Monthly Archives: September 2011
Driving away from Daddy’s house was so hard for me. I knew I’d never be welcomed back and he’d never trust me again. He felt I had betrayed him and his trust of me was gone forever. There was never any gray areas with Daddy. You were either on his side or not on his side. That saddened me. I loved Daddy and I needed him. OK, I wanted him. I wanted to have a parent. Why did this have to be my life? Had I done something so terribly wrong in another life to have deserved this? What lesson was I to learn over all of this pain I was feeling? It all didn’t make any sense to me. And even more so, why would my own father want to hurt me like he had done?
As the professor’s wife drove me to her home she graciously allowed me the time to sit quietly as I stayed deep in my thoughts. I was so hurt. I was angry beyond words. I wanted my Daddy. I wanted him to go to hell. So many emtions rushed in and out of my thoughts. What broke my heart more than anything was I knew from that point forward my father would see me as another one of his enemies. I knew what my fate was going to be when I left because I saw what he had done to so many others when they had no choice but to leave. He threw people away like they had no worth as he’d continue his life with no regards for who he left behind. He did it to his own mother, brothers, wife, his eldest daughter and countless friends. And here I was the next in line. Knowing that was my fate and I was going to be tossed out with the others devastated me. It was what I had been trying to prevent and there I sat along with the others so easily tossed away.
As I began to think what I was going to do next my thought was interrupted. The professor’s wife had pulled into her driveway and parked on a dirt path near the front door of her house. It was a two story wooden home that was painted white and built in the early 1900’s. Directly across the street from her home was an even older cemetery that was surrounded by a brick fence with a tall iron gate. Behind the old cemetery was the college I was attending which made my life so much easier since I didn’t have a car. It was so awesome to not have to get up two hours before a class because I had to catch the bus. Those days were over and I loved it.
She and I carried my luggage into the house through the front door. Oh my gosh, I will never forget her home. The pink living room was large with a wonderful fireplace and cool double doors that opened into a nice size screened in porch. Since the professor’s wife loved to go garaging every Saturday morning, her home reflected it. Her entire porch was stuffed with her many, many finds as was every room in her house. To the right was the dining room. Every flat surface in that room was covered with papers or odd finds from a garage sale. I could only tell that room was the dining room because of the chairs surrounding what appeared to be a long table. Even the buffet to it’s left was stacked with items. Next to the dining room was the best orange kitchen I had ever seen. The orange counter tops and the psychedelic orange floors clearly showed the last time that kitchen had been updated. And just like the other rooms all of the counter spaces were covered with a chaotic array of kitchen items and nicknacks of some sort. From the kitchen you entered into a little hallway with old green carpet that once I was assuming was shag. If you took a right and went down a few stairs you entered into the den which was converted from a porch. All three walls were filled with those old crank open windows which reminded me of my house in Atlanta. Back in the hallway if you walked forwards a couple of feet you reached the bathroom that I would be using. It too was a fabulous orange which included the same orange counter top as the kitchen and a wonderful orange toilet. As she showed me the bathroom she told me rule number one of the house. I was to take a shower before her husband and never flush the toilet while he was in the shower. She explained about the lack of water pressure and how angry that made him to lose his water pressure. Relieved to be in a safe place where I could attend school, I willingly promised to abide by all of the rules. However, in time their rules would become as controlling as Daddy and would eventually force me to find another place. But, for the time being it was perfect.
Back in the hallway you could go up about 6 stairs to a landing and where there was another room. It too used to be a porch. That was my room. It had a curtain that hung down from the top of the doorway. That was my door. One main reason there was no door was to be able to get the heat and air from the hallway since the room had no air vents. But, really the only way I would get heat and air was to leave my curtain totally open to allow the air in my room. But, I could only leave it open when I was home and in my room. If I wasn’t, I had to leave it closed. So during the hot months, my room was boiling and vise versa during the winter. Another reason I proposed was It would allow my room to be seen and assure the owners I was respecting their property. There again I would have slept in their living room if they had wanted me to, so these little things at first were not an issue for me.
If you were to walk back onto the landing there were another 6 stairs which went up to the owner’s bedroom and a spare bedroom. I didn’t go up there much at all since that was their space.
After the professor’s wife helped carry my bags to my room, she encouraged me to get some sleep and unpack in the morning. I would soon learn the professor’s wife would go to bed by 10:00 at night so the night she came to get me from Daddy’s was a long night for her. Once she was done explaining everything to me, it was almost midnight by the time she went to bed.
When she left and I was alone in my new room I kneeled on the floor, rested my head on the bed and cried about all that had happened that evening. Even though I truly had been on my own for years, it was now official. And oh my G-d was I scared. I had no real plan for myself and I literally had .50 cents in my pocket. What the hell was I going to do? No one had any obligation to me as their daughter. I wanted someone to be there for me and to love who I was unconditionally even when I did something they didn’t approve. This was my dawning moment that my own father was not the person I had created in my head. As sad as I was with that realization it was the first time I was angry at him. Dam-nit I was not going to fail. I refused to give my dad that pleasure. I promised to succeed in spite of my adversities. Listen, it wasn’t as if I had a choice. But, I do think in the back of my mind I had hoped that my dad would realize what he had done and would come for me. I just knew that was going to happen and sadly I had that hope for another 15 years.
When I first left Daddy’s house I was an incredibly shy person who jumped out of my skin at any sudden noise. One afternoon I was washing dishes at the professor and his wife’s house. I did whatever I could to help them out. So, if I saw dirty dishes in the sink, I washed them. Well, I didn’t realize the wife had walked into the kitchen. As I was washing a cup and looking out the kitchen window, I heard a voice come from behind me. Not expecting it I screamed loudly and jumped almost throwing the glass in my hand across the room. I never realized how jumpy I was until then. The professor’s wife apologized and laughed.
And as I was becoming closer to the family of the professor who I worked with in the Jewish youth group I began noticing how I had lost so much of my social skills because of the fears I had developed from Daddy’s abuse. Man, I had no idea I had been beaten down that far. I soon would start referring to that family as my adopted family as they would welcome me more and more into their lives.
While living where I was I found great solice in being with my adopted family. I was lonely at the professor and his wife’s house. They were cautious and kept me at arms length. On the other hand my adopted family invited me to eat with them most Shabbats and during most Jewish holidays. It meant the world to me to have them in my life as well as me having a place to go. By them opening their hearts and home, it allowed me the opportunity to witness how other parents didn’t insult their children nor did they hit them. In fact there were actual parents who got upset when their kid’s had NOT done their homework. My bit of sarcasm there.
I never understood why my adopted family was so kind to me. They without any reservations made me a part of their family. I was always amazed my adopted mom would call me if she had not heard from me in a while. I wasn’t used to being noticed or should I say not noticed. It felt so awkward to me. Often while at my adopted family’s home my adopted mom would be able to sense when something was wrong and would ask me. Do you know what that was like? Folks, it was weird to me. I felt I didn’t deserve it. I still believed I was stupid and a screw up, so why would someone care? But, there were parts of me that felt it was nice. I secretly liked it. Not knowing much about me she embraced me with all of my weirdnesses and put me in situations (even though it scared the living hell out of me to be spoken to by others) to help me become social again. She would use any community event to get me involved. For a while in the beginning being involved and meeting strangers sent me into a terrible panic. I will never forget when she once asked me to help her with a project at the local Jewish community center. Well, there was a woman there who I found out later was known for her very revealing shirts. The only way to explain her tops were they were basically drapes with a very low necklines. Because of it you couldn’t help but to look. It fascinated me on how she kept her boobs from popping out as it didn’t appear as if she wore a bra. Anyway, that lady was standing next to me one day. I felt awkward and nervous by the silence so I tried to make small talk. I couldn’t believe what I ended up saying. I was such an idiot. I was thinking it was good to start a conversation with saying I liked something she was wearing. Now listen, I did like the color of her shirt but was that what I said to her? Uh, no! Instead I said, “I like your shirt. It’s so revealing.” What was I thinking? Just open mouth and insert foot why didn’t I? Oy! She looked at me like I was crazy. And man that was not going to be the last time my mouth would embarrass me.
It was so wonderful to have this adopted family and a sense of sanity in my life. I didn’t have to worry about Daddy coming home and yelling at me if he was in a bad mood. I didn’t have to fear when he was going to shove me. And best of all I didn’t have to run as fast as I could the second he called my name. My life had peace in it. I learned how to laugh again. Once when I was over at my adopted family’s house the mom, two of her boys and I were playing a board game. The mom was trying to explain a rule to the older son who didn’t seem to understand what she was telling him. After she had explained it, she was looking for a response from her son letting him know he understood. When he didn’t say anything the mom said something like, ” Surely, you know what I’m saying.” And without missing a beat the older son said, “Shirley? What does Shirley have to do with this?” OK, so maybe you had to be there. But, we all laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes. Another time we were playing Pictionary and I was partnered with my adopted family’s father. I suppose that would make him my adopted father. I can’t even begin to tell you how nervous I was. That meant I’d have to interact with an adult which was so hard for me to do. I wasn’t used to him and I knew I was going to say something dumb. But, once the game started and we started trying to draw our subjects, all we did was laugh. To this day I will never forget those times and more importantly I will forever be grateful to my adopted mom for helping me get out of my shell and become a much better me. She saved my life and gave me the opportunity for a new one. Not only did she help me get away from Daddy, but she also gave me many wonderful and incredible gifts. I can’t possibly name them all but one was giving me the courage to live beyond my abuse even though I don’t think I ever told her about it. She lovingly accepted me with my quirks and all. She taught me a lot and gave me many new tools which have helped me in raising my own son.
