Blast from the Past

Oh, Facebook! How you bring people together (or help tear them apart)!

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I have a Facebook page, with privacy settings that make it difficult for anyone who is not already on my Facebook friends’ list to find me. Facebook decided at some point that this would not be good for people who might really want to be found, so the Facebook gurus created the option of a “message request.” I normally ignore message requests, but with the new year rolling in, I decided to see what was there before deleting and moving on with my life. Welp, there was a message request from someone who knew a lot about me.. A LOT. Someone I’d been very close to back when I was a PYT in college.

 

He sent his message on Christmas Day. I wondered if he was really who he’d said he was in the message. He gave quite a few details that only someone very close to me could have known. In hindsight, my doubts seemed a bit silly, but life has made me a less trusting and more suspicious. I really thought about the date of his message, wondering what prompted him to make the attempt to get in touch on a day when most are making merry with friends and family. I didn’t delete the request, but I didn’t immediately reply. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go back down memory lane. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that most good memories I had about college involved him. So, I responded to the message. And two days ago, I called him.

 

I am so thrilled, and a bit worried, that we don’t seem to have missed a beat. He still makes me laugh loud and long. He still gives me food for thought. I have enjoyed every moment of our conversations. I am being mindful of my tendency to idealize, which has helped me put limits on how much we communicate.  Still, I have decided to go with the flow, and hope for the best.

Perspective

When I went No Contact a few years ago, I thought I was done dealing with manipulative, abusive women. I was wrong. I have encountered several women who have sent me down the rabbit hole and made me feel I am a child again, dealing with an irrational, tyrannical female parent. With each encounter, I have had to fight through feeling paralyzed with fear, followed by hurt, anger, then apathy.

In the most recent encounter, I thought I was doing quite well, until the witch tried to turn an entire team against me in an effort to get me fired. I felt fear twisting in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t understand why she would want me to lose my job. Once the anger set in, I was ready to take her on and annihilate her. In the end, I let it go, because she is just a manipulative middle-aged woman looking to make herself feel important.

It dawned on me last night that each time I come across one of these women, I am reliving my relationship with the parental unit. I was terrified of the parental unit for much of my life. There were times I prayed to God that she wouldn’t come home from work, because the yelling and physical abuse were so unbearable. As a young woman, I was hurt when I realized that all she ever did was compare herself to me, finding herself superior by either diminishing my accomplishments or taking credit for them. After divorcing my ex, I became angry when I realized she had no empathy for me in my efforts to rebuild my life. Finally, I decided a healthy relationship with her wasn’t possible, and I cut her out of my life.

I hope the next time I run across a calculating, small-minded woman, I will really see her. Not as the abusive parent screaming and towering over me with a belt, but as a creature of no consequence to be ignored.

It’s all about perspective.

 

Stepping into a New Season

Today has been filled with sunshine and balmy breezes, which is what makes this time of year my favorite. I love that there isn’t a ton of pollen in the air, the bugs are starting to disappear, and I can be out and about without feeling like I’m melting from the sun’s fervent heat. It’s the time when people the world over look forward to harvest – to getting something back for all the hard work put in during the seasons before.

Just as the seasons are changing outside, I feel myself changing inside. This new season of my life is when I get to reap the benefits of all I’ve endured in the past. Figuring out who I am, and how to be the woman God has called me to be has been a huge challenge. In spite (or because) of all I’ve been through, I’m now wiser, kinder, and stronger than before. I’ve learned that the tears my female parent mocked are not a sign of weakness. I know that God has kept me and strengthened me all along my life’s journey. I am able to provide guidance and support to others who are struggling because I’ve been through so much, and have learned from every painful experience.

My pastor said in a recent sermon that today’s wisdom comes from yesterday’s foolishness. I certainly made my share of poor decisions in the past, and suffered the consequences. I know as long as I’m living I’ll have more mistakes to make. Still, I expect the mistakes to happen less often, with less damaging results. My life isn’t perfect now, but it’s so much better than it was 10 years ago. I like the person I’m growing to be, and I’m learning to treat me with love and respect.

In this new season, I look forward to better health, better relationships, and a deeper understanding and acceptance of myself. I have had some counseling, and I plan to pursue further counseling to help me as I continue working through my past so I can enjoy my present, and plan for my future. I am not sure of what the future may bring, but I trust that God will continue to see me through. I believe life will continue to get better from here.

(Minor) Break in No Contact

Don’t freak out! I haven’t had some relapse. Let me ‘splain.. So, before I separated from the wombed one, I co-signed on a car so she could have something reliable to drive. I know, I know… the financial ties that bind. I didn’t think anything of it because her name was on the lien along with mine. My 25-year-old daughter and the parental unit keep in touch with each other, and that is how the one who shall not be named managed to get her hooks in me one last time.

