AN EXPLOSION OF STORIES
BY: PATTY L. FLETCHER
Good evening faithful followers, both old friends and new.
This evening I’m beginning a journey and I’d like to invite you to come along with me.
I’ve been working on a writing project for some time now and after first, shopping it round and having it rejected by several very reputable places, and then seeing an article in the Writer’s Digest that spoke of the various ways to publish and share with readers one’s work, blogging having been listed as one of many, after much prayer and thought, I’ve decided to share this treasured work here with you.
I’ve many reasons for doing so and I’ve given much thought to this before making my decision. Thing is, right now I don’t have the money to self-publish. Yes, I know for many who can go through the whole process on their own it is free, or very inexpensive and yes, I do have good help which I could call on for very little cost but I’ve a bigger more important project I’m working on which will require that help and in the meantime, I have a need to write and share my work.
For me sometimes just the simple pleasure of writing and sharing my stories with others is more than enough and during this time in my life that is something I have a deep desire to do. I know there are those who feel one shouldn’t publish in this way but for me it is the right thing.
So, with all that said, I’d like to begin with the prologue and first short story in what is an anthology into which has been poured my very heart and soul.
I must warn you, not every story in this book is made of fluff and roses. Some of the stories, such as the first one shared here tonight are rough to read. I’d like to suggest, as you read, keep in mind that if it is hard for you to read, think what it was for me to write let alone find the courage to publish for the world to see.
For me though, it is something I’ve a need to do and as you read, I believe you will understand.
Never fear, not all the stories I’ll share over these next few months are harsh. No, not at all. There will be many which will be filled with golden rays of sun-filled mirth but as with all things one must have the bad so one might better appreciate the good.
Well, enough said, let us begin before I lose my nerve.
Sitting in my Livingroom with the murmur of a talking-book on the stereo across the room, and sounds of breathing from Campbell’s deep exhausted sleep just a few feet away, though I’m assaulted by a deluge of feelings that begin with crushing sadness and fear and end with raging anger, sandwiched with bitter sweet memories in between, I’m somehow comforted by the energy of the softness of nightfall and the patter of raindrops ticking onto the roof and windows of our little house outside.
The year is ending and with it come fast approaching changes I cannot stop nor even slow. My anxiety and fear of what lies ahead are huge for as always, the unknown does frighten me.
But I must go ‘Forward’ for there is indeed no choice. The river of life has swept me up into it and carries me along in its swiftness. Really, I should say us, for these fast-approaching changes include a most important one in my life, in fact they will in the end affect him much more than me.
I’ve begun this writing not only to assist myself with keeping track of all that has taken, and will, take place, but also to capture some of my most favorite memories of times gone by. Time is a nasty bugger. It takes things that don’t belong to it, but you cannot stop it, nor can you turn it back from whence it came. There’s nothing to do but allow it and the river of life to carry you ever ‘Forward’ while doing the best you can to not allow yourself or those you love and care for to be dashed to bits on the stones of trial that line the banks along the way.
Had someone told me at the beginning of this year I’d be ending 2018 in this way I’d have never believed them. I had such incredible plans when the year began, and I think it is the thought of them that anger me so. When I think of all I’ve wasted not only in the year coming to a close but over the last 8 years of our life, lamenting over times and people gone by when I should’ve been getting on with the business of living, enjoying every moment of mine and Campbell’s time together while we were in the midst of our prime, as well as all those who were and are happily willing and able to be present in our lives, rather than trying to right some stupid wrong that had occurred so long ago most of those involved, including me had forgotten much of what had begun it all I could just scream. Instead, I hang my head in shame and pray I’m given just a little more time to let this wondrous friend who has given his very all to allow me the freedom to live as I wished, know just how very much, he is loved and appreciated by me.
The following anthology of poems Essays and short stories are an attempt to share with you just how much he and those who made him so as well as many others mean to me. They’re also shared so that I might pass on the wisdom I’ve gained over the years so that those who come after me might not repeat my many mistakes. When I wrote my first book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, my purpose was to tell the story of how going to The Seeing Eye™ and getting Campbell, learning to love, handle, and work him, then coming home and adding him to my life, gave me true freedom. I told of how changing from a 31-year cane user to being a guide dog handler taught me things about myself I had never known before. I told of the wonderment I experienced when I finally took that chance.
Continuing, as in the beginning, a major goal of mine is to help others who find themselves in domestic violence situations. I also want to help others learn more about mental illnesses and how different situations and environments can drastically affect those with such challenges. As I write I focus on bipolar disorder, on how it can go horribly wrong and cause a person to behave in ways they normally would not. Most simply I want others to know more about me, who I was, am, and who I’m working to become.
