Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dedication, Acknowledgements, Forward and Preface


This book is dedicated to two very special people in my life, my children, Josiah and Elizabeth.  Thank you for giving a purpose to every day.  You were the reason to go on and my will to keep living.  Thankyou for your support with this book, I know it was not easy for you to read. I love you both so much and can't imagine a life without the two of you in it!

This is also dedicated to my very special friend and brother of the heart, David who passed away from cancer in 2012.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't miss you and wish I could pick up the phone and hear your voice, wisdom and wacky sense of humor.  Heaven is a brighter place because of your presence there.


Thanks must be given to a few people.  First my mom.  You have always believed in my ability to write and you've encouraged me in this pursuit since I was a little girl.  You were always there for me, even when you didn't know what was going on.  I love you very much!

Secondly, my Pastor.  You were the first to know the whole story.  You believed me and didn't turn me away.  You were there with help, encouragement, councel, acceptance and friendship these past 8 years.  You never pushed when I was so slow at understanding.  Thank you for your admonition to "Write what you know."

I also need to mention 3 very special ladies who have stood by me through the years, Pam, Jessie and Alice.  You three have been my lifeline, you have laughed and cried with me over the years...and yes, even kept me sane believe it or not!  From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your friendship and love.

And lastly, David and Edie.  With shock and tears you learned the truth of my life and came alongside with love and encouragement.  The help with proof-reading the book, computer "stuff" and just the ever present listening ear can never be repaid. 

FORWARD - Dr. Paul H. Parks (Senior Pastor of Chegoggin Baptist Church)  

"Life's journey is seldom a simple thing.  We are all by nature sinners in an imperfect world.  Sometimes that journey is full of pain and sorrow.  We often focus on the destination and not the journey itself.  The "miles between" are so vital and the things we learn through those miles can
be a help to others.

Psalms 84:6 "Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools."

Here in this book you will not find someone who made all the right decisions, who grants sage advice from an ivory tower...you will find a humble soul who through much struggle and difficult miles continues to grow and learn.  Her journey is not yet done and I know that her desire is that she would use her gifts, mistakes, and victories and experiences to help another soul who quite possibly is traversing a similar path.

Pain, difficulty and problems are universal, so I feel that this book can speak to a wide circle of people.  Please do not judge to harshly either her, her husband or her precious family, they are sinners who are struggling as we all are.  Each is a precious soul with their own journey and story, their own pain and struggles.  Her purpose is not to malign, or to lash out but to give perspective and solace.  We learn from the lives of others and we heal by the help we render.

Second Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God."

This volume is part of her healing.  Writing things out gives her a focus, and an opportunity to deal with things and examine them from another perspective.  She is an engaging author, the writing is simple, witty, and compelling and heart felt, filled with humor, sorrow and empathy.

This book will be able to be placed in the hands of Pastors and leaders that seek to understand something that seems so alien from them (Proverbs 20:5).  It will be able to be placed in the hands of those who may be living lives of quiet desperation in similar circumstances.  It will be able to be placed in the hands of the Christian who may be encouraged and directed in compassion and grace.  It may be placed in the hands of the lost soul seeking Christ.

May God bless you as you read this book.  Again I urge you to read it with compassion and understanding knowing that the author is not claiming to have "arrived" but is simply telling her side of the story in order to be a help to others who may be struggling."


It is not my desire to malign or bash my husband through the writing of this book.  My only desire is to provide help and encouragement to other women who find themselves in abusive relationships.

I am trying to do "Gary" (named changed) good and not evil for my remaining days on earth.  I don't want where once fear lived to be filled with bitterness and anger.  To be honest there are days when this is extremely difficult for me, but I press on.

Gary suffers from bi-polar.  There are many symptoms associated with this but the ones he displayed most were, depression, agitation, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, aggressiveness, unable to concentrate, impulsiveness, unpredictable mood swings, anger, inappropriate sexual activity, delusions and hallucinations.  He is also schizophrenic and developed psychotic depressions where he would lose contact with reality and he subsequently developed major problems working or being able to function socially.  On top of all this he also developed Parkinsons!  A normal homelife and relationships became difficult if not impossible.  Over the course of 22 years he also suffered 5 major breakdowns.

As you progress through my story you might find yourself as confused as I am at times wondering what was illness induced behavior and what wasn't.  I tried for years to understand this and it drove me to the point of desperation.  I honestly can't tell you and I try not to pick it apart anymore.  What happened just happened and it can't be changed and trying to figure it out is impossible, so I ask you not to get bogged down with it.

There are two groups of people I wish to address.  First, if you're being abused it is imperative that you find someone you can TRUST and that you TALK to them!  You will have feelings that they don't care at times, but realize that you are projecting your perceived worthlessness as coming from them!  Realize also that you are stronger than you think you are, you have survived to this point and there IS hope!  Don't rush the healing process.  It might take a long time to deal with certain issues and that's ok.  I'm still struggling with things from the past.  Even with writing this preface I realize that I'm still very angry about the past, I still have things I need to figure out and deal with;  its not a "snap the finger" fix.

The second group I with to say something to are the ones who will be approached by a hurting soul.  Not everyone approached is a pastor or someone trained to deal with abuse, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind.  First of all encourage them to seek help from a professional.  Most likely though, they will want to talk with you, someone they know and trust first.  Don't trivialize their experiences, feelings and fears.  These are traumatic events that will have a lifelong impact on them, your response will determine the amount of trust they will place in you.  It took a tremendous amount of courage for them to break the silence and come to you!  Let them set the pace for sharing, everyone deals with things in different ways and speeds.  It takes a long time to deal with certain issues and you might find yourself becoming frustrated with them.  Be patient and just be there.  They need to know that they can tell you anything without fear of judgement.  I need to state here that I am not a professional trained in dealing with abuse, I am a survivior and am just telling things from that side of the coin.

My actions would have been different in the past knowing what I do now.  During those years I didn't have the 20/20 vision that hindsight has afforded me today.  It's a scary thing to open up and share your deepest secrets and worst nightmare's, the fear of judgement and rejection is very real in my mind.

My prayer for you reading this book is that you will forget the author and concentrate on the message of hope and healing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Introduction and Chapter 1

A journey begins with a single step and a book begins with a single word, so I guess I've begun.  My story is simple but sad and unfortunately extremely common.  Abuse...emotional, physical, sexual and religious is the reality that to many women live with...it was my reality.  What others would find horrific becomes a daily "norm" for those living with an abusive husband.

As I start this book I'm still on the journey to healing, in fact I've just begun.  By the final chapter it is my prayer that the demons will be caged.

If you're a survivor of abuse, I invite you to take this personal journey with me.  If you are someone that is in the position of helping a survivor heal, may my journey help you understand the emotions, thoughts and the traumatic impact abuse has had on the one you are helping.

You will note that I'm using the word survivor instead of victim.  The word victim conjures a negative image.  Anyone who has lived with abuse and emerged the other side is a survivor.  Negative feelings abound plenty without adding a negative title to who you view yourself to be!

Some of what you read will not be pretty, but it is my life, my journey.  So if you're ready to begin I invite you to join me and may we be granted complete healing.

*Some names have been changed to protect privacy

                                                          Chapter 1

I sat looking at a bottle of sleeping pills, muscle relaxants and morphine.  Life held nothing but hurt, fear and hopelessness.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  Everything that I had buried inside for 19 years had come spilling out in just 48 hours and I was in a state of shock, confusion and uncontrollable terror.  Events that had been repressed in order to survive were flooding into my consciousness at a speed that was so overwhelming that I was drowning in fear.

So, how did I get here?  Lets begin my journey.

September 1983...moving day!  I was so excited.  I was 20 and moving into my first apartment in the city.  I had been hired as a secretary at a missionary outreach.  The Pastor there was the director of a book room, monthly magazine and daily radio broadcast that was heard in many countries.  My job was to deal with the Canadian correspondence, generated by donations and requests.  They also owned an apartment building next door which was primarily a retirement home for Christian seniors.  The top floor was set aside for staff living quarters.

I had a cute bachelor apartment.  One whole wall was windows where I could see the Halifax harbor.  There was a kitchen off the livingroom at one end and a "bedroom" area at the other end.  A small entryway with a coat closet on one side and a little bathroom on the other completed the apartment...and it was mine!

