my life 4

(Continued from) 


younger.  But that day, as the wedding party entered the church, some people cried at the sheer beauty of the procession. 

Weirdly, when the ceremony was over and Peter and Anna had to sign the register in the church rectory, an intense sadness engulfed the bride.  She could not stop crying until they met the cheerful guests outside the church in a rainbow of colored confetti. The miniature bride was also crying because she said her shoes were hurting her toes.  

Only years later, Anna would remember the strange dream she had some time after she got engaged to Peter and was at her happiest with him.  She didn’t know Jesus, and so, she didn’t think much of it at the time because she could not connect the dream to Peter.  In the dream she was laying in the arms of an old man she did not know, and she was the unhappiest woman in the whole world. 


Once the couple had moved into their own home after the wedding, his parents thrashed a highway to their door, visiting at any hour and up to five times a day over weekends.  The fact that the couple had found a place some distance away in the country close to Anna’s parents, did not deter the Manson’s overbearing visits in any way. 

One Sunday morning, Charles and Zeena ‘caught’ Peter and his wife sleeping late.  Charles, drunk by nine in the morning, nearly blew his top, screaming how “lazy, useless, senseless” and whatever else low down and dirty “the two of them are!”  Without mincing words, he scolded Peter for being “(a swearword for a prostitute’s genitals) struck!”  He was accusing Anna of prostitution.  She was too dumbfounded to say a word, while Peter remained his own ‘passive’ self. 

This was not the first or the last time this malicious man and his hypocritical wife would try to turn Peter’s innocent wife into something inhumane and detestable.  Anna did not know it then, but Charles and Zeena were still shouting everywhere behind her  back that Anna is a whore.  No matter how deeply this wounded her, Peter kept on ignoring the situation.  As if bewitched, or actually trauma bonded by the constant abuse of his parents, (she always excused Peter and overlooked his role in in all,) Anna tolerated this, as well as the countless other assaults on their characters, marriage, intelligence, privacy, and lives in general.  Those two emotional murderers were continually committing crimen injuria or character assassination on her, but through misconceived tolerance, Anna, and supposedly Peter too, didn’t realize what they were actually doing, (Mt. 18:15-20.) 

As usual, that morning, Zeena had either no say in the matter, or Charles’ beastly rampage did not concern her in the least.  But it was more likely that she was supporting him wholeheartedly.  As all so-called ‘passive’ aggressive abusers, she was executing her evil in secret.  She was instigating Charles on the sly; nagging and pushing him into fits of rage by complaining unceasingly; tirelessly focusing on trivial matters, and twisting important facts. 

Even more horrendously, Peter failed every time to protect his bride and himself against Charles’ onslaughts, while Anna’s faint complaints never reached either Peter or his parents’ ignoring ears.  As such cowardice behavior seemed to be normal for Peter, Anna accepted that Charles and Zeena were simply two unchangeable, foul-mouthed individuals.  They taught Peter to talk disgustingly too, and this escalated when he indulged in drinking parties with them over weekends.  In the beginning, Anna joined in some of their swearwords but as time went by, she began to detest their verbal and other filth, and especially their foul, backhanded pollution of her life.  She did not realize that this filthy lifestyle would escalate as they, and Peter too, became older. 


Some time later, while they were still furnishing their home, Peter got a bargain from someone at work.  He could buy a working fridge and washing machine for only R45.00!  This sounds like the price of a chocolate bar today, but 49 years ago, as an engineering apprentice, Peter scarcely owned that amount per week with overtime.  Nevertheless, he believed this was a bargain and unwisely, borrowed the money from his parents to pay the man.  A few days later, during one of his usual arguments with Peter, Charles Manson commanded Zeena in the middle of the night to drive all the way to the couple’s home to fetch his R45.00 – and to bring back his gas lamp, which Peter had borrowed from him. 

That night, Zeena waited unashamed in the doorway until Peter, seemingly embarrassed, had gone to wake Anna’s parents to borrow the money from them.  Peter and Anna were not in the habit of borrowing money or anything else, but after that humiliating episode, they tried to steer clear of financial transactions with Peter’s parents. 



