If at First You Don’t Succeed… You Probably Should Stop

Unfortunately but not surprisingly, after only three months on his job, in July of 2013 my husband was let go from his job.  Though he never offered a dime to me or the children over the summer, I decided that I would call off our separation so that we could save our family home.  I allowed his sister to sublet my apartment while we moved back.  He seemed to have more cheer in his step and more optimism in his eyes regarding our relationship and our future.  We even went to an indoor waterpark/hotel for our oldest son’s birthday and had a great time.  When we returned, our oldest decided that he wanted to sign up for the township’s junior’s football team and we got him on board.

The cheeriness didn’t last long.  My oldest had a couple of good practices over the weekend and we always walked to them and watched him as a family.  As I was the only one working, I didn’t get home until about an hour after the children were out of school on the weekdays.  On the way home one Wednesday, I saw that I had a voicemail.  “Hello, this is Coach “DJ”.  Your son is here at the field and he’s crying.  Something about his dad won’t let him come home.  Give me a call.  Thanks.”  I was so confused.  What the hell is going on now?  So I sped to the practice field to see the senior players practicing and my son sitting in the middle of the field.  I parked and ran to him.  Dried tears decorated his face.  The coach approached me and I asked what was going on.  He told me that my son relayed to him that his father would not let him go back home.  I asked my son what happened.  I allowed him to speak bluntly, “My team doesn’t have practice today.  So I walked back home.  Dad said, ‘get out of my fucking face.  You just don’t want to go to practice.  I don’t want to see your fucking face until 6pm’, and made me come back here.  He sobbed more.  Why isn’t his dad here with him?  Why didn’t he walk him up here?  It’s only around the block.  This is his first big boy thing to do and he just left him to his own resources?  I helped my son to wipe his face.  I told him that I would discuss it with his father and for him to stay far away when I did.  I thanked Coach “DJ” and we started on our way home.  When we returned to the house, I saw that my husband was in a mood and I decided that that night would not be the best night for the discussion.  So I held my tongue, cooked dinner and prepared myself and the children for the next day as my husband played Tekken.

That Sunday was a good day.  I walked my children down to the field to watch my oldest son practice and when he was done, we ran to the grocery store, grabbed a filet of salmon, a bottle of white wine and returned home so that I could start dinner.  Though my husband didn’t attend practice, when we returned home, we actually started having a decent time as a family.  We all took our showers and changed into pajamas.  We danced to music and the little ones helped me in the kitchen.  After dinner, my daughter wanted to play a word guessing game.  So after cleaning up after eating, we retreated to my bedroom to play because it was close to bedtime anyway.  My husband, glass of wine and Tequila mixed in hand, came in there just in time to have us guess a word.  He expressed irritation that he did not know how to play the game.  I said, “Come on, dude.  You know how to play.  We’ve had this game a year.”  He looked at me and said, “So… you’re calling me stupid?”  I said no such thing and I knew what he was trying to do: start another argument.  I resisted the bait, told my daughter that we would play tomorrow and turned over to go to sleep so that I could be rested for work the next day.  He continued with his rant and claim that I had called him stupid.  He told me that I always took it ‘there’ and that if anything happened, it was my fault because I make him so mad.  I still kept my mouth closed.  That’s when I felt the wetness on my face.  He poured his entire glass of wine and Tequila on my face as I laid there.  I felt it seep into my eyes and down my nose.  It burned so much.  I huffed and puffed trying to get the alcohol out of my face. I got up to wipe myself to find him sitting on the bed as if he had done what he was supposed to do; is hands behind his head, elbows up, legs crossed down the bed comfortably.

I got off the bed and just stood there, drenched.  I asked him, “What the fuck did you do tha—“, and before I could even fully ask the question, I felt my body hit the floor.  He got off of the bed so fast and body slammed me so hard, I saw lights.  He picked me up and body slammed me again onto the bed and held me there.  I yelled for the kids to call for help, but he told them not to come into the bedroom and they did as he told them to.  He was holding me down so hard, I could barely breathe.  When he finally let me go, I remembered something and my eyes darted to the pocketknife that he had atop the armoire that was in our room.  He was standing between me, the phone and the exit to the bedroom.  I was trapped.  I scrambled to my feet lunged for the knife and struggle to get the blade out.  He was quicker than me.  He grasped the blade of the knife and pulled it towards him, and wriggled the knife from my hands.  He tossed the knife away and slammed me to the floor again.  He shoved a cold iron into my face and told me what he should do: burn my face off.  I hoped and hoped that my children were somewhere they could not hear us fighting, but the house wasn’t that big.  I know they were scared and I couldn’t get to them.  He screamed and shouted at me about how much he hated me and how sick of me he was.  When he was finally done yelling at me, he walked to the dining room table to roll a blunt.

After I stopped shaking a little, I was able to get up and walk into the living room. I saw my escape at the front door.  I wished that I could grow super long arms and super huge muscles so that I could grab all of my children and get them out of the house, but for now, I could only get myself out to get help.  I darted for the front door… I heard the dining room chair he was sitting in hit the floor and then I heard him behind me.  He grabbed hold of my right arm and right ankle and almost pulled me back in, but I wrapped my other leg around our porch banister and screamed for help.  Of course, no one heard my cries, and he let go.  Slamming the door, he called me a ‘stupid bitch’.  I walked in the night in pajamas and with no shoes. It was the middle of August, so the nights were mild.  I kept checking over my shoulder to make sure that he wasn’t following me and I walked faster every time I heard the sound of a dog rustling grass or the wind blowing.  I finally made four blocks to the nearby liquor store in order to call the police.  The young male cashier behind the glass looked at me with pity and handed me the cordless phone. I must have been quite a sight.  My hair was all over the place and my eyes were swollen from crying.  My head throbbed with pain.  I dialed 911 and I was connected to the police department.  When I told the dispatcher of the situation, I heard the woman on the line say, “We know, your husband already called.  We are on the way.”  I was so confused.  What would he have called the police for?  ……..