I had spent a year in a college dormitory; another year as a live in nanny/housekeeper and school crossing guard, but this was the very first time living on my very own.

The day I began my job I was very nervous but so excited.  I caught on quickly and within a couple of weeks had cleared up the backlog of correspondence.

The only other young people my age working there were David and Edward, and it wasn't long before we started hanging out together.  I quickly developed a close friendship with David, nothing mushy, just a close brother sister type bond.  His mom and dad, Esther and George became my second family...to this day they hold a special place in my heart.

As close as I was to David I longed for a girl friend and she soon came into my life.  Peter was added to the staff a few months after I arrived, and his wife Pam was just the person I had been waiting for.  We were soon best friends.

I enjoyed where I was working, although I found the Pastor very aloof.  I already had a nervousness around men due in part to an earlier event in my life.

Prior to coming to work in Halifax I had been involved with someone.  One night he decided that he was not going to wait any longer and wanted more than a good-night kiss.  I ended up fighting him off and being thrown out of the car.  The fact that the Pastor was standoffish suited me just fine, not that I felt threatened by him in any way;  but already having been hurt by two men (I had been molested as a teenager) I had developed a wariness around men in authority.  Anytime however that he did have reason to find me left me a nervous wreck!  I'm sure however that he did not know what to do with me, let me give you a couple of examples.

My dad passed away just 12 days after my 16th birthday, and my mother lived alone in the Annapolis Valley.  One day I got a call that she had broken her leg.  I asked for a couple of days off so that I could go home to help her out but was denied.  So Pam and I decided to leave right after work the next day, but I had to be back to work the following morning at 9:00am.  We spent the evening helping mom with odd jobs that had to be looked after, and making sure she had what she needed close.  By 1:00 am Pam nor I had been able to get to sleep, so we decided just to jump in the car, housecoat, slippers and all and head back to Halifax.

I don't know when the Pastor ever slept;  he made rounds in the apartment building at all times during the night.  Pam and I were just heading out of the underground parking garage into the lobby when we found ourselves face to face with him.  He took in our state of dress and the time, then without a word left the building!  I waited the whole next day at work to be called into his office but the call never came.

A few months later Pam decided to go home by herself to New Brunswick to visit her family for a week.  A couple of nights after she left I awoke from a deep sleep around 1:00am.  I can't remember what I had been dreaming but I had a burning compulsion that I just had to talk to Pam right away.  Our apartments were beside one another and a minute later I was knocking at her door...then the elevator door opened and there was the Pastor.  Again, he never said a word.  He took in my state of dress, the time, the fact that I was at Peter's door with his wife away in the middle of the night!  He just got back in the elevator and left.  That's when I finally woke up enough to realize where I was and what I was doing!  I never did hear anything about the incident;  like I said...I don't think he knew just quite what to do with me!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chapter's 2 and 3

After Peter and Pam had welcomed their first little girl into their family, it became an obsession with them to find me a husband.  Together with another couple from the church, John and Linda, they worked on this task.

I had dreamed of getting married and having children since I was a little girl.  The problem was there were no prospects on the horizon.  This fact did not stop these determined people, they were on the hunt and there was no stopping them!

Peter had become like an older brother to me, so one night when he told me that he had met someone he thought would be perfect for me I trusted him completely.  He said that he had been talking with a young man who had started coming into the bookroom.  I had never seen him because I worked in an office on the second floor and never had much need for going downstairs.  I was told that his name was Gary, apparently he had seen me one day and had started asking Peter questions about me.

I am not by nature an outgoing person and the thought of meeting and talking with a stranger was unnerving to say the least. So my four co-conspirators got together and hatched a plan for us to meet.  It was decided that the six of us would get together after a Sunday evening service at John and Linda's.  I was to bring my guitar, and finding out that Gary played guitar as well, he was asked to bring his.  Somehow Peter manipulated things so that I found myself driving with Gary in his Camero to the house.

It was so funny watching everyone that evening.  Everything that was said and done had a double meaning!  At one point I found myself changing diapers and being told by Pam that it was really going to "impress Gary that I knew how to take care of a baby!"  I found it highly amusing that my best friend's good intentions had her relaxing and me changing her child's dirty diaper!

Valentine's Day fell in the middle of the following week, and I received a surprise at work.  Peter sent Gary to the staff room and then came and got me.  Gary had noticed on Sunday evening that my guitar needed new strings.  he brought me strings and a card!  I ran over to my apartment and got my guitar.  He spent the next hour or so restringing and tuning the guitar while I tried to work at my desk.  Before he left he asked me out to supper that Friday night.  I was one of the leaders of the youth group at church and had been busy planning a Valentines Banquet for that evening.  It was decided that I would go and do the youth group activity, then meet up with him, Peter and Pam for a double date at a Chinese restaurant.

It was nearly 9:00pm when we got to the restaurant.  I love Chinese food, but I had eaten at the church and wasn't really all that hungry.  Pam kept kicking me under the table and whispering to me that I had to eat something because Gary was paying for it.  Needless to say, I was stuffed when we finally left!

As we left the restaurant something happened that I was always fearful would happen in public.  I was born with a condition called "hip dysplasia", simply put, I don't have a left hip socket.  The condition is painful because it is just bone rubbing on bone (my left leg is also a bit shorter because of this).  At times when I walk my leg just "gives out" on me and I can fall if I'm not careful.  This is what happened when I went down the outside stairs at the restaurant that night.  I laughed it off, but inside I was so embarrassed and worried.  Would Gary want to date someone who had a birth defect like this?  I didn't have to wait long to find out.

                                                                  Chapter 3

That Sunday evening Gary and I spent at Peter and Pam's and the following week he started calling me at night.  I was excited but also apprehensive about what his response would be when he found out about my disability.  I didn't have long to wait.

During our second call he asked me if I had hurt my leg because he noticed that I walked with a slight limp.  I told him about my hip problem and also about two back surgeries I had when I was 13 which left me with a huge scar on my back.  He got very quiet, then said that he would have to think about whether or not he wanted to pursue a relationship with me.

I hung up with all my insecurities rearing their ugly heads at me again.  I had grown up laughed at and bullied because of my limp and the fact that I had to wear a lift on my left shoe.  I remember coming home from high school one day and getting a screwdriver and taking the lift off all my shoes.  I couldn't take the constant ridicule anymore.  Now once again I found myself being judged for a disability I had no control over.  The feelings of not being "good enough", and wanting to hide came back in full force.  I found myself hoping that he would overlook these "failings" and accept me.

A couple of days later he called back and said that he had decided to keep seeing me.  I was so relieved that I had been "accepted" that I ignored the first red flag that raised itself in my mind.  I had unknowingly taken the first step down into a pit of control and abuse.  He had accepted me despite the obvious flaws and I should be grateful.  In his mind I now "owed" him for this favor.

Becoming controlled by another person doesn't happen overnight.  A person who is obsessive, manipulative and overbearing has a built in radar, it seems to zone in on the weaknesses and inferiority's of another.  All my life I had just wanted to be accepted, to fit in and feel normal and he was "bestowing" on me that opportunity.

That Sunday night after church Gary offered to carry my guitar back to my apartment.  When we got to the door he asked if he could come in and pray with me before he went home.  I thought that was so nice and said OK.  He prayed, then asked if he could kiss me good-night.  It was our first kiss.  I never saw what was coming.  I knew that men could lose control quickly because of what had happened the year before to me by the guy I had been seeing, but Gary shredded that record all to pieces.  I kept saying no, but he wasn't listening, he had a goal in mind and there was no stopping him.  For years I've wondered why I didn't fight him, but looking back I think I was afraid of being beaten again.  It all happened so fast, I was left dazed and in pain.  I had been a virgin was the only thing that kept repeating over and over in my mind...I had been, but no more.  I was to stunned to cry.  I just lay there in pain and shock listening to him crying and promising that it would never happen again.  He kept begging me to forgive him.  When I didn't say anything he started telling me that Jesus commanded us to forgive one another, therefore it was my obligation as a Christian to forgive him.

I don't remember saying much to him that night.   He left and I started to cry.  I just couldn't comprehend what had just happened!  I felt confused, and totally hurt by God...why had He let this happen?  What was I being punished for?  Not once did it occur to me to go to anyone.  I felt so much humiliation and shame that I knew I could never talk about it...and I didn't.  It got buried in the back of my mind with the other abuses.

