Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Black Sheep of the Family (10/03/13)
- TITLE: "Bye Bye Black Sheep . . ."
By Judith Gayle Smith
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With an IQ of 183, Jim was parentally potentially destined to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer or both. He stopped teaching Comparative Literature to carry a mailbag just to distress his Mother. He was fired from his position as mail carrier. He hoarded Reader's Digest Condensed Books in his Grandmother's garage, unwilling to deliver them. Two weeks shy of getting his Ph.D, he left college and his parents' dreams.
I will never forget a line I found among his college papers: "I want to be known as a nice guy with a cruel streak." Jim was conflicted and conflicting.
I married this paragon of virtue when I was twenty-six, Jim thirty-four, in 1969, morally intact and primed for love. I had met him four years prior, we dated, fought and separated twice. Both hotheads, extremely self-protective, staggered and frightened by our volatile love.
I declared undying love to Jim. I had returned from a trip to San Francisco, prepared for Jim with a Frank Gorshin bit he'd performed at the Fairmont Hotel. It was a sweet little ditty about holding his hand above a flame until someone confessed. I romantically crowded with Jim in his little beige Volkswagon Bug. I asked him to flick his Bic and held my hand perilously close to the bright flame. I asked how long until he confessed he truly loved me? It worked. He proposed. I accepted. We kissed. And then I asked "is that all there is?" He reassured me fireworks would start on our wedding day.
I'd proudly maintained my virginity, thrilled to offer myself untouched to my beloved. Jim thought, because I was coughing from his cloud of cigarette smoke, that I was frightened of him and he didn't touch me all night. I awoke alone. I quickly dressed and lunged out of the motel room, finding Jim fitfully chain-smoking, pacing in a grove of Monterey Cypress trees. Squeezing me tightly, he asked what we would do if our brand new marriage failed. Smiling, sobbingly I reassured him love would always provide a way.
Jim was addicted to Ritalin - the drug that supposedly calms youngsters. Jim, being no youngster, found it quite stimulating. With an overdose we careened down the sidewalks in his little Volkswagon Bug, narrowly missing passersby.
We held on for four years. I was feeling mercilessly rejected, unloved - and was still a virgin. Jim's doctor, an amoral wolf in sheep's clothing, convinced me that Jim was asexual with latent homosexuality; if Jim ever desired intimate relationships it would be with a man.
After hysterically taking sleeping pills, I awoke to find that Jim's mother and psychologist had pressured Jim to divorce me. He agreed. He actually told me he was going to divorce me because his mother and psychologist told him to. So many times he'd resisted his mother's hold on him. Not now. I couldn't help Jim fight his Schizophrenia, his fomenting, tormenting dragons - I had become one. His doctor said if we stayed together, one of us would die within the year.
Physically and emotionally rejected for four years, I blindly ran from them all and started seeking for the woman I knew myself to be. I found her in two ruinous relationships - there were plenty of eager fellows willing to help me become a real woman. I hated myself, I hated Jim, I hated my "lovers".
A professing Christian, baptized numerous times, I attended church semi-faithfully. I met Jim in church. I was going to bring Jim to Jesus. Jim was bitter about Jesus - "Jesus saves? Hah!" If only I'd realized that it wasn't up to me, it was between Jesus and Jim.
I, a disillusioned bitter virgin, became an adulteress, seeking for what I couldn't get at home. I moved to an apartment. I ran from Jim and sinned horribly against God.
Who were the "bad guys" in this heartbreaking relationship? Jim? His mother? His lecherous doctor? His smothering psychologist? His dad, for reading him pornography at the tender age of six? Jim was bored by the whole idea of sex. I, in my rejection and pain, didn't understand Jim's agony.
I professed Christ. I knew God and Jesus. How wonderfully gifted I was in Their eyes. How ably I'd lead them all to Jesus.
It took five years to realize I'd broken one of God's Commandments - having sinned against Him, Jim, myself and my present hubby, who I'd married immediately following the receipt of my divorce papers.
I was the proverbial black sheep in this enterprise. I did not belong. I professed the Christ, but didn't possess Him. Big difference. I ran from Him, from Jim, from my so-called sanity. The gaping raw wounds are still fresh.
The undying love I'd professed for Jim has faded to regret that I couldn't be the mother Jim wanted me to be, much less his wife I so wanted to be. I am the dreaded black sheep of my disjointed family, no longer struggling - just snuggling repentant in His Arms, finding the Comfort I wished I'd sought forty-five years ago.
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