Charles and Zeena always brought their liquor with them when they came to visit and Peter always got drunk with them.  He also pitched in his own stash of booze.   Anna moaned, but as usual, Peter and his parents simply ignored her protests. 

Once, Zeena actually had the audacity to tell Anna to her face, “Shut up you sewn-on rag; you do not buy the booze!”

Supposedly “forcing” the shameless ex-girlfriend endlessly on Peter, the parents soon began to bring  Gwen on their visits to Peter and Anna’s home.  Undoubtedly, Peter felt flattered and consented by not saying a word.  The naïve Anna couldn’t convince herself that Peter would still be ‘into’ this woman, and that it was an arrangement between the four of them to get rid of her.  Anna greeted her with a kiss and treated her kindly to hide her humiliation.  They were all playing with fire, but only the gullible Anna got burnt in the end. 

Once, when they brought Gwen for another visit, Charles and Zeena insisted that Peter and Anna join them to visit Gwen’s parents.  Without objection, Peter drove them there in his car and Anna kept on being nice to them all.  She was not willing to let anyone know how these unprecedented abuses of her marriage to Peter were degrading her; this time, in her own home, and even by parading her before strangers such as Gwen’s parents. 

Once, Charles, Zeena and Gwen, (Anna always omitted Peter’s part by turning a blind eye to the facts, in order to accept his lame excuses and silly “explanations,”) nearly succeeded in crushing her engagement to Peter.  Now, they were arrogantly invading her home with this woman and openly threatening her marriage to Peter!  Naive as she was, she could not anticipate the distressing price she would have to pay for submissively allowing this ceaseless assault on her personhood, marriage, life, and home.  She believed Peter when he said he felt nothing for Gwen and he supposedly never talked to her.  Yet, she knew his silence made it clear that Gwen was welcome to visit with his parents. 

During the following year, still without any resistance from Peter, his parents’ barefaced abuse escalated.  Anna never consciously suspected he might have been supporting them to bring Gwen into their lives because he was “visiting” her behind Anna’s back, as he never really broke up with her in the first place.  She kept on objecting to Peter while he kept on acting as if he were deaf.  Still, it was the disillusioned Anna who did everything in her power to make his parents feel at home during their constant, disrupting visits.  As all their other guests, she treated them at her table and in her home with everything warm, honest, and homemade.  Gullibly, she shared all her family and friends with them too

Callously, her parents-in-law repaid her kindness and hospitality by not missing a single chance to make it plain that they tolerated her only for Peter’s sake.  They constantly used exclusive remarks like, “We are going to visit Peter.  We were at Peter’s yesterday.  Peter has a lovely home..  Peter works very hard…  We’re having dinner with Peter on Sunday...”  


During their second year of marriage, Zeena especially, dealt Anna another crippling blow.  Peter’s real role in it all remains covered to this day.  As usual, Anna only had the information he chose to gave her.  He only allowed her to see everything the way he wanted her to perceive it, no matter how inhumane and unacceptable the circumstances were. 

Charles Manson’s drinking problem was degrading him to a bedridden drunkard, who made all kinds of excuses to stay off work.  He began to withdraw from society, but Zeena, still in control of her weekend binging, attended everything where Peter was concerned as far as possible. 

Then, Peter had to go to hospital for a sinus operation.  Anna did not have transport to visit him until that evening, when her parents took her to the hospital.  When they turned the corner to his ward, Anna’s feet became stone; halting her in her tracks.  Zeena was standing next to his bed.  She was her old dressed-up self, laughing cheerfully with Gwen, who sat on the other side of his bed.  While Anna could not be with her husband that day, Gwen spent the whole day at his side. 

Charles Manson did not come to visit Peter.  Everyone knew he was drunk in bed and did not ask about him.  He had begun to stay off work, losing one job after another, boozing heavily during the week as well. 

Anna’s parents fell into silence after they greeted Peter and the two women. 

Anna tried to smile but her lips remained unwilling.  Her tongue felt swollen and her mouth was too dry to say anything.  Zeena and Gwen continued to joke with Peter.  Gwen told enthusiastically how she helped Peter, groggy from the anesthesia, to, among other things, pick up his cigarettes when he was brought out of theatre.  While Peter seemed oblivious to the cruelty, which his ‘passivity’ was committing against his young wife, Zeena laughed loudly at all Gwen’s amusing recollections of what he did while recovering from the effects of the anesthesia. 

