Awkward Moment: Running into the Boss Whose Husband Sexually Harassed Me – In Need of Some Input

Back in 2007 I left the pet sitting company I worked for because my boss’s husband was sexually harassing me. Well, to be more accurate I ended up quitting right after telling her about it because my boss didn’t believe me, and I was too impatient to wait for her to gather herself and fire me.

Waiting to tell her was the most stressful day of my life. I had been on vacation the week leading up to my ‘confession’ and I called her that day, but as expected she was too busy to talk. So we set up a time for her to call me that night.

That whole day, I was a wreck. I stayed in one room of my house all day, chain smoking cigarettes, reading what I could focus on, about co-dependency, hoping to find some nugget that would make this conversation easier for me.

Why was I such a nervous wreck? I hadn’t done anything wrong. It was her pig, slime-ball husband who’d asked me to talk dirty to him over the phone. He’d given me a sob story because he’d been ill (he really was chronically ill) and that his wife no longer wanted to be intimate, as though she was afraid he’d break.

He even cried while trying to convince me this was a good idea, not only for him but for me too.

When I told him no and as I was on my way out the door, he tried to persuade me by saying, “Think about it. It could do you some good too.”

No…no it would not do me some good.

I carried this around for months. Should I tell her, should I not tell her? I intuitively knew that if I told her I’d be out of a job. I just knew she would take his side and would never believe me. Especially the more time that went by.  I kicked myself then, and I kick myself now too, because I didn’t draw the boundary hard enough.

I was nice about my answer. I was shy about my answer. I came off as and appeared weak to him, as though I might waiver and change my mind. This of course encourages the predator and makes it even more fun to turn the tables and make it seem like you are the sick one. And that’s pretty much what happened.

The only thing I wavered on was whether to tell my boss or not. I was certainly concerned about not being believed and losing my job. But I was also concerned about hurting her.

Finally I couldn’t carry it around any longer. I was so angry at her husband for being so slimy. But when I think about it now, I’m more angry at myself for not using his disgusting behavior as an opportunity to draw a hard line line in the sand and tell him to fuck off, never ask me again.

But I came off wishy-washy because I was afraid if I drew the boundary I knew I needed to draw and wanted to draw, I might lose the job. He had the power and I was afraid he’d use it. I’m sure he knew my boss wouldn’t believe he’d do such a sick thing.

And…when I told her what her husband had been doing, she said with a gasp, “Not my Bill.”

And that’s how it ended. Despite the fact that I gave her enough detail, and that I told her things I would have no idea about, unless he or she had told me about them. And she and I both knew she would never tell me such private things.  Never the less, she refused to believe that her husband was the slime ball he actually was.

It was then I told her I’d need to leave and she said, “Yeah, I guess this is the end of the line.”

We arranged for her to pick up the files and keys I had. I even gave her back the tote bag she’d given me as a gift for carrying the files and keys in.

I was relieved I’d finally told her but I was sad too.  I didn’t even have a chance to say good-bye to all those dogs I used to walk.

About a year ago…maybe more now, I ran into her at a local convenience store. I had just gotten some coffee and was preparing it with some flavored creamer. She walked over to do the same, right near me and said, “Hi!”

She was pleasant in her greeting as though nothing had ever gone down, as if she was seeing an old friend she hadn’t seen in quite some time.

Although we had a pretty decent rapport for the most part, and although she’d spoken to me with disrespect a few times, not taking no for an answer one time when she’d asked me to do a visit for her when I’d made plans that evening, even once getting mean about my voice lacking energy, I actually thought of her as an OK boss.

That sounds kind of pathetic, but her lousy treatment didn’t start until some time later in my employment…maybe she was already taking out her lousy marriage on me, I don’t know.

So when I saw her in that convenience store that day, I gave her the cold shoulder and walked away.

When I told a friend about it, I was feeling all righteous. But my friend said, “Maybe you should’ve talked to her. Used the opportunity to get information. Maybe she found out the truth. Maybe her husband passed. Maybe she’d apologize.”


Not feeling so righteous after that. I was cringing. And today I’m cringing again.

I saw her again today.

I walked into Whole Foods and as I passed by one aisle, it registered that I’d just seen the back of my old boss.

Ugh! “My luck, she’ll end up right in back of me in line.”

And that is exactly what happened.

However, the timing of it all, I’m not sure she saw me see her. In fact I’m not even really sure she saw me. But she was directly behind me for a minute or so before moving to another register directly adjacent to the one I was standing in line for.

