1/18/10

It's what lies within us, really.


We are all a product of our life experiences – and who we are today, is not who we were a year ago; or five years ago; or who we will be five years from now. We are evolving, changing, learning and growing. I know, from past experiences that the moments I am living in right now will change. The look of my life and my loves are constantly changing by the cruel hands of time, and fate. I have to swim hard and fast to keep my head above water, and my heart intact.

I’ve been thinking about what events have made me what I THINK is a strong, independent woman. Of course, the deaths of my beloved parents at a young age significantly impacted me. But I think there was another important event that forced me to grow up and stand on my own two feet. Perhaps now is the time to share.

I graduated from Smith College in April of my 22nd year. I spent one last summer working at the beach, before I made a hasty decision to drive to California with two people I had known for four months. I was impulsive – although I prefer the term adventurous, myself. My mother, God bless her soul, wished me well and sent me on my way with a hug and a few tears.

After landing in San Diego and living there for several months, I met an older guy we'll call Steve, who was a teacher and an incredibly brilliant man. We met at his best friend’s topless bar (I was bartending. Don’t ask.) And after a whirlwind courtship, he convinced me to marry him (I know, I know…).

During our five-year marriage we both decided to attend evening classes at a local law school and simultaneously enjoyed a rather “party-like” lifestyle. He had some unseemly connections, and I was drawn into a lifestyle that was dangerous, unhealthy and hidden from anyone I loved. My mother’s sudden death forced me to take a long hard look at the life I was living. I wanted out. However, I was far too young to do it in a mature and thoughtful manner.

One day, after Steve went to work, I packed my bags, drove to my brother’s apartment (I had convinced him to come to California. Another long story.), and he put me on a plane home.

I thought, at the time, that my mother’s many brothers and sisters, and HER mother, would welcome me with open arms.

I was wrong.

Remember when I told you that the man I married was intelligent? Well, he was also a smooth talker and could be very convincing. He had managed to contact some members of my family, and what he told them I will never know. I DO know that he managed to make ME look like the one who had a problem.

When I arrived at my beloved grandmother’s house I was met with a closed door. I was stunned. I went from house to house, hoping that someone would listen to this orphaned niece who was fighting for her life.

No one believed me.

They all thought that I had done ANOTHER impulsive thing, that SURELY it was my fault and I was the one who'd made the mistakes.

I was devastated. Utterly, and completely devastated.

Fortunately, my sister’s father-in-law lived in a nearby community, and after several phone calls, he took me in. He and his wife gave me a place to stay, never questioned why I was there, but wrapped their arms around me with unconditional love and comfort.

I spent many, many months with them, and reconnected with high school friends. I went out at night, enjoyed some of the things I had missed while I was gone. I think, in hindsight, I was desperately searching for people who would keep me sane, safe and comforted. My friends did just that, and I thank them. My brother and sister, who lived in other regions of the country, stood by me – even at the expense of their relationships with our extended family. To this day I will never be able to tell them how much that meant to me.

We spent many, many years on the periphery of our large extended family- black sheep, if you will. I don’t think the hostile part of my family truly understood the impact of their actions – they are really good people at heart. I just think they were misled and misinformed by a very smart and stupid man, and didn't realize we were three orphans desperately seeking parent figures.

It’s been over 25 years since those events, and once in a while I think about what Steve's life must be like. I know he graduated from law school near the top of his class. There, my knowledge of his life ended.


Then, out of the blue a year or two ago, one of my aunts contacted me to tell me Steve was looking for me. He had discovered a box of belongings that I had hastily left behind. She said she gave it to him, and that I should expect a call.

That made me nervous; very, very nervous.

I decided it was time for Google. One night after my family was in bed I opened my laptop and I went to work. It didn’t take me long to find out that he had been permanently disbarred from the practice of law; and not only THAT, he had been suspended many times before the official disbarment, and had been ARRESTED and convicted of manufacturing methamphetamines.

Well. Finally, after 25 years, perhaps someone would believe what I had said all along. He was a bad, bad seed – that looked good on the outside.

