I had been living with the professor and his wife for about 4 months and I had not seen Daddy since I walked out. We had spoken on the phone a few times but pretty much the conversations revolved around something Daddy wanted me to do, I’d refuse and then it would end with his insults and yelling at me. The professor’s wife would not like it when I’d yell back at Daddy on the phone. She would tell me over and over again to “stop engaging in the same behavior as my Dad.” She taught me to stay calm and to not yell back which I discovered made Daddy even angrier. But, the professor’s wife rehearsed with me the different scenarios that could possibly take place while talking to Daddy, so I’d be prepared with whatever he said. That really was such a poignant time for me as I was slowly learning how to separate from him. I was learning to tell him no even though I felt guilty for doing it.
I’ll never forget the first phone call I received after I had practiced with the professor’s wife. She had answered the phone and asked him to hold a moment while she got me. I was in my room when she yelled up the stairs to tell me my dad was on the phone. As I was running down the stairs because I knew it would make him mad to wait, she stopped me. She motioned with her hands for me to slow down and she whispered, “Take a deep breath before picking up the phone.” I did and when I put the receiver to my ear I nervously said, “hello?” Daddy immediately responded, “What the hell is wrong with you? How long were you planning to have me wait?” I started to explain I was not near the phone but the professor’s wife motioned for me to stop. I did and asked him what he needed. Obviously, Daddy was in a bad mood, so I knew the conversation was going to be uneventful. That was one good thing about him. There was no hiding his pissy moods. You knew as soon as you said hello to him if he was going to cut you down with his words or if he was going to be sweet and loving. I always hated the seconds before I knew.
Daddy ignored my question as he continued yelling at me. You would have thought I left him holding for hours on the phone by the way he was behaving. The professor’s wife whispered, “Just say you are sorry he feels he had to wait so long and then ask him again what he wants.” I did as she instructed which made Daddy even angrier. The professor’s wife was blown away with the way in which Daddy’s anger was escalating. She told me it was abusive and I should tell him I need to go and when he calmed down we could talk. I didn’t listen to her because, well I was afraid to say that to him. I know it’s weird and crazy but that was where I was and I just couldn’t do it. But, I did continue to remain calm and didn’t allow him to press my anger button. Finally after a good 20 minutes he told me he was moving to a new place. My heart stopped as I thought he was going to demand I help him. I was so relieved when that wasn’t it. Instead he told me he could no longer continue schlepping my belongings from house to house so therefor I needed to come get my stuff. First of all, I remember thinking that it wasn’t my fault he had to keep moving so often. See, that had become common for him after Momma died because he kept pissing people off and oh yeah, he’d also not pay them which was a little problematic. He shouldn’t have been able to get another place to live but if they refused to rent to him, he would threaten them with a discrimination law suit. And get this. Guess on what grounds he’d say they discriminated him? Are you ready? He’d tell them it was because he was Jewish. OK people, how in the hell would they have known he was Jewish I bet you’re asking yourself? After all they don’t ask that on any form when renting. Well, at least not in the 1990’s. Well, get this. He’d contact the management and would ask for a tour around the property to see if he’d be interested in renting there. Daddy would use that time to schmooze with them. Let me add that it was always a perk for Daddy if management was a pretty woman. If you read the earlier chapters you’ll know why.
Anyway, during that schmoozing time he would tell stories and talk about being Jewish. So, when or if they declined to rent to him once he made a decision to take the apartment he would claim it was because they were anti Semitic. Of course it was never because of his bad credit or his trail of debts he owed. According to Daddy the management was willing to rent to him because they gave him a tour of the property but once he mentioned he was Jewish they suddenly didn’t want to rent to him. It was incredible how he could twist situations. Only once did a place decline Daddy before he had the chance to tell them he was Jewish. He was so mad because he really liked that place. That one made me laugh. But what I hated the most was after he’d threaten them, he would ask them for something in return for all the stress they caused him. Not wanting to mess with a lawyer It wasn’t uncommon for him to end up with a free month or two of rent. One apartment complex gave him storage space! It was incredible.
