A Walk To Revelation
Nadia continued to get better and our financial responsibilities gradually got worse. Yes, I worked but those pains in my joints got unbearable. My duties and salary were already cut short due to the fibromyalgia but what could I do? I couldn’t stop, we couldn’t afford for me too. The pain advanced from my arms, hands and hip to down my legs, the soles of my feet and my lower back. The doctor had said that it was stress related, which made sense that it was so bad as I was definitely stressed.
There were mornings when I had difficulty getting out of bed, as to step out of it would make me drop as I couldn’t stand, my feet were exceptionally painful. What was really happening? Something I had started to ask myself very often.
Ken started to be a bit snappy, I sensed an old demon was coming back and I felt myself walking on eggshells just to keep the peace, but it didn’t stop arguments breaking through. It was the silent treatment, if I did something, then say what at least, but the more he stayed quiet about what he was so disgruntled about and grunted good morning or goodnight, the more frustrated I got until it got too much and I popped. Our arguments started to get more frequent. This, the man of my dreams and made my knees weak for months after I met him, His eyes lost its sparkle, maybe because he hardly smiled unless with friends; and even then his eyes remained dry, maybe because his heart was becoming dry.
Our shouting turned into physical bouts where I would throw a punch in rage and he will shove and slap me back to which I retaliated with me trying to hit him back, I say try as he would with all his strength restrain me. We stopped when we came to our senses after hearing one of the children start crying. What had become of us? Financial hardship always put Ken in a deep sombre mood which affected our relationship.
Remembering when we first moved into our short term accommodation, we were not financially well off but we just loved on each other through it all. I guess it was the added pressures of family additions, my maternity leaves, cut pay, cut hours, mortgage, my car, his car… Yes our dynamics changed considerably, but didn’t everyone’s? Surly every couple didn’t fight like us. It got so bad one day that Ken reached for my favourite bomber jacket and cut it up with a knife shouting it was his money that brought my clothes so he could do what he wanted to them. I watched in rage but dared not tackle him with a knife in his hands. I honestly can’t remember what sparked that argument. I cried and cried, cried for my jacket, the situation, cried for the hurt, cried for my marriage, cried for Ken, he was changing, something was bothering him, something was up. We loved each other, right?
Who could I go to, there was no one. No way could I let mum know, or Cam, let them know my marriage was crumbling? Nope, not in this lifetime for them to laugh at me! Tell Bernell? I already told her some things but not the full extent, for her to cuss me for still staying in it. Tell Ken’s sister? But she might tell off Ken, then he’d know I spoke about our marriage to people and hell would just break loose. No, something told me the only trusted ear to tell it all too was God himself.
I started to attend the Church of England Church at the bottom of our road. It just so happened to be the same church I went to Sunday school as a child, where my sister, brother and Ken & I got married and where Nadia was christened. The church had sentimental history. I needed to feel love, feel normality. I always heard growing up that God loves all His children and I was His child too and I needed to feel His love, any love. Ken promised, he vowed to love me till death do us part. I thought that meant a physical death not the death of our marriage! I thought that old memories of fake adulterated love was buried, but the rejection I felt creeping in was like those old dry bones were being resurrected.
On Sundays I found peace in the rituals of the service and I felt good doing my part taking the children and sending them to Sunday school as I had recommitted to do when Nadia was in hospital. I also struck up a good conversation with the vicar and over time I knew I had a confidant in her and started telling her about my married life.
That was the morning taken care of. There was always teas, coffee and biscuits after service and I always stayed behind to chat, stalling going back home. Once home I would dive into cooking a typical Trinidadian Sunday dinner. Come rain or shine I made sure we had ingredients to do that. Sundays wouldn’t be Sundays without rice’n’peas, macaroni pie, brown stew chicken, crab’n’calalloo, plantains, sweet potatoes and salad. To accompany me in my cooking would be a tall glass of wine. Cooking was like therapy for me and the wine helped block out the tension in the house.
