The Door 10/10/20

History of Richard Bleil

My father was never physically or sexually abusive. I am a victim of emotional abuse, and frankly, I kind of wish I had been physically abused. I think it would be easier for people to believe I was emotionally abused if I could point to a scar from a cigarette burn or a broken arm from being thrown down the stairs. The problem with being emotionally abused is that people tend to make light of it. “Oh, what’s the matter, did he yell at you?” Well, it’s a little more than that, and my parents used the usual trick to hide their actions by saying things like, “If you think you’ll be happier with another family, you’re welcome to leave.” Of course I never took the bait.

But despite the lack of physical abuse, emotional abuse is abuse all the same, and it’s not like I was alone. His temper and bullying affected all of us. When I was eight years old the family bought a new house. I guess it is what would be referred to as a “split-level”. On the bottom was the garage and family room, up half a flight of stairs is the kitchen, living room and dining room, and up another flight of stairs are the bathrooms and bedrooms above the garage and family room. We had installed new carpeting in the family room, and the garage door, a large heavy door, scraped when it opened. My dad, always a perfectionist and always a do-it-yourself kind of person, he decided just to take off a quarter inch from the door. He took it down off of its hinges, carefully measured out the quarter inch, carefully drew the line, remeasured, did everything perfectly. Then he made one of his rare mistakes. He grabbed his electric jigsaw.

On the top, it was perfection personified. Straight, even, beautiful, but if you don’t know what an electric jigsaw is, that’s the one with the very thin blade. Regardless of how perfectly straight it was on top, on the flip side of the door the blade was following the contours of the wood grain and weaving side to side. Of course, this just won’t do for a perfectionist.

My father taught me to speak two languages fluently; English and Swearese. This is where the Swearese came in as he fricking bachin rafkin flipped the igging ackin frackin door over and measured out a new jarkin jerkin jorking line and grabbed his brankin bolkin brinkin handsaw and sawed the glarbin gribin grapin bottom off again. He finally finished and hung it, and it hung, I kid you not, an inch off of the ground.

Mom decided to show him a mercy and prepared an iced tea, but she certainly wasn’t going to bring it to him, not in this mood. Keep in mind, dad never raised a hand to any of us, and my mother was terrified to show him this kind deed, afraid to expose herself to that emotional abuse. So she turned to my sister, then eleven, and said “take this out to your father.” My sister said, “no way, not me.” Then she sold me out. “Let’s get Rich to do it.”

“Rich, come here,” my mom commanded. Alone in my room and hungry for attention, I responded by, well, going to see what she wanted. “Take this out to your father,” she said.

Now, my dad’s voice carried. I might have been upstairs, but I was fully aware of his anger, and was taking notes on my second language of swearese. More than once, I’ve been accused of being intelligence, and to prove this wrong, I replied to my mother, “okay.” And down the stairs I go.

The door was closed. Dad, on the other side, no doubt was looking at it and considering his options on how to make this right. I stood, with his iced tea, in the family room on the other side. “Dad?” I asked. “What,” he snapped. “Mom sent me with an iced tea for you,” I said. “Bring it out,” he commanded.

“Sure. Do you want me to bring it out or just slip it under the door?”

And BAM. I have NO idea where that came from. One thing about growing up with a narcissist is that there comes a point where you just have to stand up to him. Oh, that wasn’t it, but it was the start. For that moment, his anger didn’t frighten me, and as unlikely as it might sound, he actually laughed.

No bow on this one. I got out from under, and humor helped a lot. If you’re living under the pall of a narcissist, I hope you find your path.

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