But back to Daddy wanting me to get my belongings. While on the phone with him I had no idea how much stuff he needed me to pick up. When I asked him he made it sound like he had 25 boxes of mine. I tried to explain to him I was living in someone else’s house and only had one small room. He didn’t care. That wasn’t his problem. I ignored him and asked if he could please bring the boxes to me since I didn’t have a car. With every comment or question I asked he got angrier. He told me I was incredibly selfish and that I didn’t give a damn about him. He yelled at me for a good 15 minutes. During that time the professor’s wife had asked me what was happening. As soon as I had explained it to her, she told me it didn’t matter how much stuff there was, she’d help me pick it up. She whispered to me to ask him when I needed to be there and she’d call her friend to help us since she had a truck. So, once he was sort of finished yelling at me I asked him. At first Daddy couldn’t tell me when I could pick up my things. Now, here he called me to tell me my belongings were in his way but then he couldn’t tell me when I could pick it all up? What the hell? Finally, he told me I had to pick up my things that Sunday and that Sunday only. Here he had called on a Thursday afternoon and he knew I’d have to figure out how to pick up my belongings. That just wasn’t a lot of time. He made it very clear I was to be there by 1:00pm and if I didn’t show up or if I were late, he’d trash all of my things. I assured him I would be there. The professor’s wife called her friend to ask if she could help us since I apparently had so many boxes to pick up. I was relieved when everything was all set up and we had a truck to get my stuff.
I was SO freaking nervous on Sunday as we were driving to Daddy’s new place. I hadn’t seen Daddy since he punched me and I was worried he’d make a scene. I just wanted Sunday to be over. The professor’s wife and her friend took me out to lunch to help me pass the time and then we headed over to Daddy’s new place. When we arrived at 12:45 on the dot, Daddy was nowhere to be seen. I was ready to leave but the professor’s wife assured me she had time to wait. I felt so bad to be wasting hers and her friend’s time. Daddy would not tell me his apartment number, so I had no way of knowing if he was at the apartment complex or not. At around 1:30 Daddy and a few strong looking men walked out of one of the apartments headed to a UHaul truck sitting in the parking lot. Daddy smirked as if to be satisfied he made us wait. Without waisting time the professor’s wife asked where we needed to get my things so we could get it out of his way. Daddy seemed confused by that question. In the back of my mind I had thought he probably actually had no clue what was mine, so he didn’t even have my things separated. And sure enough as he walked onto the UHaul he started opening boxes to figure out which had my belongings in them. The professor’s wife didn’t hold back and asked him if he had everything separated. Daddy gave the excuse the boxes had gotten mixed up and he’d have to open each of them to see. Meanwhile, um, he didn’t think to label the box? But, knowing him he made last minute arrangements to move and when they came he wasn’t packed. So, they just threw this and that into a box without any rime or reason. Oy!
I remembered being worried that the professor’s wife and friend had to wait for Daddy to go through the boxes. They were annoyed with him for that and I didn’t want them to be angry with him. Daddy was displaying his charming side which they didn’t buy one bit. However, I wanted to buy it. I wanted to hug Daddy and tell him how much I loved him. He had this way of looking at you with these very intense eyes that said, “I need you.” UGH, even to this day I can still see the intensity of his eyes and his need to have me in his life. And yet I knew then as I do now that I couldn’t be the daughter he wanted. I could not allow him to control me in a way that only benefitted him and most importantly was not healthy for me. I hated that trapped feeling! I hated Daddy couldn’t see his level of control therefor forcing me to stay away from him. I just hated it all and only wanted some normalcy in my life.
