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I've been considering posting something about this for a while, now.  At first I didn't out of a sense of pride but more recently it's been that I can't quite seem to define precisely what the problem is.  I still can't put my finger on it (beyond "I've fucked my life up a bit and I'm not sure how to straighten it back out again") so I'm sure this is gonna be full of irrelevancies, because not knowing what the exact problem is makes it difficult to determine what is or isn't relevant.  I won't blame anyone who simply doesn't care to read this.  Really, you don't have to.  But if you feel so inclined - here is my backstory so far.  Please help me figure out which way is up if you're able.

 

I got a girl pregnant when I was only 19.  We had a pretty good relationship at the time; neither of us had any idea what we wanted to do with our lives beyond drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll.  But we did a lot of that and had one Hell of a time together.  She was living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, with her crippled father (Jim).  He used his disability to get welfare, sympathy and endless excuses for his own cruelty.  In the intervening years I've come to refer to him as the most evil biped I have ever personally met before.  At the time, however, I hadn't read Ayn Rand; I'd chosen to wander the world for a while rather than put up with my own Tiger-parents for a single unnecessary day, and any philosophizing I did was usually under the influence and in order to impress chicks.  The very first night I met Tiffany I spent with her, at her dad's place, and I simply kept returning there on each following night for several months.

The day we found out she was pregnant is one of those crystal-clear moments that sticks out in my memory.  With big, terrified eyes she asked me what we were going to do.  After thinking it over for a bit I said that it really should be up to her, whether or not to keep it, but that I'd be there to support her in whatever she chose to do about it.

When she chose to keep it we knew there'd have to be some radical changes to our lifestyles.  I'd already had two or three jobs before but hadn't taken any of them too seriously.  At that point, however, I started hunting for one in earnest and attempting to actually show up to interviews on time and clean-cut.  We both quit drinking or doing drugs and started trying to baby-proof her father's house, although he did his best to actively undermine such changes.  A few months later, in another of those crystal-clear moments, I remember her flying out of Jim's room and sobbing uncontrollably.  I don't know what had been said between them but he screamed "you bitch" after her as she threw herself onto her bed.  After a minute or so of incoherent wailing she looked directly up at me and asked me to take her away from that place because she couldn't keep living there.  As much as I detested my own parents I could see that her father was somehow worse; I called them up, gave them a rough picture of the situation and asked them for help.

They already knew that I was engaged to Tiffany and that she was pregnant, and they approved (although not of all the preceding partying).  They'd made it abundantly clear throughout my entire childhood that they expected and deserved multiple grandchildren.  After learning a few more of the details I knew about Jim they agreed that it was no place to raise a child and rushed to help set us up in an apartment in Williamsburg, Iowa; about fifteen minutes away from their own home.

William James Tiberius Jodeit was born on August 23rd of 2011 in a hospital in Iowa City.  I didn't feel all the gushing affection that most people mention feeling when they see their children for the first time; newborn babies are noisy and weird-looking little critters.  But I'll never forget the first time he focused both eyes in the same direction and smiled at me.

Anyway.  Around this time I also decided that I didn't want to write bad sci-fi stories (as I had been doing for some time); I wanted to be an astronautical engineer.  I didn't just want to fantasize about mankind colonizing the stars; I wanted to make it real.  My parents had been chastising me for my general aimlessness for many years and urging me to do something with all the talents their God had allegedly given me.  In point of fact they were obnoxiously keen to discuss every miniscule decision I made and compare it to their loose interpretations of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, despite the fact (which I'd been able to point out to them at 14 years old) that neither of these books bore much resemblance to the moral code they were actually advocating.  Still, I had been squandering my potential, and when I informed them of my career choice they enthusiastically helped to enroll me in the local community college.  I took out a student loan at their behest, which Tiffany supplemented by working at the local McDonald's.

