Filed under: My Life
My friend Tiggerlane will tell you that it is difficult to believe I was once entangled in an abusive relationship. Tigger and I first crossed paths some nine years after the demise of my first marriage which was a nightmare of violence, manipulation and emotional blackmail. Even now, twenty-four years later, the repercussions still echo through my life. I am a different woman, but the past is not something easily erased.
Three years after my divorce I was living in Salisbury, Maryland. I was no longer seeing a therapist, but was still involved in a battered spouse support group which met in a church in Ocean City.
It was a lovely evening after an intensely emotional meeting of the support group. I was feeling cleansed and very up beat as I got into my car for the drive back to Salisbury. I popped a cassette into the tape deck and pulled up to the edge of the parking lot which opened onto a one-way street. My blinker was on for the anticipated right hand turn. I checked to the left for on-coming traffic and was accelerating to ease into the street when there was a sickening thud as a young man on a bicycle bounced off the front of my car. It was a moment of absolute terror. I had hit a human being with my car.
The young man was on his feet and yelling at me by the time I opened my car door. His bicycle lay mangled and crushed on the pavement. The two other young male bicyclists who were with the man I hit were talking and gesturing wildly. Support group members were out of their cars and chattering directly behind me in the parking lot. In the midst of the cacophony, I noticed that the young man was bleeding from scrapes on his knees and one elbow. The police arrived.
I never saw the young man barreling down the side of the street on his bicycle. He was going the wrong way on a one-way street. The support group witnesses who were behind me in the parking lot told the police that the young man was on the bicycle with both arms raised in the air shouting, “Hit me! Hit me!” I didn’t hear him. After some blustering argument during which the young man threatened us all with the fact that his father was a lawyer, the young man and his companions admitted that the eyewitness accounts were accurate. The police issued a citation to the young man whose primary concern seemed to be making me pay for his ruined bicycle. One of the officers told him he could certainly file an insurance claim, but the policeman emphasized that I was not at fault in the accident.
All in all it was a harrowing experience that could have been so much worse than it actually was. I was horrified with the thought of what might have been. But on the drive back home I laughed with the pure joy of relief and a bit of amusement. Like one of my fellow abused spouse witnesses told the police, “He was moving fast against traffic on a one-way street. His hands weren’t even on the handlebars and he was yelling ‘Hit me! Hit me!’ He asked for it.”
Tonight I watched 13 Going on 30 which somehow seemed a wildly appropriate movie to view after spending most of my day on a choir trip with a busload of teenagers.
As you may or may not know, the movie features many hit songs from the 80’s one of which is Pat Benatar’s rendition of “Love Is A Battlefield.” I love the scene with Jenna Rink, the 13-year old with the 30-year old body, talking to her 13-year old neighbor. Jenna says, “Just remember love is a battlefield,” and the neighbor girl replies, “Wow! That’s deep.” Later in the movie, Jenna hosts a pajama party with a pack of 13-year olds in attendance and they sing most of Pat Benatar’s tune while jumping around on a bed. Which, in turn, reminded me of a scene from my life in the 80’s.
I was a newlywed. My husband was in the Navy stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We lived in a townhouse about three blocks from the beach. Which sounds great, but the townhouses were very cheaply constructed with the thinnest walls imaginable and no carpet on the floors to help absorb sound. Our neighbors in the adjoining townhouse were Pat Benatar fans. In fact, the man’s wife thought she really was Pat Benatar. They had a band which rehearsed in their livingroom at all hours of the day and night.
My husband was on early watch for a month requiring him to get up at 3AM and be at his post on base at 4AM. After the second night of being awakened around midnight to Mrs. Pat Benatar Wannabe singing “Love Is A Battlefield” accompanied by electric guitars and drums, my husband decided to have a talk with the neighbors. His talk did absolutely no good whatsoever. We were awakened at 1AM the following morning by the rock band in full swing next door. So my husband did what any sleep-deprived, grouchy sailor would do; he called the cops.
The situation deteriorated even more from that point. An apartment at a better location became available so my husband and I just moved. My marriage didn’t last, but my aversion to Pat Benatar’s music survived for many years.
“We are young. Heartache to heartache we stand. No promises, no demands. Love is a battlefield.” Wow! That’s deep.