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Monthly Archives: August 2011

My Abusive Father (chapter 8)

Me and my sister. I was 3 and she was 9

We were at the beach and Daddy demanded I play.

OK, so, there was something I had not mentioned in my stories which has to be included. Before I get to that though I want to commiserate with all the parents out there. Remember when your children were young and they’d tell you what they wanted to be when they grew up? My son changed his mind many times which was of course common. For a while Judah wanted to be a superhero. He wanted to go out and save people which I have to admit made me proud.  I could just see my son wearing his long impressive cape with the letter J on it. Then he switched between wanting to be a cop and a policeman. Oh, you didn’t know there was a difference between the two? Well, according to my son a cop has an office and doesn’t deal directly with the bad guys. I have to admit, I wasn’t so thrilled with him being one of those considering the danger factor and the lack of pay for such danger. However, he changed his mind again and more currently Judah wants to be a lawyer. The first time I asked him why he wanted to be a lawyer he said it was because they got to wear suits with a tie. Then that evolved into him wanting to be the governor of GA so first he wants to be a lawyer, then a judge and then a public speaker so that he can become governor. Don’t you know this Jewish mother certainly liked that latter idea best however, I won’t be holding my breath for it to come to fruition as of yet. As we all know a child can meet someone, read about a character in a book or see someone on TV to help swayed them on what they want to be when they grow up. It’s part of growing up to be ever changing and curious.

As you might have figured out, Daddy didn’t interpret things in the same manner as other people. In our home if either me or my sister vocalized what we wanted to be when we grew up, we were bound to that forever. It didn’t matter if I was 6 years old at the time. It was like a promise to Daddy and he expected it to make it to fruition. And not only did he expect it but he’d advertise it to his friends, colleagues and anyone else who would listen. I always hated when he told other people because that meant I couldn’t change my mind. Not that I ever remember Daddy saying something to me but as a kid I knew once he told other people, I’d disappoint him greatly and embarrass him if I wanted to do something else. Meanwhile when I think about my own son and his many changing professions over the years, I’m struck by how out of touch he was with a child’s development. Come on! It’s not like you saw me me go out and get Judah his cape with the letter J monogrammed on it when he wanted to be a superhero. OK, so I did tell my friends and family and I did choose to have a “Superhero’s” theme for his birthday party that year but it was all in fun. Oh and yes, I did get him a cute little suit with a tie but that was for his own enjoyment. Never did I etch any of his career du jours in stone. However, I did have to think about my dad and he remember was by no means the normal dad.

So, when I was 6 years old I made the biggest mistake of my life. I told him I wanted to be the greatest and best bagpiper in the world. Why didn’t someone, ANYONE stop me for such an idiotic statement? I know I was just a little kid but even at that age I should have known better. I should have known what that would have done to me when I grew older. OY VEY! What was I thinking?

Let me explain how it came to be that I said such a thing. Oh, I know it was normal. I was just a kid. But, remember that was NOT Daddy’s interpretation. So, when I was 5 I’d have to take a nap after school. Daddy would be home and while I “napped” he would go into his office to play his records.  Two things here I have to mention. First, when Daddy played his records there was never such thing as keeping the volume down. And because he always had to have the volume cranked up to as loud as it could get, Momma forbade Daddy to play his bagpipe records when she was at home. It also didn’t help that she absolutely loathed the sound of bagpipes.

Now, most parents would understand while their child was napping or at least trying to nap it was quiet time for everyone. But for some reason Daddy didn’t get that important memo and we can’t forget life revolved around him. His concern was not to make sure I was getting my rest but instead to fulfill his need to hear his music while Momma wasn’t home. From the mind of a 5 year old it was the perfect excuse for me to get out of having to take a nap. What kid wouldn’t have used that opportunity? Any idiot would have recognized that fact. I will refrain from taking to word “idiot” and placing it with the word “Daddy” but you get my drift. I don’t know how many children could have slept through the loud noise anyway especially when their dad’s office was right next to the child’s bedroom.

Listen, initially I went to Daddy’s office to get out of taking my nap but in time I chose to go for another reason. I loved watching Daddy’s excitement when he saw my interest in his music. He was so happy and was loving during those times. I hardly ever wanted to spend time with him because he was so grumpy and mean. But on the days he played his bagpipe records I loved being with him. I had fond memories from that time. And yet as I remember those times now I can more clearly see how Daddy manipulated me into saying I wanted to learn how to play the bagpipes. I understood being a redheaded, Jewish girl was a unique combination in itself but add bagpipes and gosh do you have a combination. But I can see where Daddy had a much bigger plan in mind. FIrst and foremost it was certainly payback to Momma who hated the instrument. Nothing like being tortured by her own daughter when she’s practicing daily. OY! I’m so incredibly sorry Momma!

Back to Daddy’s plan though. I can see how he was scheming so early in my piping career, “How can I get my daughter to learn to play the loudest damn instrument on the face of the planet so it can bring attention to me as her dad and get me recognized? And the thought just crossed my mind by her playing the bagpipes because it’s so unique, it could help me get business for my new law practice!” And so his plan began with me falling for it hook, line and sinker. Especially after Momma died me playing the pipes became Daddy’s obsession and he used it to his full advantage to attempt to bring him notoriety and above all, to bring him money. What began as an instrument of love turned into the instrument from hell.

When I first started playing the pipes I had started a correspondence with one of the finest bagpipers. He was an older gentleman who lived with his wife in a small, cold town in Wales. Just a month after Momma died Daddy had a grandure idea that my correspondence of this piper would be his ticket to bringing him the notoriety he had longed for and wanted for so many years. If only Daddy could figure out the perfect way to get him and his wife to come visit, he would be given all kinds of accolades which once again in Daddy’s mind meant it would get him the business.

Daddy had always thought bigger than what was realistic. In his mind he would get the British consulate, the local University president and the mayors from our surrounding cities involved to make it a huge affair. Bagpipers would come to our town from all over to see this amazing piper. The piper would be recognized but even more so Daddy would receive huge amounts of fan fair for knowing this “famous” piper and for having him stay in our home. People would flock to Daddy wanting him to represent them in their divorces, criminal cases and other matters where an attorney would be needed. Daddy would become a sort of celebrity in our area because of this one bagpiper from Wales.

What Daddy failed to think was what if all of those people he wanted to get involved didn’t even know this piper, then what? It wasn’t as if piping was so popular that any Tom, Dick or Mary would recognize his name. But that was irrelevent to Daddy because he was certain his plan would work.

There was a catch though to his plan. And don’t you know by now there was always a catch. I always was suspicious because he was never thinking of the welfare of anyone else but himself. And with that meant a lot of bulldozing over other people including me, his own daughter. As a teenager I was well aware of that fact and tried to protect myself the best I could.

A month after Momma died and during the time Daddy was pressuring me to do his taxes that was when he had come up with his outrageous plan to bring the piper and his wife over from Wales. He sat me down for a serious talk and said he had to do something because he “ was in a do or die situation.” Basically, if he didn’t start bringing money in from his law practice, we were both going under. I didn’t know what that meant but boy did it sounded terrible. Of course when he sat me down to discuss anything it was usually a long, drawn out process. But, when it came to his lack of funds and his needing ways to figure out how to get money fast, I knew they would be hours and hours long. During this long meeting when he told me of his idea and how he knew it would bring him lots of business, I was very skeptical. I knew it would cost lots of money. Lots of money he didn’t have and would have to find. So, not only did he need money because as he said he could barely keep us afloat but then he needed money to even arrange this great plan for it to even work? It just didn’t sound good. When Daddy told me “we” had hit rock bottom and if “we” didn’t do something soon, we were both in deep shit trouble. Again, I didn’t know what that meant but I knew I didn’t want it to happen. Deep shit just sounded so ugly.

When Daddy started telling me his idea in more detail on how he was going to make this plan work, my immidiate thought was, “hold on because here comes the roller coaster ride! Everyone get ready and fasten your seat belts for we’re all about to be a part of Daddy’s psychological up and down roller coaster.

Daddy really believed he could bring the piper and his wife to our city and present them in such a way people would have as much interest to see them as they did with wanting to see British royalty. He’d get people like the consulate and the University’s president to plan events where folks would pay to meet him. His biggest idea was to have the local mayor give a ball in Daddy’s, oh I mean the piper’s honor.

Because Daddy needed an income, he decided having them come that upcoming summer would be perfect. However, it was only 4 months away and I just couldn’t conceive how he was going to successfully pull it all together. But, Daddy believed this piper alone would sell his idea so he had plenty of time to arrange it.

I hated the thought my summer was going to be taken away because I would have to help Daddy with his over the top idea. I loved my summers. There wasn’t any school. I could relax. Even if I had to work 4 jobs it didn’t matter as long as I didn’t have the pressure from school. And Daddy was going to take it away. On top of that I knew I’d have to carry a large part of the load of whatever Daddy was doing. In other words what was I going to be fully responsible for doing and then screwing up and then blamed?

I have to admit he was good in making it all sound exciting  And of course in order for those things to happen successfully he told me I needed to buy into his plan. OK, so how much was it going to cost me? I asked him what that meant. He told me I would have to write the piper a convincing letter to get him to come for a visit. After all Daddy’s plan could not work without him or my letter. He told me my letter could make or break the deal. Daddy felt in order to persuade him and his wife I’d needed to promise I’d eat, drink and sleep the bagpipes if he’d come. Well, the fact I was 15, soon to be 16, I just didn’t have that kind of passion for the pipes. But wouldn’t you know it, Daddy reminded me of my desire to become the greatest bagpiper. I responded by telling him I was 5 when I said those words. He didn’t care. I said them and they were etched in stone as the holy grail. I was afraid to get involved in one of Daddy’s schemes because his ideas never worked and they always backfired. And when they didn’t work, it was always because of something I did or didn’t do.

I asked Daddy how long was he asking for them to come and stay with us? I wanted to know how much of my summer I’d have to give up. I thought it was a reasonable question. He got angry and told me I should be thankful for just having that piper willing to give me lessons. He said while they were in our home, I was to wake everyone at the crack of dawn by the sounds of me practicing the pipes and I was to put everyone to sleep from the sounds of me practicing on my pipes. He told me if I didn’t do that, I’d single handedly ruin his entire plan preventing us from keeping a roof over our heads. OY! This was not going to be good. I just knew it.

