FAMILY OF THREE

Daily Chuck went on job interviews for his perfect career job. Eagerly, Jalene awaited Chuck’s return from the interviews so they could resume their search for a new home. Fortunately, they located an apartment only days after their Oklahoma return. It was an older, but charming two bed room apartment, having a room for their new addition, now only days from arrival.  They signed a year’s lease as they believed they would be residing in Oklahoma City close to Chuck’s parents. Because Chuck had always had a close relationship with his parents and especially his mother, Jalene believed he was unwilling to look for a job outside the Oklahoma City area.

Jalene had no ties to Oklahoma since she had been born in OH and still called the buckeye state home. However, Jalene’s current primary focus was on delivering a healthy baby. Even though she preferred residing in another city, so she and Chuck could establish their lives as a new family, she realized they would most probably remain in Oklahoma City.

Jalene was in astonishment when Chuck announced he had located a potential job, but it was 100 miles from Oklahoma City. The company was interested in personally interviewing him and also invited Jalene to accompany Chuck on the drive to the interview. While Chuck was interviewed, Jalene sat in the receiption area of the oil company, pondering what their future might be.

Their first three years of marriage had not been as Jalene had hoped and dreamed. Their conflicts and arguments were frequent. Also, Chuck’s actions of being cold and distant toward Jalene had remained constant.  Nonetheless, she was reminded often of her pastor’s words, “she had taken a vow before the Lord to be Chuck’s wife and she must remain.”  She was now going to be the mother of his child, so she desired only that their marriage could be a blessed and happy one.

If Chuck were offered this job, would Chuck become more content with his life?  As a result, would he treat her with the love and respect she desired as his wife? Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted when Chuck returned to her side. As they walked to the car, he informed her, he had been offered the job.

When the company realized their baby was due in less than 2 weeks, they agreed Chuck could move to Enid as soon as the baby was born. For Chuck and Jalene could this be the beginning of a new life for them? It certainly appeared to be a new chapter in their life’s story.

Chuck and Jalene had never owned furniture for the first three years of their marriage. They had resided in furnished apartments. Now that Chuck had been offered a job, they realized they could purchase a few basic necessities to establish their new home.  Meager purchases of a sofa, one chair, an occasional table, a bedroom dresser and a kitchen dinette set seemed like the beginning of a dream for them. Chuck’s parents had given him his childhood bed, which was one less item they were required to purchase. Though diminutive in quantity, their furniture was an abundant blessing.

While living on the base in Georgia, they had purchased a baby crib at the commissary. Due to limited finances, they were unable to purchase some of the other baby accessories. However, because it was 1972 there were far less baby furnishings and accessories than today’s babies are provided. Jalene realized after being reared on government commodities that it didn’t take a lot to make an apartment “a home.” She was eager to begin housekeeping for their family of three.

At that moment in time, life was grand for Chuck and Jalene. Chuck had been hired in the accounting department of an oil company in Enid, OK. Even though they had settled into an apartment in Oklahoma City, they would now leave to begin a new adventure. They would soon have a baby and career in a new city.

Within days of Chuck’s job offer, Jalene went into labor. She awakened at 3:00 a.m. March 15. 1972, experiencing pain. After telephoning her obstetrician, he informed her she would soon be a mom. She and Chuck arrived at the hospital within the hour. After validating Jalene was in active labor, they registered her as a patient in the obstetric ward.

After Jalene stepped upon the scale, both she and her nurse were in astonishment that she weighed one pound less than the day her pregnancy was confirmed. Her lengthy illness during the pregnancy had been an unexpected weight loss program. However with her height and slight build, she had not desired to lose weight. Now her prayer was for a healthy baby and delivery.

As the day and night wore on, Jalene’s delivery was not going as expected. Her obstetrician made numerous visits to check her progress. She was in labor, but the little addition was choosing to delay entry into the world.  The next day when Jalene was taken into the delivery room, Dr. Perry cited the rationale for the hindered arrival. “Little one” was posterior (face up); not the customary “face down” position. With each contraction “little one” retrieved back into the birth canal. This caused a longer and more painful delivery. After over 27 hours of labor, “she” arrived.

Please continue the journey as Jalene and Chuck became a family of three.

Take A Number Please

As Jalene and Chuck visited countless apartment complexes in an effort to locate a short-term residence, they located a brand new apartment to call “home” while Chuck completed his basic officer’s training.

Jalene was unable to find friends during her days of isolation in the apartment. When not cleaning, doing laundry or running errands, her days were filled with sewing for the new baby and meal preparation for Chuck.

Medical technology of the 1970’s did not permit gender identification of the unborn babies. Therefore, all of Jalene’s hand sewn treasures had to be gender neutral. She desired a daughter, but a healthy baby was far more important than the gender. God had already chosen a child for them, so only He knew whether the baby would wear pink or blue.

One of the loneliest holiday seasons Chuck and Jalene experienced in their marriage was that of 1971. They were financially destitute as Chuck didn’t receive a check from the U.S. Army until 60 days after arrival on the base. Because Jalene was no longer employed and without money in a savings account, they struggled to meet their daily necessities. There were no Christmas gifts for each other. They had purchased gifts for their families prior to departing Oklahoma. The few gifts they received from their family had been packed among their meager possessions, transported from Oklahoma when they departed; awaiting to be opened on Christmas day.

