When ‘Go To Hell’ Doesn’t Cut It

Will looked at me and said, “I can’t get dis futtin’ thing open!”  Stupidly, I said, “What did you just say?”  Then his chubby little fingers handed me his juice pouch while his humongous brown eyes peered through his Harry Potter glasses, and he frustratedly said, “Mom!  I can’t get dis futtin’ thing open!”

We were surrounded by little preschoolers, their adoring parents and the preschool teacher.  It was just a few days after a couple parents approached me about the possibility of my taking the position of President of our little parent-run preschool.  I grabbed Will’s juice pouch, muttered something under my breath while looking down so that none of them would notice that I was blushing,  poked the straw in the pouch, and was squirted with a steady stream of sugary apple juice – my payment for being a ‘bad’ mommy.


I try to work on my language.  I think I’m making progress.  I never have been convinced that saying bad words is any kind of an indication of a character flaw.  However, with two little people that parrot everything I do and say, it behooves me to rein in on the language a bit.

While I do release the occasional f-bomb, I don’t direct it at others.

There were times, in heated arguments with Mark when I wanted to tell him to ‘f’ off.  I wanted to tell him that so badly, that I could taste the saltiness of that word on my tongue.

But I couldn’t do it.

I really thought (and still believe) that I would be taking a step on a slippery slope if I resorted to directing that word at my husband, or anyone else, for that matter.  Even after we divorced, when he provided me with so many fine opportunities to direct that bomb at him, I still couldn’t do it.  There were times when I felt myself catch that word, just as it was about to fly from my mouth on its fast, straight path to Mark’s head.  I knew the relief I would feel.  I wanted that relief.  I wanted to see little divots in his forehead where those bombs tried to penetrate his thick skull and do their damage.

But I wouldn’t let myself say it.

I have lost track of the numbers of times I have wanted to say that word to him.


Saturday was no different.  It was the last day of skiing at what has become our home away from home.

Mark was skiing that day, too.

We tried to avoid him.  It’s not a big place.  Jen and I were standing with cousins on a balcony, getting ready to laugh and cheer at the end-of-the-season show.  I told Jen that I was off to find Will.  He’d been wandering around the lodge, waiting for the show to start, hoping to avoid his dad.  When I found Will, I assured him that the coast was clear, that I hadn’t seen Mark on the balcony, and we could all watch the show together.  When we walked back out on the balcony, Mark was standing behind Jenny, patting her on the head and chatting in her ear.  Will took one look, and headed for the opposite end of the balcony.

Jenny was standing with her cousins, and Will was alone, so I opted to hang with Will.  I periodically looked over to see Mark laughing, swapping stories with my adult relatives, patting Jen on the head, and basically acting like everything is lovely in the world – a world where he has told his kids that he will “leave them alone”.

I stood there next to Will, looking back at Jenny, seeing that sorry excuse for a father, and the anger grew.  At first it felt like my feet were filling with cement.  It was as if my feet were telling the wooden slats on the balcony, “Take that, damn you.”

My feet felt heavy and mad and mean and not ready to take any more.

And then my legs started to fill with cement, too.  And the weight and pressure of the anger was consuming me.  I was starting to feel paralyzed with not knowing what to do.  Do I stay with Will?  I can’t leave Jenny there to suffer through Mark’s insipid voice and head patting.  But Will would not so much as look at his dad.  And I felt heavier and heavier.  I felt like I was going to explode with all the rage and anger that has built up from every slight, from every misspoke word, from every stink-eyed look, from every infraction.

I thought of all the times that I haven’t stood up for myself.  I thought of the times that I have stood up for myself – to no avail.  All the times ‘my feelings’ have been hurt.  I say that facetiously, because not only have my feelings been hurt, but I’ve been made fun of for having my feelings hurt.  The list of slights, insults, and sorry treatments grew…

  • the time at the nice restaurant when I politely returned the cold steak, only to have the waiter tell me that I didn’t know what a properly cooked steak was, so I promptly apologized for having sent my meal back
  • the time my ‘boyfriend’ drove to LA with me, to support me in my new journey, tell me how much he loved me and would miss me, and then went back to Bozeman and jumped in bed with his ‘real’ girlfriend
  • all the times I tried to tell John that I wanted to hear from him more, that we really had something here, and he completely ignored me
  • all the times I bent over backwards for Mark, put up with all his shit, his condescension, his dismissals and more
  • all the times – surrounded by extended family – when my dad would tell everybody that I was a difficult baby who cried all the time
  • all the times my mom would say, “That’s really good, but…”

Standing with Will on that balcony, looking in Jen’s direction, I felt like Old Faithful must feel, right before she’s gonna blow.

