Monday, September 21, 2009

Strike One - Meet Mr. Personality

I step up to the plate for the first pitch. It's a swing and a miss. My heart was all in. It was a powerful swing filled with every bit of gumption, gusto and gutsy determination I had but it was not to be - for the ball was the nastiest curve ball you have ever seen.

At the age of 20, my first marriage was strike one. However, switching sports analogies to golf, I think it might be more appropriate to call it a mulligan.

A mulligan is when you get to pretend you didn't just hit the ball two feet in front of the tee. That shot is forever erased, it didn't happen. You pull another ball from your pocket, place it on the tee and give it another good hard whack. I have grown accustomed to saying my first marriage was a mulligan for it really shouldn't count against me. But you be the judge.

I met Mr. Personality at the age of 16. Introduced by a friend who worked with him at the local movie theater. He was the original all American boy next door. His eyes were an ashen blue, perfectly translucent. He had a smile that made all the girls blush as was evidenced by the fact that every girl in the city either knew him or knew OF him. His personality defined him, it was bigger than all of Oklahoma and Texas combined. I later came to discover that big ol' personality of his was the very definition of a Criminal Personality as a DSM-III-R Antisocial, Narcissistic, Borderline, and Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Turns out, criminals are pretty darn friendly, that's how they get away with all that shit. Who knew?

But my oh my, he did look good. Exactly like this, cowboy hat and all.

Crying my eyes out while walking down the isle should have been a clue but I was too young, too impressionable and too screwed up to know better. I lost my virginity to Mr. Personality so in my fucked up brain, it seemed like I had to marry him; plus, he was the prize and I was determined to win. I had invested too much of myself into this man to lose to one of the other girls in the legion of fans he pursued during our four years of adolescent dating bliss. The guy was teeming with teen skanks who all wanted him.

By pure happenstance, I stumbled upon one of these girls while taking a potty break at the local Godfather's Pizza. I was with four of my best buds, cruising the strip, drinking beer we bought with our fake ID's, the ushe for a Friday night in the big OKC. I was safely sequestered in a restroom stall when I heard one of my girlfriends asking a supposedly innocent, irreverent Mormon girl who she was dating. This seemed odd to me because at the time, I didn't know we had Mormons in Oklahoma.

My friend had noticed the initials dangling from this fallen, wayward Mormon girl's neck (remember drops anyone?). When she said his name, I emerged from the stall with fury in my eyes, slamming the door in perfect harmony with the infantile angst that surged through my veins. Adding insult to injury - she knew who I was yet I had no clue of her existence. Perhaps she had been locked away in the temple while I was traveling to Ms. Pac Man tournaments with him.

In short order we formed a sinister plan to drive to his place of work and confront him as a unified, pissed-off girlfriend front. We arrived at the Hertz Rent-A-Car parking lot around 11:00pm. He saw my car and came running across the lot to greet me. Just as we had planned, she jumped from the back seat, threw the drop in his face, told him she would be praying for him or some stupid shit like that while I said fuck you and the ostrich skin boots you rode in on.

Mormon girl and I were officially best friends. The next day, we both went back to him.

Two years and two failed pregnancies later, I failed to recognize two fundamental truths (me good - him bad), I married him in March of 1984. We were divorced by October of that same year.

Proving the old adage, you never really know someone until you live with them, I quickly discovered he was involved in a gambling/credit card fraud ring. Conveniently, the credit card and occasional insurance fraud supplemented the gambling losses. Inconveniently, I was smart enough to notice when a boat appeared in our driveway with no indication of a purchase.

I thought I had made it pretty clear I had no interest in the life of a prison wife but the shenanigans continued. A new bedroom set here, a lawnmower there. Plus, other aspects of the aforementioned personality disorder were starting to become painfully clear and hideously ugly. He became increasingly controlling, physically holding me down so I couldn't walk away from him, threatening to hurt me if I were to leave him. It was Sleeping with the Enemy sicko, sadistic shit.

It all culminated on my birthday in August when I got a knock at the window which had previously been slammed shut on my common sense. An embarrassing birthday celebratory dinner, credit card confiscated; he told me we had to make a run for it. I refused. He went to the bathroom and never came back. I went home to pack.

Just to be certain I would never don his door again, I was handed an extra heavy, heaping dose of wake-the-fuck-up. He came home before I had finished packing and proceeded to beat me with one of the items I had removed from the wall - a string art piece I had undoubtedly made in junior high school. It was mounted to a sturdy piece of wood with lovely beveled edges, perfect for hitting someone over the head until they almost lost consciousness.

I know it wasn't really art but at the age of 20 I was glad to have anything to hang on those stark, bare white walls of that place he called a home.

