Tag Archives: Domestic violence

When love flies out the window

 

When two people get into a relationship, hardly do they take time to contemplate the challenges that might arise if things go awry; at least most of us don’t…and even the few who ‘think ahead’ only do so with regard to finances and assets, hence the dreaded prenuptial agreements.

Earlier this month when I started my pupillage, my pupil master gave me some heads up, that in some instances I’d find myself looking for tissues to dry my tears when a client’s story got me all teary. Thankfully, I have read several cases, so I know how poignant a person’s experience could get.

Now that I’m being exposed to the practical side of a lawyer’s life, one thing I can confidently say is that breaks up can be awfully messy… and the worst part is, the ones who seemingly bear the mother-load of the brunt are the innocent children resulting from the relationship. Funny thing is, even legally they are referred to as ‘issues’, instead of children.

About a fortnight ago, I got to attend a negotiation, where an estranged couple were trying to reach an out of court agreement about how to have joint custody of their baby girl. As I watched the two split every holiday for the next seven years, I almost cried. I mean, here were two parents, who could not stand each other, but who wanted to be a part of their child’s life.

I have watched such incidences on TV countless times, but every time I comfort myself that the heart-wrenching scenes are all scripted. However, this was different. It was all real. There was an innocent child caught up in the murk. The case made me think of my own life. All through, I’ve watched my own parents fight and my mom’s sole reason for staying was because she wanted to ensure dad provided for us…basic needs and all.

I can say for a fact that living in a home marred by violence is damaging on so many levels; I have an anxiety disorder to show for it. On the other hand, having a child transfer from one school to another every year because their parents live in different localities feels equally traumatising for the child. Is there a lesser evil really?

As I sat through the negotiation, most of my concerns were about the girl. She needed stability in her life and that, didn’t seem like it would be happening anytime soon. Then there’s puberty, when a child is transitioning from childhood to adulthood. She would need someone to explain the physical changes taking place.

Silently, in the depths of my mind, I wondered which of the two unfavourable paths she would pick if she had a choice; her seemingly bleak one, or my anxiety-inducing one. I’m not sure there’s a better option between the two. What I’m pretty sure of however is that arguably, children suffer most when their parents fall out.

Mommy Issues

I know a bad relationship when I see one. Be it a romantic one, a filial one, a fraternal one or even a fiduciary one…and this is not because I’ve received any formal training on matters relationship. Overtime I’ve just learnt to look out for the red signs in relationships… I guess because I’m afraid of getting hurt by people.

In light of this, I know the relationship my sisters and I have with dad is bad; because every time I feel we’re only kept together by money. I’ve delved into that matter in previous posts but for the sake of clarity, with regard to this particular post, I’ll explain it again.

Dad is our primary provider, because we have not gotten jobs which pay well enough for us to become fully independent. Due to this, we put up with a lot of hurtful treatment from him as he always does things for us half-heartedly. Yesterday, my small sis was saying, “Dad is like the devil. He never gives anything for free, and always comes to collect”. I was, and have been of the same opinion for a very long time.

See, he and mom went out shopping to replenish house supplies for the month, and they came back happy. However, shortly after they arrived he went out to drink. When he came back home he treated us to his usual drunken rumblings, with the music playing so loud, an outsider would have been tempted to think there was a religious crusade taking place in our house, since he was listening to gospel music.

He always makes us feel like we need to give up something for his ‘generosity’. From experience, he seems to revel in our misery, therefore whatever he knows we hate, he’ll gladly do it, just to spite us. For instance, yesterday when he went to the bathroom I went to the living room and turned the volume down. Sadly, when he came back, he turned it up again. I didn’t bother to reason with him because I knew we would only end up arguing; and nowadays I don’t really have the strength for that.

When the music was still playing, I heard him talk to someone at the top of his voice. I knew it wasn’t mom because they had argued a short while ago. So I figured he was on the phone. What caught my attention was him saying, “I love you” to the person on the other end. My curiosity piqued, I literally started eavesdropping…

‘You’re the best mom in the whole wide world,” I heard him say. So it was his mother. As I mentioned at the beginning, I can tell a bad relationship when I see one…and in that regard, dad’s relationship with his mom is a very unhealthy one… toxic even.