Just Who is King Campbell and from where does he come?
King Campbell was born in Chester N.J. November 28, 2008.
He lived with his Dog Mother and Litter Mates until he was approximately eight weeks old, and then he went to live with his Puppy Raisers.
Then, when he was just over a year-old, he was taken away from his Puppy Raiser family by a wise and ancient trainer, so he could go and live in the magickal and ancient land of The Seeing Eye, where his training truly began.
After only four short months he was chosen to become my guide.
I have to say, Campbell is much more than that, and it is my hope that as you read this book, you’ll see that in ways unlike ever before, and that you will also be able to understand why at times things for me have been so bloody confusing and hard and why life is now so very important to me.
MEMORIES: IT’S YESTERDAY ONCE MORE
DECEMBER 30, 2018
There are thousands of stories I could tell you. In fact, as I’ve been putting this book together it’s been near to impossible to figure out just which ones to use. So, what I’ve tried to do here is to not only share some of my most treasured memories with you but to also answer some of the many questions readers of my work have had for me over the years by allowing you a look into parts of my life that I’ve not yet been so forth-coming about.
I hope to do this in a way that is honest while giving thought to others who have in one way or another been involved in the shaping of my life and their feelings. I’ll never be able to answer all the questions asked of me. Heck, I don’t have all the answers to them my own self, but I’ll try to do the best I can. Just remember, some things are indeed better left unsaid.
Now, where to begin? Like I say, there are so very many stories to share. Perhaps a good place to begin would be to answer the question of what happened during the year after my trainer Drew Gibbon had been here. I must warn you though what you’re about to read is not all fluff and roses. In fact, you may find out things about me you didn’t know. So, while you read, keep in mind, you asked.
BY: PATTY L. FLETCHER
*** Trigger, this story contains some descriptions of domestic violence and strong language.
mental illness marked by periods of great excitement, euphoria, delusions, and overactivity.
Madness, Derangement, Insanity, Lunacy.
These are all definitions of the symptoms of mania. Have I had one or more of these symptoms? Sure. I am a person who suffers from Bipolar Disorder, and of course as anyone who knows anything at all about someone who has this disorder, educated in the practice of psychiatry or not knows that a person who suffers from such has at least some of the symptoms listed above.
Have I had all the symptoms listed above all at one time? I’m afraid the answer is yes and that is the story I want to share with you.
Before I begin let me just say, that since the events shared in the story here, I’ve found better ways to channel my mania.
I might take three or four good long walks in a day’s time, but that’s alright. Campbell and I are both on the chub-a-dor side.
Sometimes I take a fit, stay up half the night, read an entire book and clean the whole house.
That’s alright too, because I can be a bit of a slob sometimes, I like to get into blogging, or working up a good story, so, sometimes I tend to forget about cleaning all together. And, in that case, I suppose a fit of house cleaning every now and then is OK.
Sometimes though, if I don’t remain compliant with all treatment plans thus allowing myself to turn into a super cell, like I did back in 2012 well, that can get a bit out of control.
What brings this sort of behavior on, and what can happen once it starts? What can happen? Well, what happened back then was the destruction of what were some of the most important relationships of my life. What brings it on? That’s what I want to try and show you.
Why, is this story important after all these years when I seem to finally be rebuilding? Well, because it’s set up inside me like so much rotting cement, and either I tell it and break loose from the crumbling cinder blocks left behind by Hurricane Mania once and for all or I’ll never be able to totally put my life back together again.
That might not matter to a lot of folks. In fact, to the ones who got caught in the destruction, it probably won’t matter at all. But I’ve got to tell it just the same, because my life is important if to only me and Campbell and that’s reason enough.
I have no idea if you’ll believe even the tiniest bit of what I’m going to tell you. Maybe, if you’ve experienced similar behaviors as what I’m going to describe you will. Maybe if you’ve been a victim of the results of such behavior you might at least believe parts of it. But honestly, I don’t really think I care so much whether anyone believes me or not. I just need to tell it. Once and for all I need to say just how it was for me all those years ago when the very mooring of my sanity came loose and for a while drifted dangerously close to an abyss so huge that had it truly gone over the edge and dropped into that hot, filthy, stinking, bottomless pit filled with violently grinning, jabbering monsters, I’d have never regained hold and a whole lot more destruction than what happened during those black days would surely have been.
