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My Abusive Father- chapter 21

Well after accidentally hanging up on Daddy, I thought it would be best to not call him back. Listen, he wasn’t like most people (as if you haven’t figured that out by now) where he’d cool off as time passed.  Nope, his anger would escalate. But not calling him back had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. I didn’t want to deal with his temper tantrum, so I made the unusual decision to not call him. I had chosen to take the control. In the past I would have called him right back to apologize. It wasn’t as if I debated the idea either. I just didn’t want to deal with him and so I didn’t.  I even thought about taking my phone off the hook so he wouldn’t have the chance to call me. But, he was the kind who would have called the operator, acted all frantic and worried making the operator think I had been attacked by a burglar which would have convinced the operator to check my phone line. Then, if the operator told him it was off of the hook, he would have called the family who owned my apartment to ask them to check on me. And because he didn’t have their phone number he would have called the husband at work and made a HUGE production out of it. So, knowing what Daddy was capable of doing I would do whatever was necessary to keep him from bothering/contacting any of the people who were providing for me. I was terrified he would ruin all that I had worked hard to have as Daddy was known for his destruction. Also, more than anything it totally nauseated me of how he’d pretend to be concerned about me when in reality he was only concerned about me when he needed me or my money. I wanted to keep Daddy away from those folks who had done so much for me. I never wanted him to insult them or say something out of place which I thought would ruin all that I did have. Listen, Daddy had a way of harassing people. My greatest fear was that my adopted family and the family whose garage apartment I was living in would have found it easier to get rid of me so they wouldn’t have to deal with Daddy. So, I did whatever I could to keep him separated from them.

Listen, even though I wanted to keep that separation it was hard for me. I felt guilty during holidays when I was invited to other people’s homes and Daddy was excluded. And yet I had a valid reason to exclude him. The thing was I wanted to be proud of my Dad and I wanted more than anything to have him in my life. But, I was learning that the way Daddy wanted to be involved in my life was of course not healthy but it also wasn’t conducive to living my life as I needed.

Once I did allow my guilt to wear me down and I broke my rule of keeping Daddy separated. It will forever be engraved in my brain the one Passover my adopted mother asked if I wanted to invite Daddy to join them/us for one of the Seders at her house. She did not know about Daddy’s abusive behavior as I never had told her. However, she knew there was something not right with him. Not that she ever said anything to me but I could sense she knew. Anyway, I remember feeling so confused. I wanted him there but I was afraid of how Daddy would behave. I didn’t want my adopted parents to hate me if Daddy behaved badly. Sadly, I was used to blaming myself and reaping the consequences if something went wrong. But that was my own projection never my adopted family’s. Even though I knew of Daddy’s great potential to make an ass out of himself, I still wanted to be with him especially during the holidays. Oh, how I tortured myself with being afraid of what I would say “might happen” (when in essence it always happened) and me wanting to be with my Daddy.

My adopted mother never expressed her anger or dislike for my father even when she knew he was neglectful. Instead, she remained neutral. Now, that didn’t mean she refrained from giving me advice. But, with the advice she never said anything bad about Daddy and only made suggestions that were good for me.  I think at the time I wanted her to tell me how wrong Daddy was so I could stop blaming myself. However, I can see where I needed to come to that realization on my own. And the truth of the matter I’m not so sure I could have accepted that honesty about Daddy at that time anyway.

After going back and forth I ultimately decided to invite Daddy.  But as usual because of my decision the weeks leading up to the Seder were excruciating for me. I was beyond nervous and worried because I couldn’t know how Daddy was going to behave. He could make an ass out of himself and in turn would make me feel so embarrassed. Then as I started thinking about what could potentially happen I got mad at myself for having invited him. What the hell was I thinking? Why did I do that to myself? What could I have potentially subjected my adopted family to and how would Daddy treat them? Why did I feel sorry for Daddy so much that I had that need to invite him? Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, I was!

The night before the Seder I remember wanting to numb myself with whatever drugs I could get my hands on but I was so frustrated because I no longer had those contacts to even get any. It was the first time in years I had that need to be wasted. I realized it had been triggered by my fear of Daddy. What the hell was wrong with me? That night I couldn’t stand all that was racing through my head. I was the problem! I knew it was me who was allowing Daddy to continue to hurt me over and over again. Where was my strength to stop him? I wanted the madness to stop! My head continued to race with so many thoughts that I couldn’t control. In the past it was the drugs that would help me. How easy it could have been for me to go back to that drug induced madness but I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t ruin my life that way. But, how do I control my thoughts? How do I learn to stop allowing Daddy from controlling me? G-D DAMNIT! I LOVED MY DADDY! I wanted my Daddy. Why in the fucking hell did I want him so much? No father should ever treat their child in the manner he treated me. If I knew that then why was I letting him? As so many of these thoughts rushed through my head I sat in my apartment and started to bang my head against the wall. When the thoughts wouldn’t stop I’d hit my head harder against the wall. Why was I such an idiot?!  As I hit my head harder and harder against the wall I remember thinking how I liked that the pain was taking over and clearing my head of all of my obsessive thoughts. I don’t know what happened next as all I remember was I woke up the next morning with a nice headache.

Well, the day of the Seder had arrived. My adopted parents sent their son to pick me up.  He came a few hours early so I could help with any last minute preparations. I was very happy to be there. I was thankful they let me come early. It kept my mind occupied and most of all it kept me from pacing the floor with the unadulterated fear of what was going to happen.

I was in the kitchen helping put ice in the glasses when the doorbell rang. Someone answered the door. My heart stopped when I heard Daddy’s voice. I didn’t want to go into the other room. My adopted mother encouraged me to greet him instead of continuing to help her. And so I did even though I wanted to hide in the kitchen for the rest of the night.

Once everyone arrived my adopted mother called everyone to the table to take their seats. I sat next to Daddy. I was thankful most of that evening was going to be spent reading from the Haggadah which meant there wouldn’t leave a lot of room for Daddy to talk. That was always good.

I have to say the Seder started very well. As each person read their designated part, someone else would make a funny remark to lighten the moment. Several of the participants were cracking jokes and really livening up the Seder. I enjoyed the laughter and  Daddy seemed to be enjoying himself too. For a moment I thought I had actually worried over nothing. But, no such luck. It was about 40 minutes into the Seder when Daddy’s mean and conniving side emerged. It was when everyone was eating dinner and when everyone was able to socialize. Because Daddy felt I had told everyone how terrible of a father he was he felt the need to show otherwise. And of course as a result, I had singlehandedly ruined his law practice which he had to rebuild. Anyway, Daddy gained his own bad reputation on his own accord. I never had to say a word but, nothing I could ever say would have convinced him of that fact. Lets not forget Daddy never did anything wrong.