Independence

One morning he decided that he wanted to take the family out to breakfast at a local restaurant.  We all obliged and we loaded the kids into the car.  As we began driving, I noticed that we were not driving in the direction of the restaurant.  I asked him where we were going.  “We are going to pay a visit to your friend.”  I knew exactly who he meant.  He wanted to go find “Golden”.  8 o’clock in the morning with a minivan full of kids was not the way that I wanted to see this confrontation happen.  When Tony demanded that I tell him where “Golden” lived, I lied.  I picked some random house on a busy street.  I didn’t want to get out of the car, but he dragged me from the passenger seat, to the ground and to the porch of the house.  When the homeowner opened the door and Tony realized that I had not told him the correct house, he forced me back into the van and finally drove to the restaurant.  I had no appetite.  The children were crying.  Tony was just fine.  He had that look on his face that I can only imagine that if Lucifer was real, that’s what he would look like.  After breakfast, he drove us out to a suburban park where he continued to call me a slut and a terrible mother.  He grabbed my arm as I tried to get out of the car to walk away and twisted it so hard that it brought tears to my eyes.  I whipped out my pepper spray, sprayed Tony in the face and yelled for the kids to stay in the car.  When he let go, I ran to a person in the park who let me use their cell phone to call the police.  When the police arrived, he was arrested and they took him away.  We were apart for two weeks; he could not return to our home so he stayed with a friend.  But he stayed on my mind.  I loved him.  Those feelings were coming back for some reason.  I wanted him back and I wanted to make it work.  He was ordered to one year of probation and one year of anger management again.  We attempted marriage counseling, but the victim playing on his part because of the affair was so intense that the marriage counselor told us to never come back again.  He could not see past the affair.  Regardless of all of the things he had done to me, kicking in the car windshield, choking me into unconsciousness, the shaming, the embarrassment, the punching, the neglect… all he could see was that I had had an affair.

Things got so bad that I resorted to an old teenage past time: cutting.  I locked myself in the bathroom one night and just cut away at my thighs with a sharpened steak knife.  The pain inside hurt so bad that I wanted to feel the pain on the outside. My husband banged on the door, “What are you doing?!?!”  I told him to go away and he broke down the door.  When he saw the blood he called 911.  When the EMTs arrived, they asked me if I had done it to myself.  I told them yes and they took me to a local hospital… where I was promptly chained to a hospital bed.  Apparently, superficial self harm to deal with stress is taboo but smoking cancer sticks is ok.  I should have taken up smoking.  I then spent the next two days in a psychiatric facility.  I was asked what triggered me to do such a thing to myself.  I told them that I hated my husband.  That I was tired of the abuse.  That I was tired of constantly being unhappy.  Lowkey, the nurse told me that there was nothing wrong with me.  That I just needed to get out of my situation.  When I was released, my distrust of my husband was reinforced.  Not only was I not allowed to be unhappy, I was not allowed to express it, I was not allowed to act on my unhappiness,  nothing.  I continued to try to rely on weakening faith in god.

We attempted to rekindle our relationship with the Kingdom Hall.  After all of the drama the affair and his arrest and consequential probation, we thought that we needed to “go to god again”.  This time we were paired up with a young couple that had recently moved to Michigan from California.  They were nice enough, but full of zeal.  Again, I was deeper into the study of the sect than my husband.  He was only there so that he could ensure that I felt the gravity of the guilt that I should have felt for the affair.  He wanted me to KNOW that Jehovah did not approve of what I did.  The wife of our bible study leaders encouraged (see: pressured) me out into field service.  ….That was an experience.  Nothing like having door slammed in your face at 9am on a Saturday out in the cold winter of Michigan.  Though I figured that logically the next step was to get baptized into the group, but I realized that I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t lie to myself.  I wasn’t sure that I believed in god.

I used to be an avid nightly news watcher.  One night a story came across the television that completely screwed my world up.  A one year old baby girl was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.  I INSTANTLY broke into tears.  And I hated what I knew to be god.  How could he let that happen?  What in the hell purpose could this serve?  As I was crying, my husband asked me what was wrong.  I told him about the news story and he told me that I was wrong for being mad at god; that I would be punished for ever doubting god.  Duh, why didn’t I remember that I can’t tell him anything?  I spoke with the wife of our bible study leads and the only thing she had to tell me in my despondent state was that god gave us free will.  Fucking free will.  “So the free will of the rapist was more important than the free will of the baby girl to NOT have this happen to her?”, I questioned.  The woman just told me that those who are faithful in Jehovah will be restored in the new system and that I should just concentrate on my personal relationship with Jehovah.

None of this was right to me.  It just didn’t sit well with me.  There could not be a god.  So I began looking up what people said about the JW’s and how they were a cult.  I read up on the founder of the sect, Charles Taze Russell and his successor.  I read about all of the property that they owned, their history of racism, their child molestation cover ups and their controversial stance on blood transfusion.  I started looking into other sects of Christianity and other religions.  They all had a pattern of misogyny, bloodshed, contradictions, and the one key factor: if you don’t believe in our god and our way, you’re going to be punished.  That “exclusivity” clause.  I had to confess it to myself.  I wasn’t mad at god.  I didn’t believe in god.  And I was mad that I was deceived for so long.  There was no god.  But of course, I couldn’t tell this to my husband or my deeply Christian family.  I would be shunned, outcast.  Though I had these thoughts, I no one to talk to them about.  That put even more of a strain on our marriage.

The little semblance of marital respect that we had for each other quickly dissipated.  We became nothing more than angry roommates with one another.  As I became more and more distant from religion and missing Hall meetings, the woman who partnered with her husband to lead our bible studies stopped by to see why I stopped attending.  I told her that I just didn’t believe in it anymore.  Her response was, “But you’re not baptized.  If Jehovah’s day of judgement comes tomorrow, your children will be killed!”  I told her, “Any god that would kill my children because I don’t believe in him to stroke his ego does not deserve my worship,” and I asked her to leave.

Once my husband was off of probation, things began to escalate again.  The DAY he was off of probation, he backhanded me so hard for not agreeing on what to make for dinner that night.  he told me, “I’m not scared of going to jail anymore.  You better get your shit together.”  I knew that things would just get worse.

Again, things were quiet.  As long as I walked on eggshells, things were ok.  The children were getting bigger and I was breezing through my college courses.  There was some tension as my husband decided that he would not pursue a degree beyond his Associates.  However, I had big dreams that I wanted to achieve.  One of the items that I had on my, “Things I Want to Do before I Die”, list was to be in a beauty pageant.  I wanted to be in one when I was a teenager, but I never got the opportunity.  A couple of internet searches led me to the Mrs. Michigan America pageant.  The pageant was for woman from different counties and/or cities in the state of Michigan to go out for the crown and to represent Michigan in the Mrs. America pageant.  It looked like it would be glamourous and fun so I submitted my picture and I was selected to represent the Motor City.  My husband tried to push back, but because I would be using my own money and I would find sponsors, the costs would be minimal.

I had no idea how much was involved in being in a pageant.  There were times that I was nervous and overwhelmed and scared. I agonized over what color dress I would wear in the evening gown competition and the best place to buy shoes and how I would wear my hair. But when the day arrived for us to drive to Grand Rapids to, my adrenaline kicked in.  My best friend from work volunteered to be my stylist and makeup artist.  When I tell you that I was flawless, I WAS FLAWLESS!  My hair was beautiful, my makeup was superb.  My family, including my mother, was there to cheer me on. I danced and twirled in my purple show dress during the choreographed opening of the pageant. My husband walked me across the stage during the evening gown competition as I word my golden, satin dress. I was not even afraid of competing in the swimsuit portion of the competition.  I confidently strutted out on stage in an all white monokini with a sheer white wrap.  During the I proudly represented the Motor City and, though I did not win the competition, I did win the internet choice award. Being in that pageant gave me so much confidence.  If I could do that; I could do anything.

The year pushed on and I graduated from school that fall.  At my celebration dinner, my oldest son relayed to me that he had gotten in trouble at school earlier that day for talking.  I told him that we would discuss it after dinner and not to worry, we would figure out how to make sure that didn’t happen again.  My husband overheard and became incensed that my son had not told him.  He called my son over and punched him in the chest.  Right there in the restaurant.  Knocked the wind out of him; he was crying.  My mom was there, my aunt was there and other restaurant patrons.  I knew in my mind that he was NEVER going to change.  His way of handling things was through violence.  With my degree now complete, I started figuring out an escape plan.  And I started executing it too.

My new found confidence from both the pageant and finally graduating school gave me the courage to ask for a pay increase at my job as well.  Maybe, if I made more money, it would be easier for me to leave; it would be easier for me to be a single mom.  I just obtained my Bachelor’s degree.  I studied for and earned numerous IT and Project Management certifications, surely I could ask for an increase of five dollars.  I set up the meeting with my supervisor and let her know of my accomplishments and of the fact that I had not received nor asked for any increase in pay since I started working there.  At the time, I was doing the job of three people and held the title of “Program Manager”.  I worked on the project budged, scheduling, and resourcing.  After I made my argument for an increase, my supervisor told me, “Well actually, Marquita.  Your’re really only worth $XX”.  I wasn’t hurt.  I was more disappointed.  I knew that that wasn’t my “worth” and figured that it was probably time to move on to new opportunities with my new found skillset.

And like clockwork, when I was down, my husband came along to make sure to kick me.  When I got home that evening with my long face, sad from the letdown of my meeting with my boss, my husband asked me what was wrong.  I told him what happened and that I was just a bit down.  His exact words: “You are a spoiled brat.  You act like somebody owes you something.” Hmmm.  Yeah.  Ok.  Well, maybe.  I just figured that if I was doing the work of people who make $40 an hour, that maybe I could get $30 seeing as how I was just as qualified.  I should have known better than to tell him anything.  He didn’t deter me, however.  I put out my resume and found new employment within two weeks; at the rate that I requested and deserved.

Even though I accepted my new opportunity, the job offers still poured in.  I was offered a Project Management job in Washington DC with the Bureau of Veterans Affairs.  It was an exciting offer and a great package came along with the job, but moving my family to a new city was scary.  Especially considering that I wanted to leave my husband anyway.  A family friend encouraged us to just drive down and check out the city.  See if we could see ourselves there.  So, one Friday in Early May 2013, we drove down to DC.  The traffic was terrible in the DMV area, but the hotel room was beautiful.  We arrived in DC around 8am that Saturday morning.  I had arranged to meet the hiring manager that afternoon for lunch to discuss the position. My husband drove me to the restaurant and before I could get out of the car he said, “Hey, tell them to give me a job too.”  I said, “Um, honey.  I don’t even know if I have the job yet.  I will let them know that with moving and uprooting the family that you will need to find a job too.  But I don’t think it’s their responsibility to give you a job.”  He looked so irritated with me and once I was out of the car, he sped off to find a parking spot.  Unmoved, I walked into the restaurant and aced the interview.  The manager was very nice and explained what the position would entail.  I told the manager that I would still have to think over the offer and that I would let him know on Monday.

My family and I spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday seeing the sights.  The trip was pretty decent and for a moment, we appeared to be a happy family.  Once we returned home, I thought about the offer.   I let my employer know that I was considering taking the offer and she countered offered with a $10 raise.  Well.  That made my decision for me.  I declined the DC offer and stayed in Michigan.  The tension at home continued as my husband remained unemployed and distant, but the physical abuse subsided; at least for a while.

