Spoiled Children of Divorce

Parental Decision Making in Step-Family Situations

Story out of Minnesota about a Mother and her boyfriend who shaved the head of the Mother’s daughter and forced her to wear diapers and run around outside their house.  They locked the girl out of the house and when police showed up she was understandably crying and hysterical.  To make matters worse about 50 neighbors were standing around staring at her.

The parents were arrested and were said to be laughing as the police put them in the police car.  They are charged with a misdemeanor crime.






It’s the easiest thing in the world to have a kid. You have something to bully and humiliate.  The reason the Mother and the boyfriend gave for this crime was that the daughter wasn’t doing well in school.  I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t be doing well in school…  A really large percentage of children from Divorced families don’t do well in school.

I suspect that parenting becomes much more sloppy in divorced families and even worse in step-families.  Maybe somebody would do a study someday to come up with a couple of statistics.

Here’s another one out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Dad’s got 3 kids.  Mom’s got one.  They all pile into the car and drive off to the liquor store because the adults are drunk and Dad gets the idea of how this group must somehow form a family.  He straps the kids to the hood of the car to give them a ride.  It was probably kind of fun until the guy at the liquor store called the police and the police called the U.S. Marshall and the U.S. Marshall pulled them over. They made it 3 blocks.  Nobody was hurt.  The Dad’s kids were picked up by their Mother.  The Mom’s daughter was put into protective custody.  This is some sort of Felony in Indiana.  Dad was crying at he was arrested.  Mom admitted the children were in danger.  Dad should dry up and open an amusement park.  It sounds like Indiana needs one.

There are many step situations with Mom and Dad’s Lovers where this doesn’t happen.  The tension is much more subtle.  Or it’s not there at all.  Often money will happily replace it.  I’m just saying, parenting is difficult.

Poisoned Apples
July 18, 2010, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Parents and their Dates, Stepfamilies

Somebody left a comment saying that I ought to seek out the help of a therapist about my step-mother issues rather than hurt her feelings by discussing openly my thoughts and observations about how step-mothers treat their step-children.  She left a link to another site in the message which is probably damaging.  Her IP address is from Canada so if she comes back will know why I put her message in my spam filter.

For one, I went to therapists for years and years.  It doesn’t do any good because therapists don’t discuss divorce.  Period. 

I’ve mentioned positive step-mothers roles on this blog, other readers have recognized that I”ve done so, but these women simply want to come on here and fight.

Step-mothers keep insisting that they are not the problem.  They try.  Well, they try.  But, stupid is as stupid does.  If they are miserable as step-parents, then they simply aren’t the right folks for the job.  Get over yourselves.

I’m aware that the Witch who I’ve mentioned before who runs the Step-Mother site (no training to do counseling, mind you, they’re just getting together to bitch and complain and eat) has begun her idiot retreat this week-end.  The cat fight never ends.  The photo on her blog is classic.  Long frizzed out hair with gray streaks like bride of frankenstein, arms crossed in the ultimate defensive, closed off posture.  And she’s offering help to others.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

Another excuse for narcissism.

Mom, I’m Home
January 29, 2010, 3:19 am
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Good Step-Parent Stories, Uncategorized

In the never-ending comments section of the Stepmothers and Step-daughters blog entry I wrote how many eons ago a Step-Mother just shared how she doesn’t have a problem with her step-daughters. Yay!  Read it.  Also, read Carolyn’s blog because she links to some really positive, helpful blogs right now which are written by Step-Mothers who are also Children of D.  I suspect that Children of D. make much better Step-Parents than Step-Parents from traditional households because they know how it feels to be in the situation and  I’m really glad this is happening.  I sort of wonder if a lot of the behaviors suggested won’t fall on deaf ears, though.  Children of D, for example, grow up knowing what it feels like to feel left out. Telling most people who grew up in Intact Families not to interfere in certain parts of family life is going to be impossible.  One of the problems with Divorce is that it messes with our natural sense of mixing territoriality with our homes and they don’t understand that this is just part of the contract they signed into.

At any rate the Successful Happy Step-Mother commenter says that her step-daughters live with her and her husband.  She gave some really great advice about what works for her as a step-mother.  (I don’t understand why step-parents constantly butt into this blog because it’s clearly not about them, but I suppose I don’t understand why anyone would marry into a step-family without making sure that they knew what they were walking into in the first place.)

I’m trying to believe that all the complaining that the step-mothers do about their roles is a link to figuring out a way to fix the problems that exist in step-families.  The Step-Mothers can hopefully provide insight into the family which the blood relatives can’t see.  Unfortunately, in divorce situations, everyone’s already adjusting to being an outsider in the family as well.

Sadly, I tend to think that most of the Step-Mother complaining is just complaining.  In the situations where the step-mothers are reasonably well balanced emotionally, honest, caring, respectful people (in the situations where they really are that way and not just saying that they are that way) there might be some real information in there.  But over the Internet one can reasonably only assume the worst.

In reality  many women who take on the step-mother role are doing it just to “get a man.”  They are bullies and will make fast work of the husband’s kids.  I grew up with one of those.  I know others who know one or two of those.  I know that there are a lot of overly confident women out ought to be CEOs of large corporations but have to settle for decimating step-children’s lives.

Sadly, like all other adults out in the world right now, I have no real advice for kids growing up in that situation except to focus on what positive, strong people do.  Divorce in families is so alienating that it is raising a great social consciousness in the World which may be just as valuable (or, at least different).  Grasp on to that part of the lessons it offers.

Back to the commenter who has no problem with her live-in step-daughters, what impressed me from a critical point of view was her description of the biological mother because it still manages to fall into that category of step-mother comments that negate the other Mother’s influence in her children’s lives.  The deal here is that the biological mother is not in her children’s life.  The commenter showed some concern for the girls’ welfare that the mother wasn’t there.  She didn’t say why the Mother was absent.

I tend to feel equal amount of annoyance by Step-Mothers who tell me that everyone gets along just fine as the ones who like to point out the flaws of the Mother.  How do they know how the kids feel?  Why don’t they analyze their own flaws?  A kid has enough lessons to learn in order to ask a “real parent” for a ride to a friend’s house.  Imagine how much more difficult it is to ask a “step-Parent” for a ride to a friend’s house.  This is a constant awareness that the “real parent” isn’t there.  And it’s gotta hurt.  It’s made all the worse when there is mental illness, addiction, abuse, or illness involved somehow in the situation because the child is already dealing with difficult situations.

Since this is a blog about Children of Divorce and what affects them it just sort of made me wonder why a Mother wouldn’t be there because I wonder how the two girls will grow up thinking about their Mother and how that will affect their abilities to see themselves, love themselves, and to love others.  In my personal experience I’ve heard the comment “I don’t owe my real Mother anything, my Step-Mother did everything.”

Okay, for one, becoming a single Mother is farking scary.  Nothing is easier for single Women than it is for single Men in this world.  That’s the honest to God truth.  Because of that you would think that women would support each other.  But they don’t.  They tend to attack and use each other.

Is the Mother not there because she hates the child?  (some Mothers really don’t like their kids)

Is the Mother not there because she simply doesn’t like or can’t handle being a Mother?

Did the Mother marry too young?

Is she not there because she has a career and has decided that the Father can provide better care?

Is she mentally ill, alcoholic, addicted, etc?

Does the Mother have a chronic illness?

Is the Mother just irresponsible?

Is she unable to handle the financial burden of raising children?

Can she not handle the tension of passing the kids back and forth between households?

Did the Mother marry an abusive man?

What else?  How different a Child from Divorce’s attitude must be from the Child who grows up in an Intact Family where these questions don’t exist.

I wonder what the best way is for a step-parent to discuss the “other parent.”  I have noticed that Step-Mothers who complain about step-children endlessly seem to never discuss their husbands’ parenting styles.  They do like to discuss the “Real Mother’s” problems, however.

I think that men really don’t know what’s going on between the Step-Mother and Step-Child situation. (Yes, I know, and the police know, that Step-Fathers tend to be very abusive as well, I’m just discussing the Step-Mother thing because they keep flooding my blog).   Women are experts at doing things underhanded.  They survive by pulling this behavior in society.

This is basic tribal stuff.  But, as I said, it doesn’t exist in intact families.  And so it goes that there’s an awful sexism that crops up within step-families between the women.  And it’s interesting that no one really seems to benefit from it (emotionally at least).  The Mother is humiliated by the Other woman.  The daughters are abused and at least are exposed to how two very bad female role models co-exist.  The Step-Mothers complain endlessly and no one really does know if they really are used as doormats or if they are just being bullies.

