Monthly Archives: May 2019

An Exit Strategy …

I had arrived in this small, backwards community in June of 2018.  It was now September, 2018 and I was ready to go.  The school superintendent who had promised me a teaching position reneged on her promise.  At one of two or three meetings I had with her, she suggested that I “take your husband and the two of you go to California.”  I thought that was odd advice coming from someone who was supposed to hire me.  She further stated that “it will be hard living here; you will struggle.”  I was already struggling, living in an environment that I’d never lived in.  But, she was suggesting that my struggle would be even harder.  She went on to say, “it gets cold here in the winter.  You need to be in a warmer place.”  The thought of spending a winter in a cabin with no heat, broken windows, a leaky roof and concrete floors sent a shiver through me.  I had to get away.  I needed to work, and it seemed next to impossible for me to find a decent teaching position in the community.  The only other jobs for Black women were working in a chicken factory, cleaning homes and cooking at a restaurant.  There was no way that I could survive working like that, and my husband could not afford for me to not work.  I had bills to pay, so I planned my exit.

I first contacted my family to make sure that I had a place to live.  My mother agreed that I could live with her as long as I needed to.  I knew that I would be able to find work in California easily.  So, I began packing my things to ship to California.  I had sent a few large suitcases to my new husband’s home, and needed to get those to California.  I could carry two suitcases on the plane with me.

Before I left, I looked around me carefully.  Since I’d arrived, I’d arranged for my husband to buy a working refrigerator, a microwave, washer/dryer and most importantly, a van.  I was leaving him in much better shape than I’d found him.  I’d also contacted the Department of Rehabilitation in his state.  They would come out and evaluate his living situation, build a walk-in bathtub for him, a ramp for his cabin and van, and provide help for him in the house 2-3 days a week.  I’d done what I could do.

Of course, my husband did not want me to leave.  He called out the big guns.  The Jehovah Witnesses that he studied with suggested a marriage counselor from their church.  An elderly white couple came out to counsel us.  The husband told me that “God won’t like it if you don’t keep your marriage vows.”  I countered that God wouldn’t want me to sacrifice my life for nothing either.  I asked the wife to “look around you; would you live here?”  She didn’t answer, but decided to take a neutral stance and state that she could see both our perspectives.  Right.

My “husband” had already broken more of God’s commandments than I could count.  He’d lied, he’d stolen, he had pretended (another form of lying) that he was someone he wasn’t, he’d schemed and plotted to entrap me into taking care of him for the rest of my natural life.  In exchange, I’d get nothing.  I recalled that he kept telling over the phone in Saudi that I’d “be married.”  As if that were some sort of pay off for a life of hardship and servitude.

On September 25, 2018, my husband, his friend and I began a drive to New Orleans.  Once there, I would ship my bags via Greyhound to California, and then I would board a plane for San Francisco, California.  I knew that I would not look back.


A Marriage In Name Only …

My soon to be husband was having a myriad of land issues, courtesy of his brothers.  It appeared that they had stolen, bartered and borrowed money off land that he owned for years.  His plan was for me to help him untangle his legal issues, pay for my own wedding, pay to remodel his cabin/shack, bring my car and personal possessions to his “home” and become his personal assistant/nurse/caregiver.  Of course, I would do all of this because I loved him more than life itself, I loved him more than I loved my life.

I began to help him with his land issues, and found out that the land he claimed he owned, he didn’t own at all.  What had been more than 40 acres, now dwindled down to 20 acres that was actually owned by him.  I learned this after spending many, many hours at the tax assessor’s office, looking through deeds, writing letters, and setting a court date for him to reclaim land that he no longer owned.

All this time,  I was cooking, cleaning, running errands, and helping a disabled man get around town.  His offering to me?  “I tell you that I love you.”  Of course, I would still rant about the environment, physical and emotional, that he’d brought me into.  I was sinking into a depression.  I had no friends, family or acquaintances in his small community.  And, the devaluation began: “I like women who look like Lena Horne.”  Or, “I like a woman like Alicia Keys.”  At one point I asked him, “If that’s what you like, why am I here?”  He claimed because he loved me; I now know it was because he wanted to use me.