It took one year, but I was finally at the point where I was ready to go.  One night as we were sitting on the couch, he playing video games and I on Facebook, he decided that he wanted to discuss my affair.  “Here we go again,” I thought.  He wanted to know what I would do in order to make up for the affair.  I asked him what did he want me to do?  Over the couple of years since I had had the affair, he demanded that I find a way to “make it up to him”.  I never knew there was a way to “make up” for an affair.  In my desperate attempts to try to figure out what he meant and to shut him up, I offered to find him another girl to have sex with; offered to watch him have sex with whomever he wanted.  This never was good enough for him because he knew that I was not jealous, he always declined my offers.  That night he decided what I needed to do in order to make it up to him: anal sex.  He wanted me to have anal sex with him.  I told him that I had no problem with that but all I requested was that we wait until we bought lubrication.  That was too much of a request, apparently.  He took his cell phone and threw it at me so hard that it left a bruise on my left bicep.  I calmly walked to the door, grabbed my keys and drove to my mother’s house.  The next morning, I inquired of my mother’s apartment leasing office about an apartment.  I was able to get an apartment with no security deposit and one half of the first month’s rent.  I was finally going to get my chance at independence.  I was going to walk away from the abuse that I had suffered for the previous ten years.  I was scared and excited at the same time.  I picked my kids up from school the next day and let Tony know that we were moving out.  That this was the separation that would possibly lead to a divorce.  He was distraught.  When I went back to get my things, the house was a mess. He hadn’t eaten.  He was barely going to work.  I tried to convince him to get help, but he wouldn’t speak to me and I turned around and walked out the front door.

That summer after I left was one of the most peaceful times I’d had in over ten years.  I had my children, my peace and not much else.  In our 900 square foot apartment, we had no furniture.  We slept on the floor.  On the floor is where I found a resolve that I did not know that I had.  I got up everyday and was a single mom.  My children were happy; no more walking on eggshells for us.  We ventured out and did things that he never wanted to do.  We went to the out of town zoo, we went to the water park, we drove to Mississippi for a family reunion.  We as our own little tribe were discovering ourselves, who we really were without fear, and it was fun.

Blessings and Curses

My husband finally conceded to bible study with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  We were assigned to a local congregation and we began to attend regularly.  The most fun thing about being going to the Kingdom Hall was seeing my little babies all dressed up.  That was about it.  The meetings were long and boring.  The people for the most part were stoic and condescending.  The hall assigned an older couple who had been “in the truth” for over 30 years to lead our bible studies.  Though my husband still showed little more than casual interest in bible study (i.e. never doing the Watchtower lesson or leading the family in regular personal bible study), he still loved to check me if or when I was not being a “submissive wife”.  I confided in the wife of the bible study leads and she told me not to worry.  To just keep believe in Jehovah and to remember 1 Peter 3:1,2, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

And out of the blue, as if a “blessing from god”, Tony was offered a government contractor job in Afghanistan.  The job paid well enough for me to be able to quit my job, but he would be gone for a year at a time.  At that time, I couldn’t care less.  I didn’t care if he would be gone because to me, I was already alone emotionally.  However, the thought of being alone with four children terrified me.  Even though he didn’t help much, I was afraid to be with all of our children alone.  Couldn’t I handle it?  Would I become overwhelmed?  Would I get sick of staying at home with no adult interaction?  Begrudgingly I helped him with his paperwork because he didn’t have time or patience to fill out the paperwork exactly as the government and the contractor directed.  With everything set and done, he was set to go within the month.  I was actually excited and nervous at the same time.  I would have some of that independence that I had given up to be with him only now I would have four kids along with it. The brothers and sisters at the Kingdom Hall, however, were none too happy.  They counseled us on the fact that he would be supporting an act of war and that a man being away from his family was probably not in the best interest.  Tony took it as a “matter of conscience” and let them know that he would be taking the job anyway and that he would deal with Jehovah on that tip later.

The morning that I drove him to the airport, we had a fight about me expressing that I was afraid to be alone; he left the house a mess.  He’d turned over the glass coffee table, poured popcorn everywhere, there was juice from sippy cups all over the walls and he broke my laptop.  Still, I was happy that he was gone.  The weekly bible studies became biweekly and my Kingdom Hall attendance became less and less.  It’s hard getting four children ready all by yourself for even small trips to the grocery store and I didn’t have much help.

With my husband gone, yard work became overwhelming.  I decided to hire a company to cut the grass for us.  And that’s where the next huge problem came in.  “Golden”.  His name was “Golden”.  He was 6’3” and just as sexy as he wanted to be.  His body glistened as he pushed the lawnmower across our large yard in the summer heat.  We usually spoke casually about the kids and the yard.  He had a daughter of his own.  We started talking about life, our spouses and how much they drove us crazy.  And yep, just like that, one thing led to another.  I had an affair.  I knew that it was wrong.  It was so exciting.  And dangerous.  “Golden” made me feel alive and wanted.  He hung on my every word.  We discussed those sexual topics and we questioned religion; things that my husband deemed taboo.  He let me cry and he comforted me.

Because nothing can get by Tony, he found out.  He probably had some remote software that allowed him to use the computers in our house to see exactly what I was doing.  He came home right away.  I expected the beating of my life.  But no.  He was eerily calm.  He even wanted to go on a road trip.  We drove out to Wisconsin to visit his cousin with no problem (of course I bought pepper spray to take along just in case).  We had a peaceful couple of weeks.  And then…

I Prayed for Peace

We welcomed our first child to our family that next year.  He was everything that I imagined and everything that I prayed for.  I just knew that with our new addition, Tony would calm down.  He would no longer be so angry and I wouldn’t have to walk on egg shells so much.  That was false.  The fights continued.  Even over the smallest of things.  I started believing that I could not win for losing.  I believe that was the first peek that I took at myself to see that I was growing up.  I started not caring.  I also started developing ‘strange’ sexual urges.  I wanted to look into swinging, sex with a girl, group orgies.  I thought that in a marriage, whenever you had feelings like that, you should definitely bring them to your spouse.  The person that you are supposed to grow old and die with would definitely listen to you.  And with this type of discussion, I thought most definitely a man would want to ‘get down’.  When I brought this to my husband, it infuriated him.  I was slapped in the face so hard that as dark as I am, I bruised.  He told me, “there are just certain things that you do not tell your husband.  I’m done talking to you now.”  At that point, I’d never felt more alone.