Unless you are someone who has been raped you cannot understand the torment, shame and guilt that floods the soul.  For some reason the sin of the abuser becomes the force that drives the abused.  There is no understanding this, I've tried for years, its just what happens.  The abused takes the blame and responsibility for what has occurred, even though it's the force from hell that broke them.

After a couple of days he started calling again every night.  He worked nights as a janitor at a school.  Somehow despite all the work he had to do, he still found time to talk for at least an hour each night.  I was wary at first and unsure of myself.  On Saturday he brought me flowers and was very much a gentleman, and I let my guard down.  In a sick way I still felt flattered that he wanted to see me.  Looking back I realize that I was very immature and naive about things.  Don't misunderstand me, I am not in any way excusing Gary from the responsibility of what he did (and kept doing), I'm just saying that's just the way it was.  Nothing makes sense about what happened, if only I had gone to someone for help!  I was being broken bit by bit until the guilt was so terrible it was eating me alive. 

There were always tears and promises from him, and like a fool I accepted these declarations as truth, only to find myself burned again and again.  It didn't take long for me to feel like the scum of the earth, and that I didn't deserve anything better.  I was "used" property;  what decent Christian man would ever want me for a wife? 

Its only been recently that I understand how this type of abuser works.  They pick up on the low self-esteem, the emotional dependency, and the pliability of the person they are controlling, and they become masters of deception.  This doesn't negate the responsibility that I had to protect myself, but it showed me what an easy target I was and how quickly I became snagged and trapped.

He soon had me believing that if I broke up with him it would be a sin.  I had lost my virginity to him, therefore ending up with someone else would make me a whore in God's eyes...and in God's mind I belonged with him and only him.  This is called religious abuse, using God as a scare tactic, a bully, to control the other person.  How I ended up believing this was true I don't know, I just know that I did.

Within six weeks of starting to see him he had asked me to marry him.  I found myself despite everything, excited.  It meant that I could have a family;  it also meant that I could stop feeling so much guilt and shame every time he demanded sex...I so wanted rid of those feelings!

I had a lot of doubts about marrying him.  Each time these thoughts came into my mind I would push them away.  I felt this was my only option.  The date was set for October 5, 1985, seven months away.

I've asked myself this same question for years, "why was I so stupid?"  I have no answer.  How does anyone get duped?  You listen to lies and half truths long enough and that's what you start to believe.  Sometimes believing the lies is easier than facing the truth.  I can honestly say that I was in love with the thought of marriage, not with who I was marrying.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chapter's 4 and 5

Not long after we became engaged we went to visit my mom.  I was nervous about the two of them meeting, they were the exact opposites.  My mom is a very outgoing, life of the party kind of person.  I grew up in a home where laughter, jokes and fun were the norm.  Gary on the other hand was a very quiet, intense, introverted and serious person.  He grew up in a home where fighting, yelling and back-biting was the norm.

We left on a Friday after work with plans to spend the whole weekend.  Saturday morning started off with a water fight between mom and I.  Here we were in our bathrobes chasing each other around the house with cups of water.  We were laughing and just plain having a riot of a time.  Mom eventually won, pushing me out onto the front step and locking the door.  I sat there laughing my head off...but Gary wasn't impressed.

He was soon in a yelling match with mom accusing her of child abuse!  I stood between them crying and begging them both to stop.  Mom finally told him to get out of her house.  Looking back now I wish with all of my heart that I had stayed with mom that day, my life would have turned out so differently.  But I didn't.  I packed my things and left with Gary.

It was a quiet drive home.  I couldn't defend mom to him, he just wouldn't listen, so I gave up.  That day set the scene for what life would be like between the two of them...tense, with me always caught in the middle trying to smooth things out.

It was also the start of me pulling inward, changing who I really was in order to please Gary.  I stopped laughing and joking as much and became quieter, always guaging my actions to suit whatever mood he was in.  I learned to always check what I was going to say and do before I said it and did it;  its a hard way to live.

Gary was very possessive of me.  This quickly became apparent to others, but not so much to me.  As I earlier stated, he would call every night and expect me to be there.  Sometimes it would be an hour or more, or if there were people in the school like with parent/teacher interview nights, it might be just for a few minutes;  but I was expected to answer when he called.  I remember one evening Pam and I went to visit Lisa a friend from church.  I had not told Gary because it was a spur of the moment decision to go.  I guess he kept calling during the evening and by the time I got home he was furious with me.  He accused me of choosing Pam over him.  I spent most of the call in tears apoligizing and promising not to do it again.  This was another step into the pit.  It set the stage for a lifetime of having to ask permission to go and do anything.

Slowly I backed off from my friends to make sure I was always available to him.  I became skilled at explaining why I couldn't go places or do things that I had always enjoyed.  Pam started making remarks about me not having time for her anymore.  I became an expert at hiding my true feelings behind my smile and learned to always appear happy.  I had to make this work.  Doubts were from the devil, I had to make God's will work...right?

Not only did he take control of who I saw and when, but he became increasingly jealous of David, to the point that if I even looked in David's general direction at church I would be accused of cheating on him!  So I became even more zealous at checking what I said or did.  It is amazing the twists that he could put on even the most innocent of statements.

My heart broke at losing one of my dearest and best friends.  Deep down I knew I had been horribly short-changed but it was just another loss that I had to accept.  I did what I was becoming very good at doing...I buried the hurt, smiled and pretended that all was right in my world.

                                                                  Chapter 5

One Saturday Gary called and told me to come over to his place.  He had the basement apartment in his parents home in Dartmouth.  It took me two buses and a 15 minute walk.  When I got there he and his parents were in the yard trying to put together a double bed that he had bought.  I never understood why it was being put together outside instead of inside the apartment!

One of the bed rails turned out to be a different length than the other one.  Gary's mother kept insisting that it didn't matter, no one would be able to tell when it was made up!

I never said anything, I just stood in shocked silence while Gary exploded in rage at his mom screaming at her that she was an idiot!  I was horrified.  I had been raised to honor your father and mother.  Even though I disagreed with what she had said, I started to defend her.  Gary turned on me then, telling me to shut-up that I was just as useless as his mother.  I turned and left the yard in tears.  Halfway up the street I felt a hand take my arm.  It was Gary's dad.  He calmed me down and told me to just ignore him, that he was just upset and would get over it.  He explained that Gary and his mother always fought like this, but that it would blow over and be like it never happened.

The red flags went up in my mind again, but I ignored them and let him take me back to the house.  Gary never did apologize to me or his mother, and I soon came to realize that this was normal in this family!  The saying, "How a man treats his mother is how he will treat his wife" came to me and it honestly scared me;  but I felt trapped and just prayed that we would be the exception to that rule.

Gary soon started to share the things his mom thought about me.  The one thing that she was most critical about was my weight.  I weighed between 150 and 160 lbs at the time.  Gary started nagging me about it telling me that he was embarrassed at times to be seen with me.  So I went on a crash diet of only carrots and onion chip dip!  I ate so many bags of carrots over the next few weeks that my skin took on an orange hue!  I lost 10 lbs but to this day I hate carrots!  The criticism continued however from both Gary and his mother.  I was never good enough.

The more I got to know his family the more I realized just how much Gary took after his mother.  My overly sensitive nature took many blows in the months prior to the wedding.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Chapter's 6 and 7

One day in the Spring of that year I realized that I might be pregnant!  I was terrified!  I kept waiting day after day for my period to come.  David knew that something was wrong and cornered me at work one day.  I finally told him what I feared.  I've been told in the past year that many people knew that something wasn't right and thought Gary was a little strange, but they didn't really know what to do.  David was at a loss, but he didn't know the whole story so didn't know what to tell me.  Thankfully a couple of days later I was able to tell him that it had been a false alarm.  I could see the concern in his eyes but I made myself turn and walk away.  I never talked to him again about Gary.

I became more anxious as the date of the wedding came closer.  I just wanted to get it over with, I was hoping that this terrible shame and guilt would just vanish.  Mom kept asking me if I was sure.  She wasn't happy with the whole thing and well I knew it!

Pam, my sister Laura and good friend Kari were going to stand with me.  Peter and Gary's two brother's were standing with him.

