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Marilee J. Layman

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02:47 pm: Still Hurt
Ignore the earlier entry (if it's still there by the time you get here), I'm trying to figure out why Ellen Datlow's URL isn't working in her post.

I still hurt a lot, but got up early because it was hazmat Saturday at the transfer station and I found an old giant battery to run my nebulizer off in case the car and the inside power died. The battery itself is dead, so out to hazmat. Dropped off mixed paper recycling, too, and went to my regular Pizza Hut lunch.

Soon after I arrived, a family came in -- two boys, two girls, mom, dad. And then they all sat silently and straight up. Nobody spoke unless dad spoke to them first, including the mom. He decided what they'd drink and eat. The mom had her arms around herself and was rocking. One of the boys had an in-your-face Christian t-shirt on (Take the Cross or Take the Loss, something like that) and the father was very careful to make him a bib of napkins so as not to get it dirty. The other boy had brought a book in and was reading it under the table and quailed when the father found out and told him to put it away. When dad went to the head, everybody talked, quietly, still sitting straight up, but talked. The instant the boy facing that way saw him and said so, they were all quiet. I tell you, it was all too familiar. No violence marks, but we never did, either.

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From:ann_totusek
Date:September 8th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC)
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I went to school with a family like that, only I don't believe that the father was ever violent. The theology of the couple- and it must be pointed out that it was her theology prior to marriage, so it was something that she bought into- was that the man was the head of the household and made any and all decisions that he wanted to. He'd take her down in public in front of students (he was a pastor at a church that had a school, and they were chaperones on a school trip we took once, so I saw this in person). He wasn't rude, but he completely undercut her authority both with their own children and with the students. As a result, her children felt very free to run right over her at a very young age, and she was not the kind of steely-spined matriarch to see to it that that didn't happen. The upshot of this, in some ways, was that when it came time to have their third or fourth child and he felt that they didn't have the money for a hospital birth was that they would have an unattended "birthing party," inviting all their friends over to attend the birth (she'd be in a bedroom for privacy, he'd attend). There was failure to progress, other medical emergencies, and it ended up being way the hell more expensive than it would have ever been to simply check in and do things the "regular" way. Now, I'm a fan of home births and midwives, and things can go wrong, it's just that it will forever bother me that I know that she had virtually no say what ended up being a diastrous decision. And it also should be mentioned that he did dearly love her- I saw ample evidence of this- it was just that he had a huge blind spot created by his personal theology, and her personal theology allowed him to get away with it. To my knowledge he would NEVER have raised a hand to her, or spoken to her harshly or in a derogatory or demeaning way, yet the way he'd take decisions out of her hands in public, much less in private, relegated her to the effective status of "child" in that household. I'da been tempted in her place to indicate that if I wasn't capable of making adult decisions, that I certainly wasn't capable of adult responsibilities, and was not available for child care, sexual activity, etc. On the other hand, he wouldn't have ever married me in the first place cause I'd have smacked him down the first time he tried to "put me in my place."
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:September 8th, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
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I don't know that this one was, but mine was, along with the patriarchal thing. The problem with men being in charge of a marriage and kids is that they rarely know enough to do it right. That's why we usually call it a partnership these days.
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From:mjlayman
Date:September 8th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
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And I should say that I'm worried that my brother undercuts his wife to their kids. He's always dated/married stupid/submissive women and his wife is not very bright. He says she's not bright at the table where the kids hear and she's off in her own world. I tell him it's not right, but he says "she doesn't mind." I don't know, maybe she does and isn't showing it. I'd guess she really isn't listening.
[User Picture]
From:bibliofile
Date:September 11th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC)
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What your brother is doing is still abusive and not at all good for anyone in his family. Alas, I speak from experience.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:September 11th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
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I know it's abusive, I just hope she isn't hearing. It's not good for his kids to hear him say this. She's sufficiently not-bright and they're teens so I'm pretty sure they know, but they shouldn't hear it over and over from him.
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