The roads were flooded, there was no way of getting back to the city in a normal car, it had to be in a bus to get everyone back to school. The air was thick with humidity and excitement that there was a legitimate reason to not be back at school on time. As she took her seat at the back of the bus, she looked up and her eyes met with the local swimming legend.
She’d never had a boyfriend before, but out here in the country where she visits her Aunt’s farm, no one knows her, so she can just be herself. She asks a friend who it is and they say “oh, that’s Danny, his oldies own the local nursery and his dad works in the post office.”
She is 15.
End of grade 10 is coming up in the country town and a friend needs a partner, because the girl to boy ratio there is poor, so she get’s permission to head back out for her first ever formal function with her mate Jase.
So the dance was brilliant, and there’s that swimming boy again. He asks her to dance, and it’s really easy and fun and then the slow song comes on: this song speaks to her soul ~ Heart – These Dreams and it feels natural to go into the slow dance position that teenagers do.
All of a sudden, he says “I’ve got to go” and he turns around and goes and sits down on one of the chairs circling the hall that smells like dust and young sweaty teenagers who have been bopping around to Psuedo Echo.
Confusion sets in, as does the incessant internal dialogue that she has suffered from since she was 5; “I must be too fat…too ugly… too tall… he mustn’t like my red hair.”
He stayed there until the end of the night and another girl was sitting beside him. She was later to find out, it was his girlfriend.
No one said anything while she was dancing with him on the normal fun dancing.
They said something to him during the slow dance.
Then they looked at her like she’d done something wrong. She was the girl from out of town.
The next day, all the teenagers are a-twitter because, he’s trying to find out where she was staying to explain. He really likes her.
That’s all she heard, and the fact of him dancing with another girl while his girlfriend was watching ceased to be an issue.
She’d never had a boyfriend before.
She was 15.
Twenty-eight years ago, that was my first warning.
There were three ‘sit up and pay attention’ things I should have recognised before I agreed to marry my very first everything at the age of 20 in 1991.
The school mate at boarding school telling me he’d gone off with another girl and then to receive flowers in the next few days because you know, his friend was only joking and it wasn’t true.
The being in a drunken state and heading down the back with another girl in full view of me and his siblings and parents at his brother’s 18th, to have his family all look at each other, and his mother say nervously to his older brother and his sister “You better go get him.”
They sprinted after them and tackle them both to the ground. It was better than any try saving tackle you would see in any State of Origin ever in the history of the game.
I just went a shade of red and went quiet for a few days.
Because, you know, he was drunk, he didn’t know what he was doing. I should be grateful that his mother ordered his siblings to go and avert a very bad situation.
She modeled her parents life. They had shown their example, that they were very much in love and having met at the age of 13 and 15, their now 15 year old had apparently just met the man she would marry and have children with and own their home by the time they were thirty. They would need go to out for five years first though, this would be the right thing to do, and there couldn’t be sex before marriage, because this was absolutely the right thing to do.
Her life was panning out.
As the five years came closer, the planning to save for the house began. How were they going to do it with 18% interest rates to buy a home? They would work hard, at more than one job each. That’s what her parents did, that’s how it worked for them. Her parents struggled, but they got their deposit and they did it. She would do it too.
It was so important to show her parents so that they would be pleased with her, and she was doing the right thing for their legacy.
He asked her to marry him, in the garage after they had just been away on holiday together. He too was doing the right thing. His parents had met as teenagers, they were still in love and happy. He was following their lead.
She and he went into to share the fabulous news with her parents. They were both stoned face, her father looked more angry than she’d seen him in a long time, but there was no discussion, no excitement. Most of all, no words of discouragement, you are too young, have you thought about it properly?
They shared the news with his parents, no celebration, just a “oh that’s nice news”. No discussion.
The block of land was bought, their wedding date was set, the house builder chosen.
There wasn’t enough money to have the builder finish everything, so they decided they would continue to do it the hard way, and go without painting and tiles or carpet on the floors of their brand new home, they would save up and get the paint and floor coverings later.
They were doing it the hard way, their story of struggle was matching their parents. The parents were proud. They were doing the right thing to keep their parents happy because their decision to do it their parents way didn’t seem to create the same excitement it did for them.
So, slog away they did. His parents, who by this time owned a hardware, sold the paint to them at cost price. They all helped paint. He was a carpenters apprentice, and laid the seconds floor tiles himself.
They were doing it the hard way.
The parents must have been so proud.
They married. They had their wedding night in their new home. They honeymooned for 4 days in a glamorous camping place on the north coast.
They were doing it the hard way.
The parents must have been so proud.
Three months after they were married, he went to a party in Kilcoy from old friends from the country town he grew up in. She couldn’t go.
The following week, there was phone calls. First they were hang ups. Then it was “Is Danny there?”. Then she was driving by our house.
Then she was driving down from Kilcoy to go to the movies with him. He said “you should come too”.
She knew something had happened between them. 17 year old girls don’t get infatuated with 20 year old men for no reason.
Then the verbal abuse started when she asked him why this 17 year old kept ringing and why he would go to the movies with her.
She became the bitch. The nagging cow. Even though he insisted nothing had happened between him and the 17 year old.
He introduced porn into the relationship, that she should watch porn together with him.