As Jalene reflects upon their Christmas of 1971, it was lonely, but sincerely the only Christmas in their 44 year marriage there were no hostile words between them. There was no arguing about where the holidays would be spent, whom would be invited over for the festivities or even what food would be prepared for the holiday meal. They were a couple of young 20′ somethings; alone, financially broke and with only the other to lean on. As in the Tale of Two Cities, ” it was the best of times and the worst of times”, those words were never more true than December 1971. They sat alone in their tiny, sparsely furnished apartment on Christmas Eve. and Christmas day; no gifts to share,  nowhere to go, no money for even a tank of gas; looking toward their future.

For Jalene, she anticipated what would lie ahead for each of them with Chuck’s career, a home and most importantly their new family. In less than 3 months Jalene and Chuck would be parents.

With his new duties as an officer in the U.S. Army, Chuck would frequently be away from home for several consecutive days while performing field training. Thus, Jalene’s long days alone were arduous for her. The lonely days were tolerable when Chuck informed her they would be returning to Oklahoma before their baby was born.

Jalene’s experiences at the local base hospital for all of her pre-natal check-ups were certainly atypical of the care she had received prior to their departure. Jalene’s  OB physician in Oklahoma; a man 20-30 years Jalene’s senior was a caring and compassionate man whom although had never endured childbirth, had been alongside his wife when she gave birth to their 5 children. Therefore, Dr. Perry voiced his trepidation to Jalene when he realized she would be residing on a military base during much of her pregnancy.

During Jalene’s first pre-natal appointment on the base, she understood  Dr. Perry’s apprehension. All the women awaited their appointment in a large room after “taking a number”; akin to the local deli. The women were not assigned a physician, but would be the “next in line” when their number was called. The examination was as insensitive as the appointment process. The physicians were rote, both physically and emotionally.

Due to Jalene’s severe illness during her pregnancy, Dr. Perry had displayed much concern. However, the base physicians had no unease with her condition. They were cavalier when citing the symptoms and illness would cease in approximately 4 months.

The return trip to Oklahoma seemed longer than their departure, as Jalene was now only weeks from giving birth. Her nausea and vomiting had never subsided and the pain in her back and legs was extreme. Chuck’s attitude toward the frequent stops along their journey were now better tolerated than on the departure from Oklahoma.

Chuck realized this pregnancy was difficult for Jalene.  It was apparent by all whom saw Jalene’s swollen face and limbs that she would be thrilled when she was a new mother rather than an expectant mother. As they pulled into the driveway of Chuck’s parents on a cold, wintery day in 1972, Jalene had never been as happy to see her in-laws.

Chuck’s mother had been extremely outspoken about becoming a grandmother; especially due to her great disdain for Jalene.  She was in such physical discomfort from the long trip home that Jalene realized Lorraine’s traditional sarcasm and criticism would have no effect upon her.  Jalene was thrilled to be able to lie down on a bed and stretch her legs from the long automobile ride.

The next day required Chuck and Jalene locating a new home as they settled back into Oklahoma. Chuck’s military assignment had not been an international assignment as he expected, but rather one in Oklahoma. The war in Viet Nam was concluding and the requirement for officers was diminishing. Because Chuck had chosen not to remain in the army full time, he was assigned to a unit in Oklahoma training new recruits on week-ends and in the summer. Therefore Chuck had the freedom to obtain a job of his choice in his chosen accounting career.

Please continue with me as Jalene and Chuck begin the next chapter of their lives.

MY EYES ARE DEFINITELY NOT BLUE!

The November weather made their trip to Georgia more challenging than if they had departed in the spring when Chuck graduated from college. However, he had to await his orders for their departure.

With Jalene’s illness during her pregnancy, the commute from Oklahoma to Georgia was difficult for her. Chuck was frustrated with Jalene’s physician’s order to stop frequently during the commute. Because of the swelling in Jalene’s feet and legs, her doctor knew being able to walk around for a few minutes would lessen the discomfort for Jalene. Chuck complained this would cause them to spend more time on the road for their arrival to Georgia.

Jalene was confused,  as she didn’t understand Chuck’s rationale. They had both resigned from their jobs and fulfilling Chuck’s military obligation was now the only urgent requirement. Jalene noted if they required additional time for arrival to Georgia, they could depart Oklahoma earlier.

However, with her relentless nausea, pulling off the road for Jalene to become ill was routine during the trip to their new, temporary home. The most memorable “sick stop” was upon arrival at  Ft. Benning. No sooner had they entered the gate for the U.S. Army base than Jalene had to find a place to become ill. Chuck quickly pulled into a heavily wooded area with a long drive. Several days later, he realized Jalene had “left her mark” upon the commanding general’s lawn. Both Jalene and Chuck were humiliated to realize this was a private residence. However, when nature called, there was no time to decipher their locale.

Jalene assured Chuck that with the darkness of night, they were not seen and with the heavy rain which had been falling during the incident, no trace would remain. Jalene always snickered when Chuck complained of this memory.  As she noted, she didn’t become ill at their front door or even in their drive. The actual residence was a distance from the area of Jalene’s illness.

