Dear Dr. Archer,
I’m still trying to put the pieces together. I’m still trying to figure how, during my summer vacation to Greece visiting relatives, I was tricked into getting married two weeks before I was to return to the U.S.
It’s been 30 years, and I’ve given birth to two children since being betrayed; but, for the first time in my life, I feel it’s safe to go back and visit the past. I had just turned 17 in August, and by September I was married.
A distant relative and his family had befriended me in a small Greek village. I was trusting and naive. Two weeks before my departure to return to the U.S., “G,” the oldest son, confided that he was in love with me, and that his family approved. I had never had a boyfriend, and felt shocked and happy, as a teenager, that someone cared for me that way.
His family had invited me over to their home many times, and had taken me on vacations. They had portrayed themselves as a loving, caring family. His mother told me what to say when they had me call my father to tell him I wanted to get engaged to a good boy from a good family. My father rushed to Greece to get me.
At this time, they were telling me they were willing to take care of me if I married — I could continue high school, didn’t have to have sex — even if it meant waiting a year. His mother and sister had married young, and told me this was normal in Greece. They told me not to worry, that they loved me, and I was part of their family.
My father arrived within days, but our relationship wasn’t good. I couldn’t tell him my future family was telling me he would be mad and wouldn’t let me return to them. I didn’t tell him they told me he would beat me if I returned to the U.S., and that I’d be safe with them.
“G” got his godfather, who was the family leader, to stop my father from filing charges because I was underage.
The mayor told my father they were a respectable family, and, on Sept. 11, 1981, my father gave in.
I was married, with no friends, siblings or my mother present. Dad left immediately after the service, and that’s when my nightmare began.
We arrived at “G’s” home, and I was told to take my rented wedding dress off. My husband went to meet guests who had come to the house. There was no reception, no presents, no dancing, no laughter.
My husband told me we were going to the U.S. — I was his ticket to America. What happened to living in Greece? What happened to the promise to wait for sex? The abuse began — emotional and verbal. I was abused and neglected by those who had told me to trust them.
They bought me a pair of cheap shoes after I had to borrow socks, and I only had summer clothes. I was given an outfit to wear on the plane so my parents would see me in new clothes.
We came to the U.S. and lived with my parents. We were penniless, and he worked seven days a week. And talk about other women. Within five months, my dad leased his restaurant and retired. “G” now had to work for another Greek from the same village. It was a big blow, because he and his family considered themselves above that person; now “G” had to work for him.
He was miserable, and left to go to Chicago to stay with cousins. I was 17, not able to drive, had no friends, and was looked down on by relatives. Where was my husband, who was supposed to protect me? Where was his family? He finally called — eight months later. I was the reason he left, and I was lucky he loved me and decided to take me back.
It all started again — the verbal abuse and the emotional abandonment. I don’t know how I survived. I guess it was through my dialogue with God. After 30 years, he finally admitted that his family had promised when he married and turned 23, they would give him half of the family assets. Instead, they gave him nothing. Instead of dealing with that and confronting them for what they did, he kicked the dog — me.
After all these years of me never saying a word, “G” confronted them about their abandonment of and responsibility towards us. They stopped all communication or any acknowledgement of me.
I hope my story can stop at least one girl from believing that if she gives up everything for someone they will be appreciated and loved forever. The reality is, if someone loves you they would never ask you to give up your life. They’d wait for you to share life together.
Please inform young girls who go to visit family on vacation to beware of getting close to and trusting people who seem safe, even if they act like family. Yes, in a small village where Yaya lives there are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Thank you for sharing your story and experience in the hopes of warning others. However, I’ll take this one step further.
Whether you’re at home or abroad, caution should always be taken. Trust is a choice we make, regardless of where on the map we may be. Unfortunately, a child of 17 should not be allowed to make such a huge decision alone. Your father should have carried out his mission and brought you home, but it is what it is, and to go back and live a life of regret is wasted energy.
We all need to look out for warning signs. Unfortunately, some folks want something so badly they either miss or ignore the reality, no matter how obvious it may be.
We are all responsible for taking charge of our lives. We don’t get a free ride — even if it’s promised. Thank you for reminding us all that a single decision can change our life forever, for better or for worse.
Dear Dr. Archer,
I have been with my husband for 18 years, married 13 years. He began smoking pot socially when he was 15, but it soon became a daily habit.
I smoked socially in the past when I was younger, but no longer, because we have children. I’m concerned that he’s addicted, which he claims is impossible.
The problem is he smokes as soon as he wakes up, all evening after work, and all day when he’s off. He takes it with us on vacation, which is a huge problem for me. He’s very irritable and unpleasant when he doesn’t have it. He, of course, denies this, and says I’m being dramatic.
I’ve been quiet about this for years, and I’ve tried not to nag, but I can’t take it anymore. My oldest child found his pipe and paraphernalia lying around. I told my husband, but he doesn’t think it’s a big deal. In fact, he hopes to smoke with our children when they’re older.
He claims there is nothing wrong with it, and as long as our children are maintaining their grades, he will not punish them if he finds it on them. I couldn’t disagree more. I feel it’s irresponsible parenting to teach your children anything other than drugs and drinking are bad.
My husband feels I’m a hypocrite. I think I’ve grown up and changed for the better. He also drinks, and I think he has a problem there, too. Nothing in his life is complete without a buzz. I’m very frustrated, and I’m thinking of leaving him. I’m losing my mind, and feeling crazy. I don’t want to break up my children’s family, but I want to raise them in a safe, drug-free environment.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Your children are in a difficult environment. For many people, marijuana is indeed quite addictive.
You’re not being a hypocrite. You indulged when you were young, and then you matured and became a conscientious mother. There’s nothing to be ashamed of there. What you did years ago is behind you. You’re living in the present; things need to change, and soon.
Your husband is doing the same thing he has done for the past 18-plus years, and he’s perfectly fine with that. You went through that phase, married, had children, and now you’re looking to do the right thing for your family. The two of you are on different levels, and at this point, you have every right to create the best environment for your kids.
Talk to your husband. Tell him that being with a stoner is no longer how you want to live your life. In no uncertain terms, tell him it’s ruining the marriage, and he either quits the marijuana — and enters into treatment — or the marriage is over.
As you can see, nothing has changed, and nothing will ever change if you do not give him an ultimatum. If he puts dried plant leaves and alcohol before you and the kids, then you have your answer. I’m hoping he comes to his senses, but prepare yourself for the worst. Good luck.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board-certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and is the author of The ADHD Advantage and the New York Times’ bestselling book Better than Normal. Visit him at DrDaleArcher.com.