My daughter came to me about 9 months ago and told me that the wombed one was concerned that once she paid off her car note, I was going to take the car because my name is on the title. She told my daughter that I was going to receive the title in the mail, and then I’d have the rights to the car. I told my daughter that is ridiculous, since the bill for payment of the lien is sent to her grandmother’s address each month. Coincidentally, my eleven year old ride or die vehicle gave up the ghost, and I found myself in the market for a “new” used vehicle. My daughter was with me during my dealership tour, and learned that there was about $3000 still owing on the wombed one’s car. My girl became very upset because her grandmother had led her to believe the balance on the car was more like $10,000. She said that she was done with listening to anything her grandmother said about the car/the car note from that point onward.

Fast forward to three weeks ago, when my daughter let me know that her grandmother had been calling and texting almost daily about the title to the car that had magically been delivered to the correct address. The wombed one wanted me to sign the car over to her. Again, I was prepared to dismiss it as foolishness, but my daughter was feeling harassed, and asked me to let her grandmother give her the paperwork, and I could sign it without having to see the parental unit at all. Seemed like a reasonable plan, right? Ha! (that’s me laughing because clearly I still have much to learn).

The wombed one kept missing her drop off appointments with my daughter for this very important paperwork. I figured it was just the usual disordered shenanigans, and started making light of the whole thing aka mistake numero dos. My daughter went out of town, and THAT is when the wombed one had the time and wanted to get everything taken care of. So, my daughter had to coordinate a meet up between her grandmother and mother, all from another state. To her credit, she handled things admirably (yes, I’m a proud mama!). I suggested a pharmacy as a neutral meeting place. The parental unit countered by suggesting a grocery store (right across the street from the pharmacy, might I add). I let the wombed one have it, and agreed to both the place and time she said would work for her, which my daughter then communicated to her grandmother.

On the big day, I arrived early, and saw this older woman standing outside the grocery store looking both concerned and expectant. I recognized her almost immediately, but there was a minute part of a second where I was thinking, “Where do I know that lady from?” I waved, and tried to park, but she came over to my car to explain the situation and hand me paperwork. I took the papers, and told her to stand out of the way of traffic while I parked. I felt like I was dealing with a child. It brought up so many old feelings of being parentified; expected to make things right for her because it’s hard. I started to analyze and problem solve, as I’d done for so long before going No Contact, but stopped myself. I filled out the paperwork from the Department of Motor Vehicles that would allow hers to be the only name on her car’s title, and took it to her. She seemed very grateful. I told her I would let my daughter know she’d said hello. I then walked away, back to my car.

I thought I would feel more, but I didn’t. I thought I’d want to talk with her, spend time with her, but I didn’t. I thought I’d feel sorry for her, getting older and still struggling to manage life, but I didn’t. My daughter and I talked on the phone after the signing of the treaty, but we didn’t spend a lot of time talking about my interaction with the parental unit. It almost felt normal to not make a big deal out of it. And for me, that’s progress.

Golden Child or Scapegoat Part 6

Contact from the husband and contact with the female parental unit began slowly. A phone call every few days from the wombed one, or an email from the husband gradually became almost daily contact with each of them. I decided to use the opened lines of communication with the husband to get divorce proceedings started. I used a website service to generate divorce papers, and agreed to meet with the husband for the sole purpose of having him sign the papers.

We agreed on a neutral location, and I brought my daughter with me as back up (just in case 911 would be needed). When the husband saw me, he told me how glad he was to see me, how good I looked, yada yada yada. I sat with him at a table in the mall food court, and allowed him to speak his peace. When he was done, I slid the divorce paperwork over to him, and told him that all I asked was that he get the papers signed and notarized so I could move on with my life. He replied that he did not want to get a divorce. I found this to be the most ridiculous thing in the world! I reminded him that he had been living with another woman most of the time we had been apart, and to my knowledge was still living with her. I told him it was time he made an honest woman out of her, and that I was getting out of their way. He finally agreed to sign and get the paperwork notarized. Freedom was on the horizon.. or so I thought.

Meanwhile, the female parental unit asked for some money. I didn’t have any money to give her. The husband, however, offered to pay my daughter’s senior class dues. He said he wanted to be a good husband now to make up for all the hell he’d put me through. I took the money, and gave most of it to the wombed one. She began visiting my apartment at that point, at least once a week. I was focusing on my M. Ed. and was no longer working. I lived off school loans and my retirement money that I’d cashed in. Both the husband and the female parental unit were impressed by the fact that I was able to maintain my household without a job. They each came up with ways to separate me from my savings.

The husband began a love-bombing crusade that eventually swept me off my feet. In less than a year, he had moved in to my apartment and had agreed to pay half the bills. I was not happy about the arrangement, but he would not allow for anything else. He told me that it had worked for him and the other woman, and it would work for us. He said we would not have any shared bank accounts, and all the bills would remain in my name. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, but let me not get ahead of myself.

The wombed one had financial crisis after financial crisis, and I was the only one who could help her. She had a harder time getting back into my good graces, so she decided to get married to someone she’d known just a few months. My husband, my daughter and I attended the wedding. It was a small, simple wedding. Soon after the wedding, the female parental unit began coming by more frequently, ravenously hungry and exhausted. She was clearly getting quite thin. When I asked her what was going on, she said she and her husband were having financial troubles. Queue the superhero music! Superdaughter to the rescue! I began cooking extra so she would have food to take home with her. Sometimes I’d take her out to a buffet to eat. I still would not give her money, but I would buy things she wanted or help with groceries. What is that saying about a fool and their money?