So I think she did see me.

I’m cringing because I wished I’d taken the opportunity in the convenience store I hadn’t even thought to take. I’m cringing because I felt so awkward then and I felt just as awkward today. I want to clear the air now, but I have a feeling it’s much too late and the opportunity is gone forever.

I don’t want to and won’t seek her out, call her, knock on her door, etc. But how could I or should I even attempt to break the ice if I run into her again?


Hoovering: I’ve Done It

I don’t know why this is hitting me so hard for the first time today. It’s like a face palm with a box of bricks.

I used to hoover men.

It started with Chip, who was 20 when I was 13. I always called him, never the other way around. We’d make plans to meet at a corner in my neighborhood so he could pick me up away from my house. Sometimes he showed up, sometimes he didn’t.  Now and then his conscience would get the best of him and he’d tell me on the phone that, “We need to cool it.”

I remember the first time he did this, I’d used the wall phone in the basement.  I cried so hard and tried relentlessly as well as futilely to talk him out of it. But each time he stood his ground and I was left feeling abandoned and hurt.

But then I’d wait a couple weeks and call again. He’d seem so happy to hear my voice and the game would start again.

Then there was Harry. He was old enough to be my father at age 39. As a matter of fact he was my mother’s age…when I was 16. We lasted 6 months and he broke it off. I was devastated and vowed to get him back…meaning he’d be with me again. God, I remember how intense the pain was that summer. How in a fog my mind was while still hanging out with friends and wanting to be nowhere but with him.

I saw him a few times after we’d broken up, even made a point to visit him at a retail store he was working at with his new girlfriend but we never got back together. Thankful now that never happened. Oh, yeah, except one time…we had a one night thing many years later that left me feeling like trash.

Tom at least was age appropriate. I was 18, he was 21. I fell in love with him and he fell in love with me. We were friends as much as lovers. But we were only together for a year when he moved away.  We stayed together and talked when we could. But I was lonely and began dating someone else. We also had a lot of problems. I cheated on him. He was a kind of a hot head and needed to be right when we argued. I dated when he moved.

Tim: I’d dated him for a short time before dating Tom. I looked him back up again after I began feeling lonely because of Tom moving. Tim could be abusive, but I had a lot of issues and would tell him adverse things I thought pertaining to him. I’d fuck someone else and then confess to him about it. I had been dating him when I had that one night with Harry. And Harry was someone he knew. In fact they’d worked together when I met Harry and so I’d known Tim from then. While dating Tim I also fucked around with one of my bosses…a chef at the restaurant I worked at. And then there was still Tom. And for the most part and major part of a decade, I bounced back and forth between Tim and Tom.

Tim however would blame me for things like someone walking in on me in the bathroom if I forgot to lock the door.  It was a huge double standard too. So if I walked in on someone he’d be pissed and say I should’ve knocked. I couldn’t win.

I became afraid to have an opinion thinking if it didn’t match his, he’d be pissed off and think something was wrong with me. I was afraid that would cause him to break it off. One night we were watching TV and he made a joke about some commercial and I made another one. He got angry and said, “Why do you have to start an argument about everything I say.”   There had been nothing to argue about, I was simply engaging and participating.

He would often tell me that if there was somewhere else I wanted to be then I should leave. I’m not clear on where that came from. Perhaps just a comment I would make that didn’t reflect joy and worship.

I would get bored or anxious with one of them. But many times I’d feel abused or disgusted too. I believed I was confused about my feelings about each one of them. I would break up with one and see the other for a time and then break up and go back to the one I’d previously broken up with. It kept things kind of new with each one. The issues would seem to disappear for a little while too with each new start. I did this to avoid the pain of the break up. I did this to satisfy a need of not being alone.

At the time I never knew what I was doing was hoovering, but that is essentially what it was.

Therapy Update

No more therapy.

At least for now.

I went to my appointment on Tuesday having the intention when I left the house that I was going to ‘break up with my therapist.’ Ugh, that sounds creepy but it’s what it is really.

Then, as I walked through the door to his office, I decided to give the appointment a chance and see what would happen. Where things would go. I wanted to see if he’d taken what I’d said repeatedly into any consideration.

He asked me where I wanted to start and I said, “I don’t know.”

He touched a bit on what we’d talked about, once again giving me the impression that he understood me.

And then he asked me where I thought my PTSD started from.

I said it was a difficult question to answer but started with what came to mind. I mean my entire life has been traumatic so I could effectively start anywhere.

