Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Things Mr. K. Did Wrong
You guys. Once more unto the breach. That's Shakespeare. Big whoop. In any case, there's one last thing I wrote before we roll credits on this marriage. If my husband won't listen, if the counselor won't listen, I know you guys will listen. But it's okay if you want to skip some. It's superlong. And that's not what she said. Dirty. Anyway, one more round.
Response to Counseling Session, Part 2
Mr. K. has had a lot to say about what I did during our children’s formative years. I’d like a turn now to observe how Mr. K. behaved during that time.
Mr. K. worked hard to make the money our family needed to thrive, and I don’t want to minimize that. He is an excellent provider. As much as we fought about money and the best way to spend it, we never wanted for anything. I know that Mr. K. wished he could stay at home and do fun things with the kids. I felt sorry that we weren’t able to swing that financially. I felt that Mr. K. resented me because I got to stay home.
When I was pregnant, I read books, made a birth plan, went to childbirth classes. I think Mr. K. found these things awkward and they made him uncomfortable. He didn’t seem to enjoy the Bradley classes we attended. He didn’t want to do the exercises. Once the kids arrived, he refused to change diapers. Three kids. I think he changed maybe ten diapers. It was a big joke.
Since the very beginning, Mr. K. needed more sleep than I did. I got up with the babies in the night and changed them and fed them, while Mr. K. slept on. It was hurtful to me that he wouldn’t wake up to help me. I told him that many times. He responded with polite indifference. Occasionally he would joke that since I was already up, he didn’t need to get up too.
He wanted to sleep in on the weekends and I did my best to make sure he could do that. When the children reached school age, I would get up with them each day, help them get ready, and get to school on time. I drove the carpool when it was our turn. In the mornings, I would be concerned that Mr. K. was oversleeping. I would gently shake his shoulder and ask whether he needed to going for work and he would be annoyed with me that I had woken him up.
Because he was had to be away from them all day during the week, weekends were precious quality time. Mr. K. was passionate about family trips, Saturday excursions, Sunday trips to the zoo. While we all enjoyed these outings, it often seemed that his idea was solely to entertain the children. I used to joke that we could never get divorced because he was already a weekend dad.
He did lots of projects with the kids and they got a lot out of the knowledge and experience he brought to our family. At the same time, Mr. K. acted as though playing was more important than learning important life lessons as though the two were mutually exclusive.
While he loved to go places with the kids, there were events and excursions and weekend trips that Mr. K. did not attend. An annual spring weekend in Yosemite was an event that the families from school put together. I think in the fourteen years we have been attending, Mr. K. went with us possibly three times. Throughout those formative years, the ones that only come around once, the ones that he claims that I demolished, "Where's Mr. K.?" was a question I heard more times than I can count.
Throughout the decade that I managed the children’s schedule and got them everywhere they needed to go and insured that they had all the supplies, clothing and equipment they needed to bring with them, I heard very little from Mr. K. in this regard. I think he was in awe of how I could take care of everything with such efficiency. We used to chalk it up to the hypomania of bipolar disorder. We laughed together about the man who thought he was a chicken. His wife didn’t want the doctor to cure him because they needed the eggs. My ability to manage multiple projects, a side “benefit” of being hypomanic, was the egg our family couldn’t do without.
Now I would like to talk about my bipolar disorder and the support I needed to get it under control and to manage it. Mr. K. says that he was panicked for years about what to do. He saw me struggling, but felt powerless to do anything to help me. He stood by, wringing his hands, and watching the debacle unfold. At the same time, he blamed me and judged me and resented me. He felt he needed to protect the children from me. Looking back on it now, I’d like to raise a few points about that.
If I was that out of control, if the children’s well-being were truly in jeopardy, I think Mr. K. would have, or should have, taken charge to change that situation. If he truly felt he needed to protect them, he should have done so by intervening as soon as he realized they were in danger. If he were truly worried about what was going on with me, if he felt that my illness was out of control, he would have and should have taken over and forced me to get some help. He has made it clear that he feels I was out of control. If that were the case, how could I possibly take the necessary steps on my own to realize that, seek treatment, and regain control? I did eventually come to that conclusion on my own, and sought help on my own. Mr. K. likes to talk about how worried he was, but looking back, I see now that he was very passive, taking no initiative to get me the help I couldn’t recognize that I needed for myself.
Now I would like to talk about how focusing on my bipolar disorder and things that happened years ago is a very useful smokescreen to avoid talking about the more recent events that have led us to the brink of our marriage and family life. Mr. K.’s indulgence in Troubled’s wayward behavior and his dismissal of my protests have led us to this point far more directly than events from the distant past ever could. If Mr. K. is going to assert that Troubled is living in a crack house with a drug dealer because I yelled at her a lot ten years ago, then I feel confident that my decision to end this marriage is valid. There is no way that such a relationship can or even should continue.
It is cowardly to hide behind issues from the past to avoid facing the current ones. Mr. K. is determined to keep rehashing scenes from our past in order to deny that his alcoholism has prevented him from taking an active role in our parenting partnership. It has prevented him from paying attention to what is happening in our family. It has prevented him from seeing how destructive his own behavior has been. If our counseling sessions are not going to address this, then I want no part of them.
The Fall of the House of Klon began in earnest when Troubled first met Juvie and sneaked him into her room overnight. She neither sought permission nor asked for forgiveness. Troubled moved Juvie into our house without seeking permission. When I questioned her about it, she would tell me that Dad said it was okay. It became clear to me that Troubled was talking to Mr. K. about these things after he had had a few shots of alcohol and sometimes an Ambien. She would eke out the answer she sought and he would have no recollection of her having done so.
