I am eating my breakfast and reading yesterday's paper. In another room Daughter is practicing her piano. Her playing sounds beautiful, and as I listen I reminisce about when she started. She had tried the violin and didn't like it. With her long fingers, I thought she'd do well with the piano. I asked around and found a teacher. A friend offered to sell me her piano. Hubby was dead against it. "Why spend so much on a piano that she'll drop after a month or two?" I persisted. Hubby said, "How are you going to get it here?" I looked in the Yellow Pages under piano removals and found someone.
And so Daughter started her lessons and did well. Now on her third teacher, she practices every day.
When I finish breakfast I walk in to compliment her. She looks up at me. "Can I help you?" she says in a voice that would freeze hell. "I just wanted to say how good you sound." She frowns. "Can you close the door please," she commands.
I walk away, tail between legs. Again. Another attempt at engaging with her. Another slap in the face.
So it has been since last summer. To recap: Last year I reconnected with an old schoolmate. Our correspondence seemed to awaken something in me and I found myself fantasising about a life with this man. I wrote my feelings down in a draft email Draft is the key word here. I never intended to send it. But Hubby found it. Quite how he found it is subject to debate. What isn't was his reaction: swift and brutal. He wrote an email to my sister (not a draft) telling her to tell me to get my act together and that he was cancelling our holiday to America and that I would have to tell the kids and my parents why. He attached the draft email. He printed out a copy of the email to my sister, stamped it "copy" so there would be no mistake, put it in brown envelope with my name on it and left it on my dressing table while I was in the shower. Then he left the house. I did what I was told: I called my parents and told them what was going on and later on I told the kids. Daughter left the house in floods of tears. Son retreated to his bedroom.
Did Hubby and I discuss this? Not really. Let me make something clear: there is a difference between fantasy and reality. This person and I were and are separated by an ocean and 4,000 miles. We did not have sex. We didn't even see each other. In a desperate move to salvage the trip to America, I suggested marriage counselling. I found a counsellor. I made the appointment. We went twice. Hubby managed to charm and impress the counsellor. I said I thought Hubby was a control freak. He said he was just careful. I melted into the couch. I said initially I would cease contact with my friend. And I did. We had planned to meet up but that obviously was cancelled. The trip was back on though.
But after a few days of being treated like a Jezebel by Hubby, I contacted my friend again. Why couldn't we have a friendship? Why couldn't we see each other in America? And so we made plans. And kept in touch. And I got caught by Hubby the day before we were to see each other. Again, just how he found out is subject to debate. For Hubby lies and I don't know what's true and what isn't with him anymore. So my friend and I didn't see each other. We had agreed that it had to be platonic, just friends. Hubby didn't believe this and began a nightmare campaign to rip to shreds every bit of privacy I might have had or wanted.
He also began to work on the kids. And I made a very wrong assumption, which was that my kids would forgive me and still love me. But they took his side. Why and how are subject to debate. I think he showed Daughter some of the evidence he amassed against me (to "save" the marriage, he said.). I think Daughter told Son. He certainly started to have conversations with her in the kitchen with the door closed. I overheard a few. Brochures for holidays to the Caribbean started arriving at the house. Daughter and I have been on a roller coaster ever since. I think sometimes she forgets how angry she is at me and acts almost normal with me. Then something happens to remind her. I say the wrong thing. I do the wrong thing. I spent October and November either in tears or on the brink of tears. Things seemed to ease up in December, then they treated me very badly on Christmas Day. I know it was hard for all of them, and I tried really hard to make it normal. I went up to my room and cried, then squared my shoulders and made Christmas dinner. By New Year's I'd pretty well recovered. Till I discovered my birthday card from my mother had been ripped open and the money inside taken. I had an almighty fit about that.
I think Hubby took it. Why? What would you say to a woman screaming that someone in the house had stolen her birthday money? You would say the postman probably took it. He didn't. He said, "I'm not surprised; you're so untidy." The unopened card had arrived early so I left it downstairs in the kitchen to open on my birthday. On New Year's Day I spoke to my mother and she said to put it in a safe place. Now, with Hubby's history of spying on me, maybe I should have been more careful. But I wasn't. Spying and stealing are two different things. Or so I thought. But I also know that in his diary he had made a note of how much American money I'd given back to him after our trip with a question about what happened to his share of the money my mother had given us when we had visited her. Yes, I held back some money. I held back $100 that I'd held back the year before as well. And I held back what I figured was left over of my share of what my mother gave us.
Daughter thought and thinks I overreacted. It was the postman, she told me later during another argument. Ah yes, that argument. She was to appear in four dance shows at her dance school's annual prizegiving last month. "I want to go to all of them," I had told her. She didn't want me to, then said she didn't care. I took the information sheet up to my room so I could book tickets for everyone. She waited till I went out then ordered tickets for her dad, her brother, and her friends. How did I find out? I found a print-out next to the computer that said "Thank you for ordering tickets." I asked Hubby about it and he said she'd said I could sort myself out.
I don't know if I can express accurately what this made me feel. That girl has been dancing since she was 2 and a half, when I started taking her to ballet lessons. I'd found her one day dancing on the dining room table and watching herself in the mirror and I thought she'd enjoy it. And so she has. I have taken her to lesson after lesson, exam after exam, dance competition after dance competition. I have taken her for ballet shoe fittings. I have done her hair, her makeup. That day that I found the printout I was due to meet her at a beauty salon to pay for her eyebrow wax, then take her to the hairdresser's to get her hair coloured (and pay for that too). I texted her that she could sort herself out. Then I felt guilty about those working women with whom I'd made the appointments. So I turned up at the beauty salon and I paid. I cried the whole way there though. Then I took her to the hairdresser. But first I stopped at the carwash. As the car was being washed, she and I had it out. She even cried a bit, something she rarely does.
Did things improve? A bit. And then not. Just last night I heard her downstairs talking to her father about his two job possibilities (oh yes, Hubby's unemployed streak looks set to end). "Too bad Mum won't get to enjoy it," I heard her say.
I don't know what the end will be to this story. Just last year she sobbed to me that she didn't want her dad coming in her room when he'd been drinking. So I got him to give up drinking during the week. I hate Hubby for his part in this. "It's all your own fault," he would sneer back. Yes, I suppose I am at fault for much of this. And what I think about that would be a whole other post. Some of this is just teen-age girl rebellion, I suppose.
One positive thing is I have apologised to my own mother for the way I treated her when I was 15. Perhaps one day Daughter may do the same.