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Post Natal Depression

In all of the childbirth books I had read, they stated that about three days after giving birth the new mother would feel a bit blue and would begin to cry. This was attributed to hormonal changes and this one day of tearfulness was given the name post natal depression.

I had no experience of being sad shortly after giving birth. I had too much to do. I was pretty much a single mother because Enrique had never been there for me emotionally or materially, and he was just barely there for me physically. I had always been responsible for my own financial well being, and having a baby never changed that. Instead of being responsible for one person, I was now responsible for two.

To be honest, I loved Aaron so much that the only feelings I had for him were adoration. It is very difficult to feel the effects of depression when the only emotion you feel is sheer and utter devotion to your baby.

Enrique knew I was totally in love with Aaron and I can only assume he decided to hurt me in a way that would completely destroy my whole being and numb my soul. Enrique would decide to use my son to harm me in an attempt to kill my soul.

Enrique became obsessed with routine. Every four hours he woke Aaron up from his peaceful slumber to feed him. Although it was an inconvenience to Aaron, it simply wore me out because I was still very weak from giving birth. I spoke to the doctor about what Enrique was doing and he assured me there was no need to wake Aaron up to feed him. Aaron would wake us up when he was hungry, I was told.

One day Enrique came home to find me, exhausted and asleep, on the bed with Aaron. He became very upset and said that I could have smothered him by sleeping on the bed with him. As it will be revealed, I have never done one thing to harm Aaron. If anything, it was Enrique who has harmed him by his rather strange ideas about marriage, child rearing and life in general.

Enrique was so obsessed with keeping Aaron to a routine that he actually gave him diaper rash. Every four hours Enrique would wake Aaron and change him. He didn’t bother to wear his glasses and therefore didn’t clean his bottom properly. He also failed to notice that Aaron had a nasty rash developing. Even though Aaron would cry out in pain, Enrique would nevertheless put all kinds of potions and powders on him that he purchased at the Base Exchange.

The following morning I got up to change Aaron and was distressed to see that he had a horrible, scaby rash on his bottom, which was a direct result of all of those chemicals that Enrique had been putting on him.

I rang the hospital and made an appointment to see a doctor, who prescribed antibiotic cream and told me to wash Aaron’s bottom with water instead of using all of those nasty, chemical laden products that Enrique had purchased.

It was at that point that I stopped using baby powder on Aaron because he was so obviously allergic to it. I was so worried the doctors would think I was a bad mother for giving my child diaper rash, but it wasn’t me, was it Enrique. From the day Aaron was born I tried to do what was best for my son. My husband, however, always did what was best for himself. I could not help being angry at Enrique because he put all of those chemicals on Aaron without even bothering to see if he would have an allergic reaction to them.

In addition to Enrique putting Aaron on a routine rather than allowing his own circadian rhythm to take effect, Enrique decided to wrap Aaron in far too many clothes when he went out. At one point Aaron was so hot he actually started crying, and that was when it was discovered that Aaron was burning up. Again, I was very upset with Enrique because he had taken it upon himself to make all of the decisions regarding my son’s welfare, but those decisions were most clearly wrong. Enrique believed that I was an inept mother and that he knew what was best for Aaron, but all of the decisions he made about Aaron seemed to be harmful.

When Aaron was five weeks old we all boarded a C141 military aircraft to go back to the States. It was a five hour flight and we were given box lunches to eat. Aaron was wet and I wanted to change him, but Enrique would not allow me to. He had the strange idea that it was socially wrong for me to change my baby’s wet diaper on a plane. My husband, it appears, did not give a damn about his own son’s comfort and well being.

When we touched ground, one of the first things I did was change Aaron’s diaper, which was soaking wet. I was angry and upset that Enrique would not permit me to change his diaper on the plane, especially since he was still recovering from a nasty bout of diaper rash that was caused by Enrique putting chemicals on him and not bothering to see if he was allergic to them.

When we arrived in Lawrence, spending time with Enrique’s family, he was in his element and his behaviour therefore went from bad to worse. My husband would treat me with total disregard and would even call me names, such as “bitch”, in the presence of his two sisters, Lesvia and Maira.

One morning I decided to try on a pair of Enrique’s jean shorts because I did not have many clothes to wear. Enrique stirred from his slumber to seem me trying on his jeans and characteristically became enraged.

“You take them off!”, my husband shouted at me in a rather gruff voice. I did as I was told because I knew that Enrique would not hesitate to use violence if necessary.