I began explaining how the break up caused me so much pain it caused all the pain of childhood emotional abandonment to surface. And then only a year later, barely time to start recovering, I was thrown into one of the most stressful situations I have ever lived through with my family.  As I got deeper into the story and one thing led to another, I began to get distressed. When I finally noticed, I could feel the tension around my lower back and I was barely breathing. The more I talked, the more my body felt like it had when the incidents had occurred.

When I finally had the presence of mind to realize what the fuck was going on…that I was barely breathing, that my lower back was tightening up and that my body was back in the past, I stopped myself.

And then I got pissed off at my therapist for not doing what he said he’d do.

I again repeated what I’d said the week before. “This is where I need you to stop me.”

For fuck’s sake, he even said himself he would stop periodically to check in with me…to have me check in with me.

When this happens I need to see where in my body I am feeling this distress. But again, my therapist didn’t come through.

Instead of acknowledging that he didn’t do what he said he’d do, he told me I go from 0 to 60 so fast he didn’t have a chance to say anything.

(Edit Sunday 9/10/17: Victim blaming. Re-reading this, I picked up on it right away.)

WTF?!!? It’s like the three conversations we had prior to this appointment didn’t happen for him.

I had gone from one story to another. I’d been talking for 15 minutes. The agreement was to stop every 5 minutes. He didn’t.

I told him I thought he was right when he said that he might not be the right therapist for me. That I’d told him what I needed a number of times and each time I say it, he seemed to have this need to clarify. Nothing wrong with that. He says exactly what I’m relaying to him. But then…

He doesn’t fucking do it!

He repeated his stance on me needing to regulate myself and I found myself explaining to him that a therapist is there to help with that. It’s like training wheels. You help me and little by little before we know it I’m off on my own.

As I write this, I’m wondering if he was playing with me. If he enjoyed watching me get worked up as a result of not being heard.

After a few minutes I caught myself. I was explaining to him how to do his job and I stopped and said “I can’t believe I’m saying all of this. I’ve explained all of this at least three times before and I’m not going to do it anymore.”

I wound down a bit and we concluded the decision of me not going back although he let me know he wasn’t closing the door on me. So if I wanted to come back I could.

He then followed up with asking me if I was ready to leave or if I wanted to stay and ‘chill’ as I’d put it a few more minutes.

I said, “Yeah, I’ll stay to catch my breath thank you.”

I rubbed my head and he asked if I was having a headache.

I said “No” and that my head was full.

He guessed that I was feeling disappointed and I confirmed.

See this is why I tried so hard and his way of picking up on my feelings reminded me of that and just served to disappoint me more.

How is it he could read me and my emotions so well in some instances and then in others be completely clueless.

Before the hour was up, I got up to leave, said “Thanks for talking to me a little more,” turned to face him, just before walking out the door and said, “Good bye.”

Edit/Update 9/10/17: Reading that he was clued in to my feelings there at the end, makes me think that maybe he was fucking with me to get me frustrated enough to leave. I don’t know, I’ll never know. The one thing that I really did like about him though is that he was really good at dream interpreting. If I could afford to pay him out of pocket I would’ve stayed just for that and found a better therapist for the trauma.

Hospital Healed Trauma Survivors Just After World War II

I’ve been meaning to post this old video for a while now. It was mentioned in the book The Body Keeps the Score so I watched it.

It’s a documentary type of video that shows a little about how one hospital actually helped returning soldiers from WWII.

Yes, helped them, not just institutionalized them.

I was shocked. I was under the impression that all treatment back then would have been barbaric. But it appears that some doctors at least, knew what to do to make those who were traumatized heal. They apparently understood how trauma effects the mind, body and brain.

Watch the video to see what they did.

Angry and Disgusted + More Bad Therapy

Ozzy85astNo. Livid.  Not to mention fed-up.

As I read more and more of the book called The Body Keeps the Score, I get increasingly more pissed off at my present therapist and the system.

I am already angry at my therapist and keep ruminating about what we talked about at my last appointment, which I will get into down the page. But first:

When you’re on public assistance and broke, you are at the mercy of the system and the practitioners that accept that particular insurance. In my case, in this US State and in my immediate area, the pickins are lousy. Asking for someone who specializes in trauma and PTSD seems to be futile. I don’t think they have anyone in the system that actually does, but will tell you they do anyway.

Since I’ve been utilizing therapists in this system, I am on my seventh therapist. This is a disgrace.

