Interview with Jody

“We know more. You can’t fool us. You can’t pretend with us. We’ve gone through something that won’t allow you to do that because we’ll see right through you.”

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I was raised in Colorado, and I am thirty-eight. My mother is still alive. I have a younger brother by four years, and my father died by suicide a year ago next week. I think I’ve probably had one of the more dysfunctional upbringings of anybody I know. My dad was perversely brilliant, and consequently, he used that brilliance in a very manipulative way. He never hit us, but the finality of every moment that was bad–the cutting off of love, the cutting off of security was also based on our performance as children. My mother just wrung her hands and was one of us, a child, but I still blame her for letting it happen. I am the oldest child and have a younger brother.

I was married. I was married for ten years, and the divorce was final in January. It was a difficult process. I made the determination to get a divorce upon finding my father’s body in Colorado when I went to visit. Somehow, at that moment, I decided I didn’t have to be married, and I don’t know why. I still haven’t figured that out. But somehow, I separated myself from what I saw for a while and talked to him and realized I don’t need to be married anymore. I was freed, and so I got a storage room, a post office box, and applied to buy a HUD house and just divorced him.

I am involved with a friend from high school, from 22 years ago, was visiting, and then it turns out he stayed. I used to sleep with him when I was fourteen or fifteen. It’s really neat. There is history and fidelity and love, and all those things I want and no commitment. I love it. But we are committed. We wouldn’t be with anyone else, but I like this as it is. So Prosac, as I’ve read, halts sexual feelings. I think I’m bringing them out again. I like that.

I’m told it could do one or the other. It can make one either really asexual or overly so. I think I’ve finally settled down. I am also in counseling.

I’m not good at those types of answers, describing myself. My self-image is shred. I’m trying to find the humor in things, but I guess I just need to work on my self-image. I don’t know why. I think I was beaten up a lot because I was fat. That’s hard to get passed. I was eating bread a couple of weeks ago and had two teeth fall out of my face in my food. It was the result of having my jaw broken several times. They finally just gave out, and I’m angry at him and want to kill him. I drove around in my car for a while, really hating him and wanting to kill him. Then I remembered why I don’t want to do this, and my roommate reminded me I didn’t want to become his girlfriend in prison or didn’t want to be on Phil Donahue.

I cried a lot lately because of my father because I screwed up for ten years. I’m still mad at my ex. I’m not mad at me.

My ex-husband was hitting me before I got married. I kept trying to find reasons for him hitting me like he’s tired or he’s a Viet Nam Viet or his job is stressful. Somehow, I was able to separate what was wonderful with this man from the abuse. Then we’d break up, get back together, break up, and finally decided that marriage would be nice. Somehow, I thought, “You don’t hit your wife.” He must love me to want me. He started becoming very abusive, and he would just beat me up sometimes for hours. I always tried to make it better for him after he beat me up.

I became bulimic to lose weight because he would hit me because I’m fat. I was eating and throwing up. I looked good, but not good enough. There’s a place where it’s all a blur only because that which was good seemed to outweigh the bad. I don’t know. I don’t know why I stayed. I wanted to get out. I lied to all my friends. I fell off a horse. I fell out of the car. I was playing sports. I fell off a bicycle. I was beaten up. He broke ribs, and I still stayed. I kept telling myself I stayed for the dogs, for financial security. I don’t know. I don’t know. I certainly couldn’t say to my parents I failed at marriage because that would affirm everything they know about me anyway.

I never told my parents. Never. My father would have killed him. My mother would have killed him. Or they have the money and could have hired someone to kill him. No. I made him out to be a real mensch. I lied. I protected him. I wore a cover-up. I never let anybody know he hurt me. You know, doctors have no clue. For five years, the doctor I’ve seen never understood the black eyes, broken nose, broken cheekbones, the fractured jaw (several times).

No. The doctor never questioned me. I believe she should have confronted me. I told her so after I got out. She told me I was a liar. She said to me that people like me are. So I don’t go to her anymore. I feel that was incredibly rude. “People like you are”–meaning you psychopaths or something. I don’t know.

I was furious about her comment. “People like me,” whatever that meant, and I didn’t pursue it all the way. Although I think it means women who get beat up, women who let men hurt them. Sometimes he would just kick me for hours. I couldn’t even look at his hands for years.