The day after I had handed out the wedding invitations at work various co-workers started showing up in my office telling me that they would be unable to attend the wedding.  I became uneasy wondering what was going on.  When I got home from work I went over to Pam's and found her in tears and Peter angry.  Before they could say anything it dawned on me what was happening.  We were getting married in the Valley at the church I had grown up attending.  That did not go over well at all with the Pastor.  He had forbidden any of the staff to attend and Peter and Pam were to have no part in it!  I became very upset...Peter had his hands full with both his wife and now me in hysterics!

I spent the night in tears.  The next morning I didn't go into work until after 10:00 am.  On the way I met the Pastor, he was coming to get me.  I was taken upstairs to a apartment which was above the print shop and placed in the middle of the room in front of all the senior staff.  Peter, Pam and Esther (David's mom) were also present.

I sat there and was lectured on how sinful I was for getting married in another church.  The Pastor believed that there was no other churches in the Maritimes that preached the truth!  I was then told in no uncertain terms that no one would be permitted to attend or have anything to do with my wedding.

After about 10 minutes of this listening to this lecture I was then asked if I had anything to say.  I don't know where I found the courage but I looked him straight in the eye and told him I didn't care in the least that he wouldn't be there.  I then stated that the only ones I cared to have come were Pam, Esther and David.  Then without waiting to be told I could leave, I got up and left.

I was shaking by the time I got to the bookroom.  I went over to the display of bulletins and got a box of wedding ones to replace the ones that I couldn't use anymore.  I went to my office and ignoring the work on my desk, spent the remainder of the morning typing up new bulletins omitting Peter and Pam as attendants.

David came in a couple of times wanting to know what in the world was going on.  He had seen the Pastor  coming in with me and knew I had disappeared with most of the staff, including his mom upstairs.  When I had finished the new bulletins I went with him into the staff room and told him what had happened.  He was furious and was on the verge of quitting.  After I had calmed him down, he assured me that no matter what anyone said to him, he would be at my wedding. I put in my two week notice that I would be quitting that day.

A little side-note here...on the day of the wedding Peter had to work.  When it became to late for him to get to the church, the Pastor gave him the rest of the day off!  David, Pam and Esther were all there!

                                                                 Chapter 7

October 5, 1985...my wedding day.  I get very jealous when I hear women saying that their wedding day was the happiest day of their lives.  To me it meant the beginning of no return.  My Aunt Janet came into the bedroom that morning and helped me with my make-up.  I put on a smile and determined to keep it there all day.  I kept telling myself that this was the day I had been waiting for, the day when the guilt and shame could be erased.

I remember being at the back of the church waiting.  The door to the sanctuary was on the left and the door leading out of the church was on the right.  I wanted so much to go out the door on the right, but I felt I had no choice, this was God's will and I was doing the right thing...I thought!

The first person I saw when I started down the aisle was Pam.  She was near the back and in tears.  I had to shut my heart off to the emotions swirling about inside me.  Hearing the words, "I now pronounce you husband and wife", was like hearing jail doors clanging in my head...it was now time to serve my sentence.  To some of you reading, this might sound overly dramatic, but it was the way I felt, divorce could not be an option, this was until death parted us;  and in the years to come that would become almost a daily prayer.  Despite my longings, that night did nothing to erase the guilt and shame that I had been carrying deep in my heart, and I cried myself to sleep.

We went around the Cabot Trail for our honeymoon.  You can be aware of things before you get married, but being with someone 24/7 makes things real.  Gary was a very selfish, critical person, not only with me but with whomever he was dealing with.  There was not one meal that he found to his liking and many of them were returned with nasty comments.  At the Canso Causeway I finally took exception to the way he treated the girl waiting on us.  After exploding at me in the middle of the restaurant, it was a very quiet trip back to Dartmouth!

It was during this quiet ride home that I was startled to realize that I loved his Camero...not him...and he sold it 11 months later!

A couple of weeks after getting home was Thanksgiving.  I had never prepared a turkey dinner before and was a little nervous about it.  Gary was a perfectionist and everything had to be just right...well...that didn't happen!  Never having cooked a turkey before I didn't know that you were not suppose to turn it over while cooking.  Gary liked the breast dry with a crispy skin, well that's not what he ended up with.  When I tried to take the turkey out of the roaster it fell apart.  The skin was saturated with the fat that it had been sitting in the last 1/2 of the cooking time.  To say he was not pleased would be an understatement.  While listening to him rant at what an idiot I was, I was trying to pick out some meat that would please him.  Being busy with that I didn't notice the gravy boil over and catch on fire!  To say the meal was a disaster can't come close.  He ended up going upstairs to eat his mother's meal while I cleaned up the mess and tried to salvage something from it for myself.  Needless to say I never turned a turkey over again!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chapter 8

Just before Christmas of 1985 I found out that I was pregnant.  I was so excited!  I loved babies and had always dreamed of being a mother.  Gary was also happy but in the process became even more controlling, after all I was carrying his child, so he had the say about everything.  How he ever gave me permission to take knitting classes in the evenings with my friend Jessie I'll never figure out.

Peter and Pam had moved back to New Brunswick not long after the wedding fiasco.  I missed Pam terribly.  Eventually however another special person came into my life.  Jessie and her husband David and their two children were friends from church.  After getting settled in Gary's apartment I realized that they only lived a little ways away.  We soon became close friends.  Taking this knitting class together was so much fun!  I made a little sweater and a bunting bag.

After the classes were finished Gary expected me to stop seeing and talking to Jessie, well she was having none of that.  Jessie saw things for what they were right from the start and never let him get away with anything where I was concerned.  Gary hated her for it, and they would butt heads many times over the years because of me.  Jessie proved to be a true and loyal friend and has always been there for me.

She and David were unsure at times how much to intervene, but I always knew that when I showed up on their doorstep I had found a safe haven.

When I was 34 weeks pregnant I developed toxemia and gestational diabetes and was put in the hospital on complete bed rest.  I underwent a test in which they can determine if the baby's lungs are developed enough to breathe on their own if they are born early.  My little one's lungs were mature enough and on Sunday July 6th 1986, five weeks early, I gave birth to a healthy red-headed little boy whom we named Josiah Kyle.  I was scared at first as to what Gary would do with a son with red hair.  He had said many times during my pregnancy that he hated red hair.  With both of us having dark hair I didn't think the risk was high even though my dad had been a red head and both my sister and Aunt Janet have red hair.  But, here he was.  A 6 lb 11 oz baby boy with bright red hair.  Gary never said a word again about red hair after that day.

It had been a very hard labor and delivery.  Gary had spent the entire time sitting in a chair on the other side of the room not helping me at all.  Josiah was born with the aid of forceps which tore me severely and left me with a long and difficult recovery.

After a week in the hospital I was discharged and told to take it easy.  I had a visiting nurse (VON) for the first couple of weeks after I got home.  Even though I was still very weak and not able to move very good I had no choice but to get right back at taking care of Gary and the house.  One day the VON showed up and got very put out with Gary when she found me up and making dinner.  She preceded to show him my medical record and the orders that I stay off my feet and take it easy until I had healed.  It made no difference to Gary.  Some of the ladies from the church had at first been coming over every day to help, but he resented them being there and had put a stop to it.

One day a week or so after I got home a couple of good friends from the Valley showed up to see me.  They had only been in the apartment 10 minutes when Gary made them leave.  They never came back to visit me again.

Living in the apartment was getting harder and harder because of Gary's mother.  Every time Josiah would cry she would call or come down insisting that he be brought upstairs...I must be doing something wrong.  She made it very clear to me that I didn't know what I was doing at all.  She was especially vocal on this point if I refused to let her take him upstairs.  Josiah got alot of extra rocking and snuggle time in my efforts to keep him from crying!

The constant interference finally drove us out of the apartment into a rented duplex in Eastern Passage.  We moved December 30 1986, Josiah was nearly 6 months old.

It was during this time that Gary announced one night that unless I lost weight he wouldn't sleep with me or even touch me again!  Something clicked in my mind that night and I thought, "Good!  I know how to keep you away from me!"  At this point I had become accustomed to being rolled over in the middle of the night and then two minutes later listening to him snore again.  Sex hurt.  All I will say is that a lot of foreign objects found their way inside me.  He also watched pornography and liked to try the perverted things that he saw.  I was terrified to move at night in case he woke up enough to want sex.  I felt used, dirty and like a prostitute except that I never got paid.  I developed a severe case of hemorrhoids.  My doctor was suspicious and started asking some questions, but I never volunteered any information on what was really happening.

