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 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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chapter 17

It was nearing Christmas and I was busy getting ready for the annual Mother/Daughter Christmas Banquet at the church.  The night was a huge success with many visitors in attendance.  Just as I was getting ready to close off the evening one of the ladies stepped up to the front beside me.  I was told that they had a surprise for me.  Two huge boxes filled with wrapped gifts for our family were brought out of a side room and placed in front of me.  I was speechless and the room erupted into laughter when Elizabeth's little voice was heard saying, "Is that ALL for us?"  I barely knew how to say thanks for such an outpouring of love.  It took such a heavy burden off me as I hadn't known what I was going to do about Christmas.

Later that same week there was a knock at the door one evening.  I opened it to find a man holding a big box.  Someone from the area had put our families name into the Eastern Passage Benevolent Society.  The box held everything you would need for a Christmas dinner including a big frozen turkey!  There were also other grocery items packed in it as well.  He then said that there was more and brought in another box filled with candy, hats, mittens, toys and various other treats.  I was again overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity of people. 

As our money problems got worse, Gary's wild spending got even more out of control.  Expensive cowboy boots, hats, coats, rare books took up residence in our house while the kids and I went without.  I went for years not having a winter coat or boots.  I had to borrow money from Jessie in one instance so that I could buy myself some much needed underwear!  He came first with everything, even the food.  He would take what he wanted first at the table, then I divided up what was left between the kids and I.  I remember one time that all that was left was a few french fries and 1 hotdog.  I divided it up between the kids then just started cleaning up the kitchen.  Josiah came over to me at the sink and said, "Mommy I'll split my hogdog with you if you want."  I looked into his sweet little face and just hugged him.  I assured him that I was fine and told him to finish his supper.  His love for me just made Gary's lack of love and care more hurtful.  After a while you really start to believe that you don't matter.  Over the years that belief extended to include everyone..I didn't matter to anyone, I was a blob of ugliness just taking up space.

I always drove the kids to and from school each day, including at lunchtime.  I started to realize that while waiting for them I would fall asleep each day.  At first I thought it was because I was just overworked and stressed.  But repeated throat infections finally made the doctor suspicious and he sent me for futher tests.  It came back positive for diabetes!  That was when I remembered an incident from the previous summer.  I had cut my leg really bad on vacation and it had taken 7 months for the thick scab that had formed to fall off!  I was put on pills and finally started to get a little energy back.

One day I was sitting in the car waiting for the kids to get off at lunch when I spotted Josiah coming across the schoolyard towards the car.  Suddenly 3 bigger boys came out of nowhere and started jumping all over him.  I was out of the car and across the schoolyard in a flash.  I grabbed Josiah and put him behind me and then I turned to those boys.  I railed up one side of them and down the other, threatened to go to the principal, their parents and the police if they ever came near my son again.  I then took Josiah and put him in the car beside his sister and started for home.  I was furious!  I looked at him in the rearview mirrow and asked him if he was ok.  He looked at me with his blue eyes huge and said, "Yes".  Then in a small unsure voice he said, "Mom...those boys were my friends!"  I pulled over, turned around and looked at him.  "What do you mean they're you're friends?"  I asked, with a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Well, that's how I found myself back on the playground after lunch asking 3 boys to forgive me!  Josiah still to this day teases me about going "all mothery" on those kids!

At the end of that school year Gary decided that he wanted the kids to be homeschooled.  That was fine with me.  Looking back I think I was very overprotective of them because of my circumstances, but at the time all I knew is that having them with me all the time would help put my mind at ease knowing they were safe.  I tried to make Gary understand that if I was to teach them then they would need my undivided attention during the day.  This would mean that I couldn't be available at his every back and call.  But this wasn't to be the case.  When he demanded my attention, it was then and right then.  I found it very frustrating to be constantly interrupted.

By this time I was caring for 2 babies.  Ben was 4 months old and his parents were both in the Navy.  His father was at sea for a couple of months at a time and his mother was a cook at the Navy Base.  He arrived at our house at 4:00am each morning.  He didn't usually go back to sleep which meant neither did I as I had to keep him from waking everyone (mainly Gary) up.  Gabby was a sweet little girl I had started babysitting the year before when she was just 2 months old.  She would be dropped off at 8:00am.  I would then get Josiah and Elizabeth up and feed everyone.  School began at 9:00.  I stopped for lunch at 11:45.  Gary was up by this time.  We were back at school at 1:00.  Ben would be picked up at 2:30, school finished at 3:00.  Gary was out the door at 3:45 for work.  I had 5 piano students at this time, one each day at 4:00.  Supper was at 5:00.  Gabby was picked up at 6:00.  Josiah and Elizabeth were in bed at 8:00.  Because we had no money I made my own lessons for 2 kids in 5 subjects.  I worked on these until midnight when Gary got home.  After 4 hours sleep...more or less, depending on Gary's demands, another day would start.  I don't know how I survived with a schedule like this.  It helped that I loved and thoroughly enjoyed homeschooling.  Ben and Gabby were like my own children, I loved them very much, they were like part of the family.  I joined the Nova Scotia Homeschooling Association and was able through them to have Josiah and Elizabeth (and Ben and Gabby) included in organized field-trips with other children from around the Province.  They went to museums, a goat farm where they got to make goat cheese and play with baby goats...they loved that!  They even got to go horseback riding a couple of times.

One thing bothered Josiah however, and that was that they didn't get any storm days!  One day he was complaining about having to do school while their friends got the day off.  I turned to him and said "You can have a storm-day...,"  his eyes lit up..."When you can't make it down the hall because of the snowdrifts!"  The smile left his face and he walked away.  He never bothered me about a storm-day again.  I did however once a month have a "Teacher Day", when they didn't have school...I just got a break!  We also had "pajama days".  I would even put Ben and Gabby in pj's for the day and they'd all "do" school, they loved it.  Gabby's parents got her a little backpack and a scribbler and crayons for "school".  She loved to bring her paper up to me during class to be graded and a sticker put on in.  She always wanted "homework" and was so excited to turn it in each day.  She learned her letter and numbers with me;  she was so cute.

Gary allowed me to join Weight Watchers with Jessie and some other people from church when they offered to pay my way.  I did good and within 5 months had lost 40 lbs.  But when people started noticing and commenting on how good I was looking I panicked.  I didn't want attention, I didn't want to start looking pretty.  It brought the potential for getting hurt by others back.  Plus the sexual abuse was increasing in frequency and intensity and it just wasn't worth it to feel better.  I quit and before long the weight came back on.

Even today I panic when I start to lose weight.  I feel safe from unwanted attention.  Who is going to like someone who looks like me?  Women who are stalked or raped are pretty.  It's a very difficult battle.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chapter 18

Gary all of a sudden seemed to have more energy.  He was planning all kinds of projects and he was up after I went to bed and sometimes up before me!  Despite all this new found energy his boss and teachers at the school started complaining about his work, it was sloppy and not being finished at times.

