Full circle

When I was a child I got my first puppy and promptly named her tickles! Years that followed were filled with other cats and dogs. Animals brought a certain comfort and unconditional love.  It was the norm to have pets in our loving and warm household.

Then I married, had children and moved to the middle east, where we lived for 16 years. Pets were frowned upon and even forbidden in our household. When we moved back to the United States the same rule applied and it was a scary concept to even imagine having a pet.

Finally after ten years of living back home my kids helped me and supported me in fulfilling this dream. Last March I adopted my Sophie. In  many ways my life has come full circle and I am getting back to the real me! These photos are of my constant companion and sweet baby! She is beautiful, smart and feisty!

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The poetry book

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I have been working on my poetry book for the past couple of weeks. I had started it and then left it for a bit. I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to work on this project and have spent hours placing pictures and figuring out where to put everything. I am not sure on many things about the details of publishing, but for now just focusing on finishing the book. I ordered a proof which should come today! It is hard to imagine that I might actually get this published.

Thanks for your support everyone!

Love Lynn

Update on the book

For the past few months Saleeha (oldest daughter) has been working on the book. She has organized, suggested and reviewed. I worked last year until I needed a big break but now that school is almost starting I will put my efforts back into finishing the book and first publishing a poetry book. I am new to all of this but feel that it is time! It is something that I have to do or need to do or just a part of the process of recovery but whatever it is, this is the time. Thank you for being there on this journey. Your love and support mean everything! 

Riyadh 2001

Jeans were seen as inappropriate and bad for the bones and female form. Silence gripped the room as he looked up and down rubbing hands across his face and then head, ultimately finding their resting place in his lap. The usual commentary repeated itself and unbeknownst to my scrambled brain, it made little difference what logic I attempted to pursue; she was young and did not have a womanly body, we lived on a western compound where all young girls were allowed to wear jeans and lastly there was no way to return these items. I finished my plea with a reminder that his children were modest beyond the norm and had never engaged in activities that would reflect poorly on him.  A roundabout discussion as to why my parents would bring such offensible items into our home and the improbable threat that he would actually speak with them, ended in tears. It was necessary to place myself on the side of caution and therefore I stood firmly with him. I knew there were only two options, we were either with him or against him. The jeans were rumpled into a ball and placed well away from view, hidden in a vast and endless cavern that contained forbidden actions, thoughts and words.

Her frail figure approached the table and placed the plastic sack down on a chair just beside me, tucking it under miscellaneous jackets, bags and items that were stacked in a pile. Her eyes shifted nervously at first forward and then a slight tilt of her head dared to look behind her. He was nowhere in sight that was the obvious and unspoken conclusion. The younger children voiced their irritation at this seemingly wasted trip to Faisaliah (one of the first malls in Riyadh). Clatter of shoes rubbing against the table jangled our nerves as Heme squirmed and rolled between the table, floor and chairs. The pants were eventually taken from the sack and handed over to my lap where I surveyed their color, length and ability to conceal her tiny figure.

Plain light blue, loose fitting and ordinary, they appeared to be the best that we could find and the only suitable option in this upscale, trendy mall. They looked to be perfect, a replacement for the shiny, fashionable jeans and shirt that Grama had recently brought from America. Grama and Grampa supplied all clothing and as far as she knew that is where necessities came from. A play station, toys, shoes, towels, mixers and of course clothing had become my parents “gift” to the children as well as to him. Dress pants, ties and shirts were purchased and put together into suitable and professional sets and then brought as yearly gifts in boxes that either preceded their visit or came along with them. This was undeniably the most helpful lifeline that we were blessed with but also came to be a sharp double edged sword, both welcomed and dreaded.

Little ones jumped to attention and sat upright, the girls fixed loose hairs and smoothed their abayas and I knew that this was it. He smiled and sat directly opposite my chair and I reciprocated with a grin and nervous laugh. Heme pestered and whined asking for ice cream, cheesecake and fries. I shushed him and placed him on my lap informing Baba (their father) that we had found the perfect pair of pants, a replacement for the distasteful and repulsive ones that had been the topic of discussion just days before. He waited patiently as I took them out and did my best to make them look mundane, unflattering and non-threatening. An exasperated sigh wisped between clenched teeth and parted lips, his eyes rolled back and forward and his hands rested in their place on his lap.

