3. Living with Abuse

Although I sometimes pondered my telepathic and visual encounter with those beings, I wasn’t able to talk about it for fear of being ridiculed.  My solution was to set it aside in my mind and hope to deal with it later, as I had done with the early abuse events.  As I grew older, however, I still found it difficult to fit in and seemed to spend a lot more time alone.

During my last year of secondary school, after which I had planned to go on to university to study to become a teacher, my math teacher announced to all the students that, since there was a surplus of teachers in the system, anyone who planned to become a teacher should think of another career.  I was going to pursue a teaching career because I thought I would be able to afford the one-term university requirement. Since I really didn’t know what else I wanted to do and I certainly wasn’t going to go back to the student counselor’s office, I decided to enter the work force.  I didn’t want to continue to live at home and sponge off of my parents, so I found a job as a sales clerk in a trendy clothing store.  It wasn’t long before I moved to a nearby city to share an apartment with my sister.

After a few months my sister was offered a job in Vancouver, British Columbia, so she left and I lived on my own for several months.  Then I followed my sister out west, when her firm offered me a job as a junior accounting clerk at their head office in Vancouver.  I lived with my sister for a month until she moved in with her boyfriend, and I had to find my own apartment.  After a year the firm moved to New Jersey.  Since I didn’t want to move east, I found other work and saved my money, so that I could travel.

During the summers that I was turning 19 and 20, I made a couple of solo trips to Europe, where I traveled to France, Spain and the Netherlands.  My main interest was to take in the culture, but I also met many people along the way.  At the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam I saw the largest painting I had ever imagined: Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.  While in France I toured Versailles when the palace was still in restoration.  In Madrid I visited El Prado, in Barcelona I enjoyed Gaudi’s architectural works and in Granada I was fascinated by El Alhambra before it was restored.  Apart from my cultural tours I spent several weeks in southern Spain on the Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Ibiza.

Just prior to making my first trip to Europe I met a married man who was twice my age.  When I returned we dated and he showed me a carving of a woman’s face made from a deer horn.  He told me that a woodsman had carved it for him and that it represented his ideal woman.  For the first 5 years I was hopeful about our relationship, although he had a small son from his marriage and kept promising to divorce his wife.  I wasn’t really keen on getting married, because I didn’t really believe in the fairy tale but, after 7 years, Mr. Corcoran convinced me to tie the knot.  That was one of the worst decisions of my life.

Before the marriage my ex was intent upon coaching me in life.  Even though he had very little to show for his own accomplishments, I was young and impressionable and allowed his guidance.  At the age of 20 he helped me to buy my first property, a farm in eastern Ontario, Canada where I started my first company, a concrete-breaking and excavating venture.  By the time I was 24 I was the general contractor for the development of a subdivision adjacent to Whistler Mountain, B.C., the site of the recent 2010 Winter Olympics.  I bought a house and started taking university courses at Simon Fraser University during the winter months.  I loved going to classes and studying.  It gave me energy and resilience, while the darkness of my relationship developed.

My ex-husband turned out to be abusive, both psychologically and physically.  Not only was I part-time mother to his son but I was, on many occasions, host to his ex-wife when she returned from her trips around the world.   My ex expected me to welcome her because she was Jesse’s mother.  At that time the experience of pseudo-motherhood was exhilarating; my stepson became my best friend; and I loved the periods of time when he was with us.  Although I had hoped to have children myself, it was fortunate that I did not succeed with that man.

The first incident of abuse made me feel like I was somehow to blame for making my ex-husband angry.  His niece had come to visit and was staying with us for a few days.  As my ex and I lay in bed on the first evening of her visit, he asked me very casually what I was thinking.  I mistakenly told him what was on my mind – “Wouldn’t it be nice if my two youngest brothers could come to visit?”  Out of nowhere came a punch to one side of my upper face.  I screamed out and he went into a rage.  He had always come across with the demeanor of a nice guy, especially with all of his many friends and family.  His niece called from the next room to see if everything was okay, and he told her it was.  The next day I had a swollen black eye that I had to cover up with sunglasses so that I could attend my university classes.  What kind of person was this?  How could he possibly hurt me?  I had always told myself that, if a man ever hit me, I’d leave him immediately.  That was one promise to myself that I sadly never kept.

The second time that my ex hit me was about 2 years later, after we had gone to a popular bar in the Whistler Town Center.  It was the first time that I was asked to go to that establishment, since it was full of after-work men from the various construction sites.  I remember chatting for a few minutes with one of the subcontractors on our job then, in the truck afterward, my husband stopped and turned off the ignition.  He started pummeling my face with his closed fists, as I raised my hands to try and fend off his blows.  I learned at that moment that he was an insanely jealous and angry man.  I didn’t know what to do, other than remain quiet and sobbing, as he ranted on about how I had embarrassed him by talking to another man.  I was terrified.  I was too afraid of him; of what I would do next; and of failing in the relationship.  Yes, I was afraid to fail in the relationship.  I somehow blamed myself for what had happened.

However, I was also afraid that I might have permanent damage to my face the next morning when I woke up covered in bruises.  I slipped away to the nearest town, 40 miles away, with the excuse of going to the bank and grocery store.  While there, I went to the emergency unit of the Squamish Hospital to ask a doctor to check out my wounds.  The female doctor told me that I was going to be all right, but that she was bound to report any such abuse to the police.  I begged her not to do that, since I was terrified that my husband would have killed me in retaliation.  I don’t know whether the incident was ever reported, but I never received a visit from the RCMP.

Along with the physical violence, there was constant psychological abuse from my ex who turned out to be an incorrigible alcoholic.  While I was attending university, he always came adorned with plenty of alcohol and friends at exam time. As a teenager I had become accustomed to partying with my friends on weekends but, with my ex, it had become the life of an alcoholic and I had no friends of my own.  Once, when I tried to quit smoking, he offered me a cigarette after three months, and I accepted.  He would never allow me to succeed or be happy at anything.  It all had to be for him, or not at all.

The third and last time that my ex hit me was when one of his friend’s friends asked us over for drinks one evening during the holidays.  I chatted with one of the guys, who happened to be a dentist.  My ex had made certain that I had my teeth repaired when we first met, kind of like making sure that the horse you bought had good teeth.  I remember telling the dentist that the dentist that repaired my teeth had asked me out for drinks after one visit.  After I said that, I walked by my ex and he punched me right in the solar plexus.  Out of breath, I stumbled out of the house and walked several blocks to our place, where I decided that I would try and hide from him.  I was still in shock and started to walk aimlessly away.  After a couple of hours I had to face him again but, by then, my trust had turned to fear.  I was becoming conditioned by the abuse and would continue to try and please him.

In 1983, just after I had completed a successful semester at university, my ex-husband decided that he would take me far away from the city, to the middle of nowhere, so that his control could be absolute.  When I finally gained the courage to leave him, it would be like living a nightmare, only I would be fully awake and would have to survive the terror alone.

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