Fourier Analysis is a mathematical tool which can do a number of things: separate out signals from noise; help identify patterns or trends in data; filter out all unwanted data and focus on a single signal; use approximations to make generalizations; make approximations of real world signals (think electronic music); combine harmonics to get a stronger signal. That's what I'll be trying to do here!! Won't you join me with your comments?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Finding My Way Out

This is Part IV of my series for Soap Opera Sunday (go to these links for Part I, Part II and Part III). 'Twas Brillig and WalkingKateastrophe have inspired a lot of writers to share their stories of love, passion, drama, heartbreak, frustration and various learning experiences. Why pay for romance novels when you can find such thrills and entertainment every Sunday when you check out their links?

I'd like to thank all my nail-biting readers who have left such supportive comments about my story. Yes, it is cathartic. Yes, I did survive it and am living a great life now. And yes, I hope it will provide some sort of inspiration or warning to others who are living their own personal hells. At the time I was going through this, there was no Oprah, and no women openly telling their stories. And to those friends who are reading this and learning about it for the first time, I haven't been hiding anything, but it's just not something that usually comes up over coffee. I have a past. We all do. But I don't let it define me.


And then he kicked me. Hard.

I'd like to tell you that this was the worst thing that ever happened during this marriage. I'd like to leave out that my ribs were broken. I'd like to brag that I got up and kicked him in the privates and walked away from him for good. But I started out being honest, and I can't make up the ending I would have preferred.

You should know that BF was over 6'3". I am only 5'2.5" (a half inch is important at my height!). Needless to say, he was a lot bigger than me. But I somehow threatened him when I would stand up to him. And something in me made me continue to defy him. Which only made things worse. So the times when he would lose control, I knew I had pushed him, and later when he would apologize, there would always be the caveat that I had somehow brought it on myself. Somehow, though, I just wouldn't change.

But while this is a story about what led me to this sad situation and how I eventually got out of it, I don't want it to be a chronicle of the abuse. It has been important to me to examine why I went so far off the track I had set out upon, and I have been glad to share that. But there is no advantage in listing the degradations, the fights, the hurts, the damage. What is important for me to tell you is that despite all he did to me and tried to do, he slowly lost control of me. And I eventually found myself again.

I did start back to college, arranging to work parttime at my office job. At first just sitting in on classes I had once taken. And then I took some of the required courses in English and History that would apply to any degree. Despite BF's sabotage, and efforts to distract me, my grades were good and I was encouraged. And 3 years after my accident I actually got the courage to pick up on my Physics coursework and work toward finishing my degree.

The evening before one of my midterm exams, BF picked a fight with me that led him to belittling me and humiliating me and eventually raping me (though in Texas, a husband cannot technically "rape" his wife). I got very little sleep, curling into a corner on the floor of our bedroom. I did not stir when BF left for work, but I was aware that he turned off my alarm. As soon as he left the house I quickly showered and dressed and headed off for school early. I first had a Mathematics exam. I didn't struggle with the answers, but I finished the test without any feeling of confidence or relief.

I then went to study quietly outside the class where I was to take my Physics exam, when my adviser passed by. He spoke to me and asked if I had time after my test to drop by his office. I made it through the exam on autopilot. I didn't think I knew anything and entered my adviser's office expecting that I would be asked to change my major. Instead, he told me that the Astronomy professor was looking for some lab assistant's to teach the Astronomy labs 2 evenings a week and asked if I was interested.

I was so relieved and surprised that the tears came without warning. I told him that I was afraid that I was failing the Physics course and would not be able to continue it as my major. He asked me to wait for a moment in his office and left the room. When he came back 10 minutes later, I had composed myself, and he said he had spoken to the professor of the course I was taking and they had quickly glanced over my test paper and he assured me that I had nothing to worry about with respect to my grade in that course. He then proceeded to call the professor of my Math course. He told my professor he was just checking up on my grades and then I hear him joking with my professor, "No, whatever grade she gets does not mean she will be changing her major to Math! Okay, I'll tell her." When he got off the phone, he told me that I also did not need to worry about my Math grade and that I was invited to talk to my professor about making Math my degree "minor" which meant taking a couple of extra courses. So then we were back to the offer of becoming a lab assistant. I told my adviser I would get back to him.