Boy, I want this to be my last post about step-mothers.  I suspect that most kids are so worried about their own parents during a divorce that they really don’t even want to think about the add-ons.  Most kids from divorce want to talk about their relationships with their real parents.  They do this not only because of love but also because they are trying to find a place to mirror their genetic traits.  This is done through the strong emotional bonds that exist between biological parents and kids.  When they say that step-parents feel strange to them, they aren’t kidding.  Why do people take this so lightly?

Okay so this post is a total ramble.  I’m just totally stuck on the other thing I’m trying to write and am wasting time on this.

Children of Divorce in the News This Holiday

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  It’s time to let go of what doesn’t work and take on something new that hopefully will work.  If Life were really that easy I suppose I wouldn’t feel quite so stupid saying that.

At any rate, it’s good to take a look at some mistakes that were made this Holiday Season in the hopes that we ourselves will never let things get that out of hand.  We can count our Lucky Stars if this didn’t happen to us.  And those Children of D who have endured the Holidays in silence and have maintained a decent behavior — CONGRATULATIONS!!!  Pat yourself on the back.

The First Story is from Christmas Eve.  In the news is a Horrifying Step-Father story from Covina, California.  Psychotic over the loss of his job and wife, with Divorce final on Dec. 18, Step-Father Bruce Pardo showed up on Christmas Eve at the home of his ex-wife’s parents dressed in a Santa Suit.  The wife, Sylvia, and her children were living here and the family was having a party.  Pardo had packed a bunch of semi-automatics into a box, wrapped it with care, and shot his first victim, an 8 year old child, in the face as she opened the door for him.  He then shot as many other people in the room as he could (I believe the death toll was 9, with 3 injured, the little girl who opened the door has survived).  Pardo then poured gasoline in the house and lit it on fire.  His Santa Suit caught fire and melted on his skin making the planned escape to Canada impossible.  Pardo killed himself later on in the night at his brother’s house.

Ex-wife Sylvia was killed as were her parents.  Sylia’s nephew was killed but Pardo seems to have targeted the adults.  Sylvia’s three children survived but 15 children lost one or both parents.  Story:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-santa-shooting28-2008dec28,0,78314.story

The Second Story is a Christmas Day story.  A great tragedy about the trauma of switching between Mom and Dad’s house comes out of Twin Falls, Idaho on Christmas Day.  Father Robert E. Aragon was driving his children to their Mother’s house when his car got caught in the snow.  He told his children to get out of the car and walk the 10 miles to their Mother’s house in the snow.  The children were in their pajamas.  They got lost and were separated.  The son, Bear, Age 12, found a rest stop bathroom to stay in and was found later that evening. The daughter, Sage, Age 11 was found in the snow the next morning, having passed away from hypothermia.

This is a really difficult story of mis-communications between parents during the stressful Holidays.  An article from the local Twin Falls newspaper says that Aragon had full custody of his children and was simply trying to take them to visit their mother on Christmas Day.  He’s very hard working but he shovels manure for a living  and it sounds like he may have a drug problem.  Hey, shoveling poo everyday while worrying about how to feed your kids, who wouldn’t have a drug problem?  Another story told from the same newspaper tells about the confused communications from the Mother’s point of view:   http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2008/12/29/news/top_story/151765.txt.

May Sage’s soul Rest in Peace and may her brother be okay.  I personally hope that the Judge is lenient with Robert Aragon and insist that he go through Rehab (a long rehab, he’s got a lot to talk about at this point) and to give him job training rather than sentencing him to jail.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Quincy Jones

I heard Music Composer and Producer Quincy Jones in an interview on NPR this afternoon (Nov. 27 or 28, sorry for late publishing).  Part of the discussion was about Jones’ childhood which he speaks about with a rare openness.  His Mother was schizophrenic and spent much of her life in a mental hospital.  In his Autobiography he describes watching the authorities strapping her in to a straight jacket and hauling her off.  Jones’  Father remarried around the time that Jones was 11 years old and he moved the new family from Chicago to Bremerton in Washington state.  His Step Mother was a bad influence who treated Jones and his younger Brother very badly, giving them less food and clothes than the other children.  I’m listening to the audiobook version of his Autobiography and can’t quote exactly but Jones describes her handling of the children in the Household in that she “Divided the kids into three categories:  His, Hers and Theirs.”  Jones’ schizophrenic Mother periodically escaped the Mental Hospital and eventually followed her sons to Washington where she both terrified them through her illness and tried to stay in touch with them. 