A few of his friends let us know about a new church that was opening off base.  A few of the sergeants had collected funds and opened a COGIC church right off base.  Tony thought that it would be a good idea for us to go.  He believed that the ‘sexual demons’ that I had could be done away with if only we went to church.  The pastor set up an ‘emergency marriage counseling session’.  My husband was all but too eager to be on board.   I was so embarrassed.  Even the pastor already knew about what I had brought to my husband because my husband had already been telling everyone that would listen to him about my ‘fantasies’.  The pastor and his wife told me that I was perverted; that no young woman would have those thoughts.  That I should not talk to my husband about those things. Even the ‘first lady’ made it a point to tell me, “This is your husband’s time sweetie.  Don’t worry about a job, don’t worry about going to school.  Just support your husband right now.  You will have your time when the baby grows up.”

I felt sick.  I felt hopeless.  I was thousands of miles away from home.  I had no job.  I was just a military dependent.  I had no friends.  I was so alone.  That Thanksgiving, however, was one to remember.  We had all of my husband’s work friends over for dinner because we were the only ones that had a family (and I was the only one that knew how to cook).  There was one young lady that lingered.  She sat in the chair on the other side of my husband at the table during dinner.  I had seen her once or twice before at his office.  The whole night, she fawned over him, laughed at all of his jokes all the while looking at me as if she wanted me as well.  Surprisingly, this turned me on.  I had to inkling of jealousy.  I wanted to see him with her.  After everyone left, things became intense.  We had been drinking and one thing led to another.  She and I were all over each other.  The attraction was strong.  I put the baby to sleep upstairs and came downstairs to see them together on the couch.  She waved me over and that was my first threesome.  I remember the music playing in the background, how she tasted, how my husband moaned and groaned.  It was amazing.  One of my fantasies had finally come true.

Days later, my husband expressed his disappointment.  He felt as though she and I planned to do what we did all along.  I explained over and over how that was not the case.  He felt as though his involvement in the triad was tantamount to rape.  He was ‘forced’.  I was floored and angry.  From what I remembered, he enjoyed himself very much.  That Thanksgiving night was the first and last time Tony and I experimented with non-traditional sex in our marriage.

Over the next year, we added a second son to our marriage.  He was a dream baby. He never gave me any problems during the pregnancy. Even though I was in so much pain and lost so much blood after having him, when the doctors brought him in, I felt better.  My pain stopped. The bleeding slowed.  Unfortunately, in my marriage,  there also developed more contention.  There was one argument that was so bad, that the military police were involved.  I was hospitalized and he was given an Article 15 for domestic violence.  We went through ordered marriage counseling.  He went through ordered anger management.  But the fights continued.  He was separated from the Air Force a year and a half early due to a history of behavior issues and we were on our way back to Detroit.

We added two more children to our family, one more boy and a baby girl over the next three years.  The abuse never subsided, however.  There were numerous chokings, punches, body slams. One of the worse things was the 16 hour long arguments.  I was not allowed to fall asleep or do anything else but agree with what he said.  If I did anything else like, oh say, cook for the kids, help them with their homework, take a shower or anything else, I was accused of ‘not having any time for my husband and putting other things before him’.

Tony never could keep a job stateside for more than three months at a time.  I found work and continued working through the two pregnancies. At one of my jobs, one of the managers “encouraged” me to obtain a degree (in a very condescending way).  When I asked about moving up in the company, she stated that, “any degree is better than no degree.”  I thought about how my supervisor didn’t have a degree and her sister that worked there also didn’t have a degree.  The think they had in common was that they were white.  And I remembered, “twice as good to get half as much.”  I spoke with a counselor enrolled in college the next week.  It took some coaxing, but I also was able to get my husband to enroll in classes.  I wanted to major in Business and he wanted to study IT.  However, the only way that he would go to school was if I majored in the same thing as him.  I hate IT.  But I wanted so much for him to improve himself that I conceded.  We started our courses to learn web design.  Together.

Still, I could tell that my husband was becoming more and more depressed.  A man without a job is worse than have a rabid dog in the house.  He was vicious.  The abuse became worse.  I wanted to leave but with four kids, I just didn’t see how.  How could I support them on how much I made, with no degree, and pay for somewhere to live at the same time?  Wouldn’t he find me?  I loved him so much, I just wished that things would get better.  I spent countless hours helping him find jobs.  Even while I was at work, I was online trying to find him jobs.  Half way through my Associate’s courses, I decided that I COULD NOT continue on in IT.  I called my counselor and changed to Marketing.  When my husband realized that I was not in the same classes anymore, he was livid.  He called me a liar.  He threw a tantrum that only a four year old could better.  I did not waver, though.  Not on that.  I was so earnest in my desire for a Business degree that I even finished my term paper for my Associates while in the hospital, hours after giving birth to our daughter.  All I had was a laptop that my mom brought, wifi, Motrin, a new baby and a dream.