When addressing her he and his siblings call her by her first name. When I was young I found that odd since from my upbringing, I had been told children should address grown-ups respectfully, and this entailed using ‘titles’ if there were any; mom, dad, aunt, uncle, Mr, Mrs… ergo, hearing dad call his mom by her name felt like sacrilege. With time I learned she had asked her children not to call her mom. It’s sad, I know. Apparently she was afraid the tag ‘mom’ would prejudice her as it would make her appear too old.

She had prohibited us from calling her grandma as well, so as we were growing up we always had trouble calling her during the rare occasions we met. Eventually, after high school my sisters and I decided it was about time she stopped living in denial, so we started calling her granma. I couldn’t fathom calling her by her name; it just felt wrong. Sometimes she would ignore us, but I guess she noticed we were not going to relent…she stopped fighting it.

From what I’ve gathered, dad had a somewhat difficult childhood. His mother was too hard on him, that at some point he ran away from home. Unfortunately, he still craves her validation to date. She has tried so many times to break him and mom up, since she’s always wanted a rich daughter-in-law, yet dad doesn’t/has never tried to defend his marriage.

When we were young, she would summon him constantly and every time he came back home, he and mom would always fight. She was filling him up with resentment towards mom and he didn’t care to resist the influence. Her latest stunt to split them up was in 2015, when she came here accompanied by her other children. They had come to whisk him away…

My sisters and I gave them a piece of our minds…they had not seen that coming. Since then I haven’t seen or heard of any such attempts. Now what bugs me about this whole situation is that, dad fails to realise he is still holding on too tightly to the past to let himself enjoy what he has now. God gave him a loving wife, who in spite of all the misery he puts her through, still remains faithful to him.

Furthermore, my sisters and I try so hard to make this miserable relationship we have with him amount to something beautiful, but he’s always pushing us away. He always chooses his mother and siblings over us. He refused to move on completely. Now we’re all grown up, and about to move out, yet most of our memories with him are sad ones. He refused to embrace this future/present that God gave him.

We would have had a very happy life, but he chose to cling on to his past, hoping that someday his mother would give him the love he so desperately craves.

 

 

Emotional scars: Part 2

A few weeks ago on Deutcshe Welle TV, I watched this show about women who, in an attempt to get past horrifying incidents of domestic violence which had left their bodies awfully scarred, had gotten tattoos to cover the scars. Therefore in place of a burn or big scar, one would have a beautiful tattoo. Though I’m not a psychologist, I can say getting ‘rid’ of the marks sought of speeds up the healing process.

Now with regard to that, I found myself wondering, what would happen to people whose scars are not physical but emotional? For instance, last Sunday I was talking to my big sister and she seemed to have this evident revulsion for all matters dad. Late last year she had developed this habit where she’d stay in her room the whole day, in an attempt to stay away from him.

This went on for weeks until dad, in one of his rare glimpses of responsible parenthood, asked mom about her whereabouts. He actually sounded concerned, and that happens rarely. He told mom he didn’t support that because if she went on like that for a while longer, there was no telling what she could do to herself.

Eventually, mom talked to her about it and after seeing how concerned dad was, she stopped ‘locking’ herself in her bedroom and even started talking to him. They didn’t just dive straight away into the buddy-buddy pool but their relationship improved remarkably.

However, to my horror, last week I realised she was sliding back into that habit. When dad’s around she’ll avoid all the places she knows she could bump into him. While I don’t quite think it’s the best solution, I sought of understand why she’s doing it.

I had a talk with her about it and she told me dad is the one person in her life who has ever made her contemplate committing suicide. Therefore avoiding him works for her because if he doesn’t see her, he just might forget she even exists and he won’t have to think of all the hurtful things to say about her when he’s drunk.

See, when dad’s not trying to be a good parent, and that’s who he is most of the time, he makes someone feel very uncomfortable when they are around him. He’ll just sit behind a newspaper, purporting to read it all day, and he might not say a word unless someone starts a conversation. From what I’ve gathered over time, he usually spends that time observing everyone, making his own little condemnatory mental notes.

It’s only when he’s drunk, or has only had a little to drink and is pretending to be drunk that he starts yapping, complaining about everything and everyone. He’s been doing that since I’ve known him and I abhor it.

To be fair, I’ll just give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe there are times he has meaningful complaints, like this one time we were all busy and didn’t get time to pull down the Christmas decorations until February.