The year I lived at the professor and his wife’s home it was a pivotal time for me. I was transitioning from the person I was to the person I would become. My adopted family was there every step of the way and I have a great story on one of the times they helped me. I was at the professor and his wife’s house alone while they were out of town. The house made all kinds of weird sounds that I hated especially when I was alone there. This one night I was downstairs in the den watching TV. Now as I mentioned before, the den was surrounded by windows. Well, I had fallen asleep while watching TV but was suddenly woken up to the doorbell ringing. After ringing the door bell, they tried the door handle to see if it was unlocked. Thank G-d it was. It was at least 2am. To say it scared the living shit out of me was an understatement. Of course, I had envisioned someone trying to break into the house and wanting to kill me. The fact that being by myself made me nervous as it was but then thinking someone was at the door that early in the morning threw me into a panic. Listen, at that time I was terrified of my own shadow, so it didn’t take much beyond that to terrify me. I was standing in the downstairs hallway when someone pounded on the windows in the den. Holy crap was I scared. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I could feel my heart racing. But, guess where I ran? I ran upstairs to the professor and his wife’s room because they had a lock on their door. OK, what do I always yell in those damn scary movies when the person runs upstairs? Yes, I yell, “DON’T GO UP THOSE STAIRS!” And what do I do? I run upstairs.
I locked the bedroom door and made a pallet on the floor. I tried to go back to sleep. I tried so hard to not think about who might be outside. But then the doorbell rang again. That’s when I called the police who arrived 20 minutes later to check things out. All they could see was someone had been there because the side gate was unlatched and left open. I knew the gate was closed because the professor was meticulous about leaving it closed. Well, that certainly didn’t make me feel any better. I was almost in tears I was so afraid. The policeman assured me he’d drive past the house through out the night to check on things. I would have loved for him to offer to park in front of the house all night. OK, yes, I even asked him if he would. He looked at me as if I was crazy to have asked such a question.
The policeman left and I ran back upstairs to their bedroom and locked the door. I tried again to go to sleep. I did pick up the phone once to call my adopted family but I didn’t want to disturb them so late at night and I stopped. But, once I heard a tree limb hit the window sill I couldn’t find the phone fast enough to dial their number. Meanwhile, it was 2:30 in the morning by this point. The father answered the phone and while he’s talking to me I was thinking, “Oh, please come and get me and let me stay with y’all.” Just as I thought that he offered to come get me so I could stay at their house. Well, then, I felt bad and told him I’d hate for him to do that so early in the morning. OK, so that was a stupid thing to have said. Here, I woke this person up in the middle of the night. What else was it I wanted him to do?
About 15 minutes later he arrived at my house to pick me up. I had locked myself in the professor and his wife’s bedroom. But, it was perfect their room over looked the front of the house. So, I looked out the window until I saw my adopted dad’s car pull up. That was when I grabbed my over night bag, opened the front door, locked it and ran as fast as I could to his car. As we were driving away the father smiled and said, “You know, I bet this wasn’t the smartest thing to do if someone was trying to break into their home. They could be watching and know now that you’ve left, they know nobody is home.” I didn’t care though. All I could think about was I was safe.
When I got to their house I went down stairs to sleep on their couch. The mom had already placed a set of sheets on there for me to use. As soon as my head hit the pillow I felt a sense of calmness and most of all I felt safe. The security I felt that early morning, I so longed for myself. I wanted to feel safe. It was how I used to feel when my mom was around. Just about to fall asleep I felt my adopted mom place a blanket over me. I quietly cried for the family I missed.
While living with the professor and his wife, I was learning to recognize my abuse and Daddy’s controlling behavior. Well, actually I was able to recognize it in others first before I could see it in my own father. But, it was a start. I was also trying to learn how to live without being controlled and abused. I know that sounds crazy but those were my norms. That was what I knew good or bad. OK, it was just plain bad but it was my way of life I had become accustomed to living. And sadly not having that obstacle in my way, I felt like a fish out of water. It was the weirdest, strangest and craziest thing. For a while there I’d even beat myself up to fill the void by hitting myself in the head and calling myself stupid when I couldn’t do something correctly. You know as I think about how I was I just can’t imagine how crazy I must have appeared to those who met me back then.
The other part of being on my own was I always wanted to please everyone around me and especially my adopted parents and the professor and his wife. I felt they were doing so much for me, I needed to return the kindness and do what I could to help them. After all, I had no money, but I could at the least offer to help them when they needed it. Listen, there was no doubt I should have reciprocated in some way but not to the extent of it becoming a detriment to my own obligations. But, I was so eager to pay them back as if I could have. I would have never said no to either of them. They had done so much for me.
Once my adopted mom asked me to meet her in a specific location at the college so I could take her son to the dentist. She made it clear where I was to meet her and the time I’d need to be there. She explained how tight the schedule would be and how important it was I meet her in the correct place. Here’s the thing. No matter what I did for my dad, I never did it correctly. As time went on and his anger and abuse increased I had become incredibly nervous about doing what he wanted correctly. In that nervousness I would end up messing up the task. So, when my adopted mom asked me to help her which I wanted to do, my insides were in knots. I knew I was a screw up and could never do anything right. Daddy made that clear to me for over 5 years of my life. And now someone who had helped me so much, it was crucial I didn’t screw it up. But, my nerves were getting the best of me, so guess what I did? Well, I ended up going to the wrong location to meet her. By the time I remembered and ran to the correct location, my adopted mother was so angry with me, she took her son to the dentist herself. I was crushed. I hated myself for screwing it up. Why couldn’t I do a simple fucking task? What was wrong with me? I was a fucking idiot that was what was wrong with me. And here was this wonderful person and her family who had done so much for me and I couldn’t even give something back to her. I beat myself up about that for months. I knew I was never going to see or hear from that family again. As I walked home that day I kept repeating to myself what an idiot I was. I had screwed it all up like I had always done. I was heartbroken and felt so bad . My adopted family trusted me and relied on me and I failed them. That was a heavy burden I put on myself. I could even hear my dad’s voice telling me what a loser I was and how what I had done was another reason why I’d amount to nothing. I cried and cried about it because I wanted nothing more than to show my adopted mom how I appreciated her and her family.
I was in shock when my adopted mom called me to ask me over for dinner. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t mad at me anymore. I couldn’t understand why. Daddy would have yelled at me, hit me and yelled some more. And then he would have not spoken to me for days. I was not used to being forgiven. And not only forgiven but she gave me other opportunities to redeem myself. And even though there were other times I screwed up, she continued to trust in me. Over time my fears lessened and my confidence rose. More importantly, I worked very hard to get rid of Daddy’s voice in my head where he was ridiculing me and calling me names.
As time passed Daddy started calling me at the professor and his wife’s house. I was nervous to talk to him. The professor’s wife tried to tell me I had a choice to not talk to him which was so hard for me to understand. He was my father. I felt because of that I didn’t have a choice. If the professor’s wife was home when I was talking to Daddy and if Daddy started screaming at me, she’d tell me to nicely say,” I refuse to be treated this way, so I am going to hang up. When you calm down, only then will I talk to you.” I could do it with her support but when she wasn’t there I endured a lot of Daddy’s screaming sessions. I just really wanted his love and kept trying over and over again. Here’s the other part of it. I hated Daddy for what he had done to me but I wasn’t ready for anyone else to hate him. My goal was not to bad mouth him or to do anything that would possibly jeopardize his law practice. In many ways I felt the need to protect him and I continued to for many more years. However, I had taken my first step of finally living away from him. As a result I was learning to acknowledge I was living on my own and I was gaining the confidence to do it. That was a lot for me initially considering what it finally took for me to leave. Listen, I know it was difficult for those folks around me who cared and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just walk away. But, only now have I begun to tell my full story. There were so many factors and fears. There was noway I could have ‘just walked away’. I had to get to that point on my own. Leaving Daddy and no longer allowing him to physically abuse me anymore was my first and oh so HUGE step that I made. My next step I’d have to make would be to stop allowing Daddy to verbally abuse me. And as you will see, that too was a process which would bring me great pain, relief and strength beyond what I ever knew I had.
By the time my first quarter of school was halfway over Daddy was barely speaking to me. The only time he would speak to me was to remind me I needed to find a new place to live. I’d ignore him. I was terrified. I had no money to pay an electric bill let alone to rent an apartment. Where the hell did he think I could go? G-d damnit Daddy! I was not the awful kid you made me appear to be to others. I was not a hoodlum or a drug addict. I just wanted love and support from my Daddy! Why in the hell was that so G-d damn hard? Meanwhile because of the caring of the professor I worked with in the youth group I did have a place to live. You know it was a strange thing. I was afraid to leave to have to rely on strangers. Why in the hell would strangers want to help me? What happened if that didn’t work out? I’d have nowhere else to go. That frightened me. The other fear I had was that Daddy would go to where I lived and threaten those people. Knowing how mean Daddy could get, I was worried he’d try to get me kicked out from where I was living by making up lies and creating a scene. So, I suppose I was trying to protect others from having to endure his wrath too. Listen, I know many people may not understand because they can’t relate but as afraid as I was of staying, I was even more afraid to leave. Also, I still had an underlying belief Daddy was right that if I left him it would mean I didn’t love him. And because I did love him I didn’t want to leave. Very warped, I know. But that was the control Daddy did have over me.