I became exhausted.  I stopped tending to my needs, and focused more on his needs.  Almost no one came to visit him, almost no one called him with one exception.  A woman who lived in Dallas kept calling him.  She never gave up, even after he told her “I’m getting married.”  He denied that they’d had a relationship.  And, I believe he would speak with her while he sat out in his van, smoking weed.  I think there had been an ongoing ‘phone sex’ relationship with that woman for years.  She was his narcissistic supply.  Now he wanted to discard her.

I soon began to plan my exit.  I had no job, no means of generating income, except some online teaching that I’d started doing, and no happiness.  He would sit and watch TV, and expected me to sit and watch him.  He didn’t talk; I was not to know his secrets.  I often wondered how many abortions has he had?  Or, how many young girls had he broken and abandoned?

He had many cousins in the community.  Only one visited him regularly.  And this cousin’s visits increased after my arrival.  His cousin’s lasciviousness drove me into the tiny bedroom during every visit.  I wanted nothing to do with him.

Why did I marry him?  I had hope.  I had hope that he would get physically better, that he could raise the money to build a real house, that we might be able to build a life together.  So, I married him.  Then I learned that he’d had a stroke 10 years earlier, and that he had recovered as much as he ever would.  I learned that he was almost hopelessly impotent, and even the strongest dose of Viagra only helped minimally.  I learned that he would never give me anything.  Very little affection, no cards, no flowers, no gifts, no appreciation.  Even when my birthday came around, I got nothing but a begrudging “happy birthday.”

I had traveled halfway around the world to face hardship.  I had moved and shipped my things to a place that was moldy, dirty, broken down, and useless.  I had come to a man who could not give, did not know how to love, and would destroy me. I knew I had to leave.  He was taking, taking, taking.  He was giving nothing but hardship and more heartache.

He had lost his looks, his physical strength and health, his mobility, his teeth, and his money.  Now he wanted to take everything I had from me.  I could not allow that to happen.

Wedding Plans?

When I arrived at the two room cabin/shack, I went into shock.  It wasn’t a house, it was barely a dwelling, and almost uninhabitable.  The floors were painted concrete, and there was dog hair everywhere.  Was this where I supposed to live?  That couldn’t be possible … all kinds of things ran through my mind.  I was facing a man who couldn’t walk, barely talk and, as I later found out, was also impotent.  He had no operable transportation, no microwave, no working refrigerator, and none of the basic creature comforts I’d lived with all of my adult life.  This wasn’t living, it was barely surviving.  I felt as though I’d just stepped into The Twilight Zone.  Surely no one in their right mind could live that way.  I would soon find out that he wasn’t in his right mind.

I tried to settle in.  I tried to be comfortable.  But the environment invited only discomfort and hardship.

When I questioned him about wedding plans, and asked him for wedding money, he had none.  He expected me to pay for my wedding.  There would be no wedding.

My prince had transformed into a disabled and broken toad who lived on a damaged lily pad. And expected me to squeeze onto that lily pad with him.

Still, I dug my heels in and thought I should try to make it work.  After all, he’d just had his stroke 2 years before, and there was hope that he could regain additional body functioning.  Almost every night, I would ask him why he’d misrepresented himself?  Why had every photo displayed a man who looked whole and healthy?  (In fact, I found out later that he was actually using a wheelchair when he took those photos.)  Why brag that you had no problems with sexual functioning in a normal and healthy way? Why not fix your teeth or at least tell me that half of them (or more) were missing?  Why didn’t you tell me that you lived in a two room dwelling?  Why tell me that it was a house that just needed some remodeling?  I demanded all of my moving expenses be reimbursed to me.  I wanted the beautiful wedding ring I’d bought for him returned to me.  He promised me (with my mother as a witness) that he’d give all of my money back to me.

Everything had been a lie.

Still, I held on to the fantasy of a man I’d known 45 years earlier.  It was more important to have true love with a kind, generous, loving man who had a whole heart.  I told myself that I would try to deal with a broken body.

I was going to find out that I was dealing with a controlling, angry, bitter and exploitative man who had no heart or soul.  I was dealing with a man who had out of control narcissistic personality disorder, and only wanted to use, manipulate and control me for his own purposes.  One of those purposes was to get me there.  He’d succeeded in that.  However, unbeknownst to me, he had many plans for me to.  Plans that served only him.