This midnight declaration from Gary didn't upset me and spur me into losing weight like he had hoped.  For one day I thought that things might change but it was not to be.  The next night he was back.  But in my mind a seed had been planted that if I looked fat enough and disgusting enough I would be safe from him...and anyone else that might hurt me!  As I started to gain weight my hopes of being left alone died.  His sick perverted mind needed sex and I was there.

Over the next few years the verbal and sexual abuse, suspicion and control became even worse.  I couldn't even go to church on my own.  I had to fight to go visit my mom.  He needed to know where I was, who I was with, what I was doing and when I would be home.  I was given no money of my own.  I couldn't have anyone over even when he was at work.  I couldn't talk on the phone when he was home.  I had to keep music I liked hidden and only listen to it when he was at work. There were different times Jessie showed up at the house to check on me because Gary wouldn't let her talk to me when she had called.  This obsessive behavior even went as far as not allowing my name to be on the vehicle permits.  He told me that if I ever tried to leave him and took the car he would have me arrested as a car thief.  He had me scared and trapped...but my smile was still in place.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chapter's 9 and 10

In December of 1989 the rent on our duplex became more than what we could pay.  Gary found a little house a couple of streets over and with his dad's help for the down payment he bought it.  Four months later our daughter Elizabeth was born.  She was 6 lbs 10 oz's, full term and healthy.  Three days after she was born we went home from the hospital.  Josiah loved his baby sister and took his role of being a big brother very seriously.

I can't say that Gary didn't love his children because he did, although his love became possessive and obsessive with them as well.  I tried to offset the extremes to which he took everything, I wanted the kids to have a healthy balance in their lives.  Only for my children would I stand up to him.

When Elizabeth was a year old Gary came home from work one night acting very strange.  The next day his actions and the things he was saying made me nervous, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong.  So I called our Pastor.  We had left the missionary work in Halifax, and our new pastor was now Pastor Benson.  He came out to the house that evening.  We were in the livingroom when a car drove by the house, Gary dove onto the floor thinking that someone in the car was going to shoot him!  I was so upset by his strange behavior that I couldn't stay in the room with them, so I went into the kitchen.

Around 10:00pm Pastor Benson came out to where I was and asked if I was comfortable with him leaving.  He wasn't sure himself what was going on but didn't think he could do anything more that night.  Gary had followed him out and I was afraid to say in front of him that I wanted the Pastor to stay so I told him that it was ok for him to leave.

He left and we went to bed.  Somehow I fell asleep, only to be awakened at midnight with Gary jumping up and down on the bed yelling that Abraham had just spoken to him!  I was terrified...what was happening!  I got out of the room as quickly as I could, but he followed me.  He then started punching his fists through the walls, throwing chairs, all the time muttering to himself.  I slowly inched my way towards the hall where the kid's room was.  All of a sudden he turned and started towards their bedroom door.  I placed myself between him and the door, but he kept coming at me.  I reached out, grabbed him and threw him back into the kitchen!  I am not a strong person, but my adrenalin was pumping and he was NOT going to harm the children!

While he was regaining his balance I ran into the livingroom and grabbed the phone.  I took my place beside the bedroom door again and called Pastor Benson.  I quickly explained what was happening and he told me to hang on he was going to call the RCMP.  I don't know why I didn't think of that!  The phone rang a couple of minutes later and it was the police.  I was told that a car was on the way but it would take approximately 1/2 hour because they were all at the scene of a bad car accident in Porter's Lake.  I was asked if there were any weapons in the house.  Gary had a pellet gun and there were big knives in the drawer in the kitchen.  I wasn't sure if these were what they would consider weapons but I wasn't going to take the chance of mentioning them with Gary right there, it might put an idea into his head!

I hung up and stood and watched Gary mumbling and stalking around the kitchen.  Forty-five minutes later the RCMP finally showed up.  Gary got very belligerent with the officers, refusing to even get dressed.  They finally just handcuffed him and took him to the car in his underwear.  I sat at the kitchen table and stared in shock at the shambles surrounding me.  One of the officers came back in and sat at the table with me to get my statement.  I started to shake and cry.  The phone rang and the officer answered it and told Pastor Benson that I would call him back.

About 1/2 hour later they left.  Before I could call the Pastor back Jessie drove into the yard.  Pastor had called and just asked her to come to my house, that I needed her.  She was stunned when she walked into the house, saw the mess and heard what had happened.  We sat at the kitchen table talking and crying together.  I called the Dartmouth General Hospital (that's where they said they were taking him) around 5:00am and found out that he had been moved across the street to the Nova Scotia Mental Hospital.  I phoned his parents at 6:00am and then left Jessie to take care of the kids.  They had slept through everything!

It was surreal walking down the quiet deserted halls of the Mental Hospital early that morning.  The only sound to be heard were my own footsteps.  I felt like I was in a bad dream and couldn't wake up...this just couldn't be real!

Gary's parents were already there with him, but they left when I arrived.  I was scared, I had no idea of what to do or say.  He kept ranting that he had missed the rapture.

A doctor finally came in and took me into another room to talk.  He wanted a very detailed statement of everything leading up to and including that night.  I disclosed everything except the abuse.

During the course of this long meeting I learned that this was not the first time that Gary had been admitted to the Mental Hospital!  No one, including Gary had thought it important to mention to me that I was marrying a man with a mental problem!

Over the next couple of days a diagnoses was made, "Severly depressed, schizophrenic suffering with hallucinations and paranoia."  He underwent shock treatment therapy and was put on strong anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs.

                                                                 Chapter 10

The next 5 months passed in a blur.  After just a week in the hospital they started giving Gary two hour passes to come home!  I had to pick him up and take him home.  He would lay on the bed crying, not wanting me to leave the room.  I had a 1 and 4 year old that couldn't be left on their own, and I sure didn't want them around Gary.  Most days Elizabeth would end up in her playpen crying for me with Josiah trying to entertain her.

I finally became so stressed out that I insisted on meeting with one of the doctor's; she agreed to see me.  I took Jessie with me to the meeting because when I'm really stressed I have a very hard time remembering what people are saying to me.

I explained to the doctor the way things were going at home and how very stressed out I was by everything.  She seemed very understanding and agreed with me that things could not continue on this way.  I watched her change the orders on his chart stating that no more passes would be issued until there was a marked improvement in his condition.

I arrived home to a ringing phone and a very upset husband.  He demanded to know why I was late picking him up!  I asked him to let me talk with a nurse and found out that after I had left the hospital the original orders had been reinstated!  I stopped trying to fight the system and tried to figure out ways to cope with the overwhelming stress I was living in.

One day I left the kids with Gary's mother while I ran a few errands.  When I arrived back to pick them up and was putting Elizabeth's snowsuit on her his mother looked at me and said, "My, I've never seen you look so fat!"  I looked at her in shocked disbelief!  How could you say something like that to someone?  I never said a word back, just packed up the kids and left.

I decided that I really needed a break, I had to get away even if only for a few days.  I went home, packed and left for mom's.  It was just the break that I needed.  A couple of days later I packed the kids in the car and we started back to the city.  When I had left mom's it was softly snowing, but I hadn't been on the highway long when I found myself in a full-blown snowstorm.  I couldn't see a thing in front of me.  I finally pulled off onto the shoulder of the highway not knowing what to do.  I knew it was unsafe to stay there because no one could see the car and I was afraid that a snowplow would come along and push us right off the road. Deciding to try and find the next exit I put the car back into drive then watched in disbelief as the engine died!  Now what?  I got out and tried to flag down passing cars but they just kept going.  I then decided that if they saw the hood of the car raised maybe someone would stop.  Finally a car going in the other direction (back towards Kingston) turned around and pulled up behind me.  There was just one man in the car.  He got out and came up to me and asked if he could help.  I explained what had happened and he said that he would drive us back to Kingston.

I was very apprehensive about getting into a car with a strange man, but I knew we couldn't stay where we were.  With the car not running it was getting very cold and both the kids had asthma, I knew I had to get them someplace warm.

When I got the kids and myself belted into his car the man just sat there staring straight ahead and I thought..."This is it, we're going to die!", especially after he turned to me and asked which way Kingston was!  I debated grabbing the kids and jumping out of the car but I knew I couldn't get them both out at the same time.  So I told him which direction to head and he started driving.  That was when he told me that he had just arrived from out West the day before...I started to breathe normally again!

