9- Review and edit- Fine print

Last week’s story–My sister told me that life in Saudi needed adjustments and certainly things were never easy in the beginning. I realized she was right and the long term benefits would far out weigh any inconvenience at this point. Two glorious weeks came and went quickly as most pleasurable things do. He came back on the train to take us home and we said our goodbyes. My sister promised to visit and we made our way back to the train station. Part 9- “A halala for your thoughts”

 

The train slowed down until it finally stopped, maids carried sleeping babies and families gathered their things making their way into the station. Two weeks had come and gone quickly, leaving us back in the same routine. As we entered the villa, the smell of pif paf (bug powder) and dust wafted through the air. I looked at the walls, tan with specks of brown, reminding me of the first night we arrived in Riyadh. Lines traced the places where furniture had once stood. The indoor outdoor black carpeting felt coarse on my feet and the three bed pads now looked shabby and worn. Dirty clothes were stacked on the blue plastic chair as we settled into our old sleeping quarters. The kids continued to snicker and talk of their antics with “the cousins” as we lay in the dark on the villa floor.

The next morning feelings of doom returned as they had in the beginning of life in Saudi.   The boys played on the roof and in the downstairs area while the girls made forts out of the bed pads. I carted loads of laundry upstairs to the washer on the top floor and made up games to fritter away the remaining days left until school. Baby Abude slept most of the day while we sat in front of the new t.v. watching lines and patterns signal the start of daily programming. The English channel started at 4 p.m. and was limited to censored news read by a local English speaker and then obscure shows intermixed with some Western programming. The stress of school was exhausting and so we chose to overlook it until the time arrived. The trip to Al-Khobar had been rejuvenating but had also heightened our awareness of the stark reality we had been living in.

Soon after our little vacation he announced that he had located the perfect apartment. It was new, centrally located downtown and within walking distance of shops, restaurants, but most importantly, a new school. The children were filled with excitement and the villa was humming with chaos.  Questions raced through our minds and the only answer was to bring us along and tour the new place. The building was sleek and shiny, unlike the rough exterior of standard Saudi homes. The entry way was lined with polished marble where one could place an accent table and chair.  Finishing touches were flawless, unlike the villa where spackle and putty covered holes in tiling, doors and bathtubs. Three large bedrooms, a family room and living room, each with a view to the busy street below. Light streamed through the clear, large windows and seemed to reflect and dance upon the walls. For months the dark villa had seemed like little more than a cage,  no way to see the sun or sky.

At the end of our tour he mentioned a tiny detail, as he always did, to make sure I understood and accepted, no electricity. The building was finished but waiting for a simple hook up which would be coming any day. Until that time, it was rent free and electricity was supplied from the building next door. The atmosphere and ability to view the outside world precluded logic and in reality the decision had already been made. I had no idea that days would turn into months, enduring temperatures as high as 115 degrees, struggling with hours of no a/c, no lights and no way to cook on the swap meet stove.

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169 thoughts on “9- Review and edit- Fine print

      1. yes!!!! When I left I felt that was it I was doomed, and he did write me telling me he was asking God to destroy me and anyone who supported me, so to be honest it still sticks with me.

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      2. I think he would be shocked and think huh. He told me all the time, my parents, the outside world were turning us against him! He said I was a nice lady, very innocent and naive and any feelings I had of being upset were the influence of others! AS if I had no brain to think! He said he did not blame me!

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      3. to be honest at this point I really do Elaine! My oldest son told me once when he was in college, “Mom you are following a crazy person, letting him run your life” I was shocked and didn’t see it. He was out and in the US far away so he was in the real world!

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      4. oh yes! I am just now unraveling things and seeing them more clearly in the two years he and I have not had a relationship. And now only 7 months not having him contact me, more clarity! I guess that is why they isolate and keep you away from others!

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      5. My youngest feels the saddest, he is only 12 and wants a father!!! He never calls, has nothing to do with any of the kids, he honesty never has! The girls have NO interest and really the boys don’t either. I was the bridge all those years, encouraging him to stay home, take the kids out and bond with them, take an interest in their school, their sports etc. Telling the kids he is your dad, he loves you! I wanted them to be happy, to feel secure and loved. But, now that is over, he has to work on it himself!!!!! The kids are so many different ages, each one has their own idea or feelings about him. I just go with what they feel and want. I do feel sad to see that he doesn’t call or email or show he cares!!!!! My son is having twins, he told him a few months back, no calls, no concern or interest that we can see! SAD!

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      6. As a direct result of his bad behaviour, my father never got to know my son, Ben. He missed out on so much; he would have loved Ben, he would have loved watching him play all of the sport that Ben participates in, he’d have revelled in the mathematical brain that he has passed onto Ben. But he ruined it, and once I had become a mother, I became strong enough to stand up to him and he didn’t like that – of course. Bullies don’t like to be confronted by stronger people than them. And so he missed out on his own grandson.

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      7. Wow so sad! I am sure that is what will happen in this case as well! When my son told him about the pregnancy he talked to him for about 2 hours about his new sewing machine!!

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      8. Well to be honest he missed out on his kids lives! My son is a runner and it is sooooooo important to him! He never inquires or wants to know anything! He went to one meet with us and then lectured him on how to stand up straight in his running!!!! No interest! My daughter won an art contest for the state of Idaho! He was here and said oh yea nice, but never inquired or went any further. He just seems to have no interest! The older kids always told me that and I said NONO he is your father, he cares, etc. on and on, they would get mad and tell me, NO we can feel how he feels and he does not care! That breaks my heart. These 9 amazing smart talented human beings, they are so special! He has missed out on amazing times! I could just feel it when I read about your BEN!!!! Same exact thing!!!!! So very sad for them and I feel for my kids!!! they are truly amazing people!

