Double-Closeted And Doubled Down?

Study: Same-sex abuse rate high

Chicago Tribune, Sunday, September 21, 2014 article by Ted Gregory

From the page seven article:

“Same-sex couples may experience more domestic violence than opposite-sex couples, a Northwestern Medicine review of research suggests.

Richard Carroll, an associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Feinberg Ph.D. student Colleen Stiles-Shields made their conclusion after reviewing a handful of studies, including the 2011 National Violence Against Women Survey of about 16,000 people.

That survey found domestic violence rates among same-sex couples upward of twice as high as those of opposite-sex couples, Carroll said Thursday….as least as high and in many cases higher than for opposite-sex couples, …

“Their explanation for the higher rates, Carroll said, is that same sex couples “are dealing with the additional stress of being a sexual minority.”

That added stress also leads to lower rates of reporting domestic violence among same-sex couples, Carroll said.”(emphasis mine)

Note: I am unable to link to the Tribune article since I am not a member of the Chicago Tribune online circulation. I do have the newsprint in front of me. The article in its original form can be found at Northwestern University website:

Domestic Violence Likely More Frequent for Same-Sex Couples

Extra stress in same-sex couples may raise risk of domestic abuse

September 18, 2014

“Evidence suggests that the minority stress model may explain these high prevalence rates,” said senior author Richard Carroll, associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a psychologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Domestic violence is exacerbated because same-sex couples are dealing with the additional stress of being a sexual minority. This leads to reluctance to address domestic violence issues.” (emphasis mine)(reluctance =Double Closeted in their thinking)

The review was published Sept. 4 in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. The first author is Colleen Stiles-Shields, a student in the clinical psychology Ph.D. program at Feinberg.

Domestic violence — sometimes called intimate partner violence — is physical, sexual or psychological harm occurring between current or former intimate partners. Research concerning the issue began in the 1970s in response to the women’s movement, but traditionally studies focused on women abused by men in opposite-sex relationships.

“There has been a lot of research on domestic violence but it hasn’t looked as carefully at the subgroup of same-sex couples,” Carroll said. “Another obstacle is getting the appropriate samples because of the stigma that has been attached to sexual orientation. In the past, individuals were reluctant to talk about it.”

Of the research that has examined same-sex domestic violence, most has concentrated on lesbians rather than gay men and bisexuals.”

 

Minority stress model?!? Wow! And this from a psychiatrist, from a ‘professional?!’

NFL. No doubt you have witnessed the recent uproar over the Ray Rice video. Domestic abuse, caught on tape, is front and center. Should Ray Rice be given the option of choosing the NFL “stress model” as his psychological reasoning for acting violently towards his mate?

Remember the Penn State child-sex abuse scandal and Jerry Sandusky? Should the pressures of creating football success, football success which must translate into school donations coupled with a historical background of abuse be placed under a similar but somewhat different model: the unctuous demand for success dollars that creates stress and leads to abuse under situations conducive to abuse? With Sandusky there was more to the story than just the stress surrounding his job performance but I would certainly figure that being his team’s defensive coordinator was a stressor. Does the football “stress model” also apply to him?

Domestic abuse in any form is a deplorable act, needing immediate attention. And, there is no doubt that NFL players placing themselves under a contract and the spotlights, have put themselves under tremendous pressure to perform. Should a player’s stress factor be used to explain violent behavior and for some, excuse the behavior as understandable?

Of course the “minority stress model” extends well beyond same sex-sex couples. It would also apply to the sexual minority groups of polygamists, pedophiles and sexual predators the likes of John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer.  Every minority would fall under the umbrella diagnosis regardless of the violence inflicted on their victims.  One has to wonder when the “minority stress model” diagnosis will be used in court as a defense.

Minority stress model?!?

Now to my point: Is a “stress model” where the domestic abuse discussion should end? Are there not moral implications which are at work here? And, do people put themselves in positions and remain in positions where stress is a given? Are people culpable for their actions?