I took the jeans off and tried to repress my hurt feelings. I could not understand why Enrique was so averse to me trying on his jeans. I buried my hurt feelings and resentments deep within my being. Being a survivor of child abuse, I was well versed in the art of getting on with life and acting as if everything was normal when someone insulted me, physically assaulted me, or touched me inappropriately.

It was when I was at Enrique’s parent’s house that I decided I needed to lose weight. I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw. As a result, I came up with a novel idea: I would just stop eating. I went for days without eating anything more than a bowl of soup or some other insignificant amount of food, and I did manage to lose weight, albeit through a very unhealthy route.

Because I was not eating, I stopped producing milk and it was when Aaron was six weeks old that I was forced to put him on the bottle. I felt guilty about not being able to give nourishment to my child, but I simply could not produce enough milk to satisfy him.

At no time did Enrique ever speak to me about the fact that I was not eating. I suppose he had his own demons to contend with, which were in all probability much worse than my eating disorder, so if he noticed that I wasn’t eating I doubt very seriously he cared.

On the evening before we were supposed to fly to Little Rock to see my family, I woke up in the middle of the night to feed and change Aaron. Enrique woke up as well, quite uncharacteristically, and said something that I do not now recall.

I replied rather sarcastically to Enrique’s comment, probably because I was exhausted and tired of Enrique’s behaviour. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, Enrique sat up and began hitting me with the full force of his fists. To protect myself, I shielded myself from his blows with the pillow on the bed. After Enrique vented his rage on me, he laid back down and went right back to sleep, content in the knowledge that he had once again assaulted his wife while his child lay in the cot beside her.

I don’t suppose Enrique gave a thought in the world about the values and morals he was instilling in his son. If anything, I suppose Enrique felt quite justified in physically and mentally abusing me and would therefore endeavour to teach his son to do the same.

The following day, while we sat in the airport, waiting to fly to Little Rock, Enrique apologised to me for hitting me. I made no comment. There was simply nothing I could say. What do you say to your husband and the father of your child, the person who you were actually once in love with, after he has just attacked you in a most viscous and brutal manner? Nothing.

Although Enrique had not come near me in a sexual manner in the past year, suddenly when we were in Arkansas he wanted to have sex. When we were in the downstairs bedroom, he put his hands around my waist and started kissing me. I recoiled in horror. Enrique found it difficult to even be civil to me during the previous year, and now he was trying to kiss me.

Being a typical male. Enrique was only nice to me when he wanted to have his wicked way with me. What I would like to know is that considering the fact that Enrique had such a high sex drive, if he wasn’t sleeping with me for the previous year, who was he sleeping with?

The following morning Enrique woke me up at 5:00am for sex. I was reluctant to do so because of the pain and the possibility of getting pregnant again. Enrique told me not to worry because he did not mind if we had another baby.

But what about me? What about if I minded? Didn’t I have a say as to whether or not I had another baby? The first was bad enough!

Even though the thought of engaging in an intimate physical act with a man who had been so hateful to me for such a long time made me physically ill, I acquiesced and gave my husband what he wanted. Only a survivor child abuse could endure such an intolerable situation.

It was also in Little Rock that Enrique told me that he had a boil on his bottom and he wanted to see a doctor. Although he made a totally reasonable request, I did not know what to do. Throughout my whole childhood I had only seen a doctor once. Although my mother used her day off, Tuesday, as her day to make the never-ending round to see an assortment of specialists to see to her various physical ailments, I was just pretty much left to fend for myself. It was only by the grace of God that I survived my childhood and became an adult because whenever I became ill, my mother just left me to die and I can only assume that she thought I survived just to spite her.

Because I did not see any doctors in Little Rock, I told my mother Enrique wanted to see one. When Enrique realised that I clearly did not know what to do (because I had been denied medical treatment as a child) he said it was okay and he really didn’t want to see a doctor anyway. I am sure Enrique was not pleased about the fact that I didn’t know how to respond to his request, but his desire for medical attention was something that was totally alien to me, never having received medical attention for himself.

Enrique’s need for total control did not extend to me, but my mother as well. He was very unhappy about the way my mother was holding Aaron. I looked and everything seemed fine, but took another look and noticed that his outfit was pulling at his leg. I therefore adjusted Aaron’s outfit to make him more comfortable. It seemed that thanks to Enrique trying to manoeuvre every single event in Aaron’s life, not only did he make me feel inadequate, but my mother as well.