There were numerous emergency stops for Jalene over the next few months. When no public restrooms were close by, shoulders on the roadway, grassy paths in parks and numerous parking lots became her companion during her illness. Additionally, an emergency room visit while unable to breathe was just one more reminder that she was indeed a “mother to be.”

Because Chuck understood one of the very first mandates as a new officer to Ft. Benning would be a visit to the base barber, he had chosen to allow his fine hair to be much longer than his customary style. Jalene was embarrassed as his hair appeared unkempt for weeks as he refused to have it cut. Little did Jalene realize that Chuck’s defiance would remain for the duration of their marriage and beyond.

On the very same day, Chuck lost his battle with his long hair, he chose to bring Jalene one of the greatest sorrows of their marriage. Years later while sitting in the counselor’s office of the battered women’s shelter in Ft. Worth, TX she would realize abuse comes in many forms. This was a moment which is indelible for Jalene. She realized in November 1971, her husband had never seen her, had never looked into her eyes, had truly never known her as a person, nor desired to do so.  She then realized she was merely one of his assets; not a person.  Now she carried his child and what was she to do?

Chuck was commanded to complete volumes of paper work upon his entrance to Ft. Benning. This included information of his present and past life, as well as personal data about himself and Jalene.

Jalene had sat alone in the car while awaiting Chuck’s check in procedures.  As he handed her copies of the documents which he had signed, she noticed the personal information about herself.  As she continued to read the document, she began hyperventilating as she sobbed. Chuck cited her eyes were blue. What?

God had bestowed upon Jalene three traits which she viewed as assets during her dating years in high school and college. The boys had always complimented her on those assets; her natural blonde hair, her well-endowed, natural chest AND her lovely green Scottish eyes.

Jalene was proud of her Scottish heritage from her maternal grandfather; born in Scotland and arriving in the U.S. as a young boy. Her grandfather had died when her mother was a young child. Therefore, Jalene was saddened she never knew him, but was proud when people would comment on her bright, green eyes. She always said, “they are from my Grandpa McIntosh.” Now her husband of almost 3 years had chosen to insult her by stating her eyes were another color.

WHY-?? As Jalene queried him, he noted he just wanted to write down something different.  Her pleas for an understanding of his actions were received with harsh, bitter and angry words. He wanted her to have blue eyes, not green, so that is what he documented. Jalene had always accepted him for the person he was. Why could he not do the same for her? She cried for days when she thought of his actions.

There would NEVER be an apology. To Chuck, he had spoken and Jalene would just have to accept it was his desire. Even when Jalene queried him about lying, he noted, it was unimportant. The U.S. Army wasn’t concerned with the color of wife’s eyes.  He wanted them blue, so that is what he documented. Even now 45 years later, Jalene weeps at this memory.

YES, I MOST CERTAINLY AM ILL!

Dear Friends, Thank you for your patience during my absence these past couple months. There have been numerous life challenges, but no excuses. It’s time to return to our journey with Jalane and Chuck.

Chuck’s college graduation was imminent, so the enthusiasm for their future temporarily lifted the strain of their loveless and abusive marriage. Jalene eagerly planned a celebration for Chuck’s family and friends to share in his joyful milestone.

One of the highlight of Chuck’s graduation was the R.O.T.C. commission service, also known as a pinning ceremony. As the graduating seniors take their oath of office, their new rank is pinned by a loved one symbolizing the beginning of their military careers. Chuck’s handsome appearance in his Army dress uniform reminded Jalene of her rationale in accepting the initial date with Chuck. Following Chuck’s graduation he had obtained his B.B.A. in Accounting and was now a Second Lieutenant in the US Army.

Jalene was hopeful Chuck’s desire for their future was comparable to hers; to have a home and family while fulfilling their goals and desires for successful careers. She also remained optimistic that an addition to their family would “soften” Chuck’s harshness toward her.

As the summer progressed, Chuck awaited his military assignment as he worked in his uncle’s auto business. Jalene continued her employment with a local oil company.

In late summer of 1971 Jalene was jubilant to learn in the spring of 1972 she and Chuck would become parents. Her joy was contagious as Chuck’s Dad, Ben learned he would become a grandfather. Because Ben and Chuck’s Mom, Lorraine had become parents later than most couples, they possessed uncertainty of becoming grandparents.  Ben’s euphoria was uncontrollable when he learned he would become a “PaPa.”

Jalene’s elation was slightly diminished when Glenn and Lorraine informed Chuck and Jalene they had no desire to be grandparents.  Jalene believed because of Glenn’s lack of love and his extreme abuse toward her, he would not accept her children. Noting he had no desire to become a grandfather was a validation of this concern. Nonetheless, Lorraine’s and Glenn’s attitude didn’t deter Jalene’s enthusiasm for her future into motherhood.

Reflecting on that era in the workplace, it now displays evidence of disrespect and maltreatment of employees. Jalene endured severe nausea and vomiting for the duration of her pregnancy, which commenced almost immediately upon conception and ended only when their daughter was born. Jalene never left home without her emesis pan which also accompanied her into the delivery room.  The medical community of the 1970’s provided no treatments for expectant mothers suffering from such symptoms. As a result, Jalene tried all “old wives” treatments, including crackers, ginger and peppermint. Nothing helped!