So, during dinner Daddy started to tell the people around him about ALL he had done for me after Momma died. He told stories with half truths which made me so angry. Then he’d end the stories with saying how ungrateful I was. Daddy dominated the conversations and wouldn’t allow others to talk. He had a mission and damn it he was going to say what he wanted to say. And while Daddy was telling these half truths or half lies (whichever way you want to look at it) he’d give me hugs and kisses as if he was this adoring father. I just sat there looking at the people around us wondering if they really bought his story. I wanted so badly to yell out at the top of my lungs that I was a good daughter and I NEVER took from Daddy. I wanted so badly to yell at the top of my lungs that I loved Daddy and spent my money to care for him when he was sick. But, I sat there emotionless instead. Needless to say, I was elated to hear it was time to get back to the Haggadah to finish our Seder. But, that’s when Daddy’s behavior got worse. As different people were reading their parts from the Haggadah and others were making their funny comments, Daddy started to whisper nasty things to me. At first he started to call me names like stupid and idiot. I wanted to believe I had misheard him but as he continued there was no way I could deny what he was saying. I hated how he did it. It was under his breath and always with a smile on his face. And of course no one around me suspected what he was doing. I refused to react so he moved on to other more hurtful things to say like, “So, now that you have a new family, you can treat me like shit and kick me to the curb.” and “You really are a piece of work, MaLea. Do you think I’m an idiot? I can see exactly what you are trying to do to me.” and what made me finally break was “ You know, your Momma would have been so disappointed in you and what you’ve done to me. You should feel ashamed.”

I felt he was trying to get me to explode with anger as I once used to do so he could sit there innocently as if he had done nothing wrong. I was NOT going to ruin my adopted family’s Seder. As I sat there emotionless, my insides were in knots. I wanted so badly at that point to stand up and start throwing whatever was near me at Daddy. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs why was he treating me so cruelly. But, the longer I sat there, the more Daddy’s mean words swirled in my head and the more hurtful they had become. That’s when I wanted to disappear and cry. I tried to hold back my tears as long as I could. When I couldn’t any longer I excused myself and headed to the bathroom. I turned on the water from the sink, sat on the floor and grabbed a towel to rest my face as I started crying uncontrollably. It felt as if I was in the bathroom for the longest time. I couldn’t stop crying and I by no means wanted Daddy to see I had been.  I didn’t want him to know he had upset me. After I was able to gain my composer I decided I did not want to return to where Daddy was. Instead, I stayed in the kitchen and started to clean up the dirty dishes. I must have been in there for about 30 minutes when my adopted mother came to check on me. You know I don’t even remember what I told my adopted mom that day but it really didn’t matter because I think my behavior told her. I remember trying to focus on cleaning the dishes and how I could help clean up. I didn’t want to think about Daddy because I was afraid I’d start crying again. My adopted mother could see something was wrong and when she asked me point blank what happened, that was all I needed to get me crying again. I was confused and didn’t know what to do. For one I didn’t want to leave the kitchen and be where Daddy was. And the other thing was I felt so explosive, I was afraid I would let it out. It was the first time I made myself hold back because I didn’t want them to see that side of me. But, I didn’t know how to control it. It was so difficult to hold back my anger and to keep it in check. And at the same time all I wanted to do was to cry. I felt terrible because I didn’t want to ruin my adopted family’s Passover. I didn’t want that to be my fault too. For me to have cried in front of my adopted mother made me feel guilty and mad at myself for not having better control. Meanwhile, would you believe it was the first time I had cried in front of someone since Momma had died over 10 years earlier. It was at the end of her funeral. My sister was crying and when she went to hug me, I lost it. I remember feeling out of control and needing to reign in my emotions. That 5 or so minutes was the only time I had cried in front of anyone and because of Daddy’s thoughts about crying, I hated how I felt.

Later, my adopted mother told me her husband said Daddy was no longer welcomed in their home again. It made me wonder what Daddy had said to him to insult him. I know it sounds crazy but I really did want other people to like him.  I felt badly that many people didn’t like Daddy. And others dislike of him never came from me but from their own encounters with him.  It was weird. Even though I initially felt bad for Daddy when my adopted mom told me what her husband had said it was also a life altering moment at the same time. How was it, you ask? Well, it was the first time I felt legitimized. I know it’s strange but it somehow legitimized my anger towards Daddy and what he had done to me. Also, it made me feel significant which I had not felt since Momma had died. I was not important to Daddy as his needs always came first. And most of all their ban on Daddy didn’t mean I was banned which was another first for me. Usually, when Daddy wasn’t liked, I was thrown out with him. So, to not throw me out with him that alone told me there was someone else who saw me as worthy to keep. Sadly, it was never Daddy so it coming from someone else was poignant and special to me.  I remember standing up just a little bit taller and I said to myself, “Someone cared enough for me to keep me in their lives in spite of my Dad’s bad behavior.”  I can’t even explain the way I felt because of that one little gesture.

From that point forward I didn’t spend a lot of time talking to Daddy or visiting him. He would call me on occasions and during those conversations it wasn’t unusual for him to curse and yell at me. Once when my partner and I were dating she was with me when Daddy let loose with his yelling. She told me to hang up on him. I never could.  Hey, listen, I was making changes and as slow as they were, let’s be happy those changes were happening, OK? And even though there were times I did go to his home and he came to mine, I somehow grew stronger when I was around him. Now, when he wasn’t around me that was when I would feel guilty and second guess myself. But, I have to tell you, I never was able to get over that part of my father’s abuse. I know it’s crazy! He’s the one who abuses and me as the victim takes on the guilt. But, only those who have been abused by a loved one can understand the twisted turns the mind takes as a result.

When my partner and I started living together and after a couple more events which Daddy had caused my partner helped me to emotionally get farther away from him. It wasn’t easy and I’m not proud how I took out my anger on Carol during those early years. But I’m thankful I was able to work past it. It was crucial for me to find a place for my anger, so that I wouldn’t become isolated like Daddy had become. It also opened my world up in a way I never knew it could. By shedding my anger I found true love, I got my sister back and I became reacquainted with family members. Most of all it allowed me and my partner to be in a much better place to begin to plan for our own child we hoped to have. I knew I didn’t want to pass on my family’s anger and “Daddy’s way of thinking” to another generation. I may wrestle with my own demons gifted to me by Daddy for the rest of my life but I didn’t want our child to ever know those demons. I may not have had the strength or power to be able to fully stand up to Daddy but I did have the strength and power to not pass it to the next generation. Of that I was certain.

