Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Middle Daughter continued

I saw her twice the first year after the marriage. Once she was with him, and once I saw her alone. Both times at my house. The second time she invited me to go with them to Jordan over the holidays. I was depressed at the time, as is usual during the holidays, and declined her invitation. I also thought I had no business going on a trip with her and her husband. The almost mother-in-law on the almost honeymoon? No.

When she and I were alone, I asked her about the husband and heard things that worried me. I listened to her words and the tone of her voice as she denied being bothered by his spending days and nights and days and nights at his studio. He was experiencing a burst of creativity and had a deadline. Okay. I will not pry. If she's okay with it, why shouldn't I be? I'm that kind of mother. If you're ready to talk, I'm ready to listen. But I will not pry.

The third time I saw them was a little more than a year ago. I was trying to find a way to have my daughters near and to get my teeth fixed. Both the youngest and the middle daughter have expressed interest in owning the front house. It would make it possible for me to live out my life in the little house while not having the burden of the main house to deal with--no more taxes, no more insurance, no more repairs. Plus a bit of income and security. I liked the idea, but in talking with the middle daughter with the husband present she seemed worried about my long term care. He brother was one of her partners. I had no problem with that, but I didn't know the husband that well, and I suspected that he would be a problem. I'm not sure why. It was then I asked him to install a programable thermostat in the main house. He took it, said he'd read the instructions and get back to me. I never heard from him again.

Then I got an invitation to my middle daughter's graduation for getting her Masters Degree two days before the event. It came during a mild case of agoraphobia. I didn't go. But I did send her $50. in cash in a happy graduation card. It was the least I could do, and I knew it wasn't half good enough. I'd have liked to send her roundtrip first class tickets to anywhere she wanted with the partner of her choice. But I couldn't. And in my shame of not being able to do my best, I didn't do enough.

Friday she called me. She sounded good. She was at work. She asked if she could drop by afterwork. I said, "Of course." When I hung up I began to panic. The day before, one of my girlfriends had asked about her. When I told her how long it had been since I'd seen her, we speculated about the possible failure of her marriage. I also worried about her health and then her parent's health. So I went into a cleaning frenzy. I shopped. I tried to throw together a meal I thought she might like. When the youngest daughter came home I told her I was nervous. She said, "Don't be nervous. She knows how you live." I thought that was a little insulting, but recognized it as the truth and said nothing.

Four came and went, then five. The phone rang. It was my friend Z who is a real mother of grown children. I told her about my anxiety, and she said, "We're already on our way." "Who are you coming with?" "Queen Esther and Ms Miller." Two other friends who are real mothers of grown children. I was so relieved. Backup. And backup that was at least a couple of hours away since Queen Esther is always late.

When my middle daughter arrived I was alone. The youngest had removed the lock from the gate, had turned the outside lights on and taken Roscoe in her house. So my middle daughter could walk back here unmolested without having to call for help with the lock. See? I have very sweet children. She arrived carrying dinner. Pita sandwiches of ground lamb and greens and herbs. A huge order of fries. We hugged. She sat on the couch and started moving things off the coffee table so we could get to eating. It was delicious. But I had the feeling we were just getting something out of the way so we could get to the something important.

She has been living with a secret sneaky alcoholic who sleeps all day and stays at his studio all night. He has stolen a large bottle of the oxycontin she takes to manage the pain she lives with. Huge street value, so we speculate as to his reason for the theft. To sell or to take, that is the question. She says she talked to her father about the marriage and he said, "Go and get him and bring him home." I groan. I look her in the eyes and say, "Oh god no." She says, "I feel so guilty," and starts to cry. I take her in my arms and say, "You have nothing to feel guilty about. Your father is speaking from his cultural tradition. It's a knee jerk reaction. What did your mother say?"

This brings on more tears. "My mother had a heart attack. I had to fly home." Again I hug her and wait. "I left him with money to pay the bills before I left, I told him when to pay which bill. He didn't pay any of them. My mother's heart muscle was damaged. She will never be the same. You know she always smoked." Pregnant pause, arched eyebrow. "Yes, I know. She and I are alike in that." "They've moved into the new house. They finally got it built. And my Mom has to live in the garage because she can't live in her house." For a moment I'm confused. Which mom is she talking about and then I realize it's me. Then she tells me that the Palestinian women are so strong. When the women heard about her situation they said to divorce the bastard. And finally her father came around. But when she got back to Salt Lake she discovered that they are two months behind in the rent. He did not pay the bills. The prick she's married to has put her living space in jeopardy. The landlord is irate, but not crazy. She pays the back rent. She tries to get her fucked up husband to sit down and prepare taxes. It makes him anxious. But she does convince him to go to couples therapy. This surprises me.

The therapist tells him he must go to AA. He claims not to have a problem he can't control. He stole her fucking oxycontin. I'm thinking he should be prosecuted. He doesn't need help? So divorce him. Do it quickly. My middle daughter says, "I'm going to file the taxes and then I'm going to file for divorce." I think we're making progress here. She says he still comes and goes. I say, "Change the lock." "But his clothes are there." "Bag them and give him a call to tell him they will be in the entry." "I'm afraid he'll kill himself." "Has he threatened it?" "Not exactly, but he wrote me a poem and there was blood on it." "He's a blackmailing prick. It's a manipulation." He's a con. "He's self medicating, he works for days on end on an artistic endeavor. I'm thinking he might be bipolar." I always go there. If a child lived in the household I'd probably think he was a pedophile. I project male bad behavior to crazy, pathological men.

Then the "mothers" arrive. After the hugs and greetings, I give them the cliff's notes on middle daughter's marriage situation. And we settle in to examining this marriage. We want to give her the best advise possible. It is unanimous--the bastard must go. Then we talk about our own marital mistakes and how long it took us to admit the mistake we made in marrying at all. We call this time of staying, once you know you have no idea who the person you thought you'd married really is, the wasted years. My middle daughter has stayed with this man three years. She's done her best under the circumstances. Time to cut her losses.

Then we mothers entertain ourselves with stories of acid trips past. One story was told during this part of the evening that will turn itself into a short story soon. Someone was shot in Berlin at the Dead Goat. Trust me, it's hilarious.

The youngest and middle daughter made plans to get together, exchanged phone numbers and the middle daughter left around eleven. I think she's going to be fine. The next evening she called the youngest daughter to get together at a bar to meet a couple of male friends of middle daughter's. The daughters unite. There is work yet to do on getting disentangled from the bad husband. But she's now looking forward, not back at the mistake that started it all. I blame it all on the cultural notion that a woman must marry or she isn't complete. It is rooted in Religion and the universal suppression of the female that is at the heart of all religions, and that's political. Everything's political.


BBC said...

Everything's political.

Bullshit, everything is emotional.

Laura said...

I'm so sorry that things didn't work out for her! And I had such high hopes when I heard he was an EX-morman.. :D
I have a niece (a morman one) that is marrying a huge dick. Simply because she feels she has to be married to be complete. (or to get into the hightest degree of heaven.. I can't remember!)... anyhow.. did I mention he's a HUGE dick?
Loved this story! I'm glad that she's going to be okay. :)
(((hugs))) Laura

Randal Graves said...

I don't think the Wiccans are about keeping down the babes.

That said, the dude seems to be quite the piece of work.

You all have so much more interesting stories than I.

Someone was shot in Berlin at the Dead Goat.

I think that's the first appearance of that sentence in the English language.

MRMacrum said...

Real life has no happy endings. Life is but a series of ups and downs that only end when we leave as we came in.

Utah Savage said...

Sunshine, Thanks for the good wishes for her. Until they are actually divirced and she's changed the locks I will be uneasy.

You probably are right about the Wicanns, I just don't ususally think Wican with I thin big organized patriarchal religion. Sill, you're right. And you're probably right that those exact words have never been uttered in the English language. And it was Queen Esther who was shot in Berlin at the Dead Goat. Put that in you pipe and pretend to smoke it.

MRMacrum, that's true. But I'm glad this particular part of the roller coaster ride will soon be over. Let us try the boats on the lake for awhile.

gfid said...

ve tehk ghutt kaire uff our froinds (uhndt kindersz), undt, zhey tehk ghutt kaire uff uzzh. i zeenk you uhlreddy know ze prrrrehzkripzhon. no charch for zis appointmehnt.

Utah Savage said...

Danka. I hope I spelled that right. If not thank you for the comment Gfld

Amos said...

Men are such assholes.

Utah Savage said...

I hear men say that often and wonder about the reason. Can't you men talk to one another and explain that the way to a woman's heart is not to be an asshole? And once inside that heart the way to break it is to become an asshole. Then she can never trust you again.

Amos said...

They can't help it, it's genetic.

Judy Weir said...

You hit the nail on the head with that second to last sentence. Amen.

Linda McGeary said...

I think life is more emotional than political, or maybe even more experiential. We form our thoughts and beliefs based on the experiences we have. Everything is re-evaluated with each new experience, which will confirm or break former paradigms.
Men don't have a monopoly on being assholes.
It's a people thing.
There certainly are religions that promote male dominance, and that is always wrong.
The inherent worth of a person has nothing to do with gender. It just is.
There are happy endings. Never the less, they are endings. And sometimes you have to work through the sad to get to the happy part, but there are healthy and happy relationships out there.
Certainly you don't have to have one to be complete. In fact, I'd say you won't have a happy relationship unless you already are a whole, complete person.
I found your family story very interesting, and hope your "daughter" will do fine as she move into this new experience in her life.

susan said...

If more young women spent some time actually listening to older women I think a lot of trouble could be avoided. The good news is she doesn't appear to have children to support now.

Utah Savage said...

Yes, Susan, that's why I summoned The Mothers. I though an intervention was called for. Best of all, she made a real connection with the youngest daughter.

The Crow said...

Every young woman should have a friend like you, US. Wish I had had such a friend, in fact!

Utah Savage said...

Well you do now darling.

The Crow said...

I am honored. Thank you.

Beach Bum said...

This is the prime reason I'm teaching my daughter that men are pigs. I know that the occasional decent guy catches hell for all the rotten apples that came before him but life ain't fair.

Katie Schwartz said...

Oy yoy yoy, such aggita. I am so sorry, doll. I'm thankful she has you and YOU are very there for her to help her through this. She sounds as if she has a good head on her shoulders and an excellent support system.

he sounds like a raging hot, evil mess.

I'm not a fan of marriage for myself. I understand how important it is to others. Like you, I believe that nobody should feel they have to get married to accomodate society, etc.

Katie Schwartz said...

Oops. Society's expectations. Duh, schwartz

Tengrain said...

As Dan Savage says, "all of your relationship will fail, until one doesn't."

I hate watching strong women go weak -- especially around men and marriage, and I suspect we are enough alike that you do too, Utah.

I've watched variations on this theme my whole life, and the trap is that there is nothing you can say to stop it in its tracks.



Utah Savage said...

Yes, we are alike Tengrain. It's the best thing about me.

lisahgolden said...

Wow - yes, she needs to get out before there are other entanglements that make it harder to end the marriage.

Anonymous said...

Men always seem to have some sort of need to dominate Women. Why? Because it makes a little man feel big and that's the only way they know how! Ha! Lets have a go at men day!
I was wondering about the 'days and nights and days and nights' have you thought about 'days and nights and nights and days' instead?I don't know maybe it changes the whole meaning of what you are trying to convey. Just a thought, you. Take or trash.
I love your humour you always seem to have contained amongst the seriousness and really enjoy your writings.