The Good Old Days – Part 3

part-3-final-chapter

Okay, so I know I said I’d have Part 3 written and on my site by October 18, 2016. But, this last part was very hard for me to write. This was the most horrifically traumatic time in my entire life. During the four years I was married to Terry, I would say that three and one-half of them were horrifying. Maybe a total of six months; just a day, or days at a time, might have been decent. If he wasn’t drinking, Terry was a very pleasant man. He could be very nice and even sweet. But, those days were few and far between.

I ended Part 2 with us getting married on Saturday, August 14, 1971 in Jellico, Tennessee and then, after traveling back to Kentucky on Sunday, finally consummating our marriage on Monday morning, August 16th.

The Honeymoon is Soon Over

After going to Jeffersontown on Monday, August 16th and collecting my furniture and household items I’d been collecting for several years, we settled into our new apartment. However, the honeymoon was soon over, that’s for sure.

Our apartment was in half of an upstairs of an old Victorian house on the main street in Lawrenceburg. We entered the apartment from outside steps going up the back of the house. The other half of the upstairs was also an apartment and was rented to a little old lady who was the typical busy-body. She too entered through the back stairs. Once inside the upstairs, there was a large circular landing with a blocked grand staircase in the center leading to the downstairs, where the landlord lived. If you went to the left, there was a door to our kitchen, further down the left landing was a door to our living room and the last door on the left landing was the door to our bedroom. However, the living room and bedroom doors were always locked and never used as entry doors. To the right of the grand staircase was the right landing and the main entry to the old lady’s apartment, she too had two other doors as you looked down the right landing.

Once we caught the little old lady peeking into our apartment through a hairline crack in one of the massive wood doors that lead to our living room. Terry and I were laying on the couch watching TV and heard a noise outside the hallway of our living room door. As I said, the door leading into the living room was not used as a primary entry door and our couch actually backed up to the door. Terry very carefully and silently got up from the couch and peered through the small crack in the door and discovered the little old lady staring back at him. Upon being discovered, she audibly “eeked” and swiftly shuffled back to the entry door to her apartment.

We reported the incident to our landlord, but do not know what the landlord did. Although we never caught her looking into our apartment again, we were pretty sure that due to her curiosity she would probably keep on doing it. So, it wasn’t too long before we put a picture over the crack in the door.

The apartment consisted of only three rooms and a bath. There was an eat in kitchen, a living room and bedroom. The small bath, which had no shower, only a claw-footed tub, was between the kitchen and living room There were no laundry facilities, which meant that I had to go to the public laundry mat to wash clothes. That meant that I had to lug dirty clothes down steps and then lug clean clothes up the steps. That may not sound like much, but you don’t know how fastidious Terry was about his clothes. Everything had to be so-so. I mean, even the way his socks were folded had to be a certain way. Yes, folded socks, just the way his mother did it!

Terry was working at Rand McNally on 2nd shift. This meant that he did not go to work until 3:00 p.m. and got off of work at 11:00 p.m. I was still working at Belknap in Louisville from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The commute was fifty miles in the morning and evening, which added a total of two hours to my eight-hour workday. This arrangement meant that we saw little of each other. I often had to stay up until he got home from work at 11:30 p.m., if he came directly home from work, in order to see him. However, he often did not come home from work, but would go out “with the boys” drinking. So, we saw little of each other during the week.

The weekends weren’t much better. Often he had other plans. On Friday, he may or may not even come home until sometime on Saturday morning sometime. Maybe it would be 4:00 a.m. or even 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. He would tell me that he was at his cousin or friend so-and-so’s home drinking or playing cards or something. I would cry and complain and he would become angry, telling me that ‘no wonder I don’t want to come home, look at you, all you do is harp and complain.” It was always my fault that he didn’t come home.