Nonetheless, my problem is how he raises those issues. He’ll go fill up on some dutch courage before he starts venting. Worst part is, he always does wicked things deliberately with the sole intention of hurting us. For instance, two weeks ago he suggested we should visit his mom the next day and we all agreed.

Seeing as we were supposed to leave very early, we thought we would use that Friday evening to prepare for the trip which had been suggested on such short notice. Disappointingly, he went to drink at around five in the evening and he didn’t come back till around three in the morning. By then we had all cancelled the travelling plans since there was no way we’d be going to his mom’s with him drunk.

When he came in at that very ungodly hour, he started shouting as usual but since we were all asleep, he figured he would force mom to have an audience with him. Though his loud monologues had woken her up, she didn’t say anything. When he saw she wasn’t flinching or acting all agitated, he just walked to their bedroom window, opened it, and started shouting, apparently addressing the neighbours who cared to listen.

Though I didn’t hear everything because I willed myself to fall asleep so I wouldn’t hear him, the things he said were very offensive, and not to mention hurtful. In a nutshell, he said mom must be a witch because she spends so much time in prayer… (I’ve always thought praying is a good thing). And regarding my sisters and I, he said he didn’t understand what we were still doing in his house.

Like I’ve said before, maybe sometimes he has genuine concerns, but the way he brings it all up is what really hurts. I’ve never told him, but my reluctance to get married stems from this overwhelming fear I have of ending up with someone like him. He’s subjected us to so much misery, and though he’s clearly oblivious to it, I have an anxiety disorder to show for it… I have suffered from depression…and peptic ulcers…

Since I do not like dwelling so much on the past, I always try to find things which will cheer me up so I don’t get sucked into my own negative thoughts, which have become a constant companion. That’s what living in constant anxiety does to someone…Always waiting for something to go wrong…

If someone was to judge my sisters and I from our physical appearance, we look healthy and ‘normal’, because we don’t have physical scars to show for the pain and anguish we’ve been through. However deep down, we’ve so many emotional scars. That’s why I find dad’s sentiments awfully erroneous; physical scars are not the only indicators of suffering.

Fatherless child: Part 2

A week ago my big sis had a dental surgery. Dad drove her to the hospital, albeit reluctantly. He didn’t know what went in there but mom, who was with her the entire time came home distraught. She likened her experience to what Mother Mary must have gone through when she saw Jesus being tortured during His Passion; a mother’s pain when she sees her child suffering and can do nada about it.

When dad travelled out of town for work, he left her on an entirely liquid diet and he never called even once to find out how she was doing. He had her cancel her review appointment, knowing that the particular surgeon is only available once a week, so now she’s waiting for tomorrow’s appointment, which he still intimated she should cancel. All this while I’ve been thinking, if he cared even the slightest bit, he would have feigned some concern. That way we would never have known how much he detests us.

In very blunt words, dad has been the bane of our lives. The way I see it, he hates to see us happy. When he gets the impression we’re happy he does something to sabotage it. So if someone asked how it feels to have a father, I may not have anything positive to say about it.

Last Saturday he came home drunk as usual, and started complaining to mom how my small sis had told him he wasn’t her father.

“Mom, let’s find another dad,” he said, mimicking my small sister’s voice when she was younger. I was actually surprised because I didn’t know he had heard that years ago. Those are words my small sis said when she was around five, and now it’s years later. When she said that, she did it innocently because she had seen how happy other kids looked when they were with their dads, yet with us, the only thing we felt was misery.

He let us go hungry when he had money stashed in his bank account; spent nights outside drinking away… he made us know how it feels to live in a house where parents fight, physically, and as mom was the weaker of the two she always ended up hurt.

When I heard him mimicking my sister, I couldn’t help but think, if he heard that years ago, how come he never made an attempt to change? A good parent would have been concerned why their five year old daughter was saying such a thing. Instead, he only became more brutal, as if trying to emphasize the point. He didn’t seem to care what we felt/thought about him.

“Go find yourselves another dad,” he barked. “You think dads are bought in the supermarket. I’m leaving,” he told mom before walking out to go back to the bar, even though he was already drunk. “Let me know when you find another dad.” With that he left, and he came back the next day.