From my mother’s house we drove to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, just outside Panama City. I was going to be working at Cape San Blas, which was 38 miles away, just two miles short of a remote. Enrique and I stayed at the BAQ while I in-processed and found a place to live. It was while I was in-processing that I was to discovered that Enrique had registered Aaron as his dependant, and not mine, and Enrique therefore received all of the money for Aaron. Although I was quite annoyed, I was not surprised that Enrique would do something like that. Such an act, unfortunately, would not be the first of many that Enrique would do to usurp my authority as a wife and mother.

While we were staying in the BAQ, Enrique got his sex drive back. He wanted sex every day and he did not care whether Aaron was in the room with us when he took what he considered to be his conjugal rights or not.

The thought of having sex literally turned my stomach but I did not want to upset Enrique. I therefore put my own wants, needs and desires to the side and did my duty. It upset me; however, that Enrique was quite happy to engage in sexual intercourse with me when Aaron was in the same room, sometimes wide awake.

It’s funny, really, that Enrique was constantly tried to take the moral high ground and act as if he was somehow more pure or chaste than me. My question is this: how can a man consider himself moral when he sexually takes his wife while his young son is in the same room? The fact is that Enrique was righteous only when it suited him to be so. The rest of the time he was just like any other sex-crazed maniac. I think it is more appropriate to say that Enrique was not righteous, but self righteous.

Within a week I found a one bedroom bungalow for us to live in between Mexico Beach and Cape San Blas. One thing that was quite unusual was the fact that I lived in the central time zone and worked in the eastern time zone.

Wherever we lived, I was expected to pay all of the bills and do everything that needed to be done to enable us to live safely and comfortably. I was responsible for cleaning the house, fixing all of the meals, taking care of Aaron, working full time, and making sure that all of the bills were paid. Enrique was responsible for…. Well….. not much of anything, really. Is it any wonder that I was exhausted and on the verge of collapse most of the time.

I was not happy about the domestic situation at all. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would marry a good for nothing bum who kicked back and took it easy while I slaved away to bring the bacon home and then cook it too.

I asked Enrique on several occasions to go out and get a job, and every time he refused. The excuse he gave was that he had to look after Aaron, but that was not true. I looked after Aaron. I prepared his meals, washed him, fed him, played with him, and got up with him in the middle of the night or early in the morning when he woke up. Enrique didn’t look after Aaron, he was just there.

Enrique would get up when Aaron made him get up. He would wander into the living room and watch television or read a book. He never played with Aaron or talked to him, but just left him in his rocker or playpen all day long. To be honest, Aaron would have been better off in a day-care centre because at least then he would have had some mental stimulation and learned valuable social skills. Enrique would not have any of that, however, because if Aaron was in a day-care centre he would have to go out and get a job.

Not long after we moved into our little one bedroom bungalow, Enrique’s father came to visit. He flew into Florida from Puerto Rico, where he spent most of his time. When Enrique’s father arrived I became very agitated because he drank Heineken Beer. There was no rational explanation whatsoever because Enrique’s father had never been anything other than nice to me. I can only assume that although I have no conscious recall of any such event, I must have been very frightened and subjected to abuse when adults around me drank. Although I no doubt blanked any memories from my mind, I have always instinctively been very wary of people who drink.

Enrique and I never kept any alcohol in the house because we did not drink on a regular basis. One the one occasion when Enrique came home drunk, after a night out with colleagues, I became very upset and let him know in no uncertain terms that I did not approve of that kind of behaviour.

Enrique never discussed with me his decision to leave the Air Force. It was his choice and I did not have a say in the matter. While he was in the military he wrote letters to his friends and family, telling them that he could not wait to get out of the Air Force, calling his employer the “Air Farce”.

For someone who hated the Air Force so much, he made a model airman. He maintained impeccable standards of dress and appearance, and would spend hours polishing his shoes. I, on the other hand, had a rather slapdash attitude to my appearance. I gave my uniforms a lick and a promise, and did not particularly care how I looked.

During the final commander’s call, Enrique was asked to say something about his impending departure from the squadron and the Air Force. He stood up in front of everyone who was there and gave a long speech, which he may or may not have prepared in advance. I barely listened to what he said, but the basic gist of it was that he could not wait to get out of the Air Force because he really hated it.

Enrique then did a really odd thing by taking Aaron and displaying him to the crowd, saying that his son was the most important thing to him. Although Aaron was only a few weeks old he was already Enrique’s trophy. Perhaps Enrique wanted to have Aaron around to prove that he really could sire a child, I will never know.