They should then have sex during and after watching porn. The porn he would swap with his parents when he wanted new things to watch.
Sometimes she didn’t feel into it, so he would threaten her that if she didn’t sleep with him, he would find someone who would.
So she did and if she didn’t he would sit and masterbate on the lounge.
They started getting brown boxes delivered from Canberra.
They were 21 years old.
Then the screaming in the face, the throwing things started, the threatening fists.
He never hit her.
She started to withdraw from society, her family, her friends. She had no one to talk to. Her parents and his parents had perfect lives, no one would be able to help her.
They tried marriage counselling.
Finally, after two years of knowing, during a drive home from counselling, she asked him just one more time….”did anything happen with you and the 17 year old from Kilcoy?”
“Yes. I felt really bad afterwards, but I did her on the slippery slide in the park near their home. I felt really bad about it though.”
Her brain imploded.
This wasn’t part of what her parents lived. This wasn’t part of what his parents lived.
The verbal abuse got worse. She now became the slut and the whore. The threats of going elsewhere came with screaming in the face.
She had only ever been with him. He was her first everything. Just like her parents life. This wasn’t part of her parents story.
The world got very dark and the stay sharp knife really wasn’t staying sharp enough.
One day it got too much, and she couldn’t stand it a moment longer. She decided to go home to her parents.
“Dad, I just need to come home for a couple of weeks.”
“Go home and grow up.” her father said.
“Do you even want to know why I need to come home?”
“No love, you need to grow up and handle it.”
“But Dad, it’s a really good reason to come home,” she pleaded.
“Danny has been having an affair with a 17 year old since 3 months after we got married and I need sometime to myself.”
“Ok you can stay” he said.
There was no discussion, no threat to get him, no are you ok, no consoling.
Her mother began hating her daughters husband from that moment, but that wasn’t spoken until years after the divorce.
There was daily phone calls and threats to come back home.
Her husband gave her two weeks of time to get herself together.
She went home.
It started again. Nothing had changed. The insomnia developed.
They went to a work function for the company she worked at. It was really late, she wanted to leave. He didn’t. So she went and slept in the car.
She was to find out a couple of weeks later that he did one of her work mates while she was in the car asleep.
The counselling wasn’t working.
Something switched in her and she started to hate him. She started to call him dumb and repeatedly tell him how stupid he was.
She came home one day with him crying on the phone to his father. Saying how bad the marriage was and he had to get out.
She asked him what his father said when he told him what he’d done to cause the marriage to go into a violent decline, “he said I was stupid to tell you about the 17 year old, I should have kept it a secret.”
He left a week later to take up a job in Far North Queensland.
She had to pack up the house and sell it and divide the profit of the sale.
He said it’s only a separation, this isn’t it.
Daily phone calls telling her she needed to come to where he was and be with him.
Phone calls of him talking about his sexual exploits and how this one woman was having multiple orgasms during their session, “right while I was giving it to her. You need to come up here as soon as possible, we are married, you are my wife.”
She didn’t have the emotional capabilities of saying no, but she stayed right where she was and lived her life knowing she was far enough away.
His sister was getting married. She was the family photographer. She was feeling lonely. He said “Come up here and take the photos and see me, I’ve changed. I’m a different person, you will want to come up and see me.”
So she went, she didn’t know how to say no anymore, because the last time he asked her to come up and she said no, he dropped the phone just after he said he was going to go and commit suicide.
He was different. He took her out dancing. He said nice things. He was attentive. He was loving. He made it all about her.
It was enough, she thought she might as well give it another go.
She would finally keep him happy because the two years of daily phone calls reminder her about her duty as his wife would finally stop.
She would keep her extended family happy because a few of them disapproved of her walking away from a marriage, you just work things out she was told.
She packed everything up and moved to FNQ. They found a home, they bought it, two weeks after getting back together, she knew she’d made the biggest mistake of her life.
There was no change.
Too late now, she’d made her choice.
Six months later, he went South to go to his brother’s birthday party. Her grandmother was sick, she wanted to save her money for an airfare in case her grandmother died.
Sunday night, she comes home from netball to a message on the machine from a woman leaving a message for her husband due in later that night: “It was so great to meet you this weekend Dan, I hope we can stay in touch, you were great….”
She threw up.
When he came home and she played it to him, he laughed and said that it was just a joke and not long after the verbal abuse, the slut, the whore, the bitch came back out to play. But he still didn’t hit her.
It was at that very moment, that her people pleasing froze and she realised she would never ever be happy with him in her life.
She didn’t care if he beat the living shit out of her, she finally said “we are done.”
“That’s ok, but you leave with nothing. You are the one deciding to leave the marriage, everything in this house is now mine or you are dead.”
She took some linen from their wedding presents, and her kitchen accessories that she’d been buying for her glory box since she was 13, her books and she left.
He never hit her.
She no longer cared what her parents life was like. She no longer cared what anyone in the family thought.
She took her life back to Brisbane and started living her own life.
She was 26.
That’s when the phone calls from her uncle started….
This is an excerpt from my book being released in 2015 “The Chronicles of a People Pleaser, defining Amanda.” A lifetime of putting everyone else first and how through emotional strength training, I turned all that life experience into the greatest gift. Pre-order your copy by clicking HERE