I awoke Christmas morning to the sound of 'The Man' crying softly. I lay there with my face to the wall and thought of his pain - our pain - and how underneath it all I was blessed with a man who was the polar opposite of what my entire life has been.
I continue on with the story of my(Ani's) journey to this point in time - although I am sorry to say I do not have anything further to post from The Wailings - as I actually need to write more. I will at this time say - that not only has blogging reawakened my need to continue with this story - but more importantly it is the comments I have received that have been so encouraging and a virtual kick-in-the-ass for me to take up my pen again and get this book finished. I write not only for myself, but also in the hope that someday - somehow - my words might help others - female or male - who have been abused.
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After watching Kim's life vanish into a glass of alcohol during the months that followed, I invited her to come live with me in the hopes that it might distract her from her sorrow. Being roommates lasted for about four months and at the end of it she left with most of my cutlery and my fur coat. As it was during the summer months I did not realize this until the snow fell - and by then it was too late to prove anything except the fact that you should hold your friends close, your enemies closer.
Naturally we drifted apart and I continued on at the fur store where I worked harder than ever to pay the rents and feed myself. I started dating a fellow and we became engaged briefly, both caught up in our loneliness and a need to cling to something. That relationship lasted about a year and ended in the traditional toss of the ring towards his face - which in itself is a very satisfying thing to do. However, he claimed for years afterwards that he could never find it once I had left the building and that I had just faked the throw....which still cracks me up.
Eventually my parents decided to close all their stores in Ontario and pack everything up and move to Alberta. I heard about it during a telephone call. In fact - what I heard was that they had sold their house and were just in the process of closing down all locations and would then be taking the stock to Alberta where they had found a city where only one furrier ruled - and ruled an area that hosted most of the millionaires in Alberta. They were excited about the rest of their lives. And myself? I could join the furs in Alberta - or stay.
I opted to stay. They hadn't once asked my opinion or even mentioned their plans in our daily telephone conversations until everything was settled. I remember those last days at the store very well. Most fur stores will take older fur coats on trade for a newer garment. Sometimes they can resell the older garments for a little money to cover the cost of the original trade-in...sometimes they use the garments for repairing others. It works well. Now, my father was a very forward looking man - always thinking way ahead of his time. He decided that we would use the second room to sell the used furs - and - to take in consignment goods and sell them too. Consignment stores just did not exist at that time! So - you could walk in and buy a mink coat out of the front room for thousands of dollars - or - move on into the second showroom and buy used socks. Lovely. So - when the store was closing - anyone who didn't pick up their items would forfeit ownership of them. That meant - when the store did actually close - we were left with clothing that wasn't ours. I remember very well my mother sitting crying helplessly - her head in her hands - as my father was packing everything up so he could take all this clothing with him. Granted they had come through the depression and he hoarded everything he could get his hands on...but why these things? It was the first time I got the nerve up to speak my mind to him. Remembering what he had done to my mother I was yelling instead of speaking. The goods ended up going to the dump and my mother quit crying.
The day they drove off with the remaining furs I went and applied for a job at a bar. I needed money fast - not in a month or so, and the quickest way I could think of was waitressing. The owner interviewed me and I started the next day. The only little glitch in my whole plan was that the owner decided I would waitress in the strip-joint instead of the night club.
Now I was raised Baptist - and naked bodies were not something I was use to. Especially naked bodies being shown in a very provocative manner. The patrons had more fun watching me blush that first week than they did watching the women undress. There just wasn't any where to look that didn't embarrass me. But I learned fast. I learned that serving drinks in a strip-joint was a very good way to make a lot of money - fast. I stayed there for 10 years working straight days as the head-waitress and went through two owners who respected me for my business sense and my ability to sling a lot of alcohol - to their benefit as well as mine.
During that time my parents refused to speak about me because they were so ashamed of what I did for a living. But I bought my own house at the age of 22 and I had a new car every couple of years. They came back to Ontario on a buying trip once - and my father sat out in the car while my mother came into the bar looking for me as he absolutely refused to set foot in that den of inequity. I looked up and saw her standing just inside the door and I thought - 'Hmmm...I should know that person'. I was so grateful that it was in between strippers - so that she didn't have to go through that embarrassment....
As a rule I didn't date the patrons. My belief was and still is - if you meet them in a bar then you know where you're going to find him when he isn't home...For some silly reason - I started dating a customer. Six months later I was still dating him and he spent a lot of nights at my house. He was always a very happy person - always smiling - always laughing. Every time my mother called she would say "We know something is going on there - we know it!" or "Are you living in sin?" and she would always try to get me to read certain chapters of the Bible.....Her guilt trip finally wore me down and we got married in my living room with my brother as my bridesmaid and his partner standing up for my husband. I called my mother after the ceremony and I have a picture of the shock on her face when I told her.
The marriage lasted almost three years and some days I've forgotten his name. I think it's a mental block I've thrown up to forget how everything turned out. We were doing alright as a couple until I discovered that his happiness came from drugs. Now as a rule I could pick out the druggies at the bar quite easily. But for some reason I just didn't see it. Desperation or the crown of guilt I wore for my mother's sake? I don't know. But - he worked in a tobacco factory and made an incredible amount of money for that day and age. What I didn't know until sometime in the middle of the third year was that a lot of the money he made went into drugs at work - or to start his day - whenever. To me he was just happy. The beginning of the end came on the day he decided to take his own holiday without me. When he called me from South Carolina ten days later - I didn't know who was on the phone. It quickly became evident that something was drastically wrong and I hopped on a plane to go down south and drive him home. What I found when I got there was not the person I had married. He had been spending his time with two girls while he was there - and had mixed a number of drugs together. The result was that his twosome abandoned him because he had fried his brains....and I was called.
To make a long story somewhat shorter - he tried to kill me three times on that trip home. Twice by strangulation and once by drowning. When we got to the border they hauled us in because he was acting so erratic...but they soon asked me to take him off their hands - they didn't want the responsibility for a lunatic. I drove him straight to his parent's and they took him to a psychiatric hospital in Guelph where he was committed over and over again. He was finally transferred to a major psyche hospital in London where he had to earn his clothing and cigarettes with good behaviour. The doctors never spoke to me - nor did his family. On the day our divorce went to court he punched my lawyer (a personal friend of ours) in the face - even though he had started the proceedings. When the final papers were put into my hands - I opened them and read that I was granted a divorce on the grounds of my mental cruelty and abuse towards my husband. I remember thinking that if that was what he needed to believe - then that was alright with me. As long as he was at peace.