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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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My Abusive Father (chapter 10, the most difficult yet)

        

After we returned from our day trip to Atlanta Daddy was hyper focused on me “getting rid” of Elspeth.  As time passed and I continued to refuse to find a new home for her, Daddy started threatening me with taking her to the pound. I wanted to take Elspeth and run away. I’d go to bed at night thinking about where I could go. But, I knew that wasn’t realistic. Listen, I was barely 17 and I didn’t know anyone in my town to ask if they wanted a dog. Plus, how cruel for Daddy to not only take her away but to make it my responsibility to give her to someone. I just couldn’t do it. Why was Daddy taking away what I loved most? This was a breaking point for me as I saw Elspeth as my last connection to Momma and soon both would be gone forever. I hated Daddy for doing that to me.

There were many times Daddy had threatened to take our dogs away especially when we weren’t behaving the way he thought we should. I had hoped this was just another one of those times and in a few days he’d be onto his next obsession. However, he was serious this time and made sure every single day he was home to remind me. I was afraid to go to school because I thought Daddy was going to take her to the pound while I was gone. And even though he threatened, he never did. I guess Daddy had some kind of compassion. He did make my life a living hell until a home for Elspeth was found. Daddy was incredibly talented that way.

One morning as I was in the bathroom getting ready for school Daddy kept yelling for me. He wanted to see me about something and he needed to see me immediately. But, he always needed me immediately, so why was this time any different? Also, I knew he was just going to pester me about finding a home for Elspeth which certainly was not an immediate issue.  I needed to get ready for school and I was going to be late if I didn’t hurry. I hollered back at him that I was coming once I finished getting dresses. Well, how do I say this? That was just plain dumb of me. What the fuck was I thinking? It was a steadfast rule to NEVER holler back at Daddy and certainly NEVER was it acceptable to keep him waiting. So, to say he hit the roof as a result of my response was an understatement.

I had no idea where Daddy was in the house when he called for me but with in seconds of me answering him, he broke open my bathroom door and started screaming. I had just gotten out of the shower and had a towel wrapped around me. When I heard the door crack and slam open, I couldn’t imagine what was happening. I just screamed in fear until I saw it was Daddy. I couldn’t believe he was so angry with me. He told me how dare I sass him (i.e hollering back at him) and how dare I keep him waiting. I started  to tell him I wasn’t dressed and just needed to get dressed. He didn’t like my response and pushed me into the vanity. I fell back into the corner of the counter, lost my balance and fell backwards with me falling to the floor and my hand falling in the toilet. Honestly, my first thought was thank G-d I had flushed. Not wanting Daddy to hit me while I was down, I got up as quickly as I could.  I stood as talk as I could and got into his face. Angry, I waved my arms and yelled, “What the hell was that for?” I suppose he thought I was going to hit him when I was talking with my hands because he ducked. I laughed and told him to not worry because I wasn’t going to hit him. He pointed to the hallway and told me to get the hell out of the bathroom. I walked slowly into the hallway all the while keeping eye contact with him. While in the hallway wrapped in my towel would you believe we stood there in silence just staring at each other for a good 15 minutes?  Finally, I told him I needed to get to school. He pointed his finger at me and said, “Oh no missy! You don’t tell me what to do!” I told him I wasn’t. I was just saying I needed to get to school. He started yelling that because of my attitude he was going to dumb Elspeth somewhere himself while I was at school. I yelled, “So you mean to tell me you’re going to punish a poor helpless dog because of something I did? Oh, that’s smart!” Yes, I know. I realized right after that slipped out of my mouth that I had in essence called Daddy stupid. You know how in a cartoon when a character is running then suddenly they realize they’ve run right off of the cliff? And they look at the viewer and go, “Uh oh” right before they fall?  Well, that’s exactly how I had felt. But, instead of retaliation Daddy told me to get the hell out of his sight and get dressed. I knew that meant something from him would come later but I needed to hurry to get to school.

I got dressed in record time and went downstairs to grab breakfast on the way out. If I left right then I would just make it in time for school. However, guess who was waiting for me in the kitchen? Nope, not my knight in shining armor by any means that’s for sure. Yep, it was Daddy and he had reloaded and was ready to attack me some more. I thought he was going to continue with the argument from earlier but instead he was pissed I didn’t wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. He held up a plate to show me it was dirty. However, he didn’t say it was dirty. He simply held up the plate and asked me what was wrong with it. I actually thought maybe it was cracked but when I looked I didn’t see anything wrong. He told me to get closer since I couldn’t see. I still didn’t see so I asked him what was wrong with the plate? Daddy felt I was being stupid and shoved the plate closer and closer to me until it was in my face. With the plate shoved up against my face he said, “Now do you see it? Now can you see the crap you left on the plate?” I started crying and told him I needed to get to school. He told me I didn’t deserve to take the car to school because of my attitude. I told him I had already missed the school bus. Daddy didn’t give a shit and said, “Sounds like you have a fucking problem.” I asked him if he would take me. He laughed and said, “Oh, you’re good. You talk to me the way you do and take advantage of me. All you do MaLea, is hurt me and then you expect me to do things for you. I can’t even begin to explain the pain I’m feeling because of you. You’re going to have to find your own way out of this one. Like hell am I giving you a ride!”

The rage and the hurt I was feeling was indescribable. I knew I hadn’t caused this situation even though like usual I felt guilty it had escalated this far. What seemed to always baffle me the most was how Daddy could instigate and be the cause of a situation but then take on the emotions of the one he was hurting. How in the hell was I taking advantage of him? Was he not doing that to me? And it was my attitude? What about his out of control behavior? How dare he take claim to my pain!  There was nothing I could say to him. I grabbed my things and I ran out of the house. I was hoping a neighbor would be home and able to take me to school. After going to two neighbors the third one was able to take me. But just in my “MaLea’s gotta hide everything that was happening” way, I sucked my emotions deep into my gut and pretended nothing was wrong. After all as much as I hated school it still was 7 hours of peace for me.