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      9. That is such a shame for them 😦 I guess him not showing any interest is just another version of control?
        To be honest, I’d rather have one wonderful parent in my life; if the other parent is so awful, who needs it?? It’s a tough lesson though x

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      10. I watched a Dr. Phil where people came out of a polygamous cult type setting, my girls looked at me and we smiled a weird grin knowing we were allot like that. you live in the real world and are “free” but still have those things follow you, doubt, guilt and shame. But honesty having people in this blogging community support me, it helps more than I can say. It validates me and what happened and makes me move away from fear! Thank you for reading and commenting, it really does help me!! xxx

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    1. yes in Saudi people say it gets up to those temperatures and it just does not let up. No break in the high heat and when you hear the sound of your a/c you think oh crud better turn the heater off! It really doesn’t do much at those temperatures but does bring a little relief!

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  1. Never straightforward was it? Although, I think the country added to that..!
    I did smile at the mention of pif paf – I sometimes still call fly spray pif paf but of course, no one knows what I’m talking about!!!

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    1. I am pretty sure that is what was going on. It sounded like ok that will give us power, but of course, we were left with very little power after that building used it. We were the only residents in our building!

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    1. It was beautiful looking, and being able to see out a big window was amazing! It had little problems, finishing there is awful so of course little things but overall it was amazing to have a new place that had windows!

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    1. Not much, he always asked for my opinion and I learned when I started daring to give it, that was not the point. He wanted to be able to say ok I asked, you agreed. When I started disagreeing it got ugly! All along I thought I had a choice!

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      1. Sure you were confused about that, but he would have never explained to you that he was unhappy with himself with a huge lack of self-esteem. That’s why he needed someone to feel worse than he did.

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  2. Wow! I understand you were doing the “right” thing being a good wife but 115? I just imagine crying babies and cranky children because it is so hot. Were there at least places you could go to cool down? How did you cook for him during these times? I know that was important to him before. Sorry, I am just trying to picture this and it is amazing how strong you are.

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    1. It was awful looking back and temperatures get past the 120 or so I heard. It never lets up, hot for months, no cool breeze or nice cool rain! I would get up early, get things going, cook, vacuum, then off. It would be off and on all day. of course people in the other building used lots of electricity, it was so hot and summer time! So, really just make do, we brought food from outside or a quick use of the stove when the electricity was on!

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      1. You did what was best with what you knew then. You made life work and protected your kids the best you could. That is all you could do.

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  3. Thats inhumane, and I guess he was working all day somewhere where it was air conditioned and had electricity. When he was home it didn’t bother him individually nor did it bother him to see his family suffer? OMG, unbelievable.

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      1. unfortunately we aren’t and you my dear must of been given a lot of other weak woman’s shares….that’s all I can come up with why such a wonderful loving woman was put into that situation…however your home, you have all your loving children around you know, and grandbabies on the way….so life is once again good and wonderful for you…..send you lots of love…kat pS we are going to try to make it over your way this July-August…depending on forest fires and smoke….kat

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    1. It is totally a mystery to be honest. In the last years when I was rebellious I asked him over and over and he said he was doing his best and didn’t drink, do drugs or chase women! ??? I honestly do not know. Now he says he has a moral dilemma with me so he cannot send money to his kids? Go figure, I honestly do not know! I have tried to understand for years. He claims my parents turned us all against him!

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      1. It seems, and I can only go on what’s here, that he has an excuse, not a reason, for always choosing to not take care of responsibilities. And, the excuse-is blaming others for his decisions.

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  4. “Beware ‘the tiny detail’. ” is such an excellent and important lesson. Unfortunately, we usually learn it while in the midst of some untenable situation.

    As we have spoken of previously, dear Lynz, living with a lack of basic services does make a person so appreciative of hot running water, always working gas/electric range, and fans. And Air Conditioning? Air Condiitoing is a much loved and smile on the face luxury.

    Great post. Thank you.

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  5. Have you been able to clearly illuminate your feelings regarding these circumstances? I know it must be hard to dig them up but I cannot imagine who you were back then. You are so different now.

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    1. I look back and it seems so weird Bernadette! But honestly it took me not having contact with him to totally understand! It is like you are under a spell! I was a young woman who got things done, a jazz singer, had big plans, and then within a few short years I became afraid, nervous and under some delusional person’s control! I feel I am now back to “me” Writing is helping me to understand and to hear it was not ok!!

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  6. How strange that it sounded like such a fancy place, but no electricity. How were they letting people live there when it was unfinished? Anyway like you said it sounds like it was better than the dark cave like place you were living in.

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    1. I guess they told him we could stay there for free until the electricity came. In Saudi you can walk right into buildings under construction. I posted a video a long time ago of a construction site, barely secured! It’s weird and scary!

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  7. Every time I read your story I have to remind myself that you got through it…you are no longer going through it. That tiny detail was massive…how you survived the heat and everything else is commendable.

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  8. Months!! I can’t even fathom living in that climate without A/C. Did you or your kids get heat exhaustion? So dangerous.
    I find it interesting that women have to wear black, the hottest color, in that heat and men get to wear white, the coolest.

    He’s a total narcissist, only thinking of himself. You deserve so much better!

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      1. I wrote her I was so sad, he asked God to destroy me and any supporters of mine! I was devastated at that time and had only relocated for months, running scared. She wrote me back saying I was not as nice as I should be.

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      2. I don’t know? I have always stood by her, she was thinking of leaving at one point, secretly told me, I told her no matter what I would be there. I have tried to be there for her kids and her as well.

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      3. All I can relate to is what I know, but if my sister ever came to me in sadness, confusion or needing my help I would say come stay with me until we figure this out. I would give her anything I had to help. And I’m so sorry you felt alone.

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