And then something snapped.

I was not going to take this anymore.

I walked over to Mark, stood behind him and talked sternly, but quietly, in his good ear.

“You don’t get to tell the kids that you are done being a father, only to show up at this fun event, and pretend to your kids and the world that everything is fine, and that you are the world’s best dad.  You need to stand somewhere else so that I can watch this with both of the kids and their cousins.  You can not prevent me from watching this with both of the kids.”

He just simply said, “No.”

I didn’t scream, I didn’t yell, I didn’t succumb to any hysteria.  With the force of all those missed opportunities, all those perfect occasions for having delivered those choice words – to him, and to so many others – I said…

fuck you

I grabbed Jenny’s hand and we walked over to stand by Will.

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  1. Once again, I bend my knee to you. But this time both knees, and only so I can get the body leverage to jump up into a wild, rooftop-shouting CHEER!!!! How cathartic.

  2. I don’t know if I breathed the entire time I read this… and I knew the outcome. I take my hat off to you, dear one. You are the dearest friend that any of us can have, I thank the lucky stars everyday that we found each other. Wasband, never knew what he had, his loss.
    Enjoy your sweet children today.
    Love you

  3. Annie,
    I hope you know I was saying it for you, too.

  4. This entry electric!!! What a perfect insertion! Finally figuring out how to find my way around your site–actually very simple and well done–operator error on this end–I love the whole thing–many well dones my girl—what half the women in the US would love to be expressing but can’t find the MOXIE!!!!

  5. Well… It took me long enough to find my moxie!

    It’s soooo nice to hear from you.

    Hope to hear from you again.

  6. What courage and bravery and honorably said. Yes you are a woman of honor. I am sure it was a wonderful moment, also scary, uncomfortable, and really necessary. It is really not easy (total understatement) to stand up for what is right, and to believe what you know to be true. And to have the guts to say it. We victims are so used to being submissive, and being “nice” — sometimes ( actually much more often ) we just need to tell the truth, even if it includes some of the so called forbidden words. Well said! Congratulations! I know it is difficult to be strong. Just know that we applaud you for your guts, courage, and standing up for your precious children. They are your cubs and you are their mama. They are so lucky.

  7. Phyllis,

    My stomach has been messed up ever since Saturday. I’m not used to sticking up for myself. It’s a bit scary, to say the least.

    And this very afternoon, I burst into tears for no apparent reason.

    But overall, I feel liberated, energized, and full of the real possibility that I don’t have to be a doormat for anyone.

    I strongly recommend it. But not everyone is comfortable with the language. /:o)

  8. But finally saying it was empowering. I remember how terrified I was when I got the nerve, and my kitchen was full of people. It went silent and everyone froze. I remember being afraid and feeling empowered all at the same time. He does not deserve a doormat. I am so glad you finally said it to him.

  9. Kath,

    thank you. you certainly know the history…

  10. Scary but freeing! I am so proud of you! I got tears in my eyes reading that! Love you!

  11. Just remember if you ever need someone to back you up…”you got me babe.” I owe you for giving my dirty, sticky marshmallow face kisses!

  12. Believe me… I haven’t forgotten that sticky kiss. /:o)

  13. I need that courage and strength to deal with my boss. My verbiage would be different…but just as direct.

    As I was reading this I was encouraged by your words! My thoughts were, “I am not the only one afraid and uncertain how to handle some situations!” I am not ALONE in this, I too am able to confront my fears and put them in their place! This read helps me, Jesse, to go forward with what I need to do. I have determined that my boss is narcissistic…WOW!

  14. Lucy,

    Wow, is right. I hope I’ve dropped enough keys and presented enough tools.

    Sometimes it just helps so much to know what you are dealing with.

    Good luck!

  15. Like Annie, I didn’t breathe while reading this.

    Well done you!

    Isn’t it scary when the word ‘doormat’ begins to fade from our forehead :)

  16. Tina,

    For awhile there, I was afraid ‘doormat’ was a permanent tattoo.

