Challenge: You are Used, but I’ll Accept You Anyway (blog 6)
I met my husband, of all places, in court in a Middle Eastern country. He was working as a public prosecutor for the government. I was at the court trying to get my first husband to finish our divorce papers (told you, I make bad choices). My children’s father was the only guy who didn’t try to sleep with me, and I found that endearing (I was having to practically beat them off with a stick. No, I’m not implying that I was Ms. Universe, just that the mentality of the guys was, well, less than endearing). Little did I know at the time that it was because he was sleeping with at least three other women. Oh, and it could have been that fact that he was married (told me he was divorced).
He said he felt for me, going through what I was going through, all alone, in a foreign country. He helped me with knowing the law for my divorce. He took me to dinner and to coffee, as he said, to give me a change of scenery, and to take my mind off of things.
Then, he told me he loved me, he loved me, he loved me. Funny how that little phrase can mean so much and at the same time, mean so little. If I say ‘I love you,’ I mean it, I don’t say it often, and only to those I really do love.
So, to hear it from this kind, warm gentleman, I was smiling the whole time, floating on cloud nine. He said that even though I was used, he still loved me (warning sign). Yep, that should have been a warning to me, but nope, I was too enamored to give it more than a pause. He loved me, regardless of my flaws. Wait, when did I have such flaws?
It was a quick courtship. Most of it was hidden, only shown to those who ‘mattered.’ Funny, I guess his family didn’t matter because I didn’t meet them until after we were married (warning sign). Our courtship took place while I was waiting for my divorce papers (warning sign). My ex was refusing to give me my rights according to the law.
I went back home to California for the summer and told my mom and family about him (warning sign). I don’t know why I hadn’t told them about him before. I told them that I was returning to the Middle East and we were going to marry (warning sign). No, he didn’t talk to my parents, he didn’t ask my dad if he could marry me.
That entire summer my mother kept asking me, “Are you sure this is what you want to do? You don’t have to go back, you can stay here.” My reply each time was, “Yes, Mom, it’s what I want to do. I’m in love.” He loves me, even though I am used (warning sign). Wait, when had I begun to think of myself as ‘used?’ But it’s okay, he loves me anyway.
I flew back when summer was finished, stopping over in Egypt where he was, to have a mini-vacation before heading to where my school was. I was in Cairo for almost a week, I stayed in his parents’ old flat, although he had said he had his own apartment (warning sign). His parents lived in a new flat; I didn’t meet them while I was there (warning sign).
Looking back at it now, I can see the warning signs, blaring. But the thing is, I think I saw them then, I just looked over them, made excuses, or chalked it up to culture differences. Every time a warning sign arose, if he didn’t have some explanation or excuse, I would make one up for him. Why? I don’t know.
A month after we left Cairo, we went to the court of the country I was living in to get married. I invited no one (warning sign) and he invited two of his friends to act as witnesses and another friend to ‘speak’ for me (warning sign), remember, I’m in a Middle Eastern country, and although Islam is the first religion that granted women the right to own property and have a voice, the culture, and the law, had still not seemed to accept that. I signed our marriage document that was in a language, that at that time, I could not read. I signed it without having it translated, I didn’t even ask. I trusted him, he loved me, why should I read our marriage document?
Our marriage was not accepted by the American Embassy (warning sign) because on our marriage certificate, written in Arabic as plain as day, and I didn’t really look at it until it was translated into English, it said that he was married and I was his second wife (loosely translated). Okay, this is a BIG WARNING SIGN! But, he quickly and calmly dismissed it by saying it was just paper work, and since his divorce papers were in Egypt, they had to put that he was still married. Not to worry, he’d take care of it. When I asked why we didn’t wait, he answered that he didn’t want us to live in sin, and he didn’t want to wait to, well, you know, do the thing you shouldn’t do until you’re married. (Looking back, I should have just lived in sin).
Yes, in case you’re wondering, I checked, ‘STUPID’ is written on my forehead.
So, we lived a year married under the court of a Middle Eastern country, but it was not a marriage recognized by the United States; for obvious reasons, just not obvious to me. That was the school year 9/11 happened, the school year I became pregnant and miscarried, became pregnant again and delivered my eldest daughter. That was the school year I realized my hell and chose to ignore it, turn a blind-eye to it, become oblivious.
Looking back I ask myself, why didn’t I leave? Why didn’t I just leave? All I had to do was tell my mom or my dad. All I had to do was tell my sister or either of my brothers. Anyone of them would have come over in an instant. Anyone of them would have sent for me. Anyone of them would have done whatever they needed to do to get me out of the situation. I know this now, and I knew it then.
But I didn’t call them. I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t leave. I could have just walked away, but I didn’t. And now, even as I’m writing this, this very moment, I still don’t know why I didn’t. Why didn’t I just leave? And THAT is what is eating me, again, the Why.
If someone you know, God forbid, your daughter is/was in the same situation I was, I want to make it clear. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! You can’t read minds. People that are in that kind of relationship are good at hiding it, so good, in fact, that sometimes they can even hide it from themselves. It’s not your fault! You can’t help someone who won’t let you.
That’s something I worry about, my mom. It wasn’t until recently that we even mentioned or discussed this. I mean, we danced around it, but I would always deflect. I think it’s because I am/was afraid it would hurt her, or that she would blame herself for not forcefully removing me from the situation when she felt it in her gut. Or, that she would blame herself for letting me go back in the first place.
I worry that if she reads these, my mom will feel sorry for me. I worry that she will be angry with me. I worry that she will blame me. I worry that it will embarrass her or that she will be ashamed of me. I worry that it will make her question any future decisions I make, which, with my track record, might not be a bad idea. But still, my biggest worry is that she will blame herself. And I want her to know, IT WASN’T HER FAULT. I don’t think there is anything she could have said nor done that would have changed the course of events. I made the choices, I made the decisions, I am the only one to blame.
Oww, oww, oww, ouch! Really, this is tough. I’m writing these, knowing I’m not going to share them on the internet until I am strong enough. I will not share them until I have slayed enough demons to be able to face criticism from others. Right now I’m not broken, but I’m still bent. By the time I post these, I hope I will be a little less bent.
I will share these, I will. I will share for myself and my healing, yes, but for others, too. Maybe there is one person out there who is entering a relationship, just beginning a relationship like mine was. Maybe there is a mom or another family member of someone who is, or about to be, in a relationship like mine was. And maybe, just maybe, this will help that person through. Maybe this will help that person or that family member to understand. For that one person, I will share my journey.