One evening the phone rang and it was Pastor Benson.  He asked me if I had noticed Gary behaving strangely.  All at once everything fell into place and I saw what was happening.  Sometimes a person is to close to a situation to see it clearly! The Pastor went on to tell me that Gary had been calling various men in the church at all hours of the night with weird plans that he wanted implemented at the church!

The next morning I called Gary's doctor and he was admitted once again to the Mental Hospital.  This time he was diagnosed with bi-polar.  He had experienced several depressive bouts over the years but this was a manic stage and what was needed to definitely declare him bi-polar.  Different medications were started and he was released a week later.

His behavior changed again.  No change was ever for the better, it always saw the worsening of existing symptoms and behaviors and the starting of new.

The next two years were very hard.  He was only able to work part-time and was extremely hard to get along with.  The teachers, principal and other people at the school were constantly submitting complaints about him to the school board.  He was surly, paranoid, pushy and thought that everyone was against him.  I found myself constantly trying to calm him down.  There was one situation that arose in the school that resulted in the union's lawyer representing him at a meeting of school employee's.  Not long after that he was placed on long-term disability and no longer had a job.

This threw me into a depression.  The one thing I had looked forward to each day was having him at work.  It gave me time to catch my breath, let my guard down and relax for a few hours.  Now he was home 24/7, there were no more breaks.  Most of the time he was ranting about how unfair the school board was.  I was always trying to calm him down and sooth him.  Somehow in his mind all his problems were in some way my fault.  He was constantly telling me that I was never there to help when he needed me, that I should know what he needed without him having to ask me.  I should be able to fix things!  With homeschooling, babysitting and everything else hellish going on I was being pushed to the limit myself.

We had 3 months before the first disability cheque.  Again our dear friends at church came to our aid with groceries and gifts of money.  David and Jessie even went so far as to pay our power bill for those months.  With his loss of work we also loss our medical coverage.  We ended up having to go to Social Services and get medical through them.  That was a hard day for me.

Having a diagnoses of bi-polar seemed to make him think that there was a valid excuse now for the perverse things he liked.  My doctor knew something was up and after an annual pap test sat me down, looked me in the eye and asked me what was going on.  I didn't answer him, just teared up.  He leaned in close to me, took my hand and said that if I ever decided I wanted help he would always be there for me to come to.  I looked at this very kind gentle man, smiled and thanked him.  But I felt trapped, that there was no way out without the judgement of God falling on me.  Life, which I had thought couldn't get worse was proving me wrong. 

When Elizabeth entered grade 7 and Josiah grade 10 I had no choice but to put them back into public school.  I hated to do that, homeschooling was something I had dearly loved.  But I was smart enough to realize that there were some things I couldn't do, and Josiah's math was it.  I couldn't hurt their futures by not providing what they needed in their education.  I decided if Josiah was going back so would Elizabeth, and that was mainly because of Gary.  He was demanding more and more of me. 

It was around this time that Gary was diagnosed with Parkinson's.  Some of the medication that he had been on for the bi-polar had triggered Parkinson's.  Since his bi-polar medication interacted with the Parkinson's medication and the Parkinson's medication interacted with the bi-polar medication, it took a long time to find the correct balance.  He started having panic attacks and wanted me with him at all times.  Since he didn't trust me out without him and he didn't like going out because of these attacks I became like a prisoner in my own home.  If there was a need for groceries or anything I had to go after midnight when he figured there were less people around for me to have contact with and he could just stay home and go to bed!

I didn't have Ben anymore, his parents had been transferred.  I still had sweet Gabby and now another little girl named Emma who came to me when she was 5 months old.  They both loved Josiah and Elizabeth and would get so excited to see them come home from school.  Josiah and Elizabeth viewed them as little sisters and spent time playing with them everyday.  I loved these two little girls so much.

One day I started noticing that my left hip was beginning to pain more than usual and as the week went on the pain got worse and worse.  Finally one night the pain became so intense that I couldn't move.  An ambulance was called and I was taken to the hospital.  I was admitted and put on morphine but I couldn't move.

The next day a specialist (and I use that term loosely) came in to see me.  He pulled back the covers to look at my hip and said in a very hateful voice, "Good god, you're so fat!"  I was stunned that he would say something like that to me.  He examined me very roughly and then left the room.  I burst into tears and my roommate called for a nurse.  When the nurse came in my roommate, who had heard everything, told her what had happened.  The nurse came around the curtain, sat on the edge of my bed and just hugged me.  Another nurse came in to see what was going on.  It wasn't long before the whole floor was buzzing with what had transpired.  One nurse told me to pay him no mind, he treated everyone like that and no one, not even staff liked him.  I told her that I wished I didn't have to see him again.  Another nurse spoke up and said that I did not have to.  They immediately put it in my chart and on my door that he wasn't permitted in my room again.  That evening the hospital director came to see me.  He was disgusted at what had occurred and said that it was not the first time they'd had trouble regarding this doctor.  He told me that I had several avenues of action I could take.  I could go through the hospital disciplinary board or through the provincial disciplinary board.  I opted for the latter and with letters supporting my case from my roommate and several nurses a formal complaint was filed against him.  Not even a reprimand was issued to him as a result of all this.  Again I was at the mercy of someone who judged me on my appearance.

Another doctor was called in who diagnosed me with bursitis in my hip.  After two weeks I was up and around with the help of a walker and discharged home.

Once home I tried to pick up my responsibilities and continue on but I was still in tremendous pain.  It got to the point where I could hardly move again.  I got a commode because I couldn't get to the bathroom.  Gary wouldn't empty it so poor Josiah and Elizabeth had to do that disgusting job for their mother!  Even dear little Gabby tried to help.  She was back but Emma wasn't as she still needed more care then I could provide at that time.  Josiah and Elizabeth would bring me potatoes and veggies which I would peel and cut up while in bed.  I then would tell them how to make the suppers.  They learned to do alot during this time. 

One day I was trying to get from the bedroom to the livingroom when the pain became so intense I ended up screaming.  Josiah and Elizabeth were in school.  Gary gave me the commode to sit on while I waited for yet another pain prescription to arrive.  I sat and tried to contain the tears and screams but the pain was about the worse I had ever suffered.  Dear little Gabby...bless her heart, I looked up to see her trying to push the big recliner out of the livingroom to where I was in the hallway.  She thought I would be more comfortable in the chair waiting!  I can see her yet, struggling with that big chair!  Thankfully these new pills worked and a couple of weeks later I was back on my feet like nothing had ever happened!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chapter 19

Gary decided that he wanted to build a deck onto the front of the house.  Having no money his dad bought all the lumber and other things needed and helped Gary build it.  His dad knew what he was doing having built their cottage in New Brunswick and many other things over the years.  I still have a beautiful dresser and a hutch for my desk he made me years ago that I treasure greatly.

