My name is Laura Roodman Edwards Roodman Edwards Roodman Ray, and the reason why I have such a long name is because I actually married and divorced the same man with the same problems twice, until I married the love of my life.
I took my vows way too seriously the first and second time to the same man, even though I don’t quite remember the Rabbi ever saying, “Do you, Laura, take Psycho Dick for better or worse, in sickness and in health, through calling you a dumb slut, whore, bitch with a big cellulite ass, and pushing you out of a moving car, until death do us part?”
The very first date I went on with Richard, who I ended up calling Psycho Dick or P.D. for short, should have been an omen of what was in store for me for the next decade or so.
My job at the time was designing and selling Yellow Page ads in small towns. I had been stuck in one particular small town, which I will now refer to as "South Bumblecluck Nowhere" with a group of co-workers for about three weeks. Most of the men that I worked with took being out of town as an excuse to cheat on their wives. One of my Yellow Page accounts was a chain of local pizzerias whose salad bar and deep dish pizza were to die for. The owners of these restaurants were this very handsome, cowboy kind of guy, and his brother.
My motto was that I would never ever date a client of mine. It’s a rule I should have followed.
After Richard signed his contract, he asked me if I had ever been horseback riding. I was trying to be as cool as I could and said, “Oh yes, I love riding!” The truth is that the only time I had ever been on a horse was at a low-end amusement park where you paid 50 cents to get on a pony while an old man with a lead rope would walk you around a smelly arena for three minutes. Richard said, “Great! Get your riding clothes and meet me here in an hour.”
I was pretty giddy about doing this. He was such a totally different guy than I had ever met, and there was something about him that was just sexy as hell. Plus, face it, after a few weeks in South BumbleCluck, I don’t think the bar was set very high.
I ran back to my hotel and changed into my most earthy, "countrified" clothes. When he looked at me in my spiked cowboy high-heeled boots, tight jeans and gray cowl-neck cashmere sweater (the first thing I ever bought at Nordstrom’s), he said, “Where would you like to change?” I replied, “Oh no, I’m sorry, these are my riding clothes.”
So, here I was, this clueless Jewish girl from the ’burbs, on this two-hour ride from hell with men, who, as God is my witness, had names like Buffalo Phil, Suck-Em Up Steve, and Roundabout Randy. I couldn’t breathe in my new jeans and I didn’t dare to drink even one drop of water. I knew that I couldn’t pee in the woods without any toilet paper.
We took a break and the guys were guzzling their beers and spitting out their tobacco while I realized that my feet were swollen four times their normal size from those damned boots. I spotted this gorgeous pond with these beautiful lily pads all over it and had this wonderful aha moment: “This will be perfect for my aching feet!”
Soon I was in my own little world squishing my aching toes in the warm lily pads. When I looked up, the four guys were looking at me in shock. Psycho Dick, as he was pointing and laughing at me, screamed, “LAURA, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I replied, “I’m just relaxing and helping my aching feet with these wonderful lily pads.” The guys burst out laughing, spitting up their beer, and then one of the other guys shouted,
“THOSE AIN’T LILY PADS, YOU DIPSHIT, THOSE ARE COW PIES!”
So, here I was knee-deep in cow shit on my very first date.
Stepping unknowingly in cow shit over and over again could have been a huge metaphor for the next 14 years of my life. Considering I divorced him seven years later, after my body finally shut down emotionally and physically from trying to be with an abusive alcoholic makes me realize that, yes, our first date was indeed an omen.
I hope that you all have had a chance to dissect your failed relationships. It’s a study that we all should do so that history doesn’t repeat itself. Thank you, Dr. Laura Wannabe! But honestly, looking back at my history is a scary thing. And if any of the ignorant and naïve things that I have done in the past can help get even one woman out of an abusive situation then I will die a happy woman.
You see, I married this man when I was 24 years old and believe I wanted to marry someone totally different than what I was used to. But what I actually did was marry someone who looked like my father, drank like my father, and treated me like my father.
My father was a brilliant man who died way too young at 49. He was an alcoholic who thought that continual verbal abuse would make his four children into better and more successful people. I think I was the chosen whipping kid because I was the most naïve and vulnerable.
Verbal abuse is insidious in a way that physical abuse isn’t. I always knew that if Psycho Dick would have hit me or cheated on me, it would have been easier for me to leave. But, telling me day after day that I was stupid, fat, had an ugly cellulite ass and that no one would ever want to date me must have subliminally set into my subconscious and I believed it.
Most abusers do their very best to alienate the ones they abuse from all of their friends and family. You end up being so alone, and if the only thing that you hear day-in and day-out is all of the negative crap -- that is indeed what you end up believing.
I had a therapist that actually saved me with the best analogy I had ever been given, and even after years of being healthy, I still think of this when I feel badly about how horrible and lonely his life is versus how wonderful mine is right now.
She said, “Laura, you have to realize that Psycho Dick is in a deep dark hole, but it’s HIS hole.” This very wise woman continued with, “And no matter what you try to do, whether it’s make more money, find him a job, be a better cook, be better in bed, be a size 6, get your Master’s degree so you can support him even better, the only thing he wants to do is to grab you and pull you into the hole that he’s in! Don’t you know, Laura, that with people like you and I, we want out of that hole. We’d scrounge ourselves out of that hole if our lives depended on it, but people like Psycho Dick are happy to be in that hole. It’s their hole.”
After I divorced him the first time, his parents and his children from his first marriage called me to tell me that he had "holed himself up" in our little cabin and was threatening suicide with the help of his many guns that he owned. I couldn’t stand the fact that he was going to kill himself all because of me because that’s how ignorant I was.
I called him to tell him that I’d take him back and soon got pregnant with our first daughter. I was elated and resigned myself that this was meant to be. I then got pregnant again right after the birth of Madison and had my second daughter, Morgan.
On a regular basis, Psycho Dick would say things like, “If you ever leave me, the next time you’ll see the girls will be on a milk carton” or “All I have to do is to put a bullet in your left temple, and it will all be over.”
All I have to say is that little hole analogy saved me and changed exactly how I felt. Because, once I had children, that hole was OK for him, but I’d be damned if my beautiful daughters would end up in there, too!
I filed for divorce the second and final time on Valentine’s Day (isn’t that romantic?) and immediately had to take my kids and go into hiding. My divorce was finalized four months later.
Once it was over, my attorney screamed very loudly for the entire courthouse to hear, “Laura, you got everything you wanted –- full custody of the kids,a restraining order, and $400 a month in child support [which I never saw a dime of…] BUT, IF YOU MARRY HIM AGAIN, I’LL F%$&ing KILL YOU!”
About 350 strangers broke into hysterical laughter. Four years and 26 days later, I married the love of my life. A man that loves me for who I am, loves "our" daughters as his own, and would never in his wildest dreams verbally or physically abuse my kids or me.