A Safe Haven

“Sir, I’m a student here and thought this would be a safe place to sleep”. Jalene had been awakened with a rapid knocking on her car window, as she slept in the university parking lot.  The evening held another volatile and physical confrontation with Chuck. As was becoming Chuck’s routine, after the children were put to bed, he would then attack Jalene verbally, emotionally and/or physically.

Jalene explained to the officer she was fleeing an abusive husband, but had no money to go to a hotel. The understanding officer calmly stated, “I understand. You will be safe here. I will patrol the area during the night to be certain you are secure.” After several hours Jalene returned home as she was unable to comfortably sleep in her automobile. She dreaded returning home to the wrath of Chuck, but she longed for a comfortable bed for the few hours of sleep she hoped to have.

Chuck’s assaults that night were typical of countless others. As he had done in 1967, he  wanted her to drop out of college and work full-time, so she could bring in more income. He was a Certified Public Accountant; the Tax Director for an oil company, with an adequate income to provide for his family. Why did he insist that she drop out of college to work full time?

She worked three part-time jobs to supplement the family income, so  she could earn her college degree. Jalene believed a degree would not only provide her a greater income, but also allow her to work a job she enjoyed; not one she was forced to take to meet the demands of a controlling husband.

As Jalene walked back into the house, she was greeted with Chuck’s brusque tone, “where have you been?” Passively Jalene replied, “I drove over to the university.” Chuck continue to interrogate her. She maintained short and honest answers, not wanting to divulge her safe haven, should she need to go there again. In their entire marriage, Jalene never lied nor was dishonest to Chuck.

Jalene learned early in their marriage, Chuck had been dishonest to her numerous times prior to and during their marriage.  With all  the lies she had endured from her parents, lying and dishonesty were some of Jalene’s greatest obstacles in trusting others. Her integrity and conscience would not allow her to do so.  She also knew she had nothing to hide. Thus, to Jalene deceit gained nothing.

As the weeks and months passed, seldom where there moments of closeness or kindness from Chuck. The children’s ages brought more responsibilities for her with their studies and activities. She was now carrying a full load of college coursework, but continued to focus on being the best wife and mother she could be. She realized she was not perfect, but she always hoped her best would outweigh the mistakes she made along life’s path.

Christmas Eve 1980 became one which would not only linger in Jalene’s heart, but would bring much sorrow each time she reflected upon it. She had hosted countless parties for church, Chuck’s family and office staff, as well as the children’s school and community groups. This left little time for preparing for her own small family’s holiday festivities.

Cutout, decorated Christmas cookies had been a Christmas tradition for as long as Jalene could recall. These were the last of the holiday treats which she needed to complete before Chuck’s brother, Mike and sister-in-law, Linda were going to join them for their Christmas Eve celebration.

When Jalene heard the kitchen door open, she sighed, “Chuck, I’m so glad you are home. Can you help me get the treats ready, since Mike and Linda will be here soon and I need to finish decorating these cookies?” Chuck didn’t hesitate with his gruff reply, “no, you should have managed your schedule better to have everything done.” Jalene burst into uncontrollable sobs. “Chuck, you know how much I’ve had to do with all the parties, college class finals, holiday shopping and gift wrapping. These cookies are the last goodies I’m finishing up.”

Jalene reminded him that with Christmas being the next day, his parents were coming and she had more food to prepare for that holiday meal.  For Chuck, this was another way to remind Jalene that he had no interest in her emotional needs. He didn’t care that she was exhausted. It was her problem not his. He changed his clothes and awaited the arrival of Mike and Linda.

Jalene’s tears became loud sobs. Her pleas for assistance became emotional hysteria. Why did Chuck turn his back on her time and again? She was not baking cookies for herself. She wanted to have a special holiday treat for their children and Chuck’s family. Shortly before Mike’s arrival, Jalene had become physically ill from the tremendous emotional fatigue.

She didn’t want Mike and Linda to be aware of another explosive encounter between her and Chuck. She got in her car and began driving. She felt she had no option except to get away from the intense psychological abuse from Chuck. The longer she drove, the more hysterical she became. She prayed and cried for the next four hours.

She returned home long after Mike and Linda had arrived and departed. Jalene was again reminded that her life with Chuck would never be one of joy and contentment. She was also reminded of her Dad’s words which he cited numerous times when things were difficult with Chuck, “you made your bed. Now you must lie in it”. Glenn had no sympathy nor compassion for the abuse Jalene endured from Chuck. Also, because Glenn had been extremely abusive toward Jalene, he believed she was a woman whom deserved such treatment.

Please follow Jalene as she continues to survive the sorrow of a loveless marriage. Will it improve or only worsen?  This blog began with her childhood journey in April 2016.

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