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“Normal”

I walked softly on the beautiful, plush, padded carpeting, the central air whirled silently whisking us with a constant temperature that was neither hot nor cold. As I looked around in the silence of nightfall I felt a strange and sick nagging at my brain.  Just weeks before we had been struggling, no beds, no comforts and yet now we lived in luxury or so it seemed to me.  In the villa I had felt faint as I stood in the kitchen, the door shut with no access to a/c, and temperatures rising to 115 degrees. But here it was cool and soft and new. That “new” smell was comforting and warm, the house was fully furnished with dishes, china, pots and pans, soft blankets, a spacious hutch to store china and linens, and there were actually linens to be stored.  The dining room was elegant and yet modern,  a lovely “blonde” (as mother would call it)  colored furniture, a slider to the backyard. The window in the living room spanned up to the second floor giving a full view of the compound.  Each bathroom was large, beautifully colored, built in cupboards and enormous tub for soaking. The bathrooms in the villa had been a drab color full of chipped tiling, splotches of spackle and easy access for cockroaches to enter from the gaping hole in the floor.  We had not been allowed to watch television in the villa until I found a way and finally bargained for this tiny luxury. But here we had satellite which meant cartoons, children’s shows and many other Western programs. Although we could not hang pictures or have anything personal displayed, this was the closest to a warm and homey feeling I had felt since leaving my childhood home to make my way off to University. When I left the crazy house a mile up the winding, dirt road on the hill, I thought little of what came next. I was a jazz singer and always would be. I was merely moving on to the next chapter in my career. Mother was a nurse with her M.B.A. who had become a successful hospital administrator, at a time when that was not such a common thing. So, naturally I could do anything, accomplish whatever I set my mind to. It was never questioned or discussed, finish high school, go to University and have a career. But, along the way make music and try to go on the road with a jazz quartet.

I went to visit my sister that summer, it was my sophomore year at Central. I was young and naive, I had met other guys, but it never quite worked out and those dreams of finding that one true love faded with each passing day. My sister was attending summer school and had met a young Saudi man. I arrived for this visit after a 4 hour drive through the beautiful rolling hills of the Palouse and surrounding area.  She mentioned that a nice, clean cut Palestinian man had moved in next door and I should be open minded. I laughed at the thought but as always things happen that we do not plan, a larger picture takes over and we are lost in a forest of sorts, an unending weave of thoughts and dreams. Those two short days would change my life forever and bring me the most difficult years of my life but also the most treasured gifts I would never trade.

The glass goblet filled with Roz Halib (Rice pudding)  came crashing down on the beautiful new dining room table, it made a huge thud as it landed. The glass in the hutch doors every so slightly shimmered as they shook. The questioning had begun, which always started with the key words, “what did you put in this?” Each time these words were uttered my heart started pounding and my palms began to sweat.  I felt my insides turn but knew I must put on a cold and sterile face to get past, any sign of weakness or tears only made things worst. The drill seemed to get harder and the questions would never be satisfied yet each time I employed a new and better technique, not knowing at that time that nothing would ultimately be the “right” answer. I spent many hours in between these episodes analyzing these incidents and making plans of what I would change in my manner to keep him calm. As he had told me many times I was too sensitive and must change this fault in my character.  I knew this meant I was in for the long haul and learned to answer questions as asked and stand at attention, showing nothing of my insides crumbling. I explained in detail how I had made the pudding and what I had done each step carefully mapped out. I bit my inner lip to keep from shaking and showing any tears. I watched his face hoping that my answers met with his approval and this would quickly pass. It was always hard to tell if an incident would turn into an event or merely a quick blip.  I added in that I had made it many times before and also, the neighbor who was an Arab lady had taught me how. He picked it up, scooped out a blob and plopped it back in as if it were slop for a pig. “No, it has never been good, no it has always been garbage!!” His words got louder with each utterance and his face became red and infuriated.  I spoke quietly to divert his attention from this wreck and told him yes he was right, I was wrong. I needed this to end so that the household could go back to “normal”.

137 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am shaking just reading that Lynz, very glad you and your children were in a better place but it is terrifying what you said and I unfortunately am familiar with this type of behavior. This is utterly fascinating.