Because Enrique, by his own admission, hated the Air Force so much, I would have thought he would have been happy to see the back of it. That was not the case, however, as he never hesitated to remind me of my military duties.

Enrique paid with his own money to have a photograph taken of him in his military uniform. He then made a plaque composed of an assortment of regalia, such as stripes, ribbons and other ornaments that he had collected during his five years in the military.

What struck me as particularly odd was the fact that for someone who really hated the Air Force and could not wait to get out, Enrique was certainly living in the past. He did not want to go out and get a job and create his own destiny, but preferred instead to reminisce about his past military experiences, a time when he must have felt he was somebody special.

While Enrique was living the life of leisure and I was working my fingers to the bone both at work and at home, my eating disorder became progressively worse. I lived in a state of virtual starvation, yet could not get lower than 130 pounds no matter how hard I tried.

For breakfast I would have puffed rice and milk. For lunch I would have a salad with tuna, and I would go home and prepare a reasonable dinner. One the weekends I would endeavour to eat nothing at all, but quite often succumbed to my sweet tooth and would have cookies or cake.

Considering the little amount of food I was eating, one would have thought I would be rail thin. That was not the case, however, because my metabolism is so slow that I could live on nothing but water for an indefinite period. Any normal person would have simply withered away, but not me. No matter how hard I tried, the pounds would simply not go away.

I suppose I should be grateful that I have been blessed/cursed with a metabolism that runs along at a snail’s pace. If it were not for the fact that I can live on a very low calorie diet for a really long time, I would never have survived my first couple of years of life because my mother did not see feeding me or my siblings as a top priority in her life.

I guess I should be grateful that I survived a childhood where any normal child could very well have starved to death. I assume I should be pleased that I lived to tell the tale, but I am not happy at all about it. As far as I am concerned, I had nothing to live for and would very well have been better off dead. Some power much greater than me, however, has decided otherwise, so who am I to complain about the fact that I was spared a slow, withering expiration. Who am I to dispute the fact that I was sent down to Earth to endure a horrendous childhood and maturation only so I could suffer chronic depression every single day of my miserable, pathetic life. I suppose the only good thing that came out of what I consider to be a total sham of a life is that I could write a book about my experiences, hoping that others will learn from them.

It was while I was living in the bungalow that I decided to write my friend, Sherry, a letter. I was very unhappy because I had written her repeatedly and had not received a reply. In the letter, I told her that I was very angry with her for not writing me back and I ended the letter by telling her that I had always been a friend to her.

A couple of weeks later I received a telephone call from Sherry at my work. We talked for a while and I thought the conversation went well. I promptly went home and wrote her another letter, but never heard from her again.

At that time I was too young and naïve to realise that people are very fickle beings who will befriend people for a variety of reasons. I had not yet realised that people come and go from our lives as it suits them. As we grow and evolve along our Earth walk, we come into contact with those individuals who will help us to achieve our goals at varying times in our lives. It is for that reason that friendship is for the most part a very transient phenomenon.

Instead of being hurt that Sherry was no longer interested in friendship with me, I should have taken it all in stride and accepted her rejection gracefully. I would have a long way to go before I could rationally accept a person did not want to be a part of my life.

Because I was living in a state of exhaustion, working endlessly at work and at home, my health was the first thing to suffer. I had never been given an opportunity to recover from a very difficult pregnancy and a traumatic labour and delivery. No sooner had I experienced all of that and I was thrown into a situation where I was working 18 hours a day and was subjected to continuous sleep deprivation.

I never even got to sleep in at the weekends because Enrique decided that he needed a break from lounging around the house all week long, and would stay in bed while Aaron cried for attention. I therefore would be required to get up and go downstairs and play with my son while my layabout husband slept in bed upstairs.

Because I never had any respite from my responsibilities, I was sick all the time. At least once a month I would have to go to the emergency room at the hospital on Tyndalll Air Force Base with some mystery illness. I would usually have a fever and an infection, and the doctor would prescribe me antibiotics to kill the bacterial infection that invaded my body.

One day I was bitten on the left index finger by a spider. The wound became severely infected and again I developed a fever. Eventually a huge ball of puss was dislodged from my finger, and to this day I sport a nasty scar as a remembrance of the time when my body’s immune system could not even tackle a minor spider bite.

