After Heather tossed Michael to the curb, and Molly returned to our new Section 8 apartment, Michael asked if he could move back in. At first I was resolute and said No (surprisingly he seemed to accept this), but he did have a job and managed to secure a place to stay for a few months–first in a basement room of where he worked (their business was conducted in a huge Victorian house) and later as someone else’s roommate.
Molly was having serious issues at school, and oftentimes didn’t even attend. Several times I was called from my job as a convenience store assistant manager to come pick her up because she was in some sort of trouble again (fighting, stealing a pair of expensive boots, acting “high” at school, etc.) When she was there, she hated it. Since I had to open the store by 6 I had to leave my house before 5 am and there was no way I could remain home to make sure she made the bus. Ethan tried but most of the time couldn’t even get her up (he was very good about getting himself up and to school). The school informed me if I couldn’t get her to school, that I could be charged with neglect and willfully keeping her out of school. It didn’t matter that I had to work and that I had no one else to keep an eye on her. Well, as it turned out, I was fired from my job primarily because of my poor attendance due to disruptions and early leaves caused by Molly, so that sort of solved the problem except she still wouldn’t get up most of the time, even if she was home.
When she was home (which wasn’t often), she was surly and snappish and spent most of her time on MySpace, which was still popular at the time. It was 2007 and she was about 15 by now. For three months she managed to keep her activities a secret from me but eventually I found out she was seeing an older man she met on MySpace (he was 23) who had a jail record for selling drugs. I had given up trying to control what she did. She convinced me not to have him arrested by saying she would kill herself, so I did nothing and prayed for the best. I knew they were doing drugs and kept begging her to stay clean to no avail. She had Medicaid, but refused to see a therapist, although she did agree to go in to be evaluated for medications and that’s when she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Countless times the school called meetings to discuss what to do about her attendance and behavior and I begged them to put her into a special program they had for kids with emotional problems but they said she would have to wait until the following school year.
One day Michael showed up at the door and informed me his last roommate had kicked him out again. He told me he’d been drunk and after he was booted out, he tried to kill himself by running his car into a telephone pole. The pole and the car were totalled, but Michael was fine. He started crying when I still said he couldn’t move back in and started the manipulations, convincing me it would be in my benefit to have him there because he would make sure Molly went to school AND he would help me with the bills. Since Molly was more likely to listen to him than to me (and begged me to let him move back in), I conceded, telling him he would have to find another place to live in three months. Well, that three months turned into almost seven years.
At first things seemed fine. Michael stayed sober, was working, and actually did contribute most of his paychecks to household expenses. Molly’s behavior improved a little–at first. She was still with the older guy but was more cooperative when she was home. However I noticed that she was in her room a lot with Michael with the door locked, or sometimes Ben (her boyfriend) was in there with them. If I tried to interrupt them or ask what they were doing, I got screamed at and told to mind my own business. I tried to listen to what was going on in there–it didn’t sound sexual (which worried me) but it did sound suspicious. One day I found a crack pipe on the floor of her room and questioned her about it. She said it was Ben’s and assured me she wasn’t smoking crack or any other hard drugs. Often I smelled pot smoke coming out from the room so I knew they were smoking pot together a lot. I didn’t think pot was so bad, but couldn’t believe her father would be so irresponsible as to smoke it with his under-age daughter.
I tried to talk to Michael about this, but he refused to listen, at first denying they were smoking anything, and then when he couldn’t do that anymore, telling me I had no right to tell him what to do since I had “gotten him the felony” (this was a refrain I would hear over and over again for the next seven years–he always used it as an excuse to do whatever the hell he wanted). So the three of them continued to get high in her room, leaving me out of everything and treating me rudely when they did talk to me. I was being gaslighted and triangulated against again, although this time, Ethan kept to himself and didn’t get involved in our drama. He busied himself on the computer and refused to participate in any arguments. Good for him!
In 2008 Molly broke up with Ben, but her drug problems had become more severe and I was at my wit’s end. One day I was home and Molly was out on the second-floor deck talking on her phone. I had to pick up a few things at the store and let her know I’d be right back. Twenty minutes later, I came home to find an ambulance in our driveway. My heart pounding, I ran into the house and found out Molly had been straddling the deck and had fallen off onto the ground (she was high). She was taken to the ER and it turned out she had fractured one of her lower vertebrae. She wasn’t too seriously injured but she could have been (and she’s had back problems ever since).
It turned out the be a blessing in disguise because finally, after begging for Molly to go to rehab for so long (and the school would do nothing to help), she was court-ordered to go. The one catch was that the only way Medicaid would pay for her treatment (I couldn’t afford health insurance for her through my job), was if I allowed the state to take custody of her. It was a painful decision but she was 16 and almost an adult anyway. It didn’t mean she couldn’t come home to live with me again. What choice did I have?
