Paying it Knightly
By Patricia W. Fischer
In 1991, I had hit bottom.
I’d fallen for a guy who was the human equivalent of slime. Well that’s not fair to slime, but you get the point.
He had the three things I soon discovered was the trifecta of bad boyfriends:
No consistent job, a former drug problem, and a record.
And I fell for him…hard, so I did what any ignorant, starry-eyed girl would do. Got a place with him and put my name on the lease because his credit sucked so badly he didn’t qualify.
Why didn’t I run away screaming when I heard he had a record?
Because I thought I could save him, make him a better person, make him want to raise himself up and excel in life. I mean, wasn’t that what people did in the face of adversity? Rise up?
Nope, not someone who’d learned to live off wanting-to-only-see-the-best-in-people girls like me.
Fast forward six months later. The sweet period of our relationship had depleted, along with all the money in not only my bank account, but my college fund. I’d taken out a loan on my car to pay for the credit card bills he’d run up for the second time and I’d quit school.
Working two jobs waiting tables for 17 hours everyday, I’d prayed for him to come through (he’d been fired from his job a few months before). No such luck. He took advice from his crappy friend who told him to file unemployment instead of looking for another job. I mean looking for another job cut into his pot smoking time.
As he waited around for his benefits (he was denied), I tried to find some sort of way to deal with the nightmare I couldn’t seem to wake from and pay off the $20,000 worth of debt he’d so graciously helped me accumulate.
At one of my jobs, one of the waitresses suggested I pick up a great book by this new author, Jude Devereaux.
“It’s the coolest book,” she held up the book before placing it back in her purse. “I can’t stop reading it.”
A romance novel? I’m not sad and pathetic (well I was, but I obviously wasn’t ready to admit it), I don’t need no stinkin’ romance novel.
Yet, when I stood in line at the grocery store a few days later, I saw it.
A Knight in Shining Armor.
Counting up my tip money, I chose to forgo a few non-necessary items (beer) so I could buy that book.
For the next few nights, I sat up and read the rich story of a woman, Douglass Montgomery, and how she was stuck in a relationship she couldn’t figure out how to escape from.
I swear, Ms. Devereaux had to have been looking in my window. The character even had the same color hair as I did!
As soon as I had a moment in my day, I’d read. If I were in the bathroom at home, I’d read. I’d stay up late and read until the wee hours of the night until I’d finished it and discovered how
Douglas made her escape.
When I put the book down, I realized, I had to do something else because what I had happened so far wasn’t where I wanted to be in even a year. Looking at my sleeping, deadbeat boyfriend, I realized my life would never change unless I made it so.
Within a couple of weeks, I left.
I called my family for financial help and told them everything. Then, my mother said the two words I needed to hear. “Come home.”
A wave of relief washed over me and for the first time in a long time, I felt free until I had to confront him.
What did deadbeat do when I told him his paycheck was about to walk out the door? It wasn’t pretty or polite, but that’s another story.
I got out of there alive and in one piece, that’s the main point.
It took me three years to work myself out of debt. During that time, I worked up to three part-time jobs at a time and returned to school full-time. I earned my LVN (LPN) and within two years of that, I’d earned my RN.
You may be asking why I would write all this for a blog entry.
When we write and tell our stories, we’re hoping to string a bunch of words together that make sense, but what I think many authors can’t appreciate is what their stories can do for their readers.
They can broaden a child’s view of the world, encourage conversation, and yes, can help a woman save herself from a situation when she’s almost given up.
Ms. Devereaux wrote such a passionately strong and vivid story, I’ve gone back and read the book four times. Plus, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson: my assumption of those who read romance novels was horribly skewed. Romance readers want good stories and an escape from life for a little bit. They are passionate, intelligent, and fantastic people not sad and pathetic.
Now it’s 2012 and I can look back on that part of my life as the dark moment. Sink or swim and I swam and not only survived but excelled and promised one day, I’d write a good story too.
I can’t say my newest book, Worth the Weight, is going to save anyone or make the kind of impact Ms. Devereaux’s book did on my life, but my greatest wish is that it does give people something that A Knight in Shining Armor did to me…hope.
Hope to believe in yourself when all seems lost or too complicated.
Hope to appreciate what you’ve accomplished and what you can accomplish if you stop and take baby steps each day.
Or something more eloquent by a woman I greatly admire, Mother Teresa, “We want to create hope for the person ... we must give hope, always hope.”
Worth the Weight~~ November 14th, 2012