A review of old stories 9- A halala(coin) for your thoughts….

It had been four months since we arrived to Riyadh and to this villa,  frustration and despair had finally collided.  I sat on the toilet looking at chunks of hair scattered on the bathroom floor. Panic quickly set in as I realized the gravity of this defiant act. My hair was always even, plain and drab, but now huge chunks were missing, short, long and ragged.  I regained my composure and stood looking in the mirror, trimming and cutting the bigger pieces to make some sort of order. I showered, dressed and returned to the children who were busy with homework.

When he arrived home that night he didn’t notice my short, uneven hair, or chose not to mention it at that time. Instead, he focused on my mood, which seemed off and this was never acceptable. When it came to my mind and what went on inside it, he seemed to have a secret power and nothing was left a mystery. In the early years, these inquires were short and marked by a deliberate tenderness, love and trust were the main topic of discussion. He gently touched my hand and whispered in my ear, something never done, not even behind closed doors. This love and concern was not usually evident and so I never questioned it but soaked up the little attention he was willing to give. He prodded and pushed to find out what I was thinking and why I was not willing to share my innermost dreams and ideas.  When I finally cracked, two things would be the inevitable result. He would be unhappy about the unauthorized thoughts that had been whirling around inside my brain, now exposed.  The second result would be anger that I had not divulged all that I was thinking, akin to lying.  Either way, the interrogation would not end until all thoughts, good or bad came crashing out and were revealed. Cautionary words were then spoken about hidden agendas and things that were seen as fabrications played out in my female mind.  It was important that I always disclose what I was thinking and feeling to create a sense of trust and also prove my loyalty.

I explained that this trip meant allot to the children and to me as well! I told him it was hot, no a/c and no furniture. I reeled off a list of complaints and watched guardedly as he took it all in. Much to my surprise his face was calm and even relenting. He talked about his work and how it was not what he had pictured, he was trying to save money and move some day to a compound where everything was provided. A family of this size was a huge responsibility, he had to be careful, not frivolous. I listened to his reasoning and felt my anger turn to guilt and embarrassment. He explained that his brother’s salary for many months would be equal to the cost of a new stove, couches or any one of the things on my list. I sat and thought and although I had heard this same speech many times, I felt a certain connection to it more now than ever. I dropped my complaints and felt a new surge of energy to “make do” and try harder. The following days brought several changes, talk of moving to a new place with a better location and the arrival of a t.v., cooking pot and a new blanket.  He also said that the trip to my sister’s house was back on and we would leave in a matter of days.

We boarded the train and sat on bench seats in the family section. Children climbed over seats, ran through the aisle and stopped to stare until maids pulled them away and back to their place. Sand changed from tan to red and then to shrubs as we approached Al-Khobar. The big boys looked out the window at camels and tents while See See and Foof counted the remnants of old cars dumped out in the dunes of sand. Sandwiches and snacks were offered in another car, wrappers and food were left littering the seats and walkways. Finally four hours had passed and we approached the Eastern province. My brother in law met us at the station and took us back to the house in Al-Khobar.

We arrived to a large cement house full of furniture that my sister had purchased in America and had shipped over to her rented home in Saudi.  The children played outside and ran around while we laughed, talked and watched t.v.  He boarded the train the next day and would return to retrieve us at the end of the break. This was the future I had envisioned when I agreed to move to Saudi Arabia. Al-Khobar was more open and Western than Riyadh, women walked outside and Westerners crowded the corniche and local Safeway.  My sister told me that life in Saudi needed adjustments and certainly things were never easy in the beginning. I realized she was right and the long term benefits would far out weigh any inconvenience at this point. Two glorious weeks came and went quickly as most pleasurable things do. He came back on the train to take us home and we said our goodbyes. My sister promised to visit and we made our way back to the train station.

168 thoughts on “A review of old stories 9- A halala(coin) for your thoughts….

  1. As I reread this Lynn, I think that the past is a foreign country best not revisited. I am glad you moved on and happy that I was not taken in by my very handsome Egyptian fiance years ago. They prey on the weak and the weak minded. Good riddance.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. If I can give you a teeny bit of advice vis a vis writing your book. It will come – don’t force it. Some days you will write nothing. Some days you will want to rip it all up and start again but it will come and it will be your voice which is the voice that people want to hear. In the meantime – keep doing what you are doing because it is netting an audience hungry for more. Including me 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

        • I thought it was arab culture!!! Everyone I met he ended up saying was not good! So we were isolated. The kids learned religion at school and said this was not the right way!!!For arabs they are really into providing, everything is a shame! So, if you do not do things you should do as a man, you are in big trouble, people talk! It is not the way things are I have now seen. Women over there are pretty strong! His ex wife, was an architect and divorced her first husband, then married him, left her son behind in Syria, now is marrying again!!! So, I guess he locked me in, told me his mom was perfect, she never asked for anything or wanted anything! That was a total LIE!!! I feel it was a case of changing to a religion that I studied, but he then told me I was wrong, he dictated everything and kept us all isolated. He tried to isolate us from each other. My son would come to speak to me and he would get mad, tell him to go away!

          His cousin was a teacher made little money, his wife insisted he bring her fresh fruit found about 2 hours away when she was pregnant, insisted he send chocolate on a bus to syria from saudi when she went on vacation! So, ladies have their way and are strong. They used to mock me for being weak and told me”DONT LISTEN!!!