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Weekly review

This past week was a busy one so here is a review of what I posted.

Happy Sunday!

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/05/14/the-birthday-party/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/05/15/the-world-is-calling-me/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/05/16/mocha-mexicana/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/05/17/jump/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/05/18/no-match/

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The real boss

Renton Washington 1992

We dug into the last piece of cake that had fallen into a pool of chocolate drizzle. Fudge frosting cascaded down the single slice that had somehow gone unnoticed. Forks clanked and laughter rose as we each scooped cream cheese that had melted and mixed with bits of moist pastry. We glanced through the window and saw that the children were still riding trikes, swinging and sliding. A warm glint of sun shone through the large picture window and signaled the end to yet another day of fun. She asked if I would be able to make it to her place the following week and I assured her that it would all work out. I would approach him at just the right time and I jokingly added, that after all he always told people I was the boss so it should be fine.

My words somehow triggered an outburst that sent her into a spiral of hysterics. She stood on one foot and bent over until tears dripped down face. Her calm and casual demeanor had now changed and while a large breath of air passed over her lips she roared loudly grabbing the corner of a cupboard. The children returned to the kitchen and stood staring at her tall willowy figure as she made attempts to compose herself.  The mystery had been solved and what had seemed ridiculous now made perfect sense.

There was hope that her husband would no longer harbor such frustration and discontent when she drove from her apartment just 20 miles down the road every other week, carting her three children into our modest home. It was a day that meant no real cooking or housework, time off from the daily grind of diapers, mopping and the chores that make up a household routine. Each week we alternated homes and looked forward to a meal, dessert and little hidden treats that were normally not purchased. The children played for hours and we took turns checking on them knowing that quiet moments most likely meant trouble. They ran outside, carted dirt to the porch and emptied garage sale shoes into a cardboard dresser then pushing it down the stairs! Nothing fazed us as we sat talking, sharing tidbits about our lives, looking forward to this weekly outing.

We sat back down and the children returned to their antics that would be the stuff of future stories. She touched my hand and giggled wanting to explain what had prompted this curious response to an off hand comment made in jest. Her spouse held great contempt and disgust for one woman in particular. She was bold, daring and bossy, never letting anything get past her. She was the kind of woman who made her husband’s life miserable and her unrelenting demands could be seen in every line on his face. At first he made casual comments protesting visits until he finally told her, “That bossy demanding woman is too much!” 

She had spent three years trying to convince him that this was far from the truth and she knew of no other wife who adhered strictly to rules and commands, so much so that other women in the community found fault with her.  Each time he scoffed in disbelief and told her she would be better off finding someone more suitable, a kind and endearing person. She said no amount of reasoning would work and each time he reminded her of his poor friends words when any request was made of him“Well I have to ask Lynn, she is the boss and nothing gets past her!” 

 

 

The empty room

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Guest room

Monday I scrubbed the house from top to bottom. I washed the sheets and cleaned out the second fridge downstairs. Graduation pictures went back to their place on the table, toys were stored and the house basically looked empty, even lonely! The past few months have been busy and chaotic, just the way I like it. Kids coming to visit, babies leaving fingerprints on the slider and then two special house guests for a month.

 

Foof gave up her apartment and moved in with us for several weeks because she and B purchased a new home and while she will only be living 20 minutes away it still makes me feel a bit teary!

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Friday morning Foof and B moved their stuff from the guest room, it was cleaned and made into a room for Osama, Jacki and the little ones. Of course big brother insisted on coming with his truck that afternoon to haul stuff to the new house.

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The next day we brought the rest of their belongings and did our best to help put things away.  The boys were having fun, Foof made a box fort for them, but after a few hours it was nap time.

The kids and I loaded them up and went home for a nap while Osama and Jacki stayed behind.

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Drive thru to get a quick bite and Aiden asking for more with his hands!

 

Heme or “hehe” as he is known to the boys, has become quite the movie star over the past few months. The boys stand at his door calling him, trying to launch themselves over the baby gate, offering their stuffed animals and even snacks just to get him to come and play!

I am happy, sad, overwhelmed but most of all I thank God for bringing us this far and keeping us together! After living with no furniture, electricity and no ability to decorate or show individuality, I am thrilled each time I see one of my kids take charge of their lives and open their hearts!

