I was fourteen years old and I thought my life was hell. My dad died when I was seven, my mom had already remarried twice and was single again. She filled our home with her suitors and her girlfriends for a drunken fish fry every Friday night. Mom was trying to marry me off. My sister was almost nine years old and plenty old enough to take care of herself now, so if I were married, Mom would still collect the entire Social Security benefit for kids of a dead father, and she wouldn't have to put up with me and my disapproving looks.
So in my sophomore year of high school, I was engaged to be married to a twenty year-old man in the Air Force. He was the brother of my best friend, Don, from across the street. Bill was an avid letter writer, had black curly hair, and a penchant for wearing white silk shirts, black slacks and a leather jacket. He also had a lot of girlfriends around the world. In November, I learned one of those girlfriends was expecting his baby on his birthday. I returned his ring and started dating Ronnie on the rebound.
I didn't like Ronnie, but Bill hated him. So of course he was the one I chose. Meanwhile, I was dodging mom's boyfriends and hauling my little sister down to the basement to avoid them on Friday nights.
The summer I was fifteen, I got pregnant. Predictable, I know. It was the 50s and we knew nothing about birth control. Mom had told me I couldn't get pregnant because I'd had one ovary removed. I hoped she would send me to a home for unwed mothers where I could finish high school and give up the baby for adoption. Instead she and Ronnie's mother decided we would get married.
Ronnie knew I didn't love him. I would never say the words. I couldn't, even to save my own skin. Once we were married, saving my skin became important. He started beating me on the honeymoon. After I ran away three times, each time to escalating violence, my mom said I couldn't come home any more. When I talked to a lawyer, I learned that just as I'd had to have a parent's permission to marry because I was underage, so I had to have that permission to divorce unless and until I turned twenty-one. Permission was not forthcoming.
Mom said I'd made my bed and now I had to lie in it. I learned what true hell was. It wasn't dodging drunken men at my mom's parties. It was receiving broken bones, blows to the head and stomach, being choked until I passed out. All this on a regular basis. Usually on weekends, but occasionally in the middle of the day when Ronnie stopped by the house to check on me. If he saw a man walking down the street, he was sure I had had sex with him.
As regularly as he beat me, Ronnie told me he loved me. I was the only one for him, and no one else would ever have me. If I left him and took our boy, he'd hunt us down and kill me. In fact, he said he would kill our son rather than let me have him.
It doesn't take much of this treatment for a person to believe she has no worth, that no one else will ever love her, that possessive love is true love.
Does this story have a happy ending? Not exactly. It has an ending of sorts. On my twenty-first birthday my grandma sent me money for a divorce. I went to a lawyer, found an apartment, and had friends from work sneak in one Saturday morning while Ronnie was at work and move me and our son out.
Ronnie found me within weeks. He destroyed my apartment while I was out, and when the neighbors told me the police took him away, I knew I had mere hours to find another place to hide. He found me there as well. This time the police did nothing because our divorce wasn't final. Ronnie was contesting it. In the end, he kidnapped our boy and left the state. It was five years before I saw my son again.
When Ronnie finally killed himself, my son was almost thirty years old and Ronnie was still professing his love for me in spite of never seeing me, knowing nothing about the grown up me. He fell in love with his ideal and tried his best to beat me into that person.
I became a poet/playwright/novelist. I've written about those hard times, but I've also managed to have a long life filled with love. My son and I reconnected. I remarried and had a daughter. In mid-life I came out as a lesbian.
Now I'm a grandmother with three nearly grown grandchildren, none of whom are addicts or alcoholics, all going to college. I've known the lighter side of love as well as the dark. I try my best to spread light and love. But I do write dark stories sometimes.
My website: http://SandradeHelen.comMy blog: http://Redcrested.com
Buy links:“The Hounding”: http://amzn.to/1jFW42X
“The Illustrious Client”: http://amzn.to/1hKb6AH
Bianca’s Note: Wow. Talk about a life journey and true triumph of the spirit. Thank you to Sandra for sharing her story.
Sandra has offered the chance to win an eBook copy of her novel, “The Hounding,” OR “The Illustrious Client” (Winner’s Choice). Please enter below for your chance to win!