Tag Archives: control

Beautiful Disaster: A Love Story

8 Mar

When Kathy first met Howard, she didn’t like him very much. She had met him on the Internet, and they had always gotten along great during their online chats. But the second she met him in person, she knew that the chemistry was not right. In spite of herself, she said yes when he asked her to be his girlfriend the third time they went out.

The attraction isn’t always there in the beginning, she rationalized.

The truth was that she was lonely. She had moved into the city six months previously and she didn’t know anyone. She had yet to make any real friends and she was desperate for a human connection. She knew this relationship wouldn’t last, but she thought it would keep away the loneliness for a while.

Kathy’s quest to avoid loneliness would turn out to be very costly. Howard slowly sucked her into a web of manipulation and control. He alienated her from the small amount of social contact that she had, took her for weekends away and “forgot” to bring his credit card to pay the hotels, and forced her into sexual games that she did not feel comfortable with.

One day, Kathy arrived at Howard’s weirdly sterile apartment to find another woman there. When he introduced the woman as his wife, Kathy staggered back in shock. She’d had no idea he was married. He’d always claimed to be divorced.

By the time Kathy left that night, she had discovered that Howard shared everything with his wife. Everything. Including his girlfriends. She limped to her car, broken and humiliated, and wondered about going to the police station.

What would she tell them, though? Hello, officer. I’ve just been raped by the man I’ve been having consensual sex with for the last four months, and his wife. Kathy had not even known until this day that it was possible for a woman to be raped by another woman.

She decided not to go to the police. They wouldn’t believe her. They would laugh at her and she would feel even more ashamed than she already did. She pointed her car towards home and started to drive. What a disaster this had been. She would never use online dating again.

All of a sudden, Kathy was overcome by tears. Great big wrenching sobs that shook her entire body and blinded her vision. She pulled over to the side of the road, lurched out of her car, and stumbled into the park. She sat on a bench and hugged herself tight as she wept. Thank God it was late enough for the park to be empty. If there were people around she would have been making a real spectacle of herself.

She buried her head in her hands and tried to breathe deeply to calm down. She needed to get out of this park and into the safety of her apartment. She needed to lock herself away from the world and wash this nightmarish day from her body.

A shuffling sound made her look up in alarm. A man was standing a few feet away, keeping his distance and looking distinctly uncomfortable.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, as if he could smell her fear. “It’s just that I heard you crying. I wanted to see if I could help. I’m Frank, by the way. My name is Frank.”

He stopped talking abruptly and moved a little closer, staring into her eyes. He peered at her intently, as if he had just had a revelation.

“I hope you don’t mind if I say this,” he said hesitantly. “But you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

Kathy stared back at him. In that instant, through the layers of her pain, she saw her future in this shy, gentle man.

Yes, Howard had set her on a path of disaster. But it was a disaster that had led her to be in this place, at this time, having a chance encounter with the man who would become her destiny.

It was a beautiful disaster.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, k~ challenged me with “Beautiful disaster” and I challenged Jason Hughes with “Chasing rainbows”

The Hardest Job In The World

8 Dec

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. You never get time off – not even when you’re sleeping, not even when you are at work and your children are at school. You don’t get paid – not, at least, in any financial sense. There are times when you feel overworked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated, and every single little mistake you make can come back at you like a boomerang, days or weeks or even years later. Being a mom – or indeed, a dad – can drain your emotional and physical energy. You have to be in a million places at once, do a million things at a time, be teacher, nurse, therapist, judge, and mediator – sometimes simultaneously. The job comes with huge dollops of guilt: guilt for not having the time to play with your child while the stove is boiling over and the dog is barfing; guilt for locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes of alone-time; guilt for actually buying something for yourself instead of spending the money on your child; guilt for rushing the homework supervision because the dinner is not made and the washing machine is jammed.

To be fair, the job of parenting has the best rewards ever: the enormous, gap-toothed smiles; the giant bear-hugs; the peals of childhood laughter; the I love you Mommy’s; the chance to look at your sleeping children at night and be filled with the most profound, incredible love.

It is  hard though, and us parents should be allowed to acknowledge that without that feeling of ever-present guilt.

And yet, when I think of how tough it all is, I cannot help reflecting on what parenthood was like for my grandmother. She was born in 1903, and her third and final child – my mother – was born just a couple of years before the start of World War II. Despite being geographically remote from the events of the war, South Africa was part of the British Commonwealth, and therefore joined the Allied forces. My grandfather was one of the generation of men sent off into the front-lines of battle in North Africa.

This thrust my grandmother into the daunting and somewhat unexpected territory of single-parenting three young children in times of extreme economic hardship. Things weren’t so easy for women back then – if they wanted to work, they were teachers or nurses. The term “stay at home mom” had not even been invented because it was unspeakable that there would be any other kind of mom.

For me, as a mom raising children in 2011, I have a reasonable degree of control over my life. I can choose to work (actually, that’s a lie – I have to work if I want my kids to have shoes instead of walking barefoot in the snow). I have a wide choice of career options, I can express myself freely through my writing, and I can get out there and go running. I have the freedom – within the framework of my family life – to make my own choices and steer my life in a certain direction.

My grandmother did not have the same leeway. She was controlled in a big way by the events going on in the world at the time. She was, in many respects, a bystander in her own life. She could only watch and wait as the world went through its turmoil, and she had to raise her kids knowing that things could change at any moment, things that she had no control over. A telegram could arrive telling her that my grandfather had been killed. Supplies of something-or-other could abruptly run out, leaving her scrambling for an alternative. The war could end and my grandfather could come home. The war could continue and she might not see him for a very long time. He could come home minus a limb or suffering from severe psychological trauma. She had no way of knowing what was going to happen.

It was a day-to-day kind of existence for that generation of mothers. My grandmother, and other women in her position, did not have the luxury of making choices or setting goals for the future.

Yes, parenting is the hardest job in the world. But I think, in many ways, that it is not as hard as it used to be.

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Tara Roberts, who gave me this prompt: She was a bystander in her own life.
I challenged The Drama Mama with the prompt: Tell a story about how missing a bus for a few seconds can change your life.