In the interview, Jones describes living in his Father’s household as “living with strangers.”   He gives good advice about how one must not hold these experiences in.  For him this happened mostly by escaping into his music.  It helps that he had huge amounts of talent.  The music industry can be very hard on someone from this background who doesn’t have quite the level of talent  (– that’s just a warning.)

I highly recommend the audiobook.  Most interesting, of course, is listening about Jones’ accomplishments in his profession.  He met Ray Charles, for example, when he was 14 years olds and Charles was 16.  But Jones’ insights into his family are very helpful.  He talks about his anger at his parents and how he blamed his Father for what was happening more than his Mothers “Because he was the one who kept it together.”  This is true.  You really do blame the one the most who is reacting to the whole situation with the least amount of reaction.  He talks about not understanding how he was much less affected by what happened than his younger brother who used to cry every night.

During an Internet search I found this article (http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/jon0int-2) in which he describes his childhood and how his brother’s reaction to the family situation was so much more negative.  I wonder if a lot of the reason for this is , of course, 1) inherited genetic disposition to mental problems  which would be the only thing the psych people consider (which is why they can’t actually help anyone). Birth order (Jones is eldest) could also be a huge factor as I’ve discussed before.  The oldest seem to be the ones who make it out, they always have someone to face the problems with and they always have the youngest to come home to as a stable base.  The youngest have longer exposure to the family and must deal with it by themselves after the oldest have left. They have no stable base.  And, of course, another reason could be that the younger brother didn’t have the talent and/or luck of his older brother.  Jones was extremely gifted and successful from an early age and his talent was recognized.  He found an identity early on outside of the family and left the home early, around Age 16.  This seems to be a key factor in surviving bad Divorce situations.   Those extra years of waiting to get out are a real spirit killer.

I also found an interview with his son Quincy Jones III who also speaks briefly about his parents’ divorce when he was 3 or 4.  He moved with his Mother to Sweden.  He talks about his relationship with his Father, his Mother’s addiction, his childhood, the divorce:

TONY: How much of your parents divorce did you understand and comprehend? I mean, you were pretty young.

QD3: I never thought about it until I turned 15-years-old. My parents got divorced when I was 3 or 4, and me and my mother and sister moved to Sweden. I was probably too young to process it. And I didn’t think about it until I was going through a photo album when I was 15-years-old, and I was like, “Wait a minute, we don’t really know each other that well.” And I’d visit him in L.A. on summer break, but for the rest of the year I was in another country. I would sometimes bring Michael Jackson records to school (in Sweden) to show my friends what my father did, and they would laugh and think I was lying because we lived in public housing. And it kind of struck a nerve, and I started thinking about it a little more. Then I was around 16-years-old, and I moved to East Harlem, New York and later the South Bronx, and then to L.A. Once I moved to L.A., we started bonding a lot more. Now we’re good friends and we’re also very alike in many ways.

TONY: You talked about your mother earlier and her battle with drug addiction. Personally, my mother passed away after a long battle with prescription medication and alcohol. If someone is reading our interview and dealing with a similar situation in their family, what’s your advice on how to deal with it?

QD3: Sorry to hear that, it’s tough, because in my situation I tried to help her my entire life and tried to “fix” the situation. And I was not able to do it. So I would say try to be as objective as you can and try to have compassion for your parents. Also know that it’s not your fault, that’s the main thing.

It’s up to you if you want to break the family cycles. With the pain comes long term benefits, and I might not have been drawn to socially relevant media had it not been for my upbringing and some of the stuff that I went through when I was younger: Having seen both extremes of society first hand (rich/poor), having to grow up quick and moving a lot gave me the tools, drive and empathy that I needed for the job I want do now which is build an (urban) multimedia company (qd3.com) that creates programming of substance that is relatable, empowering, deals with “real” issues, is entertaining and has residual value to viewers. My background gave me the ability to relate to all walks of life and levels of society organically, from the ghetto to the elite, so I feel I was put in a position to build helpful bridges of understanding between various demographics through media. So my advice is believe in yourself and try to find a way to turn your past into a benefit. Painful experiences give you drive, strength and compassion to do bigger things than you would otherwise have been capable of, use it as fuel.