She'd turned out to be much better than me at getting and keeping a steady job; making sure the bills got paid.  Within her first few months she was being groomed for a management position while I grudgingly filled out my homework, devoured everything I could find about space travel and grew to be increasingly fond of William "JT" Jodeit.  When we'd first come home with him I would spend my designated babysitting time playing some damn video game and pausing it only if he started whimpering.  After two weeks (which was the first time he ever smiled at me) I started explaining to him what I was doing as I played.  A week or so after that I was introducing him to Enya when it was bedtime and Alice Cooper when it was time to wake up again; carrying him around town to show him what birds, squirrels or cars were.  I was amazed at the amazed expression on his little face about any random crap we all see on a daily basis.  The entire world was this incredible new thing to him and I guess the feeling was infectious, and I found that I far preferred it to any other feeling.  I started skipping classes in order to spend more time with him.  My grades suffered a bit, but I'd specifically chosen those classes where the exams mattered the most and I was still consistently acing them.  Then I took a class on MacroEconomics which I failed for being correct.  The whole thing was one big rationalization for the continuation of the welfare state, and even prior to reading Ayn Rand I knew that was rubbish.  Explaining all the reasons why the welfare state is rubbish on my final exam did not help.  Then in one of Robert Zubrin's books I read about the Space Treaty, which essentially collectivized everything above our own atmosphere in advance and declared private property nonexistent in space.  Zubrin argues that this is the primary reason why we haven't done much in space ever since the cold war and he's obviously right about that.  I dropped out of school and stopped writing, too, for a few years.

The three of us eventually moved back to Minnesota to stay with Tiffany's mother, stepfather and stepbrothers.  Their philosophy was worse than my parents' and the living arrangements were pretty cramped, but at least they didn't try to micromanage anyone else's life or covertly have their grandson baptized against his parents' express wishes.

 

It was there that I first saw Atlas Shrugged part one.  I was blown away by how much I identified with Hank Rearden.  I felt like this "Ayn Rand" person must've met me on the street somewhere and written me into her story.  I started reading her nonfiction books but not Atlas Shrugged, which looked about as long as Lord of the Rings.  Tiffany and I were working the same shift at the same factory, at the time, and during our commutes I would read Rand's nonfiction; mentioning aloud for her anything particularly funny or insightful.  She chuckled along with a good-natured but wholly dismissive attitude.  The things that made me shout "holy Hell, just listen to this!" would elicit an "oh, cool" from her.  This was basically the same sort of dynamic we'd had when I was reading Heinlein or Brian Greene in the car, only I was starting to think this Rand person didn't even belong in the same category with those authors.  The superficial congratulations she'd utter when listening to Ayn Rand's moral ideas also seemed to have nothing to do with her actual behavior, which was progressively becoming more and more similar to that of her father (or of Lillian to Hank Rearden).  All was fine whenever we were at work (and usually not even assigned to the same assembly line) but once we'd clocked out she'd become moody, extremely sensitive to anything which could be construed as relating to herself, venomous towards attractive people (or rich or smart or strong, but primarily pretty) and if she became offended then she also become unreasoningly wrathful.

I'm less sure of this memory but I believe I pointed out at one point that such behavior contradicted Ayn Rand's moral philosophy, that she responded "so what?" and that after I explained why it is the correct approach to morality she never quite said that again; only that the current situation was some sort of exception which didn't fall under whatever rule I was trying to outline.

When Tiffany and I eventually saw the second part of AS in theatres and it ended with Dagny meeting (but getting no chance to talk to) John Galt, I finally went out and bought the damn book.  I couldn't wait several more years to learn who is John Galt.  And it truly has changed my life.

I'm not usually a picture person, but immediately after buying that book I thought I'd take one of JT with his daddy's grin on his face.

IMG_20131220_225846026.thumb.jpg.922e037be1dab30b2ca409f279cb95f6.jpg

The first thing I realized after reading AS was that I needed some sort of creative outlet (that I'd been monumentally stupid to drop it in the first place) and that I needed to take it deadly seriously.  The second was that there was a pattern to all the fights that Tiffany and I seemed to get into whenever I'd start trying to write a new story; it was fundamentally similar to the fights that she and Jim had gotten into over trying to baby-proof his house, or that Hank and Lillian Rearden got into.  If I didn't want to risk having my dreams crushed by the Space Treaty then I would write stories about space, in my spare time; the best damn stories I could.  Only Tiffany did not fit into this picture.

I spent a week gathering data and weighing my options.  I was in the middle of reading The Fountainhead by this point (and had joined this very forum, if memory serves - I think I asked about the necessity of having a government since I still disagreed with Rand about anarchy) but for a week, in every interaction I had with Tiffany I would ask her something seemingly-irrelevant (such as what she thought of some random third person or if the ideal sort of man for her was the same as the sort of man she was married to) in order to dispel my suspicions.  I was desperately searching for a good reason to disprove the notion that she was the same general type of person as a Peter Keating or a Lillian Rearden, but I could not find any.  At the end of the week, on a night when neither of us had to work the next day and her parents had asked us to watch all the kids while they went on a date, I waited until they'd all fallen asleep and then confronted her about it.

