In August of 1989 I had my oldest daughter SunburntAloe at age 18 and had already graduated from high school. When I was 19 in 1990 I got married. When I turned 22 I had my middle daughter in May of 1993.
When she was eight months old on January 29, 1994 I had been on the phone with my father talking about what was going on within the marriage. It had become quite unbearable so he told me to pack up the girls, grab as many of my things as I could, call a cab and come home for good. I was living in another city about 10 or so minutes away so I did as my father asked & came home.
My father took care of a lot of things for me the first couple of weeks to help me get back on my feet. The girls and I lived downstairs with my father and grandma while my sister and her husband lived upstairs. The following week we had managed successfully to get most of our things from the old place to bring back home.
In the beginning of February 1994 my father gifted me the retainer fee (about $1000) for a divorce attorney and told me that I didn’t need to pay him back. He just wanted me to get on with my life so I filed for divorce that same week. I wasn’t expected to start paying on my attorney bill right away so I had some time to figure out things financially.
I did receive child support during my divorce however, after my divorce my child support was very sporadic. I received child support for about two years on and off. The other 16 years I didn’t receive anything. Not one single penny. I took care of everything on my own with no assistance from anyone.
In mid March 1994 everything changed for me. I went from being a stay at home mom to a single working mom. Because I had a fulltime job with awesome 9-5 hours Monday-Friday, I started paying my attorney bill when I got paid every 2 weeks. I would periodically ask my father if he wanted the retainer money back but he kept insisting that he didn’t.
On the day of my actual divorce in July 1995, I paid off my attorney bill with my income taxes. I simply filled in the balance of what I owed and handed the check over to my attorney . My divorce had dragged on from early February 1994 to mid July 1995 so I was glad to be done with everything. What a great feeling it was to finally be free!
Before my divorce my grandpa had been in a nursing home and one month before it was final he passed away. He died the day before my sister’s birthday on June 21, 1995. On the homefront my sister and her husband were still living upstairs but had been talking about moving out eventually. My father told me that I would be able to move upstairs with the girls if they ended up leaving.
In 1996 was when my father began to exhibit some extremely controlling behaviors towards me. It actually had started when I was younger but it started getting out of hand when I was 25. This is the point where I began to have a really rough relationship with him.
This period in my life was very up-and-down. One minute everybody was loving but the next minute you were crap. One minute he was telling me how proud he was of me and the next minute I was a b*. Then the rest of the family would be against me for no reason. I felt like a child again. A lot of what went down was caused by my father stewing while he was drinking but honestly, he didn’t need to be drinking to be stewing.
You could say that my family members personalities resembled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There was a lot of B.S. surrounding me with my family at this period in my life. More so than ever. My times my father would stir the pot with my grandma & sister while I was out of the house with the girls. At that time I could never understand what he got out of it.
When the day finally came in late summer of 1996/1997 for my sister & her husband to move out I was ecstatic. I was so excited to be moving upstairs with my 2 oldest girls that I could hardly contain myself! When I got all of my things moved upstairs I was so relieved for the girls and I to have our own space. I figured my father’s abusive behaviors would stop but that didn’t happen because they ended up escalating even more. It was so draining on me.
Many times while I was at work he would send someone upstairs to snoop through my things. My father and this person completely violated my privacy and yet I was told repeatedly that I had no say in the matter. Unreal.
My father himself never snooped as he always employed others to carry out these tasks. I guess he didn’t want to get his hands dirty. He was also very good at deflecting his bad behavior away from him.
One evening after work as I walked through the front door my grandma looked at me all serious and said You’re in big trouble now. You’re in the doghouse. Your father wants to speak to you in the den. Go downstairs NOW! I asked her what it was about and she refused to tell me. I was like what the hell?! I had just come home and this is what I was greeted with. It was puzzling because everyone was fine when I left for work that morning. I had no idea what happened in that time frame while I was out.
Whenever I would confront him about these issues he would get in my face & become emotionally/mentally abusive towards me. One time he actually got physical. He would say the most vile things. This caused a lot of pain on my part & I hated it. The constant stress state that my body was living in was not healthy. I wanted & needed peace in my life very badly. I’d often ask myself why it was so hard to have achieve these simple things?
The situations always ended up with my sister and grandma siding with him. My father was really good at getting people riled up. I personally think that they just didn’t want to listen to him go on and on so for them, the easiest thing to do was to side with him. Then they joined in on the gaslighting, the manipulation, the guilt tactics, the abusive name calling, the shunning & so forth. Shameful.
I could never defend myself from these attacks no matter how hard I tried and I did try every time. In his eyes as well as the rest of my family’s eyes I was always in the wrong for something that I had no part in. I had to listen to constant threats because of some imagined offense that he thought I had done. Afterwards, I would have to tow the line when he deemed me worthy of speaking to again. You may have already guessed that my father had a narcissistic personality on top of being a functional alcoholic. They go hand-in-hand.
A little bit of a sidenote here. When I worked I always made sure that I had a job that was close to home (I took a bus everywhere) with an 8 a.m.to 5 p.m. schedule and health insurance/other benefits. I took care of all my girls needs. I paid my rent/utility/internet bills, I bought my own groceries even though my grandma told me that I didn’t have to & I took care of our cat. As for child care my grandma and my sister took turns watching my girls. It was perfect.
For the first 3.5 years that I worked I spent all of my time with my girls and I liked it like that. I had no social life because I didn’t want one. I was quite happy living my life with my girls and doing my own thing. After awhile my grandma encouraged me to mix it up a little. She always liked to say that since I went to work every day and worked hard for my money that I should go out and enjoy myself once in a while. I was still young about 25/26 at this time.
I took her advice and had a bit of a social life but it wasn’t very often that I did anything. I had one good friend who I worked with that was married and had 3 kids. I had a lot in common with her. We were roughly the same age & hit it off instantaneously when we met because I had interviewed and then hired her at my workplace.
I did find that when I did something for myself that’s when my father had a problem. For example, when I got my first tattoo at age 26 my grandma absolutely loved it! She was genuinely happy for me and helped me decide what kind of tattoo I wanted. Boy did I ever over analyze that decision. For me this was huge & was not to be taken lightly. My grandma kept telling me that it was my body and I could do whatever I wanted and that it didn’t matter what anybody thought as long as I was happy with it.
The next morning when my father saw it he went ballistic and told me that I was going to get rid of it. He started calling me names but my grandma stepped in and told him to knock it off. Then she told my father that she liked it and that it was none of his business what I did since I was an adult. I was like thank you grandma!
As I said earlier in this post my family had Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personalities. I never knew where I stood so I would go with whatever vibe was going down at that time in order to survive.
Things seem to settle down for a short time and I really thought things could only get better but I was mistaken. Seriously mistaken.
Part 5 to be continued.