from:  http://www.nobodysmiling.com/hiphop/interview/87592.php

Exemplary Children of Divorce: Sean Wilsey “O The Glory of It All”

While in the bookstore this morning I also picked up a remaindered copy of O The Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey.  I had already tried to listen to the audiobook version of this which wasn’t that great.  Don’t know if it was the narration or what but this book is better off as a “reader.”  (which means that I’ll probably never make it through the whole thing).  This is the Child of D’s version of Dave Eggars’ Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It’s sort of a surreal, larger than life version of Divorce.  Closer to the one I and my friends grew up in than the ones described by the therapists, ah hem….  Wilsey’s parents divorced in 1980 when he was around 9 or 10 years old, but they continued to fight over money for many years after.

Here’s the blurb written on the back of the book:

Sean’s blond bombshell mother regularly entertains Black Panthers and movie stars in the family’s marble and glass penthouse.  His enigmatic father uses a jet helicopter to drop Sean off at the video arcade.  The three live happily together “eight-hundred feet in the air above San Francisco; in an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill:  full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills.”  But when his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend, Sean’s life blows apart.   His memoir shows us how he survived, spinning out a “deliriously searing and convincing” portrait of a wicked stepmother (The New York Times Book Review), a meeting with the pope, disastrous sexual awakenings, and a tour of “the planet’s most interesting reform schools.”

The Step-Mother Dede sounds a lot like my Step-Mother.  Part of Wilsey’s description:

This is what Dede did.  She got to know Mom, found her greatest weakness (pride and vanity), stole her greatest asset (family), mocked Mom’s presence in a world where she didn’t belong (society), lit Mom’s fuse, and watched her explode.

The book starts off like this:

In the beginning we were happy.  And we were always excessive.  So in the beginning we were happy to excess.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey is considered one of Louis “Leakey’s Angels.” Louis Leakey was a famous Archaeologist who encouraged 3 women to work with primates in order to understand their behaviors. These women include Jane Goodall who works with Chimpanzees and Birute Galdikas who works with Orangutans and Dian Fossey who worked with Gorillas. Of these women it’s Dian Fossey who was the Child of Divorce. (I have since realized that Jane Goodall is from Divorce as well and have added a post for her).  Although these women seem to have an innate understanding of animals that few possess it would be understandable that Children of Divorce would turn to animals to compensate for the simple, unconditional love and understanding that’s lacking in their own lives. Unfortunately, pets are often considered too much of a burden in single parent households.

Fossey was born in San Francisco, California in 1932. I’m not sure about this but I think her parents divorced when she was around 4 years old. Her Mother remarried a year later when Dian was five. Fossey was emotionally closest to her Father but he was a sailor in the Navy and left after the Divorce. She wasn’t close to her Mother or Step-Father, a building contractor who made her eat in the kitchen with the servants. She loved animals but wasn’t allowed to have any after her one Goldfish died. Opposing her Step-Father’s wishes that she go to secretarial school, Fossey first went to school to become a Veterinarian but switched to Occupational Therapy. She worked at a Hospital for a while and eventually met Louis Leakey who helped her to go on to earn a Ph.d. in Zoology at Cambridge University and to work with the Gorillas.

Fossey had a complicated love life and was considered an eccentric personality by some. She seems to have been caught up by all kinds of political problems with the Tourist Industry and with Poachers in Africa. She was murdered on Dec. 26, 1985 in Rwanda. No one knows for sure who her murder may have been. Fossey left her estate to a fund to protect the Gorillas but her Mother contested the will and won.

Dian Fossey was the 1st human to have friendly contact with a gorilla and the first to study the Mountain Gorillas long term. Her autobiography Gorillas in the Mist was made into a movie. Farley Mowat wrote a book about her called Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey in which he explores reasons for her death.

From Wikipedia:

Dian Fossey is interred at a site in Rwanda that she herself had constructed for her dead gorilla friends. She believed that all beings had the same rights and that they needed to be treated with the same respect as humans. She was buried in the gorilla graveyard next to Digit, who was killed and beheaded in 1978, and near many gorillas killed by poachers.

Nixzmary Brown’s Step Father Found Guilty
March 19, 2008, 12:27 am
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Mentally Ill parents, Nutrition

A Step Father in New York was convicted for the murder of his 7 year old stepdaughter, Nixzmary Brown.  The little girl was repeatedly abused and tortured.  She weighed 36 pounds and was finally killed for having stolen some yogurt from the refrigerator.  Nixzmary’s Mother did nothing to help. The Mother was seeing a psychiatrist so mental illness has been acknowledged.