I don’t blame anyone for what I went through, for it truly made me the person that I am today. I am proud to say that I never, ever touched a “substance” after that plane in San Diego took off to carry me home. (Well, except perhaps a touch of vodka.)

I love my mother’s family because they are my blood- and they are good people. They just weren’t able to see my side of the story. I was impulsive as a young girl, and perhaps I reaped what I had sown.

And as for that phone call? I never received one from HIM. I HAVE, however, received NUMEROUS calls from creditors looking for him, and for the money he owes them. How they got my number, I do not know.


Yep. Just when I hope his name won’t come up, it still does. Now instead of fear and regret, however, that name evokes in me pride that I had the courage and fortitude to rectify a bad decision, and create a better me.


68 comments:

Ellie said...

Tough stuff indeed, but you've emerged and he's still trapped.

Star Child said...

Hi VM, I am new to your blog. I have had a read through some of your posts, and really enjoy your output.

About this post...Thank you for sharing that.It is hard to think about events in your life like that,and harder still to share them with the universe in a coherent (and moving) way.

We all do have those ups and downs in life, but as you say in your post, they help make us who we are - hopefully better people!

Love your blog. Thank you x

3 Men and a Lady said...

Isn't it good to know you certainly made the right choice leaving him?

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

You are a good person Vodka, and a brave and wise one as well. Many lessons in this post.

Love to you
xoxo

Gayle said...

Takes a lot of balls to tell it how it is. You'll be okay for doing it.

Sara J. Henry said...

What a story, and how brave and generous you are to share it with us.

Thank goodness for people like your sister's father-in-law and your brother and sister.

Your story may just have made someone brave enough today to leave a very bad situation.

Kellyansapansa said...

What a brave post. A clear example of "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger".

Secretia said...

I'm proud of you that you were strong enough to walk away and start life fresh. The past doesn't define the future, does it!
We all have a lot of baggage, and the amount grows every year. But, we don't carry the bags everywhere we go. Still, it's interesting to look backwards into the lives of old friends, lovers, and family members, it helps us, and the emotions it brings are hard to resist. But we do know what to leave alone, we know.

Secretia

Brian Miller said...

nothing is random. they all go into shaping who we become.

sometimes it is good to look back to remember how good we have it now.

Mrs. E said...

I think you could/should write your life story. When it goes best seller the $$ would be nice-and you could meet Mr. King! Seriuosly! A book on surviving the bad times and finding reason to laugh! I'd buy it! You become more fascinating every day!

WeaselMomma said...

You are nothing short of amazing.

Irish Gumbo said...

Tough stuff, indeed, to find out what we are made of, and others too. Hug for you, kiddo :)

Pat said...

What a blessing you had compassionate in laws.

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

Wow. That's a heck of a story, VodkaMom. It occurs to me that sometimes we are at the mercy of luck when we meet people who draw us in. I'm glad you got away in time. Your instincts were right.

mo.stoneskin said...

I don't have much to say. I had no idea. But hey, you've come through it and I'm proud of you ;)

Gaston Studio said...

I agree with Ellie that you've emerged and Steve's still trapped... in fact, it sounds like he's buried!

just making my way said...

You know that I often quote what you said to me last year that helped me so much, "We all fuck up every day."

What matters is what we take away from those fuck ups. Proud of you for taking the hard road. Thanks for sharing.

xoxo

NorthWestLondonGirlInTheCountry said...

How wonderful and honest of you to open up and tell us all about the events that have helped shape you into the woman you have become. Brave, strong and wiser xxx

Christy said...

Wow, what an amazing life you've led. What a jackass Steve was! So glad you were able to find your sister's in laws to take you in, when you needed help the most. I loved reading this post, and would love to read more like it too!

Beth said...

Just another wonderful example of how we really don't know what people have been through. I'm so glad to shared this. You are an amazingly strong woman and Steve never deserved you. Thank God you found you got away and learned lessons from the experience.

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Great post. If he does track you down...don't take the call. He is only looking for money!!

Real Live Lesbian said...

I like you even more now....

and I didn't know that was possible!