It was obvious tensions with Daddy were escalating even in the silence. The silence was scary and to me it was worse than when Daddy was yelling because it never seemed to end. I felt as if he was a walking time bomb and could explode at any moment. I hated waiting! I felt as if I was walking on egg shells. I was scared to make any wrong move for fear it would press the wrong button and G-d knows what would have happened then. It didn’t matter who Daddy was speaking to but whenever I heard his voice, I’d jump in fear. One day I heard him slam his telephone down and he started yelling. My heart stopped because I thought he was exploding at me. Meanwhile, why would it have been me because I hadn’t done anything? But, most of the time I hadn’t done anything to be in trouble. I was in my room so I cracked my door a bit to hear what was happening. I heard his secretary calming Daddy down. I realized it was not me he was angry with but a client. I was so relieved.
Daddy was definitely annoyed with me spending so much time on my studies and He’d do anything to pull me away. I remember this one week where he’d allow me to go to class but I wasn’t allowed to stay to do some research at the library. He wanted me home to wait for “an important” package. I had to sit on the inside stairs by the front door to watch for the mailman. See, Daddy kept his front door locked and I needed to be there to “grab the mailman” when I saw him as Daddy told me. One would think it would have been easier to keep the door unlocked but Daddy never liked his door unlocked. And because he didn’t like his door unlocked his solution was more complicated than it needed to be. I decided I’d studying while I was sitting there. I had a test coming up and needed to use that time. Now, would you believe while I was sitting there his secretary and Daddy were in the office? What the fuck? Unlock the G-d dam door and have the mail guy come up the stairs to deliver it to you. But, no, Daddy’s way always inconvenienced others and made no fucking sense! His secretary told me he had no idea why Daddy needed me there. Just another one of Daddy’s control things.
Because Daddy didn’t know when his mailman delivered the mail, I had to sit there from 11:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. And the longer I waited the more disturbed Daddy was becoming because his package had not arrived. At 4:00 I could hear him yelling in his office to his secretary. Daddy was pissed I was studying when I was supposed to be on the look put for the mailman. He was furious and felt I hadn’t fully paid attention because I was too busy studying and therefor missed seeing the mailman. Are you freaking kidding me? Was his comment for real? He must have been joking! But, he wasn’t and Daddy spent weeks telling people how he had asked me to do a simple favor for him and I couldn’t even do it right. I started to question myself and thought maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention and missed seeing the mailman. However, wouldn’t I have heard him walk on the porch? Wouldn’t he have knocked? Of course so why was it my fault?! Do you know I had to sit there for another couple of days until his package came. I even had to miss one of my classes because of it. The most infuriating part was the package was a gift he had bought for his then girlfriend. That was what was so important that I had to spend hours sitting and waiting? Oh my G-d!
Listen, while living with him at that time it was common for Daddy to go through my belongings even if they were in my room. He’d go through my book bag and look through all of my papers. He claimed he had to do it to check for drugs. He didn’t justify his need to snoop because I had done drugs in the past and he was just making sure I was staying clean. Oh no, that would be what a caring father would have done. Instead, he justified snooping because he felt my erratic behavior clearly showed signs of taking drugs and he was determined to find them. So, Mr. Daddy, using your logic, what drug might I say you were on? I’d certainly say your behavior was over the top erratic!
It was incredibly maddening to me when Daddy would accuse me of doing drugs at a time I was so proud of myself for not using. Holy crap! Could he possibly give me a little credit and encouragement? It wasn’t easy to not want to use again as life with Daddy made me want to numb myself. But, I knew that path was a dangerous and I couldn’t afford to go in that direction. So, trying so hard to do good then to have Daddy accusing me made me incredibly angry. G-d help Daddy if he had pointed his finger at himself. Gee, there was no way my explosive behavior derived from the constant verbal and physical abuse? Oh gosh, why would that even cross (or Jewish star of David) his mind? It all was incredible the way he interpreted things. I felt as if I was living in this surreal crazy world and reality was nowhere to be found. Why was he so G-d damn mean?
During one of Daddy’s raids through my book bag he found a pack of cigarettes. I couldn’t believe how shocked he acted because he knew I had been smoking for years. Was he doing that for the benefit of his secretary who also knew I smoked? What fucking planet was he living? Come on! His secretary knew Daddy was acting. After he got over his shock which took a few minutes he told me that all kids my age who smoked were also on drugs. I asked him how he knew that to be true? He said, “Because studies had been done on it to prove it.” I then said,”Well, I suppose the study was incorrect because they didn’t use me in it.” Daddy’s secretary chuckled out loud which he had not realized he had done. Daddy gave him a mean look and told me to shut the fuck up that I was being sassy. Here’s the crazy part about the entire cigarette thing. It was at that point Daddy felt he had proof I was doing drugs while living in his house. He then turned around and started telling anyone who would listen that had proof I was using drugs. What the hell?! That was my reputation he was ruining! It was a joke. I would hear him on the phone talking to this person or that girlfriend telling each of them a more colorful version than the one before them. I was flabbergasted and felt so betrayed by him. Why would he make up such crap? Listen, I never denied my drug usage. OK, so, I denied it at the time I was using but knowing I was clean I certainty didn’t want people believing Daddy’s lie about me. I was so angry at what Daddy was doing. As Daddy was telling others about finding proof I did drugs they began giving him advise. Oy! I never wanted anyone to give Daddy advice. First of all, not realizing it they were giving him advice on false information. But, the other thing was those people would support Daddy and feel bad for him. That would give him a sense of empowerment only adding fuel to the fire for me. I hated it! I wanted to call every single one of those people to tell them the truth but I knew it would have been mute. I felt so helpless and so upset that other people had such the wrong perception of me. After one of the people he spoke to told him he had to kick me out because he wouldn’t want to have drug dealers hanging outside of his place, I was furious. It was at that point Daddy became more aggressive in making my life at his house even more miserable. Here’s the thing about Daddy having people to agree with him. He interpreted their support as justifying his verbal and physical abuse. I could tell the difference when someone had empowered him because he would not hold back. Meanwhile people, he was accepting advice on untrue information he had given them. I remember standing in my room and pulling my hair with all my strength just to help me get my rage out. I couldn’t believe my own father would make up such lies about me. Listen, it didn’t matter to Daddy that he hadn’t told the truth. Somewhere in his screwy head he believed the stories he told. Meanwhile, I was blown away how far out of proportion a lie could be taken from one pack of G-d damn cigarettes.
OK, now here’s the really crazy part about Daddy going through my book bag. Because I was living under his roof, all belongings including mine were his. So, he had no problem appropriating items from my bag. I thought I was going crazy for a while there when I didn’t know he was taking my things. What boggled my mind though was when he once took my syllabus from one of my classes. What the hell would he want with a syllabus? I never could figure out how taking my syllabus would benefit him. But, the amazing story teller he was, I was sure he’d come up with something. What was wrong with my Dad? He was not living in the real world. He had conjured up so many stories of things I was supposedly doing. For G-d sake I purposely kept my graded papers and tests in my book bag for him to see how well I was doing. I was hoping those papers would have been proof of the straight path I was following and could be my voice. You know, I’m not sure he even looked at them. Or maybe he did and he was disappointed I was doing well. See, if I was doing well then there was no chance he would have been able to convince me to quit school and help him. The better I was doing, the less of a chance his plans were going to happen.
Because Daddy’s lies about me were supported by his friends and substantiated in his mind he felt justified to question me each and every time I left the house. It got to a point that if I headed to school early or if I needed to stay longer after my class, I had to explain to him why it was necessary. Usually, giving the reason I needed to go to the library to do research or to study (which was true) was not good enough for him. I had to specify what I needed to study and the specific research I had to do. But, I remember thinking that was such a joke because how would he have known I was telling him the truth? Oh, that’s right! He had my syllabus to confirm it. Listen people, Daddy was not a stupid man. Crazy, yes, but not stupid. But, let me tell you, he wouldn’t have known the purpose of the syllabus. Knowing Daddy he took it thinking it was incriminating. But, when he showed it to someone and they told him what it was, he trashed it because it was no longer valuable to him. Regardless, let’s say he was that knowledgeable I had nothing to worry about in that are because I didn’t lie to him.
I never knew if it was true or my imagination but I felt he was getting angrier and angrier with me because of his lack of ability to control me. When I came back from Israel I had a new sense of confidence. And not that I didn’t voice my opinions with Daddy in the past but with all that I gained during my time overseas I was able to put my foot down when Daddy was making bad decisions for me. Before I didn’t have a choice as I was a minor and with that age had less freedoms in making those decisions. And even though I had stood up to him in the past I had limits. I just wanted to desperately understand why Daddy couldn’t be supportive and happy for me. Why was it necessary for him to have the need to control?
I spent much of my time in my room or at school when Daddy would allow it. I knew keeping out of his way was best. However, I was so incredibly lonely. I felt more alone with Daddy there than when I lived practically alone as Daddy was girlfriend hopping. Trying to keep away from him as much as possible to make my life a little easier, I’d only go into his section of the house to use the restroom and to grab something from the kitchen to eat. But, I’d only go to the kitchen once he was in his bedroom so he couldn’t yell at me for having taken “his food”. By that point Daddy refused to buy food for me and I wasn’t allowed to touch his specific grocery’s. I remember many nights eating a jelly sandwich with a cup of water for my dinner. No peanut butter because Daddy hated peanut butter. Even though my days were very lonely what upset me the most were those nights I’d sit on my bed in my room eating dinner alone. I would cry a lot and wondered why me. I didn’t do anything that bad to deserve this. I missed Momma and I couldn’t understand why Daddy was just so damn mean. I missed Elspeth and would have loved to have her with me. I hated my life with Daddy and I knew it wasn’t healthy.