On the home-front, life with the husband became a living nightmare. He wouldn’t come home after work. He wouldn’t call or text. He wouldn’t pay bills on time. He didn’t want to have sex with me, but would “remember” us having sex recently. I realized that he was cheating on me, and this time I didn’t launch a full scale investigation to prove it. I just knew. He began threatening to body slam me, or spray me with chemical agent (used on inmates) or put additives in my food to make me gain weight. He refused to be held accountable for his actions, and kept making excuses for why he needed to spend money he didn’t have and why he couldn’t pay bills. It dawned on me that his financial irresponsibility was draining my savings faster than I had planned. At the rate things were going, I was going to be broke in a few months. 

I had gone to court regarding the divorce papers many months before, and the judge had refused to grant the divorce, claiming that the paperwork was incorrect and scolding me for using a website instead of getting a lawyer. I felt stuck with a man who didn’t love me, and who couldn’t be a husband to me or anyone else. The last straw for me came when he told me that he was going to nursing school, and that I would need to support him in his education the same way he’d supported me. Mindeffery, anyone? I let him know that if he meant he was going to save up and pay half the bills (more often all the bills) as I’d been doing, then certainly, I’d support him. I had no intention of supporting him while he went to school and screwed around, however. I prayed earnestly for wisdom.

I confided in the wombed one that things were not going well in the marriage. She confided in me that things were not going well in her marriage, either. Her husband was a crackhead. She knew it when she married him, but claimed to not know what that meant. She said he seemed to be normal, so she didn’t think he used drugs. Whatever. I didn’t have the mental energy for her problem. I was trying to get my own straightened out.

I decided to write a letter to the husband to get my thoughts sorted out. In the letter, I outlined my major reasons for no longer wanting to be with the man. I also outlined the reasons it seemed clear to me that he no longer wanted to be with me. When he read the letter, he seemed surprised. He told me that we both were at fault for the problems in the marriage. I asked him to explain. He said that I did not support him. I pointed out all the times I’d missed sleep to help him with his college papers, agreed to him not paying bills so he could spend money on his children, and agreed to him spending money on things he wanted that had nothing to do with me or my interests. The “conversation” lasted for many hours, and by 4 a.m., I was curled up in the fetal position on the couch, not knowing what I thought anymore. He then took me to bed and proceeded to have sex with me. Later on that day, he left for an out of town trip he’d planned without me, and told me he’d be back on Father’s Day. 

When he left, I was more determined than ever that it was over between us. I went looking for a card on Father’s Day evening. I really didn’t want to buy him a card. He’d told me if we couldn’t agree on how to spend a dime, he didn’t want to have a child with me. He now had nine children with 6 different women. When daughter had been away at college, he refused to chip in to help with her tuition. The cards that were left on the shelves of the shops I went into were either over the top romantic or very generic. I decided not to buy him a card. I wasn’t going to play pretend to spare his feelings. It was the best decision I ever made.

He arrived home, very excited about Father’s Day. He told me about what his children and their mothers had done for him, then asked me what I’d gotten him. I told him I didn’t buy him anything. He immediately became angry. He told me he’d rushed home expecting that his WIFE would have something for him for Father’s Day. He said one of the children’s mothers was planning to buy him an expensive smartphone, and I should be ashamed that she was getting something for him and I wasn’t. I told him that I didn’t want to be married to him anymore. He EXPLODED. He knocked my pretty things off my dresser, and started coming at me. I picked up the phone to dial 911, but he pulled the phone out of the wall. I prayed silently as he stood over me, huffing and puffing. I said quietly, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He left soon afterward. I called the wombed one and asked her to stay with me so I wouldn’t be alone if he came back. She arrived about an hour after I called. She saw the damage he’d done, and told me that if he wasn’t going to leave, I could come live with her. We made plans that night, but I still had difficulty falling asleep.

Within weeks, I was packed and out of the apartment. I let the husband know that the utilities would be turned off by July 15th, and he needed to be out by then. What I couldn’t put in storage, or fit in the wombed one’s apartment, I gave away. I went away to Seattle for my birthday, and while I was away, I received a strange phone call from the husband. He basically said that my daughter was accusing him of sexually abusing her, but that it wasn’t true. I told him that I was on vacation, and couldn’t talk to him. I hung up on him, my mind reeling. I knew him to be a liar about things important or insignificant. If he said my daughter was lying, I did not believe him.