Listen, I had felt sorry for Elspeth having to also live with all of that tension in our house. She was home alone all day and when Daddy was home the yelling was so intense it usually sent her under a table with her tail between her legs. It wasn’t a good environment for her and she didn’t deserve it. But, I was a teenager who saw this dog as my rock. She was the reason I didn’t want to kill myself. To me she somehow lessened my pain of Momma dying and the abuse of my dad. She sat next to me while I cried and licked my tears away. And she lied with me when I was afraid. I know I grew into an increasingly angry person and I am not proud to say I used Elspeth to let out that anger at times. However, all she did was love me and my entire package whether good or bad. She made me feel appreciated and valued. And the thought of Elspeth being taken away meant I’d no longer be valued, appreciated and loved for who I was. Instead, I’d be ostracized, called names and be penalized for who I was. The thought of not having those moments with my dog to take me away from the other was really painful.

As Daddy was threatening me more and more to get rid of Elspeth, my sister came to the rescue. Of course I didn’t think so at the time because all I could see was my beloved dog was being taken away. My sister called me one afternoon when I got home from school. She tried to explain to me there was no way to change Daddy’s mind so it would be better for us to find her a home where we would know she’d be happy. But, I could only hear Elspeth was being taken away from me which wasn’t what I wanted.  I did not want to hear anything about her going away. No matter how hard I fought against it, there wasn’t anything I could do to keep her.

One afternoon my sister called to tell me she found a home for Elspeth. It felt like the worst day of my life. My sister kept reassuring me that it was the best for everyone. I wanted to scream, “But it’s not the best for me! What about me!? Doesn’t anyone see me?” My sister told me the gentleman wanted to meet Elspeth that coming Saturday and would take her that day if he liked her. I had no choice but to agree.

That week went by far too quickly. It was Friday night before I knew it and possibly my last night with Elspeth. Daddy was home to make sure I didn’t screw up anything and would actually make the exchange. Daddy tried talking to me but I ignored him. I didn’t want to be around him and spent my Friday night in my room with Elspeth. It truly was the one time he allowed me that time alone. I didn’t sleep the entire night. I just laid in bed holding Elspeth and telling her how much I loved her. I told her I was sorry and hoped she’d forgive me for giving her away.  The night didn’t last long enough and morning came way too soon. The gentleman was coming early and while I was waiting for him to arrive I sat on the stairs holding Elspeth and kissing her. I didn’t want to let her go. Daddy walked by a couple of times but thankfully didn’t say a word. I was so angry at him and if my eyes could shoot daggers, they would have.

Around 9am a young looking gentleman walked up to our front door and rang the doorbell. I stayed sitting on the stairs holding Elspeth. Daddy hollered from the kitchen for me to answer the door. I didn’t move nor did I answer him. After the gentleman rang the doorbell again Daddy didn’t say a word to me and went to answer the door.

The gentleman was in his late 20’s. He looked like a nice guy. As soon as Elspeth saw him, all she wanted to do was to greet him. I wanted her to stay with me so I continued to hold her. Daddy told me to let her go. I did. She ran down the stairs and as the gentleman squatted down to her level, she jumped up on him giving him lots of kisses. Elspeth was so excited she ended up pushing the guy to the floor. The more he laughed  the more kisses she gave him. There was no doubt in my mind at that point that I was looking at her next owner.

Daddy moved Elspeth off the guy and helped him up. Then he began asking him a series of questions. “You aren’t  planning on keeping her outside are you?” and “How do you discipline your dogs?” and “What vet do you use?”  Oh, yeah, now he cared? Just the other day he was going to take her to the pound. I was raging mad and all I wanted  to do was throw my dad across the room. Daddy interrupted my thought and told me it was time to say goodbye. I gave Elspeth one last kiss and hug as the guy told me I could visit her anytime. I couldn’t watch Elspeth leave. Daddy tried to comfort me but there wasn’t anything he could do except bring Elspeth back.

I visited Elspeth at her new home a couple of times.  They called her, Elsie, and she was happy. She had a nice yard to run around and she had a wonderful place to sleep in the house. She seemed comfortable and most of all, loved. The last time I saw her the owner had to call her to come to me. She was sleeping and preferred to stay asleep. I was surprised when she seemed to not recognize me. I realized visiting her would be too hard for me, so I never saw her again.

Literally days after giving Elspeth away, Daddy told me he needed to talk to me. Holy shit, what now? Could he possibly take anything else away from me? Could he possibly take away anything else that gave me security? Well, G-d dammit, he could. He told me his finances were really bad and he couldn’t afford to have an office and home. So, he had the brilliant idea of moving to a nearby town where he had his office. He felt the place was large enough to use one of the rooms as his living quarters. However, the catch was there wasn’t enough room for me. OK, so what the fuck was I supposed to do my loving and dear father? I’m so happy you made sure you had a roof over your head. He then told me we had to be out of our house by June 1st which was only in two months. And guess who was responsible for packing everything? You got it. That would be me because of course Daddy had to work. But don’t worry, Daddy got his due in the way in which I packed. On each box I packed I labeled it from the room it came. So, if I put a whole bunch of dishes in a box, I wrote  “kitchen” on the box. Listen, I didn’t know what I was doing and was by no means the organized type. And on top of that I just wanted it done. However, secretly, I loved when Daddy got frustrated when he couldn’t find his stuff. I may have written the room on the box but what the hell was in the box was anyone’s guess. Ha! ha! That was for me to know and for Daddy to find out. Passive aggressive? Who me?

Anyway, where was I going to live? It was nice of Daddy to think of me. So now that Elspeth was gone, he could get rid of me? Could he have made it any clearer he wanted me gone? I just wanted to be a part of a family who loved me unconditionally. Why couldn’t I have that? I often dreamed of being in one of those families.

Daddy told me I’d needed to think about a solution on how I could stay in the same town so I could graduate with my friends. Honestly, did I even have a choice? He clearly had no room for me. Hell, if I lived with him I’d have to sleep in his bed which I was not going to do. G-d help Daddy if he ever had to be responsible for his own family. He always put it on someone else and well, I was his convenient choice. School should have been my priority. It was when Momma was alive. But not with Daddy. You know what my responsibility was with him? My responsibility was to “help” him with any and all things so he could freely go fucking around. Point in case, I not only had to pack up the house but also figure out where I was going to live. Oh yeah and there was that little itty bitty thing called SCHOOL! And by the way Daddy wasn’t going to give me any money for rent to live during my senior year, so I had to think outside of the box. And I really had to HOPE TO G-D someone had the compassion to help me.