If you've read the Fountainhead and remember the scene where Dominique asks Keating "where's your YOU" then you've got a decent idea of how this conversation went.

 

I'm gonna have to split this post into at least two parts.  I need to go to work now and I'd rather not look like I was crying when I get there.  I'll finish this as soon as I can.  Here's a thing.

 

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Is this the primary issue you posted about? I mean, is this the thing you are trying to solve? As far as looking back on your past, it's important to recognize that you don't need to justify it o

I'm concerned about the opposite. I'm concerned that you are seeking to be put on trial and subsequently condemned as a moral monster who deserves to be deleted from the face of the earth. I'm not goi

I don't know if a public forum will prevent you from getting some pot shots that will hurt you, but I am delighted that you are putting all this in writing. You may get responses from people who want

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I don't know if a public forum will prevent you from getting some pot shots that will hurt you, but I am delighted that you are putting all this in writing. You may get responses from people who want the best for you which is the ideal situation but obviously it it's not guaranteed.

The fact is that emotions have to have an outlet or they will come out sideways.

16 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

The first thing I realized after reading AS was that I needed some sort of creative outlet (that I'd been monumentally stupid to drop it in the first place) and that I needed to take it deadly seriously. 

ABSOLUTELY!!!!! Drugs and Alcohol can be an outlet too, but the cost for someone "who wants something better" is very high. You actually have a direction. I know it hurts and I'm sorry that it hurts. But you in fact have a vision ... right now. It's obvious in your writing. One thing that Objectivism doesn't emphasise is the issue of addiction because it muddy's the water with the issue of "free will". All I can say is: Don't get confused. It's a matter of life and death for you. Drugs and Alcohol will remove your free will temporarily (or permanently) and you will be under the control of "whatever".

22 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

The second was that there was a pattern to all the fights that Tiffany and I seemed to get into whenever I'd start trying to write a new story; it was fundamentally similar to the fights that she and Jim had gotten into over trying to baby-proof his house, or that Hank and Lillian Rearden got into.  If I didn't want to risk having my dreams crushed by the Space Treaty then I would write stories about space, in my spare time; the best damn stories I could.  Only Tiffany did not fit into this picture.

This is a little more complicated. There are many unconscious elements at work here where ideally discussing this with a trusted (third) person in real time helps the most. You will see patterns, the question is will you create what you ultimately want. Where does Tiffany fit in fact? You will have a relationship with her no matter what. You have a child together. She will have to fit in some picture. And you better come up with a "win win" picture or "some" picture will be imposed on you.

29 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I was desperately searching for a good reason to disprove the notion that she was the same general type of person as a Peter Keating or a Lillian Rearden, but I could not find any.

Then the only choice you give yourself is "She has to change". Isn't she another person. Doesn't she deserve her freedom to be who she is. A flawed and mistaken as she is? Will you ever be able to forgive her for it?

Also, is it that she has to change or is it that you have to be heard and have not been heard?

She may be far less mature than you in some areas and you may be far more mature in other areas. It can't be treated like a crime although it can be deeply disappointing. You just have to "know your vision/aspirations" and carry it out with all this distraction. The meaning in your life comes first.

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Readers can't say much until we've seen the rest of the story, but a couple of observations strike me already.

You write:

48 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

...I pointed out at one point that such behavior contradicted Ayn Rand's moral philosophy, that she responded "so what?" and that after I explained why it is the correct approach to morality...

This isn't the salesmanly way to put it if you believe that morality serves us rather than thle other way around. You can put the argument in one step as: here's why you should do this. At the time you were apparently new to Objectivism and not yet comfortable with its insights.

You write:

1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

...venomous towards attractive people (or rich or smart or strong, but primarily pretty) and if she became offended then she also become unreasoningly wrathful.

My mother was the same way, so I get what you went through. Being married to such a person must be vastly worse.

Awaiting future installments.

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I don't know whether I should say anything without seeing the rest of the story, but I'll take a stab at it.  My apologies if the rest renders this inappropriate, redundant, inadequate, or irrelevant.

3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I can't quite seem to define precisely what the problem is

What I'm reading is that the problem can be summarized as

1.  You've arrived at a vision for your life.

2.  Tiffany, because of her flaws, does not fit into this vision.

3.  You and Tiffany must fit together in some manner because you have a child together.

2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

you better come up with a "win win" picture or "some" picture will be imposed on you.