Gary, as I stated in a previous chapter was an extreme perfectionist and during this building project treated his father horribly, always checking multiple times any measurements that were taken, ordering his dad around, yelling at him what to do and what he was doing wrong in the meanest of voice.  If his dad saw me he would just shake his head and give me this sweet smile.  I felt so badly for him.  I listened to this day after day.

One Saturday Gary lost it completely and started cursing and screaming at his poor dad.  Neighbors were watching and for the first time I saw tears in his dad's eyes.  I'd had enough.  I didn't care if the car didn't have my name on the registration or not.  I didn't bother getting anything from the house, I just grabbed my keys and left.

Josiah was doing volunteer work at a Seniors Home and Elizabeth was at a friends house.  I picked them both up and then just hit the highway.  The kids didn't say a word.  All I told them was I'd had enough and we were leaving.  For over an hour I drove up the Eastern Shore not even knowing where I was heading, just trying to get as far away as I could.  I was so upset.  Gary's dear father was the only ally I had in that family, I loved him dearly.  I couldn't bear to see and hear such cruel treatment of this dear man, especially by his son who was suppose to love him!

It was after 6:00pm when I finally pulled over and tried to pull my thoughts together and figure out what I was going to do.  I decided to go back to Cole Harbor Place where I knew social services had an office.  When I finally made it back it was closed like I had feared it would be.  The kids sat on a bench while I used a payphone.  I called the house and got the answering machine.  I left a message telling Gary that it was over, I was filing for a divorce Monday morning.  Jessie was out for the evening so I took the kids and went over to my friend Deb's house.  She told me that she had been aware for years that I was being abused and was glad I had finally left.  But she had company coming so I couldn't stay there.  I finally called mom and asked if we could stay with her for a few days until I could figure out what to do.  We got back in the car and headed to the Valley.

That night after everyone was sleeping and the adrenalin started to calm down I began to think.  I remembered what had happened to Elizabeth the last time I had left and the fear came back.  Would God punish me again?  Was there no way out of this mess?  As the night wore on my desperation deepened.  I realized that nothing was ever going to change.  I had "made my bed and had to lay in it".  I called Gary.

He cried and again I heard all the empty promises that he would change, things would be different...then I heard something new, something I would hear for years to come.  "I'll kill myself if you leave me".  To be honest I couldn't decide if I was happy to hear that statement or not.  I had prayed for years for God to take him so I could be free.  I know that sounds terrible..but let me be frank, you don't know what it was like to walk in my shoes!

I took the kids and returned home the next morning.  My mother was NOT happy with me.  She knew things weren't good but had no idea how bad they were.  I still had not told anyone what was really happening.  As I knew would happen, things went back to "normal" within a few days.

However a change had taken my mind.  I wasn't going to run again.  I realized that running wasn't going to change anything for me.  In my mind I had made a mistake years ago, and as much as I hated it, what was now happening was my fault.  I had given up waiting for God to intervene and rescue me and I knew there was no one else that could help me (or so I thought).  I resigned myself that come hell or high water, this was my life, my fate, my fault and I was going to have to see it through to the bitter end.  I never left again.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chapter 20

Gary had a thing for dogs and by May of 2002 we were on our 7th!  We already had a husky named Sophie but Gary wanted another husky.  We ended up with a male puppy which we named Tucker.  Well!  Sophie was having none of that!  After she brutally attacked Tucker and we had to take him to the vet for an injury to his eye I convinced Gary that he needed to go.  I called the breeder and told him what had happened, he agreed to take him back.  However before we could do that something happened that would change our lives forever.

We received a phone call early the next morning that Gary's dad had suffered a major heart attack and had been rushed to the QE11 Health Scientist Center in Halifax.  The kids were to leave for a youth retreat at a Bible Camp that weekend so it was decided that before they left they should see Grampie.  He was not expected to live, but I didn't tell the kids this.

I took Josiah in first.  Although he couldn't speak because of the ventilator, his eyes lit up when he saw his grandson and he reached out for him.  Josiah told him that he loved him and then broke down crying.  I took him back into the hall where he crumbled sobbing in my arms while Gary took Elizabeth in.  Josiah and Elizabeth are so different.  Elizabeth hides her feelings, she feels things just as deeply as Josiah but she puts on this tough exterior and pulls away.  Josiah's tender heart on the other hand is worn on his sleeve, you know how he feels right off.  They both hurt the same but I could comfort Josiah, Elizabeth I couldn't.

The next day, May 30th, I dropped them both off at the church and was just pulling out of the driveway when my cellphone rang.  My dear sweet father-in-law had just passed away.  I decided not to go back for the kids, but to let them go to the retreat.  There was nothing they could do if they stayed at home.

The next couple of days were a blur.  I had loved this man dearly and would sorely miss his gentle ways and sweet smile.  He was the only one in the family whom I felt accepted me for who I was and I had loved him dearly for that.

I still had the problem with Tucker however, and the breeder was waiting for him back.  The trip would take a few hours and I was still babysitting.  Emma's parents didn't want me to take her that far from home.  Gary was in no shape to go by himself.  So I decided to call Gary's brother-in-law and ask if he would take Gary and Tucker.  Gary's sister and husband had come home earlier in the week and I thought that maybe he would even welcome the chance to get away for a few hours.  So I called.  The way he blew up at me left me shocked, shaking and sobbing.  He accused me of being selfish and said he couldn't believe I would ask him to take the time to do something so trivial at a time like this.  I finally interrupted, apologized and hung up.  I sobbed uncontrollably for the next hour.  I finally was able to calm myself down somewhat.  Later I was talking to Gary's sister and started to cry again, I told her what had happened and apologized to her as well.  She was shocked, she hadn't heard anything about it.  We hung up.

We were sitting eating lunch when I looked out the window and saw him pull into the yard.  I panicked.  Terrified at what else he was going to say to me I ran into Elizabeth's bedroom and closed the door.  He came into the kitchen and I could hear him talking to Gary.  He called for me to come out a couple of times but I never answered him.  After a few minutes Gary came in and said that he had agreed to take him and the dog and they were leaving right away.  I stayed in the bedroom until they drove off.

Later that night the phone rang and it was him wanting to talk to me.  He apologized for the way he had acted and what he had said.  He told me that I had been right, getting away for a few hours had been a welcomed breather that he had needed.  I could tell that he felt bad and I know that the way he had acted wasn't the way he usually was, he had never been anything but extremely kind to me.  I chalked it up to just the stress of the week.  I appreciated his apology but I didn't say much.  I felt that I had made a huge mistake asking someone for help for something that had been my problem.  It cemented in my mind that I had to take care of things by myself.  It had always been hard for me to ask for help, now the thought terrified me, there would always be the potential of it blowing up in my face again!  For some reason this event had shaken me to my very core! It caused me to start withdrawing even more.  To this day I'm very uncomfortable asking anyone for help with anything.