I suppose that although I did not consciously recognise the fact that I had been malnourished as a child, the memory must have stayed with me on a primordial level. Therefore, every time Aaron cried I would give him a bottle. To my way of thinking, feeding my child was an act of love. I fed my son because I had not been fed as a baby. I nourished my child because I had not been nourished. I knew I fed Aaron too much, but I didn’t care. I wanted to give him all the loved that I was never given as a child. I loved my son very much.

After we had lived in the little one bedroom bungalow for about six months, Enrique decided that he wanted to move. He selected a two bedroom town house in Mexico Beach that seemed nice enough. The rent was more, but Enrique was not concerned in the least about the bills because he did not pay them. Therefore, one October day my colleagues helped me to move our belongings to our new accommodation.

The one thing Enrique did do was to make sure Aaron slept in the spare bedroom. When Aaron was safely asleep in his crib, Enrique would want to have sex with me. Because Enrique had no responsibilities whatsoever, he had all the time in the world to cultivate his sex drive and fantasise about having sex with me or anybody else while his son was asleep in the other room.

I, on the other hand, recoiled in horror. I was exhausted all the time and deeply resented Enrique for the way he treated me and the fact that he put the responsibility of providing for the family all on my shoulders. I had always wanted a strong man who provided for his family, and instead I was stuck with a good for nothing bum who kicked back and took it easy while I worked myself into a state of physical, and then eventually mental, illness. The thought of sex with Enrique turned my stomach. Every time he touched me, I was physically ill.

Enrique just viewed me as his own personal meal ticket and sex slave, so he was not happy at all with my reluctance to serve as an outlet for him to release his physical urges onto.

There was one such occasion when Enrique asked me, “Do you want to have sex?”

I justifiably told him that I was tired and wanted to sleep. Enrique became enraged and retorted, “What do you want?!? Do you just want to have sex once a week?!?”, before he stormed out of the bedroom and went downstairs to watch the David Letterman Show.

I was relieved that I did not have to have sex, but upset by Enrique’s attitude. If he had to get up early every morning to go to work, come home and fix dinner, spend the evening looking after his child, and then get up in the middle of the night and early in the morning to take care of his child, he would not be feeling very romantic either. Instead, Enrique did sweet fuck all and expected me to lay on my back and spread my legs so he could get some sexual satisfaction. I don’t think so.

To be honest, the thought of having sex with Enrique made me sick to my stomach. I tried hard to have sex with him as little as possible, and considered myself lucky if I only had to do it once a week. I was continuously trepidatious about sex because that was something that I definitely did not want.

One thing that totally repulsed me was the fact that Enrique would masturbate himself while he was lying in bed with me. It was a little difficult to ignore, because I could sense him jerking his hand back and forth while he was in bed with me. I did not say anything about it, but I found it to be a total turn off. If Enrique had to do that sort of thing, I wished he didn’t do it around me. What he saw as a perfectly normal function I viewed with disgust.

The people I worked with did not have a high regard for Enrique because they thought that he should be out earning a living, providing for his family. They would have really been shocked if they knew that Enrique adamantly refused to get a job and sat around the house all day long, doing nothing except reading books and watching television. My colleagues didn’t know, because I didn’t tell them, that I was not only the breadwinner but was responsible for making sure that all of the household duties were taken care of as well.

Enrique never lifted a finger to help me, yet he could not understand why I was angry with him most of the time. My husband thought his behaviour was perfectly acceptable. He was only doing what his own father had done and nobody, except maybe his mother, raised any objections to his life of leisure. Enrique’s own father had given up work years earlier, leaving his mother to pay all of the bills, provide for the family, and make sure the house was maintained as well. Enrique knew very well how much his father’s behaviour upset his mother, but such awareness never stopped Enrique from following in his father’s footsteps. Because his father was a man of leisure, Enrique must have felt that he too was deserving of such a lifestyle.

With such an unsupportive home life, is it any wonder I was depressed. Against my better judgment I went to the mental health clinic on base. The first thing they did was to give me a test to make sure that I wasn’t crazy. After they were safe in the knowledge that they did not have a psychopath in their midst, they told me that I could attend a group therapy session based on single people, which took place every fortnight. I thought it was quite odd that they should class me with single people because I was married with a child, but for some reason they thought that I was better suited in that environment.

On one of my fortnightly visits to my singles group therapy session, I mentioned that whenever Enrique became angry I would go around the house hiding sharp objects. At that point in our relationship I still believed Enrique would not do anything to intentionally harm me, but in the throes of his rage I was afraid that I might inadvertently be a casualty while he was throwing things and swinging his fists. Because I had been raised in a home where violence and abuse were perfectly acceptable behaviour, I did not see any cause for concern about the fact that I had to hide the sharp objects in the house. I just thought it made common sense.