Here’s a link to a site where somebody wrote about the case from Nixzmary’s point of view.  It’s absolutely heart breaking:  http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/1-14-2006-86384.asp.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner is author of the book The Art of Happyness which was made into an excellent movie starring Will Smith.

Gardner is an extremely successful Stockbroker and Motivational Speaker. He has written about his troubled childhood, his failed marriage, his bout with homelessness while holding onto his son. Everything was working against him. But he was accepted into a prestigious training program in a stockbroker program which led to his eventual incredible success owning his own Stock Brokerage firm. His story is pretty unbelievable and Gardner is now working to share his attitudes and survival skills with others in order to inspire them.

I’m listening to the audiobook version of his book which I highly recommend. It’s really interesting how these super successful people’s attitudes towards their experiences are just slightly different from the rest of us.

Gardner was the product of a relationship that his Mother had with a married man. He rarely saw his own Father growing up. His Mother married a highly abusive man so the entire family was subjected to an abusive step-father. This man reported Gardner’s Mother for defrauding Welfare when she threatened to leave him. This landed her in jail and Gardner and his older sister into Foster Homes for about 3 years. I’m not clear about his age (listening to audiobook so details fly on by) at this point; I think he was around 2 or 3 years old. His Mother still didn’t Divorce his step-father but had two more kids with the guy. He hit her once with a 2×4 which landed her in the hospital. Gardner witnessed this. Then his Mother tried to kill the stepfather by burning the house down with him in it. She went to jail again.

It’s interesting to focus on Gardner’s descriptions of these scenes to see what kind of a mindset can survive this. You can see this in how he describes his stepfather.

For one, he’s open and honest about the behavior. (In my family everyone literally “forget” what had happened. Well, alcohol helps with that. I “survived” by keeping a clear idea of what was going on and then, later on, I couldn’t handle my rage.) For example, instead of describing his Step-Father as a Monster like I probably would have, Gardner describes him as a Turbulent Weather System who would storm in and out of the house aiming his rifle at whatever he was angry with. I like how much more impersonal it is to think of a Weather System rather than a Being. You can kill a Monster, or subdue it, or at least think you can imagine that you can. A weather system must be allowed to exist. Another example, Gardner says that his step-father was actually “His University” on how not to behave. Gardner knew by living with this man that he must learn to be literate, must never abuse anyone, must never drink to excess. So, at a very young age, he was able to find guidance from this “Reverse Role Model.” And it appears that he held onto those goals. (I think that I just developed other unhealthy obsessions and traits. They were like my parents’, but different. Instead of Alcohol, Drugs, and Sex I became Anorexic.)

When Gardner’s Mother “disappeared” again when he was 8 years old (went to jail for burning the house down); he and his older sister lived with an Aunt and Uncle. He was never told what was going on and gives an excellent description of how he never knew what to expect from life from minute to minute. His closest relative was his Sister and his Aunt and Uncle put her in Detention when she was 12 years old. Gardner didn’t have a clue why.

Another thing, Gardner is a real stickler for proper writing and grammar.  “Happyness” in the title is from an episode where he became angry about the mispelling.  As I’m pretty sloppy in this area it’s really difficult to actually write this.  I just hate to edit.

Sweaty Betty
February 20, 2008, 5:25 am
Filed under: Alcoholism, Bad Step-Parent Stories, money, Stepfamilies, Uncategorized, Violence

My Mother called my Step Mother “Betty Boobs” and this is the name that I also called her in all conversations during my High School years. A few years ago I ran into one of my Mother’s old friends and she started barking and laughing remember how your Mother called her “Betty Boobs” because she had those big … (hands held out in cupped fashion)? Har Har.