The morning of the funeral one of the ladies from church drove me to the camp to get the kids.  I had called the director the night before to tell him what had happened.  I asked him not to say anything to the kids except that I was coming in the morning to pick them up.  Josiah called right back asking me point blank if Grampie had died.  I had wanted to be there when they found out, but I couldn't lie to him, so I told him over the phone.  I'm glad that the director was there for my children that night.

It was a very hard day.  There was a viewing right before the funeral at the church and that was the one I took Josiah and Elizabeth to.  Josiah took a place beside the casket right next to his Grampie with his father, grandmother, uncles and aunt, greeting the people as they came to pay their respects.  Gary's mother wanted only her daughter and sons sitting in the pew with her, so the spouses had to sit in the pew behind them, each one sitting behind their respective spouse!  I was the only one with children present, we were were all spaced out on this one pew.  Before she, Gary and his siblings came back into the sanctuary everyone took their seats and the casket was closed and rolled into place for the service.  Here again showed the differences in my children.  Josiah cried into my shoulder, his sobs being the only sound heard in the church, while my sweet Elizabeth sat an arms length away from me not wanting to be even touched.  It was a very difficult service.  She eventually moved closer as the service progressed and I was able to hold her hand, but Josiah kept his head buried in my shoulder crying.

Gary's father was a sweet, humble Christian man, and I am blessed to have had him for my father-in-law.  I miss him.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chapter 21

September 28, 2003.  The talk all week on the news had been about an approaching storm with the name of Juan.  Talk was that this storm was going to be hurricane strength by the time it reached the Nova Scotia coast.  Over the years there had been such forecasts off and on, but I couldn't remember any particularly bad ones.  I had never experienced a hurricane and unless you've lived through one you don't have the knowledge to prepare for it.  I did however take down my hanging plants and stack the lawn chairs in the corner of the deck!

That evening I listened as the winds began to pick up with alarming speed and the rain started beating down in torrents.  By midnight our little house was shaking on its foundation and the wind sounded like a train overhead, roaring nonstop!

Later I would learn the following details of this event.  Hurricane Juan made landfall in Nova Scotia September 29, 2003 at 12:10am.  Eight people would lose their lives because of this storm.  It was to go down as the most damaging storm in modern history to hit Halifax and the surrounding area.  It had sustained winds of 158 km/h with gusts to over 185 km/h, putting it as a category 2 hurricane.  The eastern eye wall of the hurricane (which has the worst of the winds) came in right over Halifax Harbor, Eastern Passage sits at the mouth of the Harbor!  Halifax recorded an all time record water level which resulted in extensive flooding to the area.  The boardwalk and alot of buildings along the water in Eastern Passage were completely destroyed and some cases washed away with the flooding.  Huge boulders from the ocean were thrown up on roads in the community.  There were many boats that ended up in yards that were streets away from where they had been tied up in the water!

I thought we were going to die.  I had never experienced anything like this before.  The livingroom window was actually heaving back and forth from the strength of the winds outside.  I couldn't stay in that room and watch the window do that, I was sure it was going to come crashing in on us at any I closed the curtains (I don't know what I thought that would prevent!).  Outside the air was blue with transformers blowing one after another, we lost our power and it would be a week before it was restored.

I went into the kitchen and saw water rushing through the kitchen window.  The house was nearly 100 years old and had the old windows.  The rain had filled up between the storm window and the regular window and was pouring through the cracks all over the floor.  The outer window had to be taken off and quickly!  Gary went out onto the deck but the wind was so strong it was all he could do to keep his balance and hold on.  He yelled at me to get Josiah.  To this day I don't know how the kids were still asleep, but they were!  I got Josiah up and he went outside with his father to try and help.  He was 17 now, but very slight of build...I feared that he was going to be blown right off the deck!  They managed to get the outer window removed and get back into the house safely.  I grabbed towels to soak up all the water that had flooded the kitchen.

I went into the bedroom and sat on the side of the bed which was literally shaking and thought that we weren't going to live through the night.  Somehow though I eventually dozed off and it was the piercing quietness that woke me up.

I went out on the front step.  I don't know if I can do justice with just words to the scene I witnessed, but I'll try.  There was an eerie morning light and a stillness and  heaviness to the air with not the faintest breeze to be felt.  The neighbor to the left of us had his garage collapse on his car.  The house to our right had all its windows blown out and down from it was a house with only 1/2 a roof left.  The lane (we lived on a dirt lane) was covered with power and telephone wires.  Some of the poles were on the ground, others were standing at weird angles. Our neighbors across the street had just days before bought a big old-fashioned wooden swing which was now just a pile of wood sitting by our car.  Behind our house in a field, many big tree's had come down.  The only damage we sustained was a partly fallen fence, a few missing shingles off the shed and a bbq which was greatly bent out of shape...and some missing lawn chairs!

Gary took a hammer to the bbq to try and get it working again.  I took things like mayonnaise, milk, eggs etc and put them into cold water in the kitchen sink where they would last a day or so.  When the bbq was in working order again I cooked up all the meat that had been frozen in the freezer.  It was quite a week.  Neighbor began helping neighbor, those with working bbq's helped those who had no way of preparing meals; there was sharing of coffee and food.  I found out later that the little corner store gave away all frozen and refrigerated products instead of letting them go bad.  Bedtime was when it became dark, what candles I had, used up in no time and batteries became a scarce commodity.

It would be two years before my forsythia bushes would bloom again or the gooseberry bushes would produce any berries!

My heart pounds now whenever a hurricane forms in the Atlantic.  One thing has changed though, when a hurricane threatens the shores of Nova Scotia, I prepare...and pray!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chapter 22

One night Gary confronted me holding my diary.  I had written in a diary since I was 12 years old.  But once I got married I had always kept it hidden.  I knew that in order to have found it he would have had to do some digging around in my things.  He had read the whole thing and was livid about it.  What he read was the truth, but not in his eyes.  It was the only way I had an outlet for everything, but I knew as I watched him shred it that night I was not to have that luxury anymore.

It seemed after that night that anything he knew I valued became a threat to him.  I arrived home from a doctor's appointment one day to find my collection of stuffed animals destroyed and in garbage bags!  Most of them I had kept from childhood, never having played with them.  I even had a couple that had been given to me from my dad...but they had been lost to me because I loved them.  I found new hiding places for my music that I loved, I couldn't lose that too.  Another hard lesson learned. 

It was around this time that Gary developed a friendship with a Pastor down in Yarmouth.  Every once in a while he would take a few days and go down for a visit.  I loved it!  To see him drive out of the driveway and know that for 2 or 3 days I would have some peace and freedom, well it was something I encouraged wholeheartedly!

However the results of these trips were not to my liking.  We started getting return visits.

