Weeks passed and the girls started to enjoy their school routine, hopping aboard the big white bus each morning as they made their way out of the compound gates. The boys continued attending Arabic school, but it was clear we would be facing the same issues that we had encountered the first year. I made carrot cakes, tortes and meringues for ladies on the compound and still provided the “sheik” with dessert trays each week. He became frustrated with his new position, receiving a lower salary and less benefits than his counterparts because of his local hire status. Mom and Dad announced a tentative visit during winter break and this news kept the whole household in a state of elation for the coming weeks. Life on the compound was truly diverse, full of expats from numerous countries. Ladies in brightly colored scarves and floral skirts power walked the loop, laughing and giggling, while others wearing sports bras and yoga pants jogged up ahead. The compound sponsored a Halloween Haunted house and plans for the Christmas party and a Ramadan dinner were all under way. Life on the compound started to become routine and a tight knit community was taking shape.

He worked at the front of the compound in the telecommunications office but his enthusiasm for the new job and manager faded as quickly as it had started. We had come back to Riyadh after only 10 months in Al-Khobar, moving away from the Western school and comfort of a modern city.  But now the same old complaints cropped up, this position was not up to his standards and others were making more money. The salary, respect and benefits he received were not a true reflection of his abilities. A familiar feeling once again gripped me and reminded me that this carefree life was not to be taken for granted. I smiled nervously not knowing what to say but realizing I could not remain silent. My usual response involved agreeing with his complaints and addressing the unfair treatment he seemed to face in each and every work setting. Any words spoken that were contrary to his opinion were seen as insubordination and were treated as such. It had been ten long years of shifting from job to job and now we started shifting locations as well. His first real job with an engineering firm in Seattle had looked promising until the mounting pressure became too much. We were a young couple with 2 small children starting a life and making plans. That day, a day like any other was a turning point in my life, although it didn’t seem important at the time. Lines were vacuumed in the blue carpet, dishes washed and neatly put away, the fragrant aroma of cinnamon and garlic wafted through the air. A toddler ran to greet baba at the door, tiny arms outstretched, an infant tucked away on mother’s lap. A scene of peace and tranquility and family at it’s best, a day like any other. He walked to the sink and spotted two bottles of dish soap. His sharp tone indicated he was stressed, ” Why are there two soaps, why”? I looked at him confused and responded in a nonchalant  manner, “hmm don’t know” I was busy juggling the babies, tired from lack of sleep and hours of work.  He turned and looked at me as if he were someone else, red faced, a large vein protruding from his forehead. He stuttered and stammered as he would for years to come, raising his voice only slightly and then louder with each breath he took. What came next was the first episode that would lead to years of silent humiliation and frustration, words never spoken and total confusion. An insidious wave that continued to take away and destroy as it came crashing forth and then receding, a never ending cycle.  It was a slow progression that I chalked up to the various things one faces in this life, stress at work being at the top of the list. He slammed the empty bottle and turned abruptly, fists were pounded on the counter as he paced back and forth, dish soap fell into the sink and trickles were left dripping down to the floor. Words were spoken at first loudly and then loud enough to bring the house down, a look in his eyes, beautiful, soft brown eyes where I had once found comfort and abiding love, now were sinister and cold. My babies cried and fussed and held onto me tightly. My mind was reeling and full of chaos,  not yet comprehending. I sat motionless, tears dripping down my face like the sticky soap that now lay on the floor. He stomped past me, waving his arms and speaking about my insolence and disrespect. He asked rhetorical questions about my blatant wastefulness, the lack of organization and messy home I tended to, no answers would suffice. He raged for mere minutes and then a calm came over him and he sat down to eat his dinner. It was a whirlwind of emotions and numb disbelief, five years spent living in harmony, a secret and forbidden love. I spoke with him later of this event and he pointed to his stressful job and lack of respect from an ungrateful wife. I encouraged him to be happy, to find a job that would bring his stress level down. In the years that followed  I vowed to be the best wife and mother and never allow this behavior to surface again, not realizing that my actions were of little consequence.



237 thoughts on “Happiness…

  1. How frightening this chapter of your story is! And I do think your last line is so true. What you did or didn’t do was of little consequence with someone so obviously unbalanced and disturbed! A gripping read Lynn!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Like others have said, I don’t really know what to say Lynn. It makes my brain numb when I think about what it must have been like to be with him and at the same time have so many responsibilities at hand, the kids being your priority. I’m so glad you share your experience as I’m sure women who face such a similar situation will benefit from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am speechless when I read things like this. Verbal abuse and the raging is not fun for anyone to experience. It is such a disease, and you know I am so pleased you are away from all that.
    Lynn, are you finding the writing therapeutic ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t at first it made me sick and depressed! Now it is better and he is still looming over my head, these days I have been pretty nervous and low to be honest. blogging keeps me on track and writing helps me see it wasn’t me! I am unraveling what happened! He keeps calling the older kids and so I feel uneasy waiting for an email saying he will come. sorry to vent but that is the truth! love xxx


      • Oh Lynn, I feel for you and understand. I am so sorry you are feeling this way. I wonder when those feelings will subside? I wonder when, those wounds will heal. He has pierced a huge part of you over the years with the abuse, so I am sure you will have those days. When you know he has contacted the older kids, it must be unsettling for you.
        You have not divorced him yet, have you?
        Please don’t apologise. Just remember, I am always here for you. If you ever want to vent or talk or whatever, I am here. My personal email address is lynne.hoareau@gmail.com (if you ever want to contact me there, I will not mind at all)

        I am sorry for the delay in this message. I wanted to reply last night, but we had internet problems again, it is so frustrating. Hugs and love my friend xxx

        Liked by 1 person

    • I went to see a lawyer this Fall when I felt more settled. She said it takes two weeks and him not being here makes it harder. He has never done anything that I can document but this time shoved me, pushed me- no one around. He told me “Go call the police” and laughed. If he comes again I will have him served with divorce papers which sounds scary. He is a smooth talker,well educated and has a good job. When I relocated and refused to go back he came here and cut me off from some resources, I had several jobs and one of them was cleaning the local mosque he spoke to the man in charge and told him he was supporting us and basically I was a liar, the man then dropped me, he spoke to the stock broker told him I could not make any decisions. After that I was not allowed to take any money(I hadnt but it was like my safety net) He is very diplomatic with people who do not know him! They all love him. I am walking on eggshells until my kids are all older and I can just move. My older kids give me huge moral support and the younger ones are happy, going to school, playing sports and being kids. thanks for asking!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story is compelling Lynz, I will be following it to find out how you got out of that. Such a waste of our time when we try to reason with the unreasonable, then when we don’t get anywhere, we end up blaming ourselves. Live and learn eh, and that is the great thing about this Senior Salon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. He is the ungrateful one, not you. You tried your best to be faithful and respectful. Your body literally could not live up to those insane standards, but that’s okay. It seems he needed the reality check, not you. I’m sorry you went through that… I hate when people just don’t understand your point of view… no matter how hard you try to tell them.

    Liked by 1 person

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