Now that I’ve said all that maybe you understand why I’m sitting here at just before four in the morning with the wind moaning around the corners of the house, and the rain slamming against the windows, a cup of coffee growing cold beside me, trying to work up the courage to tell you the story of how for a time I lost all sense of reality. How I tried to convince everyone that my life was OK, the man I loved was not a monster, and that I was not living the kind of life I spent my days trying to help others like me flee from and what that did to me and all the people I truly cared about.
Was I really trying to convince everyone else though? No. Now that I think back on it, that wasn’t it. Truthfully, I was trying to convince myself.
OK. Well, I’ve put it off long enough so grab your storm survival kit and settle in because I’m finally ready to tell it and the best way to do it is to just jump into the wind and tell it from beginning to end.
If, you’ve read my first book, you know the foundation of the story. You know for example that I’d gone to The Seeing Eye in 2011 had gotten my Campbell and had been introduced to a whole other world I’d only until then heard stories of, and you know that I had a most wonderful trainer who not only showed me that the stories of that world were true but that I could live in it. You know that I thought Drew was an OK dude, and that in my secret heart I had some strong feelings for him. You also know that we were kind of friends, we got on well together, and made each other laugh. Hell, I suppose if I’m going to be honest, we both did a little flirting, but it was all very healthy and quite well in hand.
Even when he came to visit those things between us were OK and you know that even though I still had a pretty decent grip on things, even then I was starting to slip and though it would be some time after his having been here and gone that I began to really lose my grip all together and start to fall apart I don’t think poor Drew had any idea what kind of storm was brewing inside me.
Oh, the warnings were even then being issued, and maybe he even saw a few of them but you’ve got to understand that I worked extremely hard to hide things from him. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want him to know how bad things were in my life, I didn’t want to know. I couldn’t possibly be experiencing the very things I worked so tirelessly to help others escape from. Surely, I wasn’t one of those women.
I remember, sometime just before Drew came in October of 2011 attending a Safe House Domestic Violence Awareness seminar and how when it was over the lady who ran our local shelter asked me some pointed questions and how I did lie.
“No, I wasn’t in a bad situation. Yes, I was sure, things between Donnie and me were a bit strained, but he was going through a bad time, his EX was accusing him of all sorts of horrible lies, and he wouldn’t do any of what he was doing if it weren’t for her. Donnie loved me. Besides, I got out of line sometimes and any good man will help the woman he loves get herself straight when she gets out of line. Right?”
But I must tell you that in October of 2011 after Drew left Campbell and me and went home, things began to get bad. The winds were blowing and by that next year, they were very much out of control and that’s where this story begins.
ONE YEAR LATER
“Is this really happening? Is Donnie really going to go to prison, just because of a box of dirty pictures? Surely not. My Goddess! He says they’re not even his. How can someone go to jail for storing a box for their brother they never even looked at? He’s telling the truth, right? He didn’t really do the things those kids said? Goddess, please say he didn’t?”
Those questions ran round in my head over and over as I sat there emptying yet another glass of rum and watching the destruction of Hurricane Sandy unfold on TV.
It seemed to me there was a similar storm happening right here in Kingsport Tennessee, but nobody knew it. Nobody that mattered anyhow.
“I hope Drew’s OK. Sure do wish I could get him to answer me. Oh, how I miss him. We used to talk all the time, but those days are over. When I started changing why didn’t he ask me about it? Why the hell did I write and try to tell him what was going on anyway? I’d already started ruining things. Already let him see the messed-up part of me. What the hell is wrong with me anyway? Why do I have to be such a fuck up? Maybe if I message him and just ask if he’s OK, he’ll answer, you know? Just to say, yeah, we’re OK and don’t worry.”
Then, maybe after this storm is over, he might be willing to talk to me and I can explain my weirdness and maybe, just maybe we can fix what I destroyed.
Going into my little office/play room I turned on my computer, opened my email, and typing in the combination phone number and code for texting I used via email due to not having a cell phone with accessible voice over I wrote…
“Yall OK there? Please let me know you’re OK.”
I waited but there was no answer. Had I thought there would be?
Getting unsteadily to my feet and walking over to the file cabinet in the corner and opening the bottom drawer, I took out the bag of weed and pipe I kept hidden there, plunked a good-sized chunk of green into the bowl, thumbed it into place, and after putting the bag back and grabbing my lighter staggered back to the Livingroom taking my laptop with me as I went.
I’d have one hell of a hangover the next day and I knew it but at that moment I could’ve cared less. My heart was breaking, life as I knew it was falling to pieces just the same as all those caught in the path of that Gods-awful storm up north and I couldn’t stand the pain of it one more minute. I had to take shelter, and rum and weed seemed as good a place as any.
