Death of a Blythe Spirit
Alas indeed. We children became adults carrying all the hang-ups our dysfunctional upbringing could provide. In the sixties I got married, got divorced, got pregnant, had a nervous breakdown—and for none of these events were either of my parents present or supportive. They were lost in their own world of misery.
In the sixties Bob got his girlfriend pregnant, joined the army, got married, and got divorced--because his wife, as Mother wrote, “was not going to do what I have done, she was not going to allow any man to treat her and speak to her the way mine has done.” Bob buried himself in work and school.
In the sixties Deedee had about one date in high school and married the first man who showed interest. Like her mother before her, she tried to pretend her marriage was the stuff of myth.
And in the sixties, Penny, the only one still at home, still “lived” the nightmare, becoming increasingly more solitary.
In the sixties Mom and Dad—and Penny—moved to a
new home in a new city every five minutes. I think Father’s job record was
beginning to catch up with him. A symptom of borderline personality is an
inability to commit that results in
frequent job changes. I don’t think Father ever worked at the same
place for even two years.
Mother essentially stopped introspecting. The
following is one of the last few journal entries she wrote:
The year at Whittier was tough for me—off on my own for the first time, first sexual experience—but on January 13, 1961, I wrote in my diary:
However, as my life was falling apart I changed my mind and wrote the following entry on March 20:
I guess Mother's life wasn't too hot either because
she started the year with this lament:
Donald Dutton writes:
It is often asked why women stay in such damaging relationships. For some…the sweetness and power of the contrition phase…are overwhelmingly seductive. These women unconsciously collude with their husbands in denial. [However] unpredictability is also key: Intermittent reinforcement is a powerful motivator that keeps one coming back for more (take for example the lure of slot machines). The victim’s hope is that maybe this time it will be better; maybe this time he’ll stop. And for reasons she cannot understand, powerful emotional bonds keep pulling he back—bonds forged by intermittent reinforcement…As the days pass, the bad memories fade, and only the good ones remain, fed by the woman’s desire to sate her man’s neediness, a neediness that only builds until the next incident.
In Bob’s senior year in high school, he got his girlfriend pregnant. It’s a given that his parents were no help in resolving the situation. I can remember Bob writing me at college, asking for advice. Ultimately, Bob decided to join the army so that he would be able to marry and support a wife. I remember all of us traipsing down to Fort Ord for the wedding. Shortly thereafter Bob was shipped to Germany.
Move to Chico
I finished my first year of college in June of 1961 and transferred to Chico State because by then the family had moved to Chico, California, where father had gotten a job at nearby Beale Air Force Base. Although my September 13th diary entry says “Should work out ok for us although Mom and Deedee miss their friends terribly,” we lived on Lilac Lane for only a single year!
When they moved this time, Deedee begged to be left
behind so that she could finish high school in Chico. Arrangements were
made for her to live with the family next door, the Weebys. I found the
following poem in Mother’s materials:
Believe it or not, Deedee also lived with me in the
Chico State dorm for awhile.
Meanwhile, with Bob in Germany, his marriage was
falling apart. In the journal entry below, Mother describes the problems.
I think she was anguished, but, surprisingly, even after the
disappointment of her own marriage, she would still admonish Bob’s wife
with “marriage is for keeps.”
May 11, 1961
Let me see if by putting this all down on paper I can get a clearer understanding of this mess. At least I'll put it down as it was presented to me in as much detail as I can recall.
I saw Sue on April 5th when I went down to get the meat. She told me that everything was arranged for her and Debbie to leave on July 20th. I asked her if she had all the money she needed for a roundtrip and why the roundtrip [would see] she got back if she had to. She said she was going to extend it and her parents wanted her to have that protection. She seemed anxious to go, and that's when she told me about the radio that Bob had broken and would have to pay for...five dollars a month. On the 8th I got a letter from Bob saying She was worried about money and explaining how much he has and that they could live very well on this combined [money] of 170 a month. On the 23 I got another letter saying that She changed her mind about coming to live. She wants to leave the baby at home with her father, visit Bob for a few months, and go back to work. He seemed to think her mother had something to do with these changed plans. On the basis of that letter I wrote Sue along the lines that she should go and get away from home. I told her I felt marriage was for keeps at least that's how I always looked at it and quoted her the marriage vows.
On Saturday, April 28, Sue's mother phoned me to say she
had to talk to me, apparently my letter was quite a bombshell. She told
me on the phone that Sue wanted a divorce but that they talked her out
of it and into going to
Anyway, when Sue came home she went into a tailspin about past grievances at Christmas when Bob spent so much time with Gene and wouldn't pick out a name for the baby and was always asking for money when she was trying to save it. Her mother said that was why she wouldn't accept or ask for help from us, because Bob was "always" asking us for money.
Anyway, the upshot of all that conversation was that, yes, she was going, if only for a couple of months, and that she was planning to get her shots the following Tuesday, that she was taking the longer and cheaper way to have more money to spend on their time together. Okay, I came home thinking that if they get together they can talk all their differences out, and I would be the last one to put in my oar or make any detrimental remarks. The following Tuesday I got a collect call from Bob, and he was well-ny hysterical. Seems Sue had written a letter saying she didn't love him anymore. He wanted to come home on emergency leave. I told him to be patient, she was coming over and they could talk it all over. I phoned Sue's mother and asked why Sue hadn't mentioned that letter and how it upset Bob. She mentioned that she'd talked to Sue about this man and Sue said there was nothing to it, that he'd taken her to lunch a few times, that was all. But was it? Her changed feelings came about just during these few weeks. If she was able to hoodwink her parents about Bob, won't she be able to do so again? Anyway, I went to Belmont last Wednesday. I just had a feeling I wanted to see how Sue's preparation about leaving were coming along, and lo and behold, everything has changed again. She is not going. Sue bought a car; Sue is all wrapped up in her job and working hard at it (her mother says) and making a good thing of it too, commission wise. Sue was determined to have a divorce and had seen "Jack" their lawyer who was preparing the papers.
Bob had phoned the previous day and after reluctantly taking the call, he and Sue had a row over the phone, with him slamming the receiver down saying he was coming home. I had a feeling he would call again and Jere told me not to accept any collect calls. I feel like a heel and a traitor but I want him to call when his father is home. It's time Jere talked to Bob himself instead of through me.
I wrote a letter but its hard going, trying to talk with Here's mouth through my thoughts.
So there it is. Sue has changed but Bob hasn't. He wants his wife and family and wants to fight for them any way he can. Now the questions is, could those two get over this misunderstanding, can they surmount this emotional hump and still make their marriage go, and let's not forget Debbie, the innocent person in this affair.
Mona claims that Sue married Bob only for the baby's sake. I say she wanted to marry because she loved Bob and felt (at the time) that he was the only one for her. But judging from her [attitude] and her mother's comments she would never make the allowances she made or be as tolerant of her husband's weaknesses as I've been. She wouldn't give an inch. But how can I be sure enough of her emotional make-up to put this across to Bob. How can I add hurt to hurt and bitter disappointment.
©2014 Camille E. Flores