Soon, he lost his job at Rand McNally due to his failure to show up to work or reporting to work late. Therefore, I was the only one working and supporting us. Each morning, as I left to drive to Louisville, I would give him $0.35 for a pack of cigarettes. (Yes, in 1971, that’s what a pack of Marlboro cigarettes cost.) When I would come home from work at around 6:00 p.m., he would not be at the apartment. Again, he would rarely come home until sometime in the morning. Sometimes it would be 1:00 a.m.; sometimes it would be 4:00 a.m. Again, an argument would ensue as to his whereabouts and again, it would always be my fault that he didn’t stay at home.

You might think, how did he get drunk if I only gave him $0.35 each day and he wasn’t working? Well, Terry’s entire family and many of his friends were from Lawrenceburg. His family and friends would have and give him alcohol. In the four years we were married, I also had suspicions that there were drugs involved, but I never had any proof.

More and more he found fault in the way I kept house, the way I looked, the way I cooked, anything to indicate that I did not take care of him or myself up to his standards or the standards that he thought his mother had set. You see, his mother was an exceptional housekeeper. Heck, according to him, she was exceptional at everything. He should have just lived with her, but she would not put up with his drinking either. His father had been just like that and she had divorced him when Terry was just a child. Anyway, his mother had absolutely no speck of dirt in her home. Of course, her current husband also ensured that he cleaned up after himself too. Something that Terry didn’t, but that is something that Terry did not take into account. According to Terry, that was my job too. Here I was, working eight hours, commuting two hours and living in part of a very old house that had no laundry facilities, meaning that I had to load laundry into baskets and take it to a public laundry mat to do his dirty clothes. Fastidiously fold clothes and/or come back to the apartment and iron most everything…even his jeans. Yes, he expected that his jeans had a firm ironed seam down the front…just like his mom had done for him for 20-years of his life. Plus, I must clean, cook, do the shopping, and everything else, as he didn’t lift a finger, even though he didn’t work!

Let’s talk about the jeans. Some of you may like the seam down the front of jeans, which is okay. I do to a point. When I fold my jeans I fold them so that a seam is folded into the jean. BUT, I do not iron a seam down the front, nor does my current husband expect that I iron his jeans. He likes that I fold the seam down the front for him. If he wanted an ironed seam, he’s a big boy and would do it himself! He would not belittle me or tell me I’m no good if I didn’t do it for him.

Terry would call me ugly names. He would criticize my body, looks, the way I kept house, cooked…just every aspect of me. He would tell me that no other man would or could possibly put up with me or possibly like or love me. Therefore, he would often tell me that I was extremely lucky that he was willing to “put up with me.”

Soon, the arguments escalated and finally, Terry became physically abusive, slapping me when I would cry, complain and accuse him of seeing other women. I was advised of his infidelity by not only my friends, but by his family and friends as well.

After six-months of Terry not working, his drinking, his not coming home or being home when I came home from work, and the arguing and the escalation of him slapping me, I did not go home on a Friday night and instead went to my parents home. I told my parents that I’d made a terrible mistake marrying Terry and that I needed to get out of the marriage. Needless to say, my mother was thrilled that I was going to get rid of what she considered “trash.” My father, being the gentle soul he was, just wanted my happiness.

That Friday night was Belknap’s bowling league night. After I got married, I had quit the bowling league. However, I thought I would go and say ‘Hello’ to all of my friends, since I was in Louisville that night. It was a mistake, as I ran into Bobby.

If you remember from Part 2, I had been madly in love with Bobby, but he had broken my heart. I told Bobby that I had left Terry and that it had been a mistake to get married so young. Bobby and I went to a local restaurant after bowling and just talked. I then went back to the parents and went to bed. I was disappointed that I had wasted 6-months of my life and I felt like a failure, but I was totally reconciled that my marriage was over. The only thing I regretted was that I was going to have to live at home for a while. I was now used to living on my own.

At about 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, my parents household was awakened by loud banging at the front door. Upon my mom answering the door, it was Terry, drunk, begging to see me. Mom didn’t want to let him in, but daddy told her she had to let him see me.