I wish you'd move into our gayborhood. We could use some nice, straight folk like you! ;)

Snappy Di said...

It's nice you can talk about this. Better to get things out and clear our soul than to drag negative baggage around our entire life.

We all have 'things' in our past we hide. Have a few myself. :-)

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

Sprite's Keeper said...

The strength it took to leave a volatile situation speaks volumes about the strength in you today. Brava!

Susan Higgins said...

Family... where would we be without them? I love this post, it makes me want to give you a big hug for all those hugs you missed when you returned.

Pam said...

Wow... you are brave!
It took me a LONG time (10 years) to get away from a situation that was abusive, and even now I worry I did the wrong thing. How can we really know, sometimes?
Your relatives will either see the light or they will miss out on knowing a really great person.

Under the Influence said...

:)

Michele said...

Good for you. Why is it that we do things like that to ourselves. I have a similar experience.

only a movie said...

It's often true that going down those dark roads is what brings out the light inside a person.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, VM.

xoxo

Ellie Belen said...

A name from the past, certainly can have a chilling effect. We have one of those in our family.

His name came up this past year and the face of my sis, his ex-wife, went white. He called and found a relative. A few months later, we heard his name again - in the newspaper, arrested and awaiting trial.

If only once in our lives, we get to actually witness that the old adage is true, "what goes around will come around", it can be very satisfying. I have to admit I feel a little guilty for how happy I felt when I heard the news.

LadyFi said...

You are a beautiful and courageous woman! What an inspiring story.

Scope said...

And this puts Tightwad's fit about you driving on the lawn into complete perspective.

PS - I tried Googling "Steve" too. Turns out "Steve" is an uncommonly common name. So I didn't really get very far. Sorry. :-)

suzicate said...

Ever heard the saying that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger? so glad you got out and have a good life!

me in the pink said...

I think you are amazing. And I'm sure that your mom would be very proud of the woman you are, and the mother that you are.

LPC said...

You showed the good sense then that you continue to show now. You got out.

Captain Dumbass said...

You are an impressive woman, VM. And thanks for the flattering picture.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Just goes to show how it only takes one person's (sis's father-in-law) unconditional love to make a lifetime of a difference.

Good for you!

xo

Steven Anthony said...

wow...you are a strong lady, this story just proves it....

this could be a movie, seriously you should write it up and submitt it to life time...

im glad you made it out of all that

stand strong my friend;)

Suzy said...

His creditors call because he gave them your phone number (that he got from your aunt)and likely told them you were the responsible party. You might want to get your credit scores checked as he may have screwed you up long term.

How do I know this? One of my exes, an ex-con with a heroin addiction that I caught in bed with a man, pulled the same stunt on me.

Twins!

SkylersDad said...

I am so glad you made it out of that relationship, and back home.

jessica said...

wow can't believe how much we have in common!! 3 kids (one boy, two girls), i'm a preschool teacher and i'm hilarious! (i crack myself up anyway)
and now THIS!!!
my ex is a horrible person and was able to convince my family that i was the horrible one. he then went on to do the same thing to his next girlfriend which was actually a consolation because i didn't feel so alone (she called and we bonded- it was weird)

when he was sent to prison for 5 years for a violent crime i thought justice would finally be mine but my family still supported him. as far as im concerned they can all have eachother and i don't mind anymore because now i know they really deserve eachother. i live a happy life with my kids, boyfriend and friends.

Not The Rockefellers said...

Wow
this is the raw, uncensored, real, honest YOU that is so wonderful to discover!

You knew something was wrong, in your gut you knew...

I, for one, am glad you listened to that instinct

Love you...proud of you for this!

Peace ~ Rene

jessica said...

i called him my boyfriend but i don't like the way that sounds. we have a child and we live together. he takes care of my other two like they are his and we've been together for almost 10 years. i finally just finished the legal paperwork to divorce the first one- maybe one day we will get married but for now he is technically my boyfriend. i like to call him my husbandish :)

Joanie M said...

You know, what they say is true. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Look how strong you are!

Had you stayed with him, your life would be just like his. And your extended family? It's their loss that they turned their backs on you.

lisa said...