Jalene’s employer mandated that all pregnant women cease working on the first day of their 5th month of pregnancy.  However, she was counseled frequently about the numerous times she “left her desk” to become ill in the ladies’ room.

Jalene vividly recalls the spies whom her female supervisor mandated to follow Jalene into the restroom to validate she was indeed becoming ill. She would enter the stall and within seconds, a fellow colleague would enter the ladies’ room and stand outside her stall until she opened the stall door to depart.

The actions of her employer, supervisor and fellow colleagues were a tremendous form of stress for Jalene. She communicated her concern about their actions, but it didn’t alter their hostilities against her. Her illness appeared to be a personal affront to her supervisor and department director. She was perplexed when she was informed if she didn’t cease visiting the ladies’ room to become ill, they would deduct her paycheck. Fortunately such archaic actions of employees are no longer tolerated.

These unscrupulous actions against her caused Jalene to vow earnestly she would return to college to complete her degree. She realized she was deemed as merely one of “many in the hive”, not as an individual with legitimate personal and physical concerns.  She was aware there was not a perfect work environment, but none would be as hostile toward her as this company had been.

Management threatened to terminate her following her major surgery. Additionally, Jalene was threatened with termination when her pregnancy inflicted significant illness upon her body. She believed this company had to be the exception to the rule. She was correct. Never again did she experience such merciless behavior from an employer. She encountered numerous aggressive, saber-tongued supervisors, but none as willing to treat her with the contempt as she encountered at the oil company.

In November 1971, Chuck and Jalene bid farewell to their families and headed southeast toward their new home in Ft. Benning, GA. Please follow me as Chuck and Jalene continue their journey.

The Check Please

Thank you for your patience and tolerance of my absence from this blog. I have begun traveling out of state for an abuse recovery and healing bible study and support group. While sharing with you; my readers of my life’s journey, this opportunity is one which I view as an incredible blessing and opportunity. My blogs may not be as timely as I desire, but please know I will continue to share this voyage of sorrow, pain and ultimately, healing.

Jalene’s sorrow increased as her days as a new bride passed without the love, affection and attention from her husband. Nonetheless, she heeded her pastor’s words that she must remain in the marriage. “If only” Jalene could have looked into the future, she would realize the grief at times would become almost intolerable.

She was young and hopeful that things would improve. Chuck returned to his college classes while Jalene worked full-time, as an accounting clerk for a large oil company. She loathed her job environment. It was not conductive to high productivity with the harsh criticism and policies of the company, department and supervisor. The work was not a career, but merely income. At times she was resentful Chuck mandated she quit college to work full-time for his benefit.

Also because they owed only one automobile, Chuck commanded that he have use of the car. Jalene was obligated to locate a carpool to and from her job 20 miles from their home. Jalene was cognizant she had no freedoms. Chuck and her employer were extremely controlling.

Now she was at the mercy of a carpool as to when she departed for work and when she returned home. Routine “after work” errands could not be fulfilled as if she had her own automobile. Years later when she had the use of an automobile to commute to work, she would appreciate the freedom of performing her household errands before returning home.

Jalene’s chronic headaches and anxiety began shortly after becoming Mrs. Chuck Wood. However, being reared in the conservative religion instructing the wife to be submissive to her husband in all his petitions, she believed she had no options but to oblige. Chuck’s control and maltreatment began a cycle of physiological maladies.

Approximately a year into their marriage, Jalene became extremely ill requiring major surgery which necessitated a 15 day hospital stay. The 1960’s was not an era of compassion for employees enduring health or family obstacles. Jalene’s employer mandated she return to work prior to her physician’s medical release.

The forced early return to work caused a medical set-back for Jalene, which upset Chuck. He was fearful she would lose her job, thus pushing her harder to do anything her employer demanded. Jalene looked toward the future. She vowed that in spite of Chuck’s mandates someday she would return to college which would provide an opportunity for a career she chose.

Life continued. Chuck worked part-time to supplement Jalene’s full-time income. Their modest one bed room apartment was leased fully furnished. Jalene longed for a “home” which had her personal touches, and  for a “family”, but most of all for the love from the man she called, husband. Chuck’s aloofness toward her only increased as his college degree drew closer in his sight. His desire was not for a wife, but for a “check” and a “house keeper”.

Jalene was frequently mandated to work week-ends for monthly, departmental audits. This permitted Chuck to live as a “single man”; doing as he pleased. Years later Jalene would realize he was building a foundation of dishonesty and mistrust early in their marriage. He was secretive in his actions and always in his thoughts and emotions toward her.

When Jalene’s week-ends were free from employment, she and Chuck would frequently attend the university football games with the student season tickets.Because Chuck had no interest in friendships or socialization, Jalene’s interaction with others was limited to colleagues and fellow church members.

Sunday was the weekly church service, frequently followed with a visit to Chuck’s parents whom resided nearby. Jalene’s family pushed her further from their lives as they continued to admonish her for having values different from theirs. She never understood how determination to improve her life’s status from her upbringing was to be viewed in an inverse manner. Nonetheless, she continued to reach out to each of her family on all special occasions. She always remembered Glenn and Jayne with cards, gifts and visits or telephone calls.