I began remembering incidents that seemed odd, that felt “off.” And just like I knew he’d been cheating on me, I knew he’d been raping my daughter. I felt so angry, so helpless, so STUPID. How could it have happened? I never left her alone with him when she was younger. How could it have happened and I not know? Suddenly, so many things made sense. I had to acknowledge that there was a part of me that always felt on edge if there was the chance that she would be alone with the husband. I could never put my finger on anything, but the uneasiness was always there. Like Scarlett, I told myself, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Now We Are 43

I have been away from this blog for some time (almost a year, I think). I had started working on my memoirs, and found that my childhood held some really dark secrets that took a great deal of time to process. I had to stop looking at the past for a while, as it was threatening to overwhelm my present. There are still gaps in my memories, but I have made peace with that. Some things are too painful to remember. I do plan to complete the Golden Child or Scapegoat entries, as those are quite cathartic for me, and may help others who are dealing with a similar situation with a disordered parent.

I recently celebrated my 43rd birthday. It was a pretty good birthday – I spent it doing whatever I pleased. I had my daughter, friends and church family to help me celebrate. I’ve experienced a great deal of growth and recovery in the past year. I finally feel like a grown up, although there are still things that are challenging for me. I bought myself two birthday outfits and decorated my apartment. It’s still quite sparse, as I’m developing my own sense of style when it comes to interior design. I think after growing up in spaces that were overwhelmed with knick knacks, plants and oversized furniture (the wombed one’s style), I appreciate simplicity.

I’ve found that I not only have had to recover emotionally, but physically and financially as well. I didn’t realize how much havoc years of toxic stress wreaks on your system. For a time, I had to get used to having no drama. It felt strange to no longer be rescuing the wombed one from one disaster or another. It was uncomfortable for a time not caretaking her feelings. I eventually embraced the peace and quiet, then my daughter moved in with me. THAT was challenging! She has since moved into her own place, and I am back to being on my own, which is delightful.

For now, I’m working on loving myself. I’ve been changing my lifestyle and have lost over 30 pounds so far. I think I will someday look back at this version of me, and be happy because she is not depressed and hopeless. I don’t like what happened to me over the course of my life, but it has made me someone that I like very much. I am not perfect, and I am okay with that.

Sometimes I think that it would be nice to have someone to share my life, a good man with whom I could grow old. I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet, but it’s nice to think of it sometimes. The thought makes me smile because there was a time when I didn’t think there were any good men around. I know better, now. I no longer see a relationship as a way for me to be saved from myself. I see a relationship as rewarding work, and I think that when the time comes, I will have a lot of good things to bring to the table.

Overall, 43 feels mighty fine.. mighty fine, indeed!

 

Golden Child or Scapegoat Part 5

Prayer truly changes things. As my daughter and I slowly began packing to leave our pretty little house in the suburbs, it became clear that the female parental unit was not keen on helping with the move, in spite her assertions that she would do whatever it took to secure new housing before we were turned out into the streets. We were about two weeks away from moving day when she decided she needed new glasses. It was an ill-timed expense, and I was not about to pitch in any cash for it. She couldn’t wait any longer for new glasses, she said. So, I suggested a website where she could purchase her glasses for $39. I had purchased glasses for my daughter on the same site, and found them to have great quality and reasonable prices. The wombed one scoffed at my suggestion. Her eyes needed special glasses, and no website could supply all her needs. I explained to her that specialty requests did cost more, but it would still be less expensive to buy the glasses online than at a local eyeglass retailer. She exploded in a rage! She let me know that I was talking down to her, and she was tired of it. She felt that she should get her own place. *gasp* I thought to myself, “It can’t be this easy? Is she really going to insist on living on her own over some glasses?” I told her that it was probably for the best that she get her own place. I let my daughter know that evening that we would be moving without her grandmother.

Over the next few days there was an uneasy silence as we packed, and she stewed. She had backed herself into a corner, and couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. The wombed one had no intention of getting her own place and paying all her own bills. She tried to change my mind, saying that she had no where to go. I told her that I was sure that the former friend/scam artist would be glad to give her a place to stay. She replied that she didn’t like being at the former friend’s house. I did my best to refrain from laughing. I reminded her that she spent more time there than she did in my home, so she should be quite comfortable. Then the female parental unit said she didn’t know what to do with all her things. I let her know that I would be selling what I could and putting other things in storage, and suggested she do the same. The look on her face was priceless. She began stealing my property: clothes, work supplies, photo albums, etc. I decided to let it all go. I didn’t ask for anything back. I just focused on getting away from her. I rented a huge U Haul truck and moved out of my house in July of 2007. I tried to do a short sale of the house, but she and the former friend interfered with that process, dirtying the house and leaving feces in the toilets after the water had been shut off. The bank foreclosed on the house in October of 2007. I did not speak to the female parental unit again for almost 2 years. Oddly enough, it was my husband that brought us back together.