Just when the professor’s wife suggested to Daddy we return when he had all of my belongings gathered, Daddy started handing us individual items to take. It was embarrassing to see the shocked faces of the professor’s wife and her friend as he handed me my jewelry box he pulled from a box with his kitchen items in it. As he opened each box he found something to give me whether it was mine or not. I suppose since I was there he was obligated to hand me something. The professor’s wife asked Daddy for an empty box to put the individual items. So get this. After all of the ranting about my stuff being in his way, when it was all said and done, I had one filled box, a box one third filled and a trunk filled with my clothes I had left behind. I remember the professor’s wife and her friend couldn’t believe all of the fuss Daddy had made over my belongings and how incredibly long it took him to give me my things. I realized as I was standing and looking at my few belongings that Daddy had only use it as an excuse to be able to see me. But, what a crazy way to do it. In fact he was surprised when I left so soon after getting my things. But, that was Daddy. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had expected me to hang out for a while. I’m sure he made a point to tell his girlfriends that I didn’t even stay to help him schlep his stuff from the UHaul to his apartment. It was common for him to create these scenario’s in his head and then be totally pissed off when you didn’t do it as he had planned. I hated that entire I love you, no I hate you roller coaster ride. Regardless of the many truths I was beginning to see in Daddy, it was still very hard to leave him that day. You have to understand too, I was familiar with him. It was my norm for so long. But, the longer I was away from him and the more people around me who witnessed his behavior, they helped me to see his world was far from normal.
After seven months at the home of the Professor and his wife things were beginning to get strained. Listen, let me first say their hospitality and kindness I greatly appreciated however the professor’s wife definitely had control issues. Whenever she made a suggestion for me I quickly learned she expected me to do it. Because I was living in her home and not paying rent (for the first 6 months) I did feel obligated to do as she requested even though her advice wasn’t always good for me. For instance her son was the manager at a bar about 5 blocks from where I lived. Her son needed to hire a person to wash and sanitize the dishes. Here was the catch though. He needed that person from 10 pm to 2am. The thing was I by no means was opposed to working that job. I was desperate to work and needed something convenient to where I was living because I didn’t have a car. Not having a car limited me and kept me from many good jobs. Anyway, the professor’s wife thought that job would be a perfect job since it was in walking distance. Gosh, that would have been fine if it were in the day time or even early in the evening. But wholly crap the 2am thing really scared me. I was terrified to walk home that early in the morning especially when the streets were so deserted. And aside from my own fear there had been several reports of a rapist attacking women in that very neighborhood who were walking or jogging alone in the early morning. It was strange how the professor’s wife knew of those dangers but seemed unconcerned for me. When she first told me of the job and I expressed my concern, she told me I was in no place to turn down a job. She felt I was being spoiled. But, I wasn’t. I had no problem working 5 jobs if I could fit them into my schedule. Bottom line was I was worried for my safety. However because I needed a place to live and because she held the power in deciding my fate, I took the job of dishwasher to keep her from being mad at me. At first I asked for a ride home from other staff members who were still there by the time I was done. But because I was the dishwasher, I usually was the last one there. Well, the manager who was the professor and his wife’s son was the other person there. I once asked him for a ride. It wasn’t just raining but it was also storming outside. I couldn’t believe he told me he was going in a different direction and therefor couldn’t take me home. Meanwhile, when I was running home that night, I was so upset when the manager drove right by me. He even drove through a puddle which splashed all over me. I remember thinking that only happened in movies but there I stood proof it does happen in real life. OK, after that I was so pissed off. A few weeks later the manager complained to his mom, who then complained to me, that he didn’t like I was asking other staff members for a ride home. His mom told me it was my responsibility and I wasn’t to ask for a ride home anymore. I thought it was so strange. Why did they care so much if I was getting a ride home? I started to feel I was living back with Daddy and having to deal with his ridiculous games. And here I was back in another controlling situation with the drama. How in the hell did that happen? I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for what the professor and his wife were doing for me but the longer I was there the more controlling the professor’s wife seemed to want to have over me. Much of the drama started when I began working for her son and at the same time when her daughter started complaining about me living in her parent’s house. It felt as if the children were placing me in the middle of what had already been a strained relationship between the children and their parents. Why me? I didn’t mean to cause any added problems but there was no way around it as their children became more involved. I knew my time there was ticking and I would need another plan. Oy! What would I do? It scared me. I had money saved but it was for school, books and living expenses. I didn’t have enough of a consistent and steady income to pay for an apartment. But, I knew if I could just appease the professor’s wife I would buy a little time to figure it out. My first step though was to quit the dishwashing job without making waves. I couldn’t take the son being nice to me when I saw him but then would tell his mom lies about me later. It got to a point I’d have to worry if his mom was mad at me because of something her son told her. Afraid she was going to kick me out, I did whatever I could to make her not mad at me. It bothered me so much that she believed her son even when she had told me on numerous occasions of her son’s many lies and games he’d play. I suppose she really wanted to believe him in this case, so there wasn’t anything I could have said to convince her otherwise. I just had to keep moving forward and try to ignore what I could.