The first was from a couple, Bruce and Anne.  They had come up to Halifax for his work and wanted to take us out for supper.  I'm very shy meeting new people and didn't enjoy myself very much.  The next time they came to the city they came to the house.  All I had to offer them were egg sandwiches.  I felt so humiliated especially after the beautiful meal they had bought us on their previous trip.  Anne told me years later that when they left that night she told Bruce that my "eyes were dazed and dull with no sparkle and that something was wrong and I was going to need them"!

The next visitors nearly sent me into a full blown panic.  Pastor Paul, his wife Cathy and the assistant Pastor and his wife were coming.  I was very apprehensive about this visit.  Gary warned me again and again not to embarrass him, not to dare say anything stupid while they were here.  He even picked out what I should wear.  Pastor's had always made me nervous, now two of them were coming to my house and I knew I wasn't going to be found "good enough" in their eyes.  I was a wreck.

I don't remember a lot about that visit except this very uptight feeling.  I was so relieved when Josiah showed up after school, it gave me a chance to leave the room for a few minutes and try to collect my thoughts.

After this visit Gary's attention was pulled even more towards Yarmouth.  It started to make me uneasy and I started actually trying to persuade him not to go as much.  I was getting very afraid that he was going to want to move and I didn't want to leave Jessie!  What would I do without her?

So I decided the next time Gary went I would go with him to see what all the fuss was about.  I didn't have long to wait.  We went on a weekend because the kids wouldn't miss any school.  Of all the places to stay we ended up at the Pastor house!  I was so tense and uneasy all weekend.  They had four boys at the time and they all took to Josiah right away.  That evening when it was late enough that I could make an excuse to go to bed without embarrassment, I did.

The next morning since the church was right across the street I made an excuse not to go to Sunday School.  I was dreading church, I hated meeting new people and knowing they were judging me.  Gary got baptized that morning and became a member of that church.  The thought terrified me, I knew he was going to want to move.  I hated this Pastor and church, they were ruining my life.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chapter 23

After that trip down to Yarmouth Gary started talking about moving down more and more.  I was devastated, how could I leave my home, friends and most importantly Jessie?  I hoped and prayed that it was just a passing whim and that soon his attention would turn to something else.

June came and with it Josiah's high school graduation.  I couldn't believe that my little boy was so grown up.  He had applied to and been accepted at a Bible College in Ontario and would be leaving the end of August.  The summer past quickly, I was kept busy getting his clothes and other things he would be needing ready to go.

One of Gary's brothers at this time lived in Ontario and he was always driving back and forth to the Maritimes with his work, so he offered to take Josiah and Gary up, bringing Gary back home the following week.  It was a very very hard day for me when Josiah walked out that door.  He was so excited.  I held it together until they left.  Then I grabbed Gabby and Emma and cried along with both of them.

Right or wrong, Josiah had been becoming increasingly the person that I leaned on.  There was one day that Gary was very angry with me.  Josiah had actually stepped between us, faced his father and demanded that he leave me alone.  I thought Gary was going to pound him into the ground.  But amazingly he turned and walked away!

Josiah was my "huggy" child.  Elizabeth like to hug on occasion and be near me when she was sick, but on a day to day basis, hugs were not her "thing".  Josiah on the other hand was quick to stop and give me a hug and kiss a least a couple times a day.

Over the next month I fell into a deep depression.  I missed Josiah terribly.  I didn't see it at the time but Elizabeth was missing him too and felt very neglected by me.

Gary went down to Yarmouth for Thanksgiving weekend and I was greatly relieved.  I didn't feel like celebrating.  I didn't feel thankful for very much at this point.  Now at least I didn't have to be bothered with making a big meal, it was only Elizabeth and I, so what did it matter!  But oh it did.  On the way home from church that Sunday morning Elizabeth asked me when we were going to have the turkey dinner and I said we weren't, Josiah and dad weren't there.  In a very quiet and hurt voice she asked, "What about me?"  It was like a knife had been plunged into my heart.  I glanced over at her and she had such a sad forlorn look on her sweet face.  I told her how very sorry I was for being so selfish and not thinking about how she was feeling, and that yes she did matter very much!  I ended up taking her out to a Chinese restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner!  It was different, good and I hope she realized how much I did love her!

When Gary came back from Yarmouth he said that he and Anne had driven around town and she had shown him a lot of houses that the Housing Co-op owned and rented.  He had the number for their office and got me to call for an application.  I was so sad.  Here I had lost my son and I was going to lost my home and best friend as well.  I finally went to the doctor because I couldn't sleep and I couldn't stop crying.  He put me on an anti-depressant and after a few weeks I began to feel a little better.  I also managed to put a different spin on the situation.  I thought maybe, just maybe if Gary got in good with this Pastor down there, perhaps things would change for the better, maybe the abuse would stop!  A fresh start might be just what was needed to finally change things.

After Christmas we put our house on the market and the following weekend went down to Yarmouth for an interview with the Housing Co-op.  I did nearly all the driving now as Gary didn't like to drive much anymore.  I stopped in Lower Sackville to get gas.  Going through a set of lights we were hit by a car;  not seeing us, he had plowed right into my door!  What a horrible jolt.  Gary immediately yelled at me, asking why I had done that! (as I mentioned before, everything was always my fault!)  I checked Elizabeth in the back seat to see if she was OK, she was very upset because she had broken a fingernail...oh my, that was my girl, bless her heart!  After about an hours delay, due to the police and making sure the van was OK for the trip we got back on the highway.  I was very tense driving.

It started to snow on the way and by the time we reached Yarmouth 4 hours later the roads were bad.  We were almost to the Co-op office when I went around a corner and slid straight into a about a bad day!  We finally got towed out and made it to the office.  We had the interview, then went to see the house they had for us.  Gary had said that the houses were all nice except for two that looked like they were half sunk into the ground.  One was painted blue and was referred to as the "Smurf house"!  Yes, you guessed it, we pulled into the driveway of the Smurf house...I couldn't bring myself to look at Gary.  However upon entering the house we found a nice layout, 3 bedrooms, large kitchen and a storage room.  I liked it right off.  We signed the papers, then went to spend the night with Bruce and Anne.

Nine days later our house in Eastern Passage sold.  I didn't quite know how to feel when we got the news.  Elizabeth was excited about the move for which I was extremely grateful.

The last Sunday at our church they had an evening send-off for us.  During the service a family sang a song I had written a couple years earlier entitled, "Like a Sparrow".  It was really something hearing it song like that.  They had a fellowship time afterward in the basement.  The Ladies Fellowship Group presented me with a beautiful box that Lynnette had made.  Inside was filled with cards and letters from all the ladies to me,  what a thoughtful and caring gift it was.  I still take it out from time to time and go through those letters.  One thing that always strikes me when I read them are the many mentions of my smile!  They had no idea of the agony and abuse that smile hid from the world.  I'll always treasure those letters and the ladies that wrote them.

