It may sound counter-intuitive at first, but my mother taught me what type of man NOT to have a relationship with. I can’t say that it didn’t take me four decades to fully understand what that was. But the minute I got It – I haven’t looked back since.
Today, the unimaginable happened. I could no longer contain myself with Rob. I should have known better, since he was both high and drunk when I finally confronted him about the account in Dominica. He denied it, of course. I found the papers while packing up my house. Right away, I stashed them in my safety deposit box along with a letter pointing the finger toward my husband if I die — or worse, disappear. The mob is known for their cement shoes here in Chicago. Both Lake Michigan and the Cal-Sag Channel are littered with bodies. I had good reason not to piss off my husband. But I couldn’t stop.
“What happened to the money in Dominica?” I said.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said.
“I have the proof. I have the letter from the Griffon Bank.”
“Are you saying that I am hiding money?” he said.
“Repeat that.” He strode toward me. His statement was a dare, but I didn’t realize it the time.
“I know you are hiding money,” I said.
“You stupid c#@&. I’m not hiding anything,” he said.
Just then, his hand connected with my ear, although he meant to slap me in the face. My ear rang for about a half hour, and I felt lucky no permanent damage ensued. I stood before him not really understanding what had just happened. And then I realized — he finally hit me. But I think he knocked the sense into me, because in that moment, I vowed to get away. I would take any means to that end. Even if it meant cleaning toilets. Now was the time to act.
The next day I had my resume together. Never mind that I left the corporate world 17 years ago, I was determined to land a job. My world was falling into pieces.
Excerpt from The Ashley Chronicles: My year of living dangerously
This was my second marriage, It took seventeen years to receive that pivotal smack. It was the last time he laid a hand on me. I was scared for my life, because his business partners were mobsters and there was also a fear of their power and possible retaliation, if they thought I knew something and would talk. We have all seen the movies and read books about the notoriousness of their carnage. I did not want to be a victim of that as well.
The first marriage had seen a lot of physical and mental abuse as well.. It also included my daughter seeing her father chase me around the house to evade having my mouth washed out with soap or being hit again. As we were divorcing, he casually told me that he drove around with a rifle in his jeep so that he could kill me. Thankfully, he wasn’t too savvy in the tracking department.
What goes through a child’s mind when that happens? Many years later, I questioned my daughter and she said she felt scared and startled. I would I imagine I witnessed my father pushing my mother around and I distinctly remember him calling her “gordita,” which means “little fat or plump one” in Spanish. She detested that. I could see the pain in her eyes every time. Her defiance to hold back the tears. There always was a little of her defiance in me- “we suffer in silence.” A very bad pattern to learn. This was my example of how to have an interpersonal relationship. It doesn't get much closer than witnessing your father’s abuse towards your mother and feeling that this is “normal.”
In high school the three of us, (myself, my brother and sister) urged her to terminate the marriage to give her peace. I had no such thoughts – I was determined to get out, fighting maybe crawling if it came to that.
I will tell you that whatever story you are telling yourself on why to stay is fueled by the fear of the unknown. I can also report back, quite honestly, that every fear you’ve had of the future is or not making it on your own, is imagined. It is not as nearly difficult – in fact, it is so surprisingly easy after enduring that. Anything is. Believe me.
I promise to be right beside you as you walk out that door to freedom.