After several hours of Daddy wearing me down I felt I had no choice but to tell him I’d do as he said. At that point I just wanted Daddy to shut up. To solidify the deal he made me sign a contract he had drawn up promising I’d spend every waking hour playing my pipes to show the visiting piper I had the desire to become the world’s best bagpiper. The contract had a lot more in there but I will refrain from giving you heartburn with all of the crap Daddy wrote. And did I sign it you ask? Yes, I did and finally he stopped torturing me with having to sit and listen to him any longer.

The next morning Daddy was excited about his plan. He kept talking about all of things he was going to buy us because the piper’s visit was going to be an overwhelming success. He was loving and caring that morning and he even reassured me we were going to be OK. I was skeptical which always made him angry. He saw me as the bubble popper but I just felt I was being more realistic. Plus, after many years of hearing so many of Daddy’s wonderful plans and witnessing each one’s failure, I couldn’t be hopeful.  That made him mad too.

Two months later Daddy wasn’t so confident anymore which made him on edge and very worried. He didn’t have a commitment from the local University’s president or from the British consulate to pay for the piper and his wife’s visit. They didn’t know of the piper and really didn’t see how him coming would be beneficial to the community. Daddy in great Daddy fashion insulted them by basically calling them idiots for not knowing about this wonderful and great piper. Listen, we aren’t talking about Yitzhak Pearlman who was widely known even if you didn’t play the violin. However, we are talking about a bagpiper where only a select few would know who he was. Why would Daddy have expected it differently?

He was desperate to find a sponsor to bring the piper and his wife over. I had already sent my letter to them requesting they come for a visit. In the letter Daddy made me promise we would basically role out the red carpet for them.  Little did Daddy know it wouldn’t be that difficult at all to get them to commit to coming for a visit. See, it really didn’t matter if my letter was inspiring at all. Once they read they wouldn’t have to pay for anything, they were convinced.  That’s all it took. And so they eagerly waited to receive their tickets from Daddy and even called to push him along. However, down to the wire of needing to send them their airline tickets, Daddy was still void of a sponsor.

He was stuck and felt he couldn’t back out. He had too much riding on it he would say. But he was at a point he had to do something so he began reaching at straws. He started calling lawyers he knew who had Scottish last names but to no surprise of mine that didn’t work. He also called the mayor of a larger neighboring town to see if he could get their support. Their only offer was they would give the piper a key to the city and acknowledge him during a counsel meeting. Daddy was disappointed because he really needed the money but he took their offer anyway because he had no events set up to honor the piper. This would become the one event.

By the time it was May Daddy had promised the piper and his wife they’d be receiving their tickets. When they didn’t receive them they began contacting him to complain they wanted their tickets. They were quite insistent for being our guests. Daddy was scrambling to find the money. The good news was Daddy found the money to bring them over just in time. The bad news was Daddy had to ask a girlfriend for the money to pay for it and would have to pay it back. But for Daddy, the first hurdle was over.  And so, the piper and his wife were officially coming to visit.

Now, Daddy had his own perception of the piper and his wife. He assumed because the piper was an older gentleman who had won many top piping competitions and awards, he was not only of the upper class but very accustomed to it as well. The image Daddy conjured up of this piper and his wife were much different that the two people who arrived at our home that summer. It certainly was an experience and only one that Daddy could create with his outlandish ideas.

Well, people, when the piper and his wife arrived they had no apprehensions to tell us what and where they wanted Daddy to take them. They were quite a pair and I don’t mean in a good way and definitely not of the class Daddy had thought. They actually reminded me of the Clampett’s from the Beverly Hillbillies. It was as if they had never traveled or knew much about the outside world. They had no concept how large the US was as they requested to be taken to Washington DC and New York. First that wasn’t an option but when Daddy told them how far those cities were from us, they were in shock and disbelief. They were odd. It almost felt that our “free invitation” was being stretched as far as they could stretch it without any regards to us. They were a kid in a candy store wanting to do whatever it was they wanted to do. I was astounded by their ignorance and lack of class. I wasn’t expecting the made up royalty Daddy had made up in his head but I certainly did not expect what we saw. They expected their every need to be catered to and to be taken where ever they wanted to go. Since I wrote (well, dictated) the letter that was sent to them, I knew they were not promised such grander plans. For such little people in stature they certainly had a way to make their presence known. I was fascinated.

There was one thing the piper and his wife loved about the South and that was our weather. At over 100 degrees they would enjoy going outside and walking around with their faces facing towards the sun. As time passed they would go outside, roll up their sleeves, open the top buttons on their shirts and roll up their pants to expose more parts of their body. They wanted their friends to be impressed with their tans when they went back home. It was very comical and I couldn’t imagine what our neighbors thought. Even though they loved our heat, they had never experienced humidity like we had which added to the heat. We noticed they were only able to sun for about 10 minutes at a time before they needed to go inside to cool off. Daddy tried to explain to them to be careful with being outside too long because of the oppressing heat. He recommended they drink lots of water. One of the days during their visits they wanted to go for a walk. They asked how far it was to the nearest shops. I told them it was too far to walk because it was a good 5 miles down the road. They were excited the shops were that close and insisted they were going to take a walk. I contacted Daddy at work because I was worried. G-d help me if the very people who were going to make Daddy money had died from heat stroke, I would have surely been in a shit load of trouble. Daddy told me to let them go , wait about 15 minutes and then pick them up. After waiting the designated amount of time I headed out to get them. When I pulled up to them as they were walking they were very relieved.

There were a few days Daddy took them sightseeing. He took them to an old plantation to show them the real South and not what they had seen on TV. They loved visiting the assorted stereotypical places. One city which had lots of wonderful historic sites for them was a good 45 minutes away. To us it wasn’t that far but to them for some reason they had in mind they would have been able to walk to all of the assorted tourist sites from our home. As we continued driving they could clearly see that was not possible but it floored me they would be so upset by it.  Along with touring Daddy took them to local government buildings to introduce them to the local dignitaries. Daddy had it in his mind that the dignitaries were impressed by him bringing over this piper and his wife but honestly, they didn’t care. They didn’t know who he was and really weren’t interested. It was incredibly sad my dad wasn’t able to read people properly and as a result would only make himself look bad.  I guess it was good he didn’t know but that alone was so damaging.

Listen, to see Daddy, the piper and his wife who all had strong and unique personalities going at it like three rams continuously head butting each other was a site to see. Because Daddy wanted to show them off in order to try to get more attention for himself he took the piper and his wife to meet a variety of people in our community. They really weren’t interested but it wasn’t as if Daddy gave them a choice either. Those days were great because I didn’t have to go. I used that time to visit my friends and to nap. With no one being home, I was able to lie and say I played my pipes (when I really didn’t). Listen, I was not a great piper and certainly NOT the piper Daddy had built me up to be. I hated practicing in front of people and I certainly didn’t want to practice in ear’s shot of someone who was an excellent piper to say the least. I tried anything and everything to get out of it.

After 3 weeks of them staying with us their visit was coming to an end. I was ready to see them go. I clearly wasn’t willing to put piping as my top priority and I was tired of the conversations revolving around piping. A few days before they were to leave I was about to walk into the dining room for breakfast when I heard Daddy, the piper and his wife talking. I stopped when I heard them say my name and I stood very quietly in the hallway so I could listen. The piper was telling Daddy how disappointed he was in my lack of drive in wanting to play the pipes. He felt I was a different person than who I represented in my letters. Daddy agreed with him and added to what he said by telling him d he was also dissapointed with me. The piper went on to explain how his own father would use a switch to hit his fingers when he didn’t play a piece correctly. He spoke about how much of a cattle driver his father was and how there never was the option of not practicing when he was growing up because his father would have killed him if he hadn’t. Basically, the piper had no life. It only revolved around piping. It sounded like a crazy upbringing. But more than anything, it angered me that the piper was suggesting Daddy just needed to whip me into shape with harder methods of discipline just as his dad did to him. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the piper say he is grateful to his dad for doing that for him.  GREAT! All I needed was another person to support Daddy’s already abusive behavior.  Daddy told the piper he was beyond angry because I was such an ungrateful daughter. To that I remember the piper responding, “Ashamed.” I was fuming while over hearing their conversation and so wanted to barge in to stop them.  Hearing Daddy comiserate with the piper about more forceful methods to get me to do as he wanted made me sick. Did it not matter to any damn person that my mom had died only 5 months before and I had been basically abandoned by my dad who when he was home was verbally and physically abusive? OK, no one knew about the abuse but hearing how the piper condoned that behavior it amazed me that no one at least gave me the benefit of the doubt of losing my mom. I really thought I was in a bad dream. How could so many people not care? Each person Daddy brought into my life never would acknowledge my pain because of my loss. I hated that lonely and isolated feeling as I heard more crap coming from Daddy and the piper. Why in tarnation did my piping matter so much to the piper. He didn’t care.  They were there because they were opportunists who  received a free trip to the States. They weren’t there for me. They expected to be “limousined” around and treated like royalty. They never paid a dime for anything. In fact if we went out to eat, they expected Daddy to pay. Even their souvenirs they expected to be paid by Daddy. It was incredible. They had already over stepped their boundaries but then they had the nerve to add to my already hellish life? What was it to them? Why were they being so mean?

Needless to say, the piper and his wife’s trip was uneventful and unsuccessful for Daddy. And even though he personally found our guests from Wales to be “low life, greedy bastards” my dad was still able to find a way to blame me. If I had only done as our contract said, then things would not have turned out as they did. Daddy did like the the pipers advice to try to get me to play my pipes more. I hated the piper for doing that to me.

Having shared all of that you can see how my piping was a perfect pawn.  Whatever he was conjuring up at the time, another demand rolled on down. Well, during my Junior and Senior year in high school Daddy had a new plan. I had to bring my pipes to any and every gathering we were invited to regardless of the wishes of the host and/or hostess. I HATED it. It was so incredibly embarrassing. Like a dog, when Daddy gave me the signal, I was to play my pipes.  I remember begging him to not make me take them. He’d always yell that he was the one who got me the pipes and if I wanted to keep them I was to play when and wherever he wanted. I don’t remember any event or dinner party we attended when the guests appreciated it. I suppose Daddy’s master like behavior was a huge turnoff and easily angered those in attendance.