As Chuck’s college graduation approached, he became more apprehensive of his future in the military, as the Vietnam war intensified. He realized when he became an R.O.T. C. (Reserved Officer Training Corp) cadet his commitment to the Army would be repayment for the college scholarship and stipend which they had provided him during his undergraduate degree.

Jalene was frequently awakened with Chuck’s nightmares of Vietnam. Even though he had not received his military assignment, he presumed the worst. Chuck’s assumptions in spending the next few years overseas, prompted bursts of fear and visions. Jalene’s attempts to console Chuck were not received with the warmth and love she desired. She wanted to be a loving and supportive wife. However, when one is overcome with distress it may not always be possible to accept endearment from those closest to them.

Please continue on Jalene’s journey as Chuck graduates college and they begin the next chapter of their life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU ALREADY WASHED THE CAR!

Chuck and Jalene’s spring wedding had been a simple one. They had to pay for their ceremony and reception without financial assistance from either set of parents. Though small and modest, the service was in the church with their few family and friends.

Jalene and Jayne had worked for months sewing the bridesmaid’s gowns, flower girl dress and Jalene’s gown. The fresh bouquets were not elaborate, but Jalene enjoyed the fragrance of the fresh roses and daisies; her favorite flower. The reception consisted of merely cake and punch, but for the 1960’s it was satisfactory.

As Jalene walked down the aisle as Mrs. Chuck Wood, she had no idea this moment in time would have an impact far more emotionally painful than the previous 21 years she had endured from the physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her parents.  As Jalene had sung many times for other weddings, the lyrics to the Carpenter’s song of the 1960’s reverberated in her mind and heart. She would ponder for the next 50 years and beyond why those words could not have been realized for her:

 

We’ve Only Just Begun”

We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
We’ve only begun

Before the rising sun we fly
So many roads to choose
We start out walking and learn to run
And yes, we’ve just begun

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talking it over just the two of us
Working together day to day
Together

And when the evening comes we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, We’ve just begun

 

Following the wedding and reception, as they headed toward their small, furnished apartment, Jalene was looking toward the night ahead, but continued to deliberate over Chuck’s rationale for no honeymoon. They had received several hundred dollars as cash wedding gifts.  In the 1960’s, this would have been more than enough to take a short, though lovely honeymoon.

As Jalene would realize in a few hours and which counselors would validate for years ahead, mandating there was no honeymoon was another mode of avoidance for Chuck. Because he was gay, he had no desire to be confined in the entrapments of a honeymoon. Jalene would expect romance and intimacy, which he had no desire to provide. Now that she was his wife, Chuck believed his facade was secure.  Certainly if a man of the 1960’s were married, it was assumed he must be straight.

Jalene departed the wedding reception in a captivating yellow and lace dress she had designed and sewn for this occasion.  She earnestly trusted she would have a wonderful new life ahead. She also believed the cheerful color was reflective of the sunshine which she assumed would be a component of many days of their married lives.

Only miles away from the church, Chuck drove to a car wash. Jalene shrieked, “What are you doing? You washed the car before the ceremony.” Jalene was oblivious to the reality his shunning of her was beginning. As they walked to the door of their apartment there were no rose petals on the path to the bedroom, nor chilled champagne to toast the couple. The dark apartment was symbolic of their future.

After days and hours of shopping for the perfect negligée, Jalene remained unsuspecting that Chuck had no desire for such enticement. He barricaded himself in the locked bathroom, noting he was shampooing his hair. As bizarre as re-washing his car, was the fact he was now re-shampooing his hair.

Certainly walking down a wedding aisle or consuming cake and punch would not have caused a repeat action of showering.   Chuck believed if he stalled the marriage consummation long enough, Jalene would elude intimate desires. As the night progressed, Chuck realized Jalene’s expectation would not be diminished.

However, Chuck made a clandestine telephone call to his 17 year old brother to liberate him from the romantic desires of his new bride. When Mike arrived at their apartment before 8 a.m. the following morning, Jalene was flabbergasted. “What are you doing here?” Jalene sighed.

Mike’s rapid response, “Chuck telephoned me to spend the day with him”, validated what Jalene had realized the prior night. At 6 p.m. Jalene insisted that Mike depart. He and Chuck had spent the day together; a day which was to  have been a honeymoon for Chuck and Jalene. The harsh anger and resentment which Chuck displayed toward Jalene would be her new “norm” as his wife.

Jalene’s heart was heavy with remorse. Chuck didn’t desire to be a husband. Jalene was a façade for his sexual desires. As days passed without sexual intimacy, she realized she must have the marriage annulled. As a naïve girl of the 1960’s she believed she must consult her pastor for such an action.

Pastor Northcutt was adamant, “oh no, Jalene, you took your vows before God. You must remain in this marriage.” Jalene’s pleas, “but Pastor Northcutt, Chuck doesn’t want to be intimate” didn’t alter his view.  He reminded her, “you married for better or worse. Perhaps, in time he will have the desire to be sexually intimate.”

Over the years, countless times Jalene sobbed, “why oh why didn’t I run as hard and fast as I could to get away from Chuck? Why did I listen to the pastor?”  Jalene was not unlike many conservative girls of the era. When reared in church, the words of the pastor or elders are akin to those of God.