    Liked by 3 people

    September 20, 2015
    • Yes I knew you would be dear! As you know it just gets worst but I unfortunately did not understand what was happening! I felt I was not a good person, kept trying! took years to get it! kept changing myself to be better

      Liked by 2 people

      September 20, 2015
  2. Your tales give me shiver, unfortunately they are your life tales. Oh dear, ibwish to hug a person shivering standing there at a situation where she thinks she’s making a mistake, poor you..

    Liked by 2 people

    September 20, 2015
  3. Cool post! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  4. Frightening, Lynz. I hold my breath reading about your journey. Unfortunately this form of mental violence occurs all over the world.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 20, 2015
  5. My, My Hugs to you and an email!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  6. Yes, just as I thought a much bigger pig than I imagined….what an arrogant ass he was and probably still is….to think of all the woman who live in the easternn countries live under this scrutiny in their precious lives is so maddening, all over rice pudding, I realize it was not the rice pudding, which was I am sure yummy it was all about his control and keeping you scared out of your skin of him…power, power, power….I remember an incident with my daughter, it was over the toothpaste being squeezed out incorrectly in “his” opinion…that resulted in my buying her, her own tube and he could not pass judgment on how she choose to squeeze the toothpaste, lets say that did not go over well….I picked my battles and like you my children were first… I am so happy that not all men are pigs….you poor sweet young thing, trying so hard to make it all right, I am anxious to read about the moment the light bulb went off in your head!!! it took several years for me, and I in no way went through what you did…I lived in the states and he was on my turf!!! but the men that are controlling a holes will always be just that…using woman to make them feel powerful……the only saving grace I feel, was that you at least had a decent place to live now and the kids were able to have a little of the western influence….but what a ride you were on sister…so happy you were able to get off….can’t wait for the next chapter…and you and your daughter are beautiful…xx.kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  7. Some people will never be satisfied, no matter what you do. Those kind will only break others down to pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • yes for sure!you are very wise

      Liked by 1 person

      September 20, 2015
      • I have also learned by experience Lynz.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 20, 2015
        • I am so sorry to hear that Irene!!!!!!! you are lovely

          Liked by 1 person

          September 20, 2015
          • You are lovely too Lynz. We are today, what life has taught us in good and bad. You are so brave and write your story, I don’t have your courage, not yet, but you are very inspiring ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            September 20, 2015
          • So true! Well it just happened that I started to write, but it is hard to tell the feelings of abuse in just a few paragraphs as you well know! It is a system and process that robs you and how to explain it is hard!

            Liked by 2 people

            September 20, 2015
          • To live with abuse and get free is a great thing. From there the healing can begin and after many years not knowing oneself, it feels like a new life start and then hit hard. We can ignore our past for a while, but not forever. You do this so good Lynz.

            Liked by 1 person

            September 20, 2015
          • yes it is true!

            Liked by 1 person

            September 20, 2015
  8. Oh Lynn, I understand this better than I wish to admit. Breathing a sigh of relief after this reading, trusting we are both in a better place! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    September 20, 2015
  9. I was just thinking the other day, I need to go back to the beginning of your blog. Thanks for the clue.
    When you moved from solitary confinement to this villa, I felt dread in the pit of my stomach. Like I knew you were being set up for worse.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 20, 2015
  10. I am so sorry for this horrible mess that seems endless, Lyn. I was only a few times hurt in my life, two by a husband and once by a date. I learned how to give up a nice home and life style twice! I am ashamed to say this taught my girls to not be ant more careful than I was. I worked at a battered women’s shelter and counseled and represented children as a Child Advocate. Wives of docotors, farmers, businessmen all walks of life. I like your positive attitude but feel your “pain and anguish.” Women are more often the victims and some areas of the world, women don’t even realize they have a choice. Hugs and prayers. When you said on a comment, it us still not over I cringed. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • Thanks for caring! you totally can understand for sure! I married secretly, changed religions and moved to isolation, so it was a long 33 years! I tried to let people see in the beginning my mom a strong, independent woman,nice dad, but still it effects us all every walk life as you stated! It is universal!

      Liked by 1 person

      September 20, 2015
  11. There are everyday heroes, Lynz, and you are certainly one of them. Motivated by a deeper love – to protect your children – you suffered in silence for so many years and strengthened your spirit. Now, you sing your stories and touch other’s hearts with the depth of a jazz singer’s art.

