THE SEA BECOMES MY EMOTIONAL REFUGE

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My marriage, only a couple of years old, was having severe problems. My ex was an alcoholic and I’d find marijuana and occasionally cocaine in our tiny house. Despite my growing marital problems, I LOVED living on Galveston Bay in San Leon. No matter how bad a storm was brewing under our tiny roof, I could walk outside, onto the dock, sit over the water, and feel protected and happy once again.

I had left my office job after we moved and I spent several months at home with my baby. A neighbor, Mark, was an unemployed recovering alcoholic (no funny business went on Рhe was just a nice guy who was ALWAYS home). My baby and I would occasionally meet him outside to collect oysters, or fish from the long pier out front. Another neighbor attempted to teach me how to sailboard. I failed miserably. I kept running into the pier! My skin turned a deep, dark shade of brown that year and my hair was almost white. The stress from my marriage had caused me to lose a lot of weight. I hid the problems from my toddler as well as I could.

A couple of days a week, I’d pack my toddler up in his car seat, and drive to the local seafood market in Kemah, Texas where all the local fisherman sold their goods. We lived on shrimp and fresh fish back then and I still prefer seafood over all other proteins today.

Despite my horrible marriage, I was raised in the “you must stay married for the kids!” generation. After renting for awhile, we decided to try to buy a house. And, as much as I hated to let that bungalow go, I was pregnant again and it didn’t provide enough room for a growing family. We found a house in a nearby town that was just a few feet from a canal on Galveston Bay. (I HAD to be near the water!) It was in a nice neighborhood but it had been vacant for awhile. There was graffiti on the walls and a lone mattress in the living room. I’m soooo glad I didn’t own a black light back then…

I painted and repaired it as best I could and, while the house still needed a lot of work (the back room, an add-on, was literally caving in at the roof), I made it work.

Our backyard (1.2 acres) backed up into wetlands, which provided the children with opportunities to interact with a variety of critters. They loved catching frogs, and setting up squirrel traps. (They never managed to catch the latter, thank goodness!) We lived there for several years and I had another baby. Living there, the children and I experienced everything from crabs crawling sideways on our driveway, to a beautiful, huge osprey who returned to the same nest year after year, to several tropical storms (one of which flooded our house with only 2 inches of water, but which caused thousands in damage), to hurricanes (that were not as bad as that one tropical storm).

The tropical storms and hurricanes were easy to endure. Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for three young children while their father’s drinking and drugging got worse was PURE HELL. It would take another five years for me to get up the courage to file for an order of protection, and for divorce.

NOTE: In these early writings, I refer to the children as “MY” children because my ex, their father, eventually gave up his parental rights. More on that later.

NEXT: THE SWITCH FROM SAIL TO MOTOR. GOOD FOR FISHING. BAD FOR MY SOUL

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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of¬†WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company,¬†BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you!¬†Abuzz Press¬†is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And,¬†PubPreppers.com¬†offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.