Easy Truth has given a good statement of the key issue you must successfully deal with to minimize the damage to your life.

I hope between us we have been helpful.

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Posted (edited)

As much as I appreciate the feedback (really, you guys are awesome) I'm not going to respond to any of it tonight.  I'm not sure I'd ever get to the really tangled up stuff unless I just keep going to the end.  Then I'll come back and chew on every single post, afterwards.

 

So anyway ...

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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9 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

any philosophizing I did was usually under the influence

Based on some of our recent interactions, I suspect this habit has continued to this day. I'd suggest starting here: stop drinking and doing drugs. If you're addicted, get help. Face whatever demons are driving you to self-medicate.

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When I confronted Tiffany at her parents' trailer I basically framed the conversation like this:

'There is this road that I want to travel.  It's a hard road, all uphill, and I don't think you can do it with me.  So we should probably split up.  This is entirely my own fault; we had a good thing going, when we first met; I was the one who went and changed his mind about his entire way of life.  But my mind is changed and so we've got to address that.'

One of the first things she said was that if we did in fact split up I should be the one to take and raise JT.  Her precise words were "I wouldn't know how on my own" (to which I said "no, you wouldn't" and agreed wholeheartedly with her proposal).  After quite a bit of badgering about why she wouldn't be fit to live this lifestyle with me I finally broke down and pointed out that all her thoughts, at that time; everything she said and did and felt was in fact for the benefit of other peoples' eyes.  That was true, at that time.  She broke down in much the same way Peter Keating did in the Fountainhead, declared that she wanted to be an O'ist even more than I did and polished it off by saying that if I still wanted a divorce that was fine, but it would be an idiotic thing for me to do.

I had my reservations.  I had already read that passage of the Fountainhead (indeed, I was inwardly marveling at Ayn Rand's perceptiveness) and I told her that nothing good would come from trying to become an Objectivist for somebody else's sake; it doesn't work like that.  But she was extremely convincing, part of me was afraid of having to stand on my own as a truly single father, and in the end I stayed with her against my better judgement.

 

Well, I was right; it doesn't work like that.  I can't remember how many years into our marriage this event was (to be frank I've subsequently destroyed huge swaths of my own brain cells - on purpose) but the entire thing lasted five long, grueling, Hellish years.

There was a pattern to that, too.  We would spend several months tiptoeing around certain key disagreements on which, in all logic and fairness and justice, I was right (but, like Hank Rearden, was unable to bring myself to hurt her feelings by saying so).  Then she would eventually cross some relevant line and I would snap, unleashing the entire flood of righteous indignation I'd been storing up, restate all of the reasons why I was right to be outraged and declare that I no longer wished to be married to such a subhuman specimen.  She would cave in rather quickly, declare that it had been an error of ignorance (instead of a moral sin) and I would eventually calm down again.  And then we'd repeat the whole thing over again.

Every single time we did this, though, she would repeat that if I ever left I had to take JT with me.  And every single time I would enthusiastically agree.

 

The final example of this (the one which I've never really calmed down from and which prompted our actual divorce) was the Pizza Incident.

 

I had a pretty good manufacturing job which paid all our bills while she, for once, got to stay home with JT.  This was out of the ordinary for us; I'd gotten pretty fond of being Mister Mom.  I'd taken all her complaints about me not helping out financially for a couple of years and said nothing (knowing that the right was probably on her side) and now that I'd stepped up to become the breadwinner I'd expected some sort of praise or recognition.

Anyway.  There was one day when I came home, exhausted from the factory, to be greeted by JT's declaration that he was hungry.  We didn't seem to have any serviceable food in the house so I suggested that I could run back out and grab us all some pizza.  Tiffany said she wanted pepperoni, which JT instantly seconded.

I am a very picky eater and I don't like any sort of toppings on my pizza besides cheese.  There's some childhood trauma related to that but to save us all a few paragraphs let's just say it's true and that it's not something I usually like to discuss.  But since I'm also (USUALLY) fairly agreeable I said that was fine and that we'd all split two Little Caesar's pizzas; one cheese and one pepperoni.  However, Tiffany said that it'd cost far too much and we'd do far better going to Pizza Ranch.