Sinking back into my chair I began to listen to the storm reports as they came in, one horrible story after another. My body shook, and my tears fell as I sat there listening to reporters describing the horrifying yet somehow fascinating storm as it crashed through and tore down everything in its path, and in a way, I understood what those people were feeling.
No, my house wouldn’t be a pile of so much rubble when the storm I was currently caught in finally passed through but there sure as hell wouldn’t be anything left of me or what had been my life before once it was done.
So, I sat there, smoking and drinking. Sheltering myself from the winds of the storm raging all around me trying to protect myself from the destruction that slammed into me from all sides. Trying to shut out the howling shriek of Donnie’s voice telling me how when he was gone, I’d be alone, telling me how if people learned all there was to know of this mess no one would want a thing to do with me. Trying to shut out the thundering violent darkness that always followed and trying to pretend that the latest bruises were really from my having tripped over Campbell’s toys in the night falling into the door knob to keep from crashing into the floor and not from Donnie’s having grabbed and shaken me for all I was worth because I couldn’t help him keep his freedom. Pretending they weren’t from his punching me over and over in the stomach screaming into my face, his spittle mixing with my tears,
“I helped you gain your independence. What the hell have you done for me? Damn you! If I’d never let you talk me into moving here none of this would’ve ever happened.”
On and on that night went. I lit candles, tried to pray. Tried to ask the Goddess I was just barely acquainted with back then to somehow keep me from this horror that was all around. Begged her to keep Drew and all my friends up north safe, and Goddess help me I texted. Somehow even though Drew had asked me to stop contacting him long before, I couldn’t. I wanted so badly to explain. I wanted him to understand. Most of all I didn’t want him to hate me.
I drank, I smoked, and I sent message after message. I was filled with guilt self-loathing and terror and I could not for the life of me stop, but as the night slipped toward day, and all the storms raged, I finally passed out and slept.
When Campbell came to me about five that morning asking to go out my head was roaring almost as loud as the wind outside.
“Well, bug, looks like we’re getting the first edges of that storm.” I said as I stood stiffly from my recliner and gathered up the leavings from the night before.
After I’d put the bottle of rum safely back into the freezer and hidden my pipe away again, I took Campbell out, fed him and began to get ready for work.
Once I’d showered, picked my clothes carefully to make sure and hide my own storm damage and drank half a pot of the strongest coffee I could make, I was finally ready to go. Putting Campbell into his harness I said,
“Bug, you know Daddy doesn’t mean to hurt me. He’s just so upset from all the bad stuff that’s happening he cannot help it. Besides, mommy really shouldn’t talk back to him when he tells her what to do or corrects her for speaking when she ought to be quiet. Mommy’s OK and I won’t let him hurt you. That’s how come I leave you up here in our house when I go downstairs now. That way you don’t have to see all that bad stuff and you’ll not be afraid.”
Petting him gently I continued…
“One day soon all this will be over. We’ll somehow prove that he didn’t do these awful things, he will calm down, stop snorting all those pills and things can go back to the way they used to be. Daddy used to be a sweet guy. We used to laugh all the time, listen to great music, go lots of places together and have all kinds of fun. You’ll see it’ll be OK again, just you wait.”
Campbell just stood there, wagging his tail, licking my tears away and loving me.
“Well, at least I kept it together long enough to get you. At least I have you and no one can take you away from me. Can they?”
As that last question squeezed its way in through the crack in the door of the shelter I was trying to keep around my mind I shivered, and kneeling flung my arms around Campbell’s neck.
“Oh! Goddess! Please don’t let them take you away from me? Please don’t let it be true what Mike says about how they can take your harness and make me stop working you? Please Oh Goddess Please? If I could just talk to Drew, I could make him understand how I got so confused. If he just knew how hard things are right now, he’d understand and surely, he wouldn’t let them break up our team. He must know how much I love and need you. He must know I’d never let anything happen to you and surely, he wouldn’t come and try to take you away. They can’t really do that can they? Oh! Goddess please, no!”
I begged helplessly there on my knees in the floor and as the frozen rain began to pound onto the sliding glass door behind me, I was nearly lost to the terror of that raging storm.
Finally, after a while I got myself under control and after washing my face and redoing my hair, we made our way out into the furious blow of the storm and headed off to work.