I could feel my time living with him was coming to an end.
Daddy wasn’t demanding I do jobs for him anymore and nor was I volunteering either. I had a problem though. Daddy refused to pay for my toiletries. OK, he pretty much refused to pay for most anything. But, particularly my toiletries because he felt they were too damn expensive. In fact during this time he had this pure hate for my long hair. OK, he absolutely despised it. He felt all of my hair products were a waste because if I had just cut my hair, I wouldn’t have to use all of that crap. But listen, I was 21 years old and loved all of the fragrant hair products. It was my indulgent addiction. But for whatever reason, he seemed to use my hair as his reason to not buy my toiletries. Oh, my G-d! About my hair at that time. It was long, very thick, curly red hair. Now, for those who’ve had or knows of someone who has had long hair, understands it sheds. It’s just what happens. Well, Daddy would get furious when he’d find it in the sink. That goes without saying. But, he claimed he was picking it up off of the carpet like dog hair and that in itself would easily send him over the edge. My hair, people, would send my dad over the top. Holy crap was that crazy.
Anyway, back to Daddy not buying me toiletries. It had been a good 6 months since Daddy had given me money to buy tampons and pads. I had asked Daddy for money to buy more but he’d tell me they weren’t necessary and a waste of money. So, there were a couple of months I had to be creative during my period because I didn’t have any pads or tampons. As I knew my period was approaching again I thought while Daddy’s secretary was in the office I’d try to ask Daddy for some money to get a box of tampons. I knew he wouldn’t allow me to get a box of tampons and pads, so I just kept it simple or so I thought. I rehearsed how I was going to ask Daddy for the money in my head while I was in my room. I went over it for a good 30 minutes before getting the nerve to leave my room to ask him. After all, we had not spoken nor had Daddy acknowledged me in over a week, so their was no telling how he’d react. I figured I couldn’t be any worse off by asking him than I was at that point. It was worth a shot. Meanwhile, I couldn’t believe my nervousness was all over a damn box of tampons.
I opened the door to my room, walked down the hall to Daddy’s office and knocked on his open door. He had two gentlemen with him. Uh oh, that was not part of my rehearsal. And now I was stuck because Daddy already saw me. He motioned for me to enter his office. He was smiling like nothing was wrong. I knew that was because he had the two gentlemen in his office. His smile was simply for show. I asked if I could please have $15.00 to buy some toiletries. As he turned his head to look at the two gentlemen, he questioned why I needed the money? Too embarrassed to say what I needed I said, ” It’s for some personal items I get at the drugstore.” Do you know I found out later Daddy thought they were for a box of condoms? What the fucking hell? Are you kidding me? He was absolutely clueless and it showed where his head was that was for sure. I just wanted a box of tampons. Even the two gentlemen had guessed what I needed. But not my ol Daddy O. Nope he was clueless and had his mind in the gutter. He refused to give me money. I remember begging him but he refused. As I walked out of his office his secretary motioned for me. I walked into his office. He whispered to me that he knew what I needed and he tried to give me some money. I wouldn’t take it because I was afraid of what Daddy might have done if he found out. So, he offered to talk to Daddy for me. I was grateful for his help. I went back to my room.
At the end of the day Daddy’s secretary knocked on my bedroom door and came in after I answered. He told me he had spoken to Daddy and I should go talk to him a little later. He said Daddy had agreed to give me the money but I’d have to at least show him the tampon box when I came back from the store. Well, I wasn’t thrilled with having to prove myself but would do almost anything at that point for a box of tampons. I really appreciated the help of Daddy’s secretary but I didn’t like having to go talk to Daddy when the secretary had left. I didn’t trust Daddy. But, I couldn’t say anything to his secretary. He had done so much for me and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.
I couldn’t concentrate on my studies once the secretary told me to go see Daddy later. I was nervous and couldn’t believe it was all over a box of tampons. While I was going over all of the possible scenarios in my head I ended up falling asleep. Whoops, I didn’t mean to do that. When I woke up I heard Daddy on his phone in his office. When he hung up I knew it was time to go talk to him. I stood at my bedroom door holding the door knob for what seemed forever. I went over the different scenarios in my head one last time. G-d, I hated this! I didn’t want to fight with Daddy anymore.My heart was racing. I finally turned the knob and opened my door. I walked down the hallway and lightly knocked on Daddy’s already open office door. He wouldn’t answer me. I said, “Daddy, your secretary told me to come talk to you.” Without looking up from his work, he told me in a cold tone to come in and sit down. I did. I waited quietly for Daddy to finish what he was doing. I didn’t want to interrupt him as I thought it would make him angry. The next thing I knew he had thrown his reading glasses on his desk and said, “So, you going to continue to waste my time or are you going to fucking speak?” I told him I didn’t want to interrupt him and was waiting for him to finish. He told me to cut the crap and just tell him what I needed to say. I asked him if he could please give me $15.00 so I could go to the drugstore. He gave me a blank look. I reminded him about his conversation with his secretary earlier that day and explained I understood that I could come and get the $15.00. Refusing to acknowledge his conversation with his secretary, he started to raise his voice and very sternly said, ” I refuse to go through this all over again. He then went into a long speech about how he didn’t deserve the way I was treating him and taking advantage of him. I was confused. Why was he acting like he hadn’t even spoken to his secretary about this? As he kept rambling about how awful I was and how he didn’t deserve it, I asked him if he had spoken to his secretary about giving me the money? The more times I asked him, the angrier he got with out answering me. I kept thinking why this had to be a game? Why was he pretending to have not had that conversation with his secretary. I mean, come on! Daddy wasn’t fooling me. I could tell he was playing a game by the sheer fact he was refusing to answer my question. And why was he? Why was this whole thing of giving me a measly $15.00 a source of such rage? What the hell? I had thought for a moment I misunderstood Daddy’s secretary. So, I asked Daddy a more concise question. “Daddy, did you tell your secretary you’d give me the money?”
I could see Daddy steaming from anger but why was it so necessary to be so angry. I was so baffled. But then with out answering me, he grabbed his head with one hand and his chest with his other and let out a sigh. He sat there like that for eternity. I suppose that was what he learned from watching those 1930’s movies. Those movies and Daddy were quite dramatic. Daddy tried to keep himself awake but he kept falling asleep. I was afraid to wake him but this situation had already been going on for a god hour. He started to snore which thank G-d woke him up. His hands still in their dramatic locations, he asked, “Why do you insist on giving me a heart attack? You exhaust me and I can’t take it anymore,” I admit I got mad at that point. I raised my voice a little bit and asked, Daddy, did you or did you not tell your secretary you’d give me the money to buy what I needed? Why can’t you answer me? Then, I told him if he had only paid me as he promised for the jobs I had done for him, we could have evaded this argument. Well? So much for trying to avoid him for the last few weeks because the anger on Daddy’s face was telling me he was going to make up for it in this one moment. He stood up from his chair and banged his fists on his desk. He was pissed. Um, no not pissed…he was furious. Um, no he was angrier than furious if that was possible. Who was I kidding? Of course it was possible! He yelled how dare I try to corner him and attempt to call him a liar. I told him those were his words, not mine. He started screaming how selfish I was. Selfish? I was selfish? What the fuck you asshole? I dropped out of school, got several jobs so I could pay your G-d damn bills! I was furious by his accusation that I was selfish. Something clicked inside me and I stood up as tall as I could yelling, “Oh no sir! You are the selfish asshole here! I have given my life to help you. How quickly you seem to have forgotten that it was me who paid your fucking bills so you would have a home! It was me who you left alone at home while you went fucking around. And now you stand there and deny me a measly $15.00 for a G-d damn box of tampons?” Well, this was the part that probably tipped Daddy over the edge. I added by yelling, “You are nothing but a selfish fucking Bastard!” Just as a little side note. I was pointing at Daddy when I said this. Um, well? I might as well have ripped his balls off because pointing to him was just as bad. So, Daddy rushed out from behind his desk and I thought he was coming towards me to punch me. He had his arm up like he was going to, so I quickly put my arms in front of my face ready to punch back. He stopped and appeared shocked. I stood on up my toes to get closer to Daddy’s face and got as close to him. In the meanest look I could make I said, “You will not touch me anymore!” It felt good to tell him. As I was gloating on the inside for saying that to him, he shoved me into a table that was behind me. I was shock and very angry. I forcefully lunged towards him and shoved him back. While I did I yelled so loudly my voice cracked, “I am not your punching bag, Daddy!” Just as I said that, I could see fire in his eyes. It was a look I had never seen before and I was scared. That was when he put his foot behind mine and shoved me to the ground. Using his fist that had his big hunker of a college ring on it, he started punching me on the side of my head. I kept yelling for him to stop but he was so over taken by his anger, I don’t know if he could even hear me. His eyes were bulging and his face had an intensity that was frightening. Finally, I yelled, “Stop beating me!” He stopped. I stood up. I was still so shocked. As Daddy stood there just staring at me I walked out of his office and into his secretary’s office. I made a phone call. I was calling the Psychologist professor’s wife to come get me. And man did I hope she was available. It was 10:00 at night and I knew very late to call her. She answered the phone thank G-d! She could tell something was very wrong with the shakiness of my voice. As I was talking to her and the realization of what had just happened, my anger evolved into total sadness. I was upset and all I could say to her was,”I’m ready.” She told me she’d be to me in 30 minutes and we hung up. I remember thinking it was so insightful of her to have already asked for my address and directions when I went to meet her.