The weight of adulthood was heavy, but I found myself getting stronger and stronger.  I could handle the kids, school, work… and I thought I could handle being a wife.  But it was hard being a wife to someone who had become so down and dark.  Even his essence, his smell became repulsive to me.  I couldn’t stand to be around him.  No matter how much I tried to bring him up out of his depression, I was rejected and turned away.  This began to have an effect on me.  I became depressed… and my eye started wandering.  I wanted to feel.  I wanted to be liked.  I no longer felt loved and that was what I wanted the most.  As strong as I thought I was, it was becoming too much again.  He withdrew into video games, so much so that I actually became jealous of them.  I would tell him that I needed his attention, that I wanted things to be the way that they once were and I was rebuffed everytime.  I was scared, but I actually deliberately broke one of his gaming consoles and urinate on it while he was away one day.  I felt good; I finally had some type of revenge.  I was body slammed into the floor once he found out what I did.

It had been years since I had gone to my husband in confidence to tell him about my feelings.  One night, I mustered up the courage to try again.  I sat him down at the table and told him that him being without work, bills piling up, four kids and me being the only one working had me scared about what was to come.  I had no idea what we were doing.  I felt mild regret for moving so fast and putting so much on our plate.  His response?  “WHAT?! THE LIFE I GAVE YOU IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH?! YOU UNGRATEFUL BITCH! I DON’T WANT TO HEAR THIS SHIT! GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FACE!”  And just like that, I was done.  Every feeling, every ounce of respect I had for him was gone.  I no longer cared whether he lived or died.  Honestly, I didn’t.

Things were quiet for months.  His sister moved in with us because she had nowhere else to go and to help us out with bills.  I didn’t have much to say to him and he didn’t have much to say to me.  He had found a part time job working for Job Corps as a teacher’s assistant.  It didn’t pay much but it kept him occupied and it brought in a check.  A young female started making advances towards Tony and he would come home every day complaining about it.  At this point, he had dejected my feeling so much that I didn’t care what he was going through.  One night, while in bed, he told me that the young female told him that she wanted to ‘fuck him’.  He looked so disgusted when he told me this.  I was so withdrawn in my feelings that the only thing that I could think of to say for conversation was, “so are you going to?” I did not expect what happened next.  There was a pillow over my face.  I couldn’t breathe.  I could hear loud, muffled yelling and screaming and I was struggling to get the pillow off of my face.  Tony tried to smother me.  He was so pissed that I had the ‘audacity’ to ask him such a question.  I was ‘disrespectful’ and horrible.  “OH, SO?  AM I GOING TO FUCK HER?  FUCK HER LIKE THIS?” He ripped off my panties and raped me.  He smashed my face into the bed and again, I couldn’t breathe.  Right there with our bedroom door open.  With his sister still up and walking around and the children not even asleep.  I didn’t scream because I didn’t want the kids to come into the room.  His sister saw though.  I was…broken.  I shook.  I was so shocked I didn’t even cry.  I just went to sleep.  He was so angry.  He left the room and that was the best part about that night; we didn’t sleep in the same bed.  I did however overhear him on the phone with his uncle telling him about all of the ‘perverted’ things that I wanted to do and how terrible a wife I was that I would even think such things.  The next day, when I came home from work, I overheard his sister ‘chastising’ him for what he had done.  Not for what he had done to me, but because of what he had done with the door open and she had to ‘suffer’ seeing such a thing.  She never did like me.  His uncle called me too… to counsel me… about all of the sexually perverted things I had discussed privately with my husband.

In the emotional state that I was in, my thoughts were that all of this was still happening to me as a punishment from god because I had that abortion.  I confided in my aunt who was a Jehovah’s Witness and I started studying.  I just wanted to find peace and she said that in the loving arms of Jehovah, I would find that peace.  From the beginning, I had trouble with the doctrine.  The ‘submissive wife’ bullshit and the ‘head of the household’ crap.  I just couldn’t stomach it.  I decided that I would put my acceptance of that mess on the back burner and focus on finding peace in the other parts of the ‘word’.  Even my husband got in on it.  His favorite part was the Proverbs 31 woman (of course).  He loved every part of him being charged as ‘head of the household’ and it just made my life even more miserable.  I prayed and prayed for peace…

I Stayed Quiet

After I graduated from high school, the person who would become my ex husband both worked.  However, the money was not enough to make ends meet at all.  We came up with the idea of him going to the Air Force.  After all he said, “I want to marry you, but I don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.”  After meeting with the recruiter, we were completely sold on the idea.  The Air Force would pay for college, it would be a paying job, we could get housing, free health care.  There were so many benefits that I was not even thinking about the real reason people join the military: to defend this country.  How quickly I forgot about what happened on 9/11.  But what the hell, I was so interested that I decided to walk away from the scholarship that I had earned for a two year college and decided to join the Air Force as well.  Upon hearing this idea, my mother nearly cried herself into dehydration.  She did not think that Tony was the one for me.  Though she never spoke ill of him, her underlying mood was that my relationship with him was not going to turn out well.  Then, the famous last words, “Mom, you’re just trying to stop my fun” spewed forth like diarrhea from my mouth.  Dumb young girl.

Well, maybe more like a ‘dick-matized’ young girl.  The lovin’ was so good.  Now, I was not angel before I met Tony.  I believe my count was up to 13 before I even met him.  I lost my virginity at 15 to some older guy that my friend was dating (at her request).  I didn’t even know his name and thought nothing of it.  All I remember was how much it hurt and thinking why in the hell did everybody think it was so much fun.  As I got my practice, taking guys’ virginities, group sex, sneaking guys in while my mom worked, I finally got to know why.  But with Tony, it was different.  He was in tune with my body.  As small as I was, he was just rough enough to make me want to submit to his every command.  In fact, the first time I told him I loved him, I was on my back on my mother’s couch; him on top of me making my eyes roll in the back of my head.  I wanted to have his babies right then and there as he said he loved me, too.  But the Air Force was calling.