I was so happy to be able to quit my job as dishwasher after three months of working there. At that point I could easily justify quitting to the professor’s wife because I had other jobs that paid more with better hours. I worked on the campus of my college, I was working at my Synagogue and I had a steady babysitting job with a family down the street. All of them worked so perfectly with my class schedule. It felt good to finally earn enough money to pay for my room at the professor and his wife’s home. I paid $150 a month and I was happy to be able to do it. It gave me some power back.
I felt in control of my life and I was proud of the direction I was taking. My life was looking up. I had declared my major which was fine arts. And even though I was lonely and missed my own home, I was making good choices. I was making good friends and I was figuring out my niche in life. College was a safe haven for me as it was a barrier to the real, outside world. I had been in that outside world and I knew how scary it was. I was more than happy to stay put where I was while in a lot of ways trying to find myself and my inner strength. It was interesting because the more dependent I was getting the more restrictive the professor’s wife was becoming with me. She started to inquire where I was going, why I needed to go somewhere and she started to inquire about personal things like my grades. It was odd. My only explanation was her children were lying about me and whatever they were telling her made her worry. And I don’t mean worried for me but worried for the safety of her home. It was crazy. I found myself out of the rat race with Daddy but here I was in another one.
I knew I needed to go ahead and find another place to live before things disintegrated too far at the professor and his wife’s home. I was greatly appreciative for what they had done for me and I never wanted to leave on bad terms. However, I knew I would need to be very creative and would have to think outside of the box to figure out how I could do it with my very limited resources. I made a list of everyone I knew and thought about what service I could do for them in exchange for being able to live with them. One family kept coming to mind. I thought about the people I had been babysitting their 2 year old daughter. I absolutely loved their child and thought maybe I could make an arrangement with them in exchange. They had a large room on their third floor. I thought I could ask them if I could stay there in exchange for babysitting. But, I knew they were very private people and probably wouldn’t want someone in their home which I couldn’t blame them. Then, I remembered the dad had said on several occasions he wanted a garage to park his car. That got me thinking. Now, I don’t know what possessed me because looking back on it, my suggestion seemed a bit forward. But, I knew I had to try. My idea was they could build the garage the husband always wanted but maybe they’d consider placing an apartment with it. Knowing they could use a regular babysitter and I needed a place to live, I thought it would have been a perfect partnership. I could stay in that apartment and in exchange I would babysit for them on an agreed amount of time. There were several friends who thought I was crazy not necessarily for the idea but for having the nerve to present it to the family. I’ve never asked the mom what she initially thought when I approached her with the idea. But, from what I remember she seemed intrigued with the idea and not offended that I asked. They took a couple of weeks to think about it. I was hopeful as I had no other idea. Yep, I had all of my eggs in that one basket. I can’t even begin to tell you how elated I was when they told me they were going to build a garage with an apartment above it. Once they had chosen a design and met with their contractor they told me that it would take about 6 months build. I was so excited and on cloud nine by the news. However, I had to float down to earth to figure out where I’d live for roughly six months. I knew I needed to leave the home of the professor and his wife. Having learned a little bit from living with Daddy I knew I needed to get out before the tension grew. It was then that my adopted mom stepped forward and offered for me to stay with them during the interim. And back into the clouds I went. I was overjoyed I had everything set up. My only concern was living with my adopted family. I didn’t want to seem as if I was taking advantage in any way. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much I cared about them so I wanted to be so careful I didn’t ruin that relationship by living with them.
