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     Their father has a name, but even now, so many years later, I am afraid to use it.  Kind of like saying “Chupacabra” three times and it shows up.  At least that was the joke we had at their father’s house.   I have eliminated all names from this story.  I was going to change the names, but even that did not seem enough to distance myself from the reality of this story.  

      My father had just passed away a few months before, and I was still living in his house with my sister and her then boyfriend.  He and I did not get along well at all.   I had moved home to be with my father in November 1993, and he passed away on March 7, 1994.  After he passed, I spent my days wandering around his house, drinking beer and paying nominal attention to my two-year old. Oh God, my son was so cute, but I was a mess, and he was a handful.  As drunk as I tended to get though, I knew I had to get out of my current situation, because none of us were getting along in my dearly departed Daddy’s house. 

     In June, I placed a personal ad in the paper, and their father answered the ad.  I began talking with him on the phone.  According to him, he was a church going, rollerblading, basketball playing single father, deeply religious, who was trying to raise his children well on his own, since his wife left him.  I told him he lived too far away for me, and I was not a church goer, and had never been rollerblading.  Still, he had a deep voice, could be funny, and seemed charming and devoted to his children.  He started sending me flowers, and calling me many times a day.  

     It was important to me to make a match, since my father had died, and my son’s father had decided he wanted nothing to do with us.  We were on our own, and I was never very good at being on my own, especially with a baby in tow.  Now that my father was gone, there wasn’t an escape hatch anymore, in case things got rough.   I also had some misplaced guilt that my son did not have a father, and felt that at two years old he was noticing that the other children did.  

     Their father and I met in July, with our children at our sides, because although we had not met before, we were already sure we were in love, so we wanted them to see what they were getting.  After that first meeting, we were together as much as possible, and by the beginning of August, we had moved in together.  Our life together started out wonderfully; at least I thought so then.  I guess I had never had a healthy relationship, and I thought jealousy, obsession, and possessiveness were just a part of showing how much you care.   

     I had married in 1989 and was with my husband for two years before he left me and I met my son’s dad while I was still officially (quite unofficially actually, which I will explain in another story) married.  My husband did not have one jealous bone in his body, and I was sure that was because he didn’t care; and maybe I was right.  So, for their father to be jealous seemed to be a good thing.  It seemed like he really loved me. 

     He was protective of me, like a father, or more like an owner.  He made me change my style of dress from cool to Christian, from mini-skirts and tight shirts to calf-length flowered dresses. I got a job waitressing in September, and I had to wear a white shirt with a bow tie.  I would go to work with my collar unbuttoned, and put the bow tie on when I got there.  I worked with a twenty-five year old gay man whom I adored.  He was so much fun to work with, and we became fast friends.  Even though I explained to their father that my co-worker was gay and had a boyfriend, he was convinced we were having an affair.  He made me button my collar before I left the house.  That wasn’t enough for him though, and he started showing up and watching us as we worked.  That job lasted for two months. 

     When I worked, he would torture me and made it impossible for me to keep the job; and sometimes even insist that I quit it.  When I didn’t have a job, and stayed home with the children, he said that I wasn’t pulling my weight, and had to get a job.  I don’t think he wanted me to work, but he spent so much, he needed me to.  

     When I was working, it drove him so crazy that he would pick fights with me when it was time to go to bed.  Sometimes, I would be asleep, and he would come home and wake me up to fight with me in the middle of the night.  When I would cry, he would tell me to be quiet, I was going to wake the children, and when I would I would try to end the fight by trying to go back to bed, he would come into the bedroom and turn the light on and make me get up and fight.  He would keep me up all night, fighting and smoking and drinking.  Sometimes the children would get up and beg us to go to bed.  I always felt that I wanted them to know it wasn’t my fault, but I knew they couldn’t understand that.  All that they could see was their parents fighting. 

     When I wasn’t working, I had to keep the apartment spotless, have three course dinners on the table every night, have the children’s homework done, and always be where he could find me.  If there was a line at the supermarket, or I got caught in traffic, I would be grilled about why it took me so long to get home.  He was always sure I was having an affair.  Even when I was working, I had to adhere to all these demands, and every night, whether we were fighting or not,  I had to be dutiful and exciting.  It was exhausting and depressing.

     I began going to a series of doctors and counselors to try to figure out what was wrong with me.  Why was I depressed and tired all the time?  The doctors prescribed antidepressants, and I had my tubes tied, since they concurred that even though they deemed me too young for that procedure, since I already had three children and was finding it difficult to cope, there was no need to add to the pressure with a fourth child.  I suppose I should be eternally grateful to the doctor who suggested that; we never had a biological child together. 

     My children were happy and were sad, depending on the mood in the house, and the mood in the house was set by his mood when he was there.  We never knew what to expect, and as the time approached for him to return from work, a collective tension would rise in our home, and the pit in my stomach would gnaw at me.  

          I would drive his car but even though we both smoked cigarettes, we did not use the ashtray.  He didn’t allow it.  He kept change in there.  I had to throw my butts out of the window.  I felt so guilty, and I thought that God must surely be mad at me; but then I realized I was more scared of their father than I was of God. 

     I left him so many times, but he always knew the way to manipulate me and make me come back.  Actually, his children used to ask me to stay when I tried to leave, because I was a buffer for them.   My son was suffering though, and the worst thing for me was that I had found a father figure for him, but I was finding out that the figure was distorted.  He really seemed to love my son, but that just made matters worse.  Now he was not just jealous, possessive and obsessive with me, but with my child, also. 

     It’s late, and there is so much more to say on this subject, and I must say it.  As touched on in the beginning of this story, it still scares me to write this and share it with the public, but this was my life for seven years, and something I will have to live with for the rest of my time here on earth.  I have made peace with their father, of a sort, and I remain devoted to all of our children.  I will continue to share this story with you, as I have done with the stories of my drug addiction and homelessness.  I am just a person on a journey, as we all are.   I will continue as a writer imparting a story of trouble, tragedy, and triumph, and finding inner peace.  I will continue to write about life.

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