I know this might sound wrong, but honestly, I have more than enough reasons to believe that there are children who grew up fatherless, for whatever reasons, and have led happier lives than my sisters and I. Every time I picture myself raising my children in a home like the one I’ve grown up in-God forbid-I shiver, and I usually find myself thinking that it’s better to not have a family in the first place, because reliving this would be an absolute nightmare. I wouldn’t even imagine putting my kids through what I’ve been through myself.

When I was a child, I had a dream; that my dad would change and be a better man. Now I’m all grown up and almost moving out, and that dream didn’t come true. Sometimes, no, most of the times I fear that once I walk out of that door, I’ll lose his number and sever all possible ties I have with him. I’m afraid that one of the things I desperately want is to change my surname, because it constantly reminds me that he is my father.

Point is, I did grow up with my father. But if that has added any value to my life? I’m not sure. All I know is, I don’t want to be anything like him. When I get my own adorable children, God willing, I want to be everything he’s not; loving, caring, forgiving, empathetic…

There may be someone ‘fatherless’ out there who feels their lives would have turned out better if they had a dad; but take it from me; the grass is not always greener on the other side. For all I know, there are many children who grew up not knowing their fathers but who had very happy childhoods. Because at the end of the day it’s not about someone merely associating themselves with a father figure, but about what role that ‘figure’ plays in someone’s life. To some they are a blessing; and to others a curse. That’s just how life is.

 

 

Jekyll and Hyde: Part 2

The entire time I was thinking, uh… duuuh… we’re the ones in the car. Obviously we’ll get there first. But I didn’t want to exchange nasty words with him on the first day of the year, so I bit my tongue. As we were exiting the court gate, he took more than enough time signing out and at that point we were all regretting why we thought he would be different that day. He’s pulled his delaying tactics one too many times but every time we fall for it, thinking he’ll do things right.

While we were nearing the junction, he saw my sister ahead of us so he used the opposite route. My big sis asked him to act like a Christian for once and do the right thing but instead he just stepped on the accelerator, speeding up, blatantly ignoring the estate’s 20km/h speed limit. I was afraid we were going to crash.

While we were nearing the main exit gate, we pleaded with him to go back for my sister. The roads looked so deserted that morning and the road to the church was lined with pubs. We were therefore afraid she would bump into a nasty drunk along the way and there would be no one to defend her if God-forbid anything happened.

Maliciously, he refused to slow down on all speed bumps. I really wished he acted like the grown up he was. But I never really bank on people acting their age, because as the adage goes, “If age imparted wisdom, there would be no old fools”.

Eventually he agreed to turn around. When he saw my small sister though, he slowed down, almost to a halt that, even a snail would have beaten us to the finish line.

“You see how she’s walking?” He derided, mimicking her walking style. “I know she’s going to meet up with a boy.”

By then it was around 8.30am; a half hour since mass began. We requested him to drive a bit faster because we were getting late. When we were drawing close to her, my big sis rolled the mirror down and started calling out her name. She didn’t know we were behind her.

We should have known better though, because the instant we got to her, dad branched, driving to the opposite direction. My big sis and I shouted in protest, asking him why he was being so mean. She and a cousin of ours were sitted on the back seat, holding some mirrors that had been taken from the cabinets in mom’s beauty salon, but had been left in the car. They had cost so much money and my big sis was afraid they would break. Mom was already too stressed about closing up her salon and we figured the last thing she needed was to have any of her items break.

We agreed with my big sis I was going to catch up with our small sis, so she wouldn’t walk alone. At the time I was so mad at her because I was thinking if she had waited patiently for dad to get done with his crappy delaying schemes we would all have gotten to church in time for the mass. We’d wasted so much time on the road chasing after her. That however, I would deal with much later. All I needed at that point was to get to church.

As I was getting out, I realized the door couldn’t open, so I would have to use the co-driver’s. I rose from my seat, trying to get to the front but dad stepped on the emergency break and my head rammed into the dashboard. I wasn’t hurt as much as I was pissed.

“I can’t do anything to avenge myself dad,” I told him, “but remember, God is always watching.” With that I got out. I walked the remaining distance to church, huffing when dad just drove past me. He was clearly doing to me the same thing he’d done to my sister. I walked behind my sister all the way to church because I couldn’t catch up with her.

By the time I got to church, all the readings plus the gospel had been ready and the priest was giving the homily. I had missed much but I was glad to be in the house of God. I was mad and hurt, so I took a while to meditate, in an attempt to calm myself down.