Listen, those 6 months in my adopted family’s home were the best. I have so many awesomely wonderful memories that I still think about to this day. It was the first time since I was 15 years old that I actually had three meals a day available to me. I was allowed to eat dinner with the family and I loved it. OK, it made me nervous because I knew I’d have to talk but I have to credit those times as what helped me out of my shell. It was special to me that I was always included in their round the table conversation on how everyone’s day went. Especially at first it was extremely hard for me to participate. I had not been used to being allowed to tell someone about my day. Only at those dinners did I realize I was responsible for many years to hear about Daddy’s day and if there was something wrong (which was often) I had to help come up with a solution. Daddy never had time to ask about my day and often he would tell me he had much bigger problems than me. So, I learned to not talk about it. So, you could imagine how shocked I was to be given that opportunity. And even more so if I had a problem, I was overwhelmingly shocked when everyone would make a suggestion on how to solve it. You have to understand from where I was coming. I had never been valued or validated. And something so simple as asking about my day that alone gave me that value and validation that I was important. It was hard for me to understand why others would be interested in me. That’s how foreign it all was to me at that time. The time living with my adopted family was life changing for me. I loved every aspect of being part of a family. Listen, my sister and I had many wonderful memories together. We used to sit and laugh over nothing. The difference was we had a Dad who would tell us to shut up because we were being too loud and would often make us stop laughing. However, when I lived with this family, it sounds incredibly dumb, but we were allowed to laugh. That in itself was so meaningful because something so menial was huge for me.
While I was living with my adopted family Daddy started calling me regularly. Part of me felt he was embarrassed there was this other family taking care of me. And more importantly, he wanted to show he hadn’t deserted me as I might have told them. He had an image to uphold and he wanted to show them I was the one who was lying. Now, I don’t know that for a fact but it would have been with in the realm of his way of thinking. During that time Daddy had called me to tell me he wanted to buy me a car. I was blown away by his offer. As excited as I wanted to be, I was very suspicious. He just never did things for other people. It was always about benefitting him. So, where was his benefit?
Over the course of several conversations Daddy told me he had found an old car for me. I made it clear over the course of those conversations that I could not afford to pay for the insurance. He told me over and over again he’d pay for it. But that too made me nervous. That would mean he’d have control. My adopted mother overheard several of the conversations and without overtly giving me her opinion, her questions clearly told me how she felt about it. In essence she too questioned Daddy’s credibility. But, once again even though I knew of Daddy’s track record, I wanted to believe that time he wanted to do something for me. During one of my conversations with Daddy, he mentioned he found a car for me. He said he just had a little problem. In order to get the good deal he needed to go ahead and put down half of the money. That was when Daddy said, “I know I promised you a car and I said I’d pay for it. And I will pay for it. My word is my word. I’m just waiting to get paid by one of my clients which they promised to do in a month. But, I need that money now. Would it be possible to borrow a $1,000 and I will pay you back in a month when the other money comes in?” I clearly remembered telling Daddy I had the money but it was for school tuition. Now, here’s the thing. Daddy had been filing me as a dependent on his taxes, so in order for me to have gotten money for school, I had to have his income tax returns. Since he refused to give them to me, I had to obtain independence by filing my own taxes for at least one year. That meant until I got that status I had to pay for my college tuition. So while waiting it turned out I had to pay for two quarters. I had been working for many months and was able to save that money which totaled $1,000. I guess my point was I was in that predicament of paying for college because of him and I was going to be so stupid to give him that money for a car he promised to buy for me? OK, well call me stupid because I gave Daddy the $1,000. On the check I wrote loan for car to be paid back and then I gave the next month’s date. I also placed a note with the money stating I had to have the money back by that certain date because I had to pay for my next quarter at college. He even called me when he received it and promised he would get it back to me by that date.