The psychologists running the group therapy session had other ideas. They thought it was just awful that I had to live in a state of terror. Sadly, although I was only 23, that was the first time in my life, bar my paternal grandmother, when anyone ever expressed any concern for my welfare. I had been passed from pillar to post for so many years that my own wants and needs were never taken into consideration. I was always expected to go along with what everybody else wanted.

Being brought up in a Baptist family, when a colleague invited me to the Baptist church in Mexico Beach, I made it a habit to go every Sunday. I tried to be religious even though I had never had particularly good experiences with religious people. Because I didn’t know anybody in the area, I would sit on my own and would not stay to socialise with people after the service was over.

Enrique would rarely, if ever, go to church with me. He was not a particularly religious person when I met him, but strangely, he began reading the Bible shortly after Aaron was born. The odd thing was that Enrique was reading the Bible and interpreting it on his own. He did not have a support network to help him make sense of those ancient texts that were, although inspired by God, still written by men and therefore still fallible. History is full of religious fanatics who have interpreted the Bible to suite their own needs; such as Jim Jones and his cult in Guyana and David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, both of which ended in disaster.

It is important to note that 45% of mental illnesses have a religious element. That is not to say that religion makes people crazy, but merely that mentally ill people are naturally predisposed to religion in their quest for illumination in a mental fog of disarray. I do not know, therefore, if Enrique had a psychotic experience with religious overtones, which caused him to want to read the Bible. I do know, though, that he repeatedly told me he needed to get his head sorted out and he thought he was going to go crazy.

Enrique was becoming totally immersed in the Bible, although he did not adopt any particular religious path. To show just how enmeshed he was in the Bible, one day I suggested to Enrique that he should read a book written by Dr Joyce Brothers, a famous American psychologist.

Enrique looked at me and piously informed me, “The Bible is all I need.”

Well, what could I say to that? Not much.

If a person were to read four chapters if the Bible every day, he would have read it from cover to cover in a year. I never managed to read the Bible though in one go, but I did read it every night and reflect upon its contents. After reading my Bible, I would pray to the Lord in Heaven and ask him to help me to be a good wife and mother. I was so very deeply unhappy. I did everything I was supposed to do to be a good Christian, but I was still miserable. I believed in God and Jesus with all my heart, but why was I so sad?

Even though I prayed to God every single day, I don’t think he heard my prayers. If he did, he had a rather sick sense of humour. I had never done anything to anybody in my life, and I certainly did not deserve to have to work so hard and have such a terrible man for a husband.

If Enrique did pray to God, I doubt very seriously that he ever asked God to help him to be a good husband and father. If Enrique did make such a request, I don’t supposed God listened to him, either. If he did, he must have had a pretty demented sense of humour as well. Good husbands and fathers provide for their families, not lay around the house all day long.

Enrique decided that for the New Year we would go to Lawrence, Massachusetts to see his family. He was going whether I went or not, that is something I am sure of, so I decided to go along. Enrique bought his ticket and I bought mine. It did not go unnoticed that while Enrique did not have any money to help out with the bills, he did have money for himself. He did not, I would like to stress, have any money for my ticket, the woman who had been keeping him for the past year.

I suppose that trip to Lawrence was quite prophetic, really. Of all of the photographs taken, not one of them had me in them. I can only assume that it was the universe’s way of removing me from that family, little by little.

When I came back to work after having spent the New Year in Lawrence, I was quite surprised to learn that I had been given an assignment to Germany. To be honest, I did not even know where Germany was, I was that unsophisticated to worldly events. To be fair, however, most Americans are so insular and self obsessed that they are doing good just to know the names of the two countries bordering their own. Asking the typical American to have any awareness of a country that is an ocean and a continent away is asking a bit much, I am afraid.

I was to be assigned to the 602nd Tactical Control Squadron in Neu Ulm, Germany. I did not know what a tactical unit did, but I would soon find out. When I did arrive at my assignment, I would discover that my job would be to go out and play war games several times a year.

Before I could go to Germany, however, I would be required to go back to Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and attend an AN/TRC-97A radio course. Not to become too technical, the TRC-97, as it was fondly called, was a radio set that had 24 multiplex channels connected to a radio. The radio set was a fixed line of sight radio that could transmit anywhere from 1 watt to a kilowatt at a frequency range of 4.4 to 5 Gigahertz. It could be connected to one of three antennas, depending on the distance and signal needed. These antennas had to be constructed, so knowledge of mechanics as well as electronics was needed to work on that equipment.