You would probably think that I am the problem since I’m the common denominator. And I don’t deny that it could be the case. But what I think is that  I’m looking for more than what the therapists in the system can provide. Which would be a therapist that specializes in helping trauma survivors.

The book I’m reading gives lots of examples of true healing from trauma. Which to me means integrating the memories into life so that they do not impede on living your life. It means that you are not walking around chronically angry and blaming everyone and everything. It means that you can see the event as something that happened and not be so tangled up in it, that it paralyzes you from doing everyday things, like grocery shopping, as one example. It means that just getting up in the morning to face another day is no longer exhausting. It means that you can get more than one task done. It means that you are not triggered by the assholery of others in the present and see it as their issue and then are able to go about your day, maybe shaking your head at their behavior or sneering in sympathy at worst.

But in all the years I’ve been in therapy, and that started long before these last seven therapists, I have never experienced what I just wrote in that last paragraph.

Obviously. Because if I had I wouldn’t continue to seek it out.

It’s still infuriating to get a blank stare after telling a therapist about the things I’ve been reading about and wanting to be excited, but know better because of all the previous disappointment. It’s frustrating af getting that blank stare. It’s even worse when it comes from a particular therapist that convinced you he or she understood trauma.

I’m done being jerked around by therapists. Just fucking done. Next Tuesday will be my last appointment, but I’m so tempted to just write a letter and hand deliver it before then because the actual appointments are re-traumatizing and therefore doing much more harm than good.

Two Tuesdays ago I walked into my therapist’s office with a written out letter to read to him. I was frustrated and felt unheard and misunderstood.  I wrote the letter out to organize my thoughts so that I could be more organized in letting him know what I was thinking and feeling about the whole situation.

I had told him previously that I need certain types of guidance. I need to figure out a way for therapy to be more somatic. I didn’t know exactly how to do that, but knew I needed a therapist’s intervention. I was hoping maybe he would pick up the ball and do his own research, if only on the internet to see what I was talking about. I’d mentioned enough for him to do certain searches.

Later, as I read more about somatic type therapy, mostly in the book I’m reading now: The Body Keeps the Score, I communicated more specifically.  I told him that I need his help to be grounded in the present when I tell my past traumas. I need to be in the present, I need to feel my butt in the chair. Because what happens is that I get distressed and feel the emotions I felt back then. But with no way to release them, this is not helpful. It also puts me in physical distress with heart palpitations and other symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. I added that talk therapy alone has proven to not be helpful for me.

So after I read through the letter and even explained myself further as we discussed what I’d written and how I felt, he went through a session of me being grounded, feeling my body in the present and guided me through and asked me about how I was feeling, as I sat with eyes closed and took deep breaths.

Afterward, I also clarified again, as I had in previous conversations about this topic that I do want to talk about my past traumas while using this method. He nodded, rescheduled me and I left.

This Tuesday, I went in and the first thing he asked me about was how things are going at home with Mr. B, since that has been a source of difficulty and stress.

I answered that things are better right now and also told him that Mr. B borrowed a book from the library about how to cope with living with someone with PTSD. So Mr. B appears to be taking some of the info in the book and utilizing them to create a more peaceful existence for himself and me by doing some different and helpful things in support of me and the PTSD symptoms I’m dealing with. (Serious run-on, but oh well.)

But that wasn’t enough, Mr. Therapist kept wanting to push the topic of Mr. B and what he’s like personality-wise. He was analyzing Mr. B. for some reason. And not only that, Mr. Therapist didn’t see or recognize I was becoming increasingly distressed by this, so therefore wasn’t coming through on my request of him to reel things in. I felt like he was bombarding me and I was overwhelmed by the relentlessness of what he was doing.  I had  mentioned this issue as well in the letter I’d read out loud to him the previous week, so it was doubly distressing.

Finally I had the presence of mind on my own to say, “You know what…Stop, just stop.”

Then I got into telling him, “See this is what I was referring to when I told you I need you to intervene. Stop and guide me to take deep breaths and feel what’s going on in my body.”

He then said, “Well, how about if you give me some sort of signal, like hold your finger up or something like that.”

I wanted to tell him that if he wanted a finger signal, there was only one finger he’d see. But I refrained.

I did become quite distressed though because I felt like I was being toyed with. He gave me every indication the week before he understood what I needed and wanted and what I was telling him, and this week it went out the window.

I told him that doing that would require me to have that presence of mind to even think to do that. To realize that I’m in a state of distress. Then I said, “It’s your job to see what’s going on, to read my body language, my face, to know that I need help.”