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I was wondering if your sister’s situation was similar to yours and am glad that things seem to be working out well for her. It must have been incredibly hard to leave after spending two weeks in luxury and just being with family. The fact that you got out demonstrates that are a strong woman and a role model for others in abusive relationships and feel there is no way out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s amazing to me that your sister also married a Saudi and her life is so much different than yours was. It’s good you got to see her, it seems that your ex sometimes had a heart. two weeks with your sister had to be wonderful for your and kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I get so frustrated when he turns everything around and dumps it on your shoulders. This is not strictly an middle eastern thing. I know husbands of friends right here that try to get away with the same thing. Some do, others don’t get away with it but can’t seem to break the habit of trying. Grrrrr.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am glad you got to see your sister but abusers tend to know when their spouse is feeling very confined and shows signs of defiance. They know instinctively how to keep their significant others captive and compliant. I know you know this. It is sad you went through this and to me, it may be horrible reliving this or it can be therapeutic. 🙂


  7. Lynn,
    For some reasons in my workplace, I gave up my job three years ago. It was a job of sorts related to my qualifications and I sometimes did feel happy reviewing research proposals and learning new things but wasn’t actually the practice of medicine. Three years ago, I resigned because when I weighed the options of being bullied and tortured mentally every day and the peace of sitting at home( without an income), I chose the latter.
    My point is, my husband was dead against my resigning- he cautioned me against it and said you are making a mountain out of a molehill and exaggerating things that happen in every work place. And perhaps I was extra sensitive and didn’t like the place. The point is, working there hurt me and was affecting my general health, sleep and peace of mind. And the day I resigned I felt plain relief, like a bird in the sky, as though I had suddenly been released from a cage.
    For a year and a half after that I searched for jobs- but to no avail. There was none available and no one called me for a single interview. During those days of unemployment, I faced a different type of harassment- from my husband and my family- who felt I was wasting my time and a lot of other things. No one understood my frustrations.
    Even the best of husbands( people) can turn around and be very harsh with you, when things are not going well for you. You expect support when you are down and out but most of the time you are left to face life’ s problems alone.
    And now when I have a job, all issues are over- all is sweet and nice and no one has any complaints.
    It is when things are bad, you know the hearts of people who are dear to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks derrick. Some days I think it is silly and a waste of time, others I feel compelled to keep writing. I was not allowed to ever discuss the tiniest thing, a total secret life, so writing seems to unravel what happened and gives me strength for whatever he might throw at me next! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting. I’m always so interested in your sister’s experience there too. It seems like it was very different from your own, and even though she was in Saudi she was not able to be much support to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m surprised he allowed you to go and even more surprised he was comfortable leaving you there. Most abusers like to keep their victims under their thumb so that they don’t “confide” the secrets of what’s really going on behind closed doors. It’s really good to know you got to visit your sister though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh he must have been very familiar with your sister’s attitude then. Its hard to imagine a loved one siding with an abuser in a case like this and sadly it happens often. It amazes me how much turmoil you went through and the dark cloud that was literally your life for so many years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What a lonely place to be in life…how in the world did you ever turn out to be so positive? Yes, you made a bad choice in relationship (dont we all at some point) but you didnt know any better. How fortunate that you are able to show your kids the love and acceptance you weren’t given on a reg. basis. You are truly an amazing woman. I think of you sometimes when life gets rough….if Lynz can go through what she did…then so can I. ☺ Oh…and I know your name is Lynn but I like calling ya Lynz….you dont seem to mind lol

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This is so interesting Lynn…he almost seems understanding and loving in this post. Except for the mind control…lol! I wonder if you felt a backlash after this trip? I am glad that you were able to visit your sister. It sounds like a wonderful visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was “loving and kind” many times, there were lots of good times but they were full of control and any moment a huge eruption, even in public. It was hard to know when and where that would occur and so hard for me to write about, difficult to portray and explain. He would be kind, a honeymoon period where all was right for even a month, I was the smartest and best, most talented, wonderful, a big build up, but during that time period I had to be “perfect” follow all rules and nothing could go wrong, not even a word spoken that was off. Then anything he didn’t like and booom, things were a mess again, I was an ungrateful, cheating, lying nasty lady! So hard to explain. he would sit and be kind and offer help, advice, support but it was all under his control and very carefully followed.If he was mean all the time it would have been easier to just leave but for abusers or at least many I have heard of, they offer a beautiful soft loving side that you are drawn in by, then back to business. You are confused and feel like you must have a problem? The kids saw right through this!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Lynz, I feel as though there are subtle manipulations occurring even when things are going well. It’s almost as if there’s just enough tenderness or kindness to keep you in line when the situation becomes intolerable. I’m glad you had those weeks of joy with your sister.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. How you came out of this at all with your sanity dear Lynz is remarkable.. The manipulation and mental abuse is disturbing to read.. How calculating he was to offer in one hand the trip then take it away.. then to coax you with his tenderness to reveal your thoughts so he could strip yet more away .
    You write your story so well.. I can easily visualise you with hair in hand and on the bathroom floor..I keep on saying this.. but I am so pleased you escaped this situation with your children.. 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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