Monday, June 25, 2012

Financial Abuse Cont. (From the Beginning)

This may seem counter-intuitive, but Peter actually sabotaged my jobs and education over the 20 years. I was the breadwinner most of that time and it does seem, to the average person, like shooting himself in the foot, but there is nothing logical or rational in the mind of the sociopath, only manipulation.  A sociopath does not need much, just someone that has enough work ethic to maintain employment. A sociopath thrives on chaos so the goal is crisis, change and conflict. Peter did not want me to improve my positions too much because that would mean more legitimate time away from him and less influence he would have. He stated even throughout the divorce, to my attorney, that I could not have maintained employment at all if not for him. He had to prop me up, read over/write emails for me, drive me to work, help me work through “difficult situations” at work.

In reality, he drove me to work because we rarely had two cars. This is an important point victims out there. By only having one car, for various reasons, an abuser takes control of even the few minutes of drive time. As I think about my commute now, this is a time to process my day, think, relax to music, make a stop along the way to run and errand or see a friend. It’s time for myself. With one car he took that time from me. In the end the commute to and from work was utterly chaotic. Thinking back I realize he would pick a fight with me while taking me to work; then I would call him as soon as I got to my desk and being unrelenting in his opinion/position, I would be on the phone arguing throughout the day. Arguing and leaving problems unresolved is a form of control. Abusers will not release you from an issue or problem and then they, therefore, become the focus of your day or at the least a distraction. This is not a partner, this is what an enemy would do. I consider this mind control. With this theory in tension, he was the one to cause chaos at my places of work. If I’m arguing with my spouse on the phone at work I could be seen as unstable, or having personal problems. And if I can’t even keep my house in order how could I possibly run a million dollar grant? Or manage employees? The end of this story will be another blog.

My last blog, I hope, provided some evidence that as I became more successful in my first career as a journalist, Peter would do a fantastic job of convincing me I needed to leave. Coming back to that last blog.....I started my new job as a producer/reporter. On Friday of my first week, in a new city, there was a breaking news story of two twin boys who accidentally locked themselves in one of those old refrigerators that can’t be opened from the inside. They had suffocated and died. I covered the parents, which meant we needed to get what they call B roll in T.V. (the video to fill the voice over parts of the story, when the reporter is talking but not seen and in between sound bites) of the home. The home was over two hours away; another reporter went with me and a camera man. A live shot for the 11 o’clock news, tear down and drive back got me home at about 3am. Back to work the next day and back to the same area meant 3am again. This is the nature of journalism, if it’s a big story you are working nearly around the clock. And I was working with men. There was no way Peter would allow that kind of freedom (even though it’s all working and not free-time at all), independence, or public recognition. I was given a clothing allowance and salon services, and as a breaking news reporter, becoming recognized while out. After a few months I was asked to fill in for a noon news cast as anchor. Following that, the news director would have me read the first 10 minutes of the news cast, as anchor, after the 11 o’clock news; I was being groomed for an anchor position. This career was simply too much for Peter.

Things are almost always tense in a news room leading up to a newscast. One Sunday night, when I was producing an 11 o’clock newscast, I had accidentally typed “Whore” into the teleprompter several times (the machine that scrolls the text for the anchors) for the sports caster “Shore.” Well the directing staff thought it was hilarious and the funnier we thought it was then more angry the sports anchor got. During a commercial break he threw down his lapel microphone and stormed into the director’s booth. He was screaming at us and we were crying at this point we were laughing so hard (the yelling is also typical in journalism so it didn’t phase us). After the news cast he and I were the only ones left in the building and he cornered me yelling again. I thought he was going to start swinging so I ran under his arm and out of the building to my car. This was not typical. He was running after me yelling. When I got home, I was quite upset and didn’t want to get out of bed the next day. Peter took this opportunity to get me out of this career once and for all. He drove me to a facility for the mentally ill and signed me over. He claimed I had tried to kill myself with some prescription sleeping medication. I was on suicide watch for three days. When I got out I was required to attend another week of outpatient services. The news director was more than willing to work with me, which is surprising because an event like that as a “local celebrity” could be scandalous. Somehow Peter convinced me I could no longer handle the rigors of being a television journalist (in reality, it was he who couldn't handle it) and insisted I stay at home with the girls and he would get a job and go to school part-time. I quit and stayed at home; this was one of my worst mistakes.

After about six months of staying at home, almost completely isolated, I really did almost lose my mind. I was very isolated because we had moved to a new city and me right into a fast-paced, highly sought after/competitive, glamorous job and had been cut off from the only people I knew (work colleagues) out of embarrassment. I was without a car nearly every day, with limited resources and two toddlers. Peter began to establish I was severely mentally ill from childhood abuse and encouraged me to get further treatment. Of course, he found a therapist and program best suited for my “issues.” I was admitted into an outpatient program, this time for a month. I think I was simply depressed; I had once again given up something I loved and was good at. I finally had my dream job and then suddenly it was gone and I was being treated like a child. To this day, I miss being being a journalist.

During the divorce, he had my records from my time at the clinic requested, further solidifying his accusations about my mental illness. At times when I threatened to leave him, he would remind me of my “suicide attempt” and tell me how easy it would be for him to take my children from me. And that's exactly what he did.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Waltons: Always on the Move...From the Beginning Cont.

