When It’s Time To Go

Victoria Pendragon
5 min readMar 26


With my roots sunk deep in pretty severe and frequent childhood abuse, it’s no wonder that I abandoned my first marriage to a gentle, talented man with whom I had created two beautiful children. At that point in time I was clueless as to the dark aspects of my young life. I had managed — quite unconsciously and very successfully — to dispel the memories from my conscious mind and I was deeply and unconsciously self-destructive.

I would be some years into my second marriage — with the man who’d inspired my leaving husband #1 -before the memories returned and they returned of their own accord in a manner both surprising and startling. I’d just been released from a clinical trial that was attempting to find a cure for diffuse progressive systemic sclerosis (aka scleroderma). The trial was deemed unsuccessful as it had ‘cured’ no one… no one but me, that is. When my doctors sent me home — to die, they thought — instead, that very day, for no reason I have yet been able to discern, within moments after walking through the front door of the condominium I was inhabiting at the time, as I leaned against the kitchen table, emotionally exhausted, as if someone had flipped a switch on a movie camera I suddenly “saw” — in what I guess you’d have to call “my mind’s eye” — a kind of a movie where I got to observe all the “challenges” I’d met and somehow suppressed any memory of when I was a child.

In retrospect, I suspect that my mind’s suppression of the memories was its attempt at keeping me sane, as my closest sister, who’d endured the very same abuse, had been declared a delusional paranoid schizophrenic while still in her teens as she had been consistently badgering the police at the college she was attending with stories of being followed by men who wanted to rape her. It seemed to her that these men lurked around every corner. But they didn’t. She led a consistently challenging life, right into her 6o’s, until she died by her own choice, refusing to have an infected wound treated.

Me? I manifest a “fatal, incurable” autoimmune disorder instead. But on that last day of the clinical trial I’d become a part of, the day my doctors sadly sent me home to die, it all came back… all those repressed memories… and it was awful. (Author’s body manifests goose-pimples at this point.)

Now, at this time, I was married to the man for whom I’d relinquished custody of my children which I’d done because their father had threatened me by telling me that he would tell our children about my very not-well-behaved life and I thought, at the time, that they would hate me for it… I was unaware, at the time, about any of the abuse in my past. I had no idea what hidden psychological mess had lain beneath my former actions and I was terrified of a life without the only real love I’d ever known, (or at least recognized), that of my children.

This new man, my second husband, though, thought of me as his property. I cannot think of any other way to put it. I had been functioning when we met as both an artist and a writer, but in his world, that could not be. Everything I created had to have his name on it as well as mine and I let that happen. When the disease I’d eventually manifest showed up he took me to doctor after doctor until I got a diagnosis. He drove me to the interviews I had to attend in order to become a part of the clinical trial. Once I was accepted, though, it was all me. I drove myself into the city for the (somewhat painful) two-day-long treatments, then drove myself home.

Once recovered from scleroderma — a miracle in itself — because of some of the connections I’d made during the period of my illness, via Native American healers and other ‘alternative’ connections, I received a couple of invitations to train as a healer myself. Because of what I can only call a vision that I had one day, I eventually followed through on that and became an alternative healing practitioner certified in a couple of techniques. I became quite successful at it and, just as I had done pre-scleroderma, I turned my earnings over to my husband to manage.

I don’t know — and can’t imagine — what went on in his head when I began bringing more income in than he was but, whatever it was, it led him to both not reporting my income — so, pretty lousy social security payments for me down the line — and to his playing the stock market, as well as subscribing to pretty darn pricey online pornography sites with my earnings. Apparently he spent/lost most of what I made, but that’s history now.

At any rate, I had semi-secretly gone back to painting during this period, on my own… just for me. That may have been partially because if I attempted to show the work I was doing, he’d have insisted on signing it and, by then, I had become more than a little resentful.

One day, I slathered my belly with paint and lay down on a canvas, making a round-ish imprint. I’d mixed the paint to resemble my skin color which I inherited from my Cuban father and is kind of neither here nor there, neither “white” nor “brown” — my mother used to call it ‘olive.’ I created the piece for me, to celebrate my body, to show her how much I loved her after all she’d been through.

One day, only a day or two after I’d completed the work and hung it in a relatively inconspicuous place in our apartment — after all, the painting was mostly meant for me — I came home to find that my husband had poured red paint all over it, which, of course, had dried by the time I saw it. The piece was ruined.

Yes, I could have reproduced it easily… but that wasn’t the issue.

My husband was making a statement: either I painted with him, or I didn’t paint.

There was no point discussing it. So, I made a statement too.

I filed for divorce the next week and moved out and away… many states away.

That was well over 15 years ago and by now and he is no longer on this earth.

Except for a huge fight with Social Security that was able to show me all the money that he’d never reported that he’d told me that he had reported and that I have since been required to pay back incrementally by way of them deducting it from my monthly check, he is not quite out of my mind yet. Thank heaven I’ve married good man this time, a very good — and patient — man. He sought legal help for me with the ‘hearings’ and his kindness and understanding in general has provided for me a life in which I feel safe and secure and in which I have been recognized for my talents.

I knew when it was time to go, and I know where I’ll be loved and appreciated and staying until one of us departs.



Victoria Pendragon

Artist; Author of self-help books on healing with Ozark Mt. Publishers; survivor of two 'fatal, incurable' diseases and a healthy dose of CSA