I still have that string art piece, though it is tucked away with other relics and no longer displayed in my home. I believe it saved my life. Within six months of our divorce, he went to prison for murdering his bookie. I later discovered he had secretly secured a large life insurance policy on yours truly. Apparently, I was to be the next pawn in an insurance scam.

Looking back through the eyes of the woman I have become, I can find no other words to explain the lessons better than that of John Mayer in his song, Daughters:

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too

Give your daughters the privilege of knowing how truly powerful they are.

16 comments:

  1. I love this post. You took a horrible time and made it funny and a slap in the face. All that and two bathroom references. Yes I remember drops, THAT drop in particular.

    That wedding photo is phenomenal. I remember that day with a clear signal from a part of my brain that I also should have learned a lesson from.

    You always throw out the first waffle...

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  2. Although mine was more humorous than dangerous, just one more thing we have in common. I was robbed this week and they took my laptop so my blogging time is non-existent until I can replace it but in honor of you, I will write the story of my wedding. People have laughed so hard they peed their pants when I told them the story. Thank you for sharing your story. ANestWithAView is right on. Retelling this horrible event with humor is a true testament of the growth that 20-year old has done. Well done!

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  3. Thanks babe. It helps to know we were all in it together (and still are)! Love you.

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  4. Oh Queen - I can't wait to read it. I have missed your posts. Glad you're back.

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  5. I, too, will now be calling my first and only marriage a Mulligan..16 years later..I can still feel the effects..but a positive outlook can only help. Thanks for being so candid..and yes..be good to your daughters because today..its so easy for them to devalue themselves..as they see it done in every form of media available to them.

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  6. :( I am so sorry you had to go through all of that, but so very glad you've made it to where you are now. :) Here's to hoping the future is brighter by far.

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  7. That pic has been burned in my mind for decades as I always felt I should have rescued you that day. But time and wisdom have taught me that only you could have saved yourself from that monster. I could never have looked at him and seen the beauty you saw in his eyes. I think that picture you had of him at the time was that he was your white knight. I only saw Satan. That afternoon in the bathroom stall when you came flying out I was in the adjacent stall. I never wiped so quickly. I knew some girl was gonna get a major ass kickin. All I remember is seeing Babe's face with her hand over her mouth because once again she had talked to the stranger in the bathroom but never had she expected the answer to "who are you dropped to?" to be so informative. The best memory was the sight of him running across the Hertz lot as the two of you screamed at his weasily ass. His due is still to come.

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  8. Once again your gift of words and writing talent has blown me away!!! I wasn't around during those times, but I did see the dresses, haha, but I cant remember if it was before or after the snake, LMAO. My 2 weddings do not even come close to yours, there are days I still cant imagine the second one actually happened and still wonder why, oh well maybe in time I will know. Hope to see you soon.

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  9. Wow, those are some puffy sleeves.

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  10. Sunshine & Carrie - thanks for those wonderful, positive words of encouragement.

    Shell - I had forgotten it was Robin who asked the question, how ironic is that; considering she was also the one to talk to Mary Lou Rhetton in the bathroom at PF Changs, insisting that Mary Lou was the one who coined that phrase about throwing the first waffle out. It's the circle of life!

    Brit - thanks for commenting. I'm glad you left some references so I could figure out it was you. I still feel really bad about that darn snake.

    Jamellia - I can see now why you and Robin are two peas in a pod, or is it two birds in a nest? You two think alike, which is a little scary to think there's two of you.

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  11. I don't even know you, and yet I'm so proud of your strength. I know that moment when you can't pretend any more, when you realize he's a lost cause. It's never pretty.

    On a different note, you writing is fantastic! I'm hooked. :)

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  12. You've officially hooked me as a reader. :) Your writing is awesome and so heartfelt...funny and raw at the same time. I love it.

    P.S. That is one of my favorite songs. It is so true and I hope I'm able to pass the message along to my daughter as well.

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  13. Courtney - thank you so very much for the encouragement. It lifts me up and keeps me inspired.

    Antoinette - I absolutely LOVE that name. I had and Aunt Antoinette from Tennessee. She was adorable and it seems, so are you! Never let your daughter forget how beautiful, strong and powerful she is.

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  14. I love reading all your stories! So much I never knew. I've always just looked up to you and wanted to be as strong and beautiful as you are but had no idea how you got to be that way. I wish you lived closer so we could go for coffee and you could impart some of your wisdom on me! Take care and hope to see you soon!

    Love MeganM

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  15. Oh Megan, it warms my heart to know you're reading my blog! I miss you guys so much. BTW, I think you are beautiful and strong too but you also seem to have such a soft, loving, tender heart. Hope to see you soon as well.

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  16. I love the poster, really, it did not seem as if this post could have gotten any better.

    Two birds in a nest sounds normal.

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