Please follow Jalene’s journey of heartache and emotional abuse.

What Had She Done? This Was Not a Marriage

Jalene had a few casual dates from the age of 17 until the day she married four years later.  She comprehended years later that the “love of her life” whom she met in 1966, Jim Eakes would be only a memory as the years passed. Jim had taken Jalene to CO to meet his parents. Jalene was delighted as Jim’s mother introduced her as Jim’s fiancée. However, Jim had not spoken of love for Jalene and she understood his relationship with her was not serious.

Jalene wondered for the remainder of her life “what if” she had accepted Jim’s invitation to join him in the summer of 1967 backpacking across Europe. Because Jalene was a conservative gal, she believed this would not be appropriate.

Over the years, how often she has grieved her decision. Nonetheless it was history and there was no turning back. Even though she was “in love” with Jim, as so often happens with young love, each went their separate ways after their freshman year at the university.

Also, it was not Jalene’s decision to break off the engagement with Jim Ford, but those were two lost loves. Jalene felt the cliché “it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” was not appropriate for her. In the 1960’s it was the belief that young women must marry early or they would be termed a spinster. Jalene became entrapped with this philosophy as her fellow, college class mates were becoming engaged and marrying.  She continued to yearn for a man to spend her life with.

After the holidays, she returned to the private, Christian college realizing some of the classes would be awkward as she encountered Jim and his new girlfriend, Susan.  The shattered betrothal between Jim and Jalene brought criticism from many of her female classmates.

Jalene continued to enjoy her numerous trips with the college chorale, as they sang in churches throughout the U.S. At the conclusion of the spring semester, she was astounded to receive a letter from Chuck Wood, with a marriage proposal. They had dated the previous summer before she attended the Christian college.

They had also had a couple of casual dates when she returned home for Christmas vacation, but a marriage proposal? She was astonished.  What man would ask a girl to marry him in a letter unless he was in an isolated area without telephones or an automobile to drive to see her face to face. The college was not in a remote locale.

This single event would not only alter Jalene’s life for the next 49 years, but it should have been an indication that something was not typical with Chuck. Jalene spent the next several days contemplating this letter.

Jalene had the misconception that if Jim broke off the engagement, there may not be other opportunities for an offer of marriage. She believed she must accept. Because her self-esteem had been destroyed with the chronic abuse from her father, she sincerely assumed she must not be acceptable to any young man whom was deemed worthy.

Chuck was not handsome and he also lacked confidence. He was extremely egotistical, but Jalene didn’t understand that until years later. He was cocky and often times rude toward Jalene, but for her this was normal. Her father was abusive and cruel. Jim Ford had been unkind toward her, so she justified Chuck’s actions as a male trait.

As Jalene and her fellow classmates departed the campus in the spring, Jalene was returning back to OK engaged to Chuck. Mr. Ford’s influence on Jim was evident.  Jim and Susan were planning a summer wedding. They were both fulfilling Mr. Ford’s desire for the two of them to be “one.”

As she returned back to OK, Jalene was once again working full time. She was content with her job at a local bank, instead of  the housekeeping and nanny work as she had done for the previous 9 months while a student at the private college.

Jalene was conscientious and thrifty with her income. Because Jalene’s parents remained on government “handouts” their finances would not permit assistance with the wedding, so she understood she had financial obligations for not only her college education, but also for the wedding.

Approximately a month before the fall classes began, Chuck informed her she could not return to college. He needed her to work full-time so she could pay their expenses during their marriage. Jalene was astounded at Chuck’s request. Why was he deemed worthy of completing his college education, but she was mandated to be the “bread winner?” Her petitions for equal consideration of her college education were ignored by Chuck.

His command was that either she work full-time and forfeit her desire to complete her college education or he would nullify their betrothal.  His other offer had been that they marry 4-5 years later following his college graduation and military obligation.

Jalene’s parents were adamant. If Chuck and Jalene were engaged, they should plan to marry as scheduled, not 4-5 years later. This should have been another red flag, had Jalene not been so naïve.  Normal men don’t wish to delay a wedding and the intimacy which is a component of the marriage. Chuck’s desire was to delay the inevitable, but Jalene didn’t apprehend this was a sign of his homosexuality.

Over the years, when the abuse from Chuck was intense, Jalene spent hours of grief and buckets of tears over her unfortunate decision to marry him. At age 21, as a naïve, virgin, Jalene did marry Chuck. She discerned her mistake on their wedding night. What had she done? How could she end this sham of a marriage?

Please follow me as Jalene attempts to accept the outcome of her marriage.

How Can Hair Rollers Be a Sin?

Jalene’s anticipation increased daily as she prepared to depart for her new college life. She would now be a full- time on campus resident which she had coveted during her freshman year as a commuter student. Residing several hundred miles away from home was a bonus for Jalene, as she realized she would seldom interact with her family.

Her room, board and tuition were paid via the scholarship. However, it was necessary to locate a part-time job to defray the cost of books and college expenditures, as well as necessities of daily living. She searched earnestly for a job while competing with students from three other local colleges. She was ultimately hired to work as a nanny and housekeeper. Because she remained car- less, it was necessary to commute to her after- class jobs via the local city bus.