By the time we made it across the two streets from our house to the bus stop we were soaked. The wind was blowing frozen rain from all directions and no matter what I did I couldn’t shelter poor Campbell from it, but as always, his work was spot on and though he shook himself mightily as the wind howled all around us and the rain pelted us from all sides he never wavered or complained. He just kept going right on up to that bus stop as if it were any other day and as we stood there waiting again, I prayed…
“Goddess, please protect us. Don’t let them take Campbell from me? He’s absolutely all I’ve got left. He’s quite literally the only being who truly loves me messed up or no, and I’ll die without him. Please? I’m sorry. I’ll try and do better. I’ll try to stop this madness that seems to have overtaken me and I’ll try to be good. Just please oh please don’t let them take my boy.”
As the bus pulled up and we climbed aboard I firmly slammed the door on my mind’s storm shelter and this time it held.
By the time we made it to work I’d gotten myself totally calmed down, and sober. My mask was firmly in place and I was ready for the day. All that morning as I dealt with a deluge of calls asking where to find out about victims of the storm, or folks in need of help of some kind I kept that mask tightly fitted onto my face but around 11 o’clock or so a phone call came in that just about ripped it right off.
I answered the phone in my usual upbeat voice saying…
“2-11 Contact Concern, how may I help you?” And just like that the wind of domestic violence began to lash frantically into my face and that mask I’d worked so hard to get and keep into place earlier that morning almost flew away.
I sat there listening to that woman’s hysterical voice tell me how her boyfriend would be back in just a minute, and if she didn’t get through to someone right now, he’d for sure kill her if he came back and she was still there or god-forbid he caught her on the phone, and I thought I would scream. I knew if I didn’t get her through her story and transferred over to someone else, I would start screaming and Goddess help me I might not ever stop.
As if to literally hold my mask in place I slammed my hand against my face and held tightly there until she’d finished, and I’d succeeded in connecting her to the shelter and someone who could help. As I readied to disconnect, I heard myself say…
“Ma’am be sure you do what they tell you and don’t stay with him. He’s not about to change, and no matter what he tells you that’s the only truth you need to believe.”
As I shakily put the phone back into its cradle, I was relieved to see the next volunteer on duty had arrived and after taking a couple of deep breaths to steady my voice I said…
“Hi, glad you’re here, it’s been one hell of a morning. Can you take the phones for a minute? I’d like to take Campbell out before this storm gets any worse.”
The volunteer had happily agreed, and I’d quickly harnessed up my pup and made my escape.
As we left the office, I turned us right and we made our way down the hall to the fire escape stairs door. I didn’t want to take the elevator, I was afraid I’d run into someone when I got off on the first floor and at that moment all I wanted was to walk my dog, smoke a cigarette and try to get my mask of the woman whose life was not spinning out of control back into place so I could go on with the rest of my day.
Making my way quickly down the steps I began to cry.
“Gods! How could you sit there and pretend like that? You are nothing more than a stupid fake bitch. What is wrong with you? How could you say all those things knowing you’re going to leave here in a little while and go back home to Donnie and let him do to you the very same shit that man was doing to her?”
Slamming through the door out into the swirling rain and wind I growled to myself…
“It’s not the same. Donnie wouldn’t be like this if it weren’t for all the crap going on right now. Once all this is behind us, we’ll go get some counseling and everything will be OK again. Maybe he’s right. Maybe we’ll even move, start all over and things will be better than ever before. We’ll get married, and everything will be OK. You just have to hold on.”
As we rounded the corner the force of the storm hit us full in the face, and for a moment it seemed to me as if it wanted to rip me right off the ground and fling me into pieces and toss me away and just when I thought I might not be able to regain control of myself Campbell in all his true Labrador form took control and for a moment I forgot all about my upset and fear.
Just as we started out into the grass behind the bus shelter which by now had turned into a large muddy swamp, a flock of geese flew right over our heads honking and flapping in the wind for all they were worth, the wind was carrying their scent and noise right to Campbell’s snuffling nose and flopping Labrador ears, and as my tears continued to fall he began to make the most God-awful keening noise I have ever heard and then, he began to pull.
Before I could do more than get his leash which I’d just lengthened to its full length of four-feet so he could relieve himself hooked around my wrist he began to pull me toward the direction of those honking flapping geese with all his strength and all I could do was plant my feet firmly into the mud and hold on for dear life.
He barked, howled, and pulled, and I pulled back telling him loudly as I could to be heard over the wind…
“Campbell! Leave it! No! Pfui!”
Finally, I got him stopped but not before the both of us were soaking wet and muddy as could be. For a moment I stood there in complete shock and then as the geese flew away Campbell looked up gave the wind a mighty sniff, and as if nothing what so ever out of the ordinary had happened began to pee.
