Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Part I

“You have to leave. I can’t live this way any longer. Maybe if you get some help, we can talk about it, but I just won’t live like this any longer”. After 5 ½ years of marriage and yet another argument, John decided it was time to end the marriage. John is a financial consultant and his business was set up in the addition they had just added to the home, so it made sense that she be the one to vacate.

The prior 3 years had been very unhappy ones. For a long while, he made allowances for Barb’s behaviour, due to her illness; she had endometriosis and was unable to carry any of her multiple pregnancies to term. She desperately wanted a family, but for a long time she was in and out of hospital, until they finally did a hysterectomy because she was either to live with chronic pain or have the surgery. He understood why sex was not a part of their marriage during this time; after all, she was in pain. However, 2 Years post-hysterectomy, things weren’t getting any better. In fact, things began to get much worse. Sex was still non-existent because she was apparently still in pain. She laid on the sofa the majority of the day every day, watching TV. She refused to work, even after John had put her through Esthetics School and set up a salon for her in the home (her dream, she had said, was to have her own nail salon). She claimed to be depressed, due to the fact that she couldn’t have children, but was unwilling to seek counseling or any sort of help for the depression. In a desperate attempt to lift her spirits, he took her to the local Honda dealership and told her to pick out whatever she wanted. She drove home in her brand new, fully loaded SUV. It didn’t help and he quickly realized that nothing he did was going to make a difference. She was angry and began acting irrationally, blaming him for her health problems; she would later tell a judge that John had made her have a hysterectomy. She wasn’t too depressed or in too much pain however to get off the couch, cake on the make-up, don revealing clothing and go out to the bar with her girlfriends until 4 & 5 a.m., 3 – 5 nights a week. Her behaviour was becoming ever more erratic and irrational. He caught her in lying about her whereabouts often and began to hear rumours that she was having an affair. She seemed to make a point of starting fights regularly. Usually, the complaints were that John was not supplying her with enough money. It seemed that when she wasn’t either lying on the couch or out at the bar with her friends, she was shopping. She just couldn’t comprehend that the money was running out. John’s business had suffered while he was helping Barb deal with her illness; often times, she would wake him at 2 and 3 in the morning to take her to hospital because she was in pain. They had just recently renovated the house, he had bought her the new vehicle, and she absolutely refused to work. Something had to give, but she just couldn’t see it. On this day, April 28, 2002, Barb was once again angry because he refused to give her more money. He’d finally had enough and told her it was time to go. Her response was “if you don’t take me back I’ll go to the police and have you arrested”. Due to medications Barb was on, she bruised easily and she often referred to her bruises as ‘trophies’. He insisted she leave and began putting some of her belongings ~ suitcases full of clothes etc. ~ into the garage. Barb called her sister Linda, who came to help her remove her things. Barb and Linda spent the next hour gathering Barb’s belongings, all the while yelling obscenities at John, making sure to damage a few of his belongings in the process. A few hours after they left, while John was bar-b-q’ing his dinner, 6 police officers arrived at his front door. When he answered the door, an officer said “Mr. Harper, you’re under arrest for spousal abuse.” Barb had made good on her threat. They sent 6 officers to arrest John because Barb made a point of explaining that he is a big man, who was once a professional fighter. John stood there mouth agape, stunned. He was only wearing white shorts (intended only for home lounging), a t-shirt and no shoes. A male officer stepped forward and turned him around in order to place the cuffs around his wrists. “Can I at least get my shoes?” he asked. “No” was the reply. Two officers steered him toward the vehicle making sure to bang his head on the way into the car. The cuffs had been placed so tight that John’s hands were blue when they arrived at the police station 10 minutes later. He was shocked, numb; he had always been taught that you never lay a hand on a woman unless you’re invited and certainly would never have hurt his wife. This had to be a mistake. Once at the station, they read John his rights and proceeded with the booking process. John had never had his fingerprints taken before and didn’t know the procedure. The officer kept squishing his fingers down on the paper, unable to get a proper print. He bent his fingers back and threatened to charge John with resisting arrest. John insisted he had no intention of resisting, to which the officer replied “go ahead, hit me, I won’t do anything. Take your best shot”. This is so absurd, John thought. How can the police behave this way? It turns out that BC law states that an accused abuser is guilty until proven innocent. A woman simply needs to suggest that she has been somehow abused and that is enough for the police to make an arrest. John spent 4 hours at the police station, answering questions and going through the process. He asked to make a phone call. He was told he was not allowed to use the phone. When he was released 4 hours later, he walked barefoot and humiliated across the street to a pay phone and called a friend, who came to pick him up.