Nonetheless her enthusiasm was high as she met her roommate and settled into her dorm room. Within days of her arrival at the college, she was astounded to realize she had left one prison for another. The lengthy list of-strict rules at this ultra conservative religious college was surreal. Jalene pondered how such rules could be contrary to the bible as the faculty and staff, cited as their rationale.

The 1960’s was a decade of hair accessories which included rigid, brush hair rollers, as well as small juice cans. Such implements were designed to bring only the most gorgeous bounce and curls to the coiffures of the decade. If any female student was seen outside the dorm with such an accessory, it was justification for reprimand or citation. With enough such offenses the student would be expelled from the college.

Every girl at the college was required to wear a dress or skirt.  The girls were mandated to get on their knees to validate their hemlines touched the floor. If they did not, an immediate alteration was mandated. Also per the policies, equally as offensive as wearing curlers outside the dorm was walking to the dorm shower and restrooms without wearing a robe. Again, Jalene found this policy bizarre as this was a non-co-ed dorm. When querying about such a rule, she was informed one must not be a poor testimony of having a fellow female student see them walking around in their pj’s.

The list of rules become more bizarre with each passing day. One of these was mandating that all female and male students be separated in the dining hall. Females were required to sit on one side of the dining room; the males on the other. What in the world? Jalene had no previous knowledge that such unusual and archaic policies were required.

Jalene understood her religious denomination was strict and conservative. Nonetheless, she had worn curlers outside her home and worn pj’s without a robe while joining other girls during church sleep-overs. She also sat with boys while on dates and even while attending church services. Now she was informed she is going against the bible by being involved in such behavior.

Jalene quickly realized she was as imprisoned at this college as she had been while residing with her parents. However, the bonus for her was freedom from the constant verbal and physical abuse. She  was also meeting classmates from all over the United States which was a joy for Jalene.

There was some humor among the affliction of the campus policies. The students understood that when betrothed they were permitted to date off campus. Otherwise, only on campus or church dates were authorized. Within weeks of arriving on campus, Jalene  became one of the betrothed statistics.

Her new love was Jim Ford. As the Thanksgiving holiday approached Jim invited Jalene to join him and his family in his hometown approximately 150 miles from the college. She was jubilant to share in his family celebration as her own family didn’t provide such an opportunity.

Upon arrival to Jim’s home, Mrs. Ford warmly welcomed Jalene with greetings and hugs. Jim’s Dad remained aloof. During the holiday family dinner with Jim’s brother, sister-in-law and his parents, Mr. Ford was not shy in inquiring why Jim had chosen not to date their family friend whom was also a student at the college.

Jalene was young and somewhat naïve, but she realized their engagement had not been blessed by Mr. Ford. A future wedding and marriage would also be marred with Mr. Ford’s negativity. Upon returning to college following the Thanksgiving break, Jalene realized what an influence Mr. Ford had on his sons’ lives. Jim broke off the engagement. By Christmas, Jalene was returning back to OK; alone and single.

She had become extremely ill days prior to departing for OK. Because the small, religious college had no medical clinic as had been provided for the students at the large, state university in OK, she was unable to see a physician. She had telephoned her parents for financial assistance to see a doctor since her fever and weakness increased. They informed her no physician was necessary.

By the time she returned back to OK, it was apparent to her parents, a physician appointment was required. Her health would resume to normalcy, but not without medical intervention. Much of her Christmas holiday was consumed with recovery. Approximately a week before she returned back to college she contacted a boy she had dated the previous summer. She had no idea this contact would drastically change the course of her life.

Please follow me as Jalene continues her life’s journey.

 

IS THIS TRULY A COMPETITION?

The days approaching the preliminary Miss America competition were busy and filled with opportunities which Jalene had never experienced; brunches, interviews and meetings with the judges. On the evening prior to the pageant, the cliché of “out of the mouth of babes” was never more valid. While the contestants sat dining and enjoying conversation, the young daughter of one of the judges said, “the ballerina dancing the swan dance will be the winner. Obviously, the young girl was simplistic in her comments, but the message was profound.

Each of the contestants was a naïve teen, but they had enough experience to realize this was a fabricated contest. If Jalene had the life experience then as she possesses now, she would have walked out of the restaurant and declined to compete. However, she and the other contenders remained hopeful the youngster was in error.

The big day came with the final rehearsals and preparation for this memorable time. For Jalene, this was not merely a beauty contest, but an opportunity to be awarded a scholarship for her college education.   Hair was coiffed, make up was flawless, talents were rehearsed, formal gowns where elegantly hanging in the dressing rooms and the swimwear was perfect.

Jalene believed her butterfly tummy was probably akin to that of the other girls.  However, Jalene carefully observed the “Swan Lake” ballerina. Her confidence surpassed that of any of the other contestants. The curtain arose and it was “show time.” As the evening progressed and the winners were announced, the judge’s daughter held the truth; Miss City was (the ballerina performing Swan Lake-name purposely withheld).

Backstage the competitors whispered of the inequities of this event. Why did this happen? Years later Jalene would come to understand community politics for events such as this. Jalene never again viewed any competition as fair and honest. If something as minor as a preliminary beauty pageant in a “small town, USA” could be rigged, so too could competitions of far greater prestige and monetary value.