Thursday of that week was moving day.  Our van door that had been damaged in the accident had now been fixed and the van was ready to be picked up that morning.  A group of men from Yarmouth were on their way to help us move.  I was hurrying around trying to shove last minute things into boxes when they arrived.  I really didn't know any of them except for the Pastor.  A couple of them left with Gary to go get the U-Haul truck.  I left to go get the van.  By the time I got back a lot of the furniture was already in the truck.  Elizabeth and I packed up the van with the food from the fridge and freezer, lamps, plants and suitcases and then left for Yarmouth.  The truck was about an hour behind us.

It was dark when Elizabeth and I arrived at the house.  The power had been turned on the day before.  We unloaded the van, locked the door and went to Bruce and Anne's.  Gary was dropped off about an hour later and the truck was then parked in the parking lot of the church until the morning.

At 8:00am the unpacking began.  The house was filled with people I didn't know.  There were ladies in the kitchen unpacking boxes, washing and drying the dishes and putting them in cupboards.  Other ladies were in the bedrooms setting up the beds and making them.  One man was putting up the curtains on all the windows!  Everywhere I looked there was someone I didn't know doing something, it was kind of overwhelming.

By late afternoon everything was in the proper rooms, but there was still a lot of unpacking and fixing up to do.  Someone brought in supper for us and then everyone cleared out.  It had been an exhausting day.  We worked until nearly midnight on boxes, then fell into bed.

Somehow through a sleepy haze I heard pounding.  It took me a minute to remember where I was and then to realize that the sound I was hearing was someone at the door.  I was so sleepy, stiff and sore it was hard to move.  I met Elizabeth coming out of her room wondering what was going on.  I opened the door and there stood Anne.  She asked if we were OK.  I said yes and then asked her why.  She said that this was her third visit to the house that morning.  I guess I must have looked at her kind of strange because she then pointed to her watch.  It was nearly 11:30am!  We hadn't heard a thing and she was starting to think we had all died.  She said she would be back with lunch and be the time she returned we were up and dressed.

Another long day followed trying to put the house to rights.  It would be a few months before all the boxes were unpacked and I felt settled, but we were here.  The newest residents of Yarmouth had arrived.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chapter 24

I was homesick.  I didn't really know anyone except Anne and I missed Jessie so much.  I also missed Gabby and Emma.  There were many nights I cried myself to sleep thinking about them.

A couple of months after moving in one of the ladies from the church came for a visit.  She hadn't been in the house for very long when she spotted the pills I taking for depression.  She immediately told me that Christians shouldn't use medication like this, it was not trusting God!  I was horrified and humiliated.  After she left I put the pills in the medicine cabinet and stopped taking them.

Within a week my mood was spiralling out of control, all I was doing was crying and I couldn't seem to shake myself out of it.  One day one of my friends from the city called to see how I getting along and I poured the whole story out to her.  She was immediately alarmed and said that she would call me right back.  When she did she informed me that the pills I had been taking shouldn't be stopped unless under medical supervision.  I started right back on them and was soon feeling a little better.  I remained on them for a few years then successfully was able to come off.

It was around this time that Cathy asked me a startling question.  She was the church pianist and was expecting a baby that summer.  She asked me if I had ever considered playing the piano in church!  I nearly fainted on the spot!  Me, play the piano in front of all those people!  I had never played for a service before, let alone at a piano that was right up on the platform!  I quickly said no.  She mentioned it in passing a couple more times, then it was dropped.

That Spring the ladies in the church were going to a weekend retreat in New Brunswick.  I wanted to go so badly, but Gary said no.  I didn't know if someone spoke to him or why he changed his mind (I didn't dare ask) but one night he told me I could go!  I was so excited.  Looking back I'm sure that most of the excitement came from knowing that I was getting away from him for a couple of days.  I was to find out later that he wanted me out of the house because he had found a video store and was renting pornography again.  I found his stash one day not long after I returned home.  Another time Elizabeth found a pile of them in the shed!

Anyway, I was on my way to New Brunswick and very happy.  I drove our van and picked up 4 other ladies that were going.  I was a little nervous, I really didn't know these people at all, but they were all friendly and before long I was able to relax and enjoy myself.

The main theme of the retreat was being an "Armor Bearer" for your Pastor's wife.  An armour bearer was a person in the Old Testament who not only carried the King's armor, but he protected the King, watched out for him and had his back.  It was a very interesting weekend learning how we were to take care of Cathy. 

When we got back from the retreat I started thinking about how Cathy had asked me for help with playing the piano.  So Sunday morning after the service I went up to where she was still seated at the piano and told her that if she still wanted me to play I would, but that I really wasn't that good!  She hugged me and said that the Pastor had told her that come July she was stopping even if there was no one to take her place!

I thought I had a month or so to practice and get ready, but Cathy went into premature labor that very week and the next Sunday I took over as pianist.  Cathy and the little baby girl were both OK.

Another blessing from that retreat is a friend I found.  Alice, one of the ladies and I hit it off and before long we found that we had a lot in common.  Alice later told me that it would annoy her something awful to call and never be able to talk to me for more then a minute or two.  Gary would always be telling me to hang up. 

In July I found myself at the emergency room again with another throat infection.  The doctor did blood work and then came in to talk to me.  It seemed as though my oral medication for the diabetes was no longer working and I was going to have to go on insulin.  I was upset, I didn't think I would be able to give myself a needle everyday and I told him so.  He was so understanding.  He took my hand and said, "Dear girl, it won't be 1 needle, it will be 5!"  Goodnight!!  I was in shock.  An appointment was made for me to go the Diabetic Clinic in the hospital a couple of days later.  They were to give me information and show me how to use the needles.  I was so nervous.

The morning of my appointment I was a bit early, so I was sitting in the van waiting for the time to go in when I glanced up and saw Alice walking towards me with a huge smile on her face.  She got into the van and I just stared at her.  She had come to give me moral support!  I reached over and gave her a big hug then we both went in.  She was a tremendous help.  Her light mannered way and bantering made me relax and when it actually came time to put the needle in my stomach I was able to do it... although she couldn't watch!  That small act of kindness and friendship meant the world to me and I began to realize that I had found a very special friend.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chapter 25

Josiah had been able to come home that summer and before I knew it he was ready to head back for his second year of college.  Elizabeth had told me that she didn't want to go back into public school for grades 11 and 12 and had asked if she could be homeschooled again.  This time she was able to do much of the work independently, which was good because Gary was demanding more and more of my time.  I found her someone from the church who could help her with the math.  She also got a job at Sobey's and so in a very short time was an extremely busy young lady.

One day in September I realized that Gary wasn't acting right again and took him to the hospital.  He ended up being admitted to the Psych ward due to yet another breakdown.  This time he was in until just a few days before Christmas.  Many days I would go in and he would want nothing to do with me, other days I had to fight to leave;  I never knew until I got there which scenario was going to play out that day.  Pastor  told me to take that time and use it to relax and rest.  But I couldn't do that, in the back of my mind I knew that he was going to eventually come back home and everything would be the same or worse than it had been before.