I was practicing No Contact quite successfully with both the female parental unit and my estranged husband. One day, I received a message at work to call my husband. The message said it was very important that I call. I hoped that he wanted to finally file for divorce, so I called. He told me that the wombed one was in dire financial straits because the former friend had left her holding the bag for 4 mortgages. The business she had been in with the former friend allowed the friend and her husband to use the wombed one’s identity to establish credit and buy houses. They gave the female parental unit a portion of the money from the equity line of credit on each house, but they never paid the mortgages. Eventually, they amassed about a quarter of a million dollars, but the wombed one only received about $10,000 of it. When the banks started foreclosure proceedings, she learned that her credit was ruined. She was afraid that she would end up in jail. She wanted help, and had enlisted my husband to help her get in touch with me. He gave me her number and asked me to call her. I made the mistake of doing as he’d asked, which led to my further demise…

Golden Child or Scapegoat part 4

I was shaken to the core. I believed in the sanctity of marriage. I thought that I would work things out with this man, even though he had fathered another child with yet another woman – barely a woman at 18 – bringing the total number of children to six. I thought I could love him into being the man I wanted and needed him to be.  I couldn’t understand how he could say that he loved me, then say that he didn’t want to speak to me, and wanted a divorce. My mind was reeling. For a time, I became a detective. I reviewed e-mail messages, text messages, replayed conversations in my mind, read through his online profiles, followed links to other women who spoke freely about his whorish ways. I wore out my printer, compiling profile after profile and page after page that proved what I didn’t want to believe: my husband was a serial cheater.  I began matching posts by other women to days when he’d told me he was working overtime, or that he was going to visit his mother in a neighboring state, or that he was hanging out with co-workers. Clearly, he had been lying. It started to make sense that he would not want to live with me. But why marry me?

I went to Google for the answer, and found information on psychopaths. I posted summaries of what I learned to my blog. He was INCENSED. How dare I put such information on the internet?! How could I expect him to be a husband to me when I considered him to be evil?! I didn’t deserve to be with him, as far as he was concerned. He put a picture of himself with the “girlfriend” on one of his profiles, and changed his headline to read that he’s not a killer, but don’t push him.  I didn’t see that my blog was any of his business, so I did not respond, as my online friend had previously advised me to stop engaging him.

I tried to make sense of it all and worked on moving forward with my life. I went to my doctor, and began losing weight so I could be approved for a surgical weight loss procedure. I updated my wardrobe and hairstyle. I began successfully moving up in my career. I left the online profiles and blogging alone. I began feeling better about the situation overall, but my home life was still a mess. The woman who brought me into this world and was living with me was absolutely no help.  She continued her affair with my husband, meeting him for lunches and dinners, or riding with him in his car, keeping him updated on everything going on in my life. She provided no financial support, leaching off me for payment of her bills, while I kept telling her that I was about to lose my home if things didn’t change soon. The woman was unconcerned. She went so far as to go into partnership with one of my former friends, someone who had scammed me out of a substantial amount of money. I warned the parental unit that her decision was ill-advised, but she let me know that it was business, and she knew what she was doing. Stick a pin in that, and I’ll return to it later.

My daughter was acting out more and more, and it seemed to me that having her grandmother around was not helping as much as I’d thought it would. I began wondering if her grandmother was part of the problem, rather than the solution. I thought back to my own childhood, filled with abuse, neglect and psychological torture. Did I really want my child to be around this woman unsupervised? I was perplexed. I didn’t see how I could put the woman out on the street, and it looked like my daughter and I were about to be out on the street ourselves.

I had gotten caught up in the refi hype, and traded a perfectly good fixed rate mortgage loan for two variable rate mortgage loans that did not start increasing until two years from the date of the refinance.  My two years were up not long after I discovered my husband’s infidelity, and interest rates were up, so I watched my mortgage payments steadily increase to an amount I could not afford no matter how hard I worked and tightened my belt. Not that I could do much belt tightening living with the female parental unit.  I was responsible for two house notes, a car note, car insurance for myself and the birther, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance (no longer part of the mortgage payments – thanks predatory lender!), health insurance, utilities on a 3 BR house, landscaping (large front and backyard), clothes and shoes for daughter and me, groceries for all, gas,  and any miscellaneous expenses. She actually paid the utilities twice in 12 months. I remember one particular utility bill was about $120, and the female parental unit had said she would pay it. She asked for the bill and looked at it, laughed, then left it in my room for me to pay it.

I held a family meeting, and advised everyone that we were in trouble, and we would have to work together to avoid foreclosure. The meeting went well, or so I thought, and I began working a second job to increase income. The female parental unit called me several times a day every day while I was on my second job, complaining about my daughter. After a few weeks, she told me she couldn’t stay home to supervise my daughter while I worked, and she began spending more and more time with the former friend/scam artist. She would even stay at the former friend’s sprawling house overnight, cooking, tidying up and taking care of that woman’s children. The irony was not lost on me. I didn’t understand why this person who was supposed to be my mother was willing to spend time with people who hurt me and took advantage of me. Why would she abandon her granddaughter to take care of someone else’s children?

Whatever her reasons, I didn’t have long to focus on that. I stayed up late at night, pumped up on phentermine (weight loss drug), trying to figure out how to save my home. I finally prayed, and as I searched the internet for information that might help, I stumbled upon an intriguing article by someone who seemed to understand my housing predicament. The advice in that article went against all the memes circulating at the time about foreclosure. In a nutshell, he said stop trying to keep the house if you can’t afford it. He said you are killing yourself, your credit score is suffering anyway because of the late payments, and you would be better off saving up your money and finding another place before the foreclosure hits your credit report. A light bulb went off in my mind, and I knew he was right. No matter how much money I scrounged up, no matter how hard I worked, in the end I would still lose the house, and I certainly wasn’t enjoying it in the meantime.