JT lost his little mind at that.  I've never tried Pizza Ranch pizza but I've been there, seen it, smelt it and was not impressed.  But to this day that boy is crazy about Pizza Ranch.  Tiffany and I argued for probably thirty or so minutes about it.  I said I wasn't interested in trying it on that particular night, she asked how I knew if I'd never tried it, I repeated that perhaps I should try it sometime but that I was tired and hungry and not in the mood for a gastrointestinal adventure.  And then we'd repeat it again.  Eventually I got so sick of looping through the same damn lines that I told JT to put his shoes on because we were going to Pizza Ranch, while adding to Tiffany that (as a buffet) there had to be something there I'd like.  Instead of defusing the situation this actually seemed to worsen it.

She kept asking my if it was logical not to try it and I kept saying I didn't know.  We got into the car fighting.  We drove in circles around town fighting.  The sun began to set and JT cried himself to sleep in the back seat while we were fighting.  It could not have lasted less than three hours.  This entire time she continued hurling every abuse I personally know of at me and I kept repeating "maybe; I don't know" in the most civilized manner I could.  We finally stopped at Domino's (because THAT'S cheaper than the alternatives!) and she went in to buy one pizza for each of us.

By this point I couldn't go in.  I think she might've asked me to but I was so busy containing my own rage that I wouldn't have trusted myself to write my own name without some sort of violence; let alone deal with other people.  She went in and came out with three Domino's pizzas, two of which we began to eat in total silence.  I don't think either of us had the courage to wake JT up and look him in the eye, even to say that dinner was served.

He did wake up, though; sobbing that he was hungry.  She handed the third pizza back to him and said something in a cooing tone of voice.

I really wish I could remember what she said to him, but I can't.  There are some times when I literally black out from anger and this was one of them.  Whatever she said, I immediately retorted "fuck you", to which she snorted "oh, sure, swear at me".  Then her eyes darted towards the back seat for a split second (I guess it was one of those microexpressions) and she added "that's what you've been doing this whole time!"

That was it.  I'd been a perfect gentleman throughout that entire ordeal, and I told her so.  Then I called her the b-word, the c-word, every other word I knew, screamed that she deserved to rot in Hell right beside her own father and promptly exited the car, for fear that my hands might start expressing what my voice was struggling to.

She followed me as I tried to walk away.  She kept yelling out the van's window that she was sorry and pleading with me to get back in so she could explain herself.  I continued walking until I heard JT wail "daddy, please don't go" with the most anguish I have ever heard in a human voice before.

I got back into the van.  I didn't listen to a single one of her excuses; I was too busy planning our divorce.  Later, when she tried to tell me that I had crossed a line there (not her but me) I actually could not stop myself from laughing in her face.  She was confused and I did not give a damn; I said something to the effect of "you're right" and inwardly continued giggling about it.

 

Several months later, when our divorce proceedings were under way, JT asked me why I didn't love his mommy anymore; if it was because of the Pizza.  I laughed then, too, and said that although that was a very grown-up question to ask (and one which I won't fully answer until he is one) in a weird sort of way it kind of was about the pizza.

 

I need a cigarette right now, though.  I'll be right back.

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And by the way, the only drug involved in the Pizza Incident was the Adderall I've been prescribed since I was in middle school.  It probably does have something to do with my anger issues (since it works by stimulating my natural adrenaline receptors and adrenaline is the fight-or-flight response) but the fact that I've been hooked on it since middle school makes the prospect of getting off of it again somewhat complicated.

One of the main acts of virtue which I will never deny to Tiffany is that when JT was diagnosed with ADD in Elementary school she refused to put any such substance into his little brain.  It's more than I can say for my own parents.

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Divorce was rough. The depth of the self reflection is impressive (and continue as long as you feel like). Takes courage to do that and it's very healing, on many levels.

The key with the self reflection/healing is the writing it out (communicating), as in: not ruminating ALONE round and round in your head, but sharing the load in a sense. You already know what happens when it builds up without an outlet.

There are many other techniques that I could talk about but there is no point in trying things you are not familiar or comfortable with ... unless ... you are desperate/motivated enough.

Elimination of drugs/alcohol, "physical pain", and/or inadequate sleep/(rest periods) is the foundation. It's a delicate period right now. Once you don't have those obstacles in the way, you are on your way out of being stuck in the hole.

I suspect everyone sees that you're pretty bright, and you love your kid and you see a good/better future. It's going to ultimately save you.

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2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

 

One of the main acts of virtue which I will never deny to Tiffany is that when JT was diagnosed with ADD in Elementary school she refused to put any such substance into his little brain.  It's more than I can say for my own parents.

