I Don’t Care If She Starves

 

The Wood family’s schedule continued with jobs, school, sports, music lessons and countless church, community and school events. Chuck’s routine persisted to be arriving home long after dinner was consumed, the children had completed their homework and were settled in bed.

As Jalene  conversed with counselors and her pastor, she realized Chuck’s disdain for her only intensified. She maintained  her pleas to Chuck for an understanding of what she could do to be the wife he desired, but his isolation of her heightened .  The physical abuse strengthened as Chuck  shoved and restrained Jalene, while his emotional support and physical interaction were virtually non-existent.

Jalene’s counselor and pastor recommended she have a reprieve from Chuck. As the pastor queried whether Jalene had  friends or family whom she could temporarily reside with, she did not. However, she realized their counsel was correct. She could not remain as she was. She informed the children now a teen and pre-teen they would be moving from the house temporarily. They were adamant. They had no desire to move into an apartment and to leave their rooms and “things”.

Jalene was also stunned to hear Marie tell her that she knew “who buttered her bread” and if she left to accompany Jalene, Chuck would “write her off”. When Jalene shared these comments with her counselor, he informed her these were not the words of a 13-year-old. These were the words of her controlling and manipulative father.

Jalene pleaded with her children to join her, but at an early age, “things” became more important than relationships. Jalene grappled with whether to remain in the intense abuse or delay the inevitable. As she prepared to depart, Chuck physically and forcibly prevented her from removing anything from their home except her clothing and personal items.

They had additional furniture in the attic which sat collecting dust, but he reminded her it was his house and all things belonged to him. Jalene cited that she too was working, and they had achieved everything they owned with God’s love, grace and income together.  Other than their personal items, Jalene reiterated everything else was co-owned by each of them. Nonetheless, Chuck forbid her from removing even a dinner plate from their home. Abuse, control and manipulation were paramount to Chuck.

Jalene was dejected as she went from apartment to apartment to locate one which she could afford on her part-time income. In the 1980’s furnished apartments were not as plentiful and many too costly on her meager salary. After locating the apartment, she had to locate a bed, chair and table which she could lease short-term. Her anguish was the greatest she had ever felt. However, she was yet to learn of Chuck’s inconceivable behavior.

By the time she leased the apartment and meager furnishings and paid the deposits on the utilities, she was penniless. There was not even $1.00 for groceries. Working as a consulting dietitian in long-term care enabled her to eat lunch at the facilities where she consulted. That was her daily, sole meal. Survival became her utmost goal.

In less than 24 hours after she moved into the apartment, she learned Chuck had removed her name from joint savings and checking accounts. Fortunately, one of the banks required that a joint account be written as “and”, which negated Chuck’s attempt to remove her from that account.  However, she was eliminated from other accounts and therefore no access to monetary funds.

The week-end following Jalene’s arrival to the apartment she telephoned her children to come and join her for an outing. Christian refused, but Marie anticipated the outing. Upon arrival to Jalene’s apartment, as curious teens do, Marie began snooping in all the cabinets. Marie shrieked, “Mom, where is your food?”  Tearfully Jalene replied, “Baby, I can’t afford food. It took all I had to move into the apartment.”  Marie continued, “but how do you eat?” Woefully Jalene answered, “I eat my lunch at the nursing homes, but don’t eat dinner.”

Marie and Jalene enjoyed their evening together of watching a television movie and snacking on popcorn, which Jalene had purchased for Marie’s arrival.  When Jalene delivered Marie back home, little Marie was eager to let Chuck know Jalene had no food.

Chuck’s harsh and angry reply startled Marie, “I don’t care if your mother starves to death. She is the one that left.” After 15 years of abuse from Chuck, Jalene comprehended that no one mattered to him. His only concerns in life were his finances, prestige and image. As a tax director for a local oil company, his income was sufficient that Jalene should never have been mandated to work outside the home. However, Chuck’s rapaciousness and narcissism nullified any rationale for allowing Jalene to be the full-time stay at home wife and mother she so earnestly desired.  Additionally, treating Jalene with even the slightest respect was foreign to Chuck.

Please continue Jalene’s journey. Her blog began in April 2016 from her childhood.

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