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The Sins of the Parents Haunt the Children


The patterns of abuse and abandonment that have been a part of Lawrence's life since his birth continue in his third marriage to Hettie.

As Lawrence got to know her, he realized she had no friends and trusted no one but him. "She trusted me, I assume, because I had been her mortgage loan officer.

"I watched her emotional stress tear her apart physically. She had damaged vertebras in her neck from her dad hitting her. She couldn't stand being away from me. It was sucking the life out of me. She developed bad allergies. She could hardly eat anything without a reaction. Chemicals in most of the outdoor or inside air would cause reactions.

"We sold our home and moved to a community of 10,000 with no industry or auto traffic so she could breath. More and more she would provoke arguments over the smallest things. Everything had to be her way. Toward the end of a two-week vacation when the weather turned grey and rainy, we ended up in a small argument, and she demanded we go home.

"Later that evening, she came into the living room and attacked me. She just came right at me, with her hands reaching for my face. I could hardly believe the look in her eyes. Just two nights before, she was telling me how much she loved me. I kept pushing her away. She ended up with a bruised butt where she landed on the floor and a sprained wrist. Two days later, two deputies showed up and arrested me for domestic abuse. There I was 70 years old and in jail for the first time in my life.

I filed for divorce. We'd been married for nine years."

Lawrence is now 73, and he says he's with "the most amazing woman of my life. She's non-controlling, independent, sexy, honest and open. Within two weeks, I knew everything about her."

Unfortunately, Lawrence's girlfriend is bi-polar. Two years into their relationship, she asked him to think about moving in with her. He said he would, although he was a little nervous about it.

This was around Christmas.

"She had really over-committed, and it took her over the edge. She went manic. She broke up with me. She said she liked me but didn't love me anymore. I told her I still loved her."

A few weeks later, she was back. Lawrence says, "The relationship is better than ever."

Still, Lawrence says, "I will never marry again. All these women, except for the last one, presented a dishonest front. They were all good Christian women. None were trampy. I've been picky about the women I've been with. That's why it amazes me how messed up so many of them are.

"I've lost just about everything that I ever had in divorce court. Now I'm just interested in taking care of myself. I find more and more people like that. Only one of my three sons has married. The other two will probably stay single. They make lots of money and are afraid of it being taken away. The one that's married — his wife had two affairs while he was in school."

Have patterns of abuse and abandonment haunted you? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to To find out more about Cheryl Lavin, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit



3 Comments | Post Comment
What a tragic story. It really serves to illustrate how hard it can be to overcome a legacy of abuse. It sounds like Lawrence's children aren't faring much better, having been traumatized by their dad's (and possibly their mom's) experiences. Having never seen a healthy relationship growing up, neither Lawrence nor his partners knew how to have one. I give him credit for going to counselling, but I question the counsellor who simply says "there's nothing you can do."
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jers
Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:53 AM
Whiel for many, our parents lead us down the wrong path, as we follow them this does NOT have to be the case. Alcoholism runs rampid though my family, both sides. My dad has been sober for 20 years. My mom still drinks. My mom was an abusive drunk, and always very selfish. She also liked to put me down constantly, I was never good enough. my parents divorced when I was 7 years old. (First of several failed relationships) Dad was a good provider in the sense I never went without food, clothes or a roof over my head. But there was little emotional support. This was the trend on both sides of my family. Alcohol, drugs, abuse, cheating etc I have been happily married for over 10 years, with my husband for almost 20. We have two beautiful children, who know without a doubt they are loved. They are well adjusted children. I have faced the demons that many in my family haven't and made the choice to break the cycle. Just because a childhood wasn't good, doesn't mean that you can't have a good life as an adult.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Scorn
Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:52 AM
Jers, "there is nothing you can do" was probably dead-on in the context it was offered -- he couldn't change his wife's behavior; only she can.

But it's clear to me that his own unresolved abuse issues from childhood carried over into his adult life, and for that, a counselor COULD have done more. After 2 serious problematic relationships, it would've behooved Lawrence to seek some individual -- not marital -- counseling. Although he THOUGHT he'd been "picky" about his relationships, the single criterion was "good, Christian" vs. "trampy" - and how has that served him? And he believes "after two weeks, I knew everything about her"? Doubtful. I'm still not sure I know EVERYTHING about MYSELF, and that's several decades into my life. How absurd to think you can know EVERYTHING, or even "everything IMPORTANT" about someone else only two weeks in!

He's found a stop-gap measure to protect his financial assets. But how much happier might he have been had he addressed the real problem -- his inability to find someone worthy of his trust -- and been able to enter a true partnership? His sons clearly have absorbed the lessons their father unwittingly passed on about marriage, so looking to them as "evidence" that marriage tends to end in disaster isn't a good barometer.
Comment: #3
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Apr 1, 2012 3:02 PM
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