Oh, how I did laugh. There was nothing to do for it. I stood there in that driving rain covered nearly to my knees in mud, with my hair plastered to my head, and tears of hysteria running down my face and laughed. For a moment my mind jabbered in a confusion of many voices much louder than the wind and I thought I might be going absolutely insane, but somehow I got myself under control, and when Campbell was done, we made our way back around to the door we’d gone out a what seemed like an hour before and punching in the code I took us back inside, but we were too much a mess to go upstairs, so after taking a few deep breaths to further calm myself I got my cell phone out of my pocket and called my supervisor and asked him if he could take us home to change.
When he came down to see what had happened and got a look at us standing there like drowned rats all covered in mud he roared fit to burst with laughter and after I’d told him what had happened including the upsetting phone call which had driven us out into the storm in the first place, he decided Campbell and I had had quite enough for one day and after going back up and packing up our stuff he took us home.
Later that afternoon after I’d groomed Campbell, had another shower, and a couple of double shots of rum for courage I left Campbell snoozing on my bed and went downstairs to see Donnie. I’d decided we had to have a talk about his lack of control where his anger was concerned. I knew I had to make him realize that I was on his side, that I would not leave him no matter what happened and that I was not his enemy. I felt if I could do that things would be OK for us and we could somehow manage to get through this hell with something of ourselves and the love we’d once had for each other in place.
When I got there, and he let me in I saw he was in a very happy mood. The angry monster from the night before was nowhere to be found.
He met me at the door with a kiss and loving hug saying…
“Oh, honey. I’m so glad to see you. Honestly, I didn’t think you’d come home from work today. I’m so sorry about last night. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve called Frontier Health and made myself an appointment. My lawyer’s right, I cannot go through all this without someone to talk to and I can’t keep taking it out on you. Hell, you’re the only one who believes in me at all. Can you forgive me?”
And just like that he had me back into his web of deceit yet again. It would be much later that I’d learn what he’d told me had been nothing but another of his lies. Honestly, if I’d been thinking with even one tiny corner of my rational mind, I’d have seen through it the very moment he spoke those words to me but well, surely you see by now that I was already very lost. Lost in a world of unreality. Lost within so much of my own web of deceit I wasn’t seeing anything clearly, let alone rationally.
All that fall, and winter things went on like that and as 2012 went out and 2013 came in it got steadily worse.
Not only did I keep believing in him I worked to help others believe in him too. To Polly, my daughter, I told only half the truth. I wanted to protect her at all costs. She had such a good life started for herself. She and Nathan had come through their own rough patch and were on their way through the other side of it. Her children, my grandchildren were so beautiful and innocent I didn’t want any of this ugly nasty splatter from this mess to touch them and if by some miracle we proved Donnie’s innocents and kept him out of jail I didn’t want the relationship between him, and my family ruined.
When Christmas time came at the end of 2012 Donnie bought me an engagement ring, and on Christmas Eve I accepted his hand in Marriage. I was so blinded by my need to have everything be alright that I never realized that all he did was nothing but a cover. An act to make himself look good for the court, and that even then I meant nothing to him.
You see, I still somehow loved him, or at least what I’d first known of him. When we’d first met, I was in a horrible place. I was seriously overweight, was living in total isolation, had lost nearly all my independence, and he’d been my knight in shining armor. He’d taken me away from all that dark dreary time. Had, just as he’d said, helped me to regain my independence, and in fact, had helped me go far beyond anything I’d ever known I could be, and I loved him for it.
Now, as I sit here writing all this, I realize it was what he’d given me that I truly loved. I knew even then somewhere deep within me that the Donnie who had taken me out of all those dark times no longer existed, and on this morning as I tell my tale I honestly don’t know if he ever really existed at all.
I like to think he did. I like to think that because we’re created in Mother Father God’s image that somewhere within him there is true good but knowing all I know of him now, I just cannot be sure. I am no longer sure about what’s reality of those first memories, and what isn’t. All I know for sure is that my having met and fallen in love with that first Donnie I knew then had taken me through a door into freedom and no matter where else it has led me since, I still to this day have that.
During the first few weeks of winter it appeared for Donnie and me and our relationship with one another things had calmed down. He truly did stop hitting me and other than a couple of serious bouts of depression for him he seemed to be dealing with things a lot better.
Then just after the new year everything went to hell. I’ve never seen things change so very quickly or completely in all my days.
I’d taken the day off from work to go with Donnie to his lawyer’s office. We were going to meet and go over all the evidence that the prosecution had gathered against him. We had to decide whether he would take a plea and go onto jail or if we would go to trial and let the chips fall where they may.
