Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Child of Divorce





            I am the child of a very brutal divorce.

I remember the bruises on my mother's face, and the lies from my biological father (I will call him Mr. Ed, The Talking Horse's Ass). I remember him locking her out of our house, throwing an ashtray in her face. I remember his lies.

There were always lies.

Mr. Ed could never hold a job, and he did his damnedest to try and make sure that my mother didn't either.

She finished her degree, while he dropped out in bitter resentment because his teachers didn't automatically recognize his absolute brilliance.

She worked two jobs in college to support him, his first daughter, and her two kids from his marriage with her.

If he got a dime, he would spend it.

She got a teaching job right out of college, but Mr. Ed had another mad scheme for making money (that would never pan out), and he made her quit after her first year. This meant that she was banned from teaching for two years, because she broke her contract.

Mr. Ed had been given money (again) by his parents to start his own business fixing windshields in cars.

This didn't last long because he found out that he actually had to w-o-r-k (bad word spelled out).

By this time, my mother had been offered a teaching position in the town we were living in.

When Mr. Ed decided to move (again), she told him no. She wanted to keep her job, make payments on the car she just bought, and raise her children.

He ignored her and told her that we were leaving, end of subject. He would go find a place to live and then come for us.

He of course, took the new car.

My mother wanted to make sure that all the utilities were paid before he left (and took all the money). Because he had a habit of not paying them and then calling his parents at the last minute for a bail out.

He promised her that they were.

He drove off.

The next day, the utilities were all shut off.

Do not underestimate my mother (it's my personal motto and I am going to stick with it until death!)

She drained all the gas from the lawnmower and put it in a dumpy old pickup.

She drove us 18 miles to my grandparents. A few days later, we were setup in our own home. And she was carpooling with her younger sister to her teaching job.

Then she filed for divorce.

Maybe I really didn't understand the meaning of divorce, I wasn't ready yet. I know that somewhere deep inside I was supposed to love my father, and I resented him for leaving, although it was my mother that filed the papers.

In the divorce, my mother was awarded the car, and Mr. Ed had no job, so the judge just gave some small sum that he knew my mother would never see.

When Mr. Ed was delivering the car to my mother, he shifted down to low gear and gunned it the last 18 miles.

This petty action left my family stranded on a highway with the engine on fire.

My mother never kept him away from us. She didn't want to be the bad person. She thought that children needed their fathers.

I remember the lies and the beatings when he had us.

His lies were so horrific that they eventually led to an alienation between my older sister (whom my mother had adopted and had custody). When my mother would tell her to do something, she would stick her lip out and say: You're NOT my mother!

That was one battle won by Mr. Ed.

After two years of struggle with my sister, my mother allowed her to go to Mr. Ed.

And Mr. Ed stopped showing up.

My mother never did get any child support.

He faded from my memory.

Maybe it should have stayed that way. It was my fault that it didn't.

But I know who he is now.

I know what the face of a liar looks like. That face is older than my own, but it has the same nose and eyes.

There's a sullen look to that face, from a man who felt he deserves it all and never got anything out of it.

I don't talk to him anymore. Like my mother, I got tired of the lies and the pettiness. If I did something well, he would always claim that he could do it better.

It's a sad life, to walk around thinking that the world owes you but you can't figure out how to make the world pay.

Mostly, I have moved on.

Occasionally, I may sit down and write. I will unbury all the anger that I had to surrender to accept myself, just so that I can pound that bitterness onto the page.

But mostly, I don't think about him. I have forgiven him, but will never forget the betrayals.

If you don't forgive, it eats you from inside until you are raw and you lay in bed at night crying. I don't do that anymore.

His name pops up every once in a great while. When we speak of him, it is with great sadness, that he had so much potential, but never used it. Sometimes, I become somewhat snide with his name. I guess if I didn't, then I would be like him. I don't want to ever be like him.

My mother clears her throat and interrupts me: "I will say one thing about your father..."

I will look at her expectantly.

She will smile softly at me: "...he sure makes great kids!"

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