After the divorce I went on a two week cruise with a girlfriend of mine. I went wild, you saw the movie “Wild?” well, not that bad.
I attribute a good part of that to an incident just prior to me leaving for that trip. My airline pilot husband came to visit the day before I left and tried to rape me, again. He kept saying, “you want it don’t you?” and “I’m gonna miss that ass”, this time I did what my attorney suggested and laid there like a limp rag and didn’t fight him. I was shocked, it worked. When I didn’t fight, he let go of me and left me alone, but it was still demoralizing. So I went through a brief self destruct period that lasted about six months.
While on the cruise, I was the party girl and at times would bring everyone in. The staff on the ship asked if I’d be interested in a job as cruise director. I guess the felt someone who could rally everyone to have a good time would be an asset. I turned it down. What I should have done is take it, but I didn’t. They’d offered all expenses paid for me and my girls and special schooling for my girls in addition to teaching them several languages. But, I wasn’t sure I could trust the moral integrity of the crew or the pressure of performance by the staff, so I passed.
Instead, I went home got a job at the gym teaching nutrition and makeup for Jack La Lanne’s.
There, I met and got involved very briefly with the most gorgeous hunky guy I’d ever dated. We parted friends and that was nice. We decided we were heading in two different directions and we wanted to see each other happy in that choice. My girls were disappointed because even as young as they were, he was not only pretty but congenial as well. They liked him a lot. I think of him often, but not lustfully, just wondering if he ever got where he was going.
I thought it was interesting at how easy it was or that it was possible for two people to part so amicably, without that achy feeling you get like you’d lost something.
Maybe it wasn’t really a self destruct period so much as more of a growing “you’re okay” period.
After him I dated someone I’d dated before and became engaged but that didn’t fare well. One day as I was cleaning up after dinner, I overheard him threaten my eldest child. I don’t know what preceded that, all I heard were his words when he said “you just wait until your mother and I get married!” I immediately went straight to the living room and told him, I’m sorry but we aren’t getting married and if he couldn’t say or do whatever it was he intended now then I wasn’t waiting to find out what he’d do later. He left. I never saw him again and since learned he died a few years back.
A few months later I met another young man ten years my junior. After a whirlwind courtship, we married. Suffice it to say, although we have two wonderful boys from that relationship, after being married to him, I didn’t pick up a Bible for about 10 years. Neither did I step into a church. It was the most suffocating period of my life. That was the paranoid camper.
During that time, I did start back to college but again never finished. At least I got to do that and I could tell that as an adult I would have been an excellent student. It was during that marriage we moved to Colorado where we eventually separated. Unfortunately after the divorce, I had to get a job and go back to work so no more schooling.
After much therapy, my life started to get on track again.
While married to #2, I met yet another young man (even younger than the second and an employee of ours, so actually I’d “known” him for some time) and his atheism/agnosticism changed my life in two ways.
First of all he forced me not to “need” anyone or anything. He taught me to lean on and trust my own abilities. Believe it or not that applies to faith.
Second, his agnosticism challenged my faith and I discovered that I still loved God and that my faith was still alive. In time, he accepted Jesus and became a believer.
Shortly after we married, I was approached with an opportunity to get into the film industry. I did a few extra parts in film, took classes and kept my feet in the water by starting my own talent agency. It paid quite well, but unfortunately jobs were few and far between in our small town.
I bounced around from job to job during this time. I had moved up to sales exec for the company I was with which sent me traveling quite a bit and some of that was to Aspen, Telluride, Vail and smaller towns in between. I did radio and later as a Realtor, I would visit those areas again, so I was in among “the stars” constantly.
Then came 9-11 and my priorities changed. Hence came my volunteer period.
I felt so compelled to do something to help in whatever way possible that I joined forces with Red Cross and assisted many disaster clients. That was rewarding for a time but after Katrina that ended. So detour after detour and then more.
When my parents got ill, everything else took a backseat to their needs. Fortunately, my husband was right there for me and supported me in whatever it was I needed to do for them.
We packed up and moved to Alabama where we became farmers. Later I would join the staff of the State health department as medical interpreter.
My sister D later joined us and she too became my biggest advocate. WE became each others cheerleaders and mentors.
When my father was dying he kept talking about all the opportunities he had passed up or failed to take advantage of. It was regret after regret. I told Diana to listen to him. “That sounds like us”, riddled with excuses. I thought about my writing.
Years before Diana and I had talked about writing a screenplay about our parents and their dysfunctional relationship, but it never happened. (I still have the notes so someday … maybe.) Instead, I wrote about the red bra I had stolen from the five and dime and how it impacted our lives. It was called “The Red Bra Party”. It was my very first completed screenplay. It was abominable, but I got it done in time for two contests, so I submitted it. I was exuberant because as shabby as it was… I DID IT!
I told Daddy before he died that he could take credit for that. I got a lot off my chest with him before he died, some of which I regret because although it needed saying I probably shouldn’t have done so as he’s dying, not that he would have been so considerate. What can I say? I am my father’s child. I did let him know I appreciated his colorful personality and how I forgave him because in reality his abuses made me stronger and they didn’t break me. They could have, but they didn’t. Some of that could be his genes and some of mom’s.
Whatever lives they had, whatever hardships they endured made them harsh, it didn’t me. Whatever it is that’s in me made me more determined. I’m fueled for bigger and better things and I know it!!
The screenplay I wrote after that one so impressed my actor daughter that she gave me a free trip to the Sundance Film Festival. I got good remarks on one screenplay sent to Austin Film Festival and I’m working on improving that among several others. Now I’m blogging and meeting countless of writers online.
I’m in California now and networking and meeting more amazing people and writing again, full time, so it’s all good. The interesting thing too is, everyone is willing to share what they know. Not what you’d expect huh?
All these detours and now I’m back on track.