I clearly remember one of the time Daddy made me bring my pipes. We were invited to a family friend’s house for Thanksgiving. They had a lot of people there which was the perfect set up for Daddy to show off. He had this way about him when he felt superior than anyone else. It always started with him lighting his cigar. He’d never ask if he could. He’d simply do it until told otherwise. Then, once it was lit, he’d demand I get my pipes and perform. So, there we were at our friend’s house. I was always waiting for the next shoe to fall as Daddy was always picking a fight with someone. This particular night though he kept to himself. He attempted to light his cigar but several people there told him to put it out. Oh my! How do I say this? Daddy didn’t like that very much and I could see revenge in his eyes. He turned to me and motioned with his hand. What the hell did that mean? I just sat there in a passive and aggressive way waiting for him to talk to me like a human being. Because I didn’t do as his hand movement commanded, he angrily told me it was time for some piping. I didn’t want to do it. It felt wrong and obtrusive. Daddy was pissed by this point and in a demanding tone told me I was to play for him. The hostess who was standing right behind Daddy told him to stop demanding for me to play. She added that there were a lot of people there and because the pipes were so loud it really wasn’t a good time for it. She was trying to help me. He got angrier at me and started threatening me. The other guests didn’t like Daddy which I knew would come back to haunt me. Finally I did as he demanded and in tears I got my pipes and played. I looked at my Dad as I played and I could see he really was clueless to the feelings of the others. He was able to twist the course of events in such a way that it never put any responsibility on him as the wrong doer.

On our drive home that Thanksgiving evening he told me I had behaved like an ass and should have done as he demanded. He said the only reason the others got mad at him was because I didn’t do as I was told. If I had, then he wouldn’t have had to force me to do as I was told and the others would not have seen him as the fool. Daddy then went into a rampage on how my piping was my ticket to success. He told me I needed to use my playing of the pipes to my advantage but because I was such a fool, I wouldn’t listen. When I asked him how playing at a damn Thanksgiving dinner was relevant, let me just say I hit a raw nerve in him. He started driving the car like a wild maniac. Each time he’d make a turn the tires would screech and felt as if the car could flip during any given turn. When we pulled into our driveway, he stopped the car. Still with his unlit cigar in his mouth, he turned towards me. He shoved me against the car door on my side, got right up in my face while pointing his finger and said, “I want you to hear me and hear me loud and clear. If you know what’s good for you, you will bring your pipes and play them whenever and where ever I tell you to. And if you don’t you will pay a heavy price for it. You are my private piper and even if it’s during breakfast at our house, if I say jump, you are to only ask how high. Do I make myself clear?” The rage in his eyes exemplified how disassociated he had become. I was scared. OK, I was terrified. Regardless, there were many times I found the Chutzpah to stand up to him. I think it was the fact I was a teenager more than anything.  As Daddy was in my face pointing his finger I sat up and told him to get his damn finger out of my face. He got closer to me and put his finger on the tip of my nose. His finger on my nose was like that last feather to fall and break the camels back. The only way I could explain how I was feeling was just like when you feel nauseated.  Your mind tells you not to throw up but  your body takes over forcing you to throw up. Your body knew just what to do and your mind had no control. My rage was the same. It had built up and had to get out. And with my body in control I twisted his finger in such a way where the palm of his hand was facing upwards. Then, I pushed downwards and towards in a direction his hand did not bend naturally. It was a self defense move Daddy had taught me when I was a little girl. I could have easily broken his wrist. I never understood what possessed me or gave me the strength to fight back except my feeling of rage could no longer stay plugged. It had to come out. Ultimately, I never saw what I did as self defense. I could only see it as participating in his abuse. I hated myself for losing control. I hated when I felt that rage and believe it or not I never knew from where it came. I know now. Hello!!!

I never hurt Daddy and always stopped myself before I could do something terrible. I say always but I only fought back 3 times.  And even though I felt bad for what I had done I knew I couldn’t show that to Daddy. I had to look strong regardless.

After I let go of Daddy’s finger I sat straight up and looked intensely into his eyes. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I actually saw a man who was scared of what I had done and could have potentially done to him. He clearly was larger and stronger than me but with the rage I had building, my power to hurt my dad must have been overwhelming and way beyond my comprehension. Today when I remember those few times I stood up for myself, I proudly give myself a high five and a “you go girlfriend”. But back then all I could feel was guilt and the lack of understanding for how I could have had so much rage inside me to want to hurt my own dad.  I loved him and didn’t want to ever hurt him.

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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My Abusive Father (Chapter 7)

My grades were terrible in high school and I could only hope my teachers had compassion for me and would allow me to get through that grade. Things at home with Daddy were the same. He was rarely home and when he was it was always memorable. School was tough for me and I was constantly told I didn’t apply myself.  I hated that because every time I diligently worked  on my studies the harder it was for me to concentrate. I could read something 6,7,8 times and never comprehend anything I read.  And when I was exhausted, forget it, I couldn’t even read as some of the letters seemed to disappear off the page leaving just random letters for me to attempt to guess what they were saying. I once told my parents my problem when I was younger but they looked at me as if I was speaking a different language and brushed it off. I hated school. Well, I only liked art which became my refuge.

When I was 10 years old my parents discovered my sister and Daddy had dyslexia. They had me tested. I remember being confused when I was told I didn’t have it. I just knew I did with all of the difficulties I was having in school. But because they were looking for only the exact type of disability as my sister and dad, my disabilities were overlooked. As I got older and it became more difficult to hide my lack of ability to read especially if I had to do it on the spot, I became the queen of getting out of any situation that required it.  Because I was told I had no learning disabilities I began believing Daddy and thinking I was dumb and wouldn’t amount to anything. Only as an adult did I discover there were many forms of Dyslexia and other learning disabilities which contributed to my difficulties in school. If mine had been addressed early, I would not have suffered through school the way I did and to grow to hate it. Surprisingly, I did make it through high school and college.  But, the thought of earning another degree or a Masters scares the crap out of me and turns my stomach.

It blows my mind there wasn’t a teacher who caught on and looked into what was the problem. But, it wasn’t as if I had a parent at home helping me. It really was Daddy’s responsibility but unfortunately, his needs came first. My teachers did care for the most part and were supportive. Most of them were sensitive to the fact Momma had died during my Sophomore year and I’m sure they believed that was the root of my problem.

In February of 1987 I was 17 years old and in my Junior year of high school. Since Daddy wasn’t home much I was finally able to convince him to allow me to use Momma’s car to get to school and to run errands. He wrote a list of the only places I was allowed to drive the car: grocery store, post office (to get our mail because he was paranoid to have it delivered to our home) and anywhere else he may need (but he would have to give me permission to go each time. Giving me permission to go to a place once didn’t mean I could go there an unlimited amount of times thereafter unless he told me I could). So, he allowed me to drive Momma’s car to school twice a week and I had to ride the bus on the other days. However with him not being home very often he had no way of knowing how many times I drove the car. I took advantage of that and got away with driving it daily. The crazy thing was he never checked the mileage on the car or if he did he never said anything. Did he actually  make a choice to not fight that battle? Who knows? It wasn’t as if Daddy was predictable. But, here was a fine example of a teenager’s way of thinking. Even with knowing how bad my consequences could have been, I still took the risk of driving the car more than I was given permission to do.

So, one Friday in February during my junior year in high school I had a weird feeling I needed to drive straight home from school. Often on Fridays after school I would stay and talk to my friends and then go with them to a restaurant nearby to get something to eat. But for whatever reason that day I had a feeling I needed to get home. When I pulled into the driveway, Daddy’s car was there. My first thought was thank goodness I listened to myself to get home right after school and then it turned into “oh shit, what now?” He never came home (if at all) this early. I knew something was up.

When I walked into the house Daddy was sitting in his chair in the den in the process of lighting his pipe. He told me to sit down as he was putting tobacco into the bulb of his pipe.  I had to sit in agony for a good 10 minutes until he was done lighting his pipe. And just like every damn thing with Daddy he had a process. He had a special pouch with his tobacco. He’d remove the rubber band, unroll the pouch and grab a pinch of tobacco to place into the bulb part of his pipe.  Then, he’d take a special tool to press the tobacco down. And I guarantee that even though I missed his first step, he used his special pipe cleaner to clean out the stem to make sure it was opened. His last step was what he called an art. He’d hold the bulb of his pipe with his right hand and his lighter in his left hand. He’d place his thumb on his left hand on the lighter trigger to start the flame. Once the flame was going he’d turn the lighter upside down with the flame facing towards the bulb of the pipe but not touching it. Just hovering over it. Then he’d place his lips to the mouth piece and suck in several consecutive times making the flame pull down into the bulb of the pipe where the tobacco was located. Once he thought it was lit, he’d remove the lighter and puff in a few quick puffs to make sure it was indeed lit. Looking back on these situations I realized Daddy’s processes and routines were in essence outlandish performances which required you to take notice to make him the center of attention. And if you didn’t take notice he had no problem demanding that attention from you. That passive aggressive behavior made Daddy feel in control and powerful. If he felt that control and power was in jeopardy, the wrath of Daddy emerged. Truly amazing to recognize how deep his illness ran that every aspect of his life revolved around him.

Once he was done lighting his pipe he asked me if I had anything I needed to tell him before he got started. I always hated when he’d ask me that question. Could he give me a hint as to maybe what specifically he was referring? But, why should he? That would have been too easy. With Daddy everything was a game but the difference with him was he rewrote the rules minute by minute because he never could remember the rules he had already invented.

I told him I didn’t have anything to tell him because I was clueless as to what he needed me to tell him. He hesitated, gave a chuckle and reached into his shirt pocket. He pulled out and handed me a folded sheet of paper. Couldn’t he just tell me? Was the drama so necessary? Just talk to me! But that was not Daddy’s way.

I unfolded the paper and read it. It was a note from two of my teachers saying I was failing their classes. I remember feeling betrayed by them. How could they tell Daddy? Please, don’t tell my father! Out of all people to contact they had to contact him?! I was confused how they got Daddy’s work address to send him the letter. Never in the entire time I was at that school had they ever sent a letter to Daddy’s office. Regardless, though, they sent it and I was in deep shit trouble.

The teacher’s note said Daddy had a meeting with them that very day.  He told me I was to ride to the school with him and wait in the car while he spoke to my teacher. I asked if I could just stay at home since all I’d be doing was waiting in the car. He told me I could not stay home because I wasn’t in the position to have the privilege of doing what I wanted. He also said he wanted me to sit in the car and worry about how he was going to react once he spoke to my teachers.

It was a very quiet ride back to my school except for me telling Daddy directions on how to get there and where to enter into the school. When he went inside the school to meet with my teachers, I tried to take a nap. However, I had to keep an eye out for him as he would have been furious to find me sleeping. I ended up waiting in the car for over an hour. When he got back he sat in the car without moving or saying a word for a good 15 minutes. Finally, when he spoke he asked if I was on drugs because that would be the only logical explanation for how I had been acting at home and my failing grades. He told me I had been behaving in an erratic manner and was continuously disrespectful which pointed a finger to it being nothing else but drugs.