I started apartment hunting, and grudgingly allowed the female parental unit to accompany me, as she was planning to move with us. Ughh! It was a nightmare. She consistently chose apartment complexes that were too expensive and too far out in the suburbs. She wanted a fireplace because the house had a fireplace. She wanted a patio because the house had a front and back porch. She wanted a gated community because she wanted to feel safe. She wanted to have her own bathroom so she wouldn’t have so far to walk when she needed to go in the middle of the night. She had no concern for my commute, schools for my daughter or expense. It was a time-consuming, aggravating experience. I began going out to look at place when she was occupied with the former friend. I picked a really inexpensive place for the next time she wanted to go apartment hunting with me. It was sparse, but clean. I told the management I would be back with my deposit and completed application. The wombed one broke down crying as we left. Suddenly, we had to think of my daughter. Surely, she said, I wouldn’t want my daughter in that kind of neighborhood. I replied, “It’s what we can afford.”

So now she tells me that she is willing to help. I tell her that she certainly hadn’t helped with the house, so I cannot count on her financial contributions in the future. She says she didn’t know money was that tight, mentioning that we went to a casual dining restaurant for dinner a few weeks prior. In that moment, I feel disgust and hatred toward this person I’ve known, but didn’t know, all my life. I inform her that $30 would not make a dent in the amount of money owed on the house. I tell her that as hard as I had been working, and with her spending all her time cooking for the former friend’s family instead of helping out at home, I needed to eat and get to bed at a decent time so the $30 dinner was worth it to me. I wanted to say that if she hadn’t invited herself along, I would only have spent about $15 for my daughter and me, but I bit my tongue.

I started looking at the woman sitting in my car with new eyes. Who was this person using up my money, my gas, my time, living in my house, but really not doing a darned thing except working my last nerve? How did it get to this, with me taking care of her? She didn’t work, she came and went as she pleased, and all she did was put gas in her car when I wouldn’t. I might as well have had two children, having her around – except she talked back. Still, I found a place that was fairly nice,  not expensive, and allowed her to apply with me for the apartment. My stomach was tied up in knots as we filled out the paperwork. I did not understand consciously, but I felt an impending sense of doom as they ran our credit and told us we were approved.

My daughter came to me a few days later, and asked to talk with me privately. In hushed tones, she pleaded with me to move without her grandmother. She said she knew she had been a handful, but she really couldn’t take living with her grandmother anymore. She said her grandmother was driving her crazy with the things she said and did to her. She told me that she had tried to kill herself once already because she couldn’t deal.  I held my daughter and promised her that I would work it out somehow… God only knew how.

To be continued…

Golden Child or Scapegoat part 3

I decided to marry someone who embodied none of the characteristics I’d thought would make someone a good husband and life partner, except that he was an adult male.  First, he was a Mason, which meant he was committed to his secret society. He even wore his Masonic ring on his wedding ring finger. I asked him what he would wear on that finger once we married, and he said he would continue to wear the Masonic ring. Second, he had fathered five children with three different women by the time I became involved with him. I asked him why he didn’t try to work things out with ANY of his children’s mothers, and he told me horrid stories about how they used him, or disrespected him, or physically provoked him into fights. They were not as wonderful as me, he said. They were not as intelligent and educated as me, he said. They were not the marrying type, but I was, he said. *insert eyeroll* Third, he worked with criminals, and he seemed to both despise and admire the inmates he was charged with supervising. He found the fights, cursing and general confusion exciting. When he wasn’t at work, he would watch reality shows or dramas about prisons and inmates. Finally, he had proposed to me when I was about to break up with him, and that proposal was the only reason I’d remained involved with him through several break ups over the course of two years. I found him to be under-educated, overly competitive, opinionated, and unreliable – in retrospect, a male version of the female parental unit.

For her part, the wombed one alternated between warning me about being involved with the husband-to-be, and fawning over him herself. It felt at times like I was competing with her for my fiance’s affection and attention. He seemed to enjoy that very much, which was all the more disconcerting. Eventually, I decided against my better judgement to settle down as no one better seemed to be coming along, and the birther offered to help with the wedding expenses. She was very excited about helping me plan the wedding, but she disagreed with a lot of my ideas, so I began doing research and planning on my own. I wanted a very small, private wedding. I didn’t have a lot of friends, and although I’d heard about his friends, I’d only met one. I was certain that we could get married for less than $1000. I worked furiously to keep costs down, while still trying to make things beautiful for our special day.

