Friday, November 22, 2013

SPOUSE ABUSERS ARE OFTEN JEALOUS (UH, YEAH!)

The earliest jealously-indicator blinker light occurred within the first months of our newlywed-ness. Mr. Christian Man accused me of having an affair with my best friend Jeanie's husband, Dennis Carter.

Same age, both had long blone hair, Jeanie Carter and I'd instantly bonded when we became neighbors two doors down at a scary apartment complex that was infested with cockroaches.

She stopped by my kitchen window one day and told me she liked how I had my pots hanging (the brand new yellow pots and pans were hanging by cup hooks underneath a cabinet, above my sink.) I liked it too and I liked new friends, especially ones who obviously have good taste!

The newly married wives would cook pot luck style stuff, we'd eat dinner all four of us together and then sit around, visit and often have Bible studies. And enjoy being newlyweds, Christians and life. If Jeanie wasn't at my apartment, I was at hers. We were young, in love, in South Orange County, California, they were potentially hugely special times.

But somehow completely out of the blue, Mr. Christian Man said that he knew I was 'having an affair with someone.' In this case, Dennis Carter. My best friend Jeanie's Husband. (I didn't say the word 'sex,' back then. It was 1975 for God's sake and I was a Christian.) I'd done nothing. I knew I'd done nothing to provoke such an accusation.

This was the event.

This was the event that prompted me to call my Mother crying which prompted Mr. Christian Man, when I did arrive home, to push me up against the wall wherein I was ordered, that 'whatever happened in our home, stayed in our home.' This was the event that prompted me to never talk about any of it for over ten years. To anyone.


And this is how women become abused, this is how women develop unseen bruises. 

I had nothing to hide. I was aware of every visit the four of us had ever had and knew I'd never behaved unseemly.

Nevertheless, he'd gotten me on a really short leash with this episode and a few other occurrences. Checking things, questioning things, where I went, how much time, how much mileage, who I talked to. He would drop by from work, if I was at home, and what is more, at my work, unexpectedly.  

To me, the abused, this all had a consequence. If anyone raised their arm near me, I blinked, closed my eyes turned my head down and automatically raised my right arm to protect my face. I walked around with my head down afraid to ever make eye contact with people, especially men. 

Sarahjoy, My Rainbow Chaser
Another innocuous event (there are innumerable over 10+ years). On coming home from work one day, I asked my daughter what she'd done that day and she
said she'd chased rainbows. (That when the sprinklers were on, the kids saw rainbows, and they chased after them.) 

My work friend Debbie Simmons* loved the story and wanted to know more about Sarahjoy, my 'Rainbow Chaser,' so we made plans to meet for lunch on a Saturday and take my daughter to the park.

I was later called out on it by Mr. Christian Man.

What a fool I was that I didn't see that Debbie was a lesbian and that not only was I jeopardizing my safety, but I was placing my kid in harms' way.  

I was stunned. I was way past trying to analyze what might have predicated his outburst at me. I'd simply gone to the park with a friend, a work friend. 


But he sat tall and commanding in his big Lazy-boy reprimanding me, taking me to task like I was a 7-year old. 

Again, this all has a consequence, and I was, evolving. I had the wherewithal of an abused woman, thinking as intelligently and as maturely as a 7-year old. You don't know any better; you're just a child. 

I sat on the sofa, my shoulders collapsing, placing my folded, praying hands between my knees. I was an idiot, he exploded. Where had I left my brain.

A tirade.

He wasn't sure of my Christianity - and - moreover my ability to parent my child. (Ouch, just words, but words leave bruises. Unseen.)

My familial 'run to safety place,' was the master bathroom, which is where he flung me against the wall, his hands pressed the tops of my shoulders, and scolded me, with a waving, pointed finger. I was afraid that he might use his knee to stomach-punch me.

His indignation with me left me powerless and even my Daddy loop was going away, fading. I dropped to the floor, crawled so that I was half laying, half curling, stunned at the day's events. My mouth was breathing against the base of the cold, porcelain toilet, my body finding security with the bathroom fixtures.

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