It turns out someone had driven Terry to my parents that morning and had just left him. He’d first gone to my parent’s next door neighbor’s and banged on their door, waking them up, as he was too drunk to remember which house was my parent’s.

Terry begged for another chance and swore to me that things would be different if I would come back to him. He claimed he would get a job, stop drinking and that he didn’t want to lose me. So, dumb, gullible, stupid Jennie, at my mother’s pleading not to do so, got in my car with Terry and returned to Lawrenceburg with Terry to give him another chance.

Upon my return, I found out two disheartening things: 1) Terry had a rip-roaring party in our apartment Friday night and he was with a girl that I had gone to school with during the party. 2) On Saturday, Bobby called at my parents for me. So, Bobby was again interested in me.

After the Promises

Terry does attempt to be more attentive after I go back to Lawrenceburg. However, he does not stop drinking. He just says that we need to do things together when he drinks.

The following Friday night after I return, we go to the local dance at the Fairgrounds. Who do I see? My sister-in-law and I go into the ladies room and I see the girl he was allegedly with the Friday before in our apartment. She takes one look at me and sprints toward and out the door. I’m not sure if she thought I would attempt to pound her head in or not, but I wouldn’t have. I’m not the physical type.

Before long I realize the drive back and forth to Louisville for my job is just too much for me to continue. I am tiring on my drive home and found that I am dosing off, which is dangerous. Terry finally landed a job and I knew I would be able to obtain employment easy enough. So, I quit my job in Louisville.

It wasn’t long before I was able to find a job.  Actually, during the next several years, I actually had a variety of jobs, not because I wanted to, but because I was often too embarrassed to return to many of my jobs because of the way I looked. Terry’s drinking, infidelity and violent physical behavior began to increase and escalate. The slapping turned into beatings, with me ending up with black eyes, busted lips, and hand prints on my arms, neck, and other places where he either hit me or grabbed me in a vise-grip.

If you remember from Part 2, Terry was a big man. At this time, he was not only six foot 2 inches tall, but he now weighed about two hundred and twenty-five pounds to my five foot four inches, one hundred twenty pounds.

Because I had already returned to my parents home after the first six months of marriage and then had returned to Terry, I no longer felt that it was fair that I put my parents through any further worry. Therefore, I no longer told them what was happening in my marriage. I decided I had made my bed, so to speak. Therefore, I was going to have to lie in it.

I left Terry several more times. However, on my meager salary at various jobs that I was working at different times, I normally ended up in cheap, horrible apartments. Each time Terry would find me and beg me to return home to him. Each time, because I was only scraping by and felt I had no other choice financially and also that no one else would ever want me, I’d go back to him. It was a vicious cycle for me.

The crazy thing was, I kept thinking that if we had a child maybe he’d change for the child. I knew he wasn’t going to change for me, but maybe he’d change for a child of his own, so I did not take birth control for a couple of years. However, I never got pregnant. But, you have to have sex to have a child and Terry was rarely interested in having sex with me. Again, this was one way he had control over me.

To understand domestic violence you must understand that the abuser makes the abused depend totally on the abuser. Terry would call me ugly names. He would criticize my body, looks, the way I kept house, cooked…just every aspect of me. He would tell me that no other man would or could possibly put up with me or possibly like or love me. It was only him that would ever put up with me and I should be very thankful for that. But, on the other hand, he was also very jealous if any other man showed any interest in me or complimented me. He would often make sure that no other man would find me attractive as he would deny me the ability to look good by battering me.

I often had straggly hair, my eyes were normally red and swollen from crying. I consistently had dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep due to him not being home at nights or due to me being up worried that he was drunk somewhere, in another woman’s arms, or crashed on the rode side somewhere. (I can’t remember how many cars he wrecked while driving intoxicated.) Or, if I was asleep, he’d come in and wake me so he could argue and bash me.

Image courtesy of [Ryan Arestegui] at FreeImages.com

Image courtesy of [Ryan Arestegui] at FreeImages.com

I tried to be what he wanted, but the more I tried, the more he appeared to be disgusted with me. If I complained one little bit as to why he didn’t notice I was trying, I received a sound beating. Yet, if I left, he would always come and find me and beg me to return, and like a fool, I would return.