When I hung up the phone and turned around Daddy was standing there staring at me. He looked shocked and curious. He had believed I had not made any arrangements and couldn’t imagine who I had called. I went to my room to pack my things. Daddy followed me. I ignored him. He seemed shocked I was leaving and even sad. G-d damnit! Which was it you bastard of a father? You want me here? You want me gone? You want to love me? You want to beat me? What the fuck do you want from me? Well, Daddy O you’ll have to go fucking figuring it out on your own because I’m outta here.
I was SO hurt. I never wanted to believe my dad was abusive. I wanted him to be someone else. The realization of who my father really was was a very painful moment.
As I began packing my suitcases, I could see in the corner of my eye that Daddy was standing in my doorway. Without looking at him and while continuing to pack, I angrily and coldly asked, “What the hell do you want?” That’s when he told me if I was leaving him then that night I could only take what I could carry out in one trip. He told me the rest he would throw away. I wouldn’t react. I knew Daddy said that to hurt me. However, I could not hold back my tears. Knowing my ride was going to be there in 30 minutes I quickly packed my clothes and anything else I felt was sentimental to me. I had no choice but to leave everything else behind. I knew I had to keep moving and to not look at Daddy. I couldn’t let him suck me back into his crazy web. Once I was done, I put the the long strap of two smaller bags over my head and shoulder. Then I took the long strap from my duffle bag put it on my shoulder and then grabbed my suitcase. I had my 21years of belongings in those four bags and I was giving myself a new start. I was terrified, I was scared and I had no clue what the hell I was going to do to make it through college and pay my bills. But, I did know I had a place to go for the time being and that brought me a sense of relief. I finally was able to physically leave my abusive father and have a new start.
As I walked passed Daddy and down his long hallway, I refused to look back. I left my keys on his secretaries table and went down the very, narrow steps for the last time. The psychologist’s wife was waiting in the parking lot. She helped me with my things. As we were driving away I saw Daddy looking out his secretary’s window. The life as I knew it was over. I cried.
Before the winter quarter started I was helping Daddy as he needed. One morning he told me I needed to organize his supply closet, so some things he had in his office could fit. Let me tell you though, I just couldn’t organize it. I had to walk around with him as he gave me the exact instructions and I had a special notebook to take notes. That process usually took a good 45 minutes before I could even start on the task. Once he gave me the go ahead to get started, I took my notes and got to work. After about an hour Daddy walked by and got angry I was doing it the wrong way. Well, actually, he was furious. He yelled, “I clearly told you in my instructions to remove everything from the closet first. If you had opened your G-d damn ears and listened to me, you would have known!” Just as Daddy finished telling me what an idiot I was because I wasn’t doing it as he instructed, his secretary called for him making up something for him to do to help get him out of my hair. Thank G-d! He was able to keep him out of my way all day until I was finished.
I waited until the next day to tell Daddy I was finished. He told me I was to wait in the hallway until he could come check. After about a half hour I told his secretary I was going to the restroom and would be back. Well, let’s say I took my time. I was pissed I wasn’t going to continue waiting. When I returned Daddy was talking to his secretary. When he turned to look at me, he was pissed beyond words. How dare I leave when he told me to wait. I told him I had gone to the restroom. He told me he didn’t care if I needed to leave to the emergency room, I was not to leave. He then went into the supply closet to see if I had done it correctly. Next thing I knew he was screaming and yelling how I had done it all wrong. He crazily started pulling all of the items off the shelves and letting them drop to the floor. Daddy’s secretary was shocked and tried to get Daddy to calm down. Not even he could get him to calm down. Once Daddy was done with his fit of rage, he told me because I didn’t do the job correctly, he wasn’t going to pay me. Then, he told me I was to have the closet finished by morning. Shocked by what he did in front of his secretary, I initially just stood there. Then, I turned to Daddy as he was walking down the hallway and yelled, “No, you made the mess, you clean it up!” I knew because Daddy’s secretary was there, he probably wouldn’t hit me. But when I saw how angry he was I wasn’t quite sure. What he did do was threaten to stop payment on the check he sent for me to attend college. However, I knew it had already been cashed, so I didn’t have to worry about it. My non reaction was infuriating to Daddy. He went into his living area of the apartment and locked the door. That evening he kept the door locked and wouldn’t let me in to get anything to eat or to go to the bathroom.
I continued to have to ask Daddy for money for my toiletries. And even by the time I started winter quarter he had not paid me for any of the jobs I had done. One afternoon I had started my period a little earlier. For most women stress would keep them from getting their periods. No not me. Mine had to come early. I needed to run to the store to get some tampons but I had to ask Daddy for money. When I went to his office to ask him he not only had his secretary in there but someone else I didn’t know. I apologized. Daddy told me it was OK and asked what I needed. I asked him if I could have $10.00. He of course asked me why and then looked at his secretary and the other gentleman and said, “You know these Kid’s these days. You never know how they’re spending your money.” I was so pissed by his comment. I said, “Well, technically Daddy, it’s my money for the jobs I’ve done.” Daddy laughed and told me I didn’t earn it because I had refused to do any task right. He then looked at the others and winked at them. What the fucking hell? Daddy asked me again why I needed the money. I told him I needed to go to the drug store. Listen, aside from being totally pissed I had to tell him what I was buying before he’d give me the money, I didn’t mind telling Daddy why. But, not in mixed company. I told him I couldn’t tell him at the moment. He got mad. The others knew but not my dear ol dad. Instead, Daddy kept getting angrier and angrier. He finally told me to forget it that he wasn’t going to give me a damn dime until I told him. He told me to get out of his sight. When I walked out of his office I heard him discussing with his secretary and other gentleman how I do nothing but take money from him and he’s tired of it. He told them how he has been paying for my schooling and how ungrateful I was. He gave them a cockamamie story about all he had done for me since Momma had died. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. I wanted to tell them he was totally lying. But there was nothing I could do. There wasn’t a G-d damn thing I could do.
Winter quarter couldn’t have arrived quick enough. Daddy wouldn’t let me use his car, so I had to take the bus to the campus. I was mad at first only because he kept stripping me of things the more I kept trying to do to better myself. But, then, I didn’t care and just wanted to be in school. One of the first classes I took was a required English class. I enjoyed it. I had to write a term paper on a poem of my choosing. I chose Haim Nachman Bialick and his poem, Kishnev. I spent the entire quarter gathering information about the Russian pogroms and related it to the poem. A time of no Internet I spent hours at the library doing my research. Daddy allowed me to use his computer to type it.
One evening I was on the computer finishing my paper. I was almost done and really proud of the work I had done. As I was working Daddy stormed over to me. He was pissed that he had called for me and I didn’t go to him. I didn’t hear him. Holy crap! His apartment was on the other side of the building. It was feasible I didn’t hear him. Daddy seemed overly angry at me for not answering him. When I told him I didn’t hear him, he went ballistic. He asked me to give him my floppy disc so he could destroy it. Um, like hell! When I told him hell no especially because it was my only copy, he then tried to jump over the desk to get it. I pushed him away. He walked around the desk and shoved me into the wall. Like hell was I going to allow him to destroy my work. He had done it in the past but not this time. I was going to fight like hell to protect it. Because Daddy was clueless where the floppy disc was even located, I was able to get to it first. I grabbed it and ran down the hall to my room. I knew he was going to break open my door, so I had seconds to think fast on where to put it. I shoved it down the back of my pants but opened a few of my dresser drawers to throw him off. (OK, for those of you who remember those floppy discs you’ll understand shoving it down my pants was not easy. Today, I can laugh about it because as I had it in my pants, I know I had to have been walking funny as big as it was. Also, I was extremely afraid I could break it. I prayed Daddy wouldn’t force me to sit down. How many people can say they were forced to hide a floppy disc down their pants? I’m sure not many. Crazy, I say! Just crazy!)
Just as I closed one of the drawers, Daddy had kicked in the door. He ransacked my room looking for the disc. When he couldn’t find it he demanded I give it to him. Not this time. I was not going to give in so easily this time. He tried to grab my book bag when he couldn’t get the floppy disc. He told me he wanted to tear up one of my school books. He was shocked when I shoved him out of the way and grabbed it. That’s when he told me he had enough of me and my crazy behavior. He said I had one month to leave. He grabbed his chest telling me I was giving him a heart attack and I wasn’t going to be the cause of his death. As he walked to his living area he kept rambling how he couldn’t take it anymore and he wasn’t going to put up with my crazy behavior anymore. I was afraid to be out on my own. I knew what that was like when I was previously in college. And this time I didn’t have money or a car. I figured Daddy was just blowing out hot air like he had in the past but I knew I needed to come up with a back up plan. I think I knew it was time for me to go and finally get away.