John’s early occupation required a lot of travel. Growing up Peter moved about every two to five years. John would settle into a new job; the family into schools, activities, friends, trying to establish a community and then John would find a better job or need to leave for unidentified reasons. Peter later speculated it was likely due to affairs with secretaries or other women that would had have affected his job and/or reputation if they stayed.

I have known John Walton for 26 years. For 24 years (of course I don’t interact with the family any longer) I observed him to be unsettled, discontent, and not concerned with anyone else unless they benefited him in some way. He demanded center stage, continual praise and would become agitated or downright aggressive if not in that position. I know of over a dozens moves in those 24 years and not always accompanied with a job change. John Walton bought homes above his means and then would need to borrow money from the church, relatives or friends, rent an apartment within the home, or scale down for a while. They would move down the street, across town, to another city or another country. All moves required new decorations, window treatments, rugs, fixtures; always the best and generally on credit. John Walton dressed impeccably, with the latest fashion, right down to eyewear. I don’t recall ever having a sense of comfort with any of the Walton men; all were on the financial treadmill making sure appearances established that, yes, they were better than the rest of us. Though they prayed before every meal and quoted scriptures often, especially when at odds with the latest enemy, it felt superficial and empty, lacking love, empathy or intimacy.

I was working at the local radio station, where I had begun my journalism career as a freshman in high school. My first news cast was at 6am, which meant I was on the road by 4:30am. Then I could be home to watch my daughter by 2:30pm. When I graduated from college Peter decided our apartment was too small with a toddler so we moved down the road and in with John and Elaine. After about six months of a very uncomfortable existence, John announced that he and Elaine were moving back to Canada. Peter’s younger brother was forced to graduate from high school as a junior to avoid changing schools for his last year. There was no consideration for others, even children; when it was time for John to move, the family moved. There was no talking through any problems or discussions because that requires intimacy/a relationship so this move could’ve been simply because we lived with them and they wanted to avoid a “real” conversation. Or it could’ve been to avoid a problem or relationship in the church. Who knows? All we were told was that “it would be better if we didn’t return to the church where John was a pastor and moved on like the younger brother.” We abruptly moved to a little town about 20 miles down the road so Peter could start a Master’s Degree in History.

I continued work at the local radio station and Peter started graduate school. We had been married two years and this was our third move. We could not make ends meet. The first heat bill of the winter was about 300 dollars. Peter decided he would take a semester off and start a modeling career. He spent nearly 1,000 dollars paying fees and having professional pictures made. Meanwhile, I went to the local health department and received Women, Infants and Children support, food stamps and tried to get heating help. It wasn’t enough and Peter was not making any steady money modeling. I got a new job at a better radio station and as soon as it looked like I would be promoted to a drive-time anchor position, I became pregnant with a second child. Now, I was up at 4:30 for a 6am news cast start and had to find time to vomit before the top and bottom of the hour news casts. They kept me part-time and we could not make ends meet.

When I was five months pregnant I was driving to work at 4:30, the roads not yet plowed and no one out, I ran out of gas. I had to walk about a mile to the nearest gas station with some change I found on the car floor. Of course I was crying by the time I got to the station. The young man at the counter paid for a few dollars of gas so I could get to the station for my first news cast. I delivered my first news cast and then lost control of myself sobbing in front of the morning news personalities; I didn’t know how I would get home. The male radio celebrity approached me later in the day and gave me 10 dollars for gas. He then asked me if I had anything for lunch... I rarely did. He gave me another 10 dollars. There was a food court on the first floor and during my lunch break I nearly ran downstairs. I ate for the entire 30 minutes. Periodically, during my pregnancy, I would find five dollar bills in the radio board, where I delivered my news casts. Peter took no responsibility for providing for his family. He was “modeling” sporadically and was back in school. One day while I was waiting for Peter to pick me up, just outside the food court, a homeless man approached me and asked for food money. He said he was starving; I looked at him and said, “so am I.”

At six months pregnant, I decided I had to find an additional job. I am a survivor and a problem solver and I was tired of my existence. I interviewed at a local television station for a producer position. The news director took one look at my belly and said "what are we going to do about a maternity leave"? Being desperate, I bargained that if he gave me the job I would only take two weeks off. Based on my qualifications, he agreed.

I gave birth to another daughter. I worked nearly two full-time jobs and took care of my daughters when I wasn’t working. I would leave the radio job and drive straight to the producer job. I was nursing and with news casts at the top and bottom of the hours it was nearly impossible for me to pump. So I was usually uncomfortable the entire shift. I would pump on the drive between jobs. With television, everything builds, with the climax at the end of the shift. One evening we had breaking news and I was pumping. I didn’t hear them paging me. I was chastised for not being available and my job threatened.

When my second daughter was about four months old, the weekend anchor left for a job with CNN. I was asked to train for the weekend anchor position; the ideal candidate with my producing experience. Weeks after my training began, Peter announced that he was praying and the Lord told him to go to seminary. And we moved again to another state a few months later. We arrived on Monday, I started a reporter/producer position on Wednesday of that same week. Peter took a break before he started a second Master’s Degree. He thought a counseling degree “to help me” because I was so mentally ill.