Thoughts by Richard Bleil
And we were off to be married. It was very rapid; forces external to our relationship pushed us to an edge of ending or committing, and we decided to commit. After only about six months of dating, we were on a plane to Las Vegas about a week after the decision to just get married, so quickly, in fact, that in the plane before we were required to turn off our phones she called the brother she forgot to inform.
It wasn’t much time to plan for surprises, but I did my best. I had arranged, unbeknownst to her, to have a limousine meet us at the airport. I did have time to go to a card store and buy about fifty (a little shy) love and thank-you cards, and I mailed them all to her at the hotel in the hopes that they would be there when we arrived. They didn’t (or if they did the hotel didn’t know the guest to whom they were addressed), but the next day, sure enough, the front desk gave us a stack of cards addressed to my bride to be. It was the night before the wedding, and she sat on the bed opening her plethora of cards, all with an individual handwritten sentiment inside, and all signed, “Love Always, Richard”.
Yes, I’m a sap.
I think I knew, but she had fallen off of the wagon, and her drinking habits were becoming increasingly pronounced. At first, it was just one night when the kids were away, then it was the entire weekend. When we married, she was usually sloshed, but I let it slide. First, I assumed she was just celebrating, and celebrations are supposed to be “free days”, aren’t they? Well, that’s what a thought, anyway. Second, I didn’t realize that with the return of her alcoholism came the return of a woman that was not the sweet wife I had married. She was angry, abusive (mostly emotionally) and worse. This combination gave rise to a hole in the plaster of our wall that was just the size of her fist. Fortunately, to hide it from the boys, one of the cards I had sent her was just the right size to cover it up. And there it hung. On our wall. Not because she appreciated that particular card, or because that one of all of them struck her as her favorite, but to hide her anger from her boys.
Today I visited the house I’m trying to buy. It’s an HUD house, meaning it’s being sold by the city. The house has two accessibility ramps (out of three doors). I didn’t know why it was on the market, but usually one doesn’t like to think about such things. I wondered if it was a death, but today I discovered that the house is a foreclosure. This isn’t a good thing.
In what we’re calling our final walk-through, primarily I was looking for reasons why the plumbing inspection might have failed. I didn’t see any sign of leaks in the house or basement, but I did find some faucets open (no doubt for winterization) which might explain why the system wouldn’t hold pressure. Most importantly, I found the shut-off valve to the house, so if I get the water turned on, I can quickly turn it off in the event of a catastrophic leak. If it’s minor, I can no doubt isolate it and can probably fix such a leak myself.
The other thing that I noticed (and I noticed the first time as well) is one door in particular. It is a flimsy inside door to the downstairs bathroom. The door is a mess; the coating has holes from fists punched in on one side, and a large portion of the door torn out from the bottom on the other (possibly from kicking?). I guess there are a couple of possibilities. It’s possible that it is from violent outbursts as the house was being repossessed. Or it could be a sign of an abusive relationship.
I’ll never understand abusive relationships, but neither can I criticize. I had an abusive spouse, and even tried to convince her to go to marriage counseling in an effort to save it even after she asked me for a divorce. So how can I criticize others who stay in abusive relationships? But I can tell you a few things. First, anybody in such a relationship, please know that you’re not alone. Others are in the same situation and have been including me. Second, there is help. When you are ready, help is available. There is no shame in having been in such a relationship, and it takes courage to leave. When you’re ready, ask for the help you need, from your family and friends, neighbors, and even women’s shelters and police. You deserve to be in a happy, healthy, loving and non-abusive relationship.