My husband never talked about what he was doing.  No, I’m sorry. We never addressed it. If I would walk away limping and holding my body parts and try to go to an emergency room, he’d go, “What’s the matter with you?” Since I’ve been divorced, we made a few calls about personal property negotiations that he woke up in the night and felt unclean and only addressed his rage in a real surface way. He is sick.

I loved him. I really loved this man. He just seemed like such an old soul, such a pained person having been in a Mexican prison for years for drugs when he was nineteen, and now he was forty-seven or forty-eight. I just kept trying to find reasons for his beating me up. I also used to be very good at keeping him from hitting me. I had it down pat. The beatings in the past two years were for no reason. The toilet paper was put on wrong. He started hitting me harder, kicking me. The beatings got more intense, but they were always in the same places. He quit hitting me in the face.

He hit me whenever and wherever he got angry.

He hit me on my ribs, my back, my kidneys, hair, head, and thighs. And because he is as strong as he is, he could have killed me, but he didn’t. He took very directed blows to debilitate and break me but not to kill me. He knows I carry a gun. We’re both competitive shooters. He never seemed to care that I would hurt him because he had it all. That’s all part of the control of crazy people; they realize that no matter how good you are to them or bad to them, they will treat you the same way no matter what you do so they can continue to treat you like this. I gave him the power and control. When the times were good, they were wonderful, so then it balanced out. And I love my dogs, which he took in the divorce because I smoke cigarettes. I could still hurt him if I saw him. And I’m scared of that part of me that could kill him. And none of the Lorena Bobbett shit. I’d kill the fucker, and that’s the way I feel. The only way I would ever do anything, and I’m committed to this is that if I ever see him with a woman, I’ve got to warn her.

He would do this to anybody. I know because I told his mother what he was doing, and she said, “Oh, he always used to hit me when he was young.” Apparently, he hit his wife that divorced him. That was only my guess, and it has to be a pattern. These people don’t just do it once.

He had total control, but it wasn’t the face I knew. I knew when I was going to get hit. I knew by his breath before he smoked when he was going to hit me. We would sit together, and I knew by his breath when he was going to do anything. When you live with somebody that long, you become attuned. I knew when I was going to get beat up.

His body would almost drop a level, and shoulders would drop a level, and his eyes would alter, and then the blows came, and they were so fast. You’ve heard of the term glass jaw, well, I have one. He hit me once, and I was down, and he’d get hitting and hitting. He never said he was sorry.

He was not the same person when he hit me. The person that I loved that everybody else liked was the person who sublimated all this anger. It was sublimated by volunteer work and helping out older people and working at the shooting range. He was always donating his personal property and just being the guy that everybody adores–you want to bring him anywhere, take him anywhere. He has an excellent protocol in public. He has it all. He’s very charismatic. He’s fascinating and extremely bright, although dyslexic, but that compensation for that overrode everything that dyslexia does to people. When you look closely at pictures or when he first woke up, I saw the killer. I’ve always had one of those Peter Falk type syndromes. I always find psychopaths or men that need fixing, and he was both.

I think he was a psychopath.  Absolutely, from what I’ve read about psychopaths. He views people as objects. He’s very objective. He does not bond. He never connected with his parents. He’s always blaming people outside himself, needing total control.

I’ve been talking to people since. I think that people like this are usually good in bed. Their sexuality is all they have to use–it’s part of their power, their intensity. That’s why I’m afraid of Marvin Milktoast. What if he’s a lousy fuck? What do I do? I think he would be, Marvin.

On the other hand, this guy’s nuts, but I’m still drawn to the danger. I would sleep with him fast. So since I’m always drawn to a dangerous man, I stay away from close relationships. That’s why I’m very safe with someone I went to high school with. But I’m not through with Thomas in my head. I’m still angry. He hurt me, and he took everything. I had to leave with what I could take. He got it all.

