Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jack and Jill: The Perfect Couple…. From the Beginning

Peter’s older brother, Jack, began dating the perfect girl, Jill. She was the youngest of six children. She came from a wealthy family and was so refined and beautiful she could, even now, be both a “wife-candidate” for the Royal Family and on the cover of Vogue. I was overwhelmed by her: I loathed my pregnancy body (wearing mostly Peter’s shirts and stretched out sweat pants by this time); my overall self-esteem continued to plummet, we were poor and I endured in a loveless, empty, affectionless, cold marriage. Jill was free, had disposable money, drove a very nice sporty car and was the most confident woman I had ever met. She was also incredibly loving, kind, warm, and generous. The Walton’s adored her while they despised me. They compared me to her, bought her gifts, gave them to her in front of me, were attentive to her; Sundays now centered on Jack and Jill (Jill was Canadian so she came in for the weekends to see Jack). Jill would save the Walton’s reputation; Jack and Jill would be the perfect couple and would finally overshadow the scandal I had brought to the family name.
They courted for a couple of years and when I say courted that is exactly what I mean. They were perfect. They married when my daughter was about three months old. Their wedding was extravagant with the reception in one of the nicest hotels in Toronto. After about a year in Toronto, they moved to Ottawa.  Jill left her family and a blossoming career so Jack could begin his political career. She later told me that, without proof, this is when she thought the infidelities began.
Years later they moved back to Toronto so Jack could begin law school and start a family. Jill’s father supported them financially during this time. Jack and Jill had a son, with special needs and when he was two, Jill became pregnant with their second son. The first son died weeks before she was due with the second son, Jill’s father died a week after the son died and Jill gave birth a week later. Jack began an affair with a “younger version” of Jill. Sociopaths always have a great and dramatic reason for any fault and Jack’s reason was that Jill had not given him enough attention surrounding their son’s death. She was emotionally unavailable to him during this time so he was entitled. There should be no doubt in your mind at this point that, yes, Jack is also a sociopath. And true to sociopath behavior, Jill became pregnant again fairly quickly (they want to tie their primary victim down as much as possible in order to behave outside boundaries and in a state of perpetual self-gratification).
Shortly after the birth of the third son, Peter and I came for a visit. I will never forget the way Jack looked at Jill during this visit. They were sitting on the couch together and Peter and I across the room. Jill was talking about baby things and all the while Jack was looking at her with an undeniable look of disgust. It was the same look I received, the same look between John and Elaine and the same look I would observe a decade later between Peter’s younger brother and his second wife.
Jill confided in me that she knew in her heart and gut that Jack was having an affair and knew who it was. She said she felt as though she was losing her mind because he was so convincing in his admonishing her of her distrust. And, remember that cycle? That was also their cycle. Jill, in her invalidated escalating self, had become “mentally ill.” So Jack became further entitled to have not only the one affair, but become an overall heavy drinking promiscuous person. Finally, Jill called a private investigator and set up a phone taping system in their house. She taped him having sexual conversations with several women. She confronted him and he confessed. The Waltons then turned on Jill so she shared the tapes with them. It was still her fault. She tried to make it work…..in the end they divorced. Jill, and her family, became the topic of discussion to the point of obsession. Soon “the story” developed of why they divorced and it was Jill’s fault. Jack had tried to win her back, but she had moved on to another man. The Waltons "had determined" the new man was a domestic abuser and feared that he was beating the two boys (far far from the truth). They even sunk so low as to mock his physical appearance and commented on how much better looking Jack was, implying Jack was always better than Jill. Jack Walton, a successful politician today, was so handsome, suave and persuasive nearly all of Jack and Jill’s friends turned on her. Even Jack’s feminist cousins, who were in their wedding and long time friends of Jill and her family, turned on her. Over the years, she and I had become like sisters and I was also very close with her family. We looked forward to spending the rest of our lives in this way, appreciating the fact that it is a gift when sisters-in-law get along so well. I was forced to cut off from her following the divorce. It was despicable the way the Walton’s publically besmirched both Jill and her family. In their mutual circles they hurt her so much and said such awful things, when I tried to get in touch with her secretly, she, understandably, would not even talk to me. I was still a Walton.
Nearly a decade later, when I was in crisis over infidelity and physical abuse, and determining if I should leave, she answered one of my attempts to communicate. Had Jack ever apologized? He came to her door, shortly after she had begun dating her new husband, with roses. He asked her to let him back and was shocked when she said no (notice the difference in realities). That was the closest to an apology she ever got. We began talking frequently and our stories were disturbingly similar. She became a touchstone during my divorce and advised me that I had to get away, with or without my daughters. She knew, first hand, that the Walton’s were alienating my girls from me.
There are both similarities and differences between our stories, the most apparent difference is where my mistakes were many and obvious, she was truly an innocent victim. She is a beautiful and honorable person who married the wrong person. She will bear the scars from Jack for the rest of her life. This book is, in part, to clear her name. I love you “Jill.”   

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Exorcisms and the Waltons….From the Beginning

I must have a demon in me. No one would behave the way I did unless they were possessed!
Peter was completing his undergraduate degree in religion and history. I studied while working and taking care of a baby; he studied intentionally at the library with study partners. His degree was more important than my communication degree. He was studying religion. I will mention here that I, as a little girl, intended to go on to medical school to become a surgeon. I scored the highest in my class on the NY Biology Regents exam and had hoped to continue. I gave up that dream when I became pregnant and finished a degree where I would not need to study much at all, in order to take care of my daughter and husband.
As I’ve already mentioned, I began having nightmares and had trouble distinguishing between reality and dream life. I began to hallucinate. Peter and his family were more than willing to establish that my childhood was full of abuse and it was manifesting in my adult life to the destruction of their son. My family was a problem, I was a problem, just like the parishioners in the church, I was under the microscope being analyzed and judged. I was getting worse and becoming more of a nuisance. They needed to identify what the problem was, externalize it from the family, and show they had helped in the resolution. Peter had, conveniently, met a fellow religion student that was familiar with exorcisms. I was discussed with the family, it was determined that I was possessed, and Peter and I went on a “retreat.”
At the retreat I was assessed. Yes, I was definitely possessed. I sat with the man in charge of the house and he laid his hands on my forehead. He began to speak in tongues. It was impressive; it really did sound like another language. He pushed me. And it was over. We were asked to stay in the house to make sure the demons did not re-emerge. After the weekend we went home and I was terrified. I began having more vivid nightmares and my hallucinations worsened. The exorcist came to visit us this time. We went to John’s office because he was so helpful in sensational matters.  He again laid hands on me and spoke in tongues. I was healed this time with no more demons.
Now I was mentally ill, spiritually evil and most definitely less than adequate to be a mother to my daughter. I believe I was, exhausted, lonely, confused, young, na├»ve, and married to a sociopath……

Sundays at the Walton’s…From the Beginning

I’ve mentioned before that Peter’s father, John, was the pastor of a large Church. Pastors of large churches tend to reach celebrity status in the communities where they are located. By default we had become celebrities, scandal and all; and utterly poor, isolated, overwhelmed, trying to fake that we were not. We were “required” to attend Sunday church and lunch at the Walton’s, at the very least, every week. The whole day was a show. I still didn’t matter, and was told directly and indirectly that I had tarnished the family name. It was incredibly tense to even be in John and Elaine’s presence (I’ll elaborate more later; they were relentless in their distain of me).
My daughter mattered. She was beautiful and she became the center of attention. Generally, when I went to pick her up after church she wasn’t in the nursery. Peter’s mother often picked her up to pass her around in the foyer of the church. I wouldn’t know where she was and would be looking desperately for her. We would stay until most everyone left and then head over to the Walton’s house. When no one was around she was passed to me, crying and upset over all of her handling. A family or two from the church would sometimes be invited for lunch. Peter’s mother, Elaine, would’ve started the meal the day before and would work for hours after returning home from church.
John would come in, in an obvious euphoric state from the attention. He would ask Elaine how his sermon was, expecting only accolades, and if she offered even a slight criticism, you could see the rage pass across his face. Peter would tell me continually over the years that his father was more intimate from “the mound (the pulpit)” then ever alone. He felt closest to him then and he shared him always. Because of this and his father’s constant traveling, and philandering, I wondered if he possibly had an attachment disorder that prevented intimacy.
When the meal was served (the ladies expected to help while the men talked in the other room,) the pontifications began. There were three sons, all impeccably dressed, and their voices reigned above all else. I don’t recall Peter’s dad looking at his mother with anything other than disgust. If she spoke, sometimes about characters in the romance novels she was reading, she was quickly dismissed. She embarrassed them. It was painfully obvious all of the male Walton’s were disgusted with the “matriarch” of the family. Now I realize, after repeatedly watching distain for women move across the faces of all the Walton men, that I was observing misogyny.
If you scroll to the bottom of my last blog you will see a figure of a cycle. This was the exact cycle I witnessed at the Walton’s house with John and Elaine. The only difference was there might be one level of escalation and then utter submission. She submitted over and over again and endured nearly continual verbal abuse. Her response, as opposed to increased emotional escalation in my case, manifested itself in physical ailments. She was severely depressed and full of arthritis. She had several surgeries (I believe 5 in the 25 years I knew her) and seemed overall unhealthy.  I noticed that John would comment mostly on her physical lack of health and gave her some positive attention when she was ill. She did not exercise or do anything for herself, with the exception of excessive spending, but hardly buying a thing for herself. She was constantly in pain, taking pain medications, and would have migraines for days at a time.  
I always felt compassion for Elaine believing her to be in a rough spot. She had given up her education to support John and had basically given her life and health for him and her three sons. She was certainly stuck in this relationship and still is.
About 40% of a pastor’s job is to counsel families within the church community. John’s position was no exception. After lunch began discussions of church parishioners and the most private details of their lives. I remember hearing about a woman who had had an abortion before getting married and had yet to tell her new husband, but I knew. I heard the story of how the CEO of a major corporation had confided in his pastor that his son had molested his sister for their entire youth. The daughter was divorcing because of sexual problems and the husband threatening to expose the family secret. The local physician had been having an affair with his secretary for decades and his wife had just found out. He and his mistress had attempted suicide…I felt uncomfortable around these people on Sundays. I should not have known their secrets; they did not want me to know. Not only was confidence broken, but their misfortunes critiqued and analyzed. These people were less than the Walton’s and so was I. I learned, in time, that I too was being discussed, critiqued and analyzed. You see I was not a part of the inner Walton circle and never would be. I was frustrated for most of my marriage with the stern judgments and hypocrisies from the Walton’s, all guised in religiosity. This was the most religious family I had ever or have ever encountered.
My 18 year old daughter, who lives with Elaine, in Peter’s apartment, just down the road from me, spent Mother’s Day with Elaine. I did not hear from either of my daughters; they are now part of the Walton cult. My heart is broken. My next post….My exorcisms…. initiated by Peter, encouraged by the Waltons.