A few weeks later I had moved into my brand spanking new studio apartment. I had mixed emotions. I was sad to be leaving the security of my adopted family but I was excited to have my own space. It was a beautiful apartment. I had been in my new apartment a few days when Daddy called to ask me if I was ready to test drive my new car. He told me he was going to pick me up in an hour and we’d go look at it. When I saw the car I wasn’t thrilled with it. Listen, I didn’t care so much how it looked but it was a car from the 1970’s and was huge. But, I had to remind myself that at least it was a car. Daddy told me he wanted to drive it first. He had the entire engine rebuilt and he wanted to make sure everything was done correctly. So, he hopped into the driver’s seat and into the passenger’s seat. While driving down one of the main roads Daddy accelerated and slowed down to check out the new engine. While he was putting it through his own gluttony of tests Daddy told me he had to explain a bunch of things to me. He then said, “OK, I looked into insurance and your best bet is going to be…” Before he could even finish I cut him off and asked him what he meant. I reminded him that he had offered to pay for the insurance. And like we had never had our previous conversations, he started to talk to me as if I was a prima Dona expecting it from my Daddy. I got upset and said, “Daddy, I didn’t ask you to buy a car for me. You offered it. When I told you a car would be nice but don’t worry about it since I can’t afford the insurance, you told me you’d pay for it.” As if I hadn’t said a thing Daddy kept talking to me like I was a spoiled brat not getting her way and he was going to teach me a lesson. That was when Daddy said, “Listen kiddo, you only paid $1,000 for this car. I paid an added $2,000 to get it to where it needed to be to make it safe for you to drive.” I could feel the heat in my body rise from my feet to my head. I was floored by what he had said to me. I was angry and extremely hurt. I started to cry. I looked at Daddy and said, “You told me the $1,000 I gave you was a loan and that you would pay me back when you got paid by your client! Daddy, I told you I had to have that money for college. I gave you all I had and no longer have money to attend college next quarter. How could you screw me like this?” Daddy got mad. He started yelling at me that it wasn’t the time to back out. I yelled back at him, “Back out of what? I didn’t agree to any of this! Daddy, you lied to me and now I’m going to pay the price. You stole my $1,000!” He got angry and started to drive erratically. Something inside me clicked. I knew it was a waste of my time to try to get my money back. It was gone. I told Daddy to take me home. He tried to tell me all he had done for me and how much he had bent over backwards to get me that car. I told him I never asked for him to do it and I would have never given him my money if I had known I wouldn’t have gotten it back.
When Daddy handed the car keys to the gentleman who fixed it up, he told him he’d call him later. It was incredibly sad because that gentleman seemed proud of the work he had done on the car and he wasn’t sure why Daddy wasn’t as equally excited. As he drove me home I wouldn’t say a word. By that point I couldn’t believe Daddy had screwed me over so blatantly. How could he do this? Why did he do this? And now I was screwed. All I could think about was what my adopted mom told me about giving Daddy the money. And here I was thinking she was so right. But, that didn’t change my situation nor did it change what Daddy had done to me. The weird part about it all was how in the hell did he think it was all going to play out? He just thought I was going to go along with it? I guess he didn’t care because he got the money from me. Just as soon as Daddy stopped in front of my new apartment, I opened the car door to get out. Crying, I said, “I can’t believe you screwed me and would do this to me!” I slammed his car door and ran as fast as I could to my apartment. I was so stupid! Why did I keep giving Daddy another chance? Didn’t I have enough proof he wasn’t to be trusted? Why in G-d’s name did I need him so badly? I sat on the floor of my apartment totally numb by what Daddy had done. That single event above any of his hitting, shoving or punching sessions was the most painful thing he had done to me. Maybe because it forced me to look at not only his character but mine as well. And during that self reflection I felt my heart had been ripped a part. Looking back I do believe that was the day I chose to stuff my emotions so far down into my gut it would take another 20 years before they’d surface again. I also started to admit to a few people my Dad was not a nice person. But, I did so in a very distant way.
An entire year would go by before I’d hear from Daddy again.