Harrison, when and if ¬correctly¬ diagnosed, your and your son's ADD should be medicated, I can't recommend too highly. Probably not yet for him at his age, while the particular drug and dosage you use seems like it might need reappraisal. I'm no expert on psychiatric matters, though I do know and have seen the havoc untreated ADD/ADHD can cause in all areas, school, relationships, work, career, and self-esteem - nearly always leading to 'self-medication'. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater in this difficult period.

Edited by whYNOT
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First off, I'm glad you felt comfortable sharing your story. It isn't often easy to do so and it shows a commitment to growth.

11 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

There was a pattern to that, too.  We would spend several months tiptoeing around certain key disagreements on which, in all logic and fairness and justice, I was right (but, like Hank Rearden, was unable to bring myself to hurt her feelings by saying so).  Then she would eventually cross some relevant line and I would snap, unleashing the entire flood of righteous indignation I'd been storing up, restate all of the reasons why I was right to be outraged and declare that I no longer wished to be married to such a subhuman specimen.  She would cave in rather quickly, declare that it had been an error of ignorance (instead of a moral sin) and I would eventually calm down again.  And then we'd repeat the whole thing over again.

I know that this was a while ago and you might not remember the details of many of these disagreements with her. As a matter of introspection, though, you might be taking an ineffective perspective. If you guys were both in a learning phase, then I don't think you can say that looking back you were right all along. If you were right about anything, you probably didn't know why you were right about some things. She was probably right about a lot as well. Based on your own descriptions of yourself, perhaps there were observations she made that were absolutely correct but offended you or made you upset. Perhaps you remember her statements crossing a line, yet I wonder if you might be trying to justify unleashing your indignation after the fact. I'm not looking to blame only you, just that it might ease your conflict to recognize that you can look at your memories differently. 

I will wait until you finish the story to say more. Might send you a PM instead just because there might be personal details you might not want to share in public.

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11 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

She kept asking my if it was logical not to try [Pizza Ranch] and I kept saying I didn't know.

Do you know now?

11 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

We got into the car fighting.  We drove in circles around town fighting. 

Do you mean you drove in circles, or was she driving?

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I knew I'd need a lot more capital to move out.  The apartment we were renting was in both of our names but I just assumed it'd be okay for me to let her have it while I came up with a down payment on something else.  The van was exclusively hers so I knew I'd also need to be buying a new car.

I'd switched from the idea of being a novelist to that of a programmer in the intervening years.  It seemed like something I could make much more money at without having to worry about the aesthetic tastes of most people (which aren't too good by my own standards) and after picking up a few books (and accidentally bricking one laptop) I had taught myself how to do it.  I decided to make a Checkers app and try to somehow make it great enough that I could actually profit from it and use those profits (in addition to what I was making at my day job) on a new place, a new car and a great attorney.  If I succeeded then JT and I would move out and I'd take the time and money to get divorced properly; if not then I'd call one of a few people (including my parents) whom I thought I could ask for help.  I gave myself a one-month deadline for publishing my Checkers app or asking for help.  I truly was serious about putting an end to that whole situation.

I also doubled my own Adderall dosage on the black market in order to continue working my day job while programming this app for most of my nights.  It wasn't expensive.  I'm sure it's made a noticeable difference in my IQ since then but I knew what I was risking and what I was doing it for.  For what it's worth Tiffany was also a total sweetheart in that month (I think she sensed a bit of what was in my head); redecorating the house in the precise way I would've asked her to, if I still cared about the decor, and teaching herself to play the violin.  She was getting pretty damn good but I was well beyond the point of appreciating the violin.

I failed to publish anything within one month.  On that final morning I left the house like I was about to go to work again, but instead pulled into a random parking lot and started calling everyone whom I thought I could ask for help.  The only ones who answered were my parents, who immediately agreed to drive all the way up from Iowa in order to fetch my self and my son.  With that taken care of I returned to our apartment, woke her up and offered her a cigarette.

I told her we were really through then.  She said we couldn't be and that we just needed to talk about some things.  I laughed in her face again to say "my mom's on her way up right now."  Her precise response (and these are the words that've been burned into my brain ever since) was "you're not going anywhere; I won't let you.  I won't let you take my baby away from me."

True enough.  After we'd finished those cigarettes she called her mother (Angela) and told her what was going on, casting all sorts of unkind aspersions about my moral character in the process.  And when she'd hung up and come out of the bedroom she told me that since I'd be taking him across state lines (from Minnesota to Iowa) it'd be illegal for me to do so without her written permission.