Are you fucking kidding me? I could just see Daddy talking to the teachers and being so charming. I’m sure he presented himself as the poor single dad who just lost his wife of 20 years and doing the best he could to raise his unbearable and ungrateful daughter. I could also see him telling the teachers how rude I was and how my temper was out of control. And of course he conveniently left out his contribution such as his abuse and leaving me home alone for weeks at a time. Well, of course he wouldn’t have told them because he never did anything wrong. And Daddy felt it was very important to take care of himself making sure all of his needs were met. It was just ashamed I couldn’t help him in that area and do what he wanted. However, I refused to be a slave to my own father especially when my own mother taught me differently.

Once Daddy got something in his head there was no way to convince him otherwise. I did end up using drugs and going down a dangerous road but that was a year later when I was living on my own. Looking back, I suppose with being accused of using for so long I eventually gave in and chose to do it. And it helped me to run away emotionally. Starting that very day as long as I stood up for myself, spoke up or disagreed with him, he’d say it was because I was on drugs. I can’t even begin to tell you the frustration I was feeling as I was being accused of something I was not doing. To try to prove that I wasn’t lying I continued to willingly offer to have a blood test done but he’d never take me up on it. I always found that interesting. Daddy would make such a big deal about the importance of the writ of Habeas Corpus in law. My understanding of it is if you are arrested you have the right to request this which allowed you to go before a judge in a quick amount of time and for that judge to review your case to see if you really deserved to be incarcerated until a trial.  And yet Daddy was condemning me right off the bat. If I had been his client taking the blood test would have been his first step to prove my innocence. Why wouldn’t he let me prove it to him? I even offered to pay the money for the test but he still refused.

After he asked me if I was on drugs I looked him square in the eye and told him, “Daddy I am not on drugs nor am I using drugs! I have never used drugs or even tried drugs! I am NOT on drugs!” He wanted to know if I wasn’t on drugs then how could I explain my attitude and bad grades all of a sudden. The thoughts that were rushing through my head when he made that comment were overwhelming. First of all, if he had been a present parent he would have known my grades were bad the entire time. But where the hell was he? Oh, yes, with one of many girlfriends fucking around! How could he sit there and leave out the fact he was an absent father putting me at the bottom of his priority list?

Here’s the thing. I remember sitting in that car feeling Daddy was behaving like an actor in a movie and what he was saying to me were the lines he had to recite to maintain his character. There was something phony about the way he was talking to me. I guess he had to be in character so he could pull off being a loving father to my teacher’s. Then, he had to continue playing that character when he was talking to me for it to be more believable. And on top of that his acting and lines he was reciting was as if they were out of a 1950’s or 1960’s movie. A VERY BAD 1950’s or 1960’s movie I should say. I’m not sure how he justified in his own mind how he could present himself as a loving father to others but be anything but to me.  It was as if he watched a mid century movie to create a description similar to the one I’ve created below to know how to properly play a caring father when presenting himself to my teachers and his girlfriends. The role Daddy played:

-A strong, middle aged man who is able to cry at the drop of a hat and can show passion, when needed. Must be able to act dumb when others accuse him of wrong doing and have the ability to have others feel sorry for him. This character is a VERY hard worker who loves his family very much and is willing to sacrifice anything for them as he shows that toll of sacrificing on his face each day of his life (only when others are looking). When his wife dies, he’s overcome with grief. He’s lost and doesn’t know what to do.  He misses how she made sure the house was in order, all the meals were made and on the table and how she took care of the children.  And now that she’s gone he’s lost and his world is crashing down around him.  He is in desperate need of the help of a woman because only she can know what a child needs and how to keep order in the house. He wants only the best for his daughter which is apparent by his desire to be involved. However, as a father he can’t give his daughter what a mother can so he seeks advice from other women to help. 

So, back in the car at my school. Daddy told me my teachers mentioned I hadn’t done some of my homework which caused me to get several zeros. He told me he was not happy and not turning in my homework was NOT acceptable. I couldn’t believe when he questioned me about my homework when he was the reason I didn’t have it on those days. Often when he was home if he got mad at me about something and I so happened to have my schoolwork out, he’d tear up my homework in retaliation. By this point in our conversation I was getting raging mad. I didn’t hold back and told him on the days I didn’t have my homework were the days he had ripped them up. Just as I got the words out he tried to slam my head against the window. This time I was prepared and pushed back. I sat up in my seat leaning towards him with my lips tightly shut and my eyes focused on him. Daddy said angrily, “Oh no you don’t! You won’t put the blame on me young lady! If you had done as I told you in the first place I wouldn’t have had to destroy it!” Just as I started to lose control he realized we were in the school parking lot and needed to leave. Gosh, who would have thought we needed to leave? After all, we had only been there for an hour.

While sitting in his car I was wrestling with my inner thoughts. I wanted so badly to punch a hole through the car window or to take a baseball bat to Daddy’s car. Parts of me wanted to clobber him as well. Being accused of being on drugs and having out of control behavior was more than I could handle. G-d dammit it was my own dad who was the problem! He was the one with the out of control behavior! Couldn’t the teachers see how often I came to school exhausted from lack of sleep or when I wore long sleeves (covering my bruises) when it was hot outside? How about the days I came to school with swollen eyes because I had been crying.? Or how about those days I came to school crying? And my teacher’s solution was to talk to the very person who was the problem? Oh, that will solve everything!  Let’s just fuel the fire! I was SO angry!

Daddy had calmed down once he thought someone might have been watching him at the school. We drove away from the school and Daddy lovingly grabbed my hand and told me I could talk to him and tell him what was bothering me. I started to cry. He confused me. One minute so hateful and then so loving in the next. I refused to talk. He told me he felt I was keeping something from him and because of that maybe I needed to speak to a woman instead of him. What the hell? That came out nowhere. What kind of crap was in his brain?  What drugs was he taking? How in the hell could he keep out his own involvement in my behavior and grades?  This was the first time I quietly admitted to myself that I had an abusive father who saw himself as the center of everyone’s universe as he was the most important. This realization was like a dagger in my heart…OK, sorry, I had to throw a little of my learned Daddy drama in there. But it was hard to see that fact and realize I was his daughter but not important to him.

When I saw the direction he was driving I knew which of his girlfriend’s house he was taking me and I was NOT a happy camper. She lived 40 miles away in another town in her deceased husband’s 100 year old farm in the middle of “where the hell am I” and

“G-d get me to civilization” Georgia. I wasn’t fond of this girlfriend to say the least as she was the one who Daddy started a relationship with before Momma died. And after Momma died when Daddy would spend substantial time with her at her house, she never questioned him being away from me for so long. Especially if Daddy had lied telling her I had a sitter staying with me she should have known the truth as Daddy was always borrowing money from her. He had no money for a sitter and especially to pay someone for weeks at a time. He was a good liar but it was incredible how his women didn’t think about me. They wanted to believe him. None of his girlfriends felt Daddy was shirking his responsibilities and instead of spending weeks with them he should have been taking care of his own daughter. His girlfriends were as selfish as Daddy so what could I expect?

We got to his girlfriend’s house around 7pm. Daddy gave her a kiss and told me I was staying there for the weekend. What? Now I’m being left with this woman I don’t even really know and fundamentally believed in issues Momma opposed? Daddy was dumping me with her. Before I could say something to Daddy he was gone. I was steaming mad but refused to let his girlfriend see it.

Once Daddy had driven off his girlfriend proceeded to ask me what was wrong and why  I was doing so poorly in school. She told me when a student’s grades drop and their behavior is erratic like mine that was an indication drugs were involved which also could lead to being promiscuous. OK, first of all how dare she speak to me about being promiscuous! How dare the woman who was fucking my father while being fully aware his wife lied in the hospital dying! I discovered years later that Daddy was so involved with his girlfriend that he didn’t even visit Momma much at the hospital. And I couldn’t visit her because he’d tell me he was so busy at work and caring for Momma he couldn’t come get me 45 minutes away. Oh my G-d, the thought of  Momma having lied alone in that hospital knowing her fate absolutely makes me incredibly pissed at my father. How dare that bastard do that to her. Momma relied on a wonderful nurse who would sit with her and hold her hand when she needed comfort. The thought of that nurse doing that for my Momma is wonderful but so heartbreaking for me just thinking about her loneliness. Ironically, Daddy’s fate was sealed for what he did to her. But, that will come in a later chapter and worth your wait to see what happened. I guarantee you.

After his girlfriend kept quoting statistics as to the behavior of a child when they are on drugs, it dawned on me it was her who was feeding Daddy with the “MaLea must be on drugs” rhetoric. Oh my G-d! This was absolutely ridiculous! Couldn’t anyone see the obvious which was right under their f-u-c-k-I-n-g (and I mean that in every sense of the word) noses? Every single one of Daddy’s girlfriends dealt with his crazy outbursts of rage which was why they’d kick him out at one point or another. They also experienced his over dramatic manipulating behavior which they fully admitted he would do. But, when it came to me no one cared how he was treating me and possibly if I was being mistreated. When I’d tell them little things they didn’t believe me. In fact they all told me it was my fault. With that statement  I always responded by saying they too were at fault when Daddy was mad at them because if they only agreed with him or did as he wanted, he wouldn’t have been mad. Let’s just say none of them had a liking for me for pointing out such things. They only wanted to believe Daddy.

When I told his girlfriend I was not doing drugs, she asked why was I failing in school. She told me there had to be a reason.  I knew I couldn’t trust her but knew I had to tell her something to get her off my back and possibly get Daddy off my back too. But I had to be careful because she believed what Daddy was saying about me. I was the lying teenager who had no way to prove my innocence. It was hard for me to understand why she couldn’t correlate that if Daddy didn’t hesitate to treat her badly, why wouldn’t he be doing it to me too (and possibly worse because I couldn’t kick him out of my home?) Truth be told though even before Momma died there had been many tragic family events that psychologically effected me in a negative way. When I was 11 Daddy manipulated me and my sister into believing Momma needed to be locked away in a psychiatric hospital. Sadly, we stood with him to convince the doctor and Daddy had Momma locked up.