I had him drop us off at a restaurant in Kingston and I called mom.  While we waited one of the waitresses brought the kids hot chocolate and cookies!  A couple of days later with the car fixed and sun shining we started out once more, this time with no trouble.

I often think of our "snowstorm angel" that rescued us and wish that I could properly thank him for his help to three stranded strangers that day!

When I arrived back home I found that Gary's mother had been telling everyone in the family that the reason he'd had a breakdown was because it was just to much pressure on him living with a fat wife.  I was so humiliated.  But it was then that I realized I had gained nearly 30 lbs since Gary had gotten sick.  I would eat and eat and never feel full.  I went to my doctor and he told me that in extreme stress some people can't eat while others seem to have the switch in their brain that tells them they're full turned off.  Eating becomes a compulsion, a way of trying to escape.  Some people turn to booze, some drugs and others food.

It set the stage for a life-time of eating to cope with stress.  I also began to hate Gary's mother.  She just seemed mean and spiteful.  My self-esteem was so low by this point that I found myself starting to believe that I was responsible.  I just wasn't a good enough wife.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chapter 11

Six months later Gary was back at work and things slowly started to return to a somewhat normal state.  The only difference was that he had become even more controlling and sexually perverted than before!  He started demanding me to do even more things that I wasn't comfortable with and didn't like.  I was forced to watch porn with him so that I could see what he wanted me to do...I hated it, it made me sick.

Looking back now I just shake my head at how normal I made our life appear to everyone.  In hindsight I believe two things drove me into silence.  One was fear.  I had totally lost all confidence in myself;  I was no good, I was stupid, I never had good idea's about anything...how could I possibly function on my own?  I feared Gary, what would he do if I left?  I feared God, how would He punish me if I left?  The second thing was my pride.  Admitting to anyone that there were these kind of problems would be so humiliating.  Having people know this had happen to me...there was just to much shame that I would have to deal with.  Pride can make you do some pretty crazy things and my pride made me stay where I was, kept me from seeking help and made me pretend that everything was OK.

Gary's temper was slowly getting worse and he would fly off the handle in a rage at the slightest provocation.  I guarded my children like a hawk around him, and as young as they were they soon learned that they were better off in their rooms playing when daddy was home.

Gary never beat me except on one occasion.  The abuse was more insidious than that.  It was emotional and sexual.  The type of abuse that doesn't produce noticeable scars; that can't be fixed with a band aid or a cast.  These injuries are not to the body, they are to the heart and soul, but are just as destructive and debilitating to the woman who has suffered them as physical abuse is. It takes much longer however to heal than a broken bone or bruise.  Please don't misunderstand what I am saying, physical abuse is diabolical and never to be tolerated.  I'm not saying one is worse than the other, just that one is of the body and the other of the soul.

September came and it was time for Josiah to start school.  That was a very hard day for me.  Poor little Elizabeth was so upset, and it didn't help that mommy cried all day.  When Josiah would come home at the end of each day I would feel a sense of relief that he was safe and sound.

In October we went to an open house at a Christian school in Timberlea.  After a couple of meetings with the principal it was decided that Josiah would start right away and that I would work 3 days a week to pay for his tuition.  Gary wouldn't watch Elizabeth, which was fine with me! Jessie's daughter-in-law Lynnette who lived just down the road from the school said she would babysit her.

The days that I worked were long.  With rush hour traffic and having to go from Eastern Passage to the other side of Halifax, the drive was 1 1/2 hours in the mornings.  I had to be ready to start work at 8:30, plus I had 3 students to pick up in Dartmouth plus drop Elizabeth off at Lynnette's!  So I left home with two sleepy children at 6:30am each morning.  I would pull back into the driveway at 3:45pm and Gary would leave for work at 3:50pm!  This suited me just fine...for 3 whole days a week the kids and I had freedom away from him!!

I loved my job.  I did yard duty before school and at recess.  I then did filing, graded papers and helped students with workbook corrections.  On a couple of occasions when the primary teacher was out sick I would have charge of her class for the entire day...that was so much fun.  Josiah was always delighted when mommy was his "teacher", and getting to spend the whole day with my little boy was a delight to me!  My last chore at the end of each day was to clean the staffroom and do any dishes.

I was always tired at the end of these days, but very happy to have Josiah where he was, and it sure didn't hurt that I was able to see him off and on during the day.  There were also a few times when Lynnette was sick and I was allowed to bring Elizabeth with me to work.  She loved to sit beside me and "help" correct papers.  She was also thrilled to be able to play with Josiah during recess and lunch.  She was such a beautiful little girl with long dark curly hair and big brown eyes that seemed almost to big for her cute little face.  All the older girls in the school loved to take care of her for me!

Life was very busy for me.  On top of all this I also had 4 piano students.  Even though I was working to pay Josiah's tuition, there were still a lot of extra expenses...his uniform, field trips, extra gas.  Even though Gary wanted him at that school it was up to me to find ways to pay the extra bills.

During this time I was also voted in as President of the Ladies Fellowship Group at our church.  I don't know why Gary allowed this!  I think he was afraid to say no and have the Pastor asking why.  So I had to find time to organize the monthly meetings and plan the devotional.  The first night I had to speak I was a nervous wreck, but as time went on I found that after the initial first 5 minutes of shaking, I really enjoyed speaking! 

All this business kept me from having alot of time to dwell on the negative things going on in my life, and for a while made putting on the happy face a little easier each day.

When Josiah began grade 1 I was diagnosed with asthma.  As it became worse it was harder and harder to keep working.  I would have to leave a classroom on the run in order to make it to the bathroom before I threw-up.  The constant coughing left me very tired and it grew harder and harder to put in the long days.

Even though the art of "pushing things away" had become second nature to me, life was becoming increasingly unbearable and my resolve to keep going started to crumble a little.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chapter 12

I had been having a lot of pain in my side and back and after numerous tests and doctor visits I was told that I had gall-bladder trouble.  After several full-blown attacks I was scheduled for surgery.  Mom agreed to come down for a few days to look after Josiah and Elizabeth.  I was much more comfortable knowing she and not Gary's mother would be caring for them, but I was definitely on edge about her and Gary in the same house for several days!

I was told that I should be up and out of the hospital the same day.  I awoke to nurses turning me onto my side in the recovery room...I had just been sick.  I had been told before the surgery that they weren't sure if they could do the operation the new way, with the scope, or if I would have to be cut open.  That was the first thing on my mind when I woke up.  I was thinking clearly but I couldn't seem to get the words to come out of my mouth! All I could manage to ask the nurse was, "What did they do?"  She told me that I'd had my gall-bladder out.  I tried again, and she gave me the same answer...again.  After I spit out the question for the 3rd time she got a little put out with me and said, "I already told you!"  I took a deep breath and managed to say, "But what way?"  That was when she clued in and told me that it had been done with the scope.  It took awhile for me to get back to my room because I got very sick.  I learned later that not only did I have a lot of gall-stones, but my gall-bladder was black with rot!

I didn't get to go home that day, or the next.  I started running a low-grade temperature.  I kept pushing myself to get up and walk, I thought I should be feeling better than I was.  In fact I was feeling so miserable that I didn't even care that mom and Gary were together longer than expected.  Mom brought the kids in one evening to see me.  They were only in the room a few minutes when I just started to cry and asked mom to take them home.  They weren't being bad or noisy but my nerves just couldn't take their chatter.

I was finally released to go home but still didn't feel like I thought I should.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to start back to work when I had told them I would, so I had to call and tell them that I wasn't sure when I could start again.

Over the next week it became increasingly harder and harder to breathe.  My fever started inching up a little higher each day.  Gary's mother had to take the kids because I just couldn't take care of them.  I moved into Josiah's bed, eventually having to sit up to even breathe.  I went to see the surgeon but in his brusque manner he waved off everything and said that I was just over-reacting!  That did little to help Gary's frame of mind!