I remembered all the dozens upon dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of times we'd both agreed I was by far the better parent.  I said I'd get a pen and some paper so she could write me that permission slip immediately, and then we could move on to discussing what would happen with our lease on the apartment and other issues which actually required our attention.

 

What happened after that - I think that's what really broke me.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Do you know now?

Well, yeah; I should try it sometime.

8 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Do you mean you drove in circles, or was she driving?

She was.  I spent most of the time glaring out my window like I wanted to strangle it.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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I'll pause for a second tomorrow to chew on everybody else's responses.

 

She said no.  She said she wouldn't give me permission to take JT with me.  I reminded her of all the times we'd both agreed, over the course of five whole years, that I was by far the better parent.  She asked why she should give a fuck.  The instant my threats of divorce were actually shown to be something more than just talk, she made it quite clear that JT would be staying with her forever.

That was when I started laughing, and from her reaction I think she could tell that it was a very not good laugh.  My exact words were:

"Alright.  You want to play this without any rules at all?  Alright.  Only you've never seen me playing without any kind of rules and I don't think you'd like it.  But let's do it your way!"

I really don't know what the expression on my face was when I said that but she immediately ran to the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife.

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When I rounded the corner and saw her brandishing the knife at me, in obvious fear for her own life, I laughed again.  I remember spending a long time alternating stares between the knife and at her face (she truly did believe she was about to die) and wondering how much damage she could actually do if I were to attempt to kill her.

I have never been all that strong but she was a slow and overweight girl, whereas I have always had very light feet and a grip like Sherlock Holmes'.  I really didn't think she could hit any vital organs if I were to knock the weapon out of her hands and simply haul her out of our third-story-balcony; let gravity do the rest of the work.  And then I found myself wondering if it should really matter to me if she did hit any of my vital organs (since the stakes were what they were).  After about thirty seconds I turned and started sauntering in the other direction while she sprinted into our bedroom and locked the door.

Within the first minute she'd called her mother again and began babbling to her about me being dangerous and "not playing by any rules anymore".  True enough; in that particular situation I was dangerous, and I also laughed that she'd been perceptive enough to spot it.

 

But then I realized that by the standards of her mother (and, indeed, of the vast majority of the people on Earth) I truly would've been considered the bad guy in that situation.  All she'd done was make several dozen (perhaps hundreds) of false promises which unfortunately happened to have ruined a man's life; if the thought of murder crossed that man's mind in response, well - that's simply unacceptable under any circumstances.

 

Part of me isn't sure I was right not to kill her then and there.  And that is one of the primary things that still fucks with my psyche to this day.

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20 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Part of me isn't sure I was right not to kill her then and there.  And that is one of the primary things that still fucks with my psyche to this day.

The fact that you are writing this in retrospect tells me that you likely assessed the situation correctly.  

You state:

20 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

in obvious fear for her own life,

This suggests to me that you had already assessed that it was she that feared you.

Edited by dream_weaver
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On 4/4/2021 at 2:58 PM, Easy Truth said:

I don't know if a public forum will prevent you from getting some pot shots that will hurt you, but I am delighted that you are putting all this in writing. You may get responses from people who want the best for you which is the ideal situation but obviously it it's not guaranteed.

I know.  And maybe I deserve a few potshots.

I am certain that I am at least partially responsible for how this all went.  I already know of a few of the things I did wrong (like getting married at 19 and remaining in such an obviously-broken marriage for five years) but there are others that I'm less sure of (like allowing my ex-wife to continue breathing); things where I'm just not sure.

I've stopped telling this to most people.  Whenever someone gets me to tell my story (usually when I've been drinking) I'm a snotty, incoherent mess by the end of it, and without fail they'll give me some useless pseudo-religious pep talk about how family is the only thing that matters in life.

I would obviously prefer the criticism to be constructive, but what I'm primarily hoping for is some help in gaining a bit of clarity.  I expect that the clearest possible picture doesn't paint anyone involved as a saint and I was the first one to start the criticism with the title "Damaged Goods".

As long as the potshots don't involve my relationship with an imaginary sky-fairy I'll be grateful for them.

On 4/4/2021 at 2:58 PM, Easy Truth said:

You actually have a direction.

Not at the moment.  That's part of my problem.

I have my own place now, two jobs and I'm working on getting another car, but I really don't have an aim.  For a while I had been retraining my brain to try and start coming up with new stories but it seems like the only ones I can think of are straight-up nightmare fuel.  Seriously horrific shit.  And my few attempts at romance since the divorce have been brief and pretty lousy.