For the remainder of Jalene’s senior year of high school and the months which followed in preparation to enter college, life was as routine as it had been her previous 18 years. Glenn and Jayne remained abusive mandating Jalene provide all her life’s necessities, but also to be an unpaid maid, chef and laundress for the family.

However, during the summer following her high school graduation, Jalene began working two jobs to pay for her college education. It was not the era of student loans.  Hard work and determination were the pathways for a college education if the students had no financial assistance.

Jalene’s finances didn’t permit her to live the coveted college life of residing in a dorm, going to class and then socializing with fellow campus residents. She was envious of her classmates, living the typical university life while meeting countless new friends from across the nation. As she overheard conversations of their adventures, she realized her life would probably not include these kinds of memories.

Jalene worked multiple jobs weekly.  Because she resided at home with her parents and remained void of a car, traveling to and from her college classes necessitated carpooling with other commuting students. Therefore her part-time “after class” jobs had to be scheduled to accommodate her fellow commuters.

Toward the end of her freshman year at the local, state university, her desire for the routine college life became more alluring. Jalene was aware her church denomination offered a scholarship to their out of state, private college; donating tuition, room and board to the selected student. Jalene realized this would provide the opportunity to move from home and experience the campus life she so earnestly desired.

However, the college curriculum was of religious studies only and would not offer the array of degrees which the large state colleges provided. Therefore, if Jalene was the chosen recipient, she would have to determine an alternate degree from the one she was earning at the state university.

Nonetheless, Jalene applied for the scholarship, awaiting the outcome. She realized the scholarship would not only present new opportunities for her, but also give her a reprieve from the constant abuse from Glenn and Jayne. She was ecstatic when she was awarded the scholarship.

Please join me on Jalene’s journey as she begins a new adventure.

Not Better Than You

After Jalene’s junior year of high school, she was diligent to remain passive when she encountered Glenn and Jayne. The severe beatings had not only exhausted her physically and emotionally, but her self-esteem had plummeted to it’ lowest. Jalene never possessed confidence with Glenn’s continual degradation of her personality and traits, especially as he and Jayne continued to habitually demean her.

When Jalene returned from her dates, as she stood at her front door, frequently she would see a shadowy figure standing in the darkened living room window as the curtains were moving.  Immediately she would bid her date farewell and open the door to see Jayne standing and peering out the window.

Jalene’s laments were now the norm, “Mom, what were you doing, staring at us?” Jayne’s words were abrupt and harsh, “I wanted to make certain you behaved yourself.”

Jalene always thought silently that was peculiar, knowing Jayne had been her uncle’s mistress. Jalene’s morals were for herself; not her parents or other family. Because Jalene had been disgusted with Jayne’s actions with her Uncle Don, she knew her conscience of self-respect was far more important, than what her adulterous mother might think of her.  As often as Jayne “staked her spot” at the front window, she never observed any more than a good night kiss from Jalene’s suitors.

As Jalene approached the end of her senior year of high school, Glenn queried her on her plans for the future. She was going to attend college. This was another opportunity for Glenn to belittle and mock Jalene. “Oh so you think you will be better than any of us, by going to college?” Jalene was quick to reply, “No, I won’t be any better than any of you, but I will better myself. I have lived in poverty for my entire life and I’m hopeful a college education will provide me a better life.” Jalene’s determination to leave the life she had endured only angered Glenn and Jayne, but Jalene didn’t permit their negativity to negate her plans.

In the spring of her high school senior year, one of her teachers suggested that she audition for the upcoming city beauty pageant; the stepping stone for Miss America.  Mrs. Keys whom had been the counselor that received the telephone call from Mrs. Cosper the previous year, was now one of Jalene’s teachers.

She was keenly aware of Jalene’s financial situation and knew winning the pageant provided college scholarship money for the winner. Jalene cited she believed she wasn’t “good enough” to enter the pageant and didn’t have the funds for the pageant registration.  Mrs. Keys cited Jalene’s body frame of 5′ 7″ and 120 pounds was a rationale for her to be as competitive as any of the other contestants. Mrs. Keys was also aware of Jalene’s vocal talents for the competition.

Mrs. Keys informed Jalene to seek sponsorship from local retailers. After much persuasion, Jalene agreed. Within a week, she had obtained the required monies for the registration. However, that was a small task compared to the other financial responsibilities for the pageant. There was the formal attire, the swimwear, the costume for the talent portion of the event. Jalene opted not to allow these matters to deter her.

She had been a seamstress for the past 6 years, routinely receiving first place for her garments in the local 4-H sewing competition. Jalene had designed and sewn a full length formal gown just months prior.  She also had several garments she had recently designed, which she would wear for her interviews and upcoming social events for the pageant.

She had been in the high school chorale and was a regular vocal soloist for weddings and church, so she would select a song from the musical, Oklahoma as her talent. With a pair of jeans, shirt, jacket, cowboy boots and hat, her costume would be complete. She borrowed a leather, fringed jacket, cowboy hats and boots and she felt as confident as any of the gals.

Now it was a matter of giving the competition “her all”, but little did she know the contestant had been selected long before the event began. Please join Jalene in her journey as she enters the city beauty competition and moves forward on her journey.