This is the big test. Right here. This is the test to see if you will stick with me even when you know everything. There is lameness about me. Not the lameness commenters point out. Not like, I don’t know anything about graduate school. Or I’m not fair to David Dellifield. No. It’s more fundamental than that.
I want you to recall that when I was growing up, the police came to our house pretty frequently. (And, in fact, to our hotel rooms. And you might be interested to know that when rich people trash a hotel room they do not get thrown out of the hotel. But rather, the kids get their own hotel room.) Every time, my dad would tell them that I was fine, that it was only a spanking, that I was exaggerating. He would tell them I have a behavioral problem.
He wasn’t covering anything up as much as expressing how my parents were actually convinced that I was a psychopath. I was the one who went to a psychiatrist my whole childhood. They even had me tested at Northwestern’s neurology lab. But at the same time, my parents were doing things like getting angry enough to leave me as in Arlington Heights, alone on a street corner, while they drove back to Wilmette. (Google Map that: Not good parenting. Probably illegal today.)
Okay. So fast forward to my marriage now, to the Farmer. The odds are that I would be with a man who treats me like my dad did, right? So it should not surprise you that the Farmer pushed me so hard that I fell on the floor. In front of my six-year-old son.
The Farmer would tell you why it’s my fault, and how I deserve it, and that I made him do it. If there were a neurology lab in rural Wisconsin he’d probably send me there because he has told me numerous times, most recently right after he apologized for pushing me, again, that I am emotionally abusive to him.
Two nights ago, I got really scared. He had already pushed me and shoved me and grabbed me and crushed my foot in a door. He would say that I deserved it. That I say crazy things to him. That I never leave him alone. That I am an awful person to live with. For the record.
He had me in a corner, and I was crying and I was scared, and he was telling me how I am a terrible mom, he was saying my youngest son is going to grow up and hit me. So I dialed a number that I thought was a friend, but it was my stepmom, the woman married to my dad
She is totally cool. My dad has very good taste and I really like this stepmom. And she was great to talk to. I can’t complain about one thing she said.
She says, of course, that I am a good mom. And of course, I do not believe her. Someone raised by abusive parents never feels secure in their parenting because they don’t understand what makes kids love parents. So that’s my weak spot. Even if I were a great parent, I’d never believe it.
And of course, she said I need to leave.
I was silent.
Then she suggests sending my dad to come see me. For support. I say okay. Because I can’t say no to support. And, you know what? I can’t say no to my dad. I just want to be loved. He tries really hard. I forgive every transgression, even as his transgressions are huge. Just go read that post. I can’t even bear to write about them again. I can’t because I want to have a dad who loves me in a real way.
I want to have a dad who comes and rescues me when I have a husband who is physically violent.
So my dad drives two hours to see me. He gets here for dinner. I told him not to come any earlier because it’s Sunday, the day my Ex comes to hang out at the house with my sons, and it’s the only day all week that I don’t have kids, so I have to work that day.
Our dinner features my act of childish passive-aggressiveness: I make sure there is no meat in the meal because the Farmer really wants meat in the meal every time.
Maybe that is what he means when he tells me I’m emotionally abusive.
I am alone in the kitchen getting dinner ready. I tell myself not to feel sorry for myself. I tell myself it gets me nowhere. I tell myself that I if I can fix this situation, I will be really good at helping other people to fix their lives.
My dad comes up to me in the kitchen. I am startled.
I tell him I really appreciate that he came, that it makes me feel less alone.
He tells me he wants to help. He tells me he researched women’s shelters in my area.
“Dad. Women’s shelter? Did you say women’s shelter?”
“Yes. I was thinking you could go to one.”
“I can’t go to a women’s shelter, Dad. It’s rural America. A women’s shelter, here?”
I am speechless. I am trying to figure out something to say to him about why I cannot show up to one of those, kids in tow.
“Dad. I’m famous. I’ve signed autographs in grocery stores.”
He said, “Oh. You are?”
I decide we are done. I fluff the bean salad and tell myself he is trying to be helpful.
The Farmer says grace. He needs to thank God before every meal. He wanted to say Jesus also, but we compromised with just God. So he says that. And as he thanks God for this meal, I put my head down and wonder if not allowing him to thank Jesus is emotionally abusive.
The kids eat and run.
And there I am, alone. With the three men in my life.
My dad talks about his stamp collection. There was an auction in Iowa. He was thinking of going, but all the stamps he wanted were too expensive.
The Ex says he had a stamp collection, too. His parents just sent it to him. They are cleaning out their closets.
The Farmer says he had a stamp collection too.
We talk about plate blocks, post card values, and pros and cons of hinges. The hinges are difficult. You never know if it’s better to attach the stamps for security, or if the attachment is so damaging that you risk losing the stamp.