How did Gwen know Peter was in hospital, was the first sane question that eventually entered the conversation. 

It was pure coincidence, of course!  Allegedly, Gwen’s sister was in another ward and Gwen accidentally bumped into Peter! It never struck Anna that, if her sister were really in the hospital, how did she ‘bump’ into Peter and why was she sitting with Peter the whole day; even during visiting hours?  Strangely, nobody seemed to care about such important details.  So, Anna again kept quiet to hide her hurt, humiliation, and anger.  But deep down, she knew something ugly was playing out here.  Something that was going on behind her back all the time.  Something she did not want to think about. 

Anna believed Zeena, that venomous black snake, was behind it all.  She chose not to accept the fact that Peter was pleasantly participating in the whole scheme of things as the chief role player.  Conveniently, someone else was always to blame while he secretly reaped most of the benefits.  Anna did not realize that, since the day of his great-aunt funeral, his mother and her husband were actually assisting him to constantly commit adultery with his ‘ex’ girlfriend. 

That visiting hour became the longest 60 minutes of Anna’s life.  When it was time to say goodbye, Zeena kissed her son on the cheek, and lovingly lied to his face, “Charles sends his love.  Get well soon; we love you lots!”  Then, she surprised everyone by inviting Anna and her parents to her home for coffee.  Gwen stayed behind while they walked away. 


Strangely, Zeena did not take them to the lounge, but made them sit at the dining room table.  Charles Mansion did not get out of bed to greet them; she acted as if he did not exist.  After she served the coffee, Zeena brought in a box with photos, showing each in turn, explaining when, and where the pictures were taken.

The session had scarcely begun, when Anna’s fingers froze on the photo as her mother passed her the picture. 

The image showed Peter, cuddling Gwen in his arms.  Both were smiling cheerfully at the camera. 

“That was during our long weekend together in the Eastern Transvaal,” Zeena nonchalantly explained.

Nearly fifty years later, Anna still could not remember if she was capable of uttering a word.  She could not remember saying anything to that extremely evil woman.  This time, her mother-in-law had fired a flaming arrow that hit the center of her soul.  Anna sat stunned by such meticulously planned destruction; executed so extremely pitilessly. 

Anna had never seen the box of photos before and never saw it again. 

That night, Zeena, with Peter’s ‘passive’ help, had planned everything to a T, waiting for Anna to enter her lair. 

She even had the audacity to murder Anna in plain sight of both her parents. 

Clearly, her parents had diplomatically decided to avoid this merciless mess. 

Anna’s father was a big man, who did not tolerate nonsense from her growing up – or from other people, for that matter.  He could have banged his huge fist right through that dining room table, saying enough is enough for one night!  Her mother could have told that high priestess of Satan to her smug face to let go of her gullible daughter.  Yet, they chose not to defend the trampled Anna.  They chose to avoid personal conflict with their in-laws at all cost.  Maybe, they thought they would embarrass Anna further by confronting the awful matter.  Or they thought that Peter would deal with it once he was well enough again.  They always loved Peter, no matter how much he misbehaved.  He cheerfully helped Anna’s father with his car, or peeled potatoes for Anna’s mother when she invited them to dinner.  Anna’s father always referred to him as “a strong, hard working man, a good provider for Anna, and a diamond in the rough.” 

So, that night, they took their daughter home as if nothing had happened.

They left Anna alone and defenseless against these dangerous, unrestricted, narcissist predators, who did everything they chose for as long as they chose, in whichever way they chose, without a slighter of conscience, empathy or remorse.  


When Peter came home from hospital a few days later, Anna told him what his mother had done with the photos, but as usual, he chose to ignore the situation and did not say a word.  His cowardly response was nothing new.  He never reacted or did what was right when he was compelled to do so.  He never ‘chose Anna’s side,’ although she never expected him to side with her when she was wrong.  Still, he never defended her when she needed him to cover her with his love – or just to show some sense of normal morality.  He never as much as condemned his parents’ (or anyone else’s) insatiable abuse of his wife.  Yet, when Anna once spoke out against the audacity and bad behavior of Gwen, again omitting Peter’s so-called ‘passivity,’ knowing he would sternly deny his part, he firmly stated, “It’s not necessary to be nasty.” 

