So when we left off Tina was still believing that Tom was coming home. We were having nothing to do with the Smiths and Tom doesn’t come home.
What he does do is go to my husband and ask him to talk to me about working a few mornings a week at his office to transfer all his paper documents into digital on his new computer system. I don’t want to do it but it’s a little slow that spring in my job so I grit my teeth, bite my tongue and start going into his office for four hours every morning. I know this is a mistake but hey, there’s not much going on to prevent me and Tom isn’t going to be there at the same time as me, win-win. I’m such a sap. Plus I’d quit working at the national social workers agency to freelance computer jobs. At that time I was out on my own doing consulting work on setting businesses on their own computer systems, so it was something I was doing and decided to treat Tom like another business client. This would be strictly professional and if it started to go into goat rodeo territory I’d bail.
I know in retrospect this is a horribly bad idea because it makes Tom think we’re all still yippy-skippy buddies still when we’re not. The husband and I have moved on well past Tom and Tina. We never see him except at church once in a great while. We don’t socialize or try to help Tina in any way now, the kids don’t hang out together. But, stupid me, I got lured back in.
At the time he was the owner and operator of a small time mortgage refinance agency. It had been successful when he first started it but by the time I started he didn’t even bother to show up until after 3 pm. So many days I’d be there trying to make order from disorder of five years of company records. I worked for him exactly three weeks in which he paid me not a dime after promising my husband he’d pay me an agreed upon amount. Every time I asked when I was getting paid he always said next week until one day admitting he didn’t have money to pay me but he would when he closed the business and got a rebate back of his prorated rent, utilities and insurance.
I knew at this point I was never getting paid. The days would run that I would show up, unlock the office and start on my Sisyphean task. It was hard because he hadn’t organized anything, just huge stacks of paperwork, a DOS system on his computer, really stone ages. Around 3 pm Tom would show up hung over carrying a case of beer. Many times when he came in early he would turn up the music, go in his office, drink beer, smoke pot and practice for his karaoke contests. But he wasn’t being an assclown, we got on quite well in a business setting.
Three weeks into my task he comes in one day and announces he is shutting down unless I buy the business from him. He tells me that is why he brought me in under the pretext of streamlining his office so that I’d fall in love with the business and buy it from him. I tell him not just no but hell no! He gripes, whines and complains that we have the money since we sold our furniture manufacturing business the husband and I owned, we should invest those profits by buying his business. I had to explain to him that buying his business would be useless because he had no paying clients or goodwill from the town. It would be worst that opening a business anew because I would have to overcome his bad reputation as well. He’s huffy but after calling the husband a dozen times and almost demanding we buy it he finally gets the message.
Which leads him to our doorstep and he asked for us to lend him twenty thousand dollars to get him out of debt. Turns out he has at least that amount owed on credit cards. We turn him down and boy is he pissed off. But since he’s not at our church we rarely see him any more.
Tom develops a bad habit of dropping by our house unannounced at the most awkward of times. What makes it even worse is that Cathy, Mike’s wife, told our pastor, myself, her counselor and social worker that she’s still having this ongoing affair. As a result Mike is staying our guest room and Cathy is constantly calling up demanding to speak to Mike and accusing me of trying to sleep with her husband. Mike is also one of Tom’s friends. It gets to be like some sort of flop house where people show up when they darn well feel like it. It doesn’t help that Tom is living close enough to just randomly ride his bike over to our house.
We ask Mike to move out because of the constant screaming drama with his estranged wife. Mike goes home after Cathy shows up on our lawn screaming out that she’s been ‘seeing’ two other men because it’s not fair that Mike left her with ‘needs’. Cathy and Tina start hanging around together, which completely relieves me, once Tina glommed onto Cathy and they started sharing just how unfair the world was and that God would vindicate their situations Tina stopped calling and trying to drag me back into her mess. I just want to avoid them all, like everyone at church is doing.
During this same time Tina decides that our public schools are ‘wicked’ (even as one of the churches is allowed to run a ‘Bible lesson’ to any kid whose parents say yes once a week during school hours) Tina decides to pull her remaining three boys out of school and homeschool them even as she seems overwhelmed before taking this step. It doesn’t go well, social services intervenes once it’s obvious that the boys have learned nothing and flunk the standardized testing they are required to take at the end of the school year. Social services tells Tina either they oversee her educational plan and come into her home schooling for observation once a week or she will need to enroll them in an accredited school. She places them straight back in their old schools but the kids are held back a year due to the year gap in their education. Tom protests and threatens to sue the school board.
Six months later out of the blue Tom returns to Tina. Because the landlord is evicting Tina and the boys they are all moving into Tom’s tiny two bedroom rambler. The landlord had enough after two years of scanty rent payments and damaged by the boys to the house. This comes right after David tried to sail out of the upstairs window, breaking the window and landing on the garage roof so hard he crashed through. Teeny-tiny two bedroom with four wild boys. Tom tells anyone that will listen that he’s only going to stay with Tina until the youngest boy (around 11 then) was graduated from high school. He continued to treat Tina like shit, belittling her, bossing her around and people at church still avoided him. Myself included.
One positive did happen. David could not be contained at the new house so a kindly relative that saw how badly the day to day care of David was impacting Tina’s health paid for David to go to a facility. The place was a nearby Mennonite home for the mentally disabled that worked with the patients to improve their skills. The Mennonites somehow managed to toilet train David and get some small behavior improvement without restoring to the drugs Tina fought the school over. Having David out of the house seemed to ease some of what Tina dealt with. The move was beneficial to both Tina and David. Plus they could take him out for a visit home any time they wanted.
Tom returned to our church as well as returning to Tina, putting on a facade that he’d done nothing wrong. He was returning for the sake of his kids. It makes going to church beyond awkward because Tom now wanted to pretend that the last two years haven’t happened at all. But what’s past cannot be undone.
Tina is overjoyed they are together again and tries to confront those that had been after her to divorce him. God has vindicated her, given her the desire of her heart. This means God is super-duper pleased with her and her righteousness she tells anyone that will listen.
After Tom and Tina reconcile they both decide they want us all to be friends again, us, Mike and Cathy and them. I keep telling them that this isn’t happening, that the husband and I have moved on. My husband explains it to Tom but he refuses to let it go.
Tom gets nasty about it a million times. We avoid him even more. When he tries to pigeon hole me in the church hallway I shoot past like I’m on fire with him cooing out loudly, “LOVE YOU SISTER!!!” Yes, yes, Hypocrite Jesus Freak Tom is back, full force and publicly pious.
Sometimes I get caught, can’t avoid Tom and he goes in for a hug no matter how many times I tell him this makes me uncomfortable. But he hasn’t turned physically violent with me yet either.
Comments open below
Other writings by Calulu
Adventures in Recovery – Sex Confessions ~ Cult of Personality ~Cereal Killers ~ Thirty One ~ The Piano ~ Barbie’s Head ~ Scaredy Cats ~ The Help ~ The Kids ~ Service Somebody ~ Circus ~ Fish ~ Boo! ~ Hi Ho Trigger ~ Surfing ~ SOS ~ The Big Truth ~ Pearl Clutching ~ Rolling ~ Can’t Dance ~
Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce