Review of old stories and an edit- 1993- Al Khobar or bust

Hair fell to the bathroom floor, sticking in the cracks where unsealed grout had been stained from white to black.  Cries and sobs were muffled as the scissors chopped raggedly, leaving strands that had now become a nuisance, a reminder of hot rollers, hair spray and hours of preparation and a life that was left behind.  Emotions had been bottled up since arriving to this place, no pots or pans, no phone, no beds. A sudden urge to have control over one small thing, anything, emerged and could no longer be avoided. All hair cuts were given in his chair, where he decided how a perfect wife and mother should look, even, short and plain, no frills or color. But now in this moment hair was flying, it stuck to eyes and lips, mixed with the moisture of tears that had finally forced their way out, long over due.

I had delivered this precious baby boy, bundled him up and held him close as we made our way home in the tiny old car that his company had loaned him. Leaving the hospital was like everything else I had experienced so far, more negotiating and questioning. They objected to my early release and said I was to stay 3 days, that was standard. When I refused, the first order of business was to get his written permission. I would not be able to check out or take my baby without his approval. I was not excited to return to the villa but it was looking better than the hospital at that point. In the bedroom we laid three pads together to make one large bed. The kids laughed and played and made their own space, arguing over who would be closest to little Abude. He slept on his own pad in the room directly adjacent, he could not be bothered with the sound of fussing and crying babies.

After things returned to routine, boredom and reality set in quickly. I looked around, no more jet lag, no more anxiety over delivery and no more excuses. A bare room, no furniture, no way to call anyone and no one to call. One large pot, a small frying pan with a handle that was broken, a stove that shocked me and no cupboards to store food in. As soon as we had arrived I was told that purchasing Western products was prohibited and that meant little comfort food for the children. I had been in a constant state of angst, a singular focus, get the boys into school, deliver this baby and survive. All of the glaring hardships didn’t quite register until this time. The boys were not happy in the neighborhood school, they were of course the only Americans there and learned the word “Amreke” very quickly. At night they had hours of penmanship, writing pages of Arabic letters and numbers. I had insisted on several occasions that he go in and speak to the teachers, but this did little good. Other students threw rocks at them and called them Amreke, Amreke (American).  When they asked the teachers for help the response was, “Go throw rocks back”. The numerous trips into the school were forced on my part and resulted in resolving a current issue (such as the rocks) only to face something else soon after.

My sister lived in Al-Khobar (four hours from Riyadh) but I had yet to see her, so a call from her husband (to his work place) inviting us for semester break became a focal point and something to look forward to. I spent the next few weeks planning our trip to Al-Khobar where we would stay with my sister and her family. She had a large villa, television, a phone and a house full of furniture. Her children played in their yard where she had made several attempts at planting grass and where she had carefully placed playground equipment.

As the days drew nearer, the intensity of our need to leave this place grew stronger, until one day when he announced casually, ” Oh, by the way, we can’t go to Al-Khobar!” I felt a sick rush of heat lather my face and body, it started at my head and seemed to rush like waves down to my feet. I had not realized the effect of this living situation in its totality until that moment. I stammered and asked what, why? His response was that they might be out of town that week, ” maybe some other time”. I gathered my self together and served the lunch time meal, all the while holding back waves of frustration and tears. I calmed myself with the constant reminder that I was “lucky and privileged”, repeating the words I heard so often. He ate his lunch, said his goodbyes and made his way back to work.  I stood looking at the brown doors leading to the stairs and  thought of the coming break and the days that would be spent sitting on the floor staring at the walls, serving up smiles and ideas to pass countless hours. Like a child who reached the top shelf of a forbidden cupboard, I grabbed the scissors and decided to cut my unruly, straggly hair, now matted with sweat and tears.

159 thoughts on “Review of old stories and an edit- 1993- Al Khobar or bust

  1. Honestly, Lynn … These accounts of your time over there are beyond words. So thoughtfully written, so open & captivating, they are among my favourite pieces on the blogosphere and yet I am torn hitting “like” as they were clearly challenging times, to say the least. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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  2. How terrible of him to cancel your trip! I bet he was mad when he got home. What a moment of defiance from you….I bet it felt good! But, it is so sad that choosing to cut your own hair would be considered defiance….

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  3. Omg! What kind of a horrible environment was that where schoolkids threw rocks and teachers didn’t stop them? It needs a very strong woman to go through all this and still be patient and clam. I wasn’t wrong when I said that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynn, this what I suspect happened to my friend who married a man from there and lived there. It has to have been so hard but you survived and moved on, thank heavens. I don’t think she was so lucky.
    Leslie

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  5. I’m in tears over this, Lynn, and it was not easy for me to hit like on this. What a horrible intolerable existence you lived and how it hurts to know you lived it. How women are treated in this world to this day infuriates me! Bless you for the strength you have and the tenacity you have to LIVE. (((HUGS))) ❤

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  6. Lyn your writing is engaging and has me hanging to know what happened. You drop the reader right into the experience and your emotions making for a riveting read. I have commented before on the subject matter and can only add how in awe I am of your resilience.

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  7. What a terrible situation to be in. Isolation is definitely a key for controlling partners. I have to admit, I could not breathe as I was reading this. It reminded me of my own plight. I too, had no furniture. Pregnant, when I was allowed to eat, I had to do so on the floor. I cannot say it enough… I am so sorry for what you have been through.

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  8. Lynn, I think the only way I get through reading your posts is knowing that you are typing away safe and sound, with your wonderful family nearby, back at home- YOUR home, far far from him and that miserable life. You are amazing, and as another reader said, despite everything you’ve been through you are not hardened. In fact, just the opposite! Kind, generous, funny, and loving. 💓💓💓

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    • We have no contact, his influence is that he owns this home with me, he was financially over me, but quit paying. It seemed so scary when he quit paying but was a blessing in disguise. When he insisted on coming here I felt like I had to agree or lose child support. Well, now that is over! the further I have gotten away the more things seem even clearer. When I started blogging and shared the first story it was so frightening! I deleted it and was horrified, that was in July! Now, that fear is gone. The further you get away, the more you see. I guess that is why abusers do not want you around anyone!!!He has no hold over my heart at all or my mind. I can’t believe that even back in july there still was a hold! I was not with him, that has been 2 years, but when he came I felt bullied, he followed me around, cornered me and I almost just gave in because I was scared! Now, I am a changed person, it is over as in period, over. Having my amazing blog friends– you being one of the big ones– has helped me to really see it is not me! You hear it for years–33 to be exact and so you believe it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah Lynn, I’m so sorry. So, if he has stopped paying is there anyway to completely break his connection to you?

        I am so amazed at the support that is out here in this world. I’m glad you found it. In finding it, aren’t you amazed at your own strength and courage? Kudos to you Lynn. Your story is important.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks Colleen. well, to be honest I have anxiety as I have mentioned-worry he will be back. I am blessed, get up early work all day at home. Trying to get out into the work force, but he can come any time. When I first moved here he dropped us, would not pay and then said I AM COMING. he stayed in a hotel( we lived in a tiny apartment) and was here 3 weeks. He saw the kids and hounded me- writing, email etc. harrassed me so we could meet. He tried everything and I held strong, would not see him. I told him no get anger management, help, marriage counseling. He told my daughter where is mom, asked my oldest son to call me, on and on. Finally after 10 days of holding strong, he wrote me and sent me something from the court, or so he said. He said he spent the whole day at court, finding he had rights and could take the kids, he sent me an invitation he said he had signed us up for, an all day class on how to not alienate the other parent! I panicked and went to see him, we reconciled. Who knows if any of that was true!!!!! So, yes an important story for women to read and understand. I was from a strong back ground, both working parents, well educated, etc. abuse does effect all people. Rich, poor, all cultures and religions!! Thanks Colleen! Sorry, answer, he talks to the college age kids, he viewed my linkedin profile recently, he has a thing he drops away and then BOOM he is back. So, everyday is a challenge filled with some worry that he will just show up! He has no boundaries. We own a home together and land below it

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  9. you constantly amaze me….there is no way I could of done what you did….I am afraid if I was given a sharp object he would for sure bleed before the morning sun came up….sorry can’t hold back my anger…..better topic…beautiful pictures on the other post…looks like spring is coming….many hugs to you my friend…xxxxxxxxxxxkat

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  10. Oh, Lynn. I understand completely about the hair!! When I want to destroy something, I always go for my hair, because it’s not permanent, but it feels so free to just whack it off!
    I’m glad he laughed. At least you didn’t get punished for that.

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  11. What a strong inner core you must have always had, it shows in the cutting of your hair among all that angst, a way of saying silently you will not take everything from me and you cannot reach deep down inside..a truly rivetting story and can we wonder at what we see today when teachers are saying throw rocks back….so sad..but you are now free to tell your tale and as said before if it stops one girl from suffering like you and your children then that is a bonus. Hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my, Lynz. This read is so intense, so impossible to endure. You perfectly describe that feeling of being desperately trapped with no way out. The saving grace for your readers is knowing that you’re no longer there. What a nightmare. Phew….

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  13. Such emotional cruelty, he must have known how much that trip you were looking forward to.. Again Lynz your story is heart breaking.. I am deciding to read the backdated stories as I missed them first time around before I followed you Lynz.. It sent a sick feeling also within my stomach as I felt the pain you must have felt..
    Much love dear one.. You are remarkable..

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  14. Lynz you write from the heart and I feel your stories have a physical quality which move me. After reading your account I often ask myself what would I have done???
    I wonder what business do any of us have, to grumble, rave and rant about the petty issues of life. You are an incredible woman. God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

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