Little did I know, flying back from Paris, that I was about to enter the worst time of my life. After I arrived in Dallas, Rich and I went to lunch. He poured his heart out and said that we should get married right away. My leaving had made him think about the fact that he almost lost me and he never wanted that to happen again. He said that his jealousy and temper had been because he could never be sure that I belonged to him. Marriage would change that because he would no longer be insecure about our love.
My mother was not happy about this plan and wanted us to wait. She knew that I wasn’t completely over Steve. I had received a post card from Switzerland from Suzy. She and Steve were spending a week there in the mountains, skiing. At the end of the card, Steve signed his name and said “hello.” I cried for hours – that was supposed to have been my honeymoon. I wondered if I had made a horrible mistake by leaving Steve.
Rich, however, was on his most charming behavior and I became convinced that I had made the right decision. He bought a beautiful quadruplex as an investment. We would live in one of the apartments and he would lease the others. He put me in charge of decorating and the budget was unlimited. He also bought a boat so that we could go skiing at the lake, which we loved to do when we first met.
I gave in and agreed to get married right away. We had a small ceremony at the church where my parents and I were members. I started the decorating project, Rich was painting the outside of the building, and for a few weeks we were extremely happy. One day I was helping him paint the banisters on the porch upstairs and suddenly he started screaming at me saying that I couldn’t do anything right. The criticisms began again, and his mood swings got really bad. I never knew when he would blow up. I became very afraid of him.
One night when he was supposedly away on a trip, I woke up and there was the shadow of a man standing over the bed. I was terrified! Rich had returned, thinking that he would catch me in bed with someone. I didn’t want to tell my mother, her cancer had come back, and she was dying. I had to sneak visits with her when Rich was on trips for his job. My father and I had never been close and I had no one to help me.
Mom died on the 23rd of February. My life took a downward spin, I didn’t care what happened anymore and I started drinking with Rich. This seemed to make him happy. One of his criticisms was that I didn’t drink and that I was “no fun.” The alcohol made my life bearable, I thought. It also kept me from feeling the pain of losing my beloved mother and friend. However, I started having black-outs and would wake up in the morning with bruises, and one time when I was having a doctor’s check up, she asked me if I had been raped.
I finally came out of the daze and decided to enroll at the University to get my teacher’s certificate. I had a Master’s but to teach in High School the certificate was needed. I taught in High School for two years when Walton and I were married but with an emergency certificate. I had never completed all the courses needed.
This decision changed the course of my life because I was no longer held captive by Rich. One of my teachers could sense that something was terribly wrong, and I was able to tell him about my predicament. He recommended that I see Jerry, a friend of his who was a counselor. Rich did not like this idea and would not go with me. One day during a counseling session Rich crashed the session, and told my counselor that he needed to fix this Brazilian wife of his. He sat there and told Jerry about everything that was wrong with me. Jerry tried to reason with him.
He then started yelling and accused us of having an affair. Jerry had already figured out that Rich was dangerous but this encounter confirmed his belief. He told me that I needed to find a way to leave my husband. I didn’t know how to accomplish this and didn’t want a second divorce. I blamed myself for not being able to make Rich happy. What was wrong with me? Why was I always walking on eggs trying to please him and failing? Jerry tried to help me figure out what my problem was.
He said that due to my upbringing in Brazil, with my parents as missionaries, I had the desire to help others. Instead of picking the “prince” to marry, I was choosing the “frog” and trying turn him into the prince through my love.
While I was taking classes for my teacher’s certificate, I found out that Portuguese was taught at the University, but had very few students. I had started a successful program at the University where I earned my Masters in Portuguese and Spanish. I set up an interview with the Chair of the Language Department and told him about my experience at the former University. I asked him to give me a one year appointment so I could prove that I could get students into the program. He did, and I delivered on my promise. A year later I was offered a full-time position teaching Portuguese and Spanish.
I was in love with my job and Rich had bought another property, this time a duplex and we moved into one of the two units. It was really beautiful. Rich was travelling a lot now so at least during those times I got a break from his temper.
I made friends with another teacher, Kent, who was engaged to a girl in Brazil. When Rich was out of town, we would spend a lot of time together. We were just friends but I needed a close friend who would watch after me.
One night, Rich was gone on a trip, and I was recovering from a tonsillectomy. Kent was worried about my being alone at the new place and said that he would call that evening. Suddenly around 7 p.m. the door flew open and Rich was standing there. I knew Kent was going to call, so when Rich went out to walk the dog, I picked up the phone to call Kent and tell him my husband was home. Rich saw me through the window and stormed in. I instinctively hung up the phone which made me look guilty. I thought Rich was going to kill me he was in such a rage.
Thankfully he called my father and told him to come and pick up his “whore of a daughter.” Dad told him not to lay a finger on me and that he would be right over. That was the end of the marriage. Dad insisted that I file for a divorce and two months later it was over. I left with only my belongings and the divorce was simple. However I was not rid of Rich.
The stalking began and I had to move each time that he would find me. Dad and I knew where to put each box in the car and get out fast. I believed that one day Rich would kill me. Then I heard the news that Rich had gone sailing in rough waters and fallen off the boat. There was a search going on for his body. Amazingly, a week later a friend of mine was out on the lake with her boyfriend and they saw a body floating in the water. It turned out to be Rich.
A service with a closed coffin was held on Halloween night. There were only a couple of people there, and I had the feeling that Rich was going to appear, laughing at us, and that they had found the wrong body. It was a very strange and eerie night which I will never forget.
I dedicate the song Ouça – Listen to Rich.
Images by “Google Images.”