I am not unsympathetic.
It is not my job to beat the shit out of anyone dating my daughter if I think he's being anything I think he shouldn't be being.
More clear? If he's being a dick.
no matter how much I want to skin him alive.
By now I should not have to sit here and waste 500 - 1000 words defending the next 3000+ by explaining that I UNDERSTAND the effing human condition, and I am entirely SYMPATHETIC, and my COMPASSION is boundless (it is not). I'll get this out of the way quickly:
- Everybody Hurts (REM)
- Excitable Boy (Warren Zevon)
- Charlie Darwin (The Low Anthem)
- Hurt (Johnny Cash)
- 13 Reasons Why (Netflix, season 2 just released: WATCH IT)
- Trouble Me (10,000 Maniacs)
- These are the Days (10,000 Maniacs)
- Hey You (Pink Floyd)
- Four Strong Winds (Ian Tyson/Neil Young)
I haven't got the energy to tell the story as it turns out and laying out the punchline without the story just makes the kid sound like an asshole, not a sociopath and maybe that's all he is. I guess I'm looking at my tremendously vulnerable daughter having gotten herself tangled up in a terribly codependent, emotionally abusive relationship struggle with the fallout with her arm caught in the proverbial bear trap.
In sixteen months she's managed to lose every friend she had (they still love her but the relationships are pretty much shot but I'll come back to this) as well as the self confidence in herself she was beginning to develop.
"I know I need to break up with him, just not yet, I don't want to, not yet."
Those are my words coming out of that kid's mouth and I did tell her so and she does know that too which just makes it more awful.
Why Elizabeth? Why?
Because I love him. He makes me happy!
When does he make you happy?
Well, it's been a few months. I'm waiting for him to come back...
We talk about basic needs which aren't being met and I won't discuss them but I will tell you that it's heart breaking. I expected to hear cranky teenage things but I didn't hear those things at all. I heard very adult things, sad things, things that happen to men and women when their lovers abandon them emotionally but fail to walk away. Things that happen when the Lover stops loving but requires the attention and devotion of the no longer Loved. Oh, God, it was brutal to hear.
So, this happened.
She wanted very badly to go to her senior prom and accepted as far back as last year that it wasn't going to happen because the biggest regatta of the year was the same weekend, every year. She accepted it gracefully. Last year she went with a friend because the relationship was new enough that she thought she could. Apparently that wasn't true. She's still paying for it.
In any event, he quit rowing (again) because he wasn't going to row at regatta this year (that's what happens when you stop and start and stop and start) but he was expected to be there. He quit one week before her senior prom and ticket sales were closed but she so wanted to go and he said, yes. I expect he thought it wouldn't happen.
Of course it happened. She made it happen. I gave her a check, forms and waivers were signed, he was 'tuxified' and she said, don't worry, Mom, I'll recycle the dress from the Red and White (bless you, my child not to mention that you'll wear a winter dress that half these girls have ALREADY SEEN ON YOU (only color dictates season around here) to a June prom ohmygod you freaking do not CARE what these people think, do you?!))
She was giddy. I was delighted. Lucia came to do her hair. We did it together in the kitchen, watching the video on Elizabeth's phone until we figured out exactly how THAT was supposed to work and then we shellacked her head. She packed up her stuff and we headed to Brianna's house to dress and shellack her face (I can never tell she's shellacked her face how the hell is that possible she's got six layers on and yes this pisses her off)
I sat in the car on a conference call. Eventually I got bored, put the phone on mute and took a long walk. By the time I got back, T and his parents were just getting out of the car. We said hello, everyone smiled, I teased T about his hair, he grinned, and we went inside. Everything was FINE.
When we went inside, an hour and change after my arrival, the girls were still upstairs. We all stood around in the kitchen waiting for them. They sounded like a herd of elephants. Giggling elephants. They sounded exactly the way you might want 17 and 18 year old girls on the edge of the known world, days from last class about to begin their internships before graduation to sound.
It was the sound that children make, five and six year old children who have known no pain make running under a sprinkler in late July. It is an exponent of that sound; it is the ripple of that sound bouncing off the walls that have contained them all of their known lives. My stomach clenched and the hair stood up on my arms and I thought, it's OK if I cry here. Nobody in this room isn't going to understand and I looked up.
And it was terrible.
I'd never seen his face like that before. He looked like he wanted to hurt something. I literally jumped. I had been standing right next to him, this boy I've known well. This boy I have spent hours with, just he and me hanging out talking about stuff. He looked at me like I should die.
T, what's wrong?
Ok. You don't' look like nothing's wrong.
