All Time Victim

By Marilyn Redmond

I never said "No," again to my husband.

As I walked into the living room that Sunday evening, my husband of six months said he wanted sex. I was tired from a long weekend and taking care of Janet, our baby girl. I said, "No. He reached for me. Quickly, he had me by the throat with both his hands. I was scared as he continued to strangle me with firmer hands, closing off the air to my brain. I was seeing a kind of fireworks in my head and realized if he held my neck any tighter, I would be dead. I tried to scream out, but I couldn't. Nothing was said between us, but in my head, I was screaming bloody murder.

He pushed me to the floor with one hand as he held on to my neck with the other hand. He tore off my clothes. By this time, I was afraid to fight back any more. I realized I didn't stand a chance against his strength. I didn't want to be hurt again. He seemed to think what was happening was normal.

He removed his hands from my neck. He got his way, but I was not emotionally there anymore. Just the shell of my body was left to go through this miserable experience. When he had finished, he was not interested in my welfare. I was devastated, scared, confused, and ready to be his servant for the rest of the marriage if that meant not being hurt. My marriage lasted 30 years with this fear.

Through prayer and meditation I asked for help to discover how I got into such a circumstance. My story has been unraveling since 1985. I was given insight to understand what happened. I could feel being in the womb before I was born. All that fear and shame I felt in the womb from my mother is gradually leaving. I also bonded to my mother's insecurity and inferiority complex. From the first time I can remember before birth, I was never relaxed or happy. I was too scared to be an eager baby, but I did know that I was wanted.

This baby does not want to come out!" She's breach, buttocks, first. The labor room was typical of the day, July 15, 1939 at St. Luke's Hospital in Seattle, Washington. "She sure is giving us some trouble. Twenty-four hours of labor was more than her mother could bear. It's like she doesn't want to be in the world," Dr. Tucker exclaimed. "I've got her now. Her she comes."

"Let her cry. We can't spoil her by picking her up too much," Mom told friends. Later when I was crawling around on the floor, I was more scared than a mouse.

I came home to a house in a desirable Seattle neighborhood known as Winnona Park. It was half a block from Aurora Avenue, also known then as Highway 99. There were many stores on the "The Avenue" as we called it. The best part was that we were only three blocks from Green Lake for swimming, hiking and sledding in the winter. The view of Green Lake was perfect from our front porch for watching the fireworks on the 4th of July.

Our house looked similar to the other houses on the block. This neighborhood was built during the end of the Depression. The houses looked cared for. Inside I had a roof for protection from the weather and food to eat. My mother made me beautiful clothes on her treadle Singer sewing machine.

I feel like her doll, I said to myself. I don't really live here. I don't feel comfortable. I just eat and sleep here. I wish I had somewhere else to go.

One night when I was three, my bedroom door was left open mistake.

"I'll teach you a lesson!" My father held my mother and was hitting her.

"Let me go, leave me alone!" Mom yelled.

"You have to listen to me, do you hear?" The screams, continued.

"If you don't do as I say, your are going to get hurt!" he shouted.

I wonder why the door is open tonight? I asked myself. My door is always shut at bedtime. Then I hear, "You're hurting me."

I hate these fights. I'm too little to save her and too fearful to do anything to help. I was terrified watching my father harm my mother. How can I save my Mom? I can't. I pulled the sheet over me. I want to be off the face of the earth, I prayed. I felt hopeless. I buried this feeling with the helplessness. I should rescue my mother and I should be guilty for hiding. I became the all-time victim from thinking, Dad will be in here to hurt me next. I have to become as small as possible so I cannot be seen. I tightened my muscles and nerves to become smaller and completely crawled under the sheet.

"Who left this door open? Shut it quickly. I don't want her to know about our fights."

But I did know about the every-night fights. Even the neighbors knew! I had become a turtle that night emotionally to protect myself. Usually, I stayed inside my shell as protection. This was sort of a blessing when two years later I was victimized by my soon-to-be brother-in-law.