In a domestic violence situation, this is the vicious cycle and life of the victim.

When I would leave him, you’d think he’d be glad that he was rid of me. He didn’t want me, he made that perfectly clear in every way. He didn’t like the way I looked, he told me so. He didn’t like the way I kept house, he told me so. He didn’t like the way I did his clothes, he told me so. I couldn’t talk or walk correctly, he told me so. Nothing was right about me, he told me so. But, when I’d leave, he’d find me and beg me to return. He would tell me he’d change and that things would be better. He would promise to quit drinking, treat me better, blah, blah, blah… If I wasn’t what he wanted, why would he keep finding me and begging me to come back? I told him at least a thousand times it must be that although he didn’t want me, he also didn’t want anyone else to want me either!  Well, I’d soon learn that he just didn’t have anything better at the time.

Into our third year of marriage I finally became pregnant. However, the drinking, infidelity and beatings did not stop. When our daughter was born, I had two black eyes and a busted lip as the result of a beating I’d gotten the prior weekend when he’d come home drunk and picked a fight. He had me in the floor hitting me. I had my feet in his stomach with my hands and arms protecting my stomach in order to keep his hands and arms away from my stomach and injuring the baby. So, all he could easily get to was my face.

Also, the month before our daughter was born, on April 3, 1974, Terry had been in another woman’s home when her husband had come home and found them together. The husband had gotten his gun and while Terry was running down the road away from the couple’s home, the husband shot Terry in the back. The bullet collapsed Terry’s lung as it exited through his chest in the front.

Terry had crawled to the front porch of a neighbor’s home and knocked on the door. The people had called 911 and had rushed Terry to the hospital. No charges were brought against the woman’s husband. As it turned out, the woman was a girl I had gone to high school with and the husband had once been a friend of Terry’s.

At about 9:00 a.m. on April 3, 1974, I awoke to loud banging on my front door. When I opened the door, my mother-in-law and a Kentucky State Trooper was standing at my door. They both entered and my mother-in-law told me that Terry had been shot and was in intensive care in the hospital. The police officer was just there to ensure that Terry’s next of kin was informed of the information.

My mother-in-law then drove me to the hospital so I could see Terry. He was awake and alert and of all things, was intent on telling me how to ensure that his jeans were properly cleaned.

It seemed that not only had he bled on his jeans, but getting shot had literally scared the shit out of him. Now, get this…here I was, over eight months pregnant with his child and he had been shot by another woman’s husband after inappropriately being caught in the woman’s home by the husband, and he was more concerned with instructing me on the cleaning of his clothes than explaining to me what the hell he was doing in this particular situation!

If that wasn’t bad enough, while in the waiting room, the woman that he was shot over had the gall to call the hospital and ask for me in order to find out how Terry was doing.

April 3, 1974 was not a good day, that evening there was a tornado that struck our town and several surrounding areas. Thankfully, no one’s home in our family was touched, but so many others were hurt and two people were killed in our town. While in the hospital, people started coming in injured to where the hospital was unable to keep up with the injured and the overflow started waiting in the stairways and halls. Since I was pregnant, my mother-in-law didn’t want me witnessing all of this and took me home with her for the night.

Terry stayed in the hospital for a week. Once he returned home, he did not change his ways like you would think someone would do after getting shot by another man for infidelity. He continued to drink and stay out all hours of the night. For me, the abuse continued.

Our Daughter Is Born

On the Monday morning that I went into labor, it was about 4:00 a.m. and he had just gotten home about an hour before, drunk. However, I woke him and made him take me to the hospital, as I was huge, in pain and couldn’t drive the 20 minutes to the next town where I was to deliver the baby.