Molly was irate that I “gave up custody” of her and at first couldn’t understand why I would do such a thing. (Later on she came to understand and told me I saved her life by doing that).
The rehab was a six month live-in program, and Michael and I were allowed to go see her, although it was required a social worker was always present. The visits were awkward and forced, but she did seem to be improving (even though she hated it). She started gaining weight back and didn’t look so pasty anymore. Finally I felt like I didn’t have to worry so much about her.
Without Molly at home, Michael and I started to get along better, until he got fired from his job. At first he seemed to be looking for another one, but soon it became apparent he was spending most of his time in chat rooms and on political websites. I questioned him and he said no one was hiring. I offered to take him around to look but he always found some excuse. He sweet talked me into buying pot for him, even though I couldn’t afford it.
Meanwhile, Molly graduated from her program and went to live in a group home for teen girls with substance abuse issues. She liked the home and made some friends there (she is still friends with two of the girls), but since she wasn’t being supervised as closely, was able to obtain and use drugs. Pain pills were her drug of choice (but anything would do in a pinch, including alcohol), and one day she was so high she was taken to another residential treatment program in Tennessee. She called me crying, and wouldn’t tell me where they were taking her at first, but that she wanted to kill herself. The program turned out to be a sort of boot camp, where the kids lived in a rustic setting where they had to build their own fires for warmth and live in a cabin even in the cold months. But there was hiking and horseback riding. It was supposed to build character. I hoped it would. She hated every minute of it but on her 18th birthday would be allowed to return home.
When Ethan was nearly 18 he told me he was gay. I assured him I wasn’t upset and kind of suspected out that he was. He started to show more confidence and become more social. But at home he was testy and impatient with both Michael and myself. He hated all the arguing and was out more often. He made friends with a female police officer who worked at his school. He couldn’t take being in the house anymore with all the drama, and moved in with the policewoman for a few more months until he could find another place to live.
Ethan came back home after his 18th birthday but not for long. In mid-2010 he told me he had met someone online and would be moving to Illinois to stay with him. The guy he met turned out to be a supportive and mature person and they are still good friends today although they’re not together anymore. Of course I worried at first but there was nothing I could do. He was 18 and could do what he wanted, but it was actually the best thing for him.
In early 2011, it came to the attention of the landlord Michael was living with me, and he informed Section 8. I was told to move out by the end of the month. We had very little money and had to move into a trailer in a crappy trailer park that was rife with drug and gang activity (two years ago, someone was found shot to death outside one of the trailers). The toilet in one of the bathrooms was literally falling through the floor and the tub in the other bathroom didn’t work. The rooms were tiny and the walls paper thin. The kitchen wasn’t too bad though and even had a dishwasher, although it broke shortly after we moved in. I sold most of my belongings at a huge yard sale to raise funds for the move.
It was becoming apparent Michael was no longer going to work. He had developed diabetes and complained about the food I bought–I got food stamps, but I still couldn’t afford to buy much red meat and he said he needed it to control his diabetes. He became insulin dependent but had no medical insurance so he had to go to the free clinic to get his doses. He also saw a psychiatrist who had diagnosed him with Bipolar and PTSD (!?!) and prescribed him medication, including Klonopin, which he started to sell for cash. At the end of 2011 he applied for Disability (SSI) and so now had a handy excuse not to look for a job–since he was disabled, he wouldn’t get SSI if he was working (this turned out to be false if he worked part time but I didn’t know that).
In April 2011 Molly turned 18 and returned home. For awhile she seemed a lot better. Even though altogether Molly had probably only finished one and a half years of high school, she managed to get a GED in just one month because she is very intelligent. She started looking for a job and was hired almost right away, but she never seemed to be able to keep a job for long after that, even though she always found one quickly. She refused to attend college, even though if she had, she would have been able to get government benefits for housing and school until she was 26, as well as continued Medicaid. But she hated all the jobs she had and almost always wound up being fired for getting too involved in interpersonal drama. She told me the more I talked to her about college, the more she didn’t want to go. I left her alone after that.
She had a string of boyfriends who were no good for her, although none were as bad as Ben had been, and the most recent one was clean and sober although his future prospects weren’t that good because he only had a high school education and no ambition. He worked as an auto mechanic but only doing oil changes and inspections and didn’t seem to interested in advancing. When they were together he spent most of their time playing video games, with Molly watching.