The next day John hired a lawyer, had a legal separation agreement drawn up and braced himself for the fallout of these false charges. He was told to expect a long and expensive road ahead. The consequences of Barb’s actions could potentially have catastrophic effects; he could lose his business. His responsibility was to report these charges to his licensing bodies.

The next day Barb showed up at the house. When John told her to leave, she walked to the middle of the driveway and just stood there sobbing, yelling up at the house about how sorry she was for going to the police station. She had gone to the police station, she later said, because a friend told her she should ‘open a file on John, just in case things got ugly’, which made no sense, but Barb had been doing a lot of things that made no sense, so this was par for the course he thought. According to the story she later told John, while sobbing and repeating how sorry she was, was that she was standing at the front desk of the police station, asking if she could ‘open a file’ on her husband, who had asked her to leave their home earlier in the day. She told John that while she and Linda were moving her things, she had sustained some small bruises on her arms. She had worn a short sleeve shirt to the police station, and they noticed her bruises. Barb claimed that they asked her if the bruises had been a result of abuse by John. She said that she told them no, but they wouldn’t believe her and set out to arrest him. BC law allows for the police to lay charges, even if a ‘victim’ says otherwise, ostensibly to protect the ‘victim’.

The next year would be spent fighting the false charge of spousal abuse, among the other chaos resulting from John’s decision to end his marriage…

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Have A Dream

I feel like this little girl. She looks like she's not very experienced at story writing, but she's eager to put some words on that paper.

I have often thought that my life experiences would make an interesting book, and I even made attempts to write about them now and then. The thing is, I'm not quite sure how! So I've stopped and started too many times to count.

Then I met him. His story is interesting too; especially interesting, is the story of our life together ~ not the day to day stuff, but the background stuff we've been battling for the past 4 years. We're close to the end of a rather important round in this fight, which is making me feel very inspired.

My last post about coming out the other side of a bad situation was a good gauge for me. It helped me to see that maybe, just maybe I'm right. People might actually be interested in this.....drama. So I'm going to embark on a new journey of writing. I think I might post bits and pieces of the story and get some feedback from you, my few but very valued readers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gratidude and Destiny

A recent post on our super secret blog, along with some subtle signs in my personal life have has inspired me to post about destiny, gratitude and coming out the other other side of a bad situation.

I'm sorry, this is a long one.

5 years ago, I took a chance. I quit my 'good government job' and started my own business. I like to leap then look... it's just how I roll. Fortunately, the government believed in my little business venture and they gave me a small grant to live off for the first year of business, whilst I attended some of their mandatory courses; pretty good trade thought I. Arrogantly, I assumed that because I had a great idea, at least in my mind, it would sustain me financially. Silly girl. At this point in time, I was dating someone I really thought was the love of my life. We had so much fun together and we never fought. It was almost 5 years after leaving my rather volatile husband and he was a breath of fresh air. He wasn't much for self-employment though, so not as supportive as he could have been, but he did try. Sometimes. He moved in with me after 6 months of dating, at which point he suggested that we build a house. So we did. We built a house and moved in on Nov. 29, 2002. I was full of hope for the future that morning, but by early evening, I had a very funny anxious feeling that I might have made a mistake. We were moving pretty fast after all. We had only been together 9 months, and his demeanor seemed to instantly change. That fast. From morning till night. The air around us felt weird and strained. I felt like Alice, having just crawled through the rabbit hole. He assured me it was just the stress of moving. On November 30th, the day after moving in, he took my hand and led me outside. He turned me to face the house and put his arms around me from behind. "Thank you for building such a beautiful home for us. I'm so happy to have you" he whispered in my ear. He had left all the details of the house to me, saying that as long as I was happy that's all that mattered. When I went back in there were a dozen roses on the kitchen table with a beautiful card; he was always so charming, romantic and thoughtful. It seemed almost too good to be true. I was glad he liked the house and momentarily felt relief.