Josiah came home for Christmas and so did Gary.  After Christmas just as I feared, things took another turn for the worse.  His paranoia got worse.  He was sure that I was constantly plotting against him.  Nights got even worse as I had dreaded as he attempted to "keep me in line".

I started trying to come up with excuses for not being able to have sex.  But it didn't work, it just made him angrier at me.  Then one Friday as I was trying to put together a lesson for Kings Kids at church that night (I helped Anne with the kiddies class), Gary started in at me again.  I tried to just ignore him and keep working on the lesson.  He finally handed me the phone and told me to call Pastor for him.  So I did.  If I had known what was going to happened I wouldn't have made that call.

I didn't say anything when he got to the house.  Gary however didn't waste any time.  He started off by telling the Pastor that I was not being a submissive wife, that I was withholding sex and that was a sin...on and on he went.  I sat there in mortified silence.  I could feel my face on fire and I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me!  What could I say?  How could I say anything to this man who not only was a Pastor but practically a stranger to me?  Finally I just said, "I'm tired".  Gary didn't hear me but Pastor did.  He interrupted Gary and asked him if he had heard what I had just said.  He hadn't so Pastor asked me to repeat it, I did.  It wasn't the truth, but how could I tell what was really happening?  I don't remember much else about that visit.  Gary was calmer when the Pastor left, but nothing changed, at least not with Gary.

Unfortunately that day triggered an old problem to rear its ugly head again in my life.  When I had been molested as a teenager I had started binging and purging.  Its a disgusting illness and a few years later I had been able to stop.  Now all these years later it started again.  Its a horrible way to live.  The stress causes you to binge, the guilt causes you to purge.  It leaves you drained and tired all the time.  I tried to find some help online and actually found the courage to write to someone, but never heard back.  Again, I was alone with an overwhelming problem, and it was a problem that would be with me for the next number of years.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chapter 26

Weeks started to blur together.  Elizabeth was doing well with her school work.  She was still working at Sobey's but now had a second job at Bluenotes, she was very busy.

One day our van broke down and we needed to get it out to a mechanic that Bruce had recommended.  He lent us one of their vehicles in the meantime.  Gary refused to drive.  I could drive the van out, but then had no way home.  Pastor volunteered to drive our van with Gary while I drove Bruces' vehicle to bring us all back in.

We dropped the van off and Gary and the Pastor got in the vehicle that I was driving and we headed back to our place.  I'm not sure what was being talked about that lead to me saying that I could just push unpleasant things away and not think about them.  Pastor replied with, "You can only do that for so long."  The tone in his voice caused me to look at him in the rear view mirror.  He gave me this look that made me wonder if he knew something wasn't quite right with me.  It kind of shook me up, but his words stayed with me and I started to question my way of handling things.

One night I asked Gary for permission to go visit mom the next day.  She had not been well and I was worried about her.  He went ballistic on me.  I tried to leave the room but he blocked the door and then called the parsonage.  Cathy answered and Gary started ranting at her, I wasn't sure what he was saying I just knew that I needed help.  I knew I wouldn't be allowed to talk to her so I just yelled, "Cathy I need
help."  She hung up right away.  I tried to once again leave the room and was pushed hard into the wall.  I managed to get into the spare bedroom and just sat on the bed in the dark watching out the window for someone to come.

Thankfully within minutes a car pulled into the yard.  I got to the door and found both Pastor and the assistant Pastor.  I shook my head at them and said that he was in the livingroom and I wasn't sure what the problem was.

We all went into the livingroom and Gary started ranting again about me.  I tried at one point to say something but Pastor caught my eye and shook his head no, so I stayed quiet.  Gary was still ranting about how unsubmissive I was when Elizabeth come home from work.  She left the room crying and I went with her.  My poor little girl, I just hugged her.  I stayed with her until the Pastor's left.  Gary was a lot calmer and much to my surprise even apologized to both Elizabeth and I!

Cathy told me later that when the Pastor got home she mentioned to him that Gary sounded like he was bi-polar.  He told her that Gary had told him some time earlier that he was.  I hadn't been aware of that, but it made me feel better that someone kind of knew what was going on.

Gary wasn't coming out much to church as much anymore, but he was permitting me to go!  I had started picking up Alice and her kids since they didn't have a car.  One morning getting out of the van at church I fell.  Alice's son ran to get help.  I felt like such a fool.  It shook me up so much that I had a good cry on Alice's shoulder when I was helped into the church.  But it brought something that had been happening to the forefront of my mind.  My left foot had more and more been feeling like it was asleep.  It had that heavy numb feeling that makes you want to shake your foot to get the blood circulating and the feeling back, and it was paining at times as well.  I finally mentioned it one day at the doctors office.  I was told that I had the start of Diabetic Neuropathy.  This is a condition brought on by consistently high blood sugar over a period of time.  It causes the nerves to start to die in your extremities.  It usually starts in a foot.  Only 28% of diabetics get neuropathy and of those 28% only 8% get the disease with pain!  For some the neuropathy spreads quickly, for others it can be years, or it can even stall for a time.

It was very irritating to have my foot feeling like this, but over time I became accustomed to the numbness and for a while the pain didn't bother me to much.

It became increasingly harder to walk because you were never sure if your foot was flat on the ground.  Inside was OK most of the time, although I did fall occasionally, but it was outside where the ground is uneven that gave me the most trouble.  I began having to use a cane once in a while to keep my balance.  Over time the neuropathy started to spread and the pain started getting worse.  I was put on medication to help with the pain, but it didn't always work.  Nights seemed to be the worse, so sleep became even more fragmented for me.  Its hard to deal with stress when you don't have enough sleep!  Not enough sleep makes the stress worse, that raises your blood sugars more and in turn makes the neuropathy worse!  But I made the adjustments I could and tried to keep going.

It quickly spread to my right foot as well which started to cause problems playing the piano.  Not being able to feel where my foot was, it started falling off the peddle when I was playing at church.  I was horrified!  It always seemed to happen during the prayer time when I was suppose to be playing quietly, then...BANG, the peddle would spring back up.  I would get so flustered trying to look at my foot and get it back on the peddle.  And of course in the process of doing that I lost my place in the music and messed up the notes.  It made for some very trying times doing something I felt so nervous doing in the first place!  Alice started teasing me that they were to duct tape my foot to the peddle!  I do have to say, it made for some unforgettable moments!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chapter 27

Gary was becoming more paranoid all the time, to the point where he didn't want Elizabeth going to the Youth Group gatherings at the parsonage after church Sunday evenings!  He didn't trust that she would be safe there.  I argued with him to no avail.  The only way he would agree to let her go was if I went with her!  I just looked at him.  How could I do that?  I would be mortified to admit to anyone that he didn't think the Pastor's house was a safe place for his daughter!  I wanted her to be able to go and be with her friends so he finally agreed to a compromise.  She could go and I would stay in the van over at the church and wait for her.  That way she wouldn't be embarrassed that mom had to be there with her.

