WHEN BAGGAGE MEETS WRECKAGE

Have you experienced long term abuse?  Verbal or any other kind?  I have.  22 year’s worth.  When part of that abuse is belittling “who would want you, your fat hippopotamus”, etc., you really are left with the wreckage of doubt and no self-esteem.  You are left wondering if his long-term bathroom breaks are his idea of sex or if he’s a closet gay.  Back in those days, that thought was very radical.

Me?  I was no angel nor was I an easy-to-live-with girl.  The vicious cycle of abuse and retribution were like having two flame throwers burning each other out.  Imagine the ramifications on a child, strapped into his car seat as an infant, then a toddler… later, sitting in the back seat of the car, listening to his father slice and dice his mother.  The tongue is the rudder of the soul and words add life or take life. The Ex Husband killed two lives with one blow.  Now we both know what he was good at when he wasn’t in the bathroom.

1989 gave me a gift:  Therapy without the husband horning in with his side of the story.  Before registering for the first and last semester of Construction and Architecture at SUNY Farmingdale I sauntered over to Psychological Services and made an appointment for therapy with Dr. Joan.  She was savvy and had heard it all before. She counseled me for two semesters.  Joan became a savior to me, a guardian angel that caused me to shift my life dramatically.

You know how things dawn, finally, in a new environment?  Yeah.  Turns out I was an abused spouse.  Who knew?  I thought it was me, I was crap, broken, bad and deserved it.  Well, he called me brainless enough I started to believe it.  Dr. Joan helped me dream a whole new me.  When he called there to come and offer his side, he was told NO.  By the school.  I was protected, supported, cushioned and enlightened.

All the classes and bills were paid for out my own savings.  The husband didn’t contribute one dime.  At 49 or there about, a full-time teaching job on Long Island was out of the question, with their notorious age discrimination experienced first-hand at cattle call pre-interview herds of young, fresh out of college 22-year old’s.

The next best thing I thought of doing was designing high-end houses.  When my funds ran out to pay the tuition, I had to drop out.  But not before I made the President’s list, and most of the classes involved high level math I never had in high school.  With a lifetime of buying into the lie I wasn’t smart enough and needed to be married and taken care of, and ‘marrying my mother’, one of my instructors was an Italian American architect who was REALLY cute.  Could have got it on with him, out east at his house, but I was MARRIED and faithful.  As much of a shit as my husband was, no one else’s penis would find its way into me, even though that space had been abandoned by the husband for a long time (he could go for months without, with just his bathroom pit stops).  This was 1989.

It was all really traumatic, when, in October of 1991, he had not spoken to me in over two weeks.  He slept next to me like a cold lump of stone.  It wasn’t the first time. But it WAS the LAST.  I said, “there has to be last silent treatment, and this one was it. I want a divorce”.  Little did I know he was having an affair with a teacher in his school that lived a mile away and car-pooled with to their school in Springfield Gardens, Queens.  [He student taught there, got his first teaching job there, met me there, married me there, divorced me there, met her there, married her there, retired from there – Guinness Book of Records for a single man getting the most out of one brick building??]

We attended mediation, which ultimately led to separate lawyers, who tore the mediation agreement into shreds and the WAR began.  He lived in our 1800 sq. ft ranch house the entire time, left at 4:30 in the morning for his girlfriend’s house around the corner and a mile away. 3.5 years.  Our son was 10 when it started and 13 and a half when it ended.  UGLY looks exquisite compared to the ravaged wreckage left by our divorce.  That’s the his and her-story in a nut shell.  Small nuts, by the way.

