The Cat Came Back, It Wouldn’t Stay Away

Okay, I have lost it again and am opening a can. But this is good, so don’t worry. I didn’t even cry when I wrote this.

The Franny came back today, bursting with news. The unholy wedding of Seattle Federline and That Poor Woman came to pass. Franny said the best part involved some other children (new cousins?) and some bunkbeds, and “Oh, yeah, the wedding, too.” Sometimes her polite diplomacy really reaches toxic levels. She was the head flowergirl, one of five (!!!). I asked if her baby sister was the ring pillow and she said she wasn’t, but the baby was made to wear a tutu.

“How was that?” I said.

“It was dumb, she should have been wearing her normal clothes.”

And she totally remembered to ask about the tattoo! She told Supa and me at lunch today. This was the trigger that made my can open, so to speak.

“What did he say?” I said.

“He said No.”

“No?” I said. “Like, no, under his new tattoo is not my name?”

“Yeah, Mom, he said no.”

Supa’s eyes goggled out of her head.

“Your dad lied,” I said, surprised in spite of myself. She looked at me and kind of blinked.

“I saw it,” said Supa. “I saw it after he had it done.”

“That Poor Woman has seen it, too,” I said. “He had it for the first few months they dated. People know it existed.”

Franny looked from me to Supa and then shrugged. What can you say?

I don’t mean to go after my kid. I don’t know what to say to her at times like this. I told her about the tattoo offhandedly one night, and I told myself that she probably wouldn’t remember, but she did, and she asked him, and he lied about it in front of his new wife, who knows about the tattoo.

So I have decided to stop saying things like this all together. It doesn’t change anything, and it just puts her in the position where her dad lies to her. This has been happening since the divorce, where she comes back and tells me something that he’s told her that’s really untrue. His new wife has said a couple things to me, too, that he told her that have no basis in reality. My reality, anyway. I’m prepared for the possibility the sky is actually orange, I guess.

When they first got together, when he was still telling me he wanted to get back together and have another baby with me, he told me his plan for dating TPW was not to tell her his secrets, meaning about his past. I have often wondered how much she knows, but at the same time I don’t think she cares. So I am laying down the aggro and walking away from it. Franny’s dad will find other things to lie to her about without my involvement, because he’s the type of guy who lies needlessly to people.

I know we all do this with history. Our memories are bad, and get worse with age and children. We want to portray ourselves in the best light. The real story comes from whoever wins the wars, or the one with the loudest voice, right?

I remember early on, when he and I were still speaking. Before he sexually assaulted me. I didn’t tell you about that before. That was the second event in my life that almost killed me. Franny remembers waking up to me crying in my new apartment but she doesn’t know what happened. I wrote a cartoon about it and court in general here.

Now I feel like my silence is totally unbroken: Hey, my husband sexually assaulted me after we were separated. How about degrading someone you can no longer control? It’s the new fucking purse dog, yo. Now you know part of the reason I hate him so much. He went to court and said it was consensual. Of course, what else was he going to say?

Before I filed for divorce he used to call me at my office and tell me how we could knock boots and that my companion and TPW didn’t have to know. We could have another baby, it will be great. I WOULD KNOW. IT WOULD NOT BE GREAT. I’d rather stick my arm in a fucking thresher.

Anyway, I was going to tell you something that happened when he and I were still speaking. The subject of my mom came up, and he turned to me and said, “Your mom says she never disowned you.” My mom disowned me when I was seventeen. She said, “Come into my bedroom, I want to talk to you.” I sat down and she said that she didn’t care what I did anymore. “I disown you,” she said. That was the first thing that almost killed me. I moved out shortly after that. And hey, guess what? I got back on the honor roll before I graduated. Go, Asshole.

It is like scrubbing your insides with sandpaper to hear that people never did things that almost killed you. I know what being torn in two is like. That tore me in two. I thought I was going to die of a broken heart right there.

My mom called me up in February and told me I need therapy, because of some of the stuff I write about people (meaning her; I deleted the post I wrote about our falling out over Christmas).

I need therapy. She should know, she watched me go from loved and secure and well-adjusted to fucked up when she took me back from my grandma’s to live with my new stepfather at six years old. THIS IS MY THERAPY. Damn, what am I supposed to do? I keep running is circles on these things in my head, and in my art, but I am feeling better. Things are getting better. I don’t have anxiety attacks anymore. I haven’t cut myself for eleven years.

I was afraid to write completely openly about these huge specters in my life, my ex-husband and my mother, but I am not afraid anymore. Both things are out of my immediate space now, and I feel better. For a long time I hoped I could get away from things like this, but you never can, really, because they will still be in your own head. So I guess it’s okay that I hear about things from afar.

How do you rebuild your life when you are torn in two? I don’t know. Watch this space, I am still working on it.

I can still see the ghost of the tattoo of his name that’s on my shoulder, under my newer one. I am going to show Franny when she gets home, and that will close the matter on my end. I am trying to tell her you can try to rewrite history, but sometimes the ghosts are still there.

35 thoughts on “The Cat Came Back, It Wouldn’t Stay Away

  1. ay. what a fucking tool. the ex and the moms. and perhaps (chaining cupboards shut?) the stepdad, too?

    you got huevos grandes, girl. it was rough to read, no doubt rougher to live. hope any part of that felt better to unload.

  2. People who can revise history to their own liking, another way to say liar.

    Amazing story. Sorry you had to go through that.

  3. I’m sorry that you have been treated badly by fucked up people. That is so wrong. I am happy, however, that you have Supa as a friend.

  4. I am constantly amazed by your ability to lay it out and laugh at it and take back the night. It is so hard to deal with people who just Will Not Tell The Truth–that’s my dad!–and it breaks my heart! If blogging it all helps, then you’re doing the right thing.