Isn't it funny when you think back to what you did in your younger days and found that you actually survived it all.

p.s. you may want to stay away from suzy...that girl is trouble, I tell you. :)

otin said...

Wow! What a post! Your family wronged you! That is how I feel. Their lack of support for you just sucked! Much respect to you!

CarrieAnn said...

I'm so proud of you, VM. 'nuf said!

justsomethoughts... said...

saying that i'm proud of you sounds rather ridiculous, doesnt it?
so i wont.

Bano said...

Wow, thank you for sharing! The hardest things to do can often be the best things for us to do. You are incredible!!!

Donna said...

Its great that you came out of that relationship. Maybe with this story about you and what you went through,will inspire others to sit back and look at they're lives and get that boost of encouragement to get out of the situation that they are in.I like reading stories like this.

sAm said...

This was very timely to me. Thank you for the message.

LiteralDan said...

I'm glad you see things that way, 'cause that's the way they should be seen! Not everyone is lucky enough to see it that way.

(By the way, if he's got creditors calling you, I hope you regularly keep an eye on your credit reports!)

Melissa B. said...

A powerful personal story, and one that certainly honors Emerson. You're a survivor, and better for it. Bravo!

the mama bird diaries said...

You are very strong to have gone through all that.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Wow, yet again I am impressed by your strength, courage, and fortitude. I can't imagine what would make your mother's family act like this, especially with her gone. He must be an excellent manipulator; I know me a couple of those....
Thank goodness you got away from him!!

Sue said...

Brooke comes home from health class and gives us the low down every day. One of the lessons her teacher tells her is that good people sometimes make bad decisions. She did not believe this and I had to tell her of a bad decision I made once. Then, she finally got it.

Good people can make bad decisions, it's what they learn from the bad decision that counts. Sounds like you learned a lot from yours. xoxo

Hollywood Farm Films said...

Gotta love karma!

Ashley said...

I have probably read this post three or four times. Being 21 years old, I have found myself in a similar situation (made a quick move with a boyfriend, a few HUGE mistakes) and am now living with my dads family who has yet to see that my decisions, while poor, were made based on good intentions. This post really made my day and my outlook better! We are never given something we can't handle and a new day is exactly that, new.. something to always remember!

Love your blog! keep up the good work!

Ashley

LegalMist said...

Good for you for persevering until you found the refuge you needed so badly.

What a jerk he was!

Char said...

I envy your strength. Well told,
thank you, VM.

xoxo

Angie Ledbetter said...

"Tole" ya so! :D You go, big girl.

The Renaissance Chick said...

Good for you...for not hiding your past...but, instead, putting it out there and learning from it. Isn't that what we try to teach our children and our students?

PS: I knew you had stories!:)

Pastor Sharon said...

I kept hearing even though you only mentioned a couple of times, the word orphan.

I remember at the deaths of my parents, how we felt, orphaned. I remember how we desperately searched the eyes of each family member looking for safety, security and solitude. AND. . . I remember that where we found that was often in the most unlikely places. . . and wasn't with family like we had wished for.

Ann's Rants said...

So glad I didn't miss this post, and that karma lives.

xo

Magpie said...

Whoa. I commend you for coming out on top.

Kathy G said...

You should definately be proud of your decision to get out , run out of a bad situation. Sometimes there is no time to spend time wondering if we should we need to just run. Indeed you should be proud to be able to tell that story from outside a prison, : )

Jeanne said...

I get collector calls for hubby #2, but we also get calls for Old Dog's ex, so it all balances out.

That's what we're here for, you know? To learn lessons....

Vickie said...

Read this when it was first posted and silently cheered for you. I stmbled on it and reread it today after my Baby Girl (age 20) just went cross country with a boy we call variously Satan Jr, the Bad Seed and Rumplestilskin. Suffice to say we do not love him and are somewhat fearful as he is a controlling, manipulative, angry little man. This piece helped me remember that her current bad decisions might lend wisdom to her later life. I only hope I live that long.
Thanks for keeping it real. Cheers.