This is about something that happened almost two years ago, and kind of explains why neither my girlfriend’s mother, or her father, called to wish her a happy birthday over the weekend.
In the late summer and early autumn of 2009 my girlfriend’s ex-husband decided to stop visiting his three-year old son, entirely. Until then his twice-weekly visits were sporadic, and often ended an hour early.
Even his twice-monthly weekend visits were generally pared down to a Saturday afternoon, or an overnight. But late that summer he just stopped showing up all together. He would make promises to his son over the phone, then call at the last minute to postpone.
My girlfriend was just a few months away from giving birth to our son, and the added stress of having her oldest boy screaming uncontrollably three or four times a week, and asking why “daddy doesn’t love me anymore”, with a face full of snot and tears, was just too much.
So I started banging on his door a few times a week, but he’d refuse to answer the door, so I left notes tacked onto his door reminding him of his responsibility.
Finally, as I was walking past his home on my way to somewhere else, I saw him putting his recycling on his porch. So I called out his name, and walked up to him.
As I was politely explaining to him that his son was crying himself to sleep almost every night, my girlfriend’s father drove up and parked in the driveway.
He saw the two of us standing on the little porch, and paused. It was obvious he was debating something with himself, that he’d been caught. Finally he got out of his little truck, reached back, and pulled out a pie.
He couldn’t look at me as he carried the tin plate towards us, I think the closest he got was to stare at his ex-son-in-law’s knees. It was such a bizarre moment.
Finally he reached us and, again without looking at me, handed the pie to the man who abused his grandson, and daughter, and said “she [his wife] made a batch and I thought you’d like one”. Then he turned around and walked away.
Three steps later he stopped, turned around, and said “they’re not very good.”, then he walked to his truck, got in and drove off to his Freemason meeting.
After her turned the corner, I looked at the guy holding a mincemeat pie who had ignored his son for almost two months, and I told him to visit with his son.
It was at least another week before pie-boy showed up for his visitation. But that’s not the real point.
My girlfriend was raised in a loud, passive aggression filled home with a sister who was borne almost
twenty ten years ahead of her, and a brother who is ten twelve years older, and also the product of a prolonged extra pre-marital affair.
I’m still not sure of the exact reason for her leaving Pie Boy but, when she did, the allegiance of her parents and sisters stayed with Pie Boy.
Pie Boy still owes her father upwards of $10,000. It might not have been physical, but he abused my girlfriend and his son for years.
It’s painful to watch the face of my girlfriend’s mother light up when Pie Boy shows up at one of his son’s sporting events.
And to watch my girlfriend when she finds out that her parents have hosted her ex-abuser for dinner… albeit this hasn’t happened, to my knowledge, in almost a year.
A few days after this past Christmas, my girlfriend asked her father to take a photo of Pie Boy off the kitchen wall. Her father swore at her, and kicked her out of the house. He took it down about a month later.
But that’s not the real point either.
I’ve found a lot of similarities between her family and mine. The volume and intensity are different, but it’s still the same song.
In her family there might be a tightly controlled cease fire, but lulls in the fighting is not peace. My parents don’t fight. My brothers and sisters do not attack each other because they’re bored. We defend each other when necessary.
I have issues with my family, particularly the 75% who abandoned my brother, mother and myself. I have issues with how my mother raised me. And I have issues, of course, with my grandmother.
All of which are very real, and still very damaging. But it’s easier to put even the worst thunderstorms into perspective when you find yourself living in a type-5 hurricane.
When I first joined her family, and they did something stupid and insulting and hurtful — which was often, I would tell my girlfriend “They’ve been attacking each other longer than you’ve been alive. At some point, if you continue to walk into the room, you have to expect to be hurt. So either stop walking into the room, or stop allowing them to have so much control.”
Which, I think, has helped her. It’s possible there might still be a certain amount of the natural love of family in hers, but there is little to no respect. So, really, what can any of them expect except to be abused?
I think, in the family I have, there’s both love and respect. We have abusers in our family, but it’s almost like their position — grandmother — offers them enough respect so they’re tolerated.
But the abusers in my family are the tiny minority. There just are not that many people in my family who want to hurt anyone, or are willing to do so when given the opportunity. I can only list three, my father, one uncle and my grandmother.
But my girlfriend has a devious and lazy ex-husband, a sister who resents her for being ‘the baby’, a mother who had a prolonged affair, a father who resents his wife, and a brother who was raised by a man who resented his mother.
How can there possibly be any respect for anyone in that Jerry Springer petri dish?
So that’s why it was not surprising, to either of us, when my girlfriend’s parents decided they were not going to call her on her thirty-third birthday. But it was nice that her brother called.
We had friends over to my girlfriends house for pizza, pop and cake. Her oldest son was there as well, because his father cancelled the weekend visit, so that made things that much better.
After the two boys were in bed, and everyone had left, we watched “Logan’s Run”… get it? Heh heh.