The next few weeks after giving Elspeth away were really the hardest of my life. I went to school crying many of the days. I was scared. The feeling of being alone and responsible for only myself was incredibly overwhelming. What was I going to do? How in the fucking hell was I going to find a place to live with no money? What did I know about finding a place? Listen, I HATED crying in front of people so going to school and not having the control to stop crying was the worst thing ever for me. A few of my friends were concerned and asked what was wrong.  I told them my problem. One of them suggested I see if there’s a student at  our school who’s parents would allow me to live with them for my senior year. It was a great idea but who in the world would agree to have me stay in their home for an entire year? That just seemed so unrealistic.

Getting closer to summertime my sister suggested working at a Jewish camp for the summer. I felt overwhelmed as I knew I couldn’t take on one more task. If I had known which camp and had known what to do, I might have been more inclined. But, my priority was to find a place to live the next year. Oh yeah, and I had to pack up our house. I just can’t even begin to explain the emotions I had built up inside. Even to say I was scared was an understatement. I felt I couldn’t rely on anyone and was in such an incredibly lonely place. That was a terrible gift Daddy gave me. He fed me lies for years and gave me that insecurity to trust no one, not even family.  I think the only reason I kept going instead of just killing myself was because I did have this drive to somehow prove Daddy wrong. No matter how often he kicked me down, I seemed to always hold onto this push to keep going. Even if I was on all fours, I kept moving forward. To this day especially as I reflect on what happened to me I don’t know how I did it. I was so young and did not deserve the cards I was dealt. But, it was what it was.

My happiest day was when a family had offered for me to live with them for my Senior year. In fact they lived just down the street from me and their daughter who was also going to be a senior was such a sweet person. Their offer really gave me hope in others. Listen, living with Daddy was like living under a dark cloud. He saw everyone as the enemy and uncaring. So, that was how I learned to view the world too. And then their were these strangers who were willing to help. I was overjoyed.

By mid June (later than he wanted) our house was completely empty and Daddy had moved into his office in the nearby town. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the last house Momma had known and I wanted to stay there a couple of more days. And since we/I had two days before returning the key, I was elated Daddy gave me permission to be able to stay in the empty house for that time. A friend stayed with me and we slept on sleeping bags in the living room. I spent time walking around the empty house remembering the good things that happened and I took a mental picture of each.

When my two days of saying goodbye were at an end and it was time for me to leave another chapter of my life. I walked through the house one last time thinking I’d find a left behind item of Momma’s I could take. All the rooms were empty though and only my memories could fill them.  The last room I said goodbye to was our library. It was a room Momma loved. Books for her were a sign of richness as she felt reading gave a person a great wealth of knowledge. However, that wasn’t the memory of that room I would keep so close to me. It would be another one that became so poignant when I got older.

I stood in the middle of the room and started to remember that day. It was a few days before Momma went into the hospital (where she stayed until her death). She asked me to help her walk to our spare bedroom which was our library. The tumor on her spine was making it very difficult for her to move her legs. As I was helping her by holding her arm, I asked what she needed. She said she wanted to show me something. I helped her sit on the couch. Her face grimaced from the pain but she never complained. She asked me to get the family photos because she wanted to show them to me. I was surprised because Momma never did this with me. Well, at least not so formally. Starting with the first album we went page by page as she told me about each relative. She shared many stories that I had not heard. I was confused by her sudden need to tell me things I wouldn’t remember later, but it seemed important to her. See, Momma never told me the seriousness of her illness. I did not know she was dying. Even though I didn’t know, I could feel my time with her was fleeting. Only later did I realize it was the last time Momma and I would talk and the last time we smiled together.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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My Abusive Father(chapter 9)

Momma and Elspeth. Momma was gone one year later.

Around February of 1987 Daddy started talking about wanting to move back to Atlanta. My parents had lived there during the sixties until we left in 1981. My sister and I were born there and liked living in a bigger city. At that time it certainly wasn’t as big as it had become as it still had a small town feel.

Listen, when my parents wanted to leave Atlanta, their decision seemed sudden. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when without warning Daddy said he wanted to move back to Atlanta. It was why he wanted to move back that baffled me. I was eleven when we first left and moved to a very small town further South. My parents said we needed to move because it would allow us to have more quality family time since Momma’s cancer wasn’t going away. But, that was the cover up. The real reason was Daddy owed a lot of people money and he needed to get out of town and fast. So, for him to tell me he needed to move back to Atlanta didn’t make any sense in regards to his law practice. There were enough people in his circuit who were still living there who would have remembered Daddy. Having thought it through I just knew it had to be because of a woman or two or possibly three. But, hey, I didn’t care if he moved to Atlanta. That would mean he’d be far from me and I could possibly have some level of peace in my life.  However, it wasn’t my luck and he had wanted me to move to Atlanta with him.

Here’s the thing. Daddy never could pull off any of his ideas and I knew that fact. However, I couldn’t take the chance that this time could be different because the last thing I wanted to do was to move with him.  The possibility scared the hell out of me. I was going to be a senior and I had great friends. I knew my school and had teachers I trusted. I was NOT going to move to Atlanta with Daddy. That would have meant he’d be home more often. And home more often equalled having to endure more of his wrath. I knew I had to do whatever I could to get out of moving with him. I just had to come up with a plan and one that would benefit him so he’d agree. I just had to think hard and think fast for an idea.

As Daddy spoke about moving to Atlanta more and more, I got angrier and angrier telling him I didn’t want to go. I told him I wanted to graduate with my friends. He didn’t care. He tried to tell me how wonderful it would be in Atlanta because there was more opportunity for him to be able to afford more things for me. At 17 years old I was very accustomed to Daddy’s dreams. He always had these quick plans and made promises for a better life. I knew this time was no different. The more he pushed on this issue, the more I pushed back. And because I never relented on voicing my opinion about moving,  I paid a high price for it. In many ways though I knew it couldn’t have been any worse than my life had already been.

It was sometime in the Spring of 1987 when Daddy came home one day to tell me we needed to visit Atlanta to start looking for places to live and to look at schools for me. I just kept telling him the same thing over and over again. I did NOT want to move to Atlanta. He ignored me and told me he had already made plans for us to go to Atlanta the very next day. He had called an apartment building to make an appointment for us see one of their flats  and he called a school for us to tour. So, I had no choice in the matter and he was done talking about it.