The next day though, I just didn't feel right again. He told me to stop worrying, but he was suddenly just not 'that guy' anymore. He seemed preoccupied and emotionally unavailable. My spidey senses kicked in. No matter how many times I told myself I was wrong, I couldn't shake it. I became sullen, suspicious and moody. I just wanted him back but the more I wanted him, the farther he went. I was suddenly chasing the dream of the man I thought he was. Then it happened. Just one month after moving into the house, only two days after a strained Christmas, we got into a totally minor spat. I asked him why he was suddenly so different. His answer; 'I'm sorry, I love you, but I just don't feel that spark anymore. I'm not in love with you'. WHAT? Excuse me???? 3 1/2 weeks ago, he gave me flowers with a card telling me how excited he was to start our new life together and now he's suddenly lost the spark? I was devastated. Crushed. What the fuck was I going to do now. I'm embarrassed now to think of how I broke down, but I just could not comprehend where to go from here. I had given up my home and many of my very nice things because he bought us newer and better things for our new and better home; things like furniture, a vacuum, dishes... things I would kind of need, but the new things were really his, since he paid for them, so what was I going to do? I wasn't making much money yet! FUCK! The home I gave up was such a beautiful place and the rent was totally doable, plus I was allowed to have my dog there. How was I going to afford a house that would let me have my dog and buy new things??? All while essentially being unemployed, with my grant quickly running out. This was an incomprehensible disaster. I did the best I could to gather my pride, put on a brave face and try to work through it. We lived around each other for a week. I acted strong and asked him to pick me up boxes when he was out, packing more things every day. He was not going to see me be the slobbering heartbroken fool that I really was damnit!!!! 2 weeks later he asked me to take him back. He cried and said he was so sorry he just got 'scared'. I took him back. A lot more gut wrenching moments took place before we broke up again and I finally moved out. In April I managed to find a really adorable character home that would let me have my doggie, so I moved in. The rent was a bit steep, but beggars can't be choosers so I just closed my eyes and prayed for a miracle contract to come along before my grant was gone.

That miracle did come, in the form of a client who wanted me to give up any existing clients and work solely for him. I did. The ex and I spoke only occasionally, when we had to take care of unfinished business. Three months after moving into my new place, and just as I was finally getting used to the quiet, he called me one night. He asked if I wanted to have dinner with him. I couldn't help it. I still loved him. The dream of him still existed. I said yes. We slept together. He asked me to take him back. I did. He asked if we could just take it slow. I said yes. One day I came home from work and there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a card professing undying love...God, I am so ashamed at how low I sunk, allowing him to play with my heart the way he did. Believing him when he told me he loved me but just needed time, totally ignoring my guardian voice screaming danger Will Rogers, DANGER!!

On August 30th, 2003 we were sitting at his house (the house I designed, my dream house). The phone rang. He looked at it and put it down saying he didn't know who it was. My guardian voice wouldn't let me turtle anymore. I demanded to know who it was that called. He insisted he didn't know. He said maybe it was for Dave, his recently acquired roommate. I simply didn't believe him. I wouldn't let it go. I read the barely perceptible beads of sweat forming in his receding hairline. I was like a dog with a bone, gnawing for the truth. "Who was it", "I don't know!". I picked up the phone "Fine, there's voicemail, I'll just check it".

"FINE, I'll tell you, just stop already". It turns out that night, the night he left the flowers with the card professing the love, after he called me to say goodnight, telling me he was going to bed early, he went out drinking with Dave. For reasons still unbeknownst to me, he called an escort when he got home. They liked each other more than just on and escort/john level and he gave her his number. I won't even begin to try to explain how this made me feel, what I went through, or how I behaved after this news, but suffice it to say that my self esteem had sunken to a level I can't now comprehend. That girl is, thank God, no longer me. We broke up for good.