A couple of nights later David's wife Edie called to see how I was doing.  She got very upset because of the hard time I was having to breathe, I could hardly talk to her as I had to gasp for each breath.  She hung up and called her mother-in-law, Esther.  Esther called and only tried to talk to me for a minute and then she called Gary at work.  She told him to get home and take me to the Emergency Room right away.  By the time I got to the hospital I was gasping for breath and in terrible pain.  I was started on an IV and oxygen, given an interjection for pain and only allowed ice-chips because they thought I was going to be rushed into surgery.  In the morning I was taken by ambulance to another hospital in Halifax for a lung scan.  I was told I had a severe lung infection and was started on strong intervenous antibiotics.

By the 3rd day the fever had started to come down and the pain was subsiding enough that they cut back on the pain medication...then in breezes the surgeon.  He still laughed everything off and ordered the antibiotic stopped.  That night the pain came back so quickly and hard that they called a code on my room!  I was immediately surrounded by lots of people each doing something to me, they thought I was having a heart attack.  Within an hour I was back on oxygen and antibiotics and pain meds.

I was in the hospital for a week and 1/2.  Shortly before I was released I mentioned that my right leg was beginning to really hurt, they just put hot compresses on it.

After I had been home for 3 days I had an appointment with my own family doctor.  While there I mentioned the pain in my leg which had been getting worse.  He immediately sent me back to the hospital for an x-ray.  Right from the X-ray department I found myself being admitted once again into the hospital, this time for a blood-clot in my leg!  I was put on complete bed rest, not even being allowed up to the bathroom.  I was two more weeks in the hospital!  I had to have blood drawn every three to four hours;  I built up so much scar tissue on my veins that after a while I couldn't even feel the needle going in.  They were able to draw blood during the night without even waking me up! 

By the time I finally got home again I had been off work for 6 1/2 weeks.  I was to find out only years later that a piece of my lung had been sucked out during the surgery!  No one thought it serious enough to tell me.  I did learn that the surgeon had multiple malpractice suits over the years...I wonder why!!

When I finally was able to return to work I found my nerves a complete mess.  Being around so many kids and so much noise left me sitting in the staff room in tears every day.  I tried to stick it out for the remainder of the school year but I just couldn't.  Because of the circumstances Josiah was allowed to finish out the school year at no cost to us.

Gary was very upset and blamed me for Josiah not being able to continue at that school.  I felt so guilty.  What kind of mother was I not to do all I could to provide the best for my children!  The list of my failures continued to grow.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chapter 13

It was during March break (Gary worked days during holidays) and I was making Bologna sandwiches for the kids for lunch.  As I worked at the counter I just started shaking and crying.  I had reached my breaking point and I couldn't take anymore.  I picked up the phone and called a shelter for abused women in Halifax.

I talked and cried with a counsellor for nearly an hour.  When I hung up I packed a bag for the kids and myself and then left in a taxi that they had sent for us.  We were taken to the shelter and shown to a room on the top floor.  The kids were then taken by a worker into a playroom and I went with the director to her office.  After a long talk and a lot more tears she told me that I had done the right thing, no one should be forced to live the hell that I was.  Because of the extent of abuse and the fact the Gary was nearby, paperwork was started right away to move us to another shelter somewhere else in the province, we would be moved the next day.

After supper the RCMP showed up asking about me.  They had received a call from Gary saying that his family had been kidnapped. Something in the way he talked made them suspicious and they weren't surprised to find me at the shelter.  After me refusing to press charges (it was already so overwhelming just leaving I couldn't even consider more drastic action) they agreed with the director that it was best for us to be moved the next day.

I lay in bed that night in complete shock.  I couldn't believe where I was and how I had ended up here.  This was the kind of thing that happened to someone else, its what you read about or see in a movie, it just couldn't be me!  I was so scared.  Everything was such a mess.  I felt so alone and didn't know how to make anything right.

Sometime during the night I awoke to Elizabeth coughing with her asthma.  As the night went on she seemed to get worse.  I started looking through the suitcase for her puffers and realized that I had forgotten to bring them with us.  As I sat there listening to my little girl I felt a ball of terror forming in the pit of my stomach.  God was going to take her away from me as a punishment for leaving Gary!  This is what he had always said would happen if I tried to leave him!  I started to cry and pray.  I pleaded with God not to take my little girl.  I then promised Him that if He left Elizabeth with me I would go back to Gary the next day.  We weren't suppose to leave our rooms after lights out, but I had to call Gary and tell him I was coming back...God had to know I meant what I had said.

I called the house but got no answer, so I called his parents house.  His younger brother answered and was very unpleasant to me.  It took a couple of minutes to make him understand that I wanted to come home, but that I couldn't find Gary.  He said that he had been with him at the house until midnight and if I gave him an 1/2 hour he would go back to the house and wake him up.  When I called 30 minutes later Gary answered on the first ring.  I told him that I would come home in the morning.  He started to cry and promise that he would change.  He said that he was sorry for all the terrible things he had done to me.  We hung up and I went back to my room and was relieved to find Elizabeth sleeping.  I took this to mean that God had kept his part of the agreement, now I had to keep mine.

There were some very upset people the next morning when they learned of my plans to return home.  They told me that they had seen this happen many times over the years.  Things would improve for a week or so, but then revert back to the way it had been before, most times getting worse.  But my mind was made up.  My children would not suffer because I was to weak to deal with a situation that I felt was all my fault to begin with!

When Gary came home I was in the kitchen.  He started to cry, again promising that things would be different from now on.  Pastor Benson called that evening.  Gary had called him the night before.  Pastor thought that counselling would be a good idea.  We met a few times over the next couple of weeks, but since I was never forthcoming with what the real problems were, nothing got resolved.  Gary's only response as to what had gone wrong was to say that our personalities clashed.  Since I knew that I couldn't reveal more than he did, I stayed quiet.

I had made up my mind that this was my lot in life, my fault and I had to find a way to live with it.  Things went back to "normal" and even worse in some things just as the social workers had predicted would happen.  But my path was set and my children would never again suffer because of my failures.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chapter 14

Gary had started spending a lot of money on books, clothes for himself and whatever else caught his eye.  It made me so upset to see him going around with expensive new coats while I shopped for myself and the kids at the Salvation Army.  I was already using my child-tax credit cheque each month for food.  He decided that I would be responsible to pay the power bill as well!  So I needed to find a way to earn money and still be home.  My piano students wouldn't provide enough for that bill.  So I started taking children in to babysit.  Elizabeth was 4 at the time and didn't like sharing me with anybody else, but she as well as everyone learned to adjust.

During the summer Gary was working days.  One evening he came home and I had supper waiting but I never ate.  I hadn't been feeling well all day and around supper I started having bad pains in my stomach.  After I got the kids into bed for the night I asked him if I could have the car to go up to the hospital.

After blood work and an exam I was told that I was having a miscarriage.  I hadn't even known that I was pregnant!  I was devastated.  They kept me for a few hours to make sure the bleeding didn't get to heavy.  Those few hours was the only time I gave in and grieved for my lost baby.  I knew that if Gary found out it would somehow end up being my fault.  I knew that I couldn't bear the blame for my own baby's death.

By the time I got home this event had been put with the others in the dark recesses of my mind, not to be thought of again.  Gary was in bed when I got home and never did ask me what the problem had been.  Life continued on, but deep inside I knew a little piece of my heart had broken and I wouldn't be the same again.

My Little One

Little heart beating softly,
Underneath my heart so safe;
But your life was not to be,
You had a different fate.
You left before I got to see,
The color of your eyes;
Before your fingers curled round mine,
Silently, you died.
I never got to smile at you,
Or nibble on your toes;
Never played peek-a-boo,
I never kissed your little nose.
I never sang a lullaby,
Or rocked you in the dark;
I never got to hear you laugh,
Or take you to the park.
You never got to sit by yourself,
And play with a favorite toy;
I never even got to know,
If you were a baby girl or boy.
I never got to watch with pride,
Your first wobbly little step;
Or feel your arms around my neck,
And your kisses soft and wet.
You never got a baby book,
Filled with memories so sweet;
A book that I could open,
And to baby days retreat.
God for reasons all His own,
Took you from my loving care;
But I know that you're with Him,
In that Land over there.
Someday I'll step on Heaven's shore,
Eternity begun,
But until that day arrives,
God, please hold my little one.

Food slowly became more than just a tool to try to keep Gary away from me.  It became something that I craved to help ease the pain, loneliness, fear and hopelessness that had become my existence.  It brought a sense of comfort I couldn't find anywhere else, and was a way to release pent-up tension that raged in me.