  17. I wanted to jump up at the end of this and go all cheerleader for you! Way to go!!! That must have been an amazing feeling :D And what a way to take back your fun time with the kids!

  18. Jenn,

    I still remember that day with fondness, and an elevated pulse rate.

  19. I really should spend more time digging through this wonderfulness! Thanks, Jenn, for commenting and bringing this forward.

    I have a parallel story that I will not share today, but didn’t it feel GOOD after the nerves settled and the empowerment prepared you for the next time? It did for me. xxx

  20. Z,

    It felt fantastic. And honestly, I think maybe I’ve uttered that only one other time …. to him. Not because I haven’t wanted to more often, I just want to save it for when it’s really warranted.

  21. I had to look this one up again because I am almost there this time! I know I may have instilled panic of exposure when I mentioned in my last email how I don’t share everything with him because I fear his unpredictable and irrational responses with the kids. Specifically, when he emotionally and physically scarred my oldest. My fuck you will be when I arrange daycare for the summer on my schedule, not his. This argument has been going on since my last response to this post. Aargh.

  22. Z,

    They are amazing at how they won’t/can’t give up…. on anything!

    Wait until you arrange summer daycare, then say it. Loudly! And thoroughly enjoy the release.

  23. Oh, I will! Lol. Won’t be able to help myself. He has said so many times that compromising is losing and he wants a win-win. Translated from NPD to normalcy that means I give him what he wants then he is happy and wins. Both wins are for him, you see…

  24. Z,

    I’d never thought of it that way before… yes. Win-win always meant that he would win on both ends.

    The other day something reminded me of a conversation: Two little kids at home, not leaving the house much, waiting for him to get home at the end of a day to hear a glimpse of what was going on in the rest of the world. I had asked if he’d mind if I went out with the girls just to get a break from my routine. His response: “If you think you need some mental health time away from this family, you’re gonna have to fight for it.”

    Apparently, my mental health wasn’t a win-win for him.

  25. Right, it wasn’t because we are all just extensions of them. If they are happy, we must be happy and if we are not, well, then we must “FIX IT!”… Their way, of course. I hate those two words. I see it often. Like I am going to try and remedy anything (is there anything that truly needs a remedy?) with that demanding bs condescension glaring at me.

    I really hope you went out, but I know and understand that you didn’t. I would have avoided the fight and just stayed home…pissed and miserable. That reminds me of when I went to Napa for ‘work’. It was an appreciation trip and boy did they do it right! I digress, anyway, it was a necessary work trip (lol) right before his sister’s wedding. I went anyway as I needed to get away, but took the red eye back to meet him right before the wedding started. He had to pack the kids and drive 2 hours. I was only gone 2 nights and one was on the plane, so a total of a day and a half. He was almost certifiable when I got there. Now, the oldest was about 12 at the time and the little one 2. It was right after I had brought both the kids from Hawaii, left them with my sister, started a new job, closed on a new house by myself, and commuted every weekend in hell traffic to see the kids while he was partying hard with his bff and several one night stands for 2 weeks in CA. He had spent an extra week in Hawaii after we left. He couldn’t handle me being gone for a day and a half. True story. I didn’t get outraged when he demanded that I get back immediately when I cannot fly a plane. I panicked the entire time and couldn’t sleep a bit on the red eye. Just what he wanted. I showed up exhausted, worried, and grumpy. I took over the kids and he had a great time with his family. I know there are lots of women in similar situations, which is why I am posting it. This was when I KNEW it was going to end. 4 years later I left him.

  26. Z,

    Of course I didn’t go out that night… for all the reasons you know. Keep the peace. Make nice. Don’t rock the boat.

    I should have capsized that frickin’ boat long before I did.

    That’s why I continue to write on this blog. That’s why I SOOO appreciate you sharing your stories. I remember what it was like to “put up” and “shut up” for all those years. I remember what it was like to think that I was the crazy one. As much as I want to reach the other sources married to narcissists, grab their hands and pull them out of the nightmare, more than that, I really want them to stand up and pull their kids out of the nightmare.

    You are a big part of getting that message to them.

    Thanks, Zaira.

  27. Somehow I missed this when it first came out. *standsupandapplauds*

  28. Susan,

    It stills feels good. ;)

  29. And bumping this up again….it still feels good…

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