 

Little ones

Little birds inside the nest

Newly feathered prudent breast

Don’t clip your wings for you must fly

Unto a distant faithful sky

Mother watches, never far

Hoping you will find your star

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Overshadow

 

2008 Saudi Arabia

A desolate and lonely desert wove its way through tiny towns where necessary stops were made for fuel. Tones of brown and red rolled over dunes that swirled in the mid afternoon heat. Seats were laid down and made into a large bed of blankets, pillows and clothing. Although he made several trips each year the children and I had not been to Damascus for a while and Taita (grandmother) had been asking to see our youngest child, Ibrahim. The used vehicle that had been questionable was now seen as a blessing and nothing more was said.

In the months that lead to this trip our household was eerily wrapped in a temporary calm. Talk of visiting Uncles and cousins gave rise to a cheery and reminiscent atmosphere. He was not allowed to take the company car out of Saudi and so he started looking for a suitable vehicle. When asked about my preferences I had only one request and that was that there would be enough seats to accommodate every person.

With each day his frustration mounted as he viewed numerous vans, cars and SUVs until he found the perfect fit. It was a used passenger van with extra seats and amenities, tinted windows, a television and plush carpeting, but most importantly plenty of seating for our family of nine. He took us to see the van that promised to be the beginning of this last trip to Syria. A guarded excitement found its way into our home as we discussed the comfort and luxury that would ease this long and arduous journey.

The next day his plans changed and he announced that this was a frivolous vehicle that would not be used when we returned. That evening he took us to see the SUV he had chosen and asked for my approval.  I pointed to the lack of seating and when confronted, calmly stood my ground.  He asked one more time if this would be a good purchase and if I would agree, but the same words emanated from my mouth, no. It was hard for him to contain his temper and although I was scared I felt proud of myself for having my own opinion. His thobe (men’s long white robe) swished past me and he stomped towards the car,entering and starting it while the children piled in. Only little D and I remained standing, waiting to take our seats. I plopped her onto a seat and felt the crunch and grind of a tire roll over my foot.  The children let out a gasp and called for baba (father) to STOP; he ignored this and kept driving as I hopped into place.

The car fell silent after doors were shut and a measure of safety was secured. Each child glanced my way and the usual tears welled up but this time they were allowed to drip down my nose and onto ragged lips that had been sealed in desperation. The sting of humiliation was too much and no eye contact was returned, afraid that sobbing would be uncontrollable. My instructions were always clear and meant that the children were to remain calm and never intervene.  Physical pain became insignificant and was overshadowed by the feeling that once again I was somehow an accomplice in this vicious cycle that was brought against me.

 

 

 

An update on the book

The past few weeks I have been sticking to my schedule and working on the book a couple of hours each day. Things have finally taken shape in my mind and I feel I have come up with what I want things to look like. It might be a weird format but it’s what feels right to me so I will continue with it. I have been blogging three times a week which was what I had planned. It feels good that I can visualize what I want for my book before it was confusing and overwhelming. I am also proud that I am sticking to my blogging and writing schedule! Thank you all for being patient with visits to blogs and with support!!!

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A recent picture of me and my dear mom, my mentor and my rock!

This is just a little free write and not connected to the book. Set on the Western compound where we lived for 7 years. Riyadh, 2000

Their annual visits lasted only 3 weeks and were shared with my sister in Al-Khobar. Weekends and traveling days were counted and parceled out making a schedule on the calendar. Boxes were stacked near the storage room wall after arriving to his office on the Western compound. Nothing was to be opened and not even a peek was allowed until they arrived.  Mom would sit in the extra room sorting items of clothing, toys and little necessities that he had not provided for members of our household. Brightly colored gift bags reflected each child’s personality and stood waiting along the closet mirror. It was a time of comfort and support but also one that meant a glaring view of our reality.

A pool of blood formed on the floor where tissues had seeped through. I grabbed more napkins adding them to the crumpled mess that had been placed around my thumb. Bits of onion lay across the plastic cutting board left to dry, leaving their usual sting. At first a strange sensation flashed over me and I felt faint, grasping the plastic table to steady myself.  I mopped the floor and picked up any remnants of this little accident not wanting the children to be panicked. The messy gob of sticky napkins was replaced and quickly an assessment of the situation was made.  I was grateful that dinner was already prepared and onions to top a meal were optional!

