Whom should I Vote?

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Dear Dad


I just want to let you know that I divorced R. And nobody took his side. Or even suggested he had a side.

I have accomplished something very difficult, that many women fail to accomplish over and over, and that many women get seriously injured or killed trying to accomplish: I broke away from an abusive man.

I’m really not sure why you felt it was important to tell me to expect people to take R’s side. Or why you felt the need to tell me I shouldn’t get mad.

Because he has no side. He’s 100% in the wrong. And I have every right to be mad.

Even if you didn’t understand that those were the complete wrong things to say to a woman in my position, you probably noticed that they did not help me at all, and as a matter of fact they upset me greatly.

Your response was to yell back at me and then ignore me, despite repeated attempts by me to simply smooth things over.

You know what’s wrong with that?

You weren’t the one going through a crisis. I was. That means I’m not in a position to expend energy worrying about your feelings. It’s supposed to be the other way around.

You completely failed to support me during one of the most difficult things a woman can go through.

I haven’t forgotten that you were there for me when I came back from my failed cross country move, and I’m grateful for that. I also haven’t forgotten that when I left my first husband, you called him and told him you and he would do “whatever is necessary to get her back in the house” even though he told you I was doing the right thing — and then when you couldn’t budge him, you followed up with a call to my sister with the same goal. I haven’t forgotten that you asked me “what if he doesn’t come back?” and “what if you don’t get another man?” as if the possibility I could succeed on my own was simply beyond your comprehension.

You always said I could do anything I want and be anything I want, and I didn’t need anyone. But you don’t really believe that, do you? About me, or about *any* woman. You were instrumental in getting your own mother to return to a home where she was routinely disrespected — you and your siblings even got your father a strip-o-gram at your parents’ 50th anniversary party. I can only imagine how she felt when her husband of 50 years said to her, at their celebration, with a stripper sitting in his lap, “you can go home now.” I heard it with my own ears. I was horrified. I’ve never forgotten it.

Why would you think your daughter deserved any better?

The most insidious way to undermine someone is to do it in a way that’s disguised as support.

You failed to make any attempt to reach out to me during a very difficult time for me. It was my crisis. But your priority was not to support me. Instead, you did what I assume you thought was helpful, and then when it clearly made me even more stressed you didn’t rethink or try something else — you blamed me, and then disappeared.

You know who else did that every single time? R. And I finally see that I deserve better.

I’ve made peace with my past, and I have tried to take each relationship in my family for whatever it is. So I’ve never confronted you with the fact that I know, firsthand, that you cheated on mom. Or with the fact that there were many times you made me feel uncomfortable with my body as a growing girl. Or with any mention of how difficult it was to deal with your preference for pursuing relationships with women who started out as friends of mom’s.

You were gone by the time I was in high school. I didn’t have a “daddy” I could depend on, and I didn’t grow up with an example of how a man should treat a woman, to show me what to expect and what not to tolerate. That certainly contributed to my ongoing difficulty in navigating personal relationships.

I don’t dwell on any of that. I’ve learned enough and become strong enough to walk away from an abusive relationship. I’m not caught up in the past — I can’t afford to be.

But the fact that the same old dynamic — respond the way I want or I’ll ignore you — happened from you just as I was finally walking away from a man who used it, and worse, to control me for years…that’s the straw that has broken this camel’s back. I won’t play that game anymore, with anyone.

You don’t want to talk to me? Fine. You don’t care that you’ll miss your grandson growing up? Fine. Your pride is more important to you than your child’s well being? Your choice.

NONE of that is a reflection on me — not when R does it, and not when you do it. I finally get that.

I won’t be chasing after either one of you.

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