She was shocked into silence by his defense of Gwen in what he perceived to be a so-called “offence” from Anna.  She did not want to show him how deeply he was humiliating her again.  She did not realize that her dignified stance was aiding Peter and his parents’ systematic demise of everything she was.  So, she missed all the red flags she should have been paying close attention to.  But knowing nothing about such evil, it was impossible for her to see that Peter was actually trauma-bonding her to him through his emotional abuse.  He was making her believe she must live to please him no matter how terribly he treated her — while he “passively” or in fact secretly, assisted and allowed others to do the same. 

For many years, the matter of his hospitalization and the photo Zeena showed Anna and her parents was not discussed again.  Overlooking Peter’s lack of empathy and, as a result, failing to search for the reason behind it, no one knew how Zeena and Gwen had devastated the young Anna.  She did not know the Lord Jesus Christ personally, but her parents raised her religiously.  It would have been natural for her to pray to God that night, but afterwards Anna could not remember if she did pray.  However, in His great mercy, God took pity on her.  Even though everyone else had forsaken her, He was there to dry her tears and give her strength to carry on loving Peter. 

Later, Anna realized that God intervened in ways she might never know. 

Anna never saw Gwen, or heard of her again after that night at the hospital.  She never knew what happened to make that woman disappear from her and Peter’s life, (if indeed she did disappear,) but she knew something did happen that night or shortly afterward.  Something sinister and destabilizing, which God stayed with the slight movement of His little finger.  

Many years and buckets of tears later Anna would realize, coming from an innocent, uncomplicated, straightforward, rural background, she never suspected that human beings could be capable of such shameless, incessant evil.  Maybe, if she had not known Zeena and Charles — Peter and immoral women like Gwen, she would never have known that such wicked, emotional murderers exist in this world.  More than that, the whole world is populated by them, (1 Jn. 5:19.) 



It was during this time that Peter exhibited reckless behavior that would stay with Anna for the rest of her life.  Although she had no way to correctly interpret it then, or in later years when Peter ‘passive’-aggressively escalated the destruction he was wreaking on her personally and on her life, it took her some time to recover from the aftershock. 

They were invited to one of his co-worker’s parties in an unknown suburb.  As the night dragged on, Peter was partying so hard that Anna could not pull him away.  It was in the early hours of the morning when they finally got in the car to head home.  Arguing with her about the route, with one wrong turn, they found themselves in a huge, dark, hostile, informal settlement.  She immediately begged him to turn around to get back to the highway again.   Without reacting, completely disregarding their safety, he kept on taking her deeper into the danger zone.  She reminded him of the many reports of people who got lost in such places, and were raped, robbed, and found brutally murdered.  As usual, he continued as if he were deaf, did not lower himself to answer her, and continued to ignore further pleas.  

Soon, they had no way of knowing where they were, or how to get out of that place again.  The sleeping settlement was quiet but seemed menacing.  Without road signs, they only had the moonlight and the headlights of the car to guide them. 

As they were driving along, they saw an off-duty policeman in uniform walking on the side of the road, and Peter decided to ask him directions.  Anna trusted no one, aware of the animosity that ruled places like that, and pleaded with Peter not to speak to anyone but to keep on going.  He discarded her reasoning again, and the policeman said he will show them the way out of the settlement as it was on his way home.  Without any reserves from Peter, he got in the back seat of the car, and several stops and turns later, indicted that he was home.  Peter stopped.  The man got out and vaguely explained a route, which only led them deeper into the settlement. 

Eventually they came to a T-junction, where Peter wavered.  Then, they saw a car approaching from the left side of the junction, slowing down, and stopping some distance from them.  Anna instinctively knew this was big trouble, as it seemed there were four men in the car.  She calmly yet urgently pleaded with Peter to speed away from them, but he scoffed at her with a dirty look.  With the car’s engine idling, he waiting as two men got out their vehicle and approached them.  One got to Peter’s side first, and while Anna was still softly asking him to get going, Peter began to open his door. 

