pretty much headed for the end of my rope. I’d never been one to be “spiritual”, and I surely didn’t believe in the Bible or God or any of that “crap”, but I was at my lowest point and decided what the heck? It couldn’t hurt… so I got down on my hands and knees, more of a slump on the bedroom floor, and I prayed to “God”, saying “If you’re there, if you’re real, I need you right now ~ I don’t know what else to do.” I begged Him to come into my life and take control because I couldn’t do it alone anymore, I couldn’t do it at all. My life and my kid’s lives were in a train wreck, God, and I wanted out. I must’ve been on that floor for about 30 minutes, in tears and in prayer, before I finished what I had to say to this imaginary God and got up and climbed back into bed. The despondency waned and I began to feel tired and eventually fell asleep.
It must’ve been about a week later that I was perusing the Personal section of the Classified ads of the local newspaper (yes, they had those back then). Seeing nothing promising, I decided to place and ad, myself. Couldn’t hurt. It was free, and I had total control of the situation, which was perfect for me. I place an ad, and people call this 800 number and leave a message, then I check the messages 1-2 times a day and return phone calls to those of my choosing. Fascinating concept. I wrote up what I thought to be an interesting and intriguing advertisement (which I still have!), and I placed my ad. Well, maybe after about 3 days of listening to “gentlemen” leave me messages of every sort, I came across a possible “date-able” person, and I returned his call. His was the only call that I would return from around 20+ messages left.
We ended up talking on the phone to each other 2-3 times a week for a few weeks, but really didn’t meet until November (I think). It turned out that this gentleman was a customer of the place where I worked as a receptionist! During the course of our conversations, he said he remembered me, and sounded quite excited at the prospect ~ guess I made an impression on him. I, however, did not remember who he was in relation to my employment… so our meeting would be a surprise for me. He showed up at my door with a huge bouquet of flowers, in a snowstorm. He was taking me to dinner at a nice restaurant in Weedsport, NY, and we were going there in a snowstorm. I was game for adventure. We chatted extensively during the dinner, and I was beginning to realize that, although he was good looking, polite and nice and everything, we just had nothing in common. He was a “Christian”, believed in God and all that crap; he was politically conservative (are you kidding me with this?!), and it seemed a lot of our evening discussion revolved around these two areas ~ religion and politics ~ neither of which I was interested in. When he dropped me off home later, with a kiss on the cheek, I was sure I would not be seeing him again lest I be bored to death with uninteresting conversation about subjects I didn’t care about.
However, he did continue to call me, and I called him. Second date, third date… things were going well. What? He wanted to read the Bible with me? Seriously?! Well, ok, I’ll give it a try, even though I thought the Bible was a book of simple “hearsay” passed down over hundreds of years by people who didn’t even know or see Jesus Christ. How accurate could it possibly be? I’ll humor this guy who had begun to find his way into my heart with his humor, manners and he was obviously infatuated with me ~ that was the most important part. So we read the Bible together… or he read it to me. I asked questions, a lot of questions. He always had seemingly good answers. I was beginning to understand this “faith” thing of his. Maybe, just maybe this was something we could share.
Well, to make a long story short, we cultivated our relationship and were married in less than a year. Yes, the kids liked him too. It looked like I was going to get my white picket fence after all! Well, sort of… it would’ve cost a small fortune to install one on our new yard in Jordan, NY, so I was happy with just imagining it surrounded our property. I had faith that it was there, even if I couldn’t see it!