He told me he didn’t see in my body language that I was in distress. He hadn’t detected it.

I asked him, “That my tone of voice, raised and obviously upset, didn’t indicate to you that I was in distress?”

{Side note: This morning I came across something Bessel Van Der Kolk wrote in The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma: “The therapist is usually too busy listening to the words to pick up on the body language of the client.”}

There was more back and forth with my therapist and one other thing he said was something along the lines of that the client has to take some responsibility and that compromises are in order, blah blah blah.

“Well yeah, but there are certain things a therapist is there for. If I had the presence of mind to hold up a finger to signal distress to you, I wouldn’t need therapy.”

Finally I got through or at least he acted like I did. But not without the preceding distress. He ended that discussion with, “OK but the eventual goal is for you to be able to catch it on your own, bring yourself back, etc.”

“Absolutely!” I said.

(Edit Sunday 9/10/17: I should have “Well no shit Sherlock! That is one of the most ridiculous redundant statements I’ve heard. Is it not a goal always in therapy, for a client/patient to go off on his own at some point and not need a therapist at all??? I mean come the fuck on, DUH!!!”)

I’ll be the first to say and I’d said it to him the week before, I have no interest in just managing my symptoms or depending on a therapist forever. I want to heal and one day walk out the door of a therapist office and never return because I can do life on my own.

This is an old therapist. You’d think he’d know how it works. And maybe he does. Maybe he’s stubborn, maybe he enjoys the argument. Maybe his goal and the goal of the general mental health industry is to keep us in therapy for the money.

(Edit 9/10/17: As I reread and edit this, it brings to mind how my father used to torment me at times when I’d ask him for something or if I could do something. He’d say no just because he felt that saying yes right away would be relinquishing control. And somewhere inside me I knew this. Most of the time what he said no to would be the most ridiculous thing and it would feel like he was deliberately setting me up to react. He’d eventually say yes. Once when he was ready to give in, I’d already had enough and screamed that I hated him and took off in my car. He called me later to apologize but if he was really sorry then what the fuck was all the fuss about in the first place. I see a similar pattern with this therapist, I’m writing about here, although the topics were different.)

One thing is for certain in relation to this therapist: Our inability to see things eye to eye make it impossible for us to work together.

At the end of the session, just as he was pulling out his date book to schedule another appointment, he brought up the issue of communication. He basically threw the blame onto me for his not understanding what I’ve been trying to tell him about the type of therapy I need. (Pushing even more buttons.)

He said, “You’ve mentioned seeing other therapists and that the communication was lacking. And in your communication with Mr. B, I think he has trouble knowing how to respond to you.”

This after seemingly to be on my side validating the issues I’ve had with Mr. B. And even in that very session he was on a track about Mr. B’s faults.  This guy had even nodded when I’d said something about there being such a thing as ‘good enough’ therapy and that I feel strongly that I hadn’t found it. And now he was using what I’d told him against me. (Just like my mother.)

He was deflecting. And he was dumping his inability to understand what I’d told him more than once, onto me.

But that being said, I also see that I have been attempting to make him into something he’s not. I am also falling back into the behavior of listening to his words and not wanting to accept his actions.  And instead of doing what I really should have done after the initial phone call, I’ve continued to try to fight him. (Just like I would do with my father.)

This is such an old behavior of mine, trying to mold someone to work for me, to fit them into a mold so I can get what I want from them, simply because they are right there in front of me. Instead of just finding the person or therapist or friend or significant other who already fits the bill.

Yep, I’m quitting therapy next week.

Update and edit: I have been in DBT both individual and group therapy for a couple months now. The therapist is pretty good. Certainly not tormentive…not a word but it works.  She is validating and acknowledges me. She is also completely on my side.

But I do have a bit of an issue which I addressed but I don’t feel it was completely resolved so I will revisit it with her.

She has been late a couple times and I have problems with that if it’s a chronic issue. It messes with my trust and I have discovered recently that it is a value of mine to be punctual. So when I give that to someone I want and expect it in return.

I have been under this impression I guess that it’s something I have to accept from someone if that’s “how they are.” Well, no not exactly. I may not be able to change it, but I have every right to get away from someone who can’t or won’t respect my time as I do theirs.  It’s also a matter of my own self-respect.

What is Trauma?

black and white sunflower

More precisely… What is behind the effects of trauma?