He started abusing me about as only twice a year, the first year, ten years ago. Then it kept building up until it was several times a month. I had to join a health club to sit in the sauna and the steam room and heal past these beatings. Then, he’d give me presents. I had every major appliance anybody would want. That was his way of apologizing, buying me plants or trees or flowers or something that plugs in the wall. He never feared that I would hurt him because he knew my codependency was so strong I waited on his response to me. I gave him so much credibility in terms of how I felt about myself. I can’t believe I was there. This person now wouldn’t put up with this, and it’s only been removed since September. Where was I for ten years?

I don’t know why I stayed. I haven’t worked on that one yet. I just don’t know.

He beat me because that was the only way he could control me. So I would perpetually try to please him. And I did. He would come in after work, and I would watch his eyes scan the house looking for dirt and looking for something to hurt me from or validating his anger. We could argue over whether something was leather or vinyl. I would get beat up. Or the refrigerator would go bad, and I would get beat up. Or he would smash his finger, and I would get beat up. And I had nowhere to go. It was a trailer, and I couldn’t run down the hall. I went somewhere when he was beating me. I went somewhere far away.

I don’t know about that. All I know is, I don’t know. I don’t know where I was. And then I’d cry by myself. It wasn’t because of the pain, because that never hit for at least twenty-four to thirty-six hours. I really wouldn’t feel the pain, and then it would be devastating, and I’d find out what was broken later. I’d be stiff and achy, but I would just be flipped out. And then he’d want to make love with me. And I would be in pain and couldn’t do that.

I think I left my body.

When I talked to my dad during the suicide, I did have a sense that I left my body. That’s another subject. But no. I went somewhere where nothing hurt, where I didn’t have to feel pain. The same place I went when he would insult me. My shoulders would start to hurt, and I’d feel this ache in my whole body, and I’d go somewhere, truly out of the body. That’s only the precursor to when I got beat-up. The verbal assaults would do the same thing to me. Do you think I should confront him and put him away?

My lawyer found out about my teeth and wanted to sue him on a civil level. I don’t want to. He’ll kill me. He’ll come and get me in that parking lot where I work and blow my face off. He has already threatened to do this. That’s why I carry a gun. I have to let it go somehow.

I didn’t tell anyone because people would say, “You have to leave. You have to get out. Shit or get off the pot. You have to get away.” All stock answers. “Oh, if that happened to me, I’d leave after the first time he hit me.” It would be a sign of weakness that I even married someone who abuses me. I needed to put on the air of ‘I’m okay.’ I’m in a job where PR is first. “How are you doing?” “Never better.” I had to be never better. I got so caught up in it. I had to be okay.

People asked me what was going on, my colleagues at work, men especially. Usually, women are more direct, more honest, but they backed off. Some of them had no idea. They actually thought I did fall out of a car, really did play a lot of sports. I had such an elaborate backstory that I would work out how each injury happened.

I don’t believe the people that asked believed my answers.

They asked, “Is your husband beating you up?” “Is he hitting you?” I even would come in sometimes joking, saying, “Well, I have to tell my husband, ha… ha… if you aren’t nice to me, I’ll tell him you hit me, ha… ha.” I would try to dispel their concern right away. I have to set the groundwork of who I am, and then I define myself, and I don’t want you to think of me in any other way. After the fact, people told me they thought so, women and men equally. And then some had no idea. It wasn’t their sense of reality. Battered women or other women are black and live in ghettos, or they’re white and trash. They’re stupid and have four children, and they don’t look or act like me. They’re unhappy all the time. Jody, you’re so happy. I had people tell me, “I always come to you, Jody, because you’re so happy.”

When these guys asked me, I just denied it and laughed it off. I validated how wonderful my husband was and would continue to do so after that. I had to make it okay. I was leading a double life.

When this was going on, I felt horrible, oppressed. I had no personality. I would be whatever somebody wanted me to be. A sales clerk in a grocery store where I would shop, I would be whatever she was. I would just reflect other people. Plus, I was bulimic for those years, eating and throwing up. It wears me out and makes me tired. I don’t have the willpower to be anorexic, so somehow, binging and purging just really fits my personality. I know who’s bulimic because I’m a cashier. I know who’s going to eat and puke. I can spot them, and I want to say something, but it’s like okay, it’s powerful, you look beautiful, and I’ll leave you alone. But I want to say things. I just wasn’t there. I wasn’t living right. I wasn’t eating right. He had kept me trapped. I swear to God. We lived forty miles out of town, and it was an eighty-mile round trip. Now I see part of the problem was the isolation.

