An offering from the box

The apartment brought with it many benefits, but like most things in life, also negatives. Not having access to regular electricity was quite a draw back. You don’t think about things until they are no longer available and of course electricity is a basic necessity and something we were used to.  I always made a mental list of the benefits that we had and in this case it was location near the school, clear windows to the outside and a clean, new place to stay. So, I kept my daily routine and tried to have fun with the kids. We laughed and joked and made forts out of the pads that were used for couches. The kids spent hours playing and for years to come, made their own games and entertainment out of little to nothing.

I received weekly letters from my parents that were a blessing, in addition to the call cabin conversations here and there. One day, like any other day he went out in hopes of finding his dream job, visited friends until the wee hours and then returned home, but also returned with a gift!  On this special day he brought with him a surprise, a box. A box with packing tape carefully wrapped around each corner, familiar letters that made my heart race. The kids gathered around and we all stood quite amazed at this new addition to the apartment. During the long, hot summer we rarely went out except for the occasional  quick trip to the mini market or a drop off at a park during prayer time, so anything new brought a great deal of excitement to our lives. It was neatly wrapped up, a brown, ordinary box, taped and sealed with a precision that could only mean one thing, Grama! Although the girls could not read they loudly and in unison shouted, GRAMA!

I told my children as they stood gazing at this treasure, let’s open it. As children do, they started tearing tape, opening flaps and quickly it stood offering up new possibilities for hours of fun during a long and hot summer. My mother as always, took care to find personal items for each child, a baby doll for Foof who was now 2  years old, a craft set for See See who had just turned 4, complete with beads and sequins and all of the glimmering things little girls love. For the baby, several outfits, toys and a baby book to record memorable milestones.The boys were thrilled to have games, books and action figures. My parents had been the sole providers of clothing for the past 5 years and so of course several outfits for each child. A pink journal, lightly scented lotions, soaps, pajamas and candy for all of us. She always thought of him and sent him nice work pants, a dress shirt and tie. This box although an ordinary cardboard box, held with it much more for all of us.

As night fell and the lights went out I promised the kids we would return to the box  in the light of day. It was hard to get them settled in for sleep because the thought of toys, games and the grandparents they had left behind were the topic of chatter for an hour or more. I gathered up the laundry for the early morning routine and placed it in the kitchen near the washer, I did dishes and anything I could before total darkness set in. I sat on the couch pad and rested in the glimmer of the light from the street lamps. I sat thinking of my mother and father and the box. Memories drifted back to summers I spent walking through our neighborhood to the community pool, riding my bike with friends and rolling down the big green summer hills in the backyard. We camped in our tent and then they bought a trailer, we made campfires, hiked to the swimming area, roasted marshmallows and then as teenagers angrily objected to these trips! It was all a blur now and he snapped me back into reality when he entered the dimly lit room. He commented on the box and how nice it was of them to send it. What a nice idea, although his pants were too long and his tie too brightly colored, but all the same, a nice thought and well received.  He sat next to me in the dark and asked me what I had received from the box, my heart sank as I knew what was next. He spoke for 10 minutes or more about the lovely gifts of perfumed lotions, soap and candy that he knew I didn’t like and never used, about a book that was over priced and a waste of time.  In the end the same result was coming, I must give up my treasures, maybe holding on to one small item if I wanted to keep my children’s gifts.  I knew the small price that had to be paid and although it was unspoken, as many things it was well known to us both.  He spoke of the children’s gifts and how impractical and expensive they were. Children in other countries were lucky to go to school, did not have clean drinking water and definitely did not have luxuries. I knew all of these things were very true and they ran through my mind daily!  When we lived in the States he would push and prod until some of these unnecessary items disappeared and were returned for grocery money. My mother’s new tactic was to be practical and patient, as she took him to the store and asked what we be good gifts for the household, of course she noticed with each visit the items she had purchased were not visible. He told me that of course these were my gifts from my parents and I should enjoy them, they were for me. But I knew from past experience this was the cue for me to say I did not care for such things and yes they were frivolous. The next day feeling secure that my children had their things and no store to return them to, I held the pink bottle, jasmine, I smelled the lotion and then quickly set it down, it was indeed a luxury, something a plain woman like myself did not need to worry about. I picked up the other gifts and put them in his room, my offering from the box and my heart.

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Three oldest kids in new apartment

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hall way to master bedroom and bathroom in the apartment

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76 thoughts on “An offering from the box

  1. Damm.. Lynz your breaking my heart…I am glad that you are somewhere now that you see how much you are worth…and worth anything and everything that your great big ole heart deserves…..another chapter of your life, thanks for sharing….look forward to the next….

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you so much! It is all of you, meaning especially you and my first readers who made me feel safe enough to start talking! I am still struggling and this person is still looming over head so writing and hearing what you have to say helps so much!!!!