I was just making my morning smoothie and as usual I was doing a lot of thinking. The thought, “I’m never truly relaxed” sort of cruised through my mind and then without really being aware of it, the question breezed through, “Why is that?”

My answer was general as in, “Because trauma survivors…” because that’s what I am. And I for one, am in a constant state of hyper-vigilance. I think this is where many other symptoms branch out from.

For example, agoraphobia. Why do I feel afraid to go out on many days, even just to take a walk by myself?

Why am I afraid to get close to anyone, whether it be as a platonic relationship or a prospective romantic one?

Why am I afraid to open up, speak up, take care of me, stick up for me?

Why do I believe I don’t deserve good things? And why am I afraid of the perpetual shoe dropping?

Even being able to come up with other answers to these questions, underneath those answers, they all come back to the same thing.

Hyper-vigilance. Fear, yes. But under that fear is hyper-vigilance of whatever it is I’m fearing. Hyper-vigilant to someone coming up from behind me while I’m walking…despite that person not meaning any harm.

Hyper-vigilant to the ‘fact’ that I’m not likable anyway, so why bother.

Hyper-vigilant to the ‘fact’ that something is sure to go wrong if I begin to accomplish something.

But there’s something behind that hyper-vigilance as well isn’t there?

Because…and this is only my opinion and the conclusion I came to while pondering the two questions that came to mind this morning…

We trauma survivors have had our very lives threatened. We have been put in such scary positions and situations that could have killed us, snuffed our lives right out. In many cases, we have stared blatant death in the face or at the very least felt or feared we could or might die in those moments. In fact some felt that they would and had no doubts.

Even a small child being yelled at by a father with a deep, loud and raised voice, will feel her life is threatened.

That follows us around moment to moment, day to day, week to week. Year after excruciating year.

No wonder I never really feel truly relaxed.

So isn’t trauma basically the constant fear of losing one’s life?

I was going to include the word irrational in the ‘definition’ but the thing is, for survivors it doesn’t feel the least bit irrational. After all the events that got us to this state have happened and many times repeatedly.

Would love to know your thoughts, particularly if you’re a trauma survivor.

I Wasn’t There That Morning When My Father Passed Away

I’m old enough to remember this video being played on MTV.

I remember even then I related to this song. My relationship with him was bitter sweet. He was actually very abusive in emotional ways and I felt tormented by him with his need to control everything around him.

His family (my mother, my brother, my sister and I) walked on eggshells. It was because of him I learned how to gauge someone’s feelings, ever so careful to approach when the timing was right. And there were right times. There were times he was soft, he had a sense of humor, he cracked jokes and did funny things that easily entertained a child.

But I never knew when I’d do something to trigger him. Although that was not my conscious thought to worry about ‘triggers’ with him. That came later as I was gradually conditioned. As a child, I would just let myself go and enjoy the moment…until at times he’d lose his temper over my getting carried away I guess. And the smile was wiped away in no time, leaving me feeling humiliated and ashamed really.

I remember this at the dinner table many times, me with a mouthful of food, my mouth suddenly dry with embarrassment and feeling humiliated, the food suddenly losing it’s taste and feeling so sticky in my mouth I couldn’t swallow it.

When I was distraught over a traumatic breakup of a tumultuous relationship and entanglement at the end of 2011, I blamed my father. I blamed him for me getting involved with such toxicity in the first place. I blamed him for me not being able to maintain a relationship with a man. I blamed him for my acts of clinging to a man that was so wrong for me and later I kept clinging even though he didn’t want me anymore.

I laid into my father with so much anger, sadness, regret and confusion via email. And I felt it was a family problem. So I ‘copied’ my family members.

I described some of the things that happened…his cruelty and abuse in detail.

The main reason for this email to my father, was the question, ‘How can you love me when you’ve done these things?’

He stated that he loved me quite a bit through my life but it was confusing, because so much of the time while I was growing up and even at times in adulthood, I was afraid of him. The worst incidents I think were the times he’d startle me with his anger. His loud, deep voice suddenly bellowing my name from another part of the house and then raging about something he was obviously unhappy about, something that most likely made him feel out of control.

But then there were other times, like when I had a crack in my windshield after visiting with a friend one night. I called my parents when I got home to tell them about it and ask if they could help me get it replaced. I had a job but it was an extra expense, not cheap and I wasn’t prepared for it. In fact it was rare I was ever ready for extra expenses as I lived pay to pay, struggling.