During the week a shot of straight rum was needed nightly to block Ken out and numb the rejection I felt when he came home from work. My sanity stayed intact, and I was able to function. Unfortunately there was still bickering under our breath and we both adopted a very provoking spirit and then there were times out of the blue we would have a good day leading to great days, those were the days after we made love and he’d whispered how sorry he was and he loved me and wanted me, he needed me, he was just under stress at work. There was things that were going on between management but he couldn’t, more like wouldn’t tell me what it was. Being intimate took down his stress levels and made him a nicer person and for me, when I knew that’s where the evening was heading, I’d take another (largeish) shot of rum so I could keep the memories of the past at bay. I had awoken demons out the closet of my soul and every time we were intimate, flashbacks would confuse me to what was real and what was my imagination, I spent most of the time love making in a battle of my mind to stay focused that it was indeed Ken making love to me and not one of the dark men of my past.
Kens temperament moved like waves. I was grateful when it moved up and peaked but then that peak would mean the only way after was down!
I went one day to pick up the children from school and across the playground Ken was walking towards us which was a nice surprise. By the time he got to us I saw he was forcing a smile as he said hello. I tried to search his face but could not read it, something wasn’t quite right though.
‘Babes look, lets take the kids to the park to blow off some steam, we need to talk.’ I tried not to sound bothered ‘yeah sure why not, Kids come on lets head to the park before we get home. If you’re really lucky you can get an ice lolly if the ice-cream man is there.’ I couldn’t help but smile at their excitement as they ran to the car. As Ken and I got to the car my mind was working overtime, what could it be? I didn’t dare ask, I patiently waited.
They couldn’t get out the car fast enough running to the slides and swing. Ken and I took a walk to a bench where we could keep a watchful eye on them. ‘Look I’m not going to lie, there has been some problems at work… I’ve been laid off.’ I stared at him blankly trying to slow down my thinking. ‘For how long? laid off, what does that mean?’ ‘Maria, let go, sacked.’ He bowed his head into his hands and gave the biggest sigh. I’ve never known Ken without a job. ‘What’s going to happen? The mortgage, the bills, I don’t earn enough Ken, I’m scared.’ ‘The end of the month is my last pay, I got to job hunt, I’ll try a different borough, something will come up, until then it’s going to get a hell of a lot rougher, like I said, my last pay is the end of this month.’
Silence… just the children’s laughter in the background and the traffic hustling by. I had promised the children ice lollies but felt it would be like spending a hundred pounds! It was just ice lollies for Christs sake, it wasn’t going to break the bank. The fear and panic was setting in, but I hung on to Kens words, he’ll job hunt and would have a job in no time, he was skilled, qualified, had his degree and was good at what he did. How hard could it be? I enjoyed the children’s happy faces at their choices, they were my constant joy.
It was going on six months and Ken had got no further than the second interview. Companies that invited him for an interview, would be interested in him initially but as soon as they received references it was all over. The more knock backs he got the more bitter and mad he got. Ken was constantly in a bad mood. He even got a little snappy with the children and when I pulled him up on it he would quarrel that I was undermining him. I unlocked a vinyl of my mind that used to play the words ‘Shut Up’ and once again like a scratched record it played again, and I obeyed, for peace of mind I shut up; not just my mouth but everything within me.
It was another four attempts before Ken finally got accepted into a position. Not quite what he wanted, less hours and less pay but it was a job. There was a lot of catching up to do as we were so behind in mortgage payments that the letters were starting to come in threatening repossession due to a string of broken promises of payments. Water rates, gas, electric bills, catalogue payments etc everything was behind in payments. I did what I could, but I was still living in the overdraft. Part of me felt guilty in between the feelings I bottled up of the dislike towards the man I loved so much, guilty for having babies and staying out of work to be a mother in their early years, guilty for staying with Nadia in GOSH the entire time. But what was I have supposed to of done, my children needed me, Nadia was literally on her death bed, nearly went blind… yes I near lost my mind with taking out an emergency overdraft but it was done and here we were.