The TRC-97 was initially made for the Marine Corpse to help them with their war efforts. It originally only had 12 channels, but when the Air Force decided to use it they added an additional 12 channels in another module called the baby mux. Under the care of the Marines, the radio set was expected to live only three months, but when the Air Force took over that versatile radio set they had been using it for more than 20 years!

The humble frequency modulated radio set would eventually be superseded by a more modern digital version called the AN/TRC-170, but that radio set proved its worth time after time, far exceeding its original three month life expectancy as predicted by the Marine Corpse.

I asked the Air Force if I could go directly to my assignment to Germany when I finished my AN/TRC-97 training course and was refused. As a result, I would be required to go to the course in May, return in July, and leave to go to Germany at the end of August. I was not happy about the situation, but considering the fact that the Air Force owned me body and soul, there was not much I could do about it.

To further complicate the matter, my family would not be allowed to go to Germany with me. I would have to travel on my own, go on a waiting list just to be allowed to look for a house, and then when I found a property, send for my family.

The military’s philosophy was that if they wanted me to have a family, they would have issued me one. I was so brainwashed into the military way of thinking that I never even thought I was just as deserving of a family as anybody else.

It is funny, really, that America considers itself to be such a progressive nation when the reality is that socially it lags behind Europe by decades. For example, America still has the rather barbaric death penalty. Anyone who supports the death penalty should ask themselves, “Why do we kill people to show people that killing people is wrong?”

The European Union has a Human Rights Act 1998, which details basic human rights that everybody should be entitled to. America proclaims to the world what a great country it is, but as far as I am aware it does not have an equivalent to Europe’s Human Rights Act.

In fact, America often violates people’s human rights, as evidenced by their treatment of the Al-Qaeda suspects who have been held at Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 200 days after the Al-Qaeda suspects were flown to Camp X-Ray, they were still not charged with any offences.

The Al-Qaeda suspects were flown shackled and hooded to Camp X-Ray. None of them were allowed legal representation despite the death penalty at military tribunals. Amnesty International actually became involved and said, “The more cells Mr Bush adds at Guantanamo Bay the more America’s reputation as a defender of international justice will suffer.”

If America will abuse people’s human rights left right and centre by still adopting the barbaric and inhumane death penalty and abusing suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they would not even bat an eyelash about separating me from my son. Unfortunately at that time I had no idea just how insignificant I was to the American government. They only saw me as cannon fodder, and nothing more, and didn’t give a damn about my well being. It is such a shame that I did not realise that sad fact sooner.

Living a life of leisure did nothing to improve Enrique’s disposition. He was just as nasty, lazy and self serving as ever. He still continued with his sleep deprivation techniques because sleep was the one thing I never got enough of. On several occasions he would wake me up after I had collapsed from exhaustion and would start yelling at me about one thing or another. I can remember him standing over me, staring at me with a hateful grimace on his face, ranting and raving over some real or imagined wrong I had committed. On one occasion he even took a cake I had made and threw it in the trash.

Even though Enrique could do pretty much what he wanted all day, every day, he still insisted on his own free time. He would take college courses, which meant that he was away from home one night a week. On one occasion my iterant husband actually suggested that I should take a college course. I looked at him in total amazement. When, I asked him, would I have time to take a college course? I was either working or busy at home taking care of Aaron. I knew that Enrique would not allow me the free time necessary to complete the course work required in a course and told him so. Enrique did not respond to my rather angry accusation because he knew it was true. Enrique only looked after Aaron while I was working. It was my responsibility to look after him the rest of the time.

Enrique also liked to go to the movies, so quite often he would leave me at home to look after Aaron while he went to the cinema. I never begrudged Enrique living his own life, taking college courses, and going to the movies, because I was so shattered that most of the time I simply did not want to do the things most people my age were doing.

One night when Enrique was enjoying himself at the movies, I collapsed in exhaustion. Normally going to sleep would have been quite okay, but Aaron was wide awake and wanted to explore the world. I knew I should stay up with him, but having to work full time and look after Aaron for the past year had taken its toll on my fragile body. A body could only take so much, and mine decided it needed rest. I therefore took Aaron into my bedroom and he amused himself by crawling around. My mind wanted so badly to get out of bed and take care of my baby, but my body had other ideas. I simply could not move my body and I could not open my eyes. I was so terribly worried about Aaron’s welfare and fortunately he did not get into any harm. I would have been too weak to do anything about it if he had, unfortunately.