I may be wrong about this (which is why I started this thread) but I don't think the alcohol is making my situation much worse than it already had been.  It probably isn't helping, either, but at this point I really don't know what would.

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On 4/5/2021 at 3:29 AM, whYNOT said:

Harrison, when and if ¬correctly¬ diagnosed, your and your son's ADD should be medicated, I can't recommend too highly. Probably not yet for him at his age, while the particular drug and dosage you use seems like it might need reappraisal. I'm no expert on psychiatric matters, though I do know and have seen the havoc untreated ADD/ADHD can cause in all areas, school, relationships, work, career, and self-esteem - nearly always leading to 'self-medication'. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater in this difficult period.

So here's my take on psychoactive substances.

Your brain belongs to you.  Some substances can be useful in certain situations (such as Adderall when you're having trouble concentrating or Advil when you have a headache) and some can be very bad for you, or even deadly.  As a responsible brain-owner it's up to each individual to take the best care they can of their own.  And my own drinking definitely isn't good for my brain or situation, so yeah; I should probably change that.

However, this only applies to the brains of adults.  Children who are below the age of consent should not be doing drugs or alcohol (since they cannot yet make informed decisions) or any other addictive psychoactive substance.

I think Adderall should be legal for any adult who wants to try it but I disagree with giving it to any minor just as strenuously as I'd disagree with giving them a beer.

 

On 4/5/2021 at 2:21 AM, Easy Truth said:

Divorce was rough. The depth of the self reflection is impressive (and continue as long as you feel like). Takes courage to do that and it's very healing, on many levels.

The key with the self reflection/healing is the writing it out (communicating), as in: not ruminating ALONE round and round in your head, but sharing the load in a sense. You already know what happens when it builds up without an outlet.

Thank you.  It's still pretty tough to talk about, but so is setting a broken bone.  Thank you for helping me try and untangle some of it.

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23 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I know that this was a while ago and you might not remember the details of many of these disagreements with her. As a matter of introspection, though, you might be taking an ineffective perspective. If you guys were both in a learning phase, then I don't think you can say that looking back you were right all along. If you were right about anything, you probably didn't know why you were right about some things. She was probably right about a lot as well. Based on your own descriptions of yourself, perhaps there were observations she made that were absolutely correct but offended you or made you upset. Perhaps you remember her statements crossing a line, yet I wonder if you might be trying to justify unleashing your indignation after the fact. I'm not looking to blame only you, just that it might ease your conflict to recognize that you can look at your memories differently.

Probably.  I believe I was right most of the time, but certainly not all of it.

Like with the pizza thing.  In hindsight I can see that she was right about trying a new kind of pizza; I should try more new foods in general, and it is something I've tried working on intermittently for about the past year.  But it was a tender subject (and she damn well knew that), I'd already had a long day and the thing that really pissed me off about it was that JT had to go through that whole shitshow with us.

He was the one person involved who really did nothing to deserve any portion of it, on any level.  All he did was to be hungry and to love Pizza Ranch's pepperoni pizza.  But because his mother was Hell-bent on picking a fight and his father couldn't just put his foot down and say "you're gonna shut the Hell up and drive us to the pizza now" - we did that to him.  And it was absolutely not okay.

13 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

The fact that you are writing this in retrospect tells me that you likely assessed the situation correctly.  

You state:

This suggests to me that you had already assessed that it was she that feared you.

Yeah.  At that time she had a good reason to fear me.  I don't know if I should feel badly for giving her that reason or for failing to actually carry it out.  I don't know; that's one of the first things I still haven't been able to fully untangle.

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You don't tell a man for five straight years that his custody of his own son will always unquestioningly be his and then one day flip on that; not when you actually have any say in the matter.  I know that the general consensus is that my response to that was out of all proportion, and maybe it was.  I actually hope it was because that would make everything that followed much simpler to understand.  But I haven't been able to make myself believe that.  I truly think that my mistake there was in suppressing the first response that popped into my head.

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39 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I don't know if I should feel badly for giving her that reason or for failing to actually carry it out.  I don't know; that's one of the first things I still haven't been able to fully untangle.

Not much to untangle here. If you want your son in your life, there aren't many (any?) contexts where that would be possible after murdering his mother. If anything is going to bring up murderous feelings, I suppose it's a bitter divorce involving child custody, but if it were me, I still wouldn't be admitting as much (repeatedly!) on a public forum over which I have no editorial control.

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