Cam came around and encouraged us to come out to a party. It was an old long-time friend of ours that was turning forty. Ken wasn’t keen but Cam wouldn’t take no as an answer. I was so glad she talked him round as I needed a night out and dance off the stress. It was summer and the days were quite warm but the nights were quite chilly, so my mind was excitedly thinking what to wear. It was just a few days away and I made sure to take double shots of rum in the night to ignore and block out any negative vibes and get me to sleep quickly.
It was a Saturday night and we had dropped the children off to my mum and dads earlier in the day. Whilst we got ready, Ken played some music and was thankfully in a relatively good mood and I fixed myself a drink so I could stay in mines.
The party was packed when we got there. The living room was a through lounge and there was hardly any room in there with the big double speaker boxes in either side of the room. Pass the kitchen was the door to the garden where many were liming as they smoked. I looked around but there was no sign of Cam yet. Great.
Ken and I ended up in the living room where the main party was and said hi to the few faces, we knew. After a while Ken said he was going for a smoke and that he’d be back. He took ages, I was just about to squeeze past people to go meet him when I saw Cam finally turned up with Patrick. She stayed in the room with me and Pat went out to meet Ken for a smoke and lime outside too. They were playing some good music and we danced freely. Then the dj started to spin some Lovers Rock and I felt this hand out of nowhere touch my elbow to pull me to dance, I turned and said my husband was outside and he smiled and replied ‘well I better keep his wife dancing then so she doesn’t get lonely.’ Cam giggled and turned away nudging me to go ahead. It’s not like I was having an affair; it was just a dance and I loved dancing. Ken left me for well over an hour so what did he expect? So yes I danced with this guy who was a friend of a friend and anyway he knew my sister so it felt safe and above board. We danced twice and he pulled me for a third, I kept looking towards the door silently praying Ken would come and save me as I didn’t like the way this guy was getting comfortable.
Not before long I felt a tap on my shoulders, I turned, it was Ken. I smiled thankful to see him. He wasn’t smiling back, just said we were going. I frowned, I hadn’t even danced with Ken as he spent most of the night… well all of the night outside so I was a tad vexed.
We said our goodbyes and Ken went to the car to wait for me as I started to see people I knew so my goodbyes stretched out a little longer. By the time I got to the car Ken was mumbling under his breath. ‘Ken what’s up with you? You didn’t have to leave like that.’ ‘Yeah and you didn’t have to be all over some man like that either.’ Oh boy did my blood reach under my skin… ‘You mean to tell me, you drop me off in the party and head outside to smoke and drink with the lads and expect me to stand up all night? I’m sick of you, all you do is moan and groan, you find fault with everything. If nothing goes Kens way then all hell breaks loose, YOU GRATE ME, TRYING TO MAKE ME DANCING WITH SOME GUY AN ISSUE… WHERE WERE YOU HUH? I SHOULD’VE DANCED WITH TEN.’ Ken drove like a maniac in anger, like he was trying to be more vex than me. ‘YOU BEHAVED LIKE A SLUT, NO RESPECT FOR ME, HOW DARE YOU BE RUBBING UP ON SOME FRICKIN MAN THAT YOU DON’T KNOW.’ I was hot, boiling hot, not from heat but from my own anger. Who the backside did he think he was shouting at and calling degrading names at? Over a flipping dance! I wanted to punch and kick him, I wanted to scream; and my head felt like it was blown up so much it would’ve exploded. Ken was shouting, I was shouting, the car was swerving, it was a crazy scene. Luckily it was about four in the morning and the road was clear of cars, BUT there were traffic lights, poles, lamp posts, traffic islands, trees, parked cars and railings… an accident was waiting to happen. I started to scream at him to stop the car but he accelerated, I literally saw my children, family and friends flash before my eyes as the car screeched to a stop as we reached a red light. I flung open the door and got out, as I slammed the door shut Ken shouted, ‘WALK BITCH’ and sped off.
So, there I was alone in the middle of the road, it was dark, and I had heels on and a party dress with a jacket. Great look!! Tears stung my eyes but I welcomed the cold air to cool me down and get my baring’s, ok so he drove off great. I started walking in the way he drove as no doubt he would’ve stopped further up the road to wait or maybe double back when he too calmed down. I loved Ken really, I did but he sparked such an anger in me that it suffocated that love out and replaced it with hate. Yet when things were good the love will be there as if it had never left.