Unfortunately, I went first ‘into the wild blue yonder’.  Air Force basic training in Texas was THE most exhilarating time of my life.  It was my first time being away from home all by myself.  Six weeks of pushing yourself to the limit.  I gained 17 pounds in muscle!  All the while, Tony stayed back at home, for a time, even living with my mother because he had nowhere else to stay.  His mother was definitely not a contender for ‘Mother of the Decade’.  We wrote each other and I called him when I could.  Just then, in March of 2003, President Bush declared war on the Middle East.  I remember hearing story after story about the boat and plane loads of young people going off to war.  I freaked.  It was too late for me, I was already in.  But Tony was not.  And with him being male, I just ‘knew’ they were going to ship him off to war.  I didn’t quite know how the military worked back then as I do now.  I just knew I didn’t want him to come to basic training.  My idea: he could just be my dependent, I would get pregnant so that I would not have to go off to war and after the four years were up, I would simply get out.  Genius!  However, as a young woman having never really grown up with a man and not knowing how they ‘work’, the plan was not as lockset as I thought it was.  He had his own plans.  He was not afraid of war.  He wanted to join so that he could take care of me.  So that he could marry me.  The thought of him going off to war, however, made me feel some kind of way.  I felt scared, mad that he was not heeding concern and worry and doubt.  What if this isn’t it?  What if I’ve made a grave mistake?  I’m too young to be this involved? (‘God’ whispering).

After I left basic training, it was off to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, TX for another six weeks of learning what my technical specialty would be.  18 years old, first time away from home by myself, on a military base with tons of guys from different military branches in uniform makes for a hell of a situation when you have a boyfriend back home.  The ‘devil’ must have sent that 6’ 4”, black/German mixed guy my way at the food truck that day.  The way that man took over me in that dorm room… I wasn’t thinking about any relationship.  But the next day I did.  I also was thinking about my base assignment: Japan.  Again, I was terrified.  I just knew I was going to get stationed somewhere base side.  Why in the hell did they want to send me way the hell over to Japan?  I would never get to see my mom.  I don’t speak Japanese!  No, that was just too far.  I guess the ‘devil’ send Ezekiel Robinson my way too.  He was so short, but he carried a BIG stick.  He was getting stationed near St. Louis.  Bam! Another ‘genius’ plan was hatched: I would marry him, we would get stationed in St. Louis and that way, I would not be too far from home.  When I got to St. Louis, I would just divorce him.  Total business transaction.  But one thing happened that I did not count on.  That big stick that he carried was loaded.  Before I knew it, I was pregnant.

Life was spinning out of control for me.  This being a grown up thing was a bit more complex than I thought.  Ezekiel and I were married in May of 2003.  Tony was still in basic training.  Then I got the letter; he was coming to Sheppard for the same job that I had.  Oh shit.  Great.  I had never officially broken things off with him.  Now I’m married to and pregnant by some other guy all within a span of the first three weeks out of basic training.  The day Tony arrived on base was one of the scariest days of my life.  I had never broken up with anyone before, let alone this way and in this situation.  I was beside myself.  When I told him, he was stone faced.  He didn’t get mad, he didn’t even wince.   He just said, “So how far along are you?”.  I said, “Two weeks.”  This man had just joined the military for me, so that he could marry and take care of me and I fucked EVERYTHING up.  Looking in his eyes, I knew what I had to do.

The next week, I requested to be dismissed from the Air Force.  My request was granted and I was on my way back home.  Back in Detroit, I got an abortion… and a divorce.  Ezekiel, also being discharged from the Air Force for behavioral issues, agreed that the weight of the situation that we were in was too great.  Tony called me everyday to make sure that I was ok.  He kept me updated to how his progress in Technical School was going.  When he received his orders, he too found out that he was going to be stationed in Japan.  I felt as though I was never going to see him again.  The time came when it was time for him to come back to Detroit before heading off to Japan.  A kind of farewell to family and friends.  We spent a lot of time together and talks of being an item again were plentiful.  We made plans that when he got to Japan, he would send for me.  We would be married.  We would start a family.  Within the next two months, I was on my way to Japan… ANYWAY!  After all of the fear, all of the ‘genius plans’ to not have to go to Japan; I was on the way there for love anyway.

The first month of being in Japan was beautiful.  The sights, the people, the food.  We were married in the Okinawan city hall.  I found out that I was pregnant with Tony’s child.  This was all that I ever wanted.  Everything was wonderful.  My relationship with Tony was getting stronger by the day and arguments were few.  However, towards the middle of the second month, Tony’s mood took an ugly turn.  He constantly brought up how he could not understand how I did what I did in Texas.  I explained to him my fear, my feelings of ‘new found freedom’ and my immaturity at handling it.  These were things that he just could not understand nor would he accept.  I simply stated that if he could not get past what happened in Texas, then we should be mature enough to decide to not be together any longer.  A relationship built on resentment would never last and we had so done so much to each other that we would have to start fresh; accepting what happened in the past but moving forward nonetheless.   That bold statement found my neck in the grasp of his large, muscular hands gasping for breath.  I woke up what must have been only a few minutes later, in the bathroom of our dorm suite, lurched over the tub, him standing there at the sink looking into the mirror.  I had no idea what had happened.  I realized later that he had choked me until I passed out.  That was the first time in a long string of physically violent events to plague our marriage.  Violence that I internally accepted and felt as though I deserved because of what I had done.  I thought that I deserved it because I did not properly break things off with Tony before being with Ezekiel.  I definitely believed that God was punishing me because I had an abortion.  So I stayed quiet and hoped that things would get better.

Hindsight Is Something Else, Isn’t It?

Sometimes I want to stand in my backyard naked and just scream.

My 31 years on this planet have been filled with pain, heartache, disappointment, hope, determination and achievement.  But whose life hasn’t?  That’s what life is about.  Overcoming adversity in all of it’s shapes and forms.  This year, I finally have a home of my own, with a large backyard, to finally scream in.  However, instead of screaming, I decided that I would start a blog.

I am one of the most candid people that I know.  I gave up having shame years ago.  Currently, I am a black, female, atheist, twice divorced single mother of four children.