I stopped off at my Mom's before I returned home, and she had a card for me. It was a belated "Valentine's Day" card that had been sent to her address. It was from my friend who had been at the Air Force Academy. He had graduated and finished his pilot training and was interested in knowing how I was. He knew I was married but said he wanted to meet my husband and hear what I was doing. He left a phone number for me to call at his new station on a base near Phoenix, Arizona. I went home and did not mention anything of the day's events to BF.

The next week, BF said he had the opportunity to start doing some night shifts at his work, which meant some extra earnings. I then told him about the Astronomy lab position that would allow me to earn some money as well. The hours would fit around the part-time office work I was doing and not interfere with my school. BF was not really thrilled about the position, but could see some advantages to me working more hours. I know he was thinking it would have a detrimental effect on my schoolwork.

But it didn't. I used the excuse of going to the university to help pack up the telescopes as an opportunity to do some of my Physics homework in the office space that I now had access to as a lab assistant. My course work thrived, and I loved teaching in the lab sessions. I often found myself out in the middle of the park in pitch darkness, surrounded by football players and non-science majors who were struggling to complete their coursework. I loved telling the stories of the various myths surrounding the names of the constellations and sharing the tricks for finding the pictures in the sky and remembering the names of the stars. I could easily answer all the questions about the phases of the moon, and the life cycle of the stars. And though it was dark, I felt on center stage with a great spotlight where I could "show off".

I soon became one of the most popular assistants and the evenings when I was on duty became the most attended. I was then asked to train other lab assistants and was given the nickname "Mom", not because I was so much older, but because I was married and therefore not subject to the flirting attentions of many of the male students. Also I was so confident and assured in what I was doing, that the other lab assistants and Physics majors looked to me for advice. I thrived on their respect and was determined to do whatever I could to keep it. And it changed how I was feeling about myself.

Finally, towards the end of the semester, I made a call to my friend in the Air Force. We had a long chat and he was so glad to hear from me and was pleased to hear I was finishing my degree. He was very supportive and promised to come by for a visit and meet BF the next time he was in town visiting his parents. We went on to talk about other people we both knew, including my old boyfriend I had lost touch with. He said he was going to look him up and would mention that I said hello. I told BF about my conversation later, and that it was all platonic and that I was glad to be back in touch with an old friend. I could tell that this did not go over well.

Scientists have determined with various kinds of tests that the brain is not wired to be able to think positively and negatively at the same time. This became the main struggle in my life. I was becoming more positive about myself and getting back to thinking that way, but at the same time BF was trying to manipulate me and continually making me feel bad about myself. How I kept my sanity at this time I don't know. It did leave its mark on my confidence for a long time. Even today, I have self-doubts that make it hard for me to accept compliments and to bask in my accomplishments.

My finals were coming up, and as I was determined not to have a repeat of the drama that had occurred prior to the mid-terms, I spent all the time I could at school doing my studying there. Still, one evening when I came home, BF was livid, raging at me and accusing me of all sorts of infidelities. I kept quiet, and when his anger threatened to explode into physical violence, I walked out of the house and got into the car and drove away. I drove around for a long time, not knowing where I should go. Eventually I returned to the house to find it dark. BF had gone to bed. I snuck in quietly and went to sleep on the couch. BF left the next morning without waking me. I woke myself in time to get ready to go to my test, and when I went to get into my car, I could not find my keys. I searched all over. I called BF at work, but he was not around. I was frantic as BF had the spare set on his key chain. Finally I called my brother who was able to drop me off at school. I made it in time for my tests.