Around this time Juvie’ friends began to hang around the house. Sometimes they were there when no one else was. When The Gamer came home from school one day, there was a stranger passed out on the couch in the living room. The Gamer had brought a friend home from school that day. But it turned out that they went to his friend’s house instead, because they couldn’t rouse the man and it creeped them out. Troubled and Juvie smoked pot in the house constantly. I would insist that they stop. I was met with derision. Mr. K. did nothing to back me up.
It was around this time that Mr. K. was hospitalized for the second time with pancreatitis. (His first bout, two years earlier, required a week-long stay. The doctors told me to watch out for signs of alcohol withdrawal, which can be fatal.)
I took him to the hospital the morning after he had fallen in the bathroom so hard that he broke the toilet tank. He had washed down his Ambien with vodka. That stay in the hospital lasted only three days. I sat in the room, holding Mr. K.’s hand, when the doctor told him he couldn’t drink at all with his condition. Mr. K. confided to me later that he didn’t think he could face life without alcohol. In the next breath he told me that that wasn’t what the doctor had said, that he’d be okay if he just cut down.
Troubled began to fail her classes. She would go to work high. She let Juvie drive our car. When I protested because Juvie wasn’t insured, Mr. K. contradicted me in front of Troubled, saying, “It’s the car that’s insured, not the driver. It’s fine.” It turned out that it wasn’t fine. The car was impounded when the police discovered that Juvie was driving with a suspended license. Mr. K gave Juvie money to clear the warrants. I paid off the car loan rather than ruin my credit with the bank. And still nothing was said, still nothing was done. Still I was cast as the villain when I demanded that this madness stop.
Troubled came home with a puppy, again without permission or apology or acknowledgment or gratitude that we would allow it. She was incapable of managing the puppy’s housetraining and it shat everywhere, but oftentimes, she wouldn’t clean it up. I threw a fit one day because I found five piles of puppy shit throughout the house and no one made a move to help me clean it up. Troubled and Mr. K. rolled their eyes at me. Mr. K. allied with Troubled to my face, agreeing with her that I was unreasonable, encouraging her to disrespect me by doing the same. That was the first time I left. I spent the day at a friend’s, asking, “Does this seem right to you?” Of course it did not. Not even a little bit. Not even close.
But still it continued. It got worse, if that’s even possible. Juvie finally moved out shortly before the end of the year. Because he insisted that he had nowhere else to go, he began sleeping in his broken down Cadillac that he had had towed to our cul-de-sac. I called the Abandoned Vehicle Hotline several times in the hopes that they’d tow the car away. But every few days, Juvie and his friends would push the car a few yards down the road, and then back again a few days later. And still Mr. K. said nothing, did nothing. At one point, the pair spent several nights in our SUV parked in our driveway. They ran an extension cord from the house to the car so that they could watch movies on our daughter’s laptop. Mr. K. called it “romantic.”
During this time, Juvie was arrested at least once that I know of. The police were aware of Juvie and his proximity to us. They came one Sunday to tell us that Juvie’s ex-girlfriend had attacked the pair while they slept in the Cadillac around the corner. I had to sit and listen to the police lecture me on my poor parenting skills and what I should do to correct the situation with my daughter. I was furious beyond measure. And still Mr. K. did nothing. Still I couldn’t convince him that action was required.
It was around this time that I realized I could no longer tolerate the way Mr. K. ignored my concerns, refused to acknowledge how dangerous the situation was getting, dismissed me and blamed me and called me crazy and selfish. I began to believe him when he told me there was nothing wrong, that the problem was with me. It was like a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up. I moved to a friend’s house because I couldn’t take the madness any more. Mr. K. admonished me that I had “broken the rules” by taking our private issues out into the public eye. I was having trouble processing any of this. He had changed so much from the man I fell in love with so many years ago.
I spent as much time as I could with The Gamer. I couldn’t bring myself to make him leave his home, so I did my best to make sure he was taken care. I made sure he knew to call me if he had a problem or wanted to talk about what was going on. I continually asked him if he understood that what was going on was wrong. He assured me that “the takeaway was: stay in school.” I would leave work in the afternoon to spend time with The Gamer after school. After I saw him through homework and dinner, I would return to work and stay late to make up the time. This was during tax season, when I was working 15 hour days as it was.
The slide hasn’t really ended, although at every step along the way you would think that that rung was the bottom. Currently our daughter lives somewhere in another town twenty miles away, in a room that we haven’t seen, for which we give her $400 per month for part of the rent. She claims to be taking online classes but I have not seen the bill nor the receipt for these classes. She does have a job making sandwiches at the deli counter of a large supermarket chain. But she posts pictures on Instagram in which she and Juvie are smoking pot. The most recent picture was of Juvie holding a bag of pot with $20 and $100 bills spread out over his thighs. It added up to over a thousand dollars. Yes, I counted. it’s what I do. Clearly they are selling drugs.
At this point I need to stop talking about what we should do because there really is nothing to do. I have simply given up. Mr. K. is just beginning to see how hopeless the situation has become. Whether he will ever admit that he encouraged and exacerbated it through his failure to take action at any point along the way doesn’t matter now. The damage has been done.
Nevertheless, I feel compelled to tell the story as it is instead of how Mr. K. would like it to be. The fact that I even have to defend myself in light of recent events is ludicrous. I look back with disbelief at the pages I have written here. It looks even more incongruous on paper than it does in my head. My daughter is living in a crack house with a drug dealer. But it’s not because my illness was uncontrolled when she was growing up. Not even a little. Not even close.
Posted by Mina Klonopina at 11:58 PM