Now, I was born black and female.  How the atheism, divorces and children came about is the interesting part.

“Mom, you are always just trying to ruin my fun!”… I would eventually come to regret EVER saying those words.  At the young age of 17, I just knew I was in love.  I met him in my 12th grade English class; he was there visiting a teacher that he once had when he attended the school.  He had graduated two years before.  To this day, my ex-husband, Tony, claims that as I entered that classroom, smoke filled the room and he only had eyes for me.  Classic emotional manipulator.  I gave him my number and he gave me his.

I could not wait for him to call me.  I needed the escape. I’d had a rough year. Prior to meeting Tony, I decided to play hooky with a senior whom I’d had an elective in school with.  We drove all over town to the point that I had no idea where we were; he bought me lunch and said that he needed to stop by his cousin’s house to pick something up.  He invited me in.  No one else was there.  He plopped down on the dingy, tattered couch.  He reached out and patted the seat beside him, “come on, sit down.”  So I did. He told me how pretty I was and how he had been looking at me ever since that Ballroom dance class that we had together.  He moved in to kiss me.  And I kissed him back, but his breath reeked of marijuana.  I pulled back.  I was ready to go.  However, he wasn’t.  As he sat on the couch, he unzipped his pants.  I looked at him with disgust, “Um, what are you doing?  We’re not about to do that.” “Come on, stop being a punk.  Just do this for me”, he grimaced. I stood up and demanded that he take me home.  He stood up too; all 6’ 2” of him.   “I’ll take you home after… you do this for me.” He motioned to his penis with one hand and grabbed my hair with the other.  I knew what he wanted me to do.  I looked at the room, hoping to find a phone, but in the mess and clutter of the unfamiliar room, I found nothing.  It was getting late in the day and I knew that my mom would be there at the school soon enough to pick me up.  If I wasn’t there, she would be furious and demand an explanation for where I was. If I ran out the door, where was I going and how was I going to get back to school?  I had no money on me. So, I did what he wanted me to do.  And I hated it.  I didn’t even like him like that.  It seemed like it took him forever to cum.  I spit and almost threw up.  He then zipped up his pants and told me to go to the car.  The ride back to the school was quiet.  As SOON as he pulled back up to the school, I swung the door open and ran into the school.  I dodged him for the remaining few months of school; thankful that he would graduate that year.  I never saw him again.

Another reason that I needed escape was that my father, who had been in prison for the previous twelve years, had just come back into my life and all I wanted was out of the house.  His superficial belief in ‘Allah’ was just too much for me.  I already had a love/hate relationship with religion because for the life of me, I just could not figure out why a loving god would take my grandmother, the only person my mother had, away from us before I could even meet her.  My aunt, the Jehovah’s Witness of the family, also scared the shit out of me with thinking that the world was coming to an end… and soon.  All I can remember thinking was, “If the end of the world is coming and no one knows when it will be, what the hell is the point of me cleaning up my room?”

I guess you could say my mom and I were going through the same vulnerable stage at the time.  The boy that I had dated the year before cheated on me and I never felt such pain.  My mom had just gone through a divorce from the man she married just so that we could have double income in the house, basically, she didn’t marry for love.  She loved my father.  And there was not ‘bout a-doubt that’, as my mom quoted my father.

So boom, I didn’t know what hit me.  All I know is that I was head over heels.  Tony was not my type.  Not that he was unattractive at all, but I liked guys that were tall, skinny and light skinned.  That’s what my previous boyfriend was.  But Tony’s eyes and dimples drew me in.  Not to mention that his voice was as deep as Barry White’s.  He wasn’t a tall or big man, but his voice and presence made him seem as such.  He had his own car, he worked and made $17 and hour (that was big for two young kids).  He wanted out of Detroit and so did I.  He promised to never cheat on me the way that my ex-boyfriend did and he kept that promise.  We both came from broken homes and we promised each other that we would have our kids and would never part.  Funny enough, he had just gotten back in contact with his father after twelve years as well.  Our children would be raised in a home with both parents and we would be married.

Back when I believed, I heard this saying from Oprah, “God whispers before he yells”.  I should have known back then that the relationship would be as turbulent as it was.  I remember our first real date.  We went to the movies and then out to a restaurant.  He said that he had a migraine.  He was so rude to the waiter and I was so embarrassed.  It was closing time and the clean-up guy was putting up chairs.  The waiter asked us if we wanted to go boxes.  Tony just about jumped the guy, but I calmed him down.  Needless to say, I cut dinner short.  I told Tony that I could not stand the way that he was acting so I was going to go to the car while he paid the bill.  I got to the car, backed up, and before I knew it, there was a person and a foot coming through my windshield.  It was Tony.  He was pissed.  All I could see was his Timberland boot and hear him screaming, “SO, YOU JUST GONE LEAVE ME AT THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ RESTAURANT, HUH?!”   I was terrified.  We had arguments before, even physical fights, but nothing like this.  I had no idea what to do.  In my rear view mirror, I could see the waiter run out to get Tony’s attention because, as I later found out, Tony never paid the bill.  As I sat there in shock, I saw Tony walk around to the passenger side of the car.  Just then, another car, driven by a drunk driver, hit Tony!  Talk about a hell of a night.  Tony was not hurt, but he was incapacitated.  All I could do was get out of the car and run.  I ran to the restaurant, but they wanted no part of our drama and would not let me use their phone to call the police.  They asked me to leave and locked the door behind me.  My only other option was to run to the gas station next door.  They let me use the phone and I called the police.  They picked up Tony and he was in jail for about three days.  He was charged with malicious destruction of property and ordered to attend anger management classes.  Tony apologized, begged and pleaded that I forgive him.  Like an idiot, I did.  I just loved him so; I loved his ‘potential’.  Looking back now, potential ain’t worth shit.

And at this time, I have to go and fix lunch for my little ones.  I will continue this in part two.