The next 10 years of my life were lived mostly in the deep murky waters of depression with occasional breaks into the light on the surface. I continued in the unhealthy relationship with my ex-husband. We seemed to be at each other’s throats all the time. We never really spent time apart.
I ended up going to college in my home town because the thought of leaving my family was too terrifying. I was convinced if I wasn’t in their proximity, something terrible would happen and there would be more death. During the first semester of my freshman year, my boyfriend informed me he had cheated on me with a girl who was more fun in bed. I should have ended the relationship, but I didn’t. I chose to forgive him instead, although it was something I wouldn’t let him forget. I spent one semester on campus, but moved home. The stress of being even just 5 miles from my family was more than I could bear.
During my sophomore year my ex-husband joined the Air Force and left. We didn’t see each other for 18 months and in that time I felt free. I actually came to the surface of the depression. I moved back on campus and handled being away from my family slightly better than the first time. I was less afraid of my family dying despite losing a cousin and my grandfather in 1981 and 1982 respectively. But by this point, I was completely done with death. I wanted nothing else to do with it. When my mom lost a good friend to suicide, I missed her funeral. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of even one more funeral.
College was slightly better than high school in that I had the freedom to go or not to go. I frequently chose not to go . I ended up graduating in 1985 with a degree in nursing. Considering how messed up I was emotionally, I managed to graduate with a B average and fulfill my promise to my dad.
In the middle of college I applied for an ROTC scholarship and got accepted into the Air Force. I was very excited to be a part of the military. I had always wanted to serve my country.
By my junior year, my ex-husband was stationed at Dover Air Force base. Our relationship had improved dramatically because we weren’t together all the time. We decided to get married, although I was very unsure of my decision. As the wedding approached, I had more doubts, but I didn’t want to let anyone down. So in August of 1984 we got married at my college. I hadn’t set foot in church since my father died and I had no inclination to do so then.
By the end of my senior year, I was pregnant with my older son Robert. I didn’t have too many happy feelings about the pregnancy. But I didn’t have too many happy feelings in general. My only hope was to have a boy I could name after my father and I thought it would be really neat if he had blond hair and blue eyes. I secretly prayed to my dad for these things. I used to think it ironic I was given children when I didn’t care for them that much.
After I graduated from college, I moved to Dover, Delaware to live with my ex-husband. Things were okay at first, but I slowly came to the realization that he had a drinking problem and was still using drugs. We started to fight again. The abuse seemed to begin gradually. First it was verbal abuse, but then things became scary.
One evening, we went to the base to play darts. He got drunk so I drove home. As I drove, he yelled at me to drive faster. When I wouldn’t, he leaned down and put his hand on the gas peddle. He was like a terrorist. I couldn’t believe it. He had never been like this before we were married. I was 4 months pregnant at the time, not working, and felt obligated to stay with him.
Months later, when I was 8 months pregnant, we were playing cards with the neighbor. He got drunk again as usual. After the neighbor left, he went into a rage because I wasn’t throwing the cards he wanted. He proceeded to pick me up and throw me into walls and onto the floor. I ran to the back of the house to hide. He came and found me and forced himself on me. I was terrified. Then he threw me out of the house. I just sat in the car and cried and cried. I never thought about leaving. How could I leave when he had to work the next day? In the mean time, my son didn’t move for hours. I was afraid he was dead.
Thankfully, my son Robert was born December, 24 1985. He weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. He had blond peach fuzzy hair and blue eyes! I was astounded! He was exactly what I prayed for! I thanked my dad for giving me just what I asked for. I was still in denial about who really answered my prayer.
After my son was born, my ex-husband got out of the Air Force and we moved home. We lived with my mom. We fought all the time, but thankfully the physical abuse stopped in her house. I guess he didn’t want others to find out what he was becoming. I know he was particularly afraid of his parents learning the truth. His father looked down on men who abuse women. My ex-husband had a sister who was in an abusive relationship. He and his brothers and father ganged up on her husband to “teach him a lesson”. The irony was, they had no idea their beloved John was doing the same thing to me.
Once we got settled at my mom’s house, I was finally able to start working. It was such a relief to be away from him. He did his own thing and I did mine. My mom couldn’t understand why he was never around. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her what was wrong. I was too ashamed.