My mother was afraid and optimistic and afraid and kind and a Christian woman and afraid. Afraid of my father and afraid of most other things. The brothers and I endured and survived eighteen years each of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional abuse, affection, contorted provision … and fear. Fear that was lightly salted with sympathy from a very few outsiders, and randomly peppered with genuine laughter inside some of our growing up houses. The laughter typically happened when my father was out of town on business.
I was sexually handled or molested or investigated or abused many times as a child. Not by my father, but by people I trusted. People I should have trusted. People that I wanted to trust because I wanted to trust someone. I wanted to be safe someplace. I did not know then that trust was a matter of worthy.
I was beaten and slapped and punished revengefully for things I did do, also for things I didn’t do, and for things that never happened in our world at all because my father had a sad and bad mind and my mother couldn’t stop him from his rages against herself nor her children.
I went to college and got married like most people, except I married a man who lived 5,000 miles away in Scotland. That’s where I got my first genuine escape. He was old school British. Eleven years my senior. I was not immediately aware that he was pretty sure he could change me and fix me and make me more lady-like and more submissive. It took me a few months to realize that he didn’t like much at all about who I was. But I was raised a Baptist, and divorce was an egregious taboo when you are from the Bible belt. So I tried from time to time to be the wife that most misinterpret from the book of Ephesians, somewhere on the right hand side of the Bible.
I lived in the west of Scotland for over seven years. It was unbearably beautiful. My house was over 150 years old, and it was surrounded by the highland hills and very close to a contented, handsome loch. I spent miles and hours and days alone discovering the less seen places. My person inside began what I now know to be a cautious restore to my original perpetual kid self.
Unemployment was very high in the United Kingdom at the time, and I was unable to find a job. So I started an export company that accidentally did very well. We had customers in Baghdad where we shipped our own label whiskey. There was a company in Nigeria where we sold frozen seafood. And then we had several customers in the U.S. who we shipped smoked salmon and fresh seafood to several times a week. That was until everyone lost all their money in the late 1980s and stopped paying their bills.
We went broke and had to sell everything to pay off our debts. I had such a great time with the whole adventure of finding customers and finding products and watching exchange rates and knowing how to fill out the export paperwork and creating brand names and labels. And when it was all over with I was only twenty-nine, so I pretty much just counted it an extraordinary adventure and readied myself for another one like it.