As days became weeks of planning, it began to dawn on me that I was the only one doing the work. He failed to show up for doctor’s appointments, or for premarital counseling, and had no input on rings for me. Looking at rings for him WITH him almost brought me to tears, because he wanted me to buy him yet another Masonic ring. When I complained that he was not being supportive, he told me it was too much pressure. He couldn’t handle planning a wedding. He just wanted it to be over, and wanted us to be married already. He kept me up from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. with this rubbish talk one night, and by the time the sun was up, I was making plans to go with him to another county and get married at the courthouse. I called in sick from work, got myself dressed as nicely as I could on short notice, and when he arrived at my home, I drove us to the courthouse and we got married without rings and without witnesses (other than the Justice of the Peace).

After the civil ceremony, I wanted to go out and celebrate. I wanted to eat at a nice restaurant with my new husband. I asked him where he wanted to eat. He said, “McDonald’s.” I didn’t know whether to cry or scream or laugh. I asked him if he was joking, and he said he was not. He said that eating at McDonald’s was a treat to him, and that’s where he wanted to go because he couldn’t wait to get home to consummate the marriage. I was a bit taken aback, but at the same time the thought of the consummation caused me to give in. So we ate McDonald’s, then proceeded to make our marriage official. He kept reminding me that I had refused him for several months, telling him that if he wasn’t going to marry me, there was no point in having sex. He seemed to find it quite amusing that he was now going to have sex with me again.

I didn’t get the joke at the time, but once the deed was done, he hopped up and started putting his clothes back on. When I asked him where he was going, he told me he still had to go to work. I was shocked. I asked him why he didn’t call in to work, as I had done. He said he’d been so excited, he’d forgotten. And he left. And when his shift was over, he did not come home. He went to his apartment. And he did that the next night, and the next night, and the next night. He would visit every few days, but he did not make any effort to move in, or move me into his apartment. He did not support me in any way. He told me he had to hold on to his place because the house was mine, and I could kick him out whenever I felt like. I never did get the chance, because he would not move in. The only difference between before we married and after we married was that we once again had sex, and I changed my name.

Three months into the marriage, I contacted his mother. I’d never met her, and had only talked with her on the phone once before marrying her son. I decided that I should get his mother involved to correct what was an unbearable situation. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. She told me a real woman would not have married her son without meeting her. She told me that he was not ready for marriage, and that he had a lot of responsibility helping take care of her, and that was why he wasn’t able to move in with me or support me as a husband should. She led me to believe that she cared about the success of her son’s marriage, and that she would use her influence to persuade him to come home. The apple had not fallen far from the tree.  I later learned she’d told me a lot of lies, and hated my guts because I dared to marry her son without her blessing, then complained to her about him.

Six months into the marriage, I found the online blog of a woman in a nearby state who had several posts about the trials of being involved with a man who works a lot, has a lot of kids, and is trying to be a good man. I sympathized with her, thinking that she was a lot like me. She was more like me than I realized: she was involved with my husband. She had his picture on one of her posts with the title “You Love Me.” My heart stopped beating, and I couldn’t breathe. I felt so angry, so hurt, so ashamed, so foolish all at once. How could he? How could he?!!!  I was sure she was an innocent party, so I sent her a message letting her know he was already married, thinking I would spare her needless heartache. She took my message as a challenge, and decided to prove that she was the better woman.

I can admit it without hanging my head now, but I put all the dirty laundry online. He attacked me mercilessly in response, with projection, triangulation, and blatant lies. He refused to speak to me, except through text messages. He demanded a divorce. He told me he was happy with his girlfriend, and I should leave him alone. I used the power of the pen to tear him to shreds. He could not out reason me, but he did his best to hurt me. An online friend stepped in and advised me to let it alone, as continuing to engage him was only making me look bad. I saw that she was right, and I stepped away.

I was thoroughly confused. I thought I had done the right thing by finally marrying someone, but now it had blown up in my face. The female parental unit was living with me, and provided comfort with, “I told you not to marry a Mason. You should have known something was going on when he didn’t come home. I don’t know why you had to go off and marry him.” She was also the person he WOULD speak to on the phone. He would call, and she would sound so pleased that he’d called. Not outraged that he’d abandoned her daughter and cheated so publicly that it was humiliating. He would tell her he was coming by to take her for a drive, and she’d get dressed, letting me know she’d be back soon. He once told her that he missed a certain kind of sandwich I used to make for him. She promised him that she would make it, and have it ready for him when he arrived. When she got off the phone with him, she asked me how to make the sandwich. I replied, “Why don’t you ask me how to make love to him while you’re at it?!” She pretended to be shocked and appalled, but she had that canary-eating grin of hers on her face. My pain was her pleasure.

I started trying to regain my sensibilities, but a few months after I discovered his infidelity, he had a major accident. He called me from the hospital, and I rushed from work to be by his side. He needed me, and I was there for him. When he told me he wanted to reconcile, I acquiesced. Things seemed to be going well for almost two weeks, then he told me he had to take a weekend trip, and I couldn’t come with him. My gut said something was up. I went back to the girlfriend’s blog, and it was all there: he surprised her by showing up at her door, and they spent most of the weekend in bed. I told him we were through. He denied having been with her, then switched to yes, he was with her because she completes him and blah blah blah. He didn’t want to pay for a divorce, and he didn’t want a divorce on the grounds of adultery, fraud or abandonment. He wanted the divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. I told him he could pay for what he wants, and that I was done talking to him. But it wasn’t over just yet.