Regarding the above research by Carroll and the PhD student, where is the diagnostic factor that each person, regardless of stress, is responsible for their own actions, whether in a heterosexual marriage or in a same-sex marriage?

Certainly Carroll and Stiles-Shields, psychological diagnosticians, do not make a moral assessment as to why same-sex couples would encounter “Minority-stress.” Instead, they basically enable same-sex couples via a politically correct way to accept themselves-a “Get Out of Shame Free” card, if you will: “You are a sexual minority and therefore you encounter more stress than couples in heterosexual marriages would. You are victims of your status, nothing more. It is the world’s responsibility to make life better for you, a same-sex couple. “You are not ultimately responsible for your violent reactions under stress. You are only reacting out of minority stress.”

Is the opposite scenario true? Would there be less stress on same-sex couples if only the rest of the world accepted their “minority” behavior? And, what makes them a minority? It is their sexual and emotional codependency on a person of the same sex.

Isn’t it the implication of Carroll and Stiles-Shields that there would there be less stress and domestic violence in same-sex marriages if everyone around them jumped up and down and said “Yes, gay is good for everyone? ”Carroll specifically used the words “Minority stress model”- a politically correct way of sifting victims out of thin air.

Becoming a victim is now vogue, a cause célèbre. Victimization will almost ensure that people will take notice of and senimentalize your ‘dilemma’, thereby feeding any narcissitic tendencies.

Yet, what is written onto everyone’s heart is truth, not unjust and obtuse psychological mumbo-jumbo.

From an absolute moral perspective a Christian knows that a person’s ‘heart’, his or her psyche, is not a tabula rasa but rather a tablet inscribed with a moral knowledge-a BIOS operating system embedded by God.

“For the anger of God is unveiled from heaven against all the ungodliness and injustice performed by people who use injustice to suppress the truth. What can be known about God, you see, is plain to them, since God has made it plain to them. There are, of course, things about God which you can’t see: namely his eternal power and deity. But, ever since the world was created, they have been known and seen in the things that he has made. As a result, they have no excuse: they knew God, but didn’t honor him as God or thank him. Instead, they learned to think in useless ways, and their unwise hearts grew dark. They declared themselves to be wise, but in fact they became foolish. They swapped the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of the image of mortal humans-and birds, animals and reptiles.

So God gave them up to uncleanness in the desires of their hearts, with the result that they dishonored their bodies among themselves. They swapped God’s truth for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever, Amen.

So God gave them up to shameful desire. Even women, you see, swapped natural sexual practice for unnatural; and the men, too, abandoned natural sexual relations with women, and were inflamed with their lust for one another. Men performed shameless acts with men, and received in themselves the appropriate repayment for their mistaken ways.

Moreover, just as they did not see fit to hold on to knowledge of God, God gave them up to an unfit mind, so that they would behave inappropriately. They were filled with all kinds of injustice, wickedness, greed, and evil; they were full of envy, murder, enmity, deceit, and cunning. They became gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, self-important, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, unwise, unfaithful in marriage, unfeeling, uncaring. They know that God has rightly decreed that people who do things like that deserve death. But not only do they do them; they gave their approval to people who practice them. (emphasis mine)

The Apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the Roman church is a true psychological diagnosis of the human psyche. With God there is no politically correct word spinning or blame shifting, no pandering of victimization. Each of us is responsible for our own actions whether we are in a majority, minority or in a minority within a minority. God doesn’t offer secular humanism. He offers a safe harbor and redemption.

The good news is that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” so that mankind could courageously confront and acknowledge each our own sinfulness, repent and find our God-renewed right minds.

Paul’s letter to the Roman church goes on to tell you the good news worked out in our lives. I suggest that you buy a copy of New Testament scholar N.T. Wright’s translation of the New Testament: “The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation” Read about the good news and the healing process for yourself. It works when applied!

