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My Dirty Little Secret

by LUCINDA M GUNNIN 12 months ago in playlist

How a Valentine's Date Went Horribly Wrong

F*ckin’ Perfect.

Yeah, that pretty much describes it.

I was listening to Halestorm, probably a bit louder than I needed to, and missed my exit. And the next one wasn’t for five miles.

Brilliant.

And since it was a first date, I didn’t even have Michael’s phone number to call him and tell him I was going to be late.

“Siri, call Benedict’s.”

A horn blasted beside me right as my Bluetooth connected to the hostess.

“Hello, you have a reservation for Michael Evans. This is his date and I got caught in traffic. Can you let him know I’m running a bit late?”

“We’re not an answering service, ma’am.”

What a bitch! It was a nice restaurant, but she was such snob. Still, I decided to be polite.

“I’m sorry and I understand that. It’s just I’m sure you very busy since it's Valentine's Day, and I don’t want to hold you up. If you could let him go ahead and be seated and order for us…” I trailed off, trying to make it sound like I was doing her a favor.

“Fine.”

I could hear her roll her eyes.

“Thank you so much. I should be there in about 10 minutes.”

***

Looking back, I should have taken the missed exit as a sign and never had a second date with Michael. But I wasn’t that bright.

I fell for him hook, line and sinker. Before I knew it, I was in too deep and planning to make a life with him.

To be fair, our first year was like something from the old show Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous. He took me boating, flew me to exotic locales, and right before he asked me to marry him, bought us an adorable ranch house in the suburbs.

I was little disappointed that he bought it without asking me. I would have preferred to live in the city.

When I mentioned that it made my commute more than hour, he joked that I wouldn’t be working much longer anyway. As soon as I “got knocked up,” I could quit working and stay at home with the kids.

I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but it was a great opportunity, right?

And most of my colleagues and college friends were not invited to the wedding. He didn’t want those “heathens” to spoil our perfect day.

It should have been a great day for a wedding; the sun was shining and the church was beautiful. I just felt like it wasn’t about me at all. His mother planned everything, bought my dress and did my makeup. I felt like an accessory at my own wedding.

I’m pretty sure my mother-in-law hated me. She spent the day telling me I was a klutz, lacking grace and style.

My dress looked like something Madonna wore in her videos.

But all of his friends and family said it was beautiful.

He hit me the first time while we were on our honeymoon.

I wanted to wear a bikini on the beach and he thought it was too revealing. So instead we stayed in our bungalow and I hid my swollen eye behind oversized sunglasses.

He bought me a diamond necklace when we got home to apologize for his jealousy and everything was great until our daughter was born.

I don’t know why Michael thought it was my fault that we had a daughter instead of a son, but they we found out we were having a girl, he started telling me we’d try again as soon as it was out of me.

That time when he beat me, he focused on body blows.

The day our angel was born he told me he wished I had miscarried.

By that time, he had chased away all my friends and family. To the outside world we appeared to be a perfect family, but our dirty little secret was that he liked to beat the crap out of me.

I thought about trying to get help, but without my job, I was afraid I’d have nowhere to go and who would believe me. Michael was a pillar of the community, well-loved in our church.

Mostly, I suffered in silence and tried not to piss him off.

Alicia was two when she spilled her cereal on his briefcase, ruining some paperwork he had in there. He pushed her away, causing her to fall and bruise her head.

He also punished her by taking away her breakfast and telling I was forbidden to feed her again until he got home that evening.

I waited until I was sure he was gone and then called a rideshare to take us to a shelter. I didn’t even leave a note. I wanted to break stuff, but instead I took our clothes and some toys for Alicia. I left everything else.

But I did call the police once I got there.

Michael didn’t seem to remember, but I'm an accountant. I had seen the way he was skimming money from his employer and spending it. I called the IRS and reported his tax fraud. Thankfully, he’d never wanted to file joint taxes because that would imply I had some financial standing in our house.

I took Alicia to see a doctor to make sure she was okay and then I called an old friend who was a divorce attorney. He was pretty sure that based on Michael’s other illegal activities we could take the house and whatever savings weren’t tied to his theft.

Turns out, that was nothing. In fact, by the time the police and the IRS were done with him, Michael didn’t have anything at all. Not even a sawed-off shotgun.

When it got to the divorce proceedings, Michael claimed I lied about everything. The judge clearly didn’t believe him and when she asked him about the abuse, he lost it, telling me he hated me.

I was fine with that. Hate conquers all.

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LUCINDA M GUNNIN

Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in suburban Philadelphia. She is an avid gamer, sushi addict, and animal advocate. She writes about storage and moving, gaming, gluten-free eating and more. Twitter: @LucindaGunnin

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