To be continued…

Golden Child or Scapegoat Part 2

The female parental unit had spoken: I could not stay home. I had to go away to college. I had been tightly controlled my entire life, rarely visiting friends, or spending a night away. My stepdad tried to intervene on my behalf. He told the wombed one that it wasn’t right for me to be “cooped up in the house” all the time. He paid for me to go away on a few school trips, but he did not control the household money. SHE did. I went away to college with the money I’d earned over the summer, a few outfits from high school, and a great deal of fear in my heart.

My first year of college was horrid. When I visited home over the holidays, the birther paraded me around like a prize. She chirped over my hairstyle and my new clothes. She  convinced me she was proud of me, but it felt hollow, somehow. I went back to school even less motivated than before. By the third quarter, my GPA was so low I’d lost one of my scholarships. I secretly wanted to flunk out, so I could go home.. where I wasn’t welcome. I hated the South, with its open racism and segregation. I wanted to be back in my old neighborhood, where Soca music kept me up at night, and the smell of jerk chicken wafted through the window. I didn’t know who I was, but I knew I wouldn’t figure it out at college.

After the first year, I was sure I was going to be kicked out of school, but I kept my head down and worked as if I was saving up for the next school year. To my surprise, the second scholarship picked up where the first one ended, so I had another shot at getting my education. I was more depressed than ever. I didn’t want to go back. I had few friends, and didn’t try very hard to make friends, either. A lot of the girls in my dorm seemed to think I was “fast,” but I was actually just too naive to know that I couldn’t trust the older guys who kept trying to rape.. I mean date me. One succeeded freshman year, and I stopped going out with older guys after that.

I was raped by my daughter’s father during my second year of college. He pinned me down as I tried to back away from his hand forcing me open, and he humped away until he grunted and was done. When the feeling returned to my loins, I was in so much pain I couldn’t move. He threatened to give me more as I lay unmoving on his bed, and that’s what motivated me to get up, only to see all the blood I’d lost from his savage attack. When he saw the huge blood stain, his first concern was that there was blood on his “thing.” I knew he hadn’t had time to put on a condom, as he’d been too busy trying to keep me from getting away, but I kept cool so he would get me back to campus. I told only three people, at first. I didn’t report it. I blamed myself for having gone to his apartment. I went to class, and stayed in my dorm room otherwise. I hid my pregnancy for fear of being kicked out of school. It was a religious college, and pregnancy out of wedlock was a huge no no.

I finally told the female parental unit that I was pregnant in my 8th month. I expected her to be done with me, but she said she would help me. She used my pregnancy as a huge source of supply. She told everyone the story of how I had been caught up in lust and conceived a child, and how she didn’t know what she was going to do, but by God’s grace she would help me. It was quite amusing listening to her tell her story, as it certainly wasn’t what had happened, but I didn’t care enough to correct her.

Over the years, she took great pride in talking about how people didn’t believe she was my child’s GRAND mother, because she looked too young to be a GRANDmother. She would tell people all about what she did for my daughter, where she took my daughter, what she spent on my daughter, and how she would raise my daughter if only she had the chance. She criticized my parenting in front of anyone who would listen, including my daughter. I spoke to her repeatedly about it, but she continued to demean me regularly.

Eventually, I decided to get away from her. I moved out to a beautiful one bedroom apartment, and did my best to raise my daughter on my own. My daughter started getting in trouble at school, and was suspended for several days for violence toward another child. I was horrified and ashamed. Maybe I was a terrible mother, as the birther had said. Maybe I really didn’t know what I was doing. I allowed the birther to take my daughter for weekend visits. After a few months, when my lease was almost up and I was recovering from a tonsillectomy, the female parental unit invited me to live with her again, promising that THIS time, things would be different.

I moved back in with the wombed one, and for a time things were different, but that didn’t last for long. I began wanting more space, and made the mistake of sharing my dream of moving back to the South, the place I’d hated years before. I thought the slower pace of the South was just what my daughter needed, and I saw that my dollar would stretch a lot further than it did up North. I squirreled away enough money to buy a home, and the female parental unit packed up with my daughter and me and moved out of the Big Apple. Within a year, she moved back to New York. I didn’t know what to do. It was like being at college all over again.

I had more and more trouble with my daughter’s behavior both at home and at school. It began affecting my work performance and attendance.  I also began dating the man I eventually married. He took a great deal of interest in my daughter, which I thought was a good thing. I was relieved to think that I might have someone to help me raise my girl. I also hoped that I would gain the approval of the wombed one if I finally settled down and got married. She eventually moved back to the South, and even though she’d said I shouldn’t ever marry a correction’s officer or a Mason, she took to my fiance right away. For me, that settled it. We eloped in January of 2006. And that’s when my nightmare truly began.

To be continued…