There was no laughter or fun in our house. That changed for one night after my half-sister, Vickie moved in from Canada. Just before she married, there was an evening of singing around the piano.

"Marilyn, you have to go to bed now. Don't say anything, just go to bed."

My mom wants me out of the way, I thought. The one time people are happy around, here. I lay in bed jealous of all the fun going on and I couldn't be in on it. Then my door opened and there he was! I was terrified! I never told anyone. I would not be believed. I buried the incest very deeply for almost 50 years.

In my family background were violence, Alcoholism, sex addiction, workaholism, compulsive behavior, fear, and more. These were the tails wagging the dog in my behavior in life. I was set up to be attracted to a man with psychopathic behavior before I was born.

I married a man with attitudes and behaviors with which I was familiar. For thirty years, I stayed in this crazy situation. I finally heard him threaten to kill me. I usually tuned it out and pretended he never said it. For once, I believed him and moved out. I didn't know about healthier families, until I stayed with my minister's family for a week.

I returned home thinking all was fine. We went on a vacation to Canada. Just before returning home, he started drinking after three weeks of not drinking. That drive home was the most frightening night of my life.

God, help me! I really don't want to die. I was emotionally in a fetal position screaming for help from my heart, during a suicide ride with my husband. This time will he really kill me? I believed it was a definite possibility. This was not the first time he attacked me after threatening words. Earlier I tried suicide several times when he scared me to death. I believe my prayer for help was heard.

My path seems to fall into place like dominoes. "Why do you drink and take pills?" The counselors at the treatment center asked while I was in the last day of the three weeks of family program. To be normal, a voice that I did not recognize answered. Being intervened was a miracle. I had no idea that I had a problem. I took the Valium the psychiatrist gave me and drank with my husband at home, not in bars. I liked the courage it gave me to get past all the fears. I was strongly encouraged to stay at the treatment center as an inpatient. I was not going home each night as I did in the family treatment program.

Puget Sound Treatment Center became my first hope of a way out of my hell. Shortly I realized I am powerless and I want the power to become an assertive person. I was a sponge to any information about healthy behaviors and attitudes. I was not going to stay that doormat, martyr, and people pleaser. I do not want to volunteer as a victim anymore.

Appropriate therapy and classes came into my life. I had to grow up from the age of three. I taught school for twenty-five years as a three year old. I raised a family, had a second job, the family business, and fooled even myself that I wasn't scared to death my whole life.

I will do whatever it takes to get out of this terror, I vowed to myself. It took four years of daily perseverance to mature enough finally to be able to file for divorce and go through with it, the third time. I wasn't sure I could be on own. However, I did know that I'd grown past the age of three, finally. I do not need to attract untrustworthy men into my life and take pills or drink to stay in this familiar scenario.

I have had four years now, on my own. I am doing it enjoying plays, golfing, traveling; all these things I was afraid to do without a husband! I have had to walk through all those fears with God.

I am becoming a businessperson. Also, I write articles, books, and poetry on recovery. I consistently speak on the disease of Alcoholism and its effects on the family. A year and a half ago I was elected to the local water board. I am doing on my own, sober, what I could never do as a child, married, with or without alcohol and a man. I am becoming totally responsible myself.

I have learned many lessons about life I want to share. I hope this story will provide hope for any person going through his or her own hell. Heaven was always there, I just never did know it. I did not have a clue until I quit drinking, taking prescriptions, and began recovery in the Twelve-Step programs at the age of forty-six.

My last challenge through my fear was my current trip to Australia. My greatest fear of leaving the country without a husband has been my worst dread in some ways and my best achievement in self-confidence. I was really tested in making my own happiness, balance, and new adventures where I only knew the people in my small group. At times, it felt like paradise, especially when I was snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. I felt like one of the fish. I was at one with the universe. I finally belonged on Earth and fit in.

This proves to me I can do anything I want to in life on my own and enjoy it. It's never too late to change the fear in my head to the love in my heart!

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