When we got there, and his lawyer came out to get us there was some indecision as to whether I would go back into his office with them. After a brief discussion between the two of them held in the hall out of my hearing they decided I’d remain in the waiting area and might come back later after they’d gone through everything. I must tell you warning bells were going off rather loudly in my head, but once again I shut them out and refused to hear.
After some time, Donnie came back out front to get Campbell and me and as he helped me from the chair he said in a shaky voice,
“Honey it’s bad. Before we go back there to talk, I must tell you that. I want you to understand and believe me when I tell you I had no idea what was in that box Anthony gave me to keep for him and if I had I’d have never agreed to it, but after you hear what the lawyer’s got to say if you want to leave I won’t try and stop you.”
I folded my hand over his and gathering all my strength and love said softly…
“I’m wearing your ring. That means for better or worse, and I’m in it with you until the end.”
I want to stop right here and say, if I’d known on that day what I’ve learned since I like to think I’d have never done it. I cannot tell you how many times since that day I’ve wished for just one do over. Just one moment to rethink that decision but truly I doubt that I’d have done anything different. I was still so very blinded to who and what he truly was and is. I wanted what I thought we’d had back. I wanted to find out somehow all this horror was a lie. I wanted our happy love back and I was damned determined to find it.
When we were all settled back into the lawyer’s office, he explained everything to me. He told me there were over 100 photos of various types and that there was no way to determine for one-hundred-percent sure that the persons in them were under the age of eighteen-years-of-age or not. He explained that with this along with the statements from the young boys who claimed Donnie had molested them if we went to trial the chances of Donnie being convicted of twenty-five-years-to-life were huge and that in his opinion as a lawyer he felt Donnie’s best chances were to take the plea that had been offered.
As I sat there listening to all that the one thought that kept going repeatedly through my mind was…
“I don’t care, if it were me and I were truly innocent I’d take my chances.”
And, I said as much but Donnie decided to take that plea and a few days later as we stood there in that court of law and he was sentenced I thought I would surely die. I couldn’t imagine Donnie in prison. Even with all the anger he’d shown me I couldn’t imagine someone like him managing one horrible night in such a place. I felt at that moment like some huge giant had taken hold of the world in which I lived, turned it up-side-down and was shaking it and that things were falling in flaming pieces all around me.
After the judge had given his final word on the subject there was the decision as to when he would be taken into custody. In my final misguided attempt to try and help him in some way I asked if Donnie couldn’t be given a bit of time to help me get things in order, so I would be able to continue living in our home and go on with my life. After some back and forth discussion it was decided that Donnie could have until March to help me get things situated and then he would begin serving his sentence of ten-years.
I’ve got to tell you, that one decision was absolutely the undoing of what was left of my mental stability. During those three-months Donnie did nothing to help me ready myself for a life without him. In fact, I would learn later that all he did was set me up to fail.
Not only did his violent abusive ways return but unknown to me he took out thirty-day-loans one after another and used the credit I’d helped him obtain to do it thus ruining mine in the process. What did he do with all that money? Continued his nasty lifestyle, that’s what but it would be nearly a year after his going away while going through things he’d stored in our garage that I would discover things the police missed in their search of the house thus learning once and for all just how noisome a person he truly is and by that time because I’d lied so much and become so entangled in the web of deceit I’d built for myself and everyone around me I’d not only destroyed my friendship with Drew, but my relationship with my beautiful daughter as well.
Day after day I tried and failed to reconnect with Drew. I was desperately eaten with guilt over what I’d done and why and though my attempts were only making it worse I couldn’t seem to stop.
To Polly I continued to lie, and she knew it and on the one day when I’d actually told her the truth about something she thinking it was just one more lie from me and due to my recent behavior and her inability to let go of past hurt, she somehow had enough and with an anger I did not realize she possessed she thrust me from her life and to the day of this writing I’ve not been allowed back.
How I managed to function and hold down my job for so long a time as I did after all that I don’t know. How I’ve managed to live through all that has befallen me since I’ve no idea. Why I’m still here hanging on by the tips of my toenails I can’t tell you.
Maybe it’s to write down some of this. Maybe it’s just because I’ve got this beautiful dog living with and loving me to care for and maybe hopefully somewhere somehow there’s something more, something good even waiting ahead. I don’t know. All I know is that while this story I’ve told here doesn’t quite tell all of what happened to cause me to do the things I’ve done it does tell some of it and for now it’s all I’ve got the strength to tell.
