My Journey to my Purpose. Part One.
I married a British man when I was 23. He has Discoid and Systemic Lupus. Lupus is Latin for ‘Wolf’. Most carriers get symmetrical scar like formations on their faces and bodies. I met him in AA, and he became a friend. The guy I was dating at the time was a heroin addict and my world was not a happy one. One night, we got into a fight. I pushed him first and he flew backwards into the bedroom door. To cut a very long story short… he decided that murder suicide was a good idea, and he pushed me in-between the bathroom basin and the toilet – with such force that I was stuck.
He went to the kitchen to go and shoot up and swallow all the pills he could find, and came back chanting in a language I don’t know, wielding a knife that was scarily and as cheesy as it may sound – decidedly just like the ones you see in horror movies, like Psycho. He pulled me by my hair out of the gap I was shoved into and dragged me, kicking and screaming onto the bed.
He knelt on my chest with one knee and in between his incoherent other language, I was to understand that he would kill me, and then lay next to me and die. He was not prepared to give me up. Well… my money, I suppose.
I was already covered in bruises and was numb in a way that made the situation feel… fake. I kicked and screamed because I was angry, not because I was scared. I lay looking up at his twisted gnarled facial expressions – knowing that it would be a long time before anyone came to find me. I was glad that I was dressed, and I was glad that it was night time. That was the sum total of my thoughts.
Whatever he took kicked in way faster than he had planned, and he started to struggle to stay focused. His eyes became heavy and although he was still angry, I don’t think he was able to forward think in the way one would need to if you planned to kill someone before dying yourself.
He clambered off the bed and told me not to move, which I obediently didn’t – for what felt like hours. Eventually, when I had planned my next few moves in my head, I stood. I lit a cigarette, and I crept down the passage. At a peep around the corner I could see that he had fallen face down onto the couch, and had thrown up. I was annoyed because the throw on the couch was my favourite. The knife was on the floor. I picked it up, and held the tip of it about 1cm away from his eye, and then reached as slowly and softly as I could for my cell phone. He had taken it apart at some point.
I put it back together and walked backwards out of the front door, locking it behind me and phoned my father. My father, a very gentle hearted man – who could kill you with his pinkie finger. For real. He was a policeman when I was a young girl, in the narcotics department of the SAPS. He was a sniper for some time, and then worked on horseback. After being a policeman he started work in an arms and ammunition store, and I used to catch a bus from art school to the shop he worked in – and do my homework in the gun safe. My love of guns developed there I think. He was a black belt in Kempo, which is not a pretty dance like energy wielding martial art. It’s a rip testicles off and feed through an eye socket type of style. When you move up a grade, you get a sharp kick to the stomach. So I realise it’s hard to imagine, but he really is a kind and gentle family loving man, but my family has a nickname ‘The Milne Mafia’ for a good reason. My dad was invited to attend the world championship cage fighting series one year, but my mother said ‘No.’. Hahah. All my brothers are boxers or MMA fighters and are not afraid to smack me silly if we have gloves on. The boxing bag in my parent’s garage is full of blood stains. We all get a little angry some times. The phrase ‘Are you a Milne or a mouse? Drink some cement and get on with it’ is one that is heard frequently.
So, needless to say, my father arrived and I was stood in the shadows anticipating a very angry and very high man to be trashing my apartment. My dad made a few calls and we waited together for an ambulance to arrive. At the time, I didn’t understand the order of things – but I do now. The paramedic went upstairs, and less than two minutes later came back down having been kicked in the face. By law he was unable to treat anyone who didn’t want to be treated. My father knew that, and we sent the paramedics away, one obstacle down. A police unit arrived, and I was told to sit out of view of my apartment and to wait.
The screams that followed were intense. I remember thinking he sounded like an animal trapped on spikes or something equally as painful. The screams were suddenly silenced, and it lasted for long enough that I stood up from where I was sitting on the ground on the opposite side of the police car to look. As I looked, I saw Joshua being dragged, face first, cable tied hog style by the policeman with my father following. I later discovered that Joshua took one of the policeman right off his feet, and my father did one of his ninja jabs to the neck and Joshua collapsed, gurgling.
I still don’t know who just happened to be carrying cable ties.
By the time they got him to the police van, he was conscious and fighting hard. The screaming had resumed, and he was angrier now. He had after all, just been dragged down five flights of stairs and there was a fair amount of blood on his face. He got a swift left hook which slowed him down long enough to cut the ties off of his ankles. At the time I didn’t know why they undid the ankle ties. But I have learned later that sometimes, the predictability of another’s determination to fight, is all you need to say ‘It was self-defence’.
Now he had his legs not only to kick at everything, but also to stop himself being put in the van. His protesting was pointless, and one of the policeman kicked him from a sideways angle to his left knee. I had to cover my ears for that bellow. But he went in, and when they locked the doors, it was haunting to hear him screaming and kicking against the sides and the doors.