One final observation: the “Minority stress model” sounds analogous to the global warming models, models that are designed to be overly sensitive to CO2 in order to make certain political and economic justifications… and to make everyone a victim.

Looking Evil in the Eye: Pretense

In my series of posts regarding aspects of evil found in our culture, I want to add this post due to its relevance to our current cultural and political makeup. I’m using the word “makeup “on purpose. Beyond it denoting a milieu or environment the word also connotes the topic of this post ~ pretense.

In his book People of the Lie:  The Hope for Healing Human Evil, Dr. M. Scott Peck writes in the chapter titled “The Encounter with Evil in Everyday Life” that

 “The issue of naming (evil) is a theme of this work. It has already been touched on in diverse instances: science has failed to name evil as a subject for scrutiny; the name evil does not appear in the psychiatric lexicon; we have been reluctant to label specific individuals with the name evil; in their presence, therefore, we may experience a nameless dread or revulsion; yet the naming of evil is not without danger.

To name something correctly gives us a certain amount of power over it. Through its name we identify it.  We are powerless over a disease until we can accurately name it…The treatment begins with its diagnosis.  But is evil an illness? Many would not consider it so.  There are a number of reasons why one might be reluctant to classify evil as a disease.  Some are emotional. For instance, we are accustomed to feel pity and sympathy for those who are ill, but the emotions that evil invoke in us are anger and disgust, if not actual hate…

Beyond our emotional reactions, there are three rational reasons that make us hesitate to regard evil as an illness…I shall nonetheless take the position that evil should indeed be regarded as a mental illness.”

Dr. Peck goes on to discuss the three reasons. I will use summary quotes.

 “The first holds that people should not be considered ill unless they are suffering pain or disability – that there is no such thing as an illness without suffering….it is characteristic of the evil that, in their narcissism, they believe that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are psychologically perfect human specimens…For we realize that their inability to define themselves as ill in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is actually part of the illness itself…The use of the concept of emotional suffering to define disease is also faulty in several other respects. As I noted in The Road Less Traveled, it is often the most spiritually healthy and advanced among us who are called on to suffer in ways more agonizing than anything experienced by the more ordinary.  Great leaders, when wise and well, are likely to endure degrees of anguish unknown to the common man. Conversely, it is the unwillingness to suffer emotional pain that usually lies at the root of emotional illness.  Those who fully experience depression, doubt, confusion and despair may be infinitely more healthy than those who are generally certain, complacent and self satisfied.  The denial of suffering is, in fact, a better definition of illness than its acceptance.

The evil deny the suffering of their guilt – the painful awareness of their sin, inadequacy and imperfection – by casting their pain onto others through projection and scapegoating.  They themselves may not suffer, but those around them do.  They cause suffering.  The evil create for those under their dominion a miniature sick society.”…

 Finally, who is to say what the evil suffer? It is consistently true that the evil do not appear to suffer deeply.  Because they cannot admit to weakness or imperfection in themselves, they must appear this way.  They must appear to themselves to be continually on top of things, continually in command.  Their narcissism demands it…

Think of the psychic energy required for the continued maintenance of the pretense so characteristic of the evil!…”

“I said that there are two other reasons one might hesitate to label evil as an illness…One is the notion that someone who is ill must be a victim….One way or another, to some extent, all these people (the evil) and a host of others victimize themselves. Their motives, failures and choices are deeply and intimately involved in the creation of their injuries and diseases….

The final argument against labeling evil an illness is the belief that evil is a seemingly untreatable condition…It is the central proposition of this book that evil can and should be subjected to scientific scrutiny…It would, I believe, be quite appropriate to classify evil people as constituting a specific variant of the narcissistic personality disorder.”

Dr. Peck goes on to describe this variant of personality disorder:

“In addition to the abrogation of responsibility that characterizes all personality disorders, this one would specifically be distinguished by:

(a)    consistent destructive, scapegoating behavior, which may often be quite subtle.

(b)    excessive, albeit usually covert, intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury.

(c)    Pronounced concern with a public injury and self-image of respectability, contributing to a stability of life-style but also to pretentiousness and denial of hateful feelings or vengeful motives.

(d)   Intellectual deviousness, with an increased likelihood of a mild schizophrenic-like disturbance of thinking at time of stress.

But there is another vital reason to correctly name evil:  the healing of its victims.”

(all emphasis -bold type- mine) 

*****************

 Over the course of some sixty years I have encountered some distinctly evil people.  The common characteristic of their personality is the veneer of pretense with which they surround their lives.  Perhaps, instead of the word “veneer” the word “mirror” would better convey the 360 degree reflection of themselves they so desire.

In their mind’s eye they see themselves in a grandiose role, a self-assessed worthy role (remember Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?). To support their ‘self-thesis’ the pretentious will seek out others who will regard them in the same way ~ a Super Pac to fund a super ego (the three witches met Macbeth; his ego chose to ‘believe’ their words). Pretentious people will demand to be seen in their ‘light’ only. You become to them only a speck in their shadow.

Those, of course, who can rightly see what every one else can see will disagree. And, if they make any statement contrary to the ‘fairy tale’ narrative imposed they will be called deniers and ignorant or worse. 

Today our nation has a President who fits all of the above characteristics of pretense. God help us.

Jesus said, “If the light in you is darkness how great is that darkness.”

Jesus’ perfect love can cast out fear…and evil.

~~~~~

I liken the characteristic of pretense to the walls of Jericho:   The huge stone walls of Jericho looked invincible. Yet, after seven days of marching around the façade with God’s presence (the Ark) in the lead and with ram’s horns blowing on the seventh day, the walls fell down; the city of Jericho became indefensible. My how the mighty façades have fallen over the years.

Pretense, Part 1: A Look at Evil, Pretense and Suffering

In his book People of the Lie:  The Hope for Healing Human Evil, Dr. M. Scott Peck writes in the chapter The Encounter with Evil in Everyday Life that

 “The issue of naming (evil) is a theme of this work. It has already been touched on in diverse instances: science has failed to name evil as a subject for scrutiny; the name evil does not appear in the psychiatric lexicon; we have been reluctant to label specific individuals with the name evil; in their presence, therefore, we may experience a nameless dread or revulsion; yet the naming of evil is not without danger.

To name something correctly gives us a certain amount of power over it. Through its name we identify it.  We are powerless over a disease until we can accurately name it…The treatment begins with its diagnosis.  But is evil an illness? Many would not consider it so.  There are a number of reasons why one might be reluctant to classify evil as a disease.  Some are emotional. For instance, we are accustomed to feel pity and sympathy for those who are ill, but the emotions that evil invoke in us are anger and disgust, if not actual hate…

Beyond our emotional reactions, there are three rational reasons that make us hesitate to regard evil as an illness…I shall nonetheless take the position that evil should indeed be regarded as a mental illness.”

Dr. Peck goes on to discuss the three reasons. I will use summary quotes.

 “The first holds that people should not be considered ill unless they are suffering pain or disability – that there is no such thing as an illness without suffering….it is characteristic of the evil that, in their narcissism, they believe that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are psychologically perfect human specimens…For we realize that their inability to define themselves as ill in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is actually part of the illness itself…The use of the concept of emotional suffering to define disease is also faulty in several other respects. As I noted in The Road Less Traveled, it is often the most spiritually healthy and advanced among us who are called on to suffer in ways more agonizing than anything experienced by the more ordinary.  Great leaders, when wise and well, are likely to endure degrees of anguish unknown to the common man. Conversely, it is the unwillingness to suffer emotional pain that usually lies at the root of emotional illness.  Those who fully experience depression, doubt, confusion and despair may be infinitely more healthy than those who are generally certain, complacent and self satisfied.  The denial of suffering is, in fact, a better definition of illness than its acceptance.

The evil deny the suffering of their guilt – the painful awareness of their sin, inadequacy and imperfection – by casting their pain onto others through projection and scapegoating.  They themselves may not suffer, but those around them do.  They cause suffering.  The evil create for those under their dominion a miniature sick society.”…

 Finally, who is to say what the evil suffer? It is consistently true that the evil do not appear to suffer deeply.  Because they cannot admit to weakness or imperfection in themselves, they must appear this way.  They must appear to themselves to be continually on top of things, continually in command.  Their narcissism demands it…

Think of the psychic energy required for the continued maintenance of the pretense so characteristic of the evil!…”

“I said that there are two other reasons one might hesitate to label evil as an illness…One is the notion that someone who is ill must be a victim….One way or another, to some extent, all these people (the evil) and a host of others victimize themselves. Their motives, failures and choices are deeply and intimately involved in the creation of their injuries and diseases….

The final argument against labeling evil an illness is the belief that evil is a seemingly untreatable condition…It is the central proposition of this book that evil can and should be subjected to scientific scrutiny…It would, I believe, be quite appropriate to classify evil people as constituting a specific variant of the narcissistic personality disorder.”

Dr. Peck goes on to describe this variant of personality disorder:

“In addition to the abrogation of responsibility that characterizes all personality disorders, this one would specifically be distinguished by:

(a)    consistent destructive, scapegoating behavior, which may often be quite subtle.

(b)    excessive, albeit usually covert, intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury.

(c)    Pronounced concern with a public injury and self-image of respectability, contributing to a stability of life-style but also to pretentiousness and denial of hateful feelings or vengeful motives.

(d)   Intellectual deviousness, with an increased likelihood of a mild schizophrenic-like disturbance of thinking at time of stress.

But there is another vital reason to correctly name evil:  the healing of its victims.”

 *****************

 I have encountered some distinctly evil people during my life.  The common characteristic of their personality is the veneer of pretense with which they surround their lives.  They see themselves in a role, a grandiose, high-minded role.  There is nothing within themselves or outside themselves that will keep them from holding that image up before themselves or others. They will deny, blame and ignore what every one else can clearly see.  Their motivation, as Dr. Peck describes in the above chapter, is fear. 

Jesus said, “If the light in you is darkness how great is that darkness.”

Jesus’ perfect love can cast out fear…and evil.

Withdrawal

window

“I can take your kids, I can twenty-eight percent of your income and I can make you pay.” With these words, Evelyn unloaded her pistol of anger and resentment into her husband as often as she could. These projections of malice and bitterness were focused on Daniel for most of their fourteen year marriage. The marriage ended with the death of their marriage. Daniel narrowly escaped the death of despair brought on by caring.

It was three years into the marriage when Daniel found out about Evelyn’s past. Before the marriage he didn’t think there was anything else to know. He found out that things were not as they presented themselves. First of all, Evelyn did not come across as angry. She appeared happy and confident. She was outgoing and friendly to a degree. She felt inadequate around others she deemed smarter than herself and she would often say so. She talked about growing up in a small town, but she didn’t fill in the details until three years later. The wounds of the past were under the surface of a simple veneer of introversion. She liked to be taken care of and Daniel obliged her willingly.

In the third year, Evelyn told Daniel about her small town life during high school: Evelyn’s mother had committed adultery right before her sixteen year old eyes. Her mother was making out with her lover right in their small town family kitchen. Her mother subsequently denied any involvement with the man and then went on to divorce Evelyn’s father and to marry her lover.

During those same years, Evelyn became involved with a seminary student. She went to his room and closed the door behind her. She lay on his bed and then she told Daniel that she was raped by the student. Before she knew it she was pregnant. A male high school friend helped pay for an abortion. Evelyn told Daniel that her parents never knew found out what had happened. She wanted it that way.

Evelyn went on to tell Daniel about her life after leaving high school. Evelyn moved to college and then left college after a year. She moved out west and lived with someone for a time. She had another abortion. She moved to the south and lived with someone for time. They had a child together. She and her boyfriend sold drugs from their house. They took drugs together. Evelyn told Daniel that she worked as a call girl for a time with her friend Rosa. Rosa was a madam. When her boyfriend had overdosed once too many times Evelyn left him and moved to Chicago. She moved to the Lincoln Park area and cut her hair short. A year later she met Daniel. This is what Evelyn told Daniel that third year: “Those things are behind me.”, but Daniel wondered how far behind they were. He wondered about biting dogs at his heels.

Now, Evelyn loved wine and margaritas. She drank wine at home and then she would drink Margaritas at the Mexican restaurant. She wanted to go there often. On more than one occasion, after she drank three gold Margaritas, she would become mouthy, belligerent and verbally abusive to Daniel. Daniel decided that he was not going out to eat anymore. He began to bring food home.

Evelyn took often the kids to her mother’s house after several of these drinking bouts. Evelyn was angry with Daniel about some unknown fault or quirk or some vast deficiency: “You don’t love me.”; “I don’t feel loved.”; the kids weren’t “handled”; the dishes weren’t done or Daniel spent too much time in the kitchen; Daniel didn’t think ahead that Evelyn would be needing a bottle of wine, a “good” movie and the kids put to bed, again. It didn’t matter. Her marriage and her husband were not the perfection and panacea she demanded. Daniel was told by Evelyn that he was supposed to know what she needed before she said anything. “This is what a man does, Daniel. You’re not a man.” Her husband was not taking her pain away. She thought that alcohol and being with her mother would. So she would take the kids to her mother’s house after these evening drinking sessions and stay overnight.

Daniel felt that he was held hostage in his own marriage. Evelyn would threaten to take the children to her mother’s house if something wasn’t done to appease her before she even had an issue too complain about. The situation was unlivable for Daniel but he didn’t want to break his marriage vows and wander off to seek peace. He was committed to the marriage but he felt his hands were tied by the invisible bonds of her past.

After much marriage counseling and endless self reflection Daniel realized that he did everything he possibly could in seeking to remedy the marriage and to pacify the rage which quelled in Evelyn’s heart. There was nothing more that he could do. He wanted the painful spasms of fighting to end. He didn’t want to fight with her. At every turn, though, she found something wrong with him. Her perfectionism had become an obsession of finding the missing ingredient. She wanted a perfect man to fix her imperfect world. The children, and Evelyn‘s mother, would learn how imperfect Daniel was from Evelyn.

Daniel wished that he could surgically remove the growing cancer of hatred and disdain that Evelyn had retained in heart over the years. He understood then that a woman could hold a grudge forever if she wanted to. She could not forgive, she would not forget. Evelyn would not let go of her anger because it became too familiar to her. It became a cherished locket of fury hanging from her neck, always with her, but hidden beneath the surface. It was the locket of fury that replaced the wedding ring on her hand. Five months after demanding a second separation she took off her wedding ring and began to date other men.

Daniel, during the two years of separation leading up to a divorce, found one day that depression had cornered him in his small one bedroom apartment. He had been taking an antidepressant prescribed by the marriage clinic. After a year of taking the pills, Daniel found that the pills made him feel complacent. He felt that things were slipping away from him. He didn’t care about work and he soon didn’t care about the marriage falling apart. He decided to stop taking the pills. Within a matter of three weeks a deep depression encircled him. Daniel sat crying at his desk at work. He felt the jagged edge of every painful chasm in his soul. He didn’t know what to do but he knew that he wanted to get far away from everything and find a place of healing. He called his doctor.

The psychiatrist at the marriage clinic asked Daniel what he wanted and Daniel said, “I want to get away from everything right now.”

“Do you want to sign yourself in to the hospital?”

“Yes”, Daniel answered, thinking of an enormous Garden of Eden which would usurp the enormous load of grief in his heart with its heavenly serenity.

That night Daniel signed himself into the Hospital. After filling out the pile of papers required by the hospital Daniel was given a different antidepressant and a sleeping pill and then sent to bed. His room was shared with someone already asleep, snoring in his bed. Daniel went over to the window bed and lay down on the slab covered with blankets. No sleep came until the early morning.

That was Friday night. On Saturday, Daniel was given a cold hospital breakfast and a little cup with pills. There was no change of clothes only open hospital gowns and elastic slippers. The other patients sat around a little table eating some parts of their breakfast. Each of them was nervous to make eye contact with anyone else. There were some patients who were definitely around the bend. Conversation with them didn’t matter. Daniel sat down that first morning and ate silently. He just stared at the TV hung from the ceiling. A game show was on. Daniel knew that his expectations were not in line with the reality he was seeing. He wanted to leave immediately. It would take a week before he could go home to his one bedroom apartment.

During the morning smoke break that first hospital morning, outside in the cordoned garden area, it was whispered that someone had hung themselves in their room the week before. Mostly, though, the patients shared cigarettes and talked about what they would do when they got out. Some said they would quit smoking. A small cantankerous Chinese woman told Daniel that she didn’t know when she could get out but when she did she would open her own business in her house after she kicked out her boyfriend. He had called the police on her and they put her in the hospital. She was a manic-depressive, she told Daniel, and she hadn’t taken her pills for a week.

Phone calls from the hospital were limited to one phone in the hallway. It could only be used from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm till 8:00pm. Daniel called his office during the day and told them that he was in need of a short vacation and it had something to do with his marriage breaking up. He wanted to keep his job. The cost of the separation, the cost of two separate homes; the cost of his imperfection was becoming monstrous before his eyes. This financial situation didn’t seem to bother Evelyn, who was waiting for the free ride the court would later give her, except for the fact of her unpaid cell phone bill:

“Hello.”

“Hello, where are you?”

“I am in the hospital for some rest. I’ve been having a hard time with things lately. I stopped taking the medication I told you about. I’ll be here until the end of the week. The doctor wants to see if a new medication works before I leave. I want to talk to kids before I get off the phone. I don’t want them to worry about me.”

“Daniel, you need to take the kids this coming weekend. I’m gonna be gone. And, how is my cell phone bill gonna get paid if your in there?”

“I’ll be here until the end of the week. I’ll pick up the kids. I’ll pay it then.”

“No, no, no. I don’t want it to be late. They will charge late fees.”

“Write them a check.”

“I don’t want to write a check. I have enough going on here. You’re in charge of the finances.”

“I’ll be here until the end of the week. I’ll pay it then.”

“You better. Here’s the kids. You have to pick them up. I’m going to Las Vegas this next weekend.”

Daniel spent the week, until that next Friday which was Good Friday, in the hospital and then he was released. He drove to his apartment, changed his clothes and picked up his kids at the house and took them out for pizza that night. He didn’t forget to pay the phone bill. He paid it late and felt a relief, a withdrawal. His life had been returned to him in the few days he spent in the boxy little room along the boxy corridor of the unyielding hospital floor plan. He would never again let someone break him down as he had let Evelyn. He knew that he loved her. He knew that he wanted the marriage to work and to become more than the sum of its factors. But, he also knew now that he had to chart his own life apart from the unyielding demand for perfection coming from someone’s ruthless past.

In the end, Evelyn won the kids over with her begrudging ways. She had sufficiently belittled their father in their eyes. She told an unwary family law court, her family and her friends that the children’s father was not mentally stable. She gained sole custody. She then received twenty-eight percent of Daniel’s income. With the arrogant flippancy and unbridled urgency of a newborn teenager she took the children and they moved in with a single man who will never hear the portentous ‘third-year’ story retold. In these ways and with a thousand well-aimed shots of disapproval into her husband’s heart she made sure that Daniel paid for the infinite losses of her past. Someone had to pay for this she reckoned. It wasn’t going to be Evelyn. She now believes that she has settled her past accounts.

© Sally Paradise, 2010, All Rights Reserved