My Step Mother sipped white wine all day, kept up her tan, and had a helmet head of hair which she had blown out once a week. Her shirts were unbuttoned to advertise her cleavage and when she was really drunk she bragged in a horrid Southern drawl about her high IQ and her long long legs

My Step Mother had been my best friends’ mother and our parents met through us and then broke up both of their marriages. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before and don’t want to go over it again in a previous blog. I just need to say that the wives of a Country Club had kicked her out for going after their husbands and so she was hanging around with my Mother a lot. My Mother had told me beforehand that she didn’t like my friend’s Mother and was uncomfortable having her spend so much time at our house when she came to pick up my friend after school. Looking back, of course, it would have been great if I could have just dumped the friend but where I grew up, honest to God, it was really difficult to find a girlfriend whose Mother would bother to be so generous in giving her rides. Most Mothers were heavily sedated and complained endlessly about doing anything for their kids. My Whino StepMother, ever on the look out for a husband, would drive to Hell and back for her daughter if she figured it would lead to more money.

After my Father died, I renamed my Stepmother “Sweaty Betty.” My name for came years after the divorce but was based on one night when I was staying with my Father and Sweaty at their first condominium together for an over night stay. At some point under the moonlight, Sweaty crawled into the room where I was sleeping. Sweaty was crawling naked on all fours and glistening in the dark. She was delusional from alcohol and she slowly crawled up to the closet door, whimpered and begged to be let in. No one inside the closet would open the door for her so eventually she crawled away and passed out in bed next to my Father. I stayed silent. It was bizarre but I was used to bizarre. I told my Mother of course who drilled the crap out of me whenever I came home. My Mother told my Father who answered my Mother that Betty sometimes does that.

I tried to feel compassion for Sweaty, God knows she expected it, but it was sort of like feeling compassion for Hitler or Mussolini. Whatever the behavior was about she wasn’t forthcoming with any explanations (if there were any explanations). She simply liked to refer to herself as a Victim. In short, she didn’t care what she did to others. It’s one of those things where you have to decide if it’s about a person’s character or about a person’s past traumas and I pretty much decided that Sweaty had a bad character.

My Father died when I was in my early 30s and I’ve haven’t seen Sweaty since. It’s really been a lovely improvement in my life. She was like a huge human version of a slimy slug who wanted everything you had no matter what it was. She was the only one of my parents to go through detox so she eventually sobered up, the slime maybe dried up a bit, but her character never improved. That’s the problem with alcohol. You’re still stuck with yourself after you sober up. Sweaty just became vigilant about blaming everyone else for everything she had done to them. She got all my Father’s money, had the will written 6 months before he died, and Sweaty has no doubt moved on to bigger Projects kind of like a guy who gets away with rape.

Which brings us to her insatiability. She was Scylla, Charybdis, & Circe all wrapped in one.

Until she sobered up, Sweaty slept with as many of my Father’s friends as she could. I heard this directly from one of my Father’s friends. Sweaty also slept with one of her son’s high school buddies on the floor of the living room. Every time I see one of these School teachers getting caught for this now don’t think it doesn’t cross my mind that I could have had her reported. Everyone knew about this but nobody said anything about it. My stepbrother went through a violent phase where he wrecked cars and drank a lot. Everyone said that he was acting out because of his age and was spoiled. In college he married a girl he said just to get even with his Mother. They divorced immediately. He eventually married another woman who he found God with. Last time I talked to him, at my Father’s funeral, he said he didn’t understand why people at his church were so mean. I wanted to ask him if the Jesus in his Church liked Big Tits.

There was something wrong with the way Betty spoke and this was probably the single worst thing about her. You simply couldn’t understand what she was saying. It was exhausting. And it just didn’t seem interesting. Usually her jokes were disgustingly sexual. Her whiney voice would wince down to nothing but Southern drawl. She couldn’t open her jaw due to some problem either because her first husband had broken it or there was a problem with the glands in her neck.

When Sweaty ate she would push a huge chunk of Steak into her mouth and swallow it whole. As a teenager this was basically my introduction to unenthusiastic sex. After that Sweaty would have to excuse herself and she would go throw up in the bathroom. The White Wine triggered her gag reflex really bad. Eventually she realized that she hadn’t been able to keep down a whole meal in 3 years and the Doctor told her she had a year to live so she went to Detox.

Sweaty and my Father fought like cats and dogs. I never stayed in their house with them again so I never witnessed it but I saw the injuries next day. My Father’s generation beat their wives silly so this was considered acceptable. Or at least that’s my understanding of it. In the morning Sweaty and my Father would have scratched arms and legs, sometimes one of them would have a black eye and they would wear their sunglasses and go for lunch somewhere outside so they could keep the sunglasses on. My step-sister said it was all my Father’s fault.