Maybe one day I’ll write all of it. For now, I hope it’s enough to help you to understand me a bit better. Maybe it’s enough for those whom I’ve lost to find their way back to me. If not, well, it’s the best I’ve got to give you and I’m sorry if it’s not enough.
For now, I leave you with this…
It’s 2018 I’ve lived through some rough times since that long-ago March day when they took Donnie away. For a time, I tried to believe in him but as the days passed and things began to be more and more revealed to me, I realized I could no longer allow him to be part of my life.
As mentioned above I’d finally begun to go through his things trying to ready them to store away until his return and as I did, I began to find things that more than proved not only his guilt of what he’d been sent away for but more hideousness besides.
I found video equipment, more disks and photos and when the Laptop I was using finally bit the dust and I downloaded my talking screen reader software onto the computer he’d bought to replace the one the police took away he’d left behind I found an icon on the desktop that when opened took me to a website that confirmed without any more possible doubt what he’d been about and I could no longer believe his lies.
It sickened me to realize I’d been living with such an indecent beast as he and what was worse, I’d unknowingly helped him get by with all of it. To say that I’d begun to loath my very existence would be a gross understatement.
During our last conversation I told him I no longer believed in him and when he asked…
“What is your biggest regret of all this.”
Well, my answer is one I’m not proud of nor is it one I’ve stopped giving. Is it right? Is the way I feel that causes me to give such an answer what Mother Father God would have me feel? I don’t know. I’ve not quite gotten to a place in my heart where I am able to care yet.
“What is all your biggest regret in all this?”
On that day as I sat there in what was supposed to have been our home talking to him on the phone with the noise of the prison in which he lived in the background feeling all the hate and anger roiling nauseatingly round inside me because of all I’d allowed him to cause me to become I spat angrily…
“I regret that I didn’t let you kill yourself the day you tried. I wish I’d just turned around and walked out and let you do it.”
“How can you say such a thing?”
Taking a deep breath, I screamed…
“How? You dare to ask me how? I defended you. I believed in you. I lost everyone and everything I cared about because of you. And for what? To find out in the end that everything you were accused of was true and more besides? I hate you and if they call me and tell me you’ve been killed while you’re there I won’t shed a tear. You know what I’ll do? I’ll throw a party you son-of-a-bitch! I’ll throw the biggest Gods Damned party there has ever been, and I’ll be glad. Why? Why you ask, because you took my love and you used it to destroy me. You did all those nasty indecent filthy things and you used me to try and get by with it and if I must stand in judgement someday for what I say then so be it. At least I’ll have the pleasure of holding the door into hell open for you and kicking your sorry ass through.”
When I’d finished, I didn’t wait for him to speak again. Knowing it was time to be through with him once and for all I slammed the phone down pressing the off button as I did so, and I vowed that no matter what I would never believe another thing he had to say to me again. I was through and I’d meant every word I said.
We’ve never spoken since. Do I still feel that way? Yes, I’m sorry to say I do. I hope someday maybe I can get passed that. Maybe someday I can somehow become a better person and forgive him but at this moment in time well I can’t. For now, things are as they are and maybe in time, they’ll get better but for now, well the best I can do is to go forward with Campbell by my side. The best I can do is to live my life one day at a time and do all I can to survive with what’s left of it. Someday… Maybe, well, who knows? For now, the tears fall and remembering all this has reopened a wound inside me I’d thought was finally healing.
That’s alright because somehow in this telling I think I’ve finally cleaned out the core of it and maybe this time when it closes it will remain so.
For now, this ends my tale and I thank you for hearing it to its end. I’m sorry there’s no happily ever after for you. Sorry there aren’t neatly rounded corners and beautiful tied up knots, but it just is what it is. For me, it is finished.
It is six hours later since I began to write. The coffee’s long grown cold, the rain continues to fall outside and me, well I’m hulled out but somehow, it is a relief and if what I’ve written here helps one person in some way for me that will be enough because that’s the biggest reason I write. Because all over the world there are women and men living in similar hells and I hope that if they read what I write it will help them escape.
For now, this is Patty who is truly glad her story is told and King Campbell Super Seeing Eye Dog A.K.A Bubba who is still wagging happily along beside her saying…
You can lie to others, maybe you can even lie to your higher power, but in the end you sure better not try to lie to yourself else it will destroy your very soul.
May harmony find you and blessid may you be.
I’d like to say thank you for reading and if you’d like to learn more about me or buy and read my work you may do so by visiting: http://www.dldbooks.com/pattyfletcher/
***FYI If you’re a victim of domestic violence please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: https://www.thehotline.org/