I had been doing a little work with the local Jewish Youth group. The advisor for the group I barely knew at this time but there was something about her that made me feel safe. She was a professor at the college I was attending. Sadly, there was no one else I knew. Well, there were at least three of Daddy’s ex girlfriend in town but not people I would call for help. Finally able to see the reality of Daddy’s outbursts along with his increased physical abuse I was finally scared enough to ask for help. One day while I was at the college I stopped by that professor’s office. As I told her I needed to get out of Daddy’s house I started to cry. The pain of being rejected by a parent was very difficult. The idealistic dad I had created in my head, it was dawning to me who he really was. As I waited for the professor to finish something before she talked to me, I started daydreaming. I wished this professor was my mother. All I wanted was to be loved and supported. And when I say supported I mean given praise and encouragement. I was trying to turn my life around. I wanted more for myself than where I was headed before going to Israel. G-d dammit, most parents would praise their child for being able to take the initiative. It was a hard reality to see the abusive man my father was and know I needed to get out.
I remember sitting in the professor’s office scared out of my mind. I was terrified to tell her about Daddy. In many ways I was still feeling it was my fault. Even so, I asked her if she knew of anyone I could possibly live with who was close to the college. Since I had no money I thought possibly in exchange for rent, I could clean their house or whatever else they needed. Surely, there had to be someone. Honestly (as if I haven’t been thus far) I wanted this professor to take me in like a lost puppy and care for me. BUT, I knew that wouldn’t have been fair or right.
I was so relived when the professor had an idea. She told me there had been another professor and his wife who had rented out one of their bedrooms in their home. They lived right next to the school which was perfect since I didn’t have a car. She told me she’d ask if that room was available and if I could do a trade.
Still secretive about Daddy’s abuse, this professor was insightful enough to know something was terribly wrong. I have to admit I don’t remember how much I told her about my situation. I’m guessing not much. I’m sure though, my fear was quite apparent. She offered for me to stay with her but I was afraid to except. I liked her and her family a lot and I didn’t want to burden them with my problem. Plus, I wasn’t sure what Daddy could do.
Sure enough the other professor and his wife did have a room available in their home for me to stay. I was terrified of the thought of leaving Daddy. I spoke to the professor’s wife and she suggested I come over to meet her one afternoon after my classes. Without any of Daddy’s knowledge I met with her and she graciously agreed for me to live with them. As a psychologist’s wife she knew I hadn’t hit the end of my rope yet and wasn’t ready to leave Daddy. So, she told me when I was ready no matter what time of day or night, she’d come get me. That peace of mind knowing I had a place available meant the world to me.
Everyday in Daddy’s house was filed with screaming, violence and a lot, a lot of anger. And that included a lot of anger on my part as well. One morning I had gotten up to get ready for one of my classes. I had been up late for the last many nights studying for a test. They were NOT my strong point by any means, so I was working very hard to do well. So, I got up to get ready for class. Daddy had been angry with me for pretty much the entire time I had been home from Israel. I knew I was buying my time with him and crazy as it was, I stayed as long as I could. Well, that morning I was taking my shower. Let me explain first. In Daddy’s house one was NOT allowed to shower for more than three or four minutes. See, the houses we lived in had limited hot water, so there had to be enough left for him. And he never could wait for it to heat up again. So, I was in the bathroom showering. I remember feeling exhausted not just from studying but being in such an oppressive house too. As I was showering I was going over what was to be on my test in my head and I lost track of my time. Next thing I knew there was a tremendous BANG on the door. Right when I heard it after I had to shove my heart back down out of my throat, I realized I had been in there too long. Daddy had broken open the door. Meanwhile, it wasn’t locked. He was screaming at the top of his lungs to get the hell out of his bathroom. He was pacing the floor and flailing his arms all around. He tried to grab me but I disappeared back behind the shower curtain. Luckily he wasn’t ready to get wet as I still had the shower running. I yelled back at him that I would get out of the shower as soon as he left. He ranted for another 5 minutes. I had to scream over him to get him to hear me. I screamed, “Daddy, you are wasting your own hot water. Get out so I can get the soap off and get out!” I had to scream it four or five times before he finally slammed out.
Because Daddy had to get into the bathroom right then I had no time to dry off. I had to wrap the towel around me, grab all of my clothes and school stuff I was using to study and go to my room. I was doing fine on time. I didn’t have to catch the city bus to take me to the college for another hour. Since the kitchen was in Daddy’s living area I dreaded to go there to get breakfast. I figured I could at least grab a bagel. When I went to open the door to his living area, it was locked. He had locked me out! I was so pissed by his desire to have so much control over every little G-d damn thing! I figured I’d go ahead and grab my school stuff and head to school. Since the bus only came once an hour, I figured I’d walk to another stop which would help me get out some anger and energy before my test. Just as I was gathering my stuff to get ready to leave I heard stomping coming from Daddy’s living area. And to my dismay that stomping was coming closer to me. I heard his door open and him ranting about something under his breath. He yelled, “And where the hell do you think you’re going?” I told him I had a test and I was leaving for that class. You would have thought I told him I was burning down his house with as angry as he was. Would you believe that man stood there for over 30 minutes not allowing me to leave? I was in a panic because I had missed my bus by that point and didn’t know of another way. Daddy certainly was not going to take me and I even asked him. When I told Daddy I had missed my bus, he told me that was good because then I knew how he felt when I inconvenienced him. I was crying and so raging mad. I punched a hole in my bedroom wall. OK, so that wasn’t so smart considering Daddy was already so angry. But, you have to understand. I had to let it out. Daddy went ballistic. I told him he was lucky I didn’t put a hole into him. I know. Not a smart thing to say either. Daddy screamed I was to get the fuck out and I had better find a place to live because I wasn’t welcomed to stay with him any longer. From what I gathered from his yelling he believed I had not made arrangements and he was pissed I was taking advantage of him. Oh yeah, I just love living in a place like that where yelling and beating up on me was the norm. And on top of that doing jobs that were never right and always getting my pay revolked. Oh yeah, I knew how to really take advantage of the situation. And I was getting what out of staying? To take advantage meant I was getting something In return. Well, you know why I was staying? All the hell I wanted was my Daddy and I knew he was not going to be capable of being there for me.
And yet I still wasn’t ready to leave. I know. I know. I had a place to go. Because of the help of the professor who was the advisor for the youth group I had a place to go. It’s so easy to look back now and say why did I even return from Israel and live with him. I get it and understand that now. Well, I understand to a point. My brain understands but as a daughter of abuse, my heart always caring for my father. My heart that was waiting for the moment where he would change and be able to love his children. So, I couldn’t leave him and have him think I abandoned him like everyone else had done. Don’t say it. I know. People didn’t abandon Daddy, he pushed them away. I get that today but then, believe it or not, I was not ready. However, it would only take one more event for me to finally have to leave. Daddy would show me how far he was willing to take his anger and I knew I was in danger at that point. That event which I will share in my next chapter was I felt Daddy’s worse display of violence. It would forever be imprinted in my memories as the worse day of my entire life. It was the day I was forced to see my father for who he really was.
In August of 1989 I headed to New York to meet the group I’d be spending the next nine months with in Israel. As nervous as I was, I was as equally excited. I was looking forward to my experience and probably for different reasons than my fellow group members. My top two reasons were I would be able to have three meals a day and wouldn’t have to worry about working 50 hours a week so I could pay mine and Daddy’s bills. It would be the first time in many years where Daddy was not an obligation of mine and I didn’t have to feel guilty for it. And because of that I felt liberated in a way. I felt the real me could come out without any ramifications or worry. With Daddy I had to be guarded and even then it didn’t always make a difference. But, always better guarded than not. Here’s the thing though. I still couldn’t admit nor see where Daddy’s behavior was totally abusive. Well, I’m not sure how to explain what I was thinking at the time. It was warped and a way for me to cope. I viewed Daddy in two different lights. One I wanted to believe and one I knew him to be. And quite frankly, it was easier to want to believe he loved me and wouldn’t want to hurt me. It was so incredibly difficult to see the abuse to it’s full extent because then I’d have to lose another parent. And I know some would feel that would have been better than to endure the abuse but you have to understand. Daddy had spent years initially manipulating, isolating and verbally breaking me down. I didn’t have a parent to counter act that behavior. It was what I knew. Where all other people referred to the ceiling as a ceiling, Daddy taught us to call it a floor. Of course not literally but that’s how upside down my life was with Daddy. He viewed every single thing in life differently than anyone else. And if I only knew that one upside down way even as harmful as it was, I’d have to get away from him, see more of the world around me. Then, learn what was the right way. I must have known in my gut going on this program would allow me that opportunity because that time away really opened my eyes.
While in Israel Daddy moved yet again to another city. This one was bigger and considered the second largest city in the State. He found a place across from the court house. Part of it was Daddy’s living area and the other half was his office. He told me he found a place that had a bedroom for me and he had already put my things in it. I was touched. Listen, I missed Daddy and I knew he missed me. When we spoke even though long distant calls were expensive he took the time to hear my stories and all I was doing. We corresponded with each other too. I wrote him letters and Daddy, who never wrote, would send me tapes of him telling me what was happening. And the tapes weren’t any of the negative crap he burdened me with when I was home. He told me jokes that were told to him and other neat stories. I loved our interaction and started to believe Daddy had changed. During one of my letters I explained I wanted to go back to college as soon as I got home. Daddy never responded, so I brought it up to him during a call. He wasn’t responsive and told me we’d talk about it when I returned. Knowing Daddy didn’t have the money to pay for it, I made it clear to him I would find a way to do it myself. One thing he said which had alarmed me was he was looking forward to me helping him but he’d explain it when I got home. But, I think I was in such LaLa land from how he was treating me on the phone, I dismissed his comment.