I doubt very seriously that Enrique gave any consideration at all to the fact that his refusal to contribute to the family finances or help out in the house was destroying me body and soul. I doubt very seriously that if he had known just how much he was hurting me that he would have cared. Like most men, Enrique thought that just so long as he was okay that was all that mattered. I married a really nice man – not.

One time when Enrique and I were shopping in the Base Exchange, he asked me to get my pocketbook out of my shoulder bag. I rummaged around my bag and was alarmed to find it missing. Enrique looked at me derisively and handed it back to me. My own husband had actually stolen my pocketbook from me. He said he did it to prove a point because I should have been watching my handbag. The fact that I had my hands full with Aaron was totally irrelevant to my bastard of a husband.

Instead of the Enrique helping me with the shopping and to care for my son, he chose instead to steal from me. That was the first time that Enrique would take what was mine, and sadly he would end up taking so much more than money. Enrique was becoming a truly nasty man indeed.

If it wasn’t bad enough that Enrique had ruined my life, he decided he would ruin Aaron’s first birthday as well. Aaron had been up all day, going to the park and shopping, and naturally he only wanted to go to sleep. Enrique, however, wanted a party. I made a cake, but it was not ready until late in the evening. By this time Aaron was very tired and clearly wanted to go to bed. Enrique kept poking him and prodding him, making him eat cake that he was clearly too tired to enjoy. Finally, Aaron broke down in tears and began to howl. He was tired and wanted to go to bed. I felt very sorry for my son because I knew exactly what it was like to be exhausted and want nothing more than to go to bed. Enrique had deprived me of sleep many times before.

Our whole lives revolved around Enrique and what he wanted. Nobody else’s needs mattered, and Aaron was no exception. Enrique would force Aaron to do whatever he wanted in the same way that he forced me.

During Aaron’s party, I was speaking to Enrique about something when he interrupted me. I too was tired and asked him not to interrupt me before finishing my train of thought. Enrique was incensed that I should dare to tell him not to interrupt me, and I could see the rage welling up inside him. I was so tired that I really didn’t care, and went to bed collapsing in a heap on the bed.

While I slept Enrique had plenty of time to go over in his mind how I would dare to ask him not to interrupt me, and at about 10:30 he could contain his rage no longer. Enrique woke me up in the same old familiar tirade that I had heard a hundred times before. For the first time something inside of me had changed. Enrique could say or do whatever he liked because I simply did not care anymore. Enrique no longer had any effect on me at all.

As Enrique stood by the bed, I told him quite honestly that I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t love him anymore, and I was tired of him waking me up in the middle of the night, yelling and screaming at me.

You could have knocked Enrique over with a feather. He was totally shocked. He honestly believed that he could behave like a brute day in and day out for years on end and that I would continue to love him. He was in a state of total disbelief that he left the room.

The following morning Enrique skulked around the room like a naughty little school boy. He knew that he had gone too far because his demeanour clearly reflected this. Like any abusive man, Enrique apologetically told me that he loved me, but as far as I was concerned it was just words. If he loved me he would have contributed to the family and helped me around the house. Enrique did not have a clue in the world what love was.

Within several months of Aaron’s birth I had already realised that Enrique had taken over complete control of every aspect of Aaron’s life. It saddened me because Enrique did not even want Aaron, but as soon as he was born he did a complete about face.

Aaron was supposed to be my baby, but Enrique had taken him from me body and soul. Enrique did not see me as a wife and mother but as some slave, who would go to work and earn money, and then come home, clean the house, and service him sexually to boot.

I was very disappointed at how my whole domestic situation had turned out in a way that I had never envisaged. Through my deep depression, I would often find myself saying, “The next baby I have will be mine.”

On only one occasion did Aaron ever cry out for me specifically. Enrique and I had gone shopping at the Base Exchange, and Enrique took Aaron, as usual. As I began to walk away, Aaron held his hands out to me and began crying. I thought it was so sweet that Aaron wanted his mother. Unfortunately that was the only time that I am aware of that Aaron ever called out for me.

Because I had been pushed to the end of my tether, when Enrique and I had arguments I would lash out at him. I would tell Enrique to over and over to go back to Boston. I really didn’t want him with me anymore because he contributed absolutely nothing to the relationship, financially or emotionally. The only thing that Enrique did was to watch Aaron while I was at work and that was all. I did absolutely everything else, and I simply could not carry on that way any longer.