Both of my parents were kind about my broken windshield situation and agreed quite willingly to pay for it. I had been drinking a bit that night and I became very distraught and distressed while on the phone with them.

With my father on the other end, I cried, “What if you guys weren’t around though? How would I pay for it then?”

He was calm that night and said, “Well, you don’t have to worry about that. We are here and we’ll take care of it.”

He was trying to calm me down and soothe me, but it didn’t work too well. I wanted to be able to pay for that windshield repair/replacement myself, without having to choose between that and keeping the electricity on that month. I didn’t want to rely on my parents and I didn’t want to feel this constant need for them to bail me out of sudden expenses.

I didn’t realize then that it was their lack of preparing me for the ‘real world’ that got me in that situation in the first place, despite the kindness that was being shown to me at that moment and in other moments when one or both parents would come through with financial favors and needs.

Give a man (or even a girl) a fish and all that…

But I digress…

Getting back to my rather aggressive email:
I didn’t hear back from my father, but was actually greeted at my house, by my angry brother one Sunday evening after I’d sent it out.  He got so worked up trying to understand why I’d send something like that. I could feel the anger and see the rage in his six foot frame as he furiously erupted while towering over me as I sat in a chair.

His girlfriend and my roommate had stood by in shock while this took place.

I kicked my brother out of the house after that and his girlfriend walked over to me just before she opened the door to leave and said, “Your brother loves you.”

“Yeah right!”

As she opened the door, my brother peeked around the doorway and flashed a peace sign with his fingers. He wanted to come back in.

I agreed and he came back in. The conversation was calm, but it was clear that he was excusing my father’s behavior because of the way he was treated growing up.

It didn’t occur to me that night to call him out on his double standard. I was just glad he wasn’t raging at me and I wasn’t feeling physically threatened.

Knowing I struggled with what I wanted to do with my life as a career and not working, he asked me what I wanted to do. Then made a comment about how he’d noticed, even through his distress about it, how well written the email was.

When I told him, I wanted to share my knowledge, opinions and experiences from pet sitting, he said, (and I’m paraphrasing) “No one is interested in that. You should write about your life.”

Wait what? He was suggesting I write about the very same shit he’d just raged about. Again, I froze (my go to coping response) and didn’t point out the irony of what he was saying.

Things only settled down outwardly afterward and then only for a little over a year. My father never said much about the email and what it contained, except to reply to my apology for sending it in the first place.
“It only hurts me that you’re hurting.” And that was it.

We saw each other at Christmas that year and I felt awkward but my father greeted me as he always had, arms out with a big welcoming grin on his face. I wouldn’t have wanted to talk there and then, but it didn’t feel final and I would’ve liked some resolution. After all, I wouldn’t have sent a letter of such anger and intense pain without actual anger and pain being behind it. But he quite obviously wanted to sweep it under the rug.

He later made little comments here and there, while exchanging later emails, while he was preparing to move from his apartment to his girlfriend’s house quite a distance away. He was working toward dispersing much of his belongings to my siblings and me.

One comment in particular, I remember: “I’ve been trying to get you to forgive me all these years.
It was part of a response to an email I’d sent telling him how I was feeling treated unfairly concerning the way he seemed to be favoring the other two in what he was giving them.

I had dibs on all the books, but I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about the furniture, more specifically the things that had been passed down from his parents.

One evening, I’d gone over to sort through his books and he told me about the two things he was giving to my siblings. For my sister, an antique radio that used to stand in my grandparents’ nicely finished basement. Still beautiful aesthetically but didn’t work.  And an authentic beer stein for my brother, made in Germany, with beautiful designs.

When my father saw the look on my face, he pointed to a broken antique chair and said “You can have that.”

I’d felt like he was offering me a consolation prize, while at the same time attempting to diffuse any adverse emotion I may have had. And it prompted an email to him as it felt much safer to confront my feelings about it that way than face to face. His ever increasing hearing loss was another obstacle that made it difficult to have such conversations anymore anyway.

Later…now I realize, this part of his response “I’ve been trying to get you to forgive me all these years” was putting the responsibility on me, guilt trip extraordinaire, not to mention deflecting a bit on what was going on and my feelings about it.

Although, he addressed it in other ways in his reply, he addressed it with words like, “you were first on the scene…blah blah blah.” Meaning I was first born, so of course he isn’t favoring them, kind of thing.

When I think back on all of that now, I realize it wasn’t the object/s that I was upset about. I didn’t want any of those things, even though you wouldn’t know it by the way I behaved when he made the majority of his move to his girlfriend’s house. I was almost frantic, making sure I got over to his apartment to get what I wanted without my siblings being around.