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      1. I am glad its releasing you from the terrible prison you were in….I am hoping that this person is not in your life anymore, or any at least doesn’t have a hold over your personal power..he may have been your children’s father and was raised by a different set of standards, but you my dear do not have to….I love that you story is not only helping you, but I am willing to bet that you are touching more lives than you now…I know that you have touched mine….if you ever want to communicate privately my e mail is atagoo@att.net….kathy

        Liked by 2 people

  2. You are worth every thoughtful gift ever given to you. I’m sorry he never expressed that to you. I’m sorry for your parents who wanted you to have more and weren’t allowed. He never provided those things, and I’m sure it was easier to justify it by saying you shouldn’t have them. Sweet Lynn, the manipulation you endured is heartbreaking.

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      1. Lynne, we read between the lines of what you sacrificed-although you do not wish to speak negatively know I already know…You are so blessed to be away from Saudi and that lifestyle. You deserve much better. Cheryl PS I am not one to sugar coat anything in your case I understand…

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  3. It IS hard to read. You write so well and convey in few words the callous control he exerted over you. There are men like this in every culture – I was married once to one of them. Fortunately for me I was in my own country but even so it was 18 years before I managed to extricate myself So much is taken from you in these circumstances but even though in one way it exhausts and depletes, it also makes you strong! Keep telling your story, more and more are coming to read it!

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    1. thanks, sorry to hear you went through this as well! yes it is universal, there are people in every culture like this! I try to steer away from it being about him being Arab because that isn’t the issue, moving to Saudi was just perfect for isolation! Thanks so much!! I knew we connected for a reason!

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  4. You really are strong and reslient and patient, amazing. When I read about the hardships it is heartbreaking but you made the best of a very difficult situation. That package from your Mom was truly a treasure and you deserved some of lifes niceties.

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      1. yes, he was the dream man for 5 years, never raised his voice, bought me gifts, visited my parents and came to see me sing. He never had an opinion or much of one to over power me. he was kind and gentle, a dream!!! then slowly things changed so I didn’t even see it!

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  5. How long did you stay with this man Lynz? I’m so sorry you had to endure this. No one should. So many things I would love to say here, but I don’t want to offend you. I will only say that I spent 30 years with a man who was so much like yours, verbally abusive, that I had to remind myself daily that I did NOT deserve to be treated that way. I wish I had started following you earlier.

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    1. I am still legally married and have yet to be totally free although I have little contact, it has now been 33 years! Yes confidence is eroded and you feel like you are making trouble!To the world he is the perfect man and helper!

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      1. Mine was perfect to the world also. He would do anything for anybody — except me, the person he was supposed to put first in his life. So sad they have eyes but never see. Had to call neighbors to take me to hospital for delivery of babies.

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      2. He treats his second wife better. I love that he tells her she doesn’t cook as well as I do. I can laugh now, but at the time it hurt. I’m better off without him, and happy for the first time in my life.

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  6. This made me tear up a bit. I’m easily crushed and living under these circumstances would have chipped away at my resilience very quickly. You are a very resilient person. I’m very new to your blog and have so far seen only cooking posts. I look forward to reading more of your life stories, you write so well and I know you sharing these moments in your past will mean a lot to a lot of readers.

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  7. Lynn! You have always amazed me, and I send you hugs and energy for continued healing. it’s a process…You are brave to share, and I appreciate your sharing this amazing journey. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m just finding your blog, Lynn. This is the first post I’ve read. Wow! Sounds like you’ve lived through a lot with a difficult man in a foreign country. It takes a strong, brave woman to leave a situation. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

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  9. It broke my heart, reading this. I’m so glad the kids got to keep their more “practical” gifts, but how horrible for you to keep nothing. It’s hard enough being so far away from your loved ones in a distant land, let alone have things which remind you of their care wrenched out of your hands with guilt. I read all the comments before mine, so I learnt that you are no longer with that man. However, the pain must be so deep, I’m sure. Are your children safe with you? I hope so – in the past I have heard of stories where the mother lost her kids because they were born in particular cultures. Your true worth is not determined by man thankfully. You are a beautiful soul and I look forward to getting to know you better through your blog.

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    1. Thank you so much Merryn. while I am not with him we are still legally married and he decides if he wants to just pop over or not which means more games and stress. No one can understand why women stay or go back but it is a game and you are lost in the game. I am free but there are scars for me as well as my kids! They are my life and are so amazing! Thanks for caring! Yes many of my friends lost their children!

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      1. It must have made you extra careful having friends who lost their kids. I can understand why you tolerate the pop-ins; far better than losing your kids or copping abuse. I hope and pray that you and your children will be able to build impenetrable walls around your emotions so that their father does not have any power over you anymore.

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