Back when I was in college in another state ("back in the Dark Ages", as my kids like to tease), an all-male organization on campus that I had a lot of friends in asked me to be one of their two "sweethearts". As their way of thanking us for the many duties we performed for the organization throughout the year, it was customary for the sweethearts to be "presented" (honored) at a formal ball near the end of each spring term.
About 2 weeks before I was to be presented at the ball, the other sweetheart for our group called to ask me who my escort would be. I told her I didn't have a date and had planned on just going to the ball by myself, since I was an independent sort. (It was not unusual for me to be the only female in many of my classes, for example, and at the time I was carrying two very different majors despite having been told by the heads of both departments that they couldn't be combined.) The other sweetheart informed me that I had to have an official escort whose name would be printed in the evening's program, and she asked if I minded if she arranged something for me with one of the members who also needed a date. I told her that would be fine, since I was friends with all the guys and knew I'd be hanging around with all of them at the dance anyway.
Soon after this, one of the guys in the organization called and offered to be my escort for the ball. I thanked him for being willing to do this, and we decided on what time he would pick me up.
Because it was an arranged date, I was surprised when my escort presented me with some beautiful flowers. I remember little about the ball itself, other than being presented with a red rose and an engraved silver tray during the program and just having fun hanging out. In fact, my most vivid memory of the entire evening is of something that happened about 20 minutes before midnight, when the dance was scheduled to end: my escort and I were out in the middle of the dance floor when one of the other dancers, a visiting professor from another college, suddenly collapsed from what was later determined to be a massive heart attack. Despite immediate CPR and the quick arrival of emergency personnel, it was very apparent that this man was already gone when he was carried out, which certainly brought what had been a very nice evening to a sudden end. My escort took me straight back to my dorm.
I remained friends with the other sweetheart and all the guys in the organization until graduation, when we each went our separate ways. As the years went by, I pretty much forgot about the one and only time I'd played Cinderella at the ball, but of course I would not have included this story here if there wasn't more to it (and it's probably not what you think!). As has happened to me so often in recent years, one day out of the blue I suddenly obtained additional information about something I'd always taken at face value that caused me to see it in an entirely different light.
My eye-opening occurred well after my husband had left and during my last visit to my father's house in the same state where I'd gone to college. A sibling of mine and I were attending a public performance in a major theater downtown in the large city where my father and stepmother live. We had just taken our seats when I suddenly spotted the guy who'd escorted me to the ball all those years ago taking a seat with a group of what were obviously good friends of his 5 or 6 rows in front of me.
I immediately pointed him out to my sibling, explained who he was and how I knew him, and marveled that I was able to recognize him after so many years. My sibling immediately began looking at me so strangely that I realized something was very wrong, so I asked what was going on and was told, "Don't you know who he is?" I assured my sibling that I did know him and that I even remembered his name. My sibling then proceeded to inform me that my former escort happened to be the son of a major organized crime boss in the city, that my family had been aware he'd escorted me to the dance that evening, and that they'd been chuckling among themselves for years about my not having a clue about having been set up.
As you can imagine, finding out I'd been treated like this was extremely upsetting. It also caused me to realize for the first time that mine was not the loving family I'd always believed they were and that various things I'd often been confused about could have explanations that were very hard for me to believe, much less accept. This slow, painful examination process eventually culminated in the confrontation with my father and stepmother detailed previously here in my 6/29/09 posting entitled "Family Business".
What sort of family would deliberately set up a date for their unknowing daughter/sibling with the son of a known organized crime figure as a secret joke and then laugh about it for years among themselves? The same sort of family who would secretly arrange a marriage for that same daughter/sibling/cousin/niece for the sole purpose of cementing certain secret business arrangements and relationships, all the while concealing the truth from her because they knew her well enough to realize she would never agree to the match if she found out the truth.
It's been unbelievably hard to find out that I've been victimized repeatedly since my marriage ended. It's been even harder to discover that the marriage I believed was loving was a lie from the start. It's been harder still to realize that my own family, the people I've loved and respected the most in my life other than my children, have been blatantly victimizing and using me for years. Hardest of all has been the discovery that every single person, organization, and agency, both public and private, I've turned to for protection and/or help with stopping the victimization of myself and my children has turned me away (including public agencies like the U.S. DOJ that are specifically charged with keeping innocent people safe from organized crime and preventing large-scale civil rights violations).
I'm now wondering if I will ever be able to find out what it's like to be free from being victimized, since my ex- brags about keeping me under illegal surveillance and harassing me wherever I go. It's very clear that my ex-husband and his associates (including my family) are having way too much fun openly and repeatedly victimizing me to ever stop on their own, and as my ex-husband's ugly and false comments all over this blog show, he's not at all worried about anyone making him and his friends stop. Thank heaven for my lifelong strong religious faith, my strength, my perseverance, and my great kids! These, plus my firm belief that there really are good, decent people in the world (yes, even lawyers!) all continue to give me the hope of finding some relief and freedom someday.
At this point, you might find it helpful to go back and read or re-read the very first post on this blog entitled "My Story" and the later post entitled "Illegal Surveillance Summary".