    Liked by 3 people

    September 20, 2015
    • Carol, you paint a lovely picture and have such insight into life, the beauty and the hardships! being outside the margins is something we can understand? thanks so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      September 20, 2015
  12. Lynz, you are a very strong woman, I greatly respect you!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  13. Heartbreaking. 😦
    I’m just glad you and your children are in a different place now, and hope you will go back to singing and appreciating yourself.

    By the way, what was the reason you could not hang pictures or have anything personal displayed?

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  14. NJ #

    When I read the first paragraph I felt happy for you 🙂 but the last one spoiled it all 😦 I understand how tough it is to please someone who doesn’t want to be pleased.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 20, 2015
  15. Another well written piece Lynn:)

    Like

    September 20, 2015
  16. Even though logically you know it’s not you with the “problem” it remains devastating each time. finding the courage to stand up to a bully – oh my – that was difficult…I so understand where your head was, fear diminishes us so thoroughly. I was never able to trust a man again. I’m so happy that you have your wonderful kids! Your writing is amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 20, 2015
    • I was really lost in this, I look back and it all seems pretty clear but I felt it truly was me!! Thanks so much so good you are back! I missed you allot!

      Like

      September 20, 2015
      • yes, must be a woman’s lot to feel deep blame for everything…and always, always in the wrong…I have been single for more than 10 years now and I still catch myself drifting in that direction…it must be in our DNA! Each time I read your blogging about that time in your life I can relate to it…you have to have lived it to get it and so happy and proud to know that you too “escaped”

        Liked by 1 person

        September 20, 2015
  17. I see in the comments that telling your story is bringing here so many women who have suffered under the same mental illness as your husband. It is unfortunately a global phenomenon. Surviving any abusive relationship and moving on to discover yourself and be true to yourself becomes the work of the rest of your life – or that is what I have discovered for myself anyway. The great teaching tool lies in revealing how we woke up, how we made and make daily this transition I think. Reading the comments makes me want to say this: I’m not a big fan of blaming or name calling, but of taking responsibility for our part in the relationship, of becoming clear about that spark that lives and will not lie down beneath the torrents of abuse – for it is that spark to which we owe our freedom and our ability to grow and become more than we were before. I say ‘Honour the Spark!’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • It is universal and sadly women stay for many reasons financial, fear and of course other things. It is an insiduous process for sure that is not always evident for many years.

      Like

      September 20, 2015
  18. I am sure it was painful to write the words, but I hope that it helped the healing process.

    Like

    September 20, 2015
    • Thank you so much! It is hard but finally i just have to say it! Thank you for your lovely comment!

      Like

      September 20, 2015
  19. It makes me so frustrated to read this, thanks for sharing xx

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  20. This is so sad, I cannot even imagine having to go through it. You are a strong woman!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  21. This is heartbreaking. I am just glad that you are in a better place now. No matter who we are, I believe we need to be treated with respect. Best wishes to you, Lynz.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  22. I’m so sorry that you had to experience this, Lynn, and that so many women can relate to your story. The fact that it is universal…so tragic. I wish I had the right words.

    Like

    September 20, 2015
  23. Alice #

    Oh Lynn I am so sorry you had to live with such an awful person!!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  24. I want to comment but I’m at a loss for words. I just keep repeating myself when I do comment. You have such an incredible resolve and such internal strength- I’m just riveted by each passage of your life story.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • I really appreciate anything you say and that you comment! It is a hard realization but for some reason I now want to talk but I always worry people will judge me and I am already judging myself! so thank you for your words!

      Like

      September 20, 2015
      • Please don’t be hard on yourself. Why judge yourself? What I see is that so many women here believe you are a strong woman who has lived a remarkable life of hardship, yet got through…not just holding your own head up out of the water but 9 children as well! Now you are in a new chapter of life with much freedom and so much talent. People who have not lived it do not understand…so you are the voice that can make them understand.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 21, 2015
        • Thanks that is what I am hoping! I appreciate your kind encouragement! 🙂 a million smiles and a hug!