I walked for a good five minutes and there was no sign of his car. The road was coming up to a curve, maybe he was waiting beyond that. I started to quarrel in my head that he was such a cow to make me walk so long, he could’ve at least doubled back. I told myself when I got back into the car I wasn’t going to say a word and keep the silent treatment going until he apologises for being such a dickhead. I kept walking, I walked the curve and as the road straightened all I saw was street lights, parked cars and the odd car passing by on both sides of the road. ‘He left me?’ Oh how the tears burnt my eyes. I heard a car slow down from behind me and pulled up to the side of me. Turning expecting to see Ken, it was two guys in a car asking me if I wanted a ride. I put on the most confident voice I could muster up and told them ‘No I’m cool, thanks but I’m actually nearly home.’ They smiled and said if I was sure then ok, they actually seemed genuinely concerned I was out on my own, obviously stranded no matter how much I tried to look as if nothing was wrong, and I just as confidently picked up my pace. That was close, they could’ve been some guys with bad intentions. I was dressed inappropriately for that time of the morning…mins to five.
It was clear he drove of completely and I was pissed. Evil wicked bastard, how could he do this? I stopped walking, where was I? Nearly home my foot! I was so far, surly he didn’t leave me to walk. I was seven to eight miles from home, short dress, jacket and yes heels. I dared not take them off as the pavement was literally stone cold and damp. I thought to walk to a police station, to go in the park and rest on the bench, walk to a friends house… and tell them what? To sit on a cold wet moss filled bench. The tears burst the banks and streamed down my face. Was I not loved, cared for, valued? How could he leave me? I wanted to sob but it was too cold for an over wet face and bulging eyes. Half past five, buses would be running now, I could take a long bus ride and make him worry. Let him think of an answer when my mum asks where I am…arrrrgh no money, I was totally screwed.
I continued to walk and stopped looking up at passing cars expectantly, he wasn’t coming back. Filling my mind with images of the children, flowers, funny moments to mask the other thoughts of rejection, indecent touches, grandads kiss, boys in the bushes, we’ll show you ours then you show us yours… Did they do that to all girls or just singled me out due to the invisible sign I had on my forehead only visible to males that read ‘use her, abuse her’ sexual acts in positions that was undignified… yes all the images came flooding in. Good for nothing useless girl, no one wants you, no one hears you they refuse to listen. Not even your husband wants you, look at you, he doesn’t care, he’s left you in the street at four in the morning and look at you, suffering because pride stops you for speaking out the truth of your marriage. Its not on the rocks, its on a precipice! Flowers think flowers, roses, lilies, daffodils, tulips and forget-me-nots… Forget me not. Water think water, warm water, remember… he loves you, he used warm water remember, remember?
My thoughts were so exhausting I didn’t even realise I reached my road. I walked without thinking of the route, I just walked its all I could do to take my mind of the throbbing pain in my feet and lower back. I felt crippled.
The mind is a strange intelligent force. I was home, the sun was up and it was 6.10am. I walked for two hours in heels in the freezing cold. I opened the door, I saw Ken sitting on the settee. It’s not that I was giving him the silent treatment, I just had no words and I was exhausted. I felt nothing, nothing but the excruciating pain in my feet, legs and back and nothing for him. He was obviously up worried about where I was, but pride and ignorance would’ve stopped him from coming back or waiting. It was all good, I knew what I was worth, just a cup of warm water. In church the Sunday before the vicar mentioned a part in the bible that Jesus said lukewarm is neither hot or cold so He will vomit them out of His mouth. He was speaking of a lukewarm church, but I guess warm water was just the same. Maybe warm water wasn’t enough to equal love. I measured my worth by something fit to make you vomit.
I headed to the drinks cabinet, took down a water glass an poured it half full of rum and it was all gone in three big swigs… It wasn’t long before everything was zoned out, the pain in my body and mind numbed and sleep came quickly.