I was so upset  because there was a special event happening at school that same day and I had paid my own money to attend it.  But, I knew Daddy wouldn’t care about that because it wasn’t his money he wasted. So, I told him I had school the next day. Listen, when it came to my dad I really wasn’t sure he knew I had to go to school Monday through Friday. When it came to Daddy, who knew what he knew and didn’t know. And remember when it came to my dad, he came first.  So, me having school was irrelevant to him. And sure enough when I told him I had school the next day, Daddy looked at me and said, “I don’t give a shit. This is about our future and you aren’t going to ruin it for me. This is when we’re going and I’m done discussing it.”

OUR future my ass! It was about his future and I had to go for a reason that benefited him. But, once again, I couldn’t figure out what he was scheming. And why in the fuck would his future be ruined if I went to school instead of with him? Why was it so important I keep him company on a day trip. Who was the grown up?

How insensitive of me to think school was supposed to be about my future! Oh, gosh, how easy it is to forget that it was never about me. MaLea, you idiot! It is NEVER about your future. You are a nothing but a cheap pawn to be used to advance Daddy. Can’t you get it into your forgetful and stupid mind? Why fight it so much? If I had only accepted Daddy’s ways and helped him achieve his goals, then maybe my life would have been easier. But that was a risk. Would they have been easier or better? Probably not and I would have been so unhappy.

I was so angry with Daddy and more than I had ever been in the past. When did he make these appointments? Why didn’t he give me the common courtesy to let me know more than the day before? My brain hurt from all of Daddy’s sudden plans and sudden changes. I felt as if I was falling out of a plane with the land underneath me being moved farther and farther away. At times the ground would be in my reach but quickly move farther away again.  The madness of falling without the ground  putting an end to it made me begging for the ground to appear even if it meant it would have killed me. In that same way my life was pure unadulterated torture and I just wanted the hell to come to an end at whatever cost.

Now I have to explain something. When Daddy got angry with me I wasn’t allowed to go sit in my room unless he gave me permission. So, that meant I had to sit with him in the den while he watched TV even if I was upset. I was never allowed my own space when Daddy was home and I always felt trapped with no place I could escape. It was the worst feeling and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

After Daddy told me I had no choice and he was done discussing moving to Atlanta, he went into the den to watch TV. Not able to go to my room I had no choice but to join him. While sitting on the couch and pretending to watch what he was watching on TV it dawned on me Daddy had not said what school we were going to tour the next day. I got suspicious. There was no telling what he had in his head at the moment he made the appointment. It was remarkable how easily swayed he was by his women and usually anything Daddy did was the result of what one of his girlfriends said. And G-d help us all if one of his girlfriends challenged him because that was a huge motivating factor.

I knew I had to be careful how I asked Daddy. Plus, he was busy watching TV which was a major no no to interrupt him at that time. See, a long standing rule was as long as his show was on, I wasn’t allowed to make a sound of any kind. Let’s say I had a glass and if he thought I set it on the coffee table too loudly, oy would he would get angry.

During a commercial I asked him the name of the school we were going to tour. He ignored me. I asked again and pretending to be interested in the commercial he suggested I wait to see when we got there. I wasn’t satisfied and I pushed him to give me the name. Finally, he told me and got hopping mad! OK, I went down right ballistic. I was furious and couldn’t believe he was choosing a school that went against every part of my upbringing. What the hell was he doing?

The school he wanted me to attend was the Yeshiva (an Orthodox, Jewish school). The fact that he and Momma had raised me to want more out of my Judaism than the customary women specific roles, I couldn’t believe he wanted me to go to a Yeshiva where I would have had to abide by their traditional ways. Did I get beamed into a different family because that was not the philosophy I was taught? What the hell?

I know what I am about to suggest sounds crazy but come on. You see who I had to deal with. But, I absolutely felt Daddy chose the Yeshiva as a result to an argument he had with a one of his girlfriends. See, he rarely dated Jewish women and usually he dated women who were very Conservative Christians. Because he’d claim he was strong and knowledgeable in his religion (which was a joke) he’d constantly harass and degrade his girlfriend’s on their religious beliefs. I had a feeling he had probably gotten into an argument with one of them by telling them how bad their religion was. They in turn challenged him because they knew he never went to Synagogue. Well, like hell was he going to increase his attendance to Synagogue so in his unique mind he figured sending me to a Yeshiva would show his girlfriend who was right. Listen, I could never rule out the most outrageous ideas when it came to my Dad and because of his outrageousness, it was better sometimes to never know why.

Here’s the thing. Whether Daddy fully agreed or not with how Momma raised me Jewishly,  still was a visible supporter giving me very solid roots in the Jewish Conservative Movement. When my sister (who’s 7 years older than me) was an early teenager the Conservative Synagogues around the country where just starting to allow girls to have bat mitzvah’s where they could read from the Torah and women were beginning to have the same responsibilities as the men in the Synagogue. So by the time I started Hebrew school, there was never any doubt I would have the same responsibilities as my male counterparts did. I could stand on the bimah while the Torah was open, even read from the Torah, wear a kippah (skull cap worn in Synagoue), a Tallis (a prayer shawl worn during certain services) and tefillin (worn on the head and wrapped around the arm and worn at certain times too) and best of all be counted in a minyan (for a full service to take place there must be at least 10 men present in Orthodoxy. If there isn’t a minyan certain important prayers cannot be recited. ) At any rate all traditions once reserved only for men, the Conservative and Reform movements allowed equal duties to the women.

In Jewish orthodoxy which was the belief of the Yeshiva school Daddy wanted me to attend in Atlanta I would not have been able to do any of those customs I was used to doing. From my perspective I proudly earned being allowed to do those customs through my many years of studying. Daddy sending me to a school which wouldn’t allow it, he was taking away my own rights as a Jew. And because the yeshiva which rightfully reflected the Orthodox teachings had separate required roles for the men and women, I felt all that I had proudly earned was going to be unfairly taken away simply because I was a girl. On top of all of that Daddy had always told me he had disagreed with the Orthodox belief of the separation of the men and women roles. Why was he taking on another  belief? I tried to figure out Daddy’s crazy ways but I should have known better. There was just no way to do it. His decisions and thoughts were dependent on many factors. That being his mood of the day, who he had spoken to who impressed him, who he wanted to impress and last but certainly not least which way the wind blew. With so many inconclusive variables there was never a way to know what he was going to do or suggest at any given time.

The morning we had to leave for our day trip to Atlanta Daddy woke me very early in the morning. And when he did I was shocked he was already dressed and ready to go. There was never a time I could remember when he finished his morning routine so quickly. In fact he barely allowed me time to get dressed and eat breakfast. Oh, G-d Dammit! Why me?

