The dream always started the same. I was running from something or someone and needed help desperately. I jumped fences, hid behind trees and looked for a house where I could find someone to help me- from what, I’m not sure.
There was always a variation on the dream. One time I found a little cottage where I entered to use the phone to call for help. I tried to dial but my fingers keep misdialing. Other times I would pick up the phone to call for help only to have it turn into a mushroom or some acid-induced-type hallucination.
Recurring dreams are messages from your angels. It’s one of the best ways they know how to tell you that something is drastically wrong in your life. The good thing is that once you figure out what the dream is about, you will cease to have them.
When I was in my early twenties, I had a recurring dream about being eaten by a whale. Again, there were many variations- I would be crossing a bridge that collapsed into the ocean and the whale would come eat me. Other times I would be on a boat that sank before the whale came. After about eight years I figured out what the whale represented and I never had that dream again.
Now here in my dream I was alone and scared in my house. I couldn’t see who or what was trying to hurt me. I walked into the laundry room to find the back door wide open and knew that my predator was inside the house and then I panicked. That’s when the chase began. I would run sometimes looking for places to hide and other times looking for help. When I hid, I knew I was never safe and eventually would be found so I would start running again. When I went for help, nobody was home to come to my rescue and when I tried calling on the phone for help, nobody was there.
In real life, I was very much in danger. I slept each night next to someone I knew was capable and willing to hurt me. Before the twins were born, Kevin knew I would leave him if he ever touched me in a hurtful way. But I still had the recurring dreams. Now I realize they were warnings that I figured out too late.
Because of Connor, Kevin knew I wouldn’t leave now. He knew that taking care of the kids, especially Connor in his medically fragile state, was the only thing I cared about- and he used that vulnerability against me.
One time on Thanksgiving after 24 hours of cooking, entertaining and cleaning up after 35 of our closest relatives, I went to bed exhausted. Kevin came to bed drunk as he typically does on Thanksgiving. I made the mistake of accidentally waking him up when I got up to take care of a crying baby Brooke. When I came back to bed Kevin began beating me so terribly and with such rage that at one point I thought I wouldn’t live to see morning. But there was restraint there on his part- he never hit my face. He choked me, hit my sides and grabbed my arm so hard while yelling that he was going to “tear my fucking arm off”. He probably said, “I’m going to fucking kill you” about twenty times during the “altercation”. At one point I decided to stop fighting back and relaxed my body thinking he would back off which enraged him more and he became more violent.
During the beating there were intermissions of him stopping to catch his breath. While he laid there for a few minutes trying to manage his labored breathing, I ran down the hall to my oldest daughter’s vacant room. She was staying at the hotel with my mom. Further down the hall in our guest room, my aunt Nikki slept with her sleep apnea mask sounding like Darth Vador. It took many years for me to answer my own question of why I didn’t go wake her up that night to ask her to go call for help or why I didn’t run for the phone myself.
Just like the phone that melted into a mushroom in my dream when I tried to call for help, or the constant misdialing of “911”, real life brought as much difficulty trying to reach out for help. See, to most people (all who have never personally faced this dilemma), if you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s very “black and white”. For some, their answer is that you simply leave the relationship, and at all costs- there are no other alternatives. If you don’t leave, to them you’re either lying or there’s something wrong with you.
In an August, 2012 Oprah interviewed singing sensation, Rihanna, who had this to say about being in an abusive relationship and not telling her friends and family: “The reason why a lot of women choose not to let their family and friends know that they’re in an abusive relationship is because once you tell your mother and once you tell your friend, that’s all they remember.”
Why Adrienne Maloof Is a Fucking Idiot
Don’t judge me, but sometimes I watch Bravo’s The Real Housewives. I can’t really explain what exactly it is about the show I enjoy, but I do know that I try to watch while I’m doing my cardio workout on the elliptical machine as the only way I can justify to myself watching that kind of mindless television.
This past season’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills gave stage to a very dark, but real issue with one of its stars, Taylor, whose husband was physically abusive to her. Taylor reached out to her co-stars, including Adrienne Maloof only to be judged and doubted. I watched Taylor’s distress and her cries for help from show to show along with the skepticism and poor treatment she received from her “friends”. I felt her pain all along the way.
For Adrienne Maloof, mega-wealthy co-owner of Palms Casino in Las Vegas, hundreds of millions of dollars can buy you many options and a lot of protection in the face of an abusive spouse. Taylor, on the other hand, didn’t have the luxury of not having to worry about how she would take care of her daughter or where she would be safe while undergoing a terrifying divorce.
Ms. Maloof all but outright called Taylor a liar about being abused because, after all, if a woman is in an abusive relationship she could just call her bodyguards and attorneys and switch mansions during the divorce process.
Another cast mate, Camille Grammar, called out Taylor’s confessions of abuse while on camera and couldn’t understand why that would put Taylor in harm’s way. Taylor came to Camille and confessed the abuse in confidence but clearly was not ready or strong enough to leave her husband at that time. By Camille airing (literally) the confession on television she put Taylor in a very dangerous situation. Camille still doesn’t understand that, as I’m sure many people don’t. But I do understand it… all too well.
While trying to explain my own dilemma to a “friend” once, she responded that I needed to go to a “battered woman’s shelter”. To me, this was the most ridiculously ignorant thing that anyone has ever said to me because this is the question someone in my shoes is always asking themselves- would life be easier for my children or more difficult for them if I left?
To explain a black eye one time, I confided in my friend Charlotte about how I got it. To everyone else I told a story about how Connor and I were playing and he accidentally kicked me in the eye. Charlotte never spoke to me again.
Adding to my dilemma was the fact that I was truly scared of Kevin. I was not only scared of him physically, but I knew that an intense legal battle was something I had not the energy or time for while taking care of a boy that doctors were not sure would live to see the next day. And a divorce with Kevin would not be an easy process because he had spent much on expensive attorneys to make sure of this. Additionally, his brother who is also his business partner set up their assets to transfer into his name in the event of a divorce. I simply did not have the strength to fight this battle at the time.
Another time I had to tell someone about my situation for reasons other than needing help. He outright called me a liar on the phone and said that if I was telling the truth I would have left Kevin already.
Now Is Not the Time
I heard Kevin coming down the hall towards my daughter’s room as I slid off the bed and slowly climbed under it to hide. I remember thinking that if he found me, the fact I was hiding would make him so mad that he would actually end up killing me. Fortunately, he didn’t find me. And after I was sure he passed out, I climbed into her bed at 2:00 a.m. and went to sleep myself.
The next morning I woke up to a slightly more sober Kevin standing at my bedside. “You owe me a written apology”, he said to me with a menacing glare before walking slowly out of the room. I could feel the rage building inside me. Just then I clearly heard a voice inside me say, “wait.” Because of Connor, I knew now was not the time to fight back, but that my time would come one day.
Not so many years later, I can now reflect and write about this time in my life. The truth is, that if I had it all to do over again, knowing now what I didn’t have the strength or time to realize then, I probably would have left Kevin.
At least the dreams are over now. I’ve seen my predator’s face and reconciled the fact that nobody will ever be at the other end of that phone to receive my call for help. My help had to come from within.