The Devil

Double exposure image of a doll bound in fairy lights superimposed over a rose, with a black background.

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Well, it happened. It all happened. I’ve been working hard to settle down. I had to go on a long walk before I could even stomach eating dinner. Having the cat here and knowing I get to keep her with me helps, but it’s hard to relax in someone else’s home. I guess it’s my home too, now.

I suppose the fight was inevitable. Things have been tense with Dad since I first told him I met Stuart. He didn’t like the fact that I met him in a bar, even though it’s really more of a restaurant. Dad goes out on “business socials” all the time. He talks about the dangers of hanging out with men in bars, while his own breath smells of wine.

Tonight he came in and tried to act like he was concerned about changes he’s seen in me, implying I’ve become stressed and frazzled. I have not, I’ve become happy. He said that maybe I’ve been losing sleep because Stuart has been stressing me out. I chose to not tell him I’ve been losing sleep with Stuart, but not because of stress. He tried to imply that the quality of my work has been slipping, that I seem to care less about putting forth my best effort. He thinks it’s Stuart’s “low moral character” rubbing off on me, and I’m too naive to see it.

I pointed out the books have been flawless and timely, and my grades haven’t fallen either. I did say that I was finding myself short on time and a little hassled, and I used the chance to bring up something Stuart and I talked about the other day, that maybe Dad should get me an assistant. Just for a couple of hours, maybe an hour and a half a day, just during the week. It could help me keep my grades up, and allow me an evening off once a week to relax.

Dad started going off about how more time to spend with Stuart wasn’t going to solve anything, that if I wasn’t careful, he would leave me pregnant, penniless, and addicted to drugs. What could possibly make him think Stuart was on drugs? It’s ridiculous! He said Stuart just felt corrupt and criminal, and here Dad is calling me the irrational one. He says Stuart is already trying to poison me against him, filling my mind with toxic filth. That’s just paranoia, and it worries me that Stuart might be right about him.

It’s just so unfair the way Dad talks about him, when he has been so concerned about Dad, so compassionate that he’s even pointed out signs of Dad’s failing health, though Dad is in complete denial. He even gave Dad that herbal tea. Said it had vitamins to strengthen the liver and promote vitality, to help Dad keep on top of those business meetings. Dad says it’s not working, but I’m starting to see what Stuart has been seeing, the confusion, the lethargy. Paranoia might be an aspect off it. He seems to get queasy more than he used to as well.

After all his baseless ranting, he gave me an opening to get to the heart of the matter. He started saying that an assistant’s salary would be draining money from his retirement fund, that I’d be taking food from an old man’s table, and he raised me to be better than that. As if I would let him starve in his old age! Also, as if I didn’t know exactly how large his retirement fund is, I’m his accountant! So, then he switched to saying it won’t be his retirement fund after he dies, it will be my inheritance, so I should want to protect it. He made a mistake saying that, because I was able to argue the money could be used to benefit me NOW, used to allow me to have some time to enjoy my life.

A spinning wax apple, damaged in a way that looks like a real apple that's rolled across the floor.

This brought up all the old gratitude bullshit. He even brought the cat into it, saying he was nice enough to let me keep her in the office. It’s his fault I couldn’t keep Jojo at home! He refused to sign a lease that allows pets, saying they would damage property he was financially responsible for. He won’t pay me a living wage so I can pay my own rent, sign my own lease, be responsible for my own life. He expects me to show gratitude for the fact that I’m a grown woman whose daddy won’t let her have a pet? I couldn’t even let Jojo into the front office, I had to keep her in the warehouse. I’m supposed to suck up to him because he would have let her starve in the alley instead? How horrible of him!

Then he said he knew Stuart was changing me because I used to be grateful. That’s so funny, if that’s the case, why has he been complaining about my “lack of gratitude” for years? He said it’s only after Stuart started filling my head with poison that I started being so rude and out of control. Why does he think he needs to control me? I’m an adult! I told him, “You can’t pick who I love just because you let me have an office pet.”

He didn’t seem to know how to respond. That was great, I got to bring up things I’ve been wanting to say for a while. He wants me to give him all this respect, but I’m the one running the business, and I don’t get a fair share of the profit in return. He wants me to appreciate all he’s done for me, but he wouldn’t be capable of doing the things I do, no matter how much he wants to be the reason the business is successful, it’s just not the truth.

He tried to tell me that he does the things that I’m not capable of doing, that I don’t have the social skills, the charisma to keep the money flowing in. I don’t care. That’s his fault. I wasn’t even ten years old yet when I started helping out around the office, instead of playing with friends. Mom tried to encourage me to go play instead, but she was so hassled, so tired, and I loved her so much, and it was the only way she ever managed to have any time to spend with me.

Then, when she died, he just had me take over her job instead of hiring someone. I was only 16! I wasn’t even allowed to hide in my room and grieve, I had to go to work. So, I didn’t learn how to make friends, how to hang out, how to be cool. Meanwhile, he’s living it up, calling it work, telling me I must be eternally grateful for what he’s providing, but who is the one providing it? Because, I don’t think it’s him.

He owes me for giving him my childhood, my teenage years, parts of my life that I deserve to have pleasant memories of, and I don’t. I deserve some acknowledgment. I’ve earned time to focus on my own needs. I finally have someone who appreciates my worth, and shows me I deserve respect. I’ve earned the right to spend time with him, to find love and be happy.

I told him that it wasn’t Mom’s fault she died. It wasn’t her unhealthy lifestyle, which she only lived because she had no time or energy to do otherwise. I told him that he had worked her to death, that it was her stress that brought on the cancer. I told him he was never going to have the chance to do that with me. That if he wasn’t willing to get me an assistant and he wasn’t willing to pay me what I was worth, that Stuart has already told me I could move in with him if I needed to, that he would be willing to help me out until I found a job, and I was going to take him up on the offer.

Then I picked up Jojo and walked out. I didn’t even get her dish or other things. I was worried that if I took the time to, he would be able to think of something to say to make me change my mind. He’s pretty good at making me feel guilty every time I stand up for myself, and I could see him working himself up to it. I decided to stop at a store and get her some new things, to just grab her and go.

He did get in a last word though, and it stung. He said that letting a man take care of me isn’t independence, that in the end, I would learn that I was never capable of taking care of myself, just as he had been telling me all along. He’s wrong, though. I’m sure he is.

  • From the journal of Lillian Anderson

P.S. – Part 2 of 4. The full story is over here.

Double exposure image of a doll bound in fairy lights superimposed over a rose, with a black background.

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