During our 3 1/2 hour trip Daddy tried to convince me how wonderful it would be to live in Atlanta. However, instead of talking about a definitive plan he made, he spoke more about the dreams he hoped would come true. Listen, parts of me really wanted to believe his over the top dreams. I thought if at least one of them came true then maybe he would be happy and get off my fucking back. But there again, I wasn’t too sure Daddy could live life without creating chaos and arguing with everyone. It seemed to be his foundation. As he spoke about what he hoped to happen by moving to Atlanta I just kept quiet and began thinking how in the hell was he going to afford moving if “we” didn’t have money. I had money in my savings account but I needed it to buy my school supplies and food. I knew I couldn’t afford to offer it to Daddy or I’d be really trapped. The thought of having no money and solely relying on him scared the absolute shit out of me. But, I could tell Daddy was hoping I’d offer. I hated myself for not offering.

Finally, we arrived in Atlanta. He told me he needed to first visit someone he knew and he really needed to get there. That was never good. See Daddy had a very bad habit of visiting people who were professionals and were very busy at work. He usually never told them he was coming so by no means did he ever have an appointment. His excuse was always he had urgent business in the area and there was no time to call. And because of his pushiness,  I mean persistence, he expected to be seen which wasn’t always  possible. But, those people always knew why Daddy was there. They knew because he was so translucent. He only went on social calls when he needed a job and money. Daddy never invested himself in friendships nor could he see how developing a friendship would help. Daddy never invested in any relationship but he expected others to want to invest in him. He never understood why no one would. He’d only say that he was the only sane person in a world of crazies. G-d forbid he recognized it was him who was crazy. I just don’t understand how he could justify the entire world was crazy except for him. That’s just not normal. But even though I continued to think in my head the kind of person Daddy was, my heart was always pulled to wanting to please him. I hated the conflict between knowing he was an abuser and then simply wanting to make him happy. It was a constant struggle which kept me paralyzed from being able to walk away from him for many years to come.

Just as we hit Atlanta we hit traffic on one of the major highways.  Daddy had become increasingly agitated. He started swerving in and out of the traffic nearly hitting one car after another. I held onto the dashboard and told him to calm down. He told me to shut the fuck up because he knew exactly what he was doing. When I told him he was scaring me, he yelled I hadn’t seen nothing yet. Daddy was in the far left lane when he quickly started switching lanes heading to the right like a maniac. He needed to get through 5 lanes of pure traffic so he could get off at the next exit. I was terrified and wasn’t ready to die or even worse to be severely injured. Here’s another bit of information about Daddy. He didn’t believe in seat belts. He felt they caused more injuries than an accident so, he would never allow me to wear one. This was why when he was switching lanes my body was being thrown left and right. I held onto the car door with my right hand and the arm rest with my left hand the best I could to keep from possibly hitting my head on the passenger car window. After all I knew what it was like to be pushed into the car window. I didn’t want to know the force of hitting it from an accident. The only solution I had was to hold on, close my eyes and hope for the best. Each lane Daddy forced his way into caused another rash of horns to go off. It felt like an eternity but he did make it to the exit he needed. And when he did he looked at me with a conniving smile and said, “And you had the absolute nerve to doubt me?” He then yelled back at the cars on the highway, “You mother fuckers! You all go to hell!” as he drove off the exit ramp. I yelled at him to stop it and to take it easy. There was a scary evilness to him that I couldn’t understand. I just wanted him to stop driving so wild and to relax. But of course my suggestion just set him off more and he yelled back how dare I tell him what to do. For the next 30 minutes Daddy remained irate and yelled at me until we arrived at the office of the first person he needed to see. Gosh, I can still see to this day his face when he was angry. His eyes were seriously bulging out from the sockets and they’d get very intense. The way he’d look at me was scary and always made me feel he could explode at any moment.

Daddy parked the car and got out. He opened the back car door and took out his suit jacket. After he put it on he started checking his pockets and briefcase for all of his needed supplies before slamming the car door. He never said a word to me and walked into the office building. As usual I had to wait in the car. And because he was mad at me he didn’t leave me the keys to be able to roll down the windows. At least it wasn’t too hot but it was still a little warm. I’d open the car door ever now and then to cool off. I did that  for 2 hours when he finally came back. The wait was excruciating for me. I hated to sit and do nothing. Life with Daddy was a total waste of time and it made me want to scream with aggravation.

When he returned to the car he was no longer mad at me but that wasn’t always a relief because as long as he was mad, I was his target. This time though he was angry at the person he had come to meet in the office building. From what I gathered from what Daddy was yelling was the guy would’t see him because he didn’t have an appointment. The weird part was he was in there for two fucking hours! It took Daddy that long to figure out the guy wasn’t going to meet with him? I had guessed by how mad Daddy was this was the person he was relying on to help him get work once he moved to Atlanta. You know, it drove me nuts because he always had all of his eggs in one basket. The sad part about that was Daddy had such a way with people (and usually not good), he was lucky to have that one basket.

As we drove to our next destination in Atlanta I had to listen to Daddy rant about his financial problems. Those were the times I felt guilty and thought I should have offered my own money. However, there was always something that held me back from offering. Regardless, I felt guilty I couldn’t take care of him. I know it’s warped! Daddy was the parent, the adult. It was his responsibility but even understanding that I couldn’t get rid of my guilt.

Our next stop was the tour of an apartment. Just before we got there, Daddy’s attitude changed. He started to get happy. Can you see how crazy a person could get in Daddy’s presence? He was like a yo yo and it was anyone’s guess if he was going to be up or down.  When his mood was on the up, he said, “You know Perkison (a nickname my family used to call me and a name Daddy rarely used after Momma died), it will all work out. What’s happening to us is bashert (meant to be) and we can’t change the path it wants us to take. Sometimes it is a hell of a ride and we just have to hold on.”

When we pulled up to the apartments, I was really baffled that Daddy was willing to live in a flat. Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly the perfect fit for communal style living but what did I know. The apartment we toured was neat. It was in the 60’s style I loved but wholly shit was it small. It was two bedrooms and one bathroom. Typically that would have been fine for two people but not for us two people who pretty much disliked one another. OK we hated being under the same roof with one another and then to live in small living quarters on top of that? Were you kidding me?  That would be a resounding, hell no!