When I returned to the States Daddy picked me up from the airport and he was on time. I will never forget the look on his face as I walked into the waiting area. He was thrilled to see me as I was to see him. He embraced me with one of his wonderful bear hugs and gave me a kiss. He told me he loved me and missed me. It was nice. I couldn’t believe I was home. I felt different. I felt older in many ways than age. While we were getting my luggage I started telling him about me wanting to go to college. I knew there was a University in the town he had moved, so I could live at home while attending. Daddy kept ignoring what I was telling him and evading my questions. I let it go. While out of the airport Daddy told me I had gotten fat. Without missing a beat I said, “Thank you. I see you have lost your charm with women. Oh and you look old.” He smiled and told me that would have been exactly what your Momma would have said. I felt I had more of a sense of power and self respect. Now, the fact I had gained weight was beside the point. In the scheme of things it was not the thing for Daddy to say to me.
It was night time when we arrived at Daddy’s place. I wasn’t so sure about the safety of where he lived. It was downtown and in an area known for it’s crime. But, thank goodness I didn’t know much of that until later. The building he had his office and home was an old building from the 1900’s. It was a duplex from that time period which meant the downstairs was one place and the upstairs was another. We parked in a parking lot that was used for parking by the other attorney offices in that area. We were going in the back door but had to head up a narrow few steps before he could unlock the door. Once inside he dead bolted it three times. Yeah, that did make me suspicious. Then, we had to go up a flight of unfinished steep, narrow stairs before we hit another door to unlock. Apparently, when this house was built, the back stairs was used as the service stairs. Daddy with another key unlocked the second door. It opened into his secretary’s office. He was excited for me to see his office. We walked out of the secretary’s office into a long hallway which had other rooms coming off of it. Daddy’s office was to the left with a supply closet to the right. Further down the hall to the left was a room filled with boxes of the things he hadn’t unpacked and had no room to put anywhere. Back in the hallway there was a room to the right and just after was a long staircase heading down to the front door where his clients would enter. Daddy opened that room next to the staircase and it was my room. He had my entire room set up. My concern though there wasn’t a bathroom and my room was in the office area. I mentioned to Daddy that I thought he had a different living quarters. He motioned for me to follow him. He closed my door and walked past the staircase to another door. When he opened it there was a living room area, a bedroom to it’s left and small dining area, a kitchen and bathroom. He then told me that was his living area. I then said, “Oh, so when I wake up in the morning and it’s after 8:30 I will have to get fully dressed to go to the bathroom?” That was when he said we needed to do some serious talking but it could wait until the next day when we were more awake. I knew something was a brewing. It was at that moment I remember making a commitment to myself that I was not going to give up my future for Daddy. I was going to get into college and get my degree to spite him. Meanwhile, I’d have to wait for the next day before I’d know how his plan for me differed from mine. He told me to go ahead and get some sleep because we have to be up early. Um, you mean you have to be up early? Why in the hell did I need to be up? I gave Daddy a strange look. He said, “You see where your room is. I am running an office here. I can’t have you wake up whenever you decide running around in your night clothes while I have clients. And plus, there’s lots to be done that you need to do.” AH HA! So, that was his plan. I was mad and told him I wanted to go to school. He started to get angry and told me I was a brat because I expected him to pay for it. I refused to engage in the argument with him and simply told him goodnight and went to bed.
The next day I woke up around 11. I could hear Daddy talking to another man but I didn’t know who it was. I needed to go to the bathroom but remembered it was in Daddy’s section. So, because he was trying to run an office I got fully dressed. As soon as I opened the door Daddy nicely yelled down the hall, “And the beauty queen is finally awake.” Before I could get to the other door to go into his apartment he told me he wanted to I introduce me to his secretary. Well, the other man’s voice I heard was his secretary. I liked him a lot. He would always stand up for me when he could. After I got dressed Daddy told me we needed to meet and he was having his secretary sit in with us. What the hell? I knew things weren’t going to go as I wanted. And I was stuck because all of my money in savings was gone. I was at the whim of my dad and that realization scared the hell out of me.
As the three of us sat there in Daddy’s office he explained that he had just started his law practice in this town. He needed time and help building it up and he could see lots of wonderful things happening (but only with my help). After a good 30 minutes of the cheerleader talk I asked him what help did he have in mind. What could I have possibly done to help him? That’s when he told me I was to do whatever needed to be done. My response to him? I said, “No Daddy. I want to go to school and if I don’t do it now I never will.” He was not happy and took a glance at his secretary. I asked Daddy why it was necessary that the secretary be there. He told me it was for his protection. Just at that moment as he said that, I felt my face turn red with total rage wanting to spew out from my insides. I hadn’t felt that in a long time and thought it had gone away. I wanted desperately to not show it. See, I knew he had set me up. He wanted the secretary to see I was the problem and not him. Thankfully, the secretary stepped in and suggested Daddy let me at the very least get the information on school. And if he didn’t have to fork over any money, then what harm would it do. I was certain he didn’t expect that from his secretary but I was grateful. Daddy told me I was to get that information and have it ready to present to him in 3 days. I told him only if I can get the I information in that time. He responded, “If you want me to consider it, you’ll have it ready in 3 days.” OK, so 3 days it would be whether I could get all of it or not I was going to have something that was for sure.
After Daddy adjourned our meeting I left immediately and headed to the University’s financial aid department only after finally going to the bathroom first. The woman who I would need to speak with happened to be there. I couldn’t believe I had a bit of luck. She sat with me for a good hour explaining how it all worked. She told me I’d have to be independent from my parents for 2 years before I could apply for any aid myself. She explained that I’d have to file my own taxes for two years which would be the proof of my independence. But, because Daddy had been filing his taxes with me as his dependent, I would need his tax forms to file for any aid. I was worried because I wasn’t sure Daddy would give me a copy of his tax form to show he was making under a certain amount allowing me to receive financial aid. I told her my concerns. She told me to talk with him and if there was a problem to talk to her again. I knew I’d be back.
I was really nervous the day we were to meet. I couldn’t believe I was practically having to beg Daddy to go to college but instead he wanted me for himself. At the time we met wouldn’t you know that Daddy had his secretary doing other things. Dammit! I was hoping I’d have him there for support. So, I told Daddy what the woman said at the financial aide office. And just as I expected he told me there was no way in hell he was going to “share” his tax forms with anyone. He then went off on how his Social security number is a private number not to be shared with anyone. Prepared for that answer I asked if he would please stop filing me as a dependent. Worse case scenario I’d have to work for a few years and go then. Daddy was furious and started yelling at me. The secretary came into his office and asked what in the world was so bad he had to yell like he was. Daddy told him and he said, “Yep, that’s how it works. Why are you so angry at MaLea?” Daddy’s face was red with anger. He told me to get the hell out of his office. I was angry myself and yelled as I walked out of his office,”I just want to go to school and I can’t believe you are fighting me.”
I was trapped in Daddy’s house. I didn’t know anyone where he had moved and I had no money. I had to figure out something. Lucky to have the secretary on my side after about a month of continuous talks and fights, Daddy said he’d pay for one semester of school and if I needed his taxes for the next quarter, he’d send the school the copy. He would not give it to me. However, there was a catch. I would need to help him around the office when I wasn’t in class. I was to get up by 7:30 and ready to go by 8:30. And if I helped him he’d actually pay me $7.00 an hour. I felt I had no choice so I agreed. Since it was too late to enroll in Fall classes I did so for the Winter quarter.
Daddy never had specific jobs for me and would come up with them arbitrarily. Once he asked that I straighten the room with the boxes. I was to find specific items, get them from the boxes and then neatly stack the boxes. I was supposed to get paid after each job but after each job Daddy had an excuse why he couldn’t pay me. I needed the money because I needed to buy things. I needed shampoo, toothpaste and other toiletries. So, every time I had to go to him to ask for money. But, he would never just hand it over. He’d ask me what I needed it for. If I told him I needed to get something from the drugstore, he’d want to know specifics. I had to tell him exactly what I needed before he’d give me any money. Meanwhile, technically it was the money he owed me anyway.
From the time I came back from Israel Daddy’s behavior seemed more erratic. However, he probably was the same but being away for so long allowed me to recognize it. The odd thing though was all of his girlfriends had left him except for one. But, she was a new one. Maybe, it was a little bit of both? Who knows but what I did know was he was angrier than ever and the next months would be some of my hardest.
Last Halloween we were stuck with what to do. Our son couldn’t decide and some ideas I saw were more complicated than what I wanted to do. Then, I found the idea to be a LEGO.
It was so easy and took about 3 hours to make the three of these. In directions I found it suggested to spray paint the boxes which can be done. However, I didn’t like the tape showing and I didn’t have enough time for it to dry. But, you could match the duct tape (which is what you use to tape down the containers) to the spray paint if that bothers you. Now that there are so many wonderful duct tape colors I picked up 3 rolls per adult box and 2 rolls for the kid box.
Hints: *When taping the round macaroni or soup containers to the box, go ahead and use the same color duct tape as you will use for the box. The tape will buckle a bit but it’s OK.
* Duct tape one side at a time and start with the side with the containers. Go in a straight line to keep from buckling. Will do some of that around containers but that’s OK.