          Like

          September 21, 2015
  25. Dearest Lynz, I just now read your story and tears stood out in my eyes for I relate only too well with what you were exposed to. That type of person you described is empty of Heart, unable to reach happiness, so does his best to tear others down to make him feel better. Atrocious vicious behavior that leaves scars permanently, yet directly due to that treatment you become stronger with a determination to cut that toxicity out never to allow it to return. You are who you are because of this phase of your life. You are wiser, you have learned Compassion, your have grown, and from out of that are courageous enough to share your story so that others will SEE how wrong this behavior is. I am so darn proud of you! And as far as your recipes go, they are glorious! Let no one ever say anything less then that!!! So Much Love to you!!! (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • Thanks so much Amy! you are a wonderful person with so much to share. I see it in your poetry and lovely photos! You are right it does leave permanent scars! It means allot to hear these kind words because many days I feel like I failed!! I just want my kids to be happy and successful and feel good about themselves! love, Lynn and thanks!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      September 20, 2015
      • Lynz, with a Mother like you, your children will be Loved, of that I am sure. You can only give them what you know to the extent you know, so be gentle with yourself. You have been through a lot, and relearning how to be you, is a huge undertaking, much less raising children. When you Love from the Heart, you cannot but succeed. I have much Faith in you that what you truly desire, you shall create. Love, Amy ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        September 21, 2015
  26. Gosh, sometimes it just seems so wrong to click the like button. His behavior was deplorable. *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  27. I can’t tell you enough how sorry I am you had to go through this. I know how terrible it feels to be in abusive relationships. I can’t believe you stayed so long. I think I understand why you stayed though. This was another good story, Lynn. Thank you for sharing it. I look forward to reading your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • Thanks so much, it was like I felt to blame and then had 5-6 kids. I had not worked for years, left all I knew behind. I didn’t even know how to use a debit card or write a check and then worked three jobs trying to keep the kids on the right track, so it was hard when I relocated and I was afraid! Even now I worry!!! thanks for caring!

      Liked by 1 person

      September 20, 2015
      • I can imagine being afraid to leave for different reasons. You’re a great mom! I’m sure your kids realize what a great mom they have too. I’m glad you’re in America with your family now. You have a friend in me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        September 20, 2015
  28. 😦 GRRRR!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  29. This is such a horrifying story, and I can see how it could unfold so slowly that you don’t even realize what is happening. It reminds me of the “frog in the hot water” story from psychology class. Do you know that one? Two frogs, 2 beakers of water, 2 hot plates…the first frog is put into the cold water and the hot plate turned on. The second beaker of water is put on the second hot plate and it is turned on. When the water is boiling, the second frog is put into the boiling water and it immediately jumps out. But the first frog didn’t realize what was happening, it was so gradual, they burn up before they can escape. Good for you, you got out! It took strength and character and the love of your children and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • Yes a friend who lived through abuse told me of this concept one time! I often think of it because it is so hard to explain why you would stay? But the person is kind, loving and wonderful to start off, if they came from day one and screamed and yelled and controlled, who would stay? I appreciate you giving this example, it is the best way to explain this long term abuse! Thanks so much I really appreciate you speaking up! and reading!

      Like

      September 20, 2015
  30. Lynz, you had led an incredible life. I wish nothing but the best for you and your children!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  31. Is his behavior normal for that culture? It’s despicable and horrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
    • I think this behavior can be found in every culture. I thought it was but no it is more about people who hurt others and tear them down and they are found every where

      Liked by 2 people

      September 21, 2015
      • Yes, this is absolutely true. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound ignorant, but I know some cultures don’t hold their women in very high esteem across the board. Regardless, the important thing is that you’re safe and happy now and are finding peace from within. You deserve to be happy!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        September 21, 2015
        • oh no problem you didn’t sound ignorant at all! I also felt it was just culture, I had gotten into it, my problem, but my kids said no it’s not it’s not normal for arabs either.

          Liked by 1 person

          September 21, 2015
          • Okay, that’s really good to know, thank you! I won’t speak ill of your children’s father, but I’m sure you know what I’m thinking, 😉 Thank you for sharing your story and working through it!

            Liked by 1 person

            September 21, 2015
          • ha ha yes I do!

