Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 9, 2009 Chapters:  ...39 40 -41- 42... 


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Richard confronts Valerie

A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind

Walking on Eggshells

by S. Pumpkin



Background
Sexaully abused as a child and living with a family in complete denial causes longterm psychological problems for Valerie.

Part of the happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them. A masterly retreat is in itself a victory.

Norman Vincent Peale


 


"Valerie, I feel like I am walking on eggshells. No matter what I say or do, you twist it and use it against me." 

I was surprised by Richard’s remarks. 

"I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster. When I come home, I ask myself, will the caring person I fell in love with greet me at the door, or will you be the raging tyrant who's got to have her way, no matter what?

"I have no idea what you are talking about,” I answered. “I am not a tyrant; I never raise my voice at you." 

The words the woman I fell in love with, caught me off guard.  After 10 years of marriage, Richard had never once said he loved me.  I forced myself to  focus on what he was trying to say and kept my thoughts to myself. 

Richard shook his head. "You refuse to get a job, but you complain we don't have enough money to fix the house. When I work extra hours to make a little more money, you get upset when I come home too tired to work on the bedroom roof." 

"I don't get angry because you are tired,” I said defensively. “I get angry because whatever extra money you make goes into your stupid stereo, not the house!" 

I was upset and could feel my anger turning into rage.  I took several deep breaths in the hope of calming myself down, but my anger had reached the point of no return.  With a wide swing of my hand, I knocked my coffee cup over then punched my fist into the wall.  

The shocked expression on Richard's face frightened me.  He has seen me angry, but this was the first time he saw me physically lose control.  I took a deep breath, counted to ten, hoping that would calm me down.

Richard knew that I was terrified of going back to work.  I had told him a hundred times that every job I had, ended with my nearly having a breakdown.  The stress was more than I could handle.  Just to get eight hours of work done, I had to put in an extra two or three hours to allow time to correct my mistakes.  I was a lousy typist, I couldn't spell, and half the time I didn't understand what I was supposed to do. 

Richard shrugged his shoulders, turned around, and started to walk away.  I grabbed him by his arm and spun him around. 

"No! You started this so let's finish it," I screamed.  Counting to ten clearly hadn't worked.

Richard gently removed my hand from his arm and said, "There is no point. You constantly complain that I am not honest with you and that I hide my feelings. It is just not worth the scene that follows when I do talk to you." 

Richard sat down on the couch and without looking at me he said, 

"Valerie, I never know what to expect from you. One minute you are happy and laughing, and the next you are sitting at the kitchen table crying.  Sometimes you stay up for days cleaning the house and other times you refuse to get out of bed for a week. You constantly obsess about how much you hate your family, then cry because you miss them." 

"Okay, sometimes I feel down, but most of the time I think I am happy,” I said defensively. “As far as my family is concerned, I think they are a bunch of selfish, uncaring assholes but when I think about the good times, and there were good times, I miss them. What's so odd about that?" 

Richard leaned forward and looked me in the eyes. "Valerie, everything relates to your family. If I work late or when the roof leaks you turn it into an issue about your family." 

"That's absurd." 

Richard slammed his fist down onto the coffee table.  

"No, it is not! It is as if you live in your own world completely oblivious to anything but yourself. You have no idea how your up and down moods affect me and the girls." 

That was a side of Richard I had never seen.   His anger shocked me.  He had never raised his voice .  He seldom showed any emotion whatsoever. 

"Why didn't you say something?" 

Richard shook his head.  "I hide what I think and feel because you get upset if I disagree with you." 

His words hurt me deeply.  He was telling me I was a bitch and impossible to talk to. 

"The girls are happy.  They don't seem concerned about my behavior." 

Richard smiled and squeezed my hand affectionately. "Yes, you bake cookies, put sweet notes in their lunches, make cute little stuffed toys, but your temper embarrasses them. When Tina or Sarah have a fight with a friend, you fly into a rage, scream at their friends.  It embarrasses them. The girls have to learn to fight their own battles. They don't need their mother doing it for them.  Your obsession with keeping the house clean is driving them crazy.  If they so much as leave a color crayon on the table, you rant and rave for hours. You never know when to quit.  When you talk to them, you belabor the point. You go on and on when all that is necessary is a simple please don't do that, or be careful, you might hurt yourself. You are constantly lecturing them. For God's sake, they are just kids." 

It was true I was protective of Sarah and Tina; sometimes, overly protective.  When they were born, I swore they would never be forced to endure the painful humiliation and horror that I had experienced as a child.  When Sarah or Tina came home crying because a friend had done something that upset them, I often confronted the offender’s mother demanding an apology.  My behavior embarrassed the girls and created such an antagonistic atmosphere, the children in the neighborhood avoided me.  I always felt bad for yelling at their friends, but seeing Sarah or Tina cry was all it took to set me off again. 

I was proud I never allowed my father to see my children. My family told me I was cruel and wrong to keep them from their grandfather, but nothing they said would make me change my mind. Once Sarah asked why she never met her grandfather. I simply told her, “We don’t get along.” 

She accepted my explanation and never asked about him again. 

I thought about what Richard said.  Was I really the tyrant he was describing?  Sure, I sometimes got depressed, and sometimes I got so involved with what I was doing I would stay up all night just to finish, but that didn't make me a tyrant.  Or did it?  Yes, I did have a tendency to lecture the girls, but it was only because I wanted them to understand why I was upset.  Yes, I obsessed about my family, but most of the time I kept my thoughts to myself.  He didn't know the real reasons I was so angry with my family or what my father had done to me. I wondered if it would make a difference if he knew the truth. 

The more I thought about what Richard had said, the more confused I became.  I wanted to be a good mother and a good wife.  A terrible feeling of desperation came over me.
 
I told myself I could change and made a mental list of the things I needed to do. 

I would stop being obsessed about my family and stop lecturing the girls. I would also stop being so fussy about the house. I would stop frightening my daughters’ friends and simply avoid anything that triggered my depression. 

As tears welled up in my eyes, I silently chuckled at the obvious irony.   All I needed to do was stop being me.


Earned A Seal Of Quality


I intentionally avoid talking about my children unless it is necessary to the story. They are adults now with children of their own and I value their privacy. I feel because of the nature of my book, to only discuss them when it is relavant to a particular issue or needed to clarify a specific incedent.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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