Trip to the police station to file attempted murder charges, and a stern lecture from my father about what kind of company I insisted on keeping. My father had found several ID documents – and it was a weird feeling to think that the person I called ‘Joshua’ was actually someone else.
The next day I learned that he had been released because ‘his documentation had gone missing’.
So, my Lupus suffering friend at the time from AA, offered to stay with me for a few days until I found a safer place to be. I was newly clean and sober so my “walking testicle with hidden agenda” radar was on the blink. I know this because three months later I was married to the Wolf. On one side of the aisle were my conservative Mormon family who behaved impeccably and on the other were all my AA and addict friends who were setting fire to things to kill the boredom.
Not one of them liked him. And no one liked him enough to come to the wedding for him. That warning bell I was also too stupid to see.
So, as is common with alcoholics, when you fuck up – the answer is a ‘geographical’. A relocation – because running fixes everything. My new husband, who had physically pushed me out of the bed the night we were married, telling me to sleep on the floor (I suppose now there was no need for pretence… he had what he wanted).
We moved to England. Devon, to be exact. Devon – where there are more sheep and cows than I have ever seen anywhere else. They also spread cow shit every Thursday and you spent the day avoiding it… though always unsuccessfully.
I lived in Cullompton. A VERY small village that had one street with shops on it (the high street) – which meant that everyone knew everyone. I also lived on the High Street, above a pup that held Karaoke every Tuesday. In a small place like that, you learn the hard way that you ARE the news. You ARE the people to talk about because you are new. The only problem is, scandal is held in higher regard than moral obligation – so I really WAS the last to know that my husband was fucking the girl from the video store. I was the last to know that the police had been round looking for him for theft…
I also didn’t know that his father in law, who I had met for only 2 seconds before discovering this – thought his son was dead. THAT is how long he had been ‘’missing”.
He then fell sick. You know, Lupus and all. He was too lethargic to work, but he had enough energy to take our entire months’ rent money and buy 264 lottery tickets, smokes, and dry pasta.
By the time I left him, I was walking from home to my day job, and from there to my night job, and then home to wash and sleep for an hour, before having to go again. I kept that up for about two months before I completely frayed at the seams. He started closing curtains and he never bathed or brushed his teeth. Police would come knocking and we holed up and I never knew why. I would come home and he would be passed out on the couch in his underwear with his hand shoved in his underwear too. The kitchen was in a mess and my bed smelled like sex and I remember…. Just standing looking down at him one day and knowing – I could not do this anymore.
I grew up in a home where my parents wrote love letters to each other even after 35 years of marriage. They go on dates on Fridays and they adore each other. I suppose in my naivety, I believed that is what all marriages were supposed to be like.
I had been stashing money away in various parts of the flat we were staying in and I had packed a little back pack in case I needed to go suddenly. I gave notice at both my places of employ and told them I would be leaving after my next pay day.
On the day I left, I went out for the day, to say good bye to my old people. The people I had cared for while I lived and worked in Cullompton and Tiverton.
I walked to the bus station and bought a ticket for an early morning bus to London. I then went back home. Knowing that he would be there, on the couch, in the same underwear, passed out drunk and his stench would have filled the flat so that it was suffocating.
I took a permanent marker and wrote WANKER on his forehead, knowing he would not look in a mirror before venturing back down to the pub for his next binge.
And I left.
The bus ride was long, and sitting still for that long was like being in heaven. I was so tired. I slept most of the journey and when I arrived…. I listened to all 21 voice messages that started off angry and arrogant, and then with each, they became gentle and then panic stricken. I handed my phone to a homeless person, and that was the last time I heard the Wolf’s voice.
But …for every burning trial we have in our lives – there is an abundance of blessings if we just look at it right. I was miserable. I was married to a thief, a compulsive liar, an unhygienic drunk and a man who used an illness that I would have done anything to protect him from – against me. To his own gain.
The Blessing that came from being in a foreign country with no support structure and a husband that was not only a revolting human being, but also someone who was shameless in his own need for praise and to be looked after. The only moments he was nice to me was when he needed money, or he knew I could get him out of trouble.
I was forced to get two jobs to pay rent and put food on the table. The only work I could find was as an entry level care worker in old age homes in Cullompton and Tiverton. It was then, that I discovered how much I love and admire the elderly. I suppose they became my escape and if I REALLY break it down, they needed me and it wasn’t complicated. They appreciated me and it wasn’t complicated. They were beautiful and it wasn’t complicated.
I worked as a care giver and moved up the nursing food chain when I got to London and then when in South Africa, I managed a home for the frail, mentally frail and terminal.
Each face, and each person – regardless of their histories, was a gem to me. Someone to love and give dignity and peace to. THAT, I never would have had, unless I was stuck in a foreign country because of marrying a fucktard. So what I would like to try and do here, is to share some of my memories. The men and women who lived full lives and had an impact on me.
My Silver Lining: