I suppose we shall have to name him for the purposes of storytelling, I can’t just keep calling him that man. Although I have a few names I’ve picked out over the years, I suppose I should pick something out that doesn’t offend every time you look at it. The kindest thing I can think of right now is Tucker. (And I sing to myself Tucker Tucker Bo Bucker Banana Fanna Fo FUCKER.) Yes that's why I picked it...shut up.
After Tucker's grand gesture of deciding to meet my children, I introduced them to this man that I was fervently, crazily in love with having high hopes of a gentle loving father figure for them. After all, I had watched him coddle his own children, both sets…I call them both sets because two were much older and two were the age of my smaller children. They got his unconditional love and attention and he seemed to go so far out of his way for all of them. He seemed very attentive to mine as well and by that Christmas it seemed like we were getting close to being a blended family.
My son looked up to his own father and worshipped him endlessly but was often disappointed and hurt by his behavior. I must qualify though by saying my son has high expectations from the entire human race and will most definitely let you know if you’ve disappointed him. So here I thought, “Here’s a good dad, one that loves his children to a fault and can be such a wonderful example.” As it turns out, you can only be an outspoken brat and get away with it if you’re blood related to Tucker.
He didn’t take well to a rambunctious, outspoken little boy who had already had a rough go of it by the time he was 3 and had a way of telling it like it was even when it wasn’t convenient to hear it. I’m not saying that little boy was always right but he wasn’t often wrong in his observations. He never had an unexpressed thought and old-school-seen-and-not-heard adults don’t like this type of child because you can most certainly beat it out of them if you really care about their well-being. I’m also not saying I always liked my son’s behavior but that’s who I had apparently raised and I had learned to deal with it to deal with him and we were making our way fairly well.
Tucker didn't like it at all and thus began my self-imposed subversion of my real self; the one that constantly tried to keep the peace between them and made excuses for my boy and excuses for my man. They say that abused women stay in their abusive relationships because there is a trade-off taking place and whatever they’re getting when they’re not being beaten is something they desperately want and thus, they put up with the beatings. In my case, even though one of the biggest warning bells was that this man and my son were not meshing well, I again, hit the snooze because I needed to keep those quiet times in the night when I laid in his arms and he made me feel like I was wonderful and special and perfect and more importantly, it was worth having that given to me by THIS man.
I never argued with him. We didn’t have disagreements because I acquiesced without fail or I figured out the best way to get what I needed or wanted without an argument or disagreement. I hated this person I had become but so desperately needed all the sweet talk and con-man manipulation I heard in the night that I ignored how buried my real self was becoming.
Every time I lowered my self-respect and did something else he wanted in exchange for praise I thought to myself, That wasn’t so bad, it’s over now and he so appreciates it and thinks you’re perfect. I can remember having sex that was becoming increasingly more sordid and just praying for it to be over so that I could get to the good part. The part where I was cuddled and held and wanted and cooed over and told I was perfect. I never turned him down. If I ever acted as if I were tired or didn't want to, I would hear, “Are you turning me down?” and I would always say no because I was so afraid he’d leave me. I just wish I’d had the fortitude at the time to say, “So what if he does?”
There was another trade-off that I hated to admit. I hate to admit it now, because I can almost excuse myself for being emotionally damaged enough to remain in a relationship that wasn’t good for me. But there was the money... and giving up yourself for material things is dishonorable and weak and speaks to one’s morality and poor character and it hurts me most to think back on how many times I shut my mouth or gave in and did what I didn’t want to do because I thought to myself that I would have to go back to struggling.
The money that he gave me to keep my checking account flush, the things he bought me that were extravagant and crazy, the times he took me out and showed me off and the money, oh the money. I had spent my entire life struggling to get by. As a child, I remember the struggle. I worked since I was 14 and paid my mother rent to live in my own house. I can remember leaving at 18 and struggling. Getting pregnant and married and struggling, leaving my husband with my two tiny children in tow and struggling. For the first time in my life I wasn’t struggling. I need only ask and this man would get it for me. I had a housekeeper; I had nice clothes, expensive purses…whatever I wanted.