So as I sat on Daddy’s girlfriend’s couch a lot had happened in my young life that contributed to my behavior and grades. But all she could say was I was doing drugs and sleeping around. How many very obvious elephants did there have to be in the damn room? And yet they held their noses and stepped over the shit as if the piles of it weren’t there. Gosh, I know that’s a disgusting analogy but I like it! I was just abhorred by the lack of responsibility of so many of these G-d damn adults. I was the fucking child who was abandoned and left to raise herself. Home alone more often than not with bruises on my body and yes, fucking erratic behavior from the constant berating and crazy behavior of my father and drugs and sex were all any of them could use as the reason? What the hell? I was in a nightmare with no possible way of waking up. Momma would have been furious by what was happening. Daddy was the one who had manipulated and lied and had no sense of obligation or responsibility to anyone but himself. He took thousands of dollars from each and every girlfriend and never paid them back. He screwed them over time and time again and yet they believed whatever he said about me. There was never anything I could say or do to defend myself. But, regardless of my odds, I always tried.

When Daddy’s girlfriend asked me what was wrong I told her Daddy wasn’t ever home. I definitely was not going to admit to the abuse. I wasn’t ready to go there and was more afraid of her telling me I was a liar.  She responded by asking,”Didn’t you have a teacher staying with you?” I told her I only had a teacher staying with me when Momma was in the hospital but after she had died, I had been home alone for as long as a month at a time. Well, his girlfriend knowing Daddy hadn’t been with her for a month at a time asked me how that could have been possible. I told her he had several other girlfriends and he would visit all of them on a rotating schedule. Would you believe she had the nerve to say she didn’t believe?  Meanwhile knowing Daddy he probably was headed to another girlfriends house after he dropped me off.

So, there I was sitting with a woman who wouldn’t believe anything I told her and anything I said negative about Daddy wouldn’t have any of it. She changed the subject and told me how awful it was that I didn’t help Daddy out around the house. She said she knew I refused to do things that needed to be done and how shameful that was since Daddy worked so hard. After she said that I thought in my head, “Working hard? Yeah at fucking every woman he could from here to G-d damn Atlanta.”

I was so angry. When it came to Daddy I could do nothing right. It wasn’t just about the cooking and cleaning. Even when I did those things it was always wrong when it came to Daddy. But, Daddy’s girlfriend wouldn’t hear what I had to say. Years later when I ran into this girlfriend’s daughter at a wedding, she asked me to confirm if it had been true Daddy had multiple girlfriends. When I told her yes, she told me her mother refused to believe it but she had known better. And when I called this girlfriend after Daddy had died so she could get what Daddy owed her from his estate she could only blame me for embarrassing her by telling her daughter about Daddy having multiple girlfriends. This woman still wasn’t mad at Daddy but instead very angry with me. It really did solidify in my mind the type of women Daddy chose and how he was able to get away with his womanizing ways and abusing me.  After all to have a girlfriend who could recognize it could jeopardize him.

In regards to this girlfriend’s comments about me helping Daddy around the house, I told her she had no business telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I told her my mom would have been very angry at what Daddy was making me do and especially how sexist he had become. She argued with me saying I was just terrible and as a girl it was my job and duty to do the cooking, cleaning and whatever else needed to be done around the house. She told me that was just the way it was and why I had to fight it was selfish. Without apologizing I told her I was just that type of girl who thought more of herself than to be pigeon held into a roll someone else decided for me. I told her my mom raised me to question anyone who pushed me into a roll that I was uncomfortable doing and to never accept it. I told her I wasn’t a slave to do whatever Daddy needed which was what it became with Daddy. His girlfriend just shook her head at me saying I should feel bad for my dad. I should feel bad for Daddy? What? I couldn’t take talking about that subject any longer so I told her I thought we would have to agree to disagree.

Even though this girlfriend said she didn’t believe me when it came to Daddy having other girlfriends she did confront him about it. Of course he twisted it and told her I was the one lying. After all he had to save his own narcissistic ass and had no problem throwing mine under the bus. But, I didn’t expect any different and saw it coming. It was par for the course with having an abusive father.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

My Abusive Father (chapter 6)

Daddy in the late 50's with a mysterious woman behind him.

Once we got to St. Augustine Daddy drove around to find a hotel for us to stay. Because it was off season there were plenty of hotels with occupancies. As Daddy was driving I noticed how deserted the town looked and was wondering what the hell I was going to do there. It was too cold for the beach which was not my thing anyway. However, anything I found interesting looked closed.

When Daddy found a hotel he liked which meant cheap, we emptied the car and headed to our room. It was the basic room with two queen size beds and a bathroom. After we placed our things where Daddy wanted them he said he needed to rest for a bit. He suggested when he woke up we could see what there was to do. Daddy’s tone had changed. He was happy. But that didn’t mean it couldn’t change in an instant but I was hopeful he’d stay in a good mood.

While he rested (went to sleep) I watched TV. I was so comfortable because there was no pressure coming from him to have to do something. I could just lie on the bed, watch TV and zone out. Since it was late by the time we had arrived in St. Augustine and then even later when Daddy woke up, he actually discussed with me about grabbing dinner at an I-Hop and calling it a night. I was game. Hell, I was a very tired teenager. Sleeping for two days would have been fine with me.

At dinner Daddy showed me the sites to see on a local map and asked what I wanted to do. Almost every single thing I was interested in doing was indeed closed. We narrowed our options down to the Ripley’s Believe it or not Wax Museum and a couple of fort type places. After dinner we returned to the hotel and went to bed.

The next morning we woke up at 11:00 am. It was the best night sleep I had in a very long time. By the time Daddy was up and finished getting ready, it was already lunchtime. After we ate we agreed to visit the forts which was what we did. He was in a good mood. In fact when we arrived at the one fort I had suggested and saw it was closed for the season, he let out one of his great laughs. It was comical because all of the places I suggested were closed.  Daddy even apologized to me for not being able to see the things I wanted to see. With nothing else to do we headed to the Wax Museum which was neither of ours interest. Daddy suggested we be adventurous though and make the best of it.

While walking through the museum Daddy and I found everything humorous. The place was really so cheesy and the folks touring it were so serious. I’d see someone who was a tourist and I’d invent a story on why they were there. It made Daddy laugh which made me so happy. I knew his temper could switch on a dime but I wanted to just soak up the moment and not think about it. Daddy wanted to go back to the hotel to rest which was what we did after the museum. Gosh, this was probably the most sleep Daddy had gotten on a long time too if you know what I mean? His women kept him busy (wink, wink).  As he was taking his clothes off (he only slept in his boxers) I placed my eyeglasses on my bed and went to the restroom. I only needed my glasses for some long distance seeing. When I came back Daddy was sitting on his bed looking through the phonebook. I walked over to sit on my bed. Just as I did I heard a crunch sound come from underneath my rear. Without moving I looked at Daddy and said, “Please don’t tell me I just sat on my eyeglasses?” He peered over his reading glasses. As he looked at me his body started to shake with laughter. He laughed and laughed and finally was able to say, “OK, I won’t tell you but you just sat on your eyeglasses.”  Tears were falling from Daddy’s face he was laughing so hard. He stopped for a moment and said, “You and your Momma both had Touchas’s (butt in Yiddish) that enjoyed sitting on things.” Then he laughed some more. Apparently, Momma had a habit of sitting on Daddy’s hats and I guess me sitting on my glasses brought up good and funny memories for him. I couldn’t help but laugh with him. Thank goodness I didn’t need to wear my glasses all of the time and even more so that it didn’t make him mad.

Once we were able to stop laughing Daddy took a nap while I watched TV and relaxed too.  When he woke up he asked me where I wanted to eat. I didn’t know and had not a clue what to suggest. So I asked him what he wanted. He got a little perturbed and told me to decide. I tried to joke it off by telling him I couldn’t decide because if I picked the place they would be closed for the season. Well, let’s just say our joking and laughing part of the trip was at that point over. Daddy did not find my statement to be humorous at all and it only made him angrier. I asked what options did we have and to that question he flipped out. I couldn’t figure out what had happened from the time before his nap to the time after his nap. Had he called someone during that time and that’s what turned his mood? What was wrong with Daddy?  I kept telling myself I couldn’t cry.  The more I thought about our nice day and then Daddy’s sudden burst of anger, I couldn’t hold back my tears. To keep from crying in front of him I went to the bathroom, turned on the shower and cried. As I was sitting on the tub crying Daddy banged on the bathroom door with his fist. He yelled through the door I had 15 minutes to finish getting ready because he had made dinner reservations. I did my best to control my emotions and got ready as fast as I could. When I was finished getting ready Daddy looked at me with disgust. He said, “That’s what you are wearing? It looks terrible. You look like you’re wearing rags.” Alright folks! In over a year Daddy has not bought me one piece of clothing and he has the nerve to insult my dress attire? And on top of that this was the 80’s where acid washed jeans and off the shoulder shirts were the rage. Suddenly though, he found issues with my clothes when this was how I had dressed for quite a while? How dare he I kept thing in my head.

I looked at him and said, “Sorry you don’t like my rags but I do.” To that Daddy yelled that I should be sorry for what I’m wearing. Reminding him he had a reservation he got angrier because he felt I was trying to shut him up. Um, well, HELL YES!

We finally got into the car and were on our way to the restaurant. We were 45 minutes late. During our entire drive Daddy didn’t let up with his insulting remarks which made the restaurant seem hours away. When we arrived at the restaurant, Daddy parked. I was crying. He told me I was to get a hold of myself because he wasn’t going to take me in there acting like I was. As I learned to do I sucked in my emotions and into the restaurant we went. It was strange though. There weren’t any cars in the parking lot and we were the only customers in the restaurant. That didn’t phase Daddy. The Matradee escorted us to a table. I thought I was going to laugh when he asked if that table was alright. I so wanted to ask for a more private table where there wasn’t so much noise.

The Matradee held my chair as I sat down and then helped me scoot to the table. He handed us our menus and took our drink order. When he walked away Daddy told me we were eating in the kind of restaurant where he/the man orders for everyone at the table. With Momma having instilled in both me and my sister a feminist ideology I questioned him. He got mad and told me to shut up because I knew nothing about fancy restaurants or about the etiquette.  First of all, it was always Momma who would teach Daddy about etiquette and she’d get so mad because he wouldn’t listen. She was from an upper class Southern, Jewish family raised by a nanny. Her uncle was the CEO of a national company. She traveled with them and attended many functions. The way she dressed, behaved and every aspect of her life was formed around being proper. Daddy didn’t even know half of what Momma knew and he was going to teach me? Momma used to get onto him with how he held his fork and ate because she felt it was not proper.  What did he even know?

I shut up and let Daddy order but the look on my face clearly showed I was not happy. Daddy decided what we were eating and told the waiter. When he arrived with the first course I placed my cloth napkin on my lap, took the fork farthest to my left and started eating. Quickly, Daddy began complaining I didn’t put my napkin on my lap properly. I argued I had it in my lap and asked what the hell other ways are there? Well, my sudden proper father didn’t like that I didn’t shake the cloth napkin out out on my left side before placing it in my lap. Instead, I opened it up while it was in my lap. I rolled my eyes. Daddy was furious And told me eye rolling was rude.