The rest of the day mom and dad coddled me, replacing bandages and insisting that I sit and rest. School trips and clean up were all attended to and created a stark contrast to my overwhelming daily routine. Mom served the meal, dad did the evening dishes and the children assisted them. The evening progressed in its usual fashion; he watched the news, took a nap and then left for the night to sit with friends.

The next morning he grabbed his brief case and asked the usual questions, would I be leaving the compound with my parents and did I need anything from him. I stood gripping my thumb hoping that he would somehow show a sign of interest in my well- being. I told myself that he had not noticed and would have offered his help and inquiries if he had. I boldly stuck my hand out showing him a hole where part of my thumb was missing, explaining what had happened the day before. Disgust and irritation welled up and his words were sharp and deliberate “Why would you be so careless!” He walked away but first reminded me to rest and be ready for the usual time that night.

 

No name

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He swerved down the freeway in and out of cars honking and braking in a frenzy, brandishing what had become his new weapon. Rage and anger had never spilled over to driving but this would be the start of a new and dangerous game. The children let out gasps as he narrowly missed vehicles, passing anyone who impeded our path to the compound. A container of take away fish jiggled in plastic sacks threatening to fall from the seat just behind me. The meal was purchased after leaving the hospital and felt like a message that was meant to cement his frustration. Even the youngest of our family knew that I did not care for fish and when we arrived home I sat on the red and gold striped sofa, forcing a gentle smile, hoping to avoid what would be an inevitable outburst.

The food had not been covered properly, left on the refrigerator shelf in a takeout container to rot and eventually be thrown away. The careless and haphazard manner in which these tasks were carried out had not changed and it seemed nothing could be done about it.  He repeated these ideas three times, each time the volume increased as did the weight of the message. I stared blankly, confusion jumbled my mind and there was no response that seemed worthy. Anger mounted and he finally stated what he had been thinking for days, “I told you not to tell anyone, this is your fault! “The door slammed and he walked away leaving behind an emotional numbness that had not been experienced before.

I stood motionless behind the green pleated curtains, watching him back up and drive away. It was a relief and a burden to finally be alone with my thoughts, now able to place them all in order. On Monday I had been four months pregnant and by late that afternoon I was told the pregnancy had not progressed and in fact had most likely ended weeks before. The Doctor listened for a heartbeat and then requested an ultrasound. She confirmed that this was no longer a viable pregnancy and nothing much remained. The British midwife who had delivered my last baby concurred, urging me to return the next day for treatment so that infection and hemorrhage did not occur.  Bleeding had already started and served as a reminder that medical attention was needed.

I grappled with this reality but felt hopeful that his reassurance and support would ease my worries. When faced with this information and a request that he take me to the hospital he reminded me that it was a grave sin to terminate a pregnancy and that it was up to the Lord almighty. The conversation ended with him stating that he wanted nothing to do with it and obviously I had free will to do as I chose. The next morning at 5 a.m. a compound driver picked me up and dropped me off at the local hospital.

The visit-9

This is the last story of my series entitled- The visit-

https://lynzrealcooking.com/the-visit/the-visit-1/

May 2015 

Guilt and shame remained my constant companion, beseeching me to make one last effort to keep the family together. Chaotic thought patterns flooded my senses, condemning me for my actions, ridiculing efforts that had landed me where I felt I now belonged, hiding and afraid. A rush of trepidation took hold when I realized that my rebellion had gotten me nowhere and most likely had brought us to the point of no return.

My daughter lay motionless across the room, but her agitated breathing could be heard each time his bags rolled overhead. The familiar clatter of footsteps reverberated, pausing as if to warn and summon. With each sound came the reminder that he was leaving and my fate would be sealed. A loud and garish voice brought me back to the real world as he made his way downstairs, “Abdullah yela, let’s go.

Now the time had come to put my supposed selfish ways aside and end this stand-off. I would once again try to secure financial support for my children and safety for our household. It was 5 a.m., they would be leaving for the airport soon and this would be my last chance to make amends.

I placed one foot on the floor as if to signify my hesitation at the prospect of venturing back into the insidious world of abuse.

The front door shut, leaving anxiety behind.