Daddy seemed pleased with the apartment. I had assumed it was all he could afford. And the fact he was always obsessed with image, he felt he had to live in a certain part of town. However, my dad’s perception of what was considered to be a fine area to live was not usually what was considered fine by others especially by the very folks he was trying to impress. While heading to our next stop Daddy was getting excited about being in Atlanta. It seemed so crazy to me because he had no real plan. All he had was a hope and a dream with nothing to back it up. It really was sad because time and time again he just kept setting himself up for failure.

We stopped for lunch before heading to the Yeshiva for a tour. Because I was wearing shorts Daddy told me I needed to change into a skirt. Um, what skirt did he propose I change into as I didn’t know to bring one. He never said I needed to dress a certain way? If he had, ok, I would have been pissed but I would have just worn a skirt. Why didn’t he say something when we left the house? OY, I knew this wasn’t going to be good.

I told Daddy I did not know I was supposed to bring a skirt. He rubbed his head in total disgust of me and while his face rested in his hands, he asked,”Why in the hell wouldn’t you bring a skirt and why in the hell would you think it was appropriate to wear shorts to an Orthodox place?” OK, so those were two loaded questions that I knew were dangerous to answer. What could I say that would make him not be pissed? Ooh, Ooh, I have the answer! NOT A G-D DAMN THING! So, I just sat there in silence. Well, let’s just say he wasn’t happy with that at all. He grabbed cups, a thermos and other items that were near him in the car and started throwing them at me. Oh, did I tell you Daddy was still driving? Well, he was and as usual like a maniac. As he threw whatever he could find near him at me he screamed,”What good are you? You are worthless! No wonder you stink in school. Your brain is always out to lunch and you can’t do the simplest of tasks. You’re just worthless!” To attempt to calm him down I told him if he took me to a store to buy a skirt, I’d pay him back. He answered,”Damn straight you will pay me back. Maybe then you’ll learn!”

We ended up at a department store that was having a bodacious sale. I found a skirt that I actually liked. It was only $4.00 and I even had enough money in my own wallet to pay for it. I think Daddy had hoped it wouldn’t have been so easy so he could have taught me a lesson. At least something worked in my favor! On a side note the skirt I bought that day I absolutely loved but because it reminded me of that day, I hardly wore it.

It was around 2:00pm by the time we got to the Yeshiva. I was so tired and just wanted to go home. Before we went into the school Daddy told me I was to straighten up and to act thrilled I was there. OMG! Are you kidding me? Act thrilled? How the hell do I do that especially after being yelled at for 2 hours and then being told I was worthless? And now I’m to smile and wave my hand over my head and go, yippee, I’m thrilled to be here? Daddy told me if I didn’t then it would keep me from getting accepted in the school. And because he couldn’t afford to pay my tuition to go there, I’d need to do what I could to make them want me. Now wait a minute. What the fucking hell? We were only supposed to be touring the school not me “selling” myself. And there was no way in hell I could even qualify to get into the school with my grades anyway. Who was Daddy kidding? I felt like I was in la la land with no sense of reality to be found.

An administrator from the Yeshiva took us around for a tour. It was nice. The class sizes were small which allowed the teachers to help each student. However, I could not accept the role I’d have to take as a girl. I had never been told because you are a girl you have this set of ways. It went against every fiber of my being and I resented it. I remember looking at many of the students  wondering if they were accepting their roles or if they were screaming on the inside to get out. While we were walking around Daddy would knock me with his fist when the administrator wasn’t looking. He wanted me to ask questions and to show I was interested.  But, there was just no way I could pretend. This school wasn’t a world that I felt comfortable in living. I knew I’d fight it and constantly challenge my position in it. That wasn’t fair for me or for the respect of the Yeshiva. It just wasn’t realistic.

I watched Daddy as we toured the school.  The way he carried himself and spoke to everyone at the school, he was a different person than than the one I knew. I hated that persona he was portraying as it was oh so damn charming. He even walked differently which made me nauseous just watching him. His attire included his suit and tie, a fancy hat and his shalayle. It was his costume. All of it put together helped him play his part effectively. I often wondered if others really believed him though. I don’t know but I think they knew something wasn’t right. I say that because when we were touring the school and when I wasn’t doing as Daddy wanted he’d hit me with his fist and whisper all kinds of crappy things to me when no one was looking. I eventually started to cry and get angry. I was embarrassed. Daddy looked at the school administrator, threw up his arms and said,”She has been acting so erratic since her mother died. I apologize. This is why I think it’s best to have her in a Jewish school. Her mother would have wanted it for her.” OMG, I could just feel my rage boiling up. Daddy was a fucking liar and he knew it. I knew if I said what I was feeling they would have had to call the police to stop me. And I knew Daddy would have used that opportunity to stand there dumb founded acting innocent to what he called my “crazy” behavior. I didn’t want to give him that power. So, instead, I excused myself and sat on the curve by the car until Daddy was done with his tour.

I was shocked Daddy wasn’t mad at me when he came to the car. Instead he hugged me and told me it was time to go home. His hug pissed me off because I knew he did it because he felt the administrator might have been watching. Why couldn’t he fucking do it because it was the right thing to do? And because the administrator was possibly watching I couldn’t react in the way I wanted. I knew his hug was fake and part of the persona he wanted others to believe. I could feel my insides wanting to explode and yet I was couldn’t let it out.

On our way home from Atlanta Daddy told me I didn’t have to move there. And if I didn’t want to move there, he wouldn’t move there either. But, if that was my decision he would need to “close down” our house and he’d move to a nearby town. I asked him about my beloved dog. He told me I’d have to find her a home because we wouldn’t be able to keep her. I was devastated. Elspeth, who was my lab mix, had stood with me through all of the crap. She was my only constant through Momma’s illness, her death and Daddy’s outbursts and visits home. I couldn’t live without her. G-d dammit I knew Daddy had a catch when he said I didn’t have to move to Atlanta. But, I would never forgive him for making me give my dog away. Not only was she my constant but she was Momma’s too. Elspeth represented so much to me. We brought her to the hospital to visit Momma just weeks before Momma died. As we rolled Momma outside to see her, she swore Elspeth wouldn’t remember her. But, of course she remembered her as she ran up to her, carefully crawled into her lap and licked her all over. It was the only time I cried as Elspeth made Momma laugh for the first time in a long time and for the last time. And because Elspeth carried a piece of Momma in her, the thought of not having her anymore really upset me. How could Daddy do this to me? I had not been able to cry about Momma dying but Daddy taking my dog away broke my heart. I cried all the way home from Atlanta.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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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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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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