The waiter returned to our table and left bread  with individually cut pieces of homemade butter. I took one piece, buttered my bread and took a bite. It was yummy. Before I could take a second bite Daddy stopped me. He told me that wasn’t the proper way to butter and eat bread so I needed to watch him. Ok, the man takes one roll, tears off a piece which is basically almost the entire roll, butters that piece and threw it into his mouth. While his mouth was full he told me I was not to spread the butter over the entire roll but I was to tear one piece off at a time. I looked at Daddy and said,”Don’t chew with your mouth full.” He kicked my chair from underneath the table.

When the appetizer arrived he complained I was holding my fork improperly. See, Daddy held his fork parallel and close to his food where the curve of the tines faced the food. Momma called his way a more European way of eating which in her Southern, polite nature was saying his way was wrong. I told Daddy I had never eaten that way and I wasn’t going to start. He was furious and started telling me how I’d never be able to eat in the home of someone with status. He went on to tell me I was going to be a pee on and a loser because I refused to listen to him to learn how to eat properly. I kept trying to hold back the tears. And being the only customers in the damn place I felt as if everyone was watching us for sure.  After all it wasn’t as if Daddy could keep his voice down.

Our main meal arrived and I grabbed the next fork in line from my left side,  took my knife from the right side of my plate and started eating. I began cutting my meat as I had since I was about 8 years old by holding my fork in my left hand, placing it into the meat with the tines curved down towards the meat, holding it a little tilted towards me and then cutting the meat from the back of the fork.  However for whatever reason, this night was different than all other nights and Daddy didn’t approve. This night I was to stick my fork in the meat (tines curve faced down) and tilt my fork to be more parallel with the meat. My pointer finger was to be pushing against the bottom of the handle and at the top of where the curve of the tines were. In front of the fork I was to cut my meat. Daddy sat there and criticized every little move I made. If I didn’t tilt my fork far enough or stick out my pointer finger he was right there to correct me and not in a pleasant way.  By this point I was crying and wasn’t hungry anymore. I put my utensils down on my plate and  just sat there quietly. Daddy was furious he had taken me to a very, nice and expensive restaurant and I ruined it by being rude, disrespectful and unappreciative. And as usual I was giving him heartburn which was the thanks he got for spending time with me and taking me on a vacation. He felt he didn’t deserve any of it.

As he kept berating me I started thinking about Momma and how I wished she’d come back. Of course I knew she was dead but a young girl missing her mom could dream, couldn’t she? Not that the meal wasn’t long enough already but Daddy had to order dessert and a dessert drink to make it even longer. And I’ve gotta say for the 3 hours we were at that restaurant we were the only ones there. It just felt weird to me. It was more of a place you’d take your spouse, not your teenage daughter. Also, I felt as if he was supposed to have met someone there because Daddy asked the waiter to keep an extra place setting at the table. And for my Jewish friends out there I don’t think it was for Elijah. When I asked him why, he’d not tell me and only criticized me for asking too many stupid questions. I wanted to leave. He told me we’d leave when he was good and ready. After he finished his dessert and while drinking his after dinner drink, he lit up his cigar. Talking about etiquette. He so politely flicked his ashes on the dessert plate when there was a perfectly good ash tray on the table. I loved the waiter who came over, took Daddy’s dessert plate and placed the ash tray in front of him. Then he turned his head where only I could see his face and gave me a little smile and wink. It was always those tiny little moments from others that gave me the reassurance.

While Daddy was smoking his cigar he kept looking over his shoulder towards the entrance and looking at his watch. Who was supposed to meet him there? And whoever it was why wouldn’t he tell me? After all if she had shown up It wouldn’t have been a secret. Even though I would have loved for Daddy to have been distracted by having someone there the thought was gross to think about  Daddy flirting while I was the third wheel. And even though he had done it to me before, I was never used to it nor did I ever like it. The only idea I had as to why he wouldn’t tell me anything was because he had told me the trip was for us to spend time together. He didn’t want me to know he had actually been scheming to go to St. Augustine to meet a woman. The truth was though, he was a TERRIBLE schemer/ liar.

Before he finished his cigar he said angrily,”What the hell. Let’s go. I can’t stand sitting here any longer looking at you.” As he put out his cigar he told me I ruined a good cigar because he couldn’t even enjoy it with all I had done to him that evening.

We got back to the hotel around 11. I hated I had to be in the same room with him. He told me  I was to be up bright and early because we needed to get home. Needless to say, he didn’t have to tell me twice. I was packed and ready by 7am. It took Daddy another 4 hours before he was ready to leave but I figured that would happen. During that entire time I had to stand around and help him all while he nastily called me names because as usual I wouldn’t do it right. Once we were packed and on the road I ignored Daddy by sleeping (or at the very least pretending to sleep) almost the entire way home.

Finally back home in the late afternoon on a Sunday Daddy told me he had work he had to do in a town about an hour away. Funny, he had not mentioned it but oh so common. He said it wasn’t necessary for him to bring his things inside the house because he’d just wash his dirty clothes in the town he was headed. He asked if I needed any money or anything else from him. When I told him I didn’t need anything he gave me a hug and a kiss, told me he loved me and headed out for another few weeks. I lied on the couch and watched tv in peace and quiet. It was nice to be home again.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

My Abusive Father (chapter 5)

Finally heading to St. Augustine we had been on the road for only 45 minutes when Daddy wanted to stop for lunch. I was still so angry with him the thought of eating turned my stomach. I just wanted to be in St. Augustine so our vacation would be closer to being over. I told him I wasn’t hungry. He told me I was selfish and I had caused all that happened that morning. I ignored him. Trapped in the car all I could do was to sit there in silence. The more silent I remained the angrier Daddy got. Even so, I knew it would be safer to say nothing than to possibly say something that he could twist around or use against me. Daddy finally stopped talking. The silence was nice. I took a nap.

I woke up an hour later with hopes we were almost there. No such luck. But, Daddy was in a great mood. It was as if nothing had happened that morning. He even started making jokes and smiling. I was cautious. He struck up a conversation and even though I didn’t want to participate I figured it would make time pass more quickly.  In mid-sentence Daddy hushed me. He said he thought we were on the wrong road and he needed me to be quiet so he could concentrate. His abrasive manner was so ridiculous. We passed another sign and he kept saying it just couldn’t be right. For whatever reason he didn’t seem to believe the road signs and decided to wait for the next road sign to make sure we were indeed on the wrong road. OK, does that make any sense what so ever? Let’s keep going to make sure we are indeed on the wrong road?  Here’s the thing you should know. According to Daddy he had an amazing sense of direction and he never got lost. And because he never got lost there was never any reason to stop to ask for directions. There were times he was confused by the directions but never he was lost.

We passed another road sign. That one along with the two previous signs confirmed we were not on the correct highway. The fact we had to pass three of them to make it  clear just blew my mind.  I had to hold back from laughing because it was so absurd. As the clever 15 year old I thought I was, I had the bright idea to make a little joke about it. Oh man are 15 year olds stupid! I would have loved for Daddy to have stopped to ask for directions but I knew that wasn’t an option. To stop would mean consenting he’s lost which would never happen. With a little chuckle, I said, “You know Daddy we’ve passed three road signs that all have made it clear we were on the wrong road. You waiting for someone to switch the signs so you won’t have to go ask directions? Well folks it didn’t go over so well at all. His eyes were piercing and his face began to get red with anger. I knew I should just shut up, so I did. Oh how I had wished I could have gone back in time by 15 minutes. Daddy did not like my comment one bit. His silence was the scariest. All I could keep thinking was for him to please yell at me. Just as I thought it, he started to do just that. It is so true to be careful what you wish for in your life. After what seemed forever of him yelling about my disrespect and rudeness I found myself looking out the window and focusing on a bird which seemed to have been flying with our car. I began to imagine being that bird. Oh how free it must have felt.  Of course in my obsessive compulsive manner I started to think about the dangers in that bird’s life. As my thoughts wandered I began to worry about the bird and it’s safety. I began thinking about its death and I frantically was trying in my mind to save it. As I was engrossed in thought about saving that damn bird I felt a smack on my arm. It was Daddy of course.  He told me I was out to lunch again and he had been asking me to get the map immediately.

Whenever I would daydream, it would  infuriate him. He felt I was intentionally ignoring him. I never meant to ignore him but I just couldn’t help it. My brain would get so tired of listening to him and next thing I would know my thoughts would be somewhere else.

I got the map out of the glove compartment as he continued yelling at me. In between his yelling he told me to look where we were on the map. I remember being very nervous. Where the hell were we? I didn’t know.  I thought that was where our problem began. He told me to figure it out because if I had been paying attention I would have noticed the road sign. He said he would wait for me to figure it out. Suddenly, Daddy had all of the time in the world to wait for me. But, just moments before, he needed the map immediately. He was always one big ball of contradiction.

It was so hard for me to concentrate and especially when Daddy was glaring at me. I knew I had  to find the information fairly quickly or he’d continue to get angrier. For him to say he’d wait still had a time limit attached to it.  Part of me was saying, come on MaLea, you can do it. Prove to him you can do it. Just as I was saying that to myself I realized I had missed reading yet another road sign that had passed. I was so upset with  myself because I had only allowed him to be right about me. I hated myself for giving him that power.

We passed another road sign which I finally was able to read and I quickly searched the map. Unfortunately, Daddy felt I had taken way too long be that point so he started screaming at me. And I mean screaming, people! His veins in his neck were popping out, his eyes were piercing and his face redder than ever. He started weaving on the road as he reached over to grab the map from me. I yelled at him to pull over and to stop driving so crazy.  In crazy Daddy rationale he screamed if I weren’t so stupid and could read a fucking map he wouldn’t have to drive so crazy. So once again it was my fault which at this very point tipped me over the edge because like hell was he going to jeopardize my life. I don’t know what possessed me but I sat up straight in my seat and demanded he pull the car over. I remember at that moment being more afraid of his driving than what he would do to me for talking to him as I did.  I just can’t even begin to describe the rage Daddy had at that moment but his crazy driving exemplified how out of control he was. Finally, I held onto the front dash, closed my eyes and screamed over and over again at the top of my lungs until he pulled over, ‘PULL THIS G-D DAMM CAR OVER!” I think I actually scared Daddy because when I opened my eyes I was relieved he had pulled over to the side of the highway. Surprisingly, he didn’t get on to me about yelling at him. He looked at the map for a moment but then stopped, leaned his head back on the headrest and began rubbing his forehead. He whispered he couldn’t concentrate because I had upset him so much. He said his chest hurt and he just couldn’t take it anymore because I was hurting him so much. Sitting there with one hand on his head and the other on his chest for a good 20 minutes, he took a nap. I stayed silent. When he woke up he went back to looking on the map  for our location. When he found it he realized we were on the right road as that highway changed names a few times. It was almost as if you could see his anger deflate. He no longer was in a panic once he knew where we were. He put the car in gear and got back on the highway. As he did he threw the map at me telling me to fold it back up and return it to the glove compartment.

