• Carol Hand
  • A Story and a Struggle Between Writer's Needs and Reader's Needs
A Story and a Struggle Between Writer's Needs and Reader's Needs
Written by
Carol Hand
May 2012
Written by
Carol Hand
May 2012

I was 20 years old, and living with a boyfriend. I feel comfortable writing about this boyfriend, Rick, since my experience living with him is ancient history. I was just a stupid kid when I moved in with him. I was 18 and butting heads with my dad when I left home.




When we first started living together, Rick only drank on the weekends. Over time, he became a daily drinker, and not just a beer or two after work to relax. He got to where he was drinking an entire 12-pack of Budweiser by himself nightly. On the weekends, you could almost double that amount. He got to were he was drinking so much and so often that I cringed every-time I heard the  clack fizz release sound the beer can made when he opened one. He was a pain in the ass when he was sober and even more so when he was drunk. Everyone in his life commended me for putting up with him, while everyone in my life was wondering why the heck I stayed with him. Again, I was young, dumb, and didn't know what to do. Maybe I kept thinking things would change. What I have learned from my bad experience with this man, and my subsequent failed marriage with the father of my children is that if someone has a drinking problem or any other type of hang-up, they have to want to change, they have to do the work themselves to change. No matter what you say, or how long you keep hoping for change, it's not going to come until that person recognizes they have a problem and they want to change. 




The man never laid a hand on me. However, towards the end, he started to throw things, and once even lunged at me. He was so drunk though that he fell into the tv cabinet rather than do any harm to me. It was his words and his behavior that broke me down.




One night, like many before, Rick had drank himself into a mean streak. Many times I would go to the store, in another room, or take a shower, and pray, "God, I just pray that he passes out so I don't have to deal with this tonight." A lot of times he would pass out, and I was thankful for that. This particular night he didn't pass out, and the conversation we had brought me to my senses that this man was not the man I should be with in any way, shape, or form. Somehow we got on the topic of religion. I am christian, he was not. He didn't believe in God at all. For that reason alone, I don't know why I was involved with him. Anyhow,the peak of the conversation was him waving his middle finger in the air saying, "F*** God" and waving it downward saying, "F**** the devil. I don't believe in any of that bullshit. And you... you're nothing but a stupid, Jesus loving bitch."




You know what I saw in him at the moment? Nothing but evil. I saw the devil in him. I went and took a shower, an excuse to get away from him. That night in the shower, I prayed from the depths of my soul with more feeling and meaning than ever before. I prayed, "Heavenly Father, please help me in one of two ways. I pray that this man is passed out by the time I get out of this shower, so I don't have to face this anymore tonight, or PLEASE, Dear Lord, PLEASE give me the strength to walk away from this man tonight!"




When I came out of the bathroom, he was still awake, and he was still wanting to bash me verbally. I remembered what I had just prayed moments ago in the shower. I said, "I don't have to put up with this. I am leaving." He didn't stop me. He actually told me to not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out. I spent little time thinking what I wanted or needed to put in my car that night. It was simple. I needed to leave, and I needed to do it as soon as possible. That night I packed a duffel bag with one pair of work uniforms, a pair of regular clothes, a hair brush, and a pair of sneakers. That was it. It took me all of two minutes, and I was out the door.I felt relief as peeled out of the apartment complex and calmed by the cool air on my face as I drove down the freeway.




Where did I go? The same place I left when I was 18. The same place I went two times before when he was acting like a psycho. I went home. I don't know what time it was when I got to my mom and dad's house, but I'm guessing it was after mid-night. My dad worked nights at the time and would arrive home around 2 or 3 in the morning. These were the days before everyone and their brother carried cell phones, so my dad would be driving up and see my 1977 Chevy El Camino in the driveway and he would know. He would know something happened.



As expected, around 2 or 3 in the morning, my dad opened my bedroom door, and got me up, "What happened Carol???" Unlike the two times before, I didn't skim the details. I told him all about how drunk he was, and the things he was saying. My dad pacing the floor said, "You are not going back. This is it, right Carol?" I said, "Yes, this is it. I can't put up with it anymore, and I certainly cannot be with someone who blasts something so deeply ingrained in my identity - my faith in God."