Wish I had: I think a LEGO hat would have been cute, writing the word LEGO on the back and wearing clothes that were all the same color. But, I was doing well with getting this done and you may have better ideas.
I’d love to see your completed product!
During my Senior year of high school I was so nervous to live with a family I didn’t know. I knew the daughter from school but we were in different circles of friends. However, she was always so nice to me and never judgmental. The daughter had a calm nature about her which was quite peaceful. It wasn’t something I was used to at all. I was accustomed to chaos and constant upheaval. Remember, I was taught to trust no one and always assume the worst from someone. The daughter and (I would quickly discover) her parents were anything but what I was taught by Daddy. They were kind, caring and above all they trusted me. Wow, that meant so much to me especially because they didn’t even know me. Daddy taught me to not even trust my own sister and friends we had known for years and yet these people who didn’t even know me gave me their trust. It really was mind blowing to me and my first introduction to a new way of thinking. This was the first time I began assessing how I was taught. Living with this family allowed me to see first hand there was something wrong with how I was being treated by Daddy and most of all I did not deserve it. It would still take me years to understand and admit my abuse at the hands of my father but a wonderful seed had been planted by this family. And as I would grow up and experience life more, that seed would blossom giving me the wisdom and just enough strength to fight for a different path than that of my father’s. For that I am forever grateful to them.
Gosh, while living with this family I was incredibly gun shy from Daddy’s constant barrage of hateful words and physical abuse. Can I tell you how difficult that is for me to write? Even now I’d like to call it something other than what it was. But, there’s no doubt it was abuse. And, I never realized how his abuse effected me in everyday life. I remember eating lunch one Saturday in the kitchen of that family who hosted me. The mom thanked me so much for emptying the dishwasher for her. Her appreciation made me feel so happy inside. I had never been thanked and it felt so nice. However, I was afraid she’d soon turn angry because I had not done something right when cleaning out the dishwasher. “Happy” didn’t stay for very long at our house and I was always anticipating for the other shoe to fall no matter where I was. After the mom thanked me, she in the most loving way told me I had placed an item in the wrong drawer and she showed me the correct location. OH NO! I had done something wrong. She hates me. I was mortified. I apologized. She told me it was OK because there was no way for me to have known where the item was to go. But, I knew underneath she was so angry with me. That was it. I was going to be kicked out. I could feel my insides ripping apart with fear. I held back my tears the best I could until I could put my lunch away and get to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, I turned on the water in the sink to muffle my crying. I was so angry at myself for screwing everything up. I hated that Daddy was right about me and I was just an idiot who failed at everything. G-d dammit! I hated myself!
Well, needless to say this wonderful family did not kick me out. It was amazing to recognize that even without Daddy present, I managed to continue to beat myself up. I had no idea and hate to say I still do it to this day. It’s just easier to see it from years ago than it is to recognize it in the present. How G-d damn hard it is to change it though. It’s so frustrating to see another legacy Daddy gave me. I think I’ve come so far and yet so much still lingers.
As my Senior year progressed, I was a calmer and happier person. I know it sounds crazy but I really didn’t know why or more accurately, I didn’t want to know why. There were a lot of fun events our classmate’s parents were hosting and I got to attend them all (which Daddy would have never allowed). I’ll never forget one of the events. A classmate and her mom were hosting a mother/daughter tea at their home. I wasn’t going to go, well, because I didn’t have a mom. As a side note it does kill me that Daddy kept my sister and I separated. I have no doubt she would have loved to have taken me. But, under the circumstances that wasn’t an option. Anyway, the mom at the home I was staying was going to take her daughter and offered to be my surrogate mother so I could also attend. As strong as I seemed to be on the outside, I was a basket case on the inside. I was afraid to cry because I was afraid I’d never be able to stop. But, being at the Mother/Daughter tea was difficult and I wasn’t sure I could make it through. I found myself not so strong then. Seeing all of the daughters with their moms made me think what I could have had if Momma was there. Gosh, Momma had only died two years before. Why wouldn’t I have been missing her? But, Daddy never let me mourn her loss and made me feel obligated to stay strong. Listen, no one could take my pain of missing Momma away but my surrogate mom who escorted me (and her own daughter) to this event did make it easier for me that day. I can’t even begin to say how much that meant to me for her to make sure I felt included. And even more so, I was so appreciative to the daughter who had to share her mom that day.
To witness life in a normal household was truly awing to me. I was blown away at every turn. There was no screaming or yelling or name calling or hateful exchanges. Once the daughter argued with her mom about something and her mom just firmly told her what she expected. Voices were raised. They were both mad but as I would have to learn, they were respectful and loving. They never crossed that line. Listen, I’m sure every family has their issues but mine was so dysfunctional I really was out of touch with reality. Also, I had been beaten down for so long and told how worthless I was, it made me dumbfounded when this family treated me with mutual respect. Why would they? As I got older I would realize it was just the right thing to do. But at this time in my life I saw everything with such a skewed lens but didn’t know it was skewed until I had contact with people in healthier relationships. I had to learn what was unhealthy and what was really love. My sister in law once said how powerful we are as parents. Meaning, we could teach a child the ceiling is the floor and visa versa. Well, in some ways that was what Daddy did to me. I saw everything in a totally opposite way than the rest of the world and the power was in me to disassemble all that I knew and figure out what needed to be returned to Daddy. Not so easy when I knew the floor as the ceiling and the ceiling as the floor.
Not too long ago I was watching a show on teens who were homeless. One of the teens was the age I was after Momma died. For whatever reason her parents were absent in her life, so she was temporarily living with a friend and her parents. There was something that teen said which was a dawning moment for me and made me realize the pain I had carried with me for many years. She said,”Even though the family I am staying with have done so much to welcome me and make me part of their family, I am always reminded that I’m still the guest. I can never feel totally comfortable or ever put my guard down or I would be seen as a rude guest. I’m tired of being the guest. Sometimes I want to forget I am one and I emotionally become a part of the family. That’s when I get hurt especially when I’m asked to leave over a weekend so my bedroom can be used for an actual family member. The pain of rejection and the reality of being without a family is so overwhelming. ” Once she made that statement it dawned on me I had done that too. I had imagined being a part of the family I was living with during my Senior year as well as another family that I will mention later. I was so lonely, by myself and scared. I wanted so badly to be cared for and loved in the way a parent was supposed to love their child. I was so jealous and I longed for that security. There were so many days and nights I wept from the pain of what I thought was rejection from those families. I often hear Daddy’s voice telling me I just wasn’t good enough and I deserved it. The pain caused from that void is so strong and extremely hard to shake. And even at 41 which I can’t believe I’m admitting, but I am still looking for those parents to love me unconditionally and care for me. And I don’t mean care for me in the sense of the physical needs. I mean to care for me in the emotional. I know through the process of reviewing my life I will not only need to make Daddy responsible for what he did to me, my sister and our family but I will also need to mourn the loss of my parents which I cannot expect others to replace. Coming to terms with my father’s abuse has been an incredibly difficult and complicated one for me but letting go of the idea I have been parentless since 1985 when Momma died will be the most difficult and painful.
While I stayed with this family my senior year Daddy came by to see me only a handful of times. The crazy part was I missed him and I think he actually missed me. Listen, even though I was living with this family, they had their own lives to live. I usually prepared and ate my own dinner. Daddy made it clear I was not to burden them and was to take care of myself. They would offer and would ask for me to join them but I usually ate my meals alone and spent time alone in my bedroom. I was living in someone else’s house and I had to always be mindful of it. I loved Daddy more than words could describe and enjoyed when he’d come to visit. But, I have to admit I liked it because he was ALWAYS on his best behavior when he came. He NEVER slipped showing his “other” side. Who knows why? Maybe because he needed me to stay where I was. After all, he didn’t want to care for me himself so it was beneficial to him to keep his cool. I had such a crazy mixture of emotions. I missed Daddy but I knew with him came everything I hated about him. Parts of me felt he didn’t come by too often because there was no longer an obligation (I guess he had some since of it) to check on me. Whereas, when I was home alone and even though he’d be gone as long as a month, he did have a feeling he needed to check on me.
My year was coming to an end more quickly than I wanted. The thought of having to leave where I was staying sent me into a terrible panic. But, I had to leave as they had family arriving for the graduation celebrations and needed the room I was using. I was terrified to head out to the next stage of my life. And even though being there made me miss having my own family it did provide a wonderfully safe and peaceful environment I hadn’t known in many years.
After I graduated from High School I spent my summer as a counselor at a Jewish camp in North Carolina. My sister helped me figure out what I needed to do to apply and she thought I would make good money for my following year at college. Yep, I got into a college. I had no idea how I did with the grades I had but I was relieved nonetheless that I made it into one. However, I couldn’t even think about college because my first worry was going to a summer camp where I knew no one. I was incredibly terrified. I HATED new situations. And yet I went anyway and I was so glad I did. I made wonderful friends who even 20 years later I’m proud to still have them in my life. More importantly though as I continued to return to this camp to work for another 10 years, it gave me a sense of purpose and belonging which I desperately needed. Looking back on my first summer there, I have no doubt it gave me many opportunities that thankfully veered me off of a dangerous path I was soon going to take. It’s interesting. I can’t put my finger on one situation that was life altering. It really was Bashert that I was presented with the right opportunities just at the right time in my life and all of those events together saved me from self destruction. Although it would be another 16 years before I would be able to totally break away from my abuser, the groundwork was being laid.