At the end of 2012, we moved again, this time to a real house. We lucked out–it was another duplex with two bedrooms and in a nice neighborhood. It was an older house with a lot of character and the original Arts and Crafts windows, and I had fun decorating it and painting it (although I never had much furniture). Michael slept in the living room; Molly and I took the two bedrooms. Michael was becoming unbearably annoying, constantly whining about how sick he was because I wouldn’t buy decent food for him, and watching political shows on TV and whining about how much he hated Republicans (I didn’t care for them much either but his constant bellyaching was irritating and he did nothing to help himself). I told him if he wanted better food he would have to get a job. Of course he refused (“but I’m disabled!”) and every day I’d come home after a long day at work to find him passed out on the couch or ranting about politics on Huffington Post. He never bothered to pick anything up and smoked like a chimney–both pot and tobacco. The living room was a mess, and Molly and I always wound up having to clean it. He never washed the many dishes he used, and they’d be all over the place. Living with him was almost unbearable and I was starting to really hate him. When he was high he acted stupid and oblivious to everything (and was loud); when he wasn’t high he was mean and sarcastic, calling both me and his daughter horrible names. He was so ungrateful, never apologized for anything, and just did whatever the hell he wanted. He made Molly or me go pick up his pot for him (I refused to do it after awhile) and complained about everything. He bought lottery tickets or pot from the money he got from the illegal sale of his psychiatric meds (lottery tickets were another thing I refused to foot the bill for). He ordered us around and stole money from me several times, although he never would admit it and tell me I (or Molly) was imagining things. He acted so entitled. Even Molly was becoming sick of him and we started to become closer.
In early 2013, Michael decided he wanted a dog. We already had one (and also 4 cats), and had said I absolutely could not afford another pet nor did we have the space. But telling Michael no about anything was futile. He always had to have his way. So one day I came home to find him holding a puppy. I told him to get rid of it and he refused, resorting to his old “you’re just an animal hater” guilt tactic. He said if I got rid of the dog, he would kill himself. I let him keep the dog.
I love dogs, but I couldn’t stand this dog. He was a jack russel/Beagle mix, cute but the most hyper dog I ever met. Michael refused to control him or discipline him and the dog pooped and peed all over the rugs, chewed on the furniture and everything else he could, and constantly ran off and would bark uncontrollably. When I complained to Michael about it, he would make excuses like “but he’s just a puppy!” He’d say this even though when the dog was over a year old. Molly and I had no luck training him, but her most current boyfriend was able to get him to stop pooping in the house. However, he continued to run off, and many nights I’d hear him barking somewhere in the neighborhood. Three times neighbors called animal control and the third time, I told them to please just take him away. If it happened again, I would have been fined. Normally I would have felt terrible having a dog taken to the pound (because I have always loved animals) but with this dog I didn’t feel at all guilty. It’s not like I had ever agreed to adopt the dog in the first place.
Michael was livid and wouldn’t speak to me for days. He was becoming angrier and more unpleasant and sometimes he just acted downright insane. I think some of the “insanity” was fabricated so he could continue to get all the free meds and also it would help him get his SSI sooner, or so he thought. Just about everything out of his mouth was sarcastic, angry and intended to offend. Half the time he made no sense. He seemed to hate everyone and everything, especially his daughter and ex-wife who were keeping him from being homeless and sacrificing so much for him. He kept saying I needed to be more patient because he was sick with diabetes and had mental problems. He never, ever apologized. I’ve never been a mean person but I didn’t like the person I was becoming around him. I was turning into the bitch he always said I was. I no longer even tried to be nice, and tried to be away from the house as much as possible. When I was home I went in my room and locked the door to get away from him. I had no idea how to get rid of him because he threatened suicide every time I did and I knew if he killed himself my daughter would be devastated. I was afraid how it would affect her. Michael always reminded me of this too, and even threatened to kill himself in her room and warned me how that would really fuck her up. Oh, he was evil alright. He never thought of anyone but himself.
One day in February 2014 I got a phone call at work from Molly telling me to meet her and her boyfriend at the police station. She explained that Michael had lost his temper and beat her up. That was the last straw for me. I no longer cared about his excuses, I wanted him out. The police officer there told us to go to the magistrate’s office if I wanted to press charges and file a restraining order. I did but Molly started feeling bad for him (even though she had her eye blacked and had other bruises on her) and refused to press charges herself.
We arranged to go home and pretend we had all gone to the mall. Later that evening, the police came and took Michael off in handcuffs. He was released the next day but didn’t dare come back. Finally I was free! But I had a lot of work ahead of me.
I’ll write a post later (it won’t be anywhere near as long as this one!) describing what the aftermath of his abuse has been like, and the steps I’m trying to take to recover from years of being under his control.