Thursday, October 23, 2008

A way in which I am not very different from my 17 year old self

One day when I was 17 my parents came home from work and asked us to turn General Hospital off. My father proceeded to tell us that he was in love with someone else and that my parents would be divorcing. I have no memories of the words he said after I confirmed that he was not in fact joking. In the days and weeks that followed I had many aggressive thoughts about E (the other woman). I took out my hostility while chopping vegetables, or while thinking about chopping vegetables. I wished she would die. When my dad and E got an apartment together, I dreaded speaking to her. If she picked up the phone, I would very formally ask "May I speak to Arthur, please?" I refused his offers of bringing her to dinner with us, or an offer of a vacation which included her. Don't worry, I had plenty of hostility for my dad--he was just as culpable as she was.

Eventually I came around. I was tired of being so angry all of the time. I spoke to E. I rode in the same vehicle as her. I didn't get sick when she came to my graduation party, though I did have a glass of wine before she arrived with my dad. And when she died of breast cancer a year or two after they married, I felt terrible.

So, I thought I was past those vindictive feelings. Apparently not! A few years ago my dad went out with a woman I despised. She was awful. She manipulated him terribly. They'd break up and then get back together. He knew I didn't like her so he'd try to keep it secret--impossible since I work for him. They are finally done for good, but maintain a business relationship.

I had to write a check for her the other day. I found myself mentally putting hoaxes on it, and I very nearly spit in the envelope when I was getting it ready to mail. When I stopped myself I cracked up, and immediately recognized the 17 year old me.


sarah said...

Oh how painful. I don't blame your 17-year-old self nor your today self. Our childhoods have some similarities in this respect. I was around 15 and the thought of that time still overwhelms me with sadness and protectiveness for my mother.

cathy said...

I don't know how to say this... I love this post even though it's about pain and anger.