That worked for a few weeks until it was discovered that I was out there for a couple of hours each week waiting for her.  I was told to come in to the parsonage and join in the fun.  I appreciated the invitation but I felt stupid and out of place, but what could I do, I wanted Elizabeth to be able to be with the other young people.

Cathy had started talking to me and was beginning to realize bit by bit that I was not able to leave the house very much.  One Sunday morning after church we talked for quite a while and she found out a little more.  This resulted in my being asked if I would take over the filing job in the church office.  It would get me out of the house for a few afternoons a week and give me a break!  I was thrilled.  I had always loved office work and was anxious to get started.  Gary didn't dare say to much because it wouldn't look good if he said that I couldn't help out at the church!  However for the first few weeks he insisted on coming with me until he got tired of just sitting for a couple of hours watching me.  Then I was free to go and work when I wanted!  I was so very appreciative of Cathy coming up with this idea.  But what alot of filing!  Nobody had been doing it for quite a while and there were bags and bags of papers that needed to be sorted and organized before they could even be filed.  Just when I thought the end was in sight Pastor would arrive with yet more bags that he had found at the house.  It took a few months to get the filing caught up.  I was disappointed when I did eventually get to the end because it meant that there was no need to come in as often and I enjoyed the work so much.

Cathy told me one day that the church was there any time that I needed to get away, that it could be a haven for me on bad days.  So one day I decided to do just that.  Gary thought I was doing office work so didn't try to stop me.  I didn't think anyone would be there.  For a while I just sat in the dark in a room referred to as the "Situation Room", because it was used by mothers who needed to leave the service with their children.  Since it was located at the back of the auditorium, they could still hear the service.  I settled into a rocking chair and just tried to chill.  It had been a particularly hard few days with Gary.  I hadn't been there long when Pastor and another man from the church arrived to do some painting upstairs.  I thought if I was quiet maybe I could stay where I was and not bother anyone.  I forgot that they would know I was there because of the van parked outside.

After a while Pastor came looking and found me in the room.  He turned on the light and asked me if I was OK.  Wrong question!  I blurted out that all Gary did was was complain about this and that; and on I went.  After a couple of minutes he looked at me and said, "Just like you're doing?"  I was shocked into silence and just stared at him.  He didn't say anything else.  He left and I burst into tears.  I calmed down and told myself to "Buck-up" and that I needed to stay at home.  Even though I had no intentions of every leaving Gary again I was in a sense still running, even if it was to a church.  The Pastor hadn't said that I couldn't be there, but my insecurities told me that I was somewhere I shouldn't be.  Even though there were days I wanted to, I never "ran" to the church again.

Wednesday nights after the midweek meeting there was what was called Bible Institute.  It was studies on various books of the Bible and topics.  Gary and I had both been going.  There were workbooks and if you wanted you could do the assignments and hand them in.  Eventually when enough courses were completed you could get a diploma.  I enjoyed it very much and started doing the assignments trying to catch up to the others in the class.

This however did not go over well with Gary.  He started making remarks about the time I was spending doing the assignments, he didn't like me doing anything that took my attention off him.  After a while he said that I was embarrassing him because I was doing the assignments and he had trouble writing because of the Parkinson's.  So I offered to do his writing for him.  This worked for a while, but then I started having a hard time getting him to even tell me what he wanted me to write.  Finally what I knew all along would happen did.  He forbid me to hand in any more papers.  He said that it made him look bad and he wouldn't stand for it anymore.  I was so disappointed, I had enjoyed the work very much.  So I just started auditing the classes.  Soon he didn't want me doing that.  There was nothing I could do about it, it was just the way it was.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chapter 28

Christmas had come and gone again and a new year was started.  Things were getting really bad and one night in February things hit an all time low.  I won't go into specifics, that's not important, what is important is I finally realized that I couldn't continue to get hurt like this, and I found myself finally desperate enough to reach out for help.  I somehow found the courage to call Cathy and ask if I could come over to talk to her, she said fine and we set an evening.

That night when I arrived at the parsonage the Pastor was also there and the three of us sat around talking for a bit.  I think is was very obvious that I was nervous.  I knew I had to say something about why I was there...but I didn't know how to start.  I finally said that I needed to apologize for lying to him months earlier when I had told him I didn't want to have sex with Gary because I was tired.  The talk dwindled down to an uncomfortable silence.  Pastor looked at me and asked if I would like to speak to Cathy alone.  I said yes and he quickly left the room.

I looked at Cathy who was sitting on the couch on the other side of the room and I burst into tears.  I blurted out what Gary had done.  She was up off the couch and beside me in a flash.  The first thing she said was that she wanted to tell me to kill him but she didn't really think Pastor would agree!  She then said that I needed to tell Pastor what I had just told her.  I looked at her through my tears and said that there was no way I would be able to tell him what had happened.  She said with my permission she would go and tell him for me, but that he really needed know.  I nodded OK and she took off out of the room.

To tell you the truth, I know they both came back into the room within minutes but I can't remember anything that was said.  I was humiliated, ashamed, embarrassed, distressed, terrified all at the same time.  This was the first time I had ever spoken with anyone concerning the things Gary had been doing to me with the exception of the social workers at the shelter years before;  and things were definitely not even in the same category of abuse as they had been back then.

My cellphone eventually started ringing and it was Gary wanting me at home so I left.  But the measure of relief I felt from finely cracking open the door just a little into my nightmare was immense.  Nothing had been resolved, but someone now knew that things weren't as they should be.  And with that came a sense of protection that I had never felt before.

The next night was the annual business meeting at the church.  We always have a supper first followed by the meeting.  Gary and I were already sitting at a table by ourselves when the Pastor came and sat down on the other side of me.  He never said a word, just sat and ate his supper.  I've never mentioned it and neither as he so I don't know if it was intentional or not.  But what that did for me that night was indescribable.  I felt protected in a way I had never felt before and it gave me a boost of courage that I sorely needed to start standing up for myself.

After that night I came up with excuse after excuse to Gary as to why we couldn't have sex, I was determined that he was never going to touch me again.  The Parkinson's was making him shake more and I finally told him that I just couldn't sleep in the same bed any longer because the shaking was keeping me awake.  He was not happy with that statement at all and fought me about it, but this time I was determined.  I moved into the spare bedroom that Josiah used when he came home for visits.  I never slept with Gary or let him touch me in a sexual way ever again.  That final straw had found its way unto the camel's back!

I swore to myself that I would never sleep in that bed again.  That bed had been where the worst things that had ever happened to me were committed and I hated it.  It always reminded me of that movie "The Burning Bed".  To this day I sleep in Josiah's old bed and have no desire for a bigger bed or larger room - ever!