I didn’t want to tell anybody. I was a failure, and I just accepted it. This situation was my destiny. I kept wanting to stay for the dogs. Does that make sense?

I loved my dogs. I loved them so much, and I still do. There, I can be more emotional about that than all the years I’ve lost. I can’t talk about it. And my ex took it all away from me. He was cruel to me. He kept the dogs to be malicious.

I can’t tell you the details because I don’t ever remember things except for pain. Psychological abuse. Control. He was never happy with me. There was just that cloud, and that fear and I lived with that fear. I ducked, and he would move, and my whole body would completely convulse, and then he’d hit me. He wasn’t going to, but because I shuddered and reacted, it flipped him out, and he’d have to beat me up again.

He wouldn’t address it. He would not talk about what he was doing. It was never discussed. And the system was always the same. He would beat me up, kick me, drop me, and then he’d go away, and then as I was getting up, he would come right at me, and that was always the worse–the second time. I have permanent damage—my jaw, my cheekbone was broken. I can’t breathe. I’m now a mouth breather. My ribs were broken. I have to do a lot of heavy work, and I’m always hurting. He broke my arm, that elbow has not healed right. Things that he would hit still hurt or hurt again, whether with time or age.

The consequences of this are I’m hostile. I hate men. I don’t trust men. I want to save women. I still don’t like myself. I feel weak. It’s hard to make decisions. I bought a house and did all this stuff on automatic pilot. I don’t know how I did it. Now I have a home, and I’m safe and okay, and I know that I should be good, but I’m not okay. I’m still not okay. I cry. I pace. I obsess. I love obsessing, though. I really like it.

I can just stare at the walls, chain smoke, and drink orange juice for hours. I don’t have the attention span to do anything more than read a magazine. I know that’s about my father’s suicide. The suicide has screwed me up so much. I’m coming up on the twenty-fourth, and it will be a year, and I think I’m going to be a loony tune. I’ve passed that, so now all of a sudden, I’m obsessing on my marriage this whole year. That’s why also he would not let me grieve for my father. He beat me up for crying. It’s like, “Are you through grieving yet?” This happened two weeks later, and I’m still having nightmares of cleaning brains off the walls. The stuff is stuck to the walls. I was out there for a while.  And then in the coroner’s report, I think accidentally, when I asked for the autopsy report, they sent me pictures of my father. And I saw things in the photos, and I flipped out again. He couldn’t handle that, and he beat me up. I saw my dad’s hand in a puddle of blood, and a line through it where his hand had moved, which I didn’t see and I spent forty-five minutes there. I didn’t see that. It has since been revealed to me that it was because the coroner moved the body. I thought my dad didn’t die right away even though the report said he did. But my husband didn’t let me grieve. I got hurt for grieving. Only later, in that conversation my husband and I had before we got divorced, he said, “You were always the strong one, and suddenly you weren’t strong anymore. You became weak, and I didn’t know you.” That was his only real validation for beating me up. I became weak. I think I could kill him. I’m not like that. I won’t even eat dead animals. I’m not a violent person, but I guess there’s a certain something in me that I didn’t know was there. I couldn’t even kill to defend my own life, but after discussing it, I think I can.

I’m stronger. I’m more directed. I see things now. I’m a better judge of character I read people almost to a point where I can feel them, especially men. I know he’s dangerous. Did you see the movie Damaged? You really should, especially in your field. I’m damaged, and I’ll never find anybody that isn’t. But we’re different. We’re different than other people that haven’t been damaged.

We know more. You can’t fool us. You can’t pretend with us. We’ve gone through something that won’t allow you to do that because we’ll see right through you. I have the ability to see what is real, and when somebody breaks a nail and is stressing over it, I can’t deal with that. It’s not amusing. I can’t say the thing I would say two years ago, “I hope that’s the worst that ever happens to you. Haha.” I begrudge them that feeling, that how dare you even find the sadness in a broken nail. Then I want to tell them about why I don’t. I think I’ve just become very aware. I read people in a way I wish I didn’t.

I do wish