In my head I knew I was doomed. I couldn’t even put a simple puzzle together and here was this map that had to be folded exactly as he wanted. I could never please him and as mad as he was, if I didn’t fold this map properly, I just couldn’t imagine what his reaction would be next.

I started to attempt to fold the map while encouraging myself that I could do it. But, as time passed and my folding attempts weren’t working I began to tell myself how stupid I was for not being able to do such an easy task. I tried as hard as I could to hold back my tears but I couldn’t help it. I started crying out of sheer frustration and fear.  Daddy took the opportunity to voice his own opinion about my lack of ability (once again) by telling me how incompetent I was and to inform me any idiot could fold a map. By that point I couldn’t even see the map through my tears. Even so, I kept trying.  I had to keep trying. As  I opened one of the flaps part of the flap’s fold wouldn’t open with the rest of it. So, when I pulled it I heard a terrible ripping sound. I looked at Daddy hoping he had not seen or heard it. No such luck. Not only did he hear it but he was furious I had as he said intentionally torn his map. While keeping one hand on the steering wheel as he drove down the highway, he grabbed the map from me and threw it in the back seat. Then he leaned towards me using the same hand that took the map and while the car was swerving, he shoved my head into the passenger side window. I was shocked at first, then I felt my insides wanting to bowl up and and out. I wanted to explode with anger. I had to get out of that car and I had to get out right then. I started stomping my feet (while grabbing the car door handle) and screamed like a maniac for him to stop the damn car. I had to get out of that car. I kept screaming I wanted out of the car over and over again. I remember feeling the heat of my body rise as I screamed at the top of my lungs. My voice kept cracking because I was straining so hard to yell with all my might. I truly felt as if I had gone mad at that moment because I could not control the rage I was feeling. I’ll never forget the shocked and scared look on Daddy’s face. He pulled the car over almost immediately.   Before the car came to a full stop, I jumped out. I started walking in the opposite direction. I didn’t know where I was going. I just knew I had to get out of that car and away from the craziness.

Just as I got about a couple of feet away from Daddy’s car an old car from the 1970’s pulled off the highway and stopped right in front of me.  I stopped.  A nicely dressed gentleman jumped out of the car while holding up a badge. He said he was an undercover policeman. Oh shit, I thought.  He asked if he could be of any assistance. Before I could even get a word out Daddy was standing right behind me pulling out his business card from his wallet. Daddy told the policeman it was nothing more than the typical teenager problem. He eluded to the policeman that I was a troubled kid. I remember feeling trapped and so angry. I knew I was not the typical teenage kid. The policeman kept looking at me. His eyes were kind and I felt I could trust him. The policeman looked at Daddy’s business card as Daddy explained he was a lawyer. The Policeman looked at me and asked if everything was OK. I was too scared to say a word. Daddy answered for me. I could see the policeman was suspicious but with out me admitting there was a problem, there wasn’t anything he could do. I did want to tell the policeman but I was scared. Daddy had me believing I couldn’t trust anyone except for him. Daddy seemed nervous while talking to him. I wondered if the cop had seen the entire incident but as usual became worried for Daddy.

I remember thinking if I told the policeman the truth, I’d be taken away. I was terrified where I’d go. I was as equally afraid to go to strangers as I was to go to another family member because of the crap Daddy had fed me. He had lots of control over me. I hated myself for being so weak and unable to walk away from him. Because I didn’t admit anything to the policeman the cop let us go and Daddy escorted me back to the car. It was the craziest moment. I remember thinking to myself that Daddy’s abusive ways were wrong but he still was my dad. It would take years before I could even admit he was abusive out loud.

When we got back into the car Daddy was furious with me and began to verbally assault me. As Daddy pulled back onto the highway his yelling continued for what seemed like an eternity. He told me I could ruin his law practice with all of my shenanigans. He said the policeman was going to investigate and I would single handedly ruin all he’s spent years trying to build. I was numb again. I knew that was safer for me than the anger and rage I had just exhibited. I didn’t like myself for losing control in that way. I was exhausted.  As Daddy continued yelling at me I looked out the window. I noticed another bird flying above the trees. I began to imagine what it was like to sore that high. It was weird but for a little bit I was that bird and it felt so good. I was flying high above the car enjoying my freedom. It was so peaceful. No one was yelling at me or calling me names. I felt safe and I was happy.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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My Abusive Father (chapter 4)

1986-1987

Sometime in November of 1986, Daddy came home from work to tell me we needed a vacation. As you could imagine I was very suspicious. It had been almost a year since Momma had died and I could count on both hands how often he came home. His suggestion seemed to be totally out of the blue which got me asking why.  I mean, the only reason he’d come home was because he was fighting with his girlfriends and he had nowhere else to go. Coming home to be with me was never his first choice. So, why  volunteer to take me on a vacation? There was never a time we spend together that didn’t include me having to hear his yelling or experience his name calling. And as time went on he had started do make himself heard through more physical means. Like hell did I want to torture myself by going on vacation with him.

I just couldn’t help being suspicious as to why he’d want to take me. Even at 16 years old I was well aware Daddy wasn’t choosing to take me on a trip out of the kindness of his own heart. He had an ulterior motive. He ONLY did things that gave him a direct return and benefit. But, what it was I just couldn’t figure it out. Regardless of why he was wanting to go with me, the fact was I didn’t want to go with him. The thought of not only being trapped in the car with him for G-d knows how many hours but to be in a strange place with him was even (as my son says) a worser thought. Hoping I could somehow make something up like having a school commitment on the date he wanted to leave, I asked him when he wanted to go. He stuttered (as if he really hadn’t thought about it) and then told me we were going the following weekend. I tried my hardest to get out of it making up all kinds of excuses. But, I could not change Daddy’s mind and he made it very clear we were going together. He told me we needed to spend more time together and it would be good for us to get away. My heart dropped. It wasn’t as if we could handle what time we did have together. I was worried and my gut was telling me this wasn’t going to be a good idea at all.

I absolutely HATED to be in public with Daddy and then to be far from home on top of it was not something I was looking forward to doing. Daddy’s outbursts in public, were incredibly embarrassing.  I was somewhat numb to his yelling, berating and physical abuse at home but I wasn’t numb to other people’s reaction when Daddy did it in public. He always made a scene which caused people to stare at us. If there was someone standing near him while he was yelling at me, he would look at them for support. And god help me if that someone was a pretty woman. In those cases, watch out little lady because there was no stopping him wanting to hit on her. In those situations Daddy was like a wild lion with his eyes on fresh meat. He’d do whatever necessary to get his catch. In a weird warped way Daddy saw me as the way to lure them closer which allowed him to flirt and talk to her. In those cases where he saw a pretty woman nearby it wasn’t uncommon for him to suddenly break out into this poor widowed man raising his ungrateful and hateful teenage daughter. He really should have been on the big screen with these performances. He’d act sad and even rub his head if he thought that helped.  Once when one of the pretty women he tried to involve told him he was out of line, he dismissed her saying she wasn’t worth his time.  Gosh, I’ll never forget it. We were at the grocery store which were always memorable trips. He had to go down each isle even if he didn’t need anything on that isle. When he did need a product he’d calculate on his calculator which brand was the cheapest. Inevitably he’d punch in the wrong number and would have to do it over again.  It took forever! This particular day while he was doing his calculations I went to the tampon isle to get a box. When I returned, I put the box in the buggy. Daddy looked up from his calculator and asked me how much was that box. When I told him, he told me that was way too expensive. He demanded I return it for a cheaper brand. I was so embarrassed because Daddy was being so loud. I whispered to him it was the only brand that worked for me. Daddy got louder and said,”What do you mean that’s the only one that works for you? That can’t be!” All I wanted to do was to run out of that store to never ever return. He raised his voice even louder and demanded I go do as he said. But instead of doing what he wanted I told him I’d get a cheaper box of tampons if he got a cheaper box of body soap. See, he’d only buy one brand which was Dove soap because he said it was the only soap that worked for him. So, I figured I could play that game too. I remember thinking how ridiculous the argument was but most arguments with Daddy were. Why did this one have to be different?

Daddy followed me to the tampon isle to assist me in finding a cheaper box. In fact he was going to do a demonstration (and loudly I might add) on how to figure it out on his calculator. I refused to listen and to get a cheaper box.  When Daddy started arguing and threatening I could see a pretty young lady approaching. And just Daddy’s type too. You know thin, big boobs with some hips and we can’t forget the short skirt. Aw man! Why now? Why couldn’t she be ugly? Lady, hurry! RUN away while you can. It’s for your own good (and to keep down my own embarrassment too)!

It was too late. Daddy spotted her and had already checked her out from head to toe. He tried to engage the young woman in our argument. I could tell she was not happy with him and at first she tried to politely decline his offer clearly not wanting to get involved. Daddy was determined. He kept eying her legs and wasn’t discreet about it at all.  I hated this. I was so uncomfortable. Daddy was not only looking for her support but more importantly he was on the prowl for another good fuck.

Finally, the pretty woman had enough. She told daddy he was an idiot who needed help. Secretly, I was cheering and saying,”You go pretty lady!” The best part for me was that Daddy didn’t even see her comment coming because in her Southern lady like way, she smiled the entire time. By the time she walked away though my guilt took over and I felt bad for Daddy. I found myself embarrassed for him.

Anyway from past experiences I knew I’d be blamed. And sure enough before we could get out of the grocery store Daddy was blaming me. He said if I had listened to him, the entire situation would not have happened. And if I had done as I was told he would not have had to recruit a stranger.  So basically, it was me who made Daddy look like a fool. Because of instances like this one I was not looking forward to going on a long trip with him knowing what happened in the grocery store would happen on the road.