  5. I get the feeling Franny’ll see, as the years pass, the true nature of Seattle Federline. Poor girl. But she has you and companion to look to for good role models. Living well is the best revenge and all that…karma’s a bitch, yo, sounds like his assholery will be his final punishment.

  6. wow. powerful. I also feel that way about lies and when people lie about the worst possible shit.

    I was also disowned (at 16) but some kind of crazy revisionist history or early onset alzheimers or maybe superpowers made my parents forget it completely. Strangely that scene in the kitchen where they sat me down for the Disowning talk is burned into my brain. I could recite it all word for word, it was so painful.

  7. I am profoundly moved by the guts it took to write this. You give so much strength to those of us who have dealt with something similar but spent a lifetime afraid to face it.

  8. In my experience, the only thing you can do with an impossible situation, is, like you said, to walk away. Any time you get involved in it � defending yourself, trying to gain advantage in any way � you lose ground. The only thing that matters any more is your own integrity. Really, it’s all you have. Cherish it. Cultivate it. In situations like this, the only open road is the high road.

  9. Oh, SJ, I am so sorry you went through that. No one should have to. It’s sickening that he said it was consensual.

    I hope writing all this stuff relly is good therapy. I know it reaches out to your readers.

  10. Wow, you’ve been through so much and made it through to the other side sane. Here’s to you for making it through and also the guts it took to write that.

  11. Wow, you’ve been through so much and made it through to the other side sane. Here’s to you for making it through and also the guts it took to write that.

  12. I’m so sorry to hear about all that happened, but I’m glad you had the courage to write it. If I, Asshole is therapy, that’s good. There are worse therapies in the world, and it sounds like it has been a help.

  13. SJ- Karma always finds a way to come back around and bite you in the ass. Sea-Fed is going to have some GIGANTIC teethmarks. Franny and Strudel are lucky to have you. (and so are we).

  14. I am becoming more and more convinced that you were in fact married to my ex-husband. Business trips my ASS, he was in Seattle!

    Hugs to you.

  15. It is good that you wrote it out. Because that is the beginning of owning and disowning the shame, the shame of being disrespected and disavowed.

    Now stop, stop, stop, stop sharing with Frannie. She will have enough of her own pain in life without taking on yours and his.

  16. No, you never can get rid of the bad memories but as you deal with them you gain power over them. I had some horribly bad things happen to me when I was a kid and I never went through therapy. The only way I found to deal with things is to find a healthy release for it. It sounds like I, Asshole is your release. You will be okay and Franny will be too. She sounds like a smart cookie and a courageous one too so she will be able to handle things.

  17. Thanks for publishing your therapy sessions. You are probably saving me zillions in fees by allowing me to get all strong and funny by proxy.

  18. My parents disowned me at 15, but didn’t bother telling me. When I got home from school one day, they had changed the locks on our house (straight ‘A’ student – my only crime was breaking curfew and having a big mouth). What I had to do to survive on my own after that almost killed me, but they don’t “remember” that. For years I tried to “forgive” them (society is big on pressuring people to “work it out” with parents) but it’s the wrong approach. Cut them out of the picture and get on with your life. Don’t “work it out” or “forgive”. If possible, don’t ever communicate with them again. I’ve been told that it takes an average of five years for someone to begin to fully recover from that kind of split (even an adult split with adult parents). That’s a minimum. Give yourself at least five good years of retroactive venting. One day you’ll wake up and find that you just don’t need to anymore. Every year I ‘vent’ a little less about it.

  19. It never ceases to amaze me how some people can just rewrite their reality like that-outright lying just to boost their psychological bullshit superiority or hurt someone they’ve decided to hate and scapegoat for their misery.

    You never really know someone until you leave them and the shit hits the fan for real. It’s so, so, so much more horrid when your kid is caught up in it, too. When there’s nothing you can do except continue to tell the truth as calmly as possible and believe that time will show your child the lay of the land.

    You are a beautiful, strong, talented woman, SJ. I love your spirit and your humor.

    I know he still has impact on your life as the father of your kid, but do your best just to let it go, to fully know that it’s his shit, not yours and as such, has NO power over you, no bearing on who you are.

    You’re brilliant and so, so loved.

  20. I can’t think of a way to say this that doesn’t sound beyond trite, but here goes – your honesty, your bravery-in-writing, your upfrontness with your kid for better or for worse? It rocks. It all rocks.

    It’s therapy to anyone who reads it.

  21. What Her Bad Mother said, ditto.
    I come from a very screwed up background. I cut my father out of my life so long ago, that I can’t remember when it was. There comes a point in time when all you can do, is walk away. I no longer wish him the pain of 10,000 deaths. I no longer think of him at all.

  22. What does this all have to do with “the Cat Came Back? I agree that writing can be cathartic; what is it about what you express that you feel must be shared by others?

    We all have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves serially or nonlinearly. Why spend so much effort on the past?

    Are we on a Moebus strip, constantly repeating one edge forever? I do not accept this; why posit bouncing up and down, out of control, when each day we can (must/ should)have an experience, however transistory, that reminds me of what good can occur?

  23. Oy. I had no idea what you’ve been through. I think you’ve made an amazing life for yourself in spite of all that shit. Good for you. I have a whole new sense of respect for you.

  24. You are incredible to spill all of that. I can only imagine how freeing it is. What crap you have been through, OMG!

    As for your ex, I’ve found that people remember things they way they want to remember them. Denial is waaaay powerful with some people.

  25. SJ, girl, you are winning the battle against lies everyday. You deserved better from your mom and from SeaFed, and you’ll always feel those torn places, but one day they’ll be a reminder of how strong you are and how they (or anybody else) couldn’t crush your spirit and your awesomeness, so fuck ’em. We hear you loud and clear.

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