A week later, in my extreme and irrational depression, combined with anger at my 'boss' (client), I fired me. I quit the client. Little did I know that another job would not soon follow. My grant ran out. I was cataplectic. I couldn't even begin to think about how to get my business off the ground again. My life was spiraling completely out of control. I was suddenly 'overqualified', or there were just too many applicants for everything I applied for. I thanked God my kids lived with their dad at that point. I was useless. I cried all the time. I spent endless hours on the phone with my real life bff Mantramine, trying to get her fix me. She patiently walked with me through my depression. She talked to me softly and lovingly for hours. I don't think she really knows how much she helped me. That's my fault. I don't know how to express my gratitude for her love and patience with a crazy, fucked up whacked out mess. I had two other bff's, one of whom paid my rent one month, and who would come by often. I'm sure now, that they were on suicide watch! It didn't get any better anytime too soon. I eventually had to leave my home because my friend couldn't keep paying my rent, nor could I. My things went into storage and I was officially homeless. Another of my bff's kindly took me in, no questions asked and no expectations. I slowly tried to rebuild my shattered life. I was a homeless woman, driving a nice car, wearing nice clothes, with nice things in storage. I was wandering Wonderland trying to figure a way back through the rabbit hole. That Christmas Mantra lent me $100 to buy my kids some presents, cause I was at that point on welfare and couldn't afford to. I cannot express the pain and humiliation of being me at that time.

Two months later I finally got a ridiculously menial job that paid just barely above minimum wage and oddly, rather than feel the humiliation of working a job 'beneath me', I saw light at the end of the tunnel. My manager at that job made me feel worthy and important. Slowly, ever so slowly the tides began to shift. I worked 7 days a week, sometimes 12 hour days and managed to move into a ridiculously small apartment in a shifty area of town, but not before having to sacrifice my dog. I simply couldn't afford a home where I could have him, so he went with a friend of a friend. At least I had a home. I still had my cat. That was something. By this point I had been dating my current man for a very short while. He was going through his own manner of hell, still dealing with a mentally unstable ex wife after 2 years of separation. We were kindred, broken spirits come together in an extreme time. He never made me feel bad about my situation, always seeing the better in me. He encouraged me to not dwell on the pain and humiliation, but move forward toward my dream, which was still to own my own business. He is self-employed, so knows the satisfaction it brings and helped me navigate my way toward success. We are still together 4 years later, more in love than ever. My business has morphed and is flourishing, his business is going better than it has in years. We are partners and best friends.

I am now happier than I can ever remember being. I feel fulfilled and no longer rushed toward a goal or the perfect relationship. I am getting better at Mantra's advice to 'just be in the moment'.

The moral of this story is
1. Hard times suck, but they do end, and often you come out the other side better stronger and so much better off than you would have ever thought!

2. Always, always pay heed to your guardian voice!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My 5 Random things meme

I've been tagged by Recovery Discovery to post 5 random things about me, so here goes....

5. I have a thing for shoes. Yeah, I know it's not unique or anything, after all I am a chick. This is new for me though. I never really cared much for shoes, except for that time when I was thirteen and I paid $90 for a pair of 'moon shoes' that ALL the girls begged me to borrow. I got to wear them once or twice, then they disappeared into the abyss of young teens awaiting their turn with the 'moon shoes'. They were white leather flats, with a gold inlayed crescent moon and stars on the toes. Magic! Right now my favourite shoe is the sling-back peep-toe. I have 4 pairs and I think I'm going to need to acquire the ones pictured. They're so frilly and pretty.

4. I LOVE princesses and princess dresses. I want to be Cinderella. Seriously.

3. I'm secretly lazy. If I didn't have to work, I wouldn't. But I like to have things and I love to have money, so I toil. I don't want to though.

2. I take things too personally. Everything must be my fault. I don't know why. Perhaps that's something to investigate.

1. I love my bed. Particularly lying in bed with my man. We're on holidays and have taken to laying in bed watching movies, not going to sleep until 5 a.m. and not getting up until 2 in the afternoon. I'm in heaven!

I really am not all that shallow, but it would appear I sort of themed this '5 random superficial things'.