My sister and my cousin made it to church way after we had given our offertory but I was happy they had made it. Turns out they had gone back to the house to take mom’s mirrors.

When mass ended we all walked back home sharing our morning experiences. Obviously, my cousin was so shocked by the whole incident. “Is this how we’re spending New Year’s?” He’d asked. Luckily we had already given him a crash course on dad’s misbehaviour in case our old man screwed up while he was still visiting.

Dad was sound asleep when we got home. The morning had just been a weird one. When he woke up in the afternoon, it’s like he had morphed into an entirely different person in his sleep. He was jolly and meek, and even agreed to take mom shopping for some household utilities. When I served him fries for lunch he didn’t complain even though he’s always saying how much he hates them. Later, he asked for some more. We couldn’t help but wonder if that was the same man who had sabotaged our church going. It was all too unreal.

I couldn’t help but think Mr Hyde had screwed up with our morning and Dr Hyde had spent New Year’s with us. One person; but totally different personalities. One thing I know is that dad has some good in him, only that it surfaces very rarely. Unfortunately for my family and I, Mr Hyde is the one who’s in control most of the time.

Jekyll and Hyde

The first time I came across the phrase ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ was in the Oxford dictionary; and the images that first sprung to mind were the people who had split personalities that I had watched in various movies and telenovelas; people, whose personalities shifted from saintly to villainous in varying circumstances. The thought was very intriguing, mainly because it was incomprehensible, how one person could have two personalities that were as patently distinct from each other as night and day.

The most recent case I have come across on TV is in vampire diaries, where Aleric Saltzman, a mere mortal, dies; but with the help of a magical ring he comes back to life. He’s killed one too many times in the show that at some point his constant encounter with the underworld has him transforming into a hard-nosed hunter. Apparently, a spirit in the other world (who we later find out is the mother of the originals) was grooming him to become a hunter of the supernatural beings. Due to that, his personality keeps shifting from the good to the evil Aleric, who slays unremorsefully.

That’s just a TV show. Now back to the real world. I recently discovered a real life Jekyll and Hyde; my very own father. He could give the real McCoy a run for his own money. Now I’m not just imagining it, or watching it from a scripted show. I’m watching a real life version of the proverbial Jekyll and Hyde and one thing I can say for sure is that it sucks big time.

I tried comprehending how one person could have two distinct personalities and until now it beats me. I know for some people it’s a clinical matter but in this case, I would say dad’s is totally a personal choice; to be good and alternately evil.

I would love to say his is an involuntary thing, but based on my deductions, he has full knowledge of his actions and how they affect us. I would attribute his behaviour to alcoholism and receiving wrong advice from ill-wishers, starting with his mom and siblings.

For starters, the other day mom asked him if he knew the things he does are wrong and karma would catch up with him at some point. It may sound hard to believe, but he said he did, with absolutely zilch remorse. That’s the easiest way to tell when someone’s actions are bordering on evil; when the person does them consciously and worst of all impenitently.

One Wednesday, for instance, only days after mom had closed down her business, dad came home unannounced. His office is located away from the city so he only visits during the weekend. He didn’t say why he’d come. In any case he said he didn’t want anyone asking him why he was home.

A week later, he was still around, making our lives miserable as hell. He would get home from the bar in the early morning when everyone was asleep and despite the fact that he has his own keys, he’d just ring the doorbell incessantly, just so everyone could wake up. One would be tempted to think it was a child who was greatly fascinated by the chiming of the bell.

If somehow we ignored him and he let himself in, he would go to the living room, turn the music on, playing it so loud and if anyone requested that he turned it down, he would maliciously turn it up. So now that we know that we never ask him. We just shut our bedroom doors and pray that God will intervene somehow.

Before mom closed down her business, she had asked dad to help with the house expenses but he had refused. Instead he’d callously scoff at her, saying he’d given her permission to use other means to make money; and that was him alluding to mom whoring. I couldn’t have been more offended by his words, because I felt he was scorning her faithfulness; he knows she’s been nothing but faithful to him.

silently, I thought if only he knew how many men hit on her; but she, like the conscientious wife, turns their advances down; not because she’s afraid of him, but because she values the sanctity of the sacrament of matrimony.

On New Year’s day, he said he was coming with us for Mass. Happy that we were all going to start the new year together in the presence of God, we didn’t question his motives. Mass was starting at eight and as the church is just a twenty minutes walking distance, we knew we would be there before it began.

