Falling in love for the first time with a young, passionate woman who loved me back was a wonderful, new phase of my life.
Before falling in love, I constantly witnessed the closeness of couples around me on a regular basis but I never understood what they had.
But when it finally happened, I at last understood what it was all about. And I gave myself to it completely.
During the first few months of our relationship, we were white hot lovers who couldn’t bear to spend one moment apart; the yearning for each other was just too much to bear.
She was my North Star and every night after work, I followed her warm light home.
We even wrote letters to one another on days we couldn’t see each other, and our relationship blossomed more than ever.
Then came another big change.
My parents decided that they were ready to move from our home of 13 years in Spring Valley to a smaller, cozier home in nearby Chula Vista. It was closer to my dad’s job and was conclusive to taking care of my Grandma Hyatt, who was in her early 80’s and ready to leave the responsibility of her old home and move in with them.
I loved living in our house in Spring Valley because I had grown up there and it was the only home I had ever known.
That house was where I developed my love for gardening from our large flower garden, developed my passion for art from the wonderful sunsets I watched from our patio and fed my desire for knowledge in my room, my safe haven, I had known and loved since childhood.
It was extremely hard to leave for another home, in a different area, away from everything I knew and loved.
On my final night there, as we packed the final box and drove away from the cold dark shell that was our old house, my Mom and I cried because it was almost as if, symbolically one phase of life was closing, and another was opening.
But it didn’t take long to move beyond the sadness of moving from my old house and old life, to a new house and a new life because of my engagement to Becky and future wedding.
By this time I had already told my parents that I loved Becky and that we wanted to get married. They supported me in anything I did and told me that they were eager to welcome her into the family.
Our wedding plans sped up quickly as Becky and her mother were making wedding plans, trying on wedding dresses, contacting caterers, sending out invitations, making travel plans with relatives while all I had to do was buy the rings, rent a tux and show up for the ceremony.
Every day, the first things I was asked from Becky and her mother when I went over to her house was what I thought about this cake and that cake, how many people I wanted to invite and did I rent a tux?
I quickly realized that Becky, like most young women, had planned for her wedding all of her life and she wanted every detail like the flowers, brides maids gowns, wedding dress and cake to be very special.
I was ready for marriage but at the same time began to feel rushed by her parents who were pushing for an early wedding, even though I originally wanted for us to be engaged for one year.
Her parent’s philosophy was, “If two people really love each other, why should they wait to get married when God wants them to be together?”
When we got engaged I wanted our engagement to be for one year because I wanted to really wanted to fell confident about my job, find an apartment and save money for our future so that I could have a life ready for her once we were together.
Her parents told us that they were married after only dating for a few short months and even though they had little to no money throughout their lives and been on the verge of homelessness at times they always had their love to keep them together.
I felt differently than her parents and wanted to make sure I was ready financially for marriage and feeling rushed into marriage became very unsettling to me.
My relationship with Becky and her family was good, but their relationship with my parents and other people in the church quickly fell apart within a few months after Fred took over as pastor of the church.
Fred, was a pastor with a very “old fashioned” world view and demanded that all aspects of life should follow the Bible. This included how women dressed, wore their hair, did their makeup, performed jobs, treated their children, and handled their family life etc. This was something that the church elders claimed they didn’t know about him before he started as pastor.
His beliefs caused everyone in the church to get upset because Fred wanted to change every aspect of the congregation’s life to follow his world view.
Fred was turning into a cult leader before my very eyes but I couldn’t see it because I was in love with his daughter. And being an idealist, I though all of the problems Fred was causing wouldn’t affect Becky and I once we were married.
How wrong I was.
I quickly realized that Becky would follow her father with blind devotion and never question him on anything. No matter how hard I tried to convince her that she could make up her own mind and do what she wanted with her life she never agreed with me.
Becky’s beliefs included sex without birth control, having many children like her mother, residing in a rural area and shunning modern society.
“That’s not what I want in life,” I told her one night when we were talking, outside, alone.
“I’m from California, my family is here and our life is going to be here. I want to live here, build a life and raise a family.” I said.
Fred was contemplating what would happen if he was forced to leave the church because of his radical beliefs and Becky wanted us to follow her parents like sheep once we were married.
She didn’t agree with my goals and ambitions and we started to fight about what each of us wanted and we explored our core values to see if they matched the vision we had for our life together.
We both had the same faith, love of God, devotion to family but she wanted the traditions her father raised her on while I craved modernity.
I almost ended our relationship a few times but she always drew me back. Then after making up with her we felt like we could conquer any barrier in our relationship if we were together.
We were in our own little world and oblivious to what Fred was doing to destroy the church and ruin people’s lives.
My parents were not happy with what Fred was doing to destroy the church and they became increasingly concerned as I spent more time with Becky at her house. They wondered if I was getting brainwashed by Fred’s way of thinking while I was deeply in love with his daughter.
