Isn’t it peculiar, interesting, educational and even uplifting, the way distance provides such differing perspectives for us. With the passing of time, and the greater knowledge and understanding it brings, I can see the experiences I’ve had throughout my life with a clarity I could not while immersed in those trying and traumatic situations. The past few years have wrought great changes for me, most of them positive, but the road to this place was not easy to travel.
In the long ago and far away times of youthfulness, the place that is now truly another life, I saw my place in the world in a different light from that which shines down on me now. Everything seemed so very clear to me, yet it was not. The way I did everything, the way I acted and reacted was heavily influenced by the fears and control mechanisms I was trained with by my birth parents. At that time I believed my place was to support others at the expense of myself. Trained since babyhood to put myself last, to be unseen and unheard, hiding myself behind everyone else, it was then totally natural to carry that way of being into young adulthood.
I fell in love, or love as I then knew it anyway. He was older, I thought wiser; he was charming and I thought he made my life complete. He was more caring toward me than anyone else I could remember, and I basked in that feigned kindness for a time. It was all a lie I was not trained to see through. Instead, my training supported him in his puffed up self importance, always deferring to his wishes as he seemed so knowledgeable and confident. Although there were great arrows pointing toward where this was all leading, I missed their warnings.
After it all fell apart I felt so ashamed of myself. I tried to decipher how an intelligent, capable person as I was, could have fallen victim to those old tricks and lies! It’s really quite simple – society, parents, teachers, books, tv and everything else I was exposed to, moulded me toward that outcome; just as everyone else is moulded by what they are exposed to. In time I came to accept there was little for me to feel ashamed of and much that he, and my family of origin, had to be ashamed of; but they weren’t.
Only with the clarity of hindsight and years of self development did I make sense of snippets of the past that would come unbidden into my present, triggered by a smell, a song or a time of day. Today, I woke from a deep and peaceful sleep with a realisation of the deeper meanings that can be seen in seemingly simple acts. In that long ago and far away time, there was a man who supposedly loved me beyond life itself, or so he told me when I expressed my need to break off our relationship. We both worked in the same service occupation. A job that required strict adherence to a code of conduct that would not be allowed today, yet was commonly accepted then. Breaking these rules of conduct would result in anything between loss of one’s job and severe admonition with black marks upon one’s record affecting future placement and promotion.
One evening, on coming home from work, I unexpectedly found this man sitting in my darkened living room. He did not alert me to his presence when he heard my key in the door, nor when I walked through the other rooms turning on lights as I went. In fact, it was only when I heard quiet sobbing noises that I realised someone was in my flat and it unnerved me somewhat. With personal safety in mind, I went to the only room left unlit. Light finally provided clarity. Curled up on his side, he lay half upright, supported by my many coloured cushions. His service revolver lay in stark contrast against my yellow cushion, the barrel disappearing into his open mouth, his right hand steady as he looked into my eyes.
I don’t recall all that happened next other than that I walked over and removed the revolver from his mouth, then from his hand, and secured it as best I could. In those days, firearms were always left secured at one’s place of work; he had to have been deceptive in order to still have it on his person as he was off duty. We talked … with him repeatedly saying he would kill himself if I left him. I stayed … and married him … and it was never spoken of again. You see, I thought if I did not stay with him that I would be responsible for his death if he carried through with that threat. I now know differently. I now wonder what might have occurred had I not taken the gun from his mouth. I sometimes wish I had let him carry through with his chosen action. I never did ask him about that night.
With the clarity of hindsight I can see the depth of that manipulation, the depth of his utter self-centredness and his total and complete disregard for me and my possible future had he carried out the act of suicide in my then home. I would have been discharged from my job. Newspaper coverage would have made life unbearable and my shame would have been extreme. It’s quite shocking to recognise the depth of depravity in those who are supposedly nearest and dearest to us.
In the end, after too many years, I divorced him and moved on with my life. Thinking of those times again, I also remember when the baby stopped breathing. Our lives turned upside down as I struggled with leaving two other small children in their grandparents’ care while I was hospitalised with the baby, and their father returned to work. The trauma turned a patch of my hair grey almost overnight; I had my own Morticia Adams grey streak. Years later, some time after the divorce, mother told me that while I and the baby were in hospital, he had told her he would not care if our baby girl died, she had no personality and did not mean anything to him; but he knew I would be upset.
Anyway, he is dead now and I smile every time I am reminded of it. I am glad he is dead. I hope he suffered as he made others suffer but I know he didn’t; he did not feel what I felt, he did not feel what his offspring felt. I am here and he is not, and that makes me smile. There is a lightness in my heart and my step that has not been there for many years. Abuse, neglect and humiliation at his hands, or at his instigation, no longer concern me. I separated myself from all of those influences in order to survive. There are many stories left untold, stories that shaped other lives.
When I realised the only story I could do anything about was my own, I began the processes required to make the changes needed so I could survive and thrive. This meant totally separating from those relationships that were damaging to me. In this process, I had to separate from some people I’d like to have kept in contact with, but, because of their associations with the very ones I chose to remove myself from, I had to let them go.
Life is certainly different from what I thought it would be, but I am happy enough with my decisions.
(c) 2014 All Rights Reserved Ryllandra Rose