I was slowly gaining weight, which in turn brought more remarks and hurtful comments and actions from Gary...which in turn made me eat...I think you can see the pattern that formed.

Some of the things that Gary wanted me to do at night became more difficult as I gained weight.  I always hoped that he would tire of trying to force me to do things.  But he just became angrier because I wasn't being a "submissive wife".  I dreaded the nights.  How can you get a restful nights sleep when you knew the minute you stirred in your sleep the unpleasantness and pain would begin?

Those years were also very hard financially.  There seemed to never be enough money for food or bills.  Mom would show up at times with boxes of food from her church and friends.  Ladies from our own church would come by with bags of groceries.

Gary began making me go to the Food Bank.  He didn't want to suffer the embarrassment of receiving this kind of help, so he sent me!  One time in particular stands out in my mind.  Josiah had come with me to help carry the bags.  When we got home he started emptying the bags on the kitchen floor.  Everything he took out made him more excited.  When the last bag was empty he looked around him at all the food on the floor and said, "Mommy, God sent us all my favorite food, we need to say thank you!" My little boys simple sweet faith taught me a valuable lesson that day.  There was always something to be thankful for!  I still felt a sense of failure that I couldn't provide for my children properly but over time I learned to be thankful for wherever the help came from.

One major battle I fought continuously was with Gary's mother.  She favored Josiah over Elizabeth and did nothing to hide this, even from Elizabeth!  A few times Elizabeth asked me why Grammie didn't like her as much as Josiah!

She would show up at the house with expensive toys and clothes for Josiah and bring Elizabeth nothing, or as in one case, brought her a bar of soap!  That day I became outraged at her treatment of Elizabeth.  I took the new Supersoaker water gun away from Josiah and threw it back at her along with the bar of soap.  I told her that she was never to bring anything for Josiah again UNLESS Elizabeth was the recipient of something just as nice.  My poor daughter still thinks at times that she isn't as good as her brother and it breaks my heart.

Gary would insist that his mother babysit for us and I hated it.  She would go through all my cupboards and our bedroom while we were out.  Then she would tell the rest of the family what a horrible housekeeper I was.  A lot of bitterness and anger began building in my heart against this woman.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chapter 15

The next few years saw both the kids in school.  I was always so relieved to have them both come home safe and sound at the end of every day.  I was still busy during the days with babysitting, piano students and of course Gary was home until around 4:00pm.  I treasured the evenings when the kids were in bed and I had a few hours to myself.

I had been writing poetry since I was 13 and found it a very relaxing hobby.  It had also become a means of expressing how I was feeling about things.  I had no fear of Gary finding anything I wrote because he never showed any interest in my writing.  In fact he was extremely jealous of any attention I got because of it.  When he was home I wasn't allowed to work on anything, be it poetry, crafts (which I loved), or to even sit and read a book.  These were all activities that took my attention off of him.  The tv was only allowed on when he wanted to watch something.  The kids could watch cartoons but I wasn't able to watch anything I wanted to, except at night when he was at work.

It seemed like most of my time was spent trying to solve problems before he even knew they existed.  Not being able to find his keys would send the house into a frenzy.  I always tried to be one step ahead to avoid any unnecessary problems.

I very much needed that time alone in the evenings.  When he would pull out of the yard I could feel the tension drain from my body, but I began dreading more and more his arrival back home.  Over time I began begging God to do something so he wouldn't come back.  Many times tears would come when he drove in the driveway instead of the police coming to tell me he was dead.  There didn't seem to be any release from hell, and I started to believe that God didn't love me.  If He loved me than why wouldn't He do anything to help me?

My weight also continued to spiral out of control.  I began receiving a lot of mean negative reactions from complete strangers.  The laughing, pointing and hurtful comments flung my way were preferable however to undesired attention from any man.  There was a feeling of comfort from being found repulsive to men.  There was a sick kind of safety in being fat and ugly.

The only lights in my life were my children.  I loved Josiah and Elizabeth with a fierce protectiveness.  They gave me a reason each day to go on, they gave my life a purpose and meaning.

I decided that I just couldn't spend another summer holiday with Gary's family in New Brunswick.  I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere without his family!  I mentioned it to him and he said no, we could stay for free at his parents cottage.  We could go somewhere else if I paid for it myself.

So for the next year any money I got for my birthday, Christmas and so on I hid away.  I tried to save any extra I could from my babysitting money.  By the next summer I had managed to save enough to rent a cottage in Tatamagouche for 3 days!

I made 100 pairs of ear-rings out of little beach rocks and then drove the kids around Eastern Passage.  They went door to door and sold all 100 pairs for $1.00 each.  That gave me $100.00 extra.  I took them to the grocery store and let them buy as much junk food (Gummy Bears, Pop Tarts, Wagon Wheels, juice packs etc) that they wanted.  They were so excited, they never got treats like that!  I got them each a "noodle" for the water as well.

What a wonderful vacation we had!  They played for hours with little sand crabs on the beach and the 3 of us had so much fun in the warm water with the noodles.  Gary came down to the water once, but declared it to cold...it was the best vacation that I spent with my children!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chapter 16

One Thursday evening the Ladies Fellowship Group was meeting at my house.  The kids were in bed and the meeting well underway when the phone rang.  It was Gary's boss calling from the school.  It was a teacher/parent interview night and one of the teachers had called her because of Gary's strange behavior.

Lorraine, my Pastor's wife and I left the other ladies to take care of the meeting and the kids and we went up to the school.  Gary's boss met us at the door and took us to the custodians room.  We found him pacing back and forth, very agitated and mumbling.  I tried to get a response from him but was unable to.  I called 911 while Lorraine and his boss blocked the door.

When the ambulance arrived it became quite apparent that it wasn't going to be easy to get him out of the school.  It was quite a workout for the paramedic's and the firemen who had shown up to assist, to get him on the stretcher and strapped down.  A big crowd of onlookers had gathered by the time they got him out of the school and loaded into the ambulance!

Lorraine and I went back to my place and while she explained to the ladies what had happened and made arrangements for a couple of them to stay after the meeting to care for the kids, I called his parents.  His mother got very angry with me, telling me that I was lying and blowing things all out of proportion.  I gave up and hung up.  I turned to find Josiah looking at me, he wanted to know what was wrong.  He was 7 now, so I explained to him as simply as I could that daddy hadn't been thinking right and had been taken to the hospital.  One of the ladies came to take care of him and Lorraine and I left for the hospital.

As we entered the emergency department we could hear Gary ranting from somewhere inside.  After an hour or so I was allowed to go in and see him.  The moment I entered the room he lunged at me and screamed that he was going to kill me!  Thankfully one of the hospital guards was right there and he grabbed and pulled me out of the way.  Two RCMP officer's quickly arrived in the room and handcuffed him onto the stretcher.

I had a brief conversation with a doctor who told me the paperwork was being completed to transfer him once again across the street to the Mental Hospital.  I signed the papers I needed to and Lorraine took me home.

I was back to picking him up for a few hours every day again.  But this time it was even harder.  I had to take and pick the kids up each day from school, plus I was taking care of 3 other children as well!  Josiah and Elizabeth were old enough this time to each have questions as to what was wrong.  Once again the cycle with food became out of control.  We lived 35 minutes from the church and Jessie was the closest being 15 minutes away.  I leaned on her alot during that year and she became even closer and dearer to me.

This time it took nearly a year for him to recover enough to go back to work.  With not being able to work, he took a cut in pay which put us into even more of a financial bind.  We had been relying more and more on the Food Bank.  Gary would force me to go and then get mad at me for going!  His personality changed and he was becoming more unpredictable all the time.  No matter what happened it was my fault, except for this one time.

Josiah had been blamed for something that had been just an accident and not his fault at all.  I always tried to take the blame for things because I could handle the rage but I knew the kid's couldn't.  Before I could step in this time however, Gary had thrown Josiah on the bed and was wailing on him with his belt.  As the beating continued I just couldn't stand there and do nothing.  I forced my way into the bedroom and laid down on top of Josiah covering him with my body.  Gary never stopped.  I could feel my little boys body shaking with sobs and I kept whispering to him that he would be OK and that I loved him.  Gary eventually left and I slid to the floor and held my son, crying along with him.  My loathing for Gary increased measurably that day.  I vowed that I would never let him touch either one of my children again, and he never did.