The next day Rick called, telling me he was just drunk the night before and was talking out of his ass, like that was an acceptable excuse.... I went back alright. I went back while he was at work one day and moved all my stuff out. Over the next year, I would hear word about him occasionally. Our families knew each other way back when both our sets of grandparents lived on the same street. Anyhow, what I would hear was unbelievable. I had heard that he had lost his job and hit rock bottom. I heard that he accepted Jesus as his Savior. I heard that he moved out of the crummy apartment and into a house and got a better job. It was unbelievable. I had moved on with my life, and was happy to hear he had turned his life around.




Unfortunately, I don't think he ever got the help he needed to address his inner demons. One day I got a call from my mom, who had heard through another family member that Rick had shot and killed himself. Knowing his psychotically bad anger issues, and learning how it all went down disturbed me to say the least. He was living next door to his grandmother. He had just been dumped by another girlfriend, and had been drinking. He called his grandmother. Mind you they lived next door to one another, but he called. He called and drunkenly blamed his grandmother for everything that had went wrong in his life, including his and I's break-up. The reason he would potentially blame her is a whole other story. For now, it's enough to say that he was drunk, angry, blamed all his life failures on his grandmother. She was his biggest supporter, she loved him so much. He had to know how much she loved him. How could he do this to her?




He shot himself in the head with a hand-gun after his phone rant, after saying goodbye, but before hanging up the phone. His grandmother heard the shot, and she and her grown son that lived with her ran over to his house, but it was too late. They found him laying in a pool of blood. I can't imagine the pain his grandmother endured. However, I got the sense that she understood that he had inner demons, that he had something going on with him that was deeper than a drinking problem. His grandmother told me that he looked peaceful when she got to him. She must had been horrified, but at the same time, she said he looked at peace.




I walked around stunned for a week or so. I couldn't help but think, if that man was sick enough to kill himself while not only on the phone with his grandmother, but after putting all his failures on her, he was sick enough that had I stayed with him, he could have brought me down with him. It's not a stretch to think it.




God answered my prayer the night I left him. He didn't let Rick pass out. He allowed me to be faced with a difficult situation and blessed me with the strength to stand up and leave.




This is real life stuff that I almost never talk about the details, let alone write them for all to see. As I have mentioned in the past, I want to write to help other women. I want to help some teenager or adult to learn from my mistakes and see that they are so precious and deserve so much more. I've been through two long term relationships that in the end I walked away from because they became unhealthy. I've struggled and overcome my own issues with why I went through it twice, and how I dealt with it very poorly the second time. I want to pass on some knowledge I gained from those experiences.




However, a discussion that took place during a training I participated in this last week has had me thinking about the differences between a writer's needs and a reader's needs. I have needs as a writer. I write because it heals. I write because it's my story and I am proud of how I persevered and how it's shaped me into a stronger, bigger, better person.




How do I separate my writer's needs from a reader's needs? If I want to write to help others, I can't just carry on and on about my story. As a reader, I am looking for information, a reason to care, a reason to keep reading. If I was walking the aisles of the bookstore in search of inspiration and information, I would need more than just a story someone wrote that is similar to what I experienced. I would need hope. I would need it broke into small pieces of story mixed with subheadings within chapters with bits of concrete information, quotes, and statistics, or other type of stuff that draws me in and gives me hope. That's just how I am. I pick up a book that is big dense blocks of text and I am re-shelving it, and moving on to the next. Not always, but it's a typical practice of mine at the bookstore. I am looking for what stands out, what inspires me, what intrigues me. If I don't find that quickly, the book goes back on the shelf.




I suppose the story of Rick above was a 'writer's need' piece of text and not a 'reader's need'. It was my personal need to share one of my life stories. I don't have a confidant in my life right now that would want to hear me tell the bad side of my life story except for my counselor I only see occasionally now and even then time is limited. I needed to write it, I needed to share it. How do I use what I've learned from my experiences to write for my reader's needs? How to I take my shoes off, and put on the shoes of someone who would 'need' to hear my story to gain some inspiration and strength that they too can do what I did and walk out and become better and stronger because of it?




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