I was surprised when Daddy asked where I wanted to go on our trip. I loved the mountains and had thought that would be a good place to go. After all when Momma was alive we’d often go to the North Carolina mountains which held fond memories for me. So, if I was going to be miserable being with him at least I could be in a place I liked. He suggested going to Florida and asked what I thought about It. When I told him I wasn’t thrilled with Florida, he fired back saying St. Augustine would be the perfect place to go.  Daddy had always liked going to the beach but that was not my cup of tea at all. He continued by telling me it was a very historical place and there would be lots to do there. He was so adamant about going to St. Augustine. It seemed so arbitrary to choose that city to take a vacation. I couldn’t remember taking family vacations there so it wasn’t even a usual spot to go. And St. Augustine was just as far as it would have been to go to the mountains. So, it wasn’t as if he could say it was closer. I just couldn’t help but think he had his own motive to go there and his reason was not for the sake of us bonding. Oh please! I felt even though he had asked for my opinion, he really didn’t care. His only suggestion was St. Augustine and once he suggested it that was it. I had to like it and be thankful. There was no discussion.

I was surprised when Daddy said we would be leaving so soon. Why? It just seemed so sudden. I thought it was all so strange and for whatever reason I felt this need to figure it out.

My first thought was he must have had a fight with all of his girlfriends because he would never choose to spend a weekend with me if he had other options. He just didn’t do things arbitrarily. He always had a reason and it always benefitted him. I just couldn’t figure out how going to St. Augustine could benefit him. I had theories of why but none of them were confirmed.

One thought I had was Daddy needed to get out of town because he owed someone money and they were looking for him. He owed many people money so this was certainly a viable reason for him to leave town. Maybe he got wind this someone he owed money to was coming into town a specific weekend which conveniently became the weekend we were leaving for St. Augustine. But, that wouldn’t account for why it had to be there except if Daddy had to leave town, was going where he wanted since the world revolved around him.

My other thought was his girlfriends were mad at him (possibly having broken up with him). In the day of no cell phones he wanted to get the girlfriends to worry about him. He figured if he disappeared and took me, his girlfriends would get worried when they couldn’t reach him. That still wouldn’t account for why it had to be St. Augustine. Daddy being so pushy about going there only added to my suspicion.

Many, many years later  I found old slides from the 1950’s that could have been a clue. Daddy was vacationing with an unidentified woman and they appeared to be in Florida and possibly St. Augustine. That’s when I thought maybe the reason he wanted to go to St. Augustine was to reconnect with that woman. He probably took me as his prop. You know like getting puppy and taking it to the dog park to meet people.  By having me with him he could use the excuse that I chose the location and while there he thought he’d look her up. Daddy was always impulsive and he never thought his plans through very well. The fact that everything was closed (off season) and it was too cold for the beach, I can’t imagine any teenager choosing to go to St. augustine. However, Daddy never asked for my opinion. This scenario would have made the most sense especially if his girlfriends had indeed broken up with him. He hated to be alone and he was always scheming to add another. It’s like the philosophy in the corporate world- you have better chances to bring back an old customers than you are with trying to get new ones. Using the same philosophy Daddy felt he would have a better chance of going after someone he had already dated than trying to meet someone new. It sounds crazy but that was my Dad for you- yes, crazy!

I dreaded the day we were leaving and it couldn’t come slow enough.  And when it arrive it was very stressful. As I have explained in my other chapters Daddy had a procedure to doing everything and there was no changing it or speeding it up. Well, actually there was a little altering because on the days we needed to pack, he’d eat first, pack and then shower since he’d sweat so badly during packing process.

Each and every aspect of preparing to leave was a huge ordeal to say the least. First came breakfast which took a good two hours. There was the having to wait until his juice was at room temperature before he could drink it and then his usual preparation of his sardines, salad items and coffee. As I’ve said Daddy had an order and his entire breakfast would be ruined if it was altered in any way. And because Daddy always came first every family member had to do it his way. My sister and I were talking recently and even though so many years have passed, neither of us have forgotten the way in which Daddy did things. The thing is I suppose it wasn’t necessarily his process but it was his demand on us to do it his way. And if we didn’t we were incompetent, stupid or whatever else came to his mind to insult us.

OK, so after breakfast (as he got older and had more issues with his stomach) he’d have to go sit on the toilet to shit everything out that he had just eaten for breakfast. That was a good 45 minute process. After he was done on the toilet he would begin packing. To no surprise he had a very strict method to how things had to be packed. Because of that strict method there was no way he could pack the previous evening as he’d always tell me. Yes, I know. It doesn’t make sense but when it came to Daddy that was par for the course. Once he packed to a certain point he’d take his shower. The packing, showering and finishing packing was easily an hour in a half process, if not longer. It was incredibly aggravated the amount of time everything took when dealing with Daddy. However, no matter how frustrated I was G-d help me if I showed it on my face or in my behavior because that would make him really angry. However by now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself what didn’t make Daddy mad? And you know what? That was a great question.

The night before we were going to St. Augustine Daddy told me he wanted to leave in the morning by 9:00 am. He said I was to pack and be ready to leave by the time we ate breakfast. The next morning I did just as he asked and brought my suitcase down from my room on my way to breakfast. But as usual Daddy wasn’t ready at all. In fact he had not even started his morning routine which meant he hadn’t even packed. It was obvious we weren’t leaving at 9:00 am. As an attempt to speed things up I offered to clean up the kitchen from breakfast so Daddy could get ready. Since I knew it was going to be a good while before he would be back downstairs I went into the den to watch TV when I was done in the kitchen. I would have put my stuff into the car but that was not allowable. Only Daddy could pack the car because he had a specific way it had to be done. SURPRISE! And more than anything he hated when tasks were repeated for no reason. For example if I put my suitcase in his trunk and he had to take it out to put in his suitcase that was double the work which made him infuriated. So, there I sat waiting for Daddy. Soon I’d come to find out what a huge mistake that was as that was the day I had learned I was not allowed to sit and relax as long as Daddy wasn’t able. His spontaneous rules drove me INSANE! They were never consistent. What was a hard and fastened rule one day would change entirely the next day.

As I was watching TV I heard Daddy screaming my name from upstairs. As I had mentioned when Daddy called for me I had to get to where he was immediately. If I didn’t run quickly enough (according to his interpretation of quickly enough) he’d get angry. And if I didn’t hear him? Well, there was never an excuse for not hearing him.

I ran to Daddy’s room as fast as I could. I even skipped stairs to get to his room faster. Out of breath by the time I got to his room I thought I had gotten there in good time. But, once in his room his screaming showed I was clearly wrong. He was furious because he had to call for me twice and I came only after his second call. The entire time he yelled at me from bathroom he said I was extremely lucky he couldn’t reach me to hit the shit out of me. Once he was finished yelling at me for being too slow he asked if I had any idea why the hot water had run out. When I reminded him I had washed the dishes he yelled, “You are a total idiot for doing that before I took my shower!”  I tried to talk to him. It was so crazy because just before he went upstairs I had started washing the dishes. In fact he told me to make sure the dishes were spotless before placing them in the dishwasher. And according to his rules that meant to use hot water. There was nothing I could say to diffuse his anger so I just stood there with out anything to say. What could I say? It was a good 15 minutes I stood there being yelled at by my beloved father. Finally, he had enough and told me to get out of his sight. He said my stupidity disgusted him. I went downstairs to continue to watch TV.

A good hour had passed when I heard Daddy’s bedroom door open. I could hear him dragging his suitcase down the stairs. When he came to the doorway of the den he angrily threw his bag down. I thought he was still mad at me for the hot water incident. I was totally surprised when he yelled, “What, are you the fucking princess around here that you have time to sit on your ass doing nothing?” I told him I had finished packing and was ready to go. He was red faced by this point and started pacing as an attempt to keep from being too angry. Yeah well no such luck. He was really angry. He started yelling that as soon as I heard him open his bedroom door I should have jumped up immediately to help him with his bags. And after I was to help him with his suitcase then I was to ask him what else needed to be done. So since I couldn’t think for myself, I was to follow him around the house while he finished getting ready to leave.  I was to watch closely and without him having to tell me help him when he needed. It was a fine line though. If I helped too much he’d get pissed and if I didn’t help enough he’d get pissed.  The hardest part for me was to pay attention. To keep my sanity I would often daydream about being somewhere else.

It seemed to take forever for Daddy to finish gathering his things for the trip and there I was following him like a lost puppy. If I stood too close he’d shove me away and if I was too far from him he’d grab me to pull me closer. And not being perceptive enough as to how I could help him, he’d throw items at me telling me to be useful and put it where he needed it. When he threw his shaving cream at me I was looking in the other direction. It hit me in the head pretty hard. I yelled, “What the hell, Daddy?” With a wicked smile on his face he told me I got what I deserved since I wasn’t paying attention.

While he packed the car I had to continue to follow him around.  For every little thing I did or didn’t do he’d yell at me. I was so flustered and exhausted.  My brain was mush.

Just before we we were ready to leave, Daddy asked me to go to his room to get his toiletry bag. Knowing I had only so much time to get it, I rushed upstairs to his room where I saw a toiletry bag on his bed and one in his bathroom.  Which one was it? I looked at the one in the bathroom and could see it wasn’t packed. The one on his bed felt packed but to be sure I looked inside. Sure enough there was his toothpaste, toothbrush and other toiletries. At that point he was yelling at me because it was taking me too long. I remember thinking, “Now that’s calling the kettle black.” But, I did not say it out loud.

I grabbed his bag on the bed, ran downstairs and handed it to him. Daddy looked at the toiletry bag I handed to him, he threw it at me and yelled, “G-d dam-nit! You got the wrong one. Do I have to do everything around here?”  As he told me to follow him back upstairs I tried to tell him the other bag one was in his bathroom but it wasn’t packed. He wouldn’t answer me. Once we got upstairs Daddy walked into his room and pointed towards his dresser. I was still in the hallway so I had to walk into his room to see. When I looked to see where he was pointing I was shocked to see another toiletry bag sitting on his dresser.  I tried to explain he had one in the bathroom, one on his bed and that one on his dresser. How could I know which one to choose? I didn’t dare tell him I hadn’t even seen the one on his dresser.  Daddy shoved me into his dresser telling me I was being disrespectful. Then, he told me to get the hell out of his sight because once again I was useless. Beyond frustrated, it was a pleasure to walk away from him. At least I could stop following him around. I waited in the car to keep out of his way.

Daddy finally got all of his stuff gathered, packed and put in the car by 2:00 pm. It truly had been the longest morning of my life. My brain was tired and my eyes were swollen from crying all morning. Thank G-d we were in the car on our way to get this hellish vacation over.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge-flowers

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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