The following moment, they saw a flick-knife in the man’s hand and he skillfully lifted his arm to stab Peter. 

Anna yelled, “Knife! Knife!” as Peter slammed his door shut and thrust the car in gear.  As they pulled away, the other vehicle speeded towards them and they narrowly escaped being blocked off.  While Peter made a quick getaway, their assailants picked up their two passengers and began to chase them all over the settlement. 

Before long, Anna and Peter found themselves in an off-road area among deep dongas, with the men still chasing them.  It was then that Peter crazily turned into the veldt, and racing as fast as he could, they eventually saw the lights of the highway snaking in the distance.  Bumping and jumping over the rough terrain, they eventually reached the highway and shook off the assailants in the pursuing vehicle. 

Peter’s reckless endangerment of their lives that night; his absolute refusal to respond to logic and reason, or to show  even the slightest concern for her safety, should have alerted Anna to a frightening side to this ‘humble, helpful, good’ man, as she chose to describe him.  While she struggled to get over the trauma he exposed her to that night, and caught in the clutches of denial as a coping mechanism, she focused on the peril they miraculously escaped, instead of confronting his irresponsible behavior.  Because he never apologized, explained his foolish manners, or admitted that he was wrong, she overlooked another important sign that Peter had a dark side that loomed over their relationship and life together.  


In spite of it all, Anna decided she would make the most of this intolerable situation.  She focused on making a stable, decent life with the man whom she promised to love “until death do us part.”  He always promised he loved her; despite the clear evidence to the contrary, she chose to believe him.  When he made life unbearable for her, she wanted to flee but had nowhere to go.  She would never burden her parents or anyone else.  So, she found that she was utterly alone and had no one trustworthy to talk to.  No matter what he did, she kept on forgiving him – which just seemed like a license for him to continue his extremely bad behavior. 

She also could not understand why she remained so completely unacceptable to her in-laws.  They kept her so busy with their invasion of her home and in her life, she failed to pay the necessary attention to the deterioration of her marriage to Peter.  He slowly slipped away into obscurity, while also exerting one traumatic event after another in their life.  She could hardly recognize him as the man she fell in love with.  She constantly overlooked his drunken and other crude behavior; even when she caught him doing drugs – which he promised to stop, but never did. 

She then began to remember the very first day his cousin Irene introduced him to her and he took her to a drive-in movie that evening.  She later erased it from her memory, but he actually had his hot hands and liquor breath all over her, and she had to move to the farthest place on the car’s seat to keep on denying him.  When he took her home, she told him never to contact her again. 

Not long afterward, Irene came to ask if he can visit again as he promised to behave himself.  Anna was lonely, and cautiously consented.  When he arrived, he was suddenly such a charming gentlemen she thought he had a complete moral makeover.  As weeks passed, she began to trust him.  Later, she fell in love with him.  She had no way to know she was being predated by a polished narcissist, who can change characters at will and choose to play any game to get his way with her.  Now, he was becoming the vulgar man she met that first night, and there was no way of turning him around again.  He was beyond logic and reach.  As time passed by, all his promises to behave and change came up empty.


He sometimes violently assaulted her in a fit of rage without any clear reason or provocation, always saying he was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing.  He even crashed the car in the veldt one Sunday morning and gave such an incoherent explanation, she could not remember what he said.  It seemed he was creating chaos with nearly everything he touched, and he was supposedly incapable of understanding the causes and consequences of it all. 

He simply left her no other choice than to keep on accepting his false promises as she failed to find any intelligible explanations or solutions to his apparent ‘stupidity.’  She realized he was lying about many things, manipulating the truth, and playing complicated mind games with her to cover whatever he was doing behind her back.  Yet, no amount of reasoning with him seemed to enter his mind and each time, he provoked her into heated arguments that turned ugly. 

If she kept quiet, it was a license for him to continue.  If she kept on explaining the situation and consequences, he would argue himself blue in the face and sometimes eventually agree without keeping to any agreement.  If she objected to his public humiliation and other abuse, she was inviting him to do worse the next day.  In every instance, he forced her to endure an utterly shattered life with him.