Once I called Sweaty a Slut at the dinner table and she didn’t answer. It wasn’t like her not to deny her own behavior and if you’re going to break up somebody’s family that has a couple of teenage kids you ought to be prepared for this but I knew there would be revenge down the line. In her head Sweaty was from the South and she respected her elders, I suspect that she had let her Father rape her for example. At my Father’s Funeral he grabbed my ass. I have to admit, I absolutely hate White Southerners.

Sweaty once gave me a lecture on why I should be kind which was kind of odd because everyone else at that point except my two Mothers generally remarked on my kind, docile personality. Sweaty wasn’t concerned about her own lack of kindness, only mine. She got the vapors a lot, was allergic to everything, and couldn’t go out for the dwindling amounts of gross dinners that my Father and I had on ocassion.

Sweaty sharing her wisdom about how I ought to be was part of the tension of having these weekly dinners with my Father and her which comes from growing up with Divorce. Of course in the background at those dinners I knew that if my Mother were at home she would either be grinding her teeth from the rejection or out getting drunk. I would come home to a cross examination. What did Sweaty wear? Was it expensive? Who bought it? What did she order? Did she eat it? I never said anything kind because I honestly didn’t observe anything to be kind about. Either way, the dinners would lead to a 2 or 3 day binge of screaming and crying and running into walls. Although Sweaty claimed to be highly psychic and to know what everyone was thinking she never understood what her presence in my life cost me.

Backwarding again, the aforementioned “Slut” information had inputted nicely, and, although steeped in reality, and it all came back to me. Really, it would have come back even if I hadn’t said it. How is it that drunks don’t remember anything that they say but they always remember everything that you say? I actually remember the Slut moment as a highly regrettable but shining star moment of my adolescence. The first time I got to use the word “Slut” it was about a real one. How many girls can say that?

Years later, I almost told my father about how Sweaty slept with her son’s high school friend on the living room floor. I almost did but then didn’t because he was old and it would hurt him. But I threatened to. I had traveled for my Birthday to see them and the whole trip involved driving Sweaty from one store to the next so she could shop. Then she was asking for advice on how to get along with her daughter. Up until that point Sweaty didn’t know I knew about the boy fuck so it really took her by surprise. Coils of smoke poofed out from under her coiffed Barbie head.

But Sweaty excelled at responding to surprise. She was born for it. This was like a really good poker game for her. She knew the next move was all about tactics. She waited for my Father to go to the Bathroom, her head spun around like an out of control exorcism, and she told me that she would make things Hell for me and my Brother. At that point we were probably 18 or 20 years into the game so this was just funny to watch. It was the highlight moment after years of hearing every adult my parents age say “You’re not going to get anything from your Father because…” She did manage to clear her throat so her drawl peeled out in the form of genuine words, succint and absolutely bitchy. She actually enunciated!

What baby wants, baby gets and that’s the truth. Sweaty had to wait until my Father was lying jaundiced in an ICU after his lung surgery went wrong. He still hadn’t rewritten the Will. I walked in and she was yelling at him over the will. I can’t watch Soap Operas to this day because of the reality and truth that they preach. Sweaty saw me, jerked, straighted her face and turned away to play with the curtain. My Father was bright yellow and couldn’t speak or move from the neck down. His eyes were just following her around the room.

The Doctors put him completely under the next day and said that he probably wouldn’t make it out of the coma, his lung just wouldn’t breathe on its own. So Sweaty hired another Doctor from another hospital. “They work better if you pit one against the other,” she said. She and the other Doctor went into the first Doctor’s office at night and snooped around his office. Somehow they found an article saying that steroids would fix my Father’s condition. The Steroids worked. It was a Miracle. She never bragged about saving my Father’s life but she did brag about getting the Doctors to perform. Sweaty had finally found a positive outlet for her ruthlessness.

Once my Father was up and running, Sweaty ran him into the Lawyer’s office and had the Will rewritten. Then they took off to Hawaii for a couple of months. And then she brought my Father back to the Hospital where he languished on a ventilator for 2 more months, unwilling to die. When the insurance ran out we unplugged him. He had only 1/3 of one lung left to breathe with and his feet were curled under from being bed-ridden.

There was the Funeral. Her Father’s hand on my Ass. She absconded with everything, even my Great-Grandmother’s Wedding Rings. It took her 20 years, but she did it.

And that’s the tale, or at least part of the tale, of my Stepmother, Sweaty Betty.


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