My Toxic Father
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Truth.
Okay, so here’s the deal with my dad and my visit up there. One or two rantings just aren’t enough catharsis.
I was told I needed to get up there right away, that he may not even make it to the weekend. I felt like I had to really eat dirt with my ex and beg to swap weekends so the girls could see their grandfather one last time. I asked my ex on Tuesday night and he agreed Friday at 4:30 after Aislinn badgered him because she wanted to go to the farm for the weekend.
I stayed up until 3 AM to get at least a few things done and took my laptop with me to work on a book project I should have finished over the weekend, but never touched because emotions just destroy some forms of creative work and it’s not possible.
Well, it was a ruse. Another fucking manipulation. My dad decided he hadn’t seen us in a couple of months and it was time, so he played the “Oh, I’m dying” card. Keep in mind all the time I sat by his side when he was in the ICU for 6 weeks. It cost me a promotion at work because I was deemed unreliable and I was admonished by my Colonel for choosing family over work (kinda ended my remaining enjoyment of this career field).
Not only did he want the girls and me by his side, but he refused to let my mom spend any time with me. To the point of, every time we started to talk, he’d turn the TV up so loud that we couldn’t hear each other 2 feet away. There was nowhere in the house where you could talk over his TV, and if you left the house, he’d start with the drama, faking breathing problems, etc.
He did the same deal to my brother back in the spring. My mom wasn’t “allowed” to go to the grocery store without him (and when he goes with her, he isn’t “able” to go inside and walk so therefore she has to be done in 5 minutes while he sits in the hot car), but this time she went to the grocery store anyway, without him (for 20 minutes). He punished her, of course. When she drove up, she couldn’t get the groceries inside the house before she heard him yelling for her from the backyard and she found him lying in the grass at the foot of the steps. All her fault, you see, that he’d been by himself and had fallen and hit his head and was in “bad shape” because she wasn’t there. Now, the contact point with the steps never bruised and was only a little bloody scratch on his scalp that you couldn’t see through his thin hair.
Could have been done with his fingernail. That was on a Thursday.
My mom called to tell me and I asked if he was in the ER. No, he wouldn’t go see a doctor…. She was wracked with guilt about his fall—and at the same time wasn’t sure if he was faking or not. She’s too beaten down to recognize anything and I do know, courtesy of my ex, what her mindset is. But they were quite happy that the girls and I were visiting on Saturday morning and I didn’t hear any more about his fall. It was a planned visit, but I hadn’t told them until I was sure my car was out of the shop with a new tire.
So on Saturday morning, I called to say we’d just left and were on our way and when to expect us so my mom could count us in for lunch. Then my brother got a call saying, Oh, I took a fall and I’m so bloodied up and you need to come down here and Lorna’s on her way right now. Acting like I was on my way because of the emergency. My brother couldn’t get any details but couldn’t leave work right then without losing his contract. He and his wife made all kinds of arrangements so he could come down the next day, but knowing that I was on my way, he figured things would be taken care of until he could get there. I got there and got very, very sick (high fever) and Daddy refused to let me sleep and I got up and drove home sick the next day to get some rest. My brother called me on my cell to let me know he was coming down and wanted to know what shape Daddy was in. I was like, huh????? I told them then not to ever play this card with me and cry wolf because it’s very hard for me to get off from work, and without pay, and swap weekends with my ex and work both girls’ schedules which have a lot of mandatory school stuff on weekends.
But…Daddy did. Mama wasn’t going along with it and she’d agreed to let me know honestly his status, but he pulled a few tricks this week with breathing attacks that had her scared.
I am so angry. On so many levels. So much of what Daddy does is a direct reflection of my ex’s behavior, and now I owe my ex for letting me take the girls on a weekend that wasn’t in the custody agreement. My ex relishes me owing him anything. I can look at the way my dad treats my mom and know that that’s what I avoided by divorcing my ex, but it’s just so hard to watch him torture my mom. It’s killing her.
And my dad’s energy, like my ex’s, blankets everything so that my intuition and empathy are obliterated. I now understand why I didn’t trust my intuition or feel these things when we were together. The level of toxicity poisons the spiritual gifts.