At 7.50 am we got into the car, strapped our seat belts on and waited for him to step on it. Twenty minutes later we were still at the parking, waiting for him to record the mileage, even though I usually find the whole exercise pointless. Patiently, we waited as we didn’t want to set him off. At some point I offered to help him out as he didn’t have his glasses on, but he just pinned me with a withering glare.

My small sister got out of the car, deciding she was going to walk. We all regretted why we’d agreed to let him drive us. Luckily mom had already left as she had finished preparing before us. When my sis left, dad started complaining how he was being forced to go to church. Putting away the sheet he’d been filling, he pulled out of the parking.

“Your sister thinks she knows too much,” he carped. “We’ll see who gets there first.”

Letter to my husband: Part 4

Experience has taught me a few things. One of them being that there’ll be at least one person who judges someone for some misfortune that befell them; and personally, I’m not big on sob stories. In any case, I avoid circumstances that will make people want to pity me…or think I’m weird. In light of that I figured I couldn’t tell every guy I attempt dating the issues that cause me anguish. I also figured on the same note that if I explained this to anyone, it would be my husband. The man I hope to share my life with.

Looking at the events that have happened in my life, this doesn’t even get close to putting it all into perspective. All I know is that after living for more than two decades, witnessing domestic violence, I came out of it relatively wiser; but damaged.

Wiser because now I know many things I didn’t know before; things they’ll never teach in school. For starters, I know what I want in a relationship. I know the qualities I seek in a man; and money and looks aren’t it. If those two counted for anything, my mom would be the happiest woman on earth; but we already established she’s not.

And damaged because, of the things that cause me anxiety, relationships top the list. I have met some men, who would possibly have made wonderful husbands, but the instant they started exhibiting traits that reminded me of my father, I cut loose before it got too real. Such, is the extent of my ‘damaged-ness’.

I could pay a professional shrink tonnes of money for them to tell me what’s wrong with me and how I could make things better, but as I said, I already figured myself out. Relationships are a hard limit for me. Mom’s miserable life makes me dread the sheer thought of vowing to spend the rest of my life tied to someone, because truth is, it’s not easy getting out when things start going downhill.

Unlike the younger, naïve version of me who hoped to be swept of her feet by a tall, dark and handsome guy, now I know what I want; or what I don’t want.

I don’t want a man who will take me for granted. I need someone who will love and cherish me for me, without hoping to turn me into something I’m not for his own convenience. I realized, if mom had her own money from the beginning, her fights with dad wouldn’t have been too frequent. They fought a lot because she was dependent on him; and he was too tight-fisted. I would love to have a career, and for it not to be affected by our family life.

I don’t want a man, who wouldn’t be moved by our children’s grief, when they’re hungry, or crying because he is abusing me. I would want a man who wouldn’t eat or go on a binge-drinking spree when our kids can’t sleep because they are too hungry.

I would want a man who smiles at least, when his daughter tells him she’s graduating magna cum laude, or seem moved in the least when another one tells him she’s done working on her novel. Sometimes people think it’s all about money, when all one needs is just a simple hug. I would want a man who can spare a thought for our children; how his actions affect them.

I don’t want a man who will fill our children’s heads with sad Christmas and New Year’s day memories, because he just couldn’t help throwing punches at me; and on the same note, I would want a man who respects my mother, because were it not for her love and sacrifice, I wouldn’t be there to be his for the taking in the first place.

I wouldn’t want a man, who makes our children develop anxiety disorders and some other stress related illnesses like depression and peptic ulcers because they are afraid he will kill me when they’re in school.

And when eventually we decide to get married, I would be happy to have just a small wedding with just us, our witnesses and the priest.

So, unlike my younger self, I’m not interested in looks and money. All I want is someone with whom I can spend a happy forever with; someone who will give our children the happiness I didn’t have growing up; the lack of which has caused me so much anxiety.

I don’t have any children yet, but when I get them, I hope to raise them in a love-filled home, so they won’t dread marriages and relationships like I do. Truth is, if I had to choose, I would opt for a life of utter solitude, rather than live the miserable life my mom has lived. It’s not one I would wish, even on my worst enemy.

All I want is happiness…and love…and some peace of mind.

My beloved husband-to-be, if you can give me that, then I too will go out of my way to make you the happiest man on earth.