            Liked by 1 person

            September 21, 2015
          • I have been around a similar culture and I would say no, the men are no more likely to abuse than men elsewhere in the world. BUT women in Asia and the Middle East are brought up from young to hold the house together. Even to some extent Western women share this burden too, but in my experience ME women and Asian women carry practically all of the buren of the house and child rearing. And are expected to do it well as it’s a woman’s highest calling. That said, if a husband is a real cruel *#!!* he will nit pick everything the wife doesn’t do to his standard. Really grinds away at one’s self esteem I would think. I bet you wanted to tell him what he could do with the pudding if he didn’t like it ;D

            Liked by 1 person

            September 21, 2015
          • well to be honest it was a daily occurrence and then back to super nice but still critical! So it was confusing and you feel like you are so wrong! Arab ladies are tough and laughed at me like I was just so silly, they stood their ground and said NOOOOO I was shocked! But you just get lost in this reality that they create. No I would like to say that!!! At age 40 I changed and woke up and that is when the real bad times began!!!

            Like

            September 21, 2015
          • I think we all wake up at 40 don’t we? that’s when we say, “ok I got no more time for any BS”…do you mean that the Arab women laughed at you for being fearful or anxious around your husband..and that they were tough with their husbands?

            Liked by 1 person

            September 21, 2015
          • yes I really do, so many of my friends left, lost their kids, etc. around age 40! yes the arab ladies were tough and told me” do you ask him if you can use the bathroom, don’t listen”!!! so yes they were tough!!! I think for me being from a different culture I didn’t know the rules, maybe that is why he wanted to be with me lol!!!!

            Like

            September 21, 2015
          • well, you are all the wiser now! That’s what matters.

            Liked by 1 person

            September 21, 2015
          • yes so true!!

            Like

            September 21, 2015
  32. In all of this you have managed to find your blessings! I cannot imagine how difficult staying was for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 20, 2015
  33. Abuse. Such an ugly word. Written against the background of your new beautiful home the story has even more impact.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 21, 2015
  34. Oh my! What a tyrant! This is not an easy read, because the words leave a lot for the imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 21, 2015
  35. Just… Oh Lynz, I cannot like this..my heart is doing flip,flops i have been there but not too that extent and not in a strange land and away from friends and family …how you coped I don’t know but you did and have come out the other side…amazing lady. you are so brave to tell it must be hard to put into words..hugs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    September 21, 2015
  36. I accept cultures are different, but this is not one I’d want to be part of. I’m not strong enough. I’d be crushed.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 21, 2015
  37. I feel such a mix of emotions when i read some of your passages Lyn – this one makes me feel angry. No-one deserves to be treated that way

    Liked by 1 person

    September 21, 2015
  38. Vajeea #

    I am always at a loss of words after reading your life stories and its a hard decision whether to press the like button or nor.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 21, 2015
  39. Oh Lynz, my heart was pounding reading this. Is this type of treatment standard for the culture due to women being second class citizens? I applaud you for making it through such a turbulent time in your life and not letting him break you. You are an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 22, 2015
    • It is abuse which is universal and all cultures, and all economic backgrounds, education levels, most arab women are very tough, do not put up with bad treatment. they felt I was very weak! They have their families to back them up as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 22, 2015
      • Perhaps the Saudi women were tough but with you being in a foreign country it’s completely different. I also think that anyone who comes out on the other side of abuse is not weak. I remember when me and my 3 small sons at the time were in a battered women’s shelter. There was a woman who came in with half of her hair pulled out. I thought “thank God, there is no way she’s gonna go back” but she did and it broke my heart. It’s awful how anyone (male or female) can make another feel like their insignificant.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 22, 2015
  40. Oh….Lynn I just want to give you the biggest hug ever. I commend you immensely for sharing your story/life. Your word’s may be of some help to other’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 22, 2015
  41. Despite your lovely new home. this sounds like the beginning of the downward slide in your husband’s behaviour. I can’i imagine what you went through in a foreign country, without even your family to turn to. I’m looking forward to reading the next episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 22, 2015
  42. Oh my! I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I had finished reading. The tension of the moments you experienced just flew off the page and into my heart. I am saddened by the knowledge of what you had to endure! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 23, 2015
  43. Merryn #

    It is incredible how you were able to see this abuse and retain your character through it all. Every one of your accounts blows me away!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 26, 2015
  44. As another reader commented, I also found myself holding my breath as I read this, and I find myself wanting to cry for all you went through. Hugs and love to you, sweet Lynn!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 26, 2015

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