Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Power Game

People thought they were the perfect couple. He the big hitter in the financial world. She the little housewife and mother. He brought home the modestly big bucks. She tried not to spend them because it upset him so much. They had two golden children whom she ferried round to piano lessons, beavers, brownies, dancing, acting, tutoring, swimming. And then he came home when it was all over. And basked in their reflected glory.

He spent every evening locked away in his study, a room so sacrosanct it wasn't cleaned in 11 years, counting his money and dreaming of ways to make more. He would bring a bottle of wine or two up with him. Or he would be on the phone all night to colleagues. She would read to the children after their baths and put them to bed. Then she would watch TV. Alone. Till he got off the phone to come in and tell her all the wonderful things the colleagues had said about him. All conversation was about him.

She was lonely so she developed hobbies. Singing. Amateur dramatics. Sewing. Exercise. He did not ask about these nor share her interest in them. He counted his money and compliments instead.

He got a job offer in London. This would be a great way to build my career, he said. And she encouraged him. For she no longer had a career, having given it and her country up to be with him. Her home and children became her career. While he was in London she raised the children. He would come home at weekends, demand all homelife revolve around him for 48 hours, then return. She would breathe a sigh of relief when he left. But she was lonely. There was no conversation -- not with him nor anyone.

Then tragedy struck. He lost his job because his fund wasn't performing. He came home and immediately set about upsetting her domestic routine. Any routines she had with the children were overturned immediately by him without a second thought. He demeaned her and undermined her each and every day. She tried to smile through it but was so sad inside. He drank and drank and drank. The children would cry at night because they hated seeing their father like this. He kept getting turned down for jobs so they decided to buy a business. The first sale fell through when he inappropriately tried to contact employees. The second sale fell through as well. Secretly, she was relieved for she knew what life would be like running a business with him. It wouldn't be a partnership, but him making all the decisions and her making the tea.

Then someone old but new came into her life, and the Power Game began. She enjoyed the attention. She enjoyed finding someone she could converse with about anything. She allowed her imagination and fantasies to go wild. And unfortunately wrote a draft email about them. He found the draft email and behaved as though he'd found her in bed with someone else. He sent her sister an email exhorting her to make his wife behave. He behaved like a Victorian husband. And the stricter he was the more rebellious she became.

The Power Game soon took on a life of its own, neither he nor she thinking its conclusion through clearly. And her fascination with her newfound friend continued. She wanted to see him in the flesh, to talk about books and ideas. And her husband found out. He thought that spying on her would be the answer to their marital woes. Instead it flamed the fires of a foolish passion in her, a passion for privacy and freedom. The stricter he was, the more she struggled against the chains. He started to do strange things like send anonymous emails to her friends about her or steal her journal, read it and copy the pages. He put a keylogger on the computer to record each and every keystroke she made. He read her email and kept a diary of all her so-called bad behaviour. She found this diary and was outraged. He felt justified because of her long-distance friendship. He wrote her parents, her friends. He engaged their children in the battle against her. The more he fought to control her, the more she wanted out. Her friendship fell by the wayside, finally the victim of all the stress.

He started to used the money in the Power Game, warning her she would die in dire poverty if she left him. He wanted her back, he made that clear. But on his own controlling terms and without having to make any changes to his now very odd personality. He told her he had complete control over all the money, even that in her name, and there was nothing she could do. She went to the bank, who advised her otherwise. She took money out to pay her solicitor. He threatened her with an injunction.

He started to put around that she would get nothing, that he would get the house and the children because he had the moral upper hand. How could I have ever loved such a person, she thought. She despaired at losing her children and thought of drowning herself or slitting her wrists. But no, she thought, I can't do that. For then he wins the Power Game. And he cannot win.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Spy Who Thought He Loved Me

I keep thinking I must write more. And then something happens to zap my creativity. Suffice it to say that my life is pretty turbulent at the moment. And full of intrigue. Who knew I was married to a wannabe spy? Certainly not me. Or maybe it was all those detective stories he devoured as a boy. A sort of James Bond/Philip Marlowe wannabe.

And I'm Nancy Drew. Coming soon on www.powderroomgraffiti.com: an enlightening article on how to spy on your loved ones.