The more work we do on our inner selves, the more we see there is to do.  There is a long-lost interview with Yoko and John Lennon, 3 days before his murder.  He talks about the unseen being the real deal, real stuff that counts.  Enchanted Love does the same thing.  No.  It’s not new.  But newness gets worn like a fur coat when the freezer of divorce demolition derby numbs ya out.  Newness tastes sweet, smells pungent and spicy.  The injured torpedo holes start to fill back up with a lighter version of Self.  Notice the capital S.  The inside One we don’t learn about from outside sources, or from anywhere, being a Boomer.  Once it begins to show up, it shows-up everything unlike ItSelf and green slime mold begins to grow on the information taught up until that point.  Does that make sense? Reread it again if it doesn’t.

Did you ever read the book by Marianne Williamson called Enchanted Love?  If you want to enter into the realm of relating-ships on a higher vibrational level, it’s a good read.  Easy, clear, precise and quite lovely.  My hunt is to find a person whose done his homework, is evolved, who mirrors my best virtues, and if the Uni-Verse can’t get it straight after writing this, what the FUCK!

In 1996 a series of transformational workshops changed my life.  Appropriately called LifeSpring, I had accompanied a friend into New York City.  He was invited to listen to an enrollment talk from an acquaintance of his.  I had plans of replacing my linoleum kitchen floor (notice the ‘my’ – acquired in the divorce) with hardwood, once the ex moved out in April 1995.  The friend didn’t buy into the talk, but I sure did:  ALL IN.  I threw my kitchen floor-piece-of-plastic-credit-card across the table to AnnMarie.   The outcome was, after finishing the second level seminar and signing up for Leadership training, I stood in front of my doubting friend, the wood carver sign maker, not saying a word. With one look into my eyes he said, “sign me up”.  He was ALL IN too and in the next leadership training after mine, in New York City.

The reason I bring this workshop up is that I called my ex-abuser husband to meet me in the Dix Hills Diner one day afterwards.  He complied, with resignation.  I owned up to my end of the debacle we called a marriage.  I got to see myself clearly in LIfeSpring, and it wasn’t pretty:  I cried so many tears and rivers of snot, the East River raging by New York City seemed tame in comparison.  Clearing the debris became an imperative, with people I had hurt.  Owning up. The 1996 experience was mountaintop for me, life altering.  Emotion stills chokes my throat when I talk about it to others.  Not the diner meeting, but the Leadership experience.: LP 163, Manhattan.

It was the foundation of my eight years teaching high school art in a depraved south Florida high school, where kids couldn’t read, were placed in Advanced Placement classes anyway, so the school made money on them.  The inner work I did in LifestSpring, therapy, and the Spiritual Center I attended in Ft. Lauderdale, created an in-classroom haven for street-smart kids whose only meal was army surplus free school lunch.   The only undergraduate, class of ‘69 who achieved ‘A’ in both Art Ed methods courses, paid off big time.  Reaching teenagers, proving how irreplaceable they were through their artwork, helped heal me.  Leaving the Long Island saga behind in 2002, landing a full-time teaching job in Broward County, Florida, who grabbed what they could get, no matter how old they were…that never would have happened up north, never having anything to do with the ex ‘wasband’ again, allowed different kind of onion layers to be healed.  And there were plenty!

Addendum:  It’s been 22 years since the divorce.  Never remarried but came close a couple of times.  I have learned to survive and occasionally thrive by myself.  September 29, 2002 I moved to Florida.  On September 29, 2012 I left there and moved to Asheville, North Carolina, leaving behind the job, and the abissmally crooked school administration and county school board.  The exact 10 years date wasn’t planned, it just turned out that way.  The North Carolina mountains are an ever-changing landscape resembling a still photograph of rolling ocean waves.  Seeing them for the first time, my first away from he east coast and the ocean, I wept at their intrinsic beauty.

Gratitude for every bolder along my path, my history, bringing me to arriving, a new beginning, is precious.  I wouldn’t trade any of it.  As I look back at the choices I made then… well… if I ever had the opportunity to get my 30 year old body back with some corrections/fixes, and kept the same mind I have now, would be a no brainer… those choices would be a much better, more embracing, more inclusive Me… I married mom once.  That was quite enough!