Early On - with edits

The problem with that whole scenario, of course, was that Old Ghost wasn’t a very nice man, after all. Especially toward women. Our nearly three years together were wrought with physical, mental and emotional abuse. Old Ghost would leave our apartment for days on end, leaving no money for food, much less other bills.  Being the hungry, entrepreneurial person that I am, I was then compelled to agree to help him start a business.  So, using my credit – we opened a merchant account and a few credit cards. I earnestly helped him write and publish a “Guide to Betting Horses,” along with advertisements in the local newspaper. He was very adept at keeping any other business ventures he was working on to himself.  Sometime toward the end of our relationship, I realized that he and a friend had put together a rentals scam – in which you place an ad to rent a house, collect deposits and application fees, from everyone, and then disappear – only to let the applicants find out that A) 10 people showed up to move in at the same time, and/or B) someone was already living there, as you never owned the property in the first place. By the time that I found this out, the fear I felt about him, about the relationship was very real. It behooved me to keep my mouth shut, until I could find a way out.

Someone might wonder where my parents were during all of this. Trust me, I wondered as well. But, there was far too much history, and pride, and a desire to break free from my childhood as well, that it didn’t occur to me to be more forthcoming, to ask for help, to trust them – indeed, it’s exactly what Old Ghosts count on.

The brutality didn’t begin right away. From what I understand about abusive relationships, it never does. There’s a method to an abuser’s madness. Handed down from generation to generation, I suspect, but it’s certainly not fucking rocket science. They do it unconsciously perhaps, or perhaps it’s with perfect intent.  Our arguments were intense. I always used logic and reason, and Old Ghost hated that.

Old Ghost. Obviously not his name…so let’s just call him “Phil.”

Phil was a lanky sort. 6 foot even, with auburn hair, green/brown eyes and prominent nose. His skin color was quite ruddy, fairly typical of someone of Native American decent. Choctaw, I think, or was it Cherokee?  He seemed both proud of his heritage, yet repulsed by it.  There was a simmering anger there, but I was too naïve to think it anything but good ol’ fashioned Rock and Roll anarchy. Something of which I felt myself: Rebel through music and art! My idea of “sticking it to the man” was skipping school, running away from home, dating a man 14 years my senior and piercing my ears (twice). It was pretty far removed from the good girl cheerleader act, after all. Anytime I felt myself edging toward a place of no return however, with drugs or alcohol or sex, my instincts kicked in – and I would retreat.  It’s what made me both a friend and an enemy to my peers. I never got in trouble for anything, cause I never crossed that line – but I certainly watched others do it.  And if I liked you, I argued with you about it. And if I didn’t like you, I smiled and waved and watched with curiosity as you cross your own line.

I think Phil was like that. He didn’t drink, but certainly watched others do so to excess. He talked about doing drugs, but I’d only ever seen him smoke a joint. His other vice was sex, obviously. He carried around this stack of European pornography. The gross stuff. The pissing and the shitting and weirdos of every shape and size and color, doing IT in the most awkward, nasty fashion. I looked at the magazines once or twice, and although I was completely disgusted, I believed him when he said they were collector’s items. I remember shrugging and shaking my head. I was fucking Nineteen. Remember that. I was thinking that this was my awakening to the real world, to sex, to growing up and breaking free from my family’s abuse – It didn’t occur to me that he was treating me disrespectfully. It didn’t occur to me that he was “grooming” me, or trying to.  It didn’t occur to me that I couldn’t fulfill every dream that I wanted to pursue.  And to be honest, I got a little thrill at surprising him, upsetting his preconceived ideas. I was smarter, stronger, and more willful than he expected. And I fucking loved that.

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