Members of our American culture have a tendency to name children according to popularity of names or whether a parent “likes” the name or not. Couples argue and discuss the sound of the first name with the last or ways children could possibly mock a child in school. They agree upon a name that is mutually acceptable.
My daughter “liked” the name Madeline. No particular reason. She just liked it. But, her husband wisely vetoed that one since the first syllable of their last name is Cow. He envisioned his daughter being teased and called Mad Cow.
Ultimately, my granddaughter was named after a young woman who died suddenly while in college. A young woman I’d loved since before her birth. The young woman who grew up more like a cousin to my daughter. We introduced the girls when O was 14 months old, and my daughter was a week old. They were always best friends. O’s death devastated all of us and sent each of us into a dark night of the soul.
She was beautiful and brilliant. Thankfully. Because, she could be a little odd. Her beauty and brilliance allowed her strange quirks to be seen as eccentricity. She was fiercely dogmatic and independent yet shy and reserved. She just quietly and firmly stood her ground.
I will be thrilled if my granddaughter grows up to be like O.
My older three children have family names. Each one is named after an ancestor whom I admired greatly, ancestors who possessed traits I desired for my children. Ironically, each of those children does indeed embody many of the characteristics of those long gone loved ones.
My fourth child, however, bears his father’s name.
I always say the abuse began as soon as we said, “I do.” The more I learn about abuse though, the more I come to see that it began shortly into the dating relationship. I was constantly failing the tests, and the ante was constantly being upped. Instead of running as quickly as I could in the opposite direction, I just tried harder and harder to please him.
Three months into our marriage I became pregnant with our first child together. He was very displeased. He was still denying our marriage to his third wife, with whom he was having an affair.
Weeks before my delivery I tried to discuss baby names with him. He angrily suggested “Shithead.” I insisted on naming the baby after him, hoping it would create a bond between him and me and him and the baby. He finally reluctantly agreed.
He did take ownership of the baby once he was born, denying me the ability to nurse him or even hold him. My arms ached with emptiness.
However, it wasn’t a loving ownership.
When our premature infant was circumcised, the pediatrician also did a blood draw. The nurse stated that they’d taken as much blood as is allowed to be taken from a newborn. Some of his levels from previous tests were off though, and several tests needed done. And, then his circumcision site bled heavily.
That very afternoon R insisted he take the baby to bed. R was working nights so slept during the day. I’d given birth Friday night, come home from the hospital Saturday night, and started working again Monday morning at 9. I worked from home but don’t let anyone fool you–work is work. Deadlines must still be met. Pressure and time restraints exist, even in a home office. So, I reluctantly watched R carry my hurting and bleeding, sickly little newborn off to the bedroom while I returned to my work at the computer.
It wasn’t long, and I heard yelling. “Shut the f___ up! What the f___ is wrong with you?! I have to sleep. Shut up! Shut the f___ up!”
The baby was crying inconsolably on the bed while R hovered over him, screaming at him. When I tried to take the baby, R fought me for him. I chided R, “He’s hurting! They took the most amount of blood from him they could, and his penis is bleeding, too. Can you imagine how it must feel? And, they don’t know what else is wrong with him. He needs held!”
R turned his wrath on me. He needed his sleep! How inconsiderate could that baby and I possibly be?!
My heart broke for my crying infant.
And, my heart breaks now over the young man he has become. He is just like his namesake.
The younger children and I are triggered daily by his behavior and attitudes. We fear him. My medical massage therapist recently told me that I have regressed. My health is slipping again. Probably because my anxiety level is off the charts. I’m clenched tight. My chiropractor had to unlock my jaw last Monday.
It’s like living with his father.
He watches me constantly, hovering over my shoulder, reading my emails and my Facebook posts. He questions everything I do, everywhere I go. He demands to know my schedule, when I’ll be home, and who is watching the kids while I work.
He leaves a trail of disaster behind him, expecting his younger brother or me to pick it all up.
He is angry and sullen, glaring at us, ignoring us, or snapping at us.
He lies about us to others and works very hard at keeping us away from those he has lied to. Now that I know what to watch for, it’s obvious. I see him “working” the former youth pastor. And, I recognize his questioning as concern that we’ve spoken to one of his “allies,” who are nothing more than unwitting victims of his pretend world of lies.
He puts on the charm in public and wins people over with his old fashioned manners. Then, he throws those behaviors on the floor, along with his coat, his shoes, his guitar, and anything else he’s used, once his audience is gone.
He bragged to me that he has his counselor “eating out of his hand.” It’s a game to him. He derives great pleasure from seeing what he can get others to believe. He relishes the attention he gets for being a victim in his fictitious life.
Occasionally he seems to forget that he hates us. He actually seems to enjoy our company. Suddenly, without warning though, he remembers and turns bitter on us before quickly exiting the room, leaving us bewildered and our momentary joy crushed.
I feel like I can’t take it. The little two must feel the same way because they’ve both become very clingy again lately.
He’s my child. He was my beautiful little boy with the big brown eyes and curly locks of gorgeous hair. I delighted in everything he did. And, now, I can’t wait for him to turn 18 and leave.
I long for peace.
He enjoys strife.
My ex is gone. My parents are dead. My brother ignores me. Freedom could be mine. But, it is my own dear child who has now stepped into those shoes. It is as though he thinks that someone must keep me in my place. He sees himself as a man now, and he apparently thinks he is man enough for that ridiculous job.
I keep encouraging my younger teen and myself that there will be an end to this. In ten months he will turn 18. This isn’t like with his father, during the marriage, when there was no end in sight, and we faced an eternity of ridicule, fear, and abuse.
Young R will leave here in ten months. Ten short months. And, then, we’ll finally be free.
I worry though.
Who will he turn all of this on once he is out in the world? Who will be the recipient of his anger and manipulation? Who will he hurt and how badly will he hurt them as he continues trying to live up to his name?
Well, I succeeded. I wanted that name to be a bond between them. A bond between R and me. And, it is. It is bondage.