Our daughter was born at 8:10 a.m. Soon after her birth, he left the hospital saying that he needed to go home and get some sleep. On the Wednesday his daughter and I were to come home, he sent his sister to come pick us up and bring us home. His sister told me that he’d been out “celebrating his daughter’s birth” the night before and was too drunk and hungover to come and pick us up. Yeah, so much for a child changing him. This was in May 1974.

In June 1974, we moved from a two bedroom trailer to a one bedroom apartment. On one particular night he didn’t come home until about 8:00 a.m. the next morning. I was, of course, fuming when he came home. I had been up all night with a newborn, alone, again. He lit into me like a wild man. Before I knew what was happening, he had a loaded double barrel shotgun up against my forehead, while I was cradling our daughter in my arms. I thought that morning was going to be my last morning to see daylight. Thankfully, after some begging, crying and reminding him that I was holding his month old daughter, he calmed down enough to put the shotgun down and I fled the apartment while he slept off the whiskey and/or drugs he was under.

While this was the last time he actually held a gun to my head, it was not the last time I suffered from domestic violence. That continued, as did his infidelity. In July or August of 1974, I discovered that a woman he worked with was pregnant with his child. She was expecting her baby in February 1975.

While he was a work one day, I packed up everything, even the toilet paper and left. I took everything I had brought into the marriage, leaving him only what he had prior to us getting married, which wasn’t much. This was the first time I had cleaned out everything.

I’m Free

Photo by Julian Jagtenberg at StockSnap

Photo by Julian Jagtenberg at StockSnap

This time, I was lucky. He now had something better. Because he had another woman pregnant now, he did not need me and did not come after me and beg for me to return. This was my saving grace to finally have the strength to get out from under his influence for good. I had a good job with the State of Kentucky and was able to find a small duplex. While it was not the greatest of places, it was large enough for my daughter and me and I could well afford the rent and utilities at the present time. I filed for divorce and in October 1974, I had a decree of divorce granted.

I was free. No more infidelity. No more beatings. No more dependence on Terry.

For a year Terry had every other weekend visitation rights with his daughter.

Strangely enough, I met my current husband and started dating him in October 1974 and we were married the next October of 1975. Once I married my current husband, Terry stated that he would no longer pay child support ($25.00 a week back then) for “that man” to spend. Like $25.00 was a large amount of money for my current husband to go out and blow on something. It didn’t even pay for my daughter’s childcare at the time. I told Terry that if he did not pay child support then he could not see his daughter. To my surprise, he agreed.

So, from the time our daughter was 17-months old, Terry did not see his daughter again until she was approximately eight years of age, when he called and stated that he was going through Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) and would like to see not only her, but me, in order to apologize for what he’d done in the past. I agreed to see him.

After that meeting, he did not attempt to see or speak to his daughter by phone after that time at any regular intervals. It was only once she became an adult and married that he made contact with her and then only occasionally spoke with her by phone and once or twice a year saw her.

My daughter always referred to my current husband as her “Dad”, as he raised her from the time she was 17-months old, and she referred to Terry as her “Biological Father.”

Sadly, Terry passed away in January 2016, at the age of 67. Terry had heart problems, along with other problems. Many of the health problems he experienced later in life were the result of his lifelong battle with alcoholism.

This is only a brief summary of the domestic violence I experienced during my four years marriage to Terry. A lot of other experiences have been blocked out of my mind. I only remember some of the abuse, which is probably a good thing. I would like to say that the abuse I refer to is not only the physical, but the mental as well. It has taken me years to get over the mental abuse I suffered. In some ways, I may never get over some of it. There are still some things that trigger memories. I still have some difficulties dealing with certain feelings if I hear that someone else is dealing with similar experiences.

Needless to say, the experience has left me somewhat scarred, but thankfully I have been blessed and have been able to overcome. Recovery has been as ongoing process.

Here’s my ending question for you.  Do you question my title?  Well, the good old days did start out that way.  But, they don’t always end up that way. I’m happy to say that after the above, very long four years, I was once again able to enjoy many more good old days.  I continue to be blessed with one after the other good old days.

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