T. This is me.
A few minutes later he talked to his father and then he was on the back deck talking to his therapist.
Which is where he stayed for the next thirty minutes while people came and went and eventually photographs were taken. There are lovely, lovely group photos with lots of people and Elizabeth. She does not stand out, not everyone has a date. She is patient with him and she is compassionate. There is a very good chance that she is not suffering yet.
Eventually he comes out.
I am happy this is a weapon free home.
I talk to his mother. She tells me to just let him be and 'don't go down that path with him'.
Well that's fine, I don't have to go down that path, but she will.
Later I ask him to come in the kitchen and I say, T, don't do this for Elizabeth. She will be OK if you decide not to go. She will not be OK if you decide to go and really don't want to go. Do you want to go, T?
No, not really. But I talked to my therapist and we decided I should just go and see how I feel about it.
(I about lost my mind)
There were some more photographs. They are awful. The only time I saw him smile was when he was with a group of his friends.
Later they all got in a van and drove off to the Marriott.
When they arrived he told her he was going home and sent a text to his father at which point he looked at her in such a way that she believed he never wanted to talk to her again. She sat with him on a bench outside and waited. He never looked at her or spoke to her during the thirty minute wait.
When his parents arrived, his mother walked Elizabeth into the prom and found one of her friends. Here's the part about her friends:
They took VERY good care of her despite what happened after T got home.
After T got home:
All the girls carry their cell phones around. They never put them down. Not even when they dance. I find this hilarious.
T started sending messages. They were alarming. They were abusive. They were non-stop.
The whole night got out of hand. It ended with me taking Elizabeth's phone away, T sending a non-stop string of messages to me, me calling T's father, T's mother asking me to bring Elizabeth to the house at 11:30 so they could 'talk it out' (WHAT FUCKING PLANET DO YOU LIVE ON?!) and me holding Elizabeth on the couch until I have no idea when.
It was a weekend event which involved me talking to both parents for three hours. Elizabeth's father, me and Elizabeth strategizing about boundaries for another couple of hours, me having a very private meltdown in the car in the driveway for, um, two hours, and then me driving out of here at 5:30 on Monday morning scared to death.
T won't speak to me.
He's not allowed in the house anymore if I'm not here and if I am here, the bedroom door can't be closed. Basically what I've done is removed easy access to physical intimacy. That doesn't mean they won't be here when I'm gone; it means the permission is gone. It means the approval is gone.
T won't speak to me.
He was here last weekend because he needed help on a paper he was writing and as he came up the walkway I smiled and said hello, he muttered, wouldn't make eye contact and brushed past me. I called Elizabeth out of the house and said the same thing to her that I said to Lucia so many years ago when the boy from all the way across the state drove down to see her and...
...got out of the car and she and I made our way up out of the back yard to greet him. I came from one direction and she came from a slightly different angle but I got there about five paces in front of her. I said, hello. He said nothing and looked the other direction and then at the ground. I held my hand out and said, hello. I'm Ms Alecto, it's nice to meet you. My hand remained outstretched until eventually it held something limp. I withdrew the offer.
Lucia, when you bring someone to my home, one of the things they need to master first is this: They need to be able to look your mother in the eye and say, hello, Ms Alecto, how are you? If they are someone who wants to date you, boy or girl, they have to shake my hand. That's a rule. Basic manners, Lucia. If they are not housebroken to my standards do not bring them home.
(My house, my rules. Shut up.)
I explained this to Elizabeth and said I was NOT picking on T. I expect this of anyone crossing my threshold.
T is working on it.
Do you see anything wrong with this picture?
T is very well trained. He knows how to look someone in the eye and say hello civilly.
Well, he needs to talk to you.
Well, he's kind of upset.
Back the truck up. I'm not going there with T. T and I are done like that. We no longer have a parenting sort of relationship where I'm going to be willing to listen to him tell me he's mad about something he ought to have his ass kicked for because Elizabeth?
Elizabeth, shit just got real. His parents are doing the soft and squishy with him. He comes over here and I'm going to do 'in the real world with him'. What do you think I would say to T if T told me he was mad about anything that happened that night?
You'd tell him he was an asshole.
At the very least.
Mom, he says he can't help it.
Well now. Right there. Right there is my bottom line. This is the part where if I was one of those parents who followed the law of 'you fuck with my kid and I'll skin you alive' - I'd skin him alive.
But I don't. This isn't on me. It's on her.
It really sucks to be Elizabeth right now.
And I didn't say I was without compassion. I have plenty of compassion. The problem is we confuse compassion with agreement or tolerance or compliance when it isn't any such thing at all.