When I was ready to go home, I called my Mom and she came and got me. I told her that BF and I were fighting and I asked to stay the night with her. She was happy to have me and did not ask any questions. When BF called later she told him I was there and convinced him that it was better to leave me alone and that she would drop me at home the next day. I came home in the afternoon to find BF was getting ready to go do an extra evening shift. After Mom left I tried to talk to him and he slapped me across the face with the back of his hand. He then pulled my car keys out of his pocket and dropped them on the floor. The look on his face made me realize that I did not want to be home when he came back.

Suddenly, I felt all alone. I had to get away. I quickly put together a small suitcase of clothes and what cash I had managed to save up. But I was not ready to tell my Mom about what was going on in my marriage. I no longer had any girlfriends or anyone I could stay with. I did not want to impose on my brother and his new wife and baby. I just needed to get somewhere and think. But where to go?



Adventures In Waitressing said...

I am so happy that you got out of that. He must be one truly miserable person to do that to you or anyone.

Many HUGS!!

It takes an abundance of courage to bare your sole and your past.

Again. HUGS!!

Kateastrophe said...

Wow. This story is seriously so incredible and just makes me want to sit down and talk to you about your whole life! I can't wait for next week!!!!

Brillig said...

Another outstanding installment, FA. I wait for this story all week long. I'll try my best to endure the long wait until next week. I just HAVE to know where you went and how you got out, once and for all!!!

Jenn in Holland said...

Mmm-hmmm. Lots of hugs!
Your story is so compelling and I must say it is getting easier to read with this installment. Meaning I am no longer feeling my skin crawl or the anger rise to my cheeks in reading about the horror and the horribleness of this man! The turn to the positive feelings inside of you just feels full of hope! (and yeah, it helps to know that everything turned out okay)
Well told.
Looking forward to the answers and more story next week!

Jen said...

I'm glad you were strong enough to begin your walk away.

I just ache for that younger version of you...

I'm looking forward to seeing you getting truly OUT next week.

Thank you for sharing this - I think it may make a difference to many people over time.

anno said...

Whew! It is good to see you turning the corner in this installment. I especially appreciated your insight about not being able to feel both positively and negatively at the same time. The loneliness you speak of sounds terribly hard to bear. Like Jen, I think that in writing about this, you are probably making a difference to many people.

Dedee said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. (Why does't that spelling look right to me?)

I'm glad that you finally were strong enough to walk away, and I truly hope this is a real walk.

I'll be seeing you next week.

soccer mom in denial said...

I have a kid nagging me. "Mom why do you READ this stuff?"

[As I shove him off my lap and get back the bracelet he's mangling]

How can I not? It is an honor to read your life stories. I continue to be horified and proud, at once.

Thalia's Child said...

Your strength and courage is an inspiration to me. I cannot even begin to imagine the strength it must have taken to walk away, and I can't wait for the conclusion!

Summer said...

I am so glad that you began to find yourself and realize you needed to get away.

Rebecca said...

it's so good that you had the positive reinforcement of your friends and colleagues at the lab - probably prevented you from even more suffering in the long term.

The knowledge that there were people out in the real world who admired, liked and respected you must have!

Robin said...

I can't help but wonder who's life you're going to change by sharing your story.

Kelly said...

After reading this I'm really glad I joined SOS this week. Your writing is very good, and I especially enjoy your sidebars (the sections in italics). And with this particular entry I find it really interesting how you were able to carry on such two distinct lives at the same time. I find your strength in being able to do so simply amazing! I'm looking forward to next week’s entry.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Just amazing. It's an honor to read your story.

Space Mom said...

I am glad your advisors saw through you and pushed you to work at the science...

This is a sad story, but also empowering to see how people can move forward while others try to hold you back...

Heather said...

Can't wait to hear the rest. It's wonderful to hear about you getting back to your goals and feeling good about yourself again.