I had felt slighted and forgotten. I didn’t take the two items that were promised to each of my siblings, but I did make sure I got other things I wanted before they could get to them. I remember now that the more I gathered for myself, the more distraught, sad and empty I felt.

About a week later, my brother informed me that he and my sister had gone out to pick up my father and take him to the hospital. My brother had picked up from emails he and my father had been exchanging, that my father was in some kind of distress. He wasn’t spelling things correctly and he was skipping words. Very unlike my father, who was a stickler for correct English.

To make a long story longer, before being discharged from the hospital, and then the rehab, my sister at first wanted me to help her bring our father home. But last minute changed her mind and felt it was more important to get the stuff back to his place before he got there.

So that’s what I did. Again, I was frantic, getting it back to my father’s apartment and then setting it up again. It was kind of silly to rush around like that, now that I think about it.  I was doing it for my sister for one, to calm some of her stress, and for my father to keep his stress levels down as well. Of course he would need some of the things back…like a lamp and a side table I’d taken. But I ran around the apartment setting up the things I brought back like it was a big secret.

My sister had reported to me my father’s narcissistic behavior was off the charts while he was hospitalized and then in rehab. So she was concerned about his reaction to not having what I’d taken from there. This in spite of the fact that my father had actually pushed for me to get over there to get the stuff as soon as possible.

(Just a quick note here. My sister wasn’t being nasty about the furniture nor in asking me to help her. In fact she’d called me before she’d picked my father up giving me a chance to back out because of my father’s behavior. Acting as though she understood my apprehensiveness to seeing my father at this point at all.  This would become a source of confusion later as she could play understanding at times and then turn and hold that very thing she seemed to understand against me, weeks later.)

My siblings hadn’t taken any of the furniture yet. And the reasons were probably a mix between the fact that they were busy with their lives and that neither one of them thought it was a good idea for our father to move in with the woman he was making plans with. Perhaps they thought those plans would fall through.

Somewhere during all of that chaos, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the weeks of his care was a nightmare, the way I was treated by my family, which I go into on this blog already and will continue to do so.

But through all of that, there is one night in particular that I remember, after my father had eaten his dinner, and I was there with him alone. He said quietly, “I thought there’d be reconciliation.”

I looked at him feeling shocked, hopeful but afraid.

He wasn’t looking at me.

“With who?” I said cautiously, with a lump in my throat,

I was nervous, afraid of what he’d say and of what he wouldn’t say.

“Oh nothing,” he replied with a shake of his head.

I felt the blood drain from my head. It was a relief that we weren’t going to have some deep conversation, while at the same time I was deeply disappointed we weren’t going to have some deep conversation.

I have no way of knowing that he was talking about me. Most likely he was not. He could have been referring to my mother, who he’d been divorced from for years at that point. A divorce he hadn’t wanted. It was my mother who wanted out. He was so hurt and attempted to scramble to fix certain things. The lawn in front of the house looked better than it ever had. He would be seen carrying laundry baskets up from and down to the basement. But it was too little, too late. My mother had reached her limit and was long ready to move on. (Only away from him though, she was not interested in being with anyone else.)

Or it could’ve been that he was talking about the woman he had been about to move in with. He broke it off after he got sick. I’m not even clear on how that went down. But I can say my siblings couldn’t stand her and didn’t trust her. They may have been an influence.

As for me, I hadn’t thought much about it. She did get on my nerves and I didn’t quite understand what my father saw in her. But I guess I was trained to think that whatever I said wouldn’t matter anyway. He was a grown man, making his own decisions. I didn’t think about how he might have been deteriorating, before the diagnosis. Which leads me to the conclusion that I was and even am still not as emotionally mature as I should be.

It’s obvious to me now that in trying to collect whatever I could from his apartment before he moved completely out of it, I was trying like hell to get from objects and items what I couldn’t get from him…or my siblings…or even my mother.

From the day of diagnosis to the early morning of April 1, 2013 was 10 weeks. I had been there with him that last night, until about 10pm. I’d thought about just sleeping there, in the big fluffy chair in his hospice room.  He’d been unconscious for the last day or two and I was wishing before I left that I’d brought some sweats and a toothbrush.

I went home. I was awoken a little before 3am to a phone call from a hospice nurse telling me my father was gone.

Today is the three year anniversary of his passing.

A lot of things were left unsaid.

lots o gravesst