I assured my parents and everyone who cared to listen that, “I’m my own man! And nobody is going to brainwash me!” Even though I said this I didn’t realize that the power of love that I had for Becky and the desire I had to be with her would make me turn my back on everything I had known and loved.
As things got worse in the church Fred and his family began to “shun” or turn their backs on members of the congregation that he was supposed to be the spiritual leader of. My parents were also “shunned” by Fred and his family because my mom and dad didn’t want to adhere to Fred’s backward way of thinking. They told me what was Fred was doing in the church, and how they were being treated by him and his family and I didn’t want to believe it.
After a few months as pastor, the elders asked Fred to leave the church because the congregation was preparing to split up and the elders didn’t want that to happen.
One night after I had dinner with his family, I was talking with Becky about our marriage plans, in her living room, when Fred came in and told us the news that he would no longer be pastor of the church.
He made it sound like he was fired from his job and left with nothing to live on, when in reality, the elders had agreed to pay him his salary for the remainder of the year, and continue to let him live in the home that they had bought for his family only a few months before, while Fred looked for work and decided what he wanted to do next.
Fred had no desire to look for work and get a real world job while he was living off the salary the church was paying him. His desire was to start his own “church” right from the comfort of his own home and hopefully attract people who believed like him.
What I didn’t realize was, now that Fred would have his own “church” and didn’t have to answer to elders or have anyone question his authority he essentially became a full blown cult leader.
Of course I didn’t see him as a cult leader at the time because I was in love with his daughter and my rationality was clouded so I decided to leave the only church I had ever known and follow Fred’s leadership.
This disappointed my parents because I had always followed in their footsteps and for the first time, I went in a different direction then them.
My parents, friends and relatives tried to get me to see that I was following a blatant cult leader and that I was slowly being brainwashed by him but I didn’t see it that way.
This was a scary decision for me. But it was also a very liberating one because I was making a real “grownup” decision and hoped that it was the right one to make.
Despite the tribulation surrounding us, my relationship with Becky only got more intense. I experienced first hand how trying times bring couples together. So naturally our hunger for each other became hotter than ever and we made love whenever we could be alone from her parents prying eyes.
As I fell for her more and more and became part of her family, I slowly gave up on my own dreams and artistic endeavors because I didn’t have any time for art or writing because I was always with her and I didn’t see how my artistic goals would fit in to our plans once we were married.
Becky wanted to get pregnant and have children right after we were married and I couldn’t see how I could pursue my creative goals when I would have a wife and family of my own to support.
Although our relationship was heating up our marriage plans were slowing down.
Fred’s “church” wasn’t getting any interest or support from anyone in San Diego and as his salary from his brief stint as pastor was coming to an end he and his wife began to search for homes in cheaper parts of the country. Their plans took precedence over our marriage plans and we were left in “limbo” as they decided what they wanted to do next.
The question they asked me one night was, “would Becky and I go with them if they moved to another state to start a new life?”
I didn’t want to say no to them if going with them was their only condition to letting me marry Becky so I told them that once we were married we would move with them wherever they went.
This excited Becky’s parents and drew Fred closer to me as a friend and confidant than ever before because after he lost his job as pastor at the church he had no friends in California he trusted.
As Fred’s salary from his job at the church began to dwindle and his home church drew no interest from the community he became increasingly withdrawn and manic depressive around his family.
Fred blamed my parents and everyone who was still worshiping at the church that had kicked him out for his problems and imminent financial troubles. On a nightly basis he lashed out at the world around him and called anyone evil, who didn’t agree with his way of seeing the world or teaching from the Bible.
I became increasingly alarmed with Fred’s psychotic behavior and cult leader view points and began to question the choice I was making to follow him and marry his daughter.
My inner turmoil was horrible because, every day, as I fought with my own inbred desire to be independent and free of Fred’s dominating behavior I was still deeply in love with Becky and my love for her stopped any actions to exercise my independent personality.
I wanted to stand up to Fred and tell him how I really felt about him but I also feared that if I did stand up to him he would end my relationship with Becky and forbid us from seeing each other ever again.
Even though Becky was 21 years old and I was 24, legal adults and able to make our own decisions, she was essentially “owned” by Fred and if I wanted a life with her I had to be his, “yes man” and “whipping boy” until we were married.
I thought that once Becky and I were married I would speak up for myself and not let Fred dominate me or control what Becky and I did with our lives.
My parents were deeply concerned about me and made their feelings known whenever I was around them at home. I told them that once Becky and I were married I would assert myself and we would live our own lives, separate from Fred and his family.
I wanted to be optimistic with my parents and project my usual aura of confidence around them but inwardly I didn’t believe my confidence or think that Fred would let Becky and I go, once we were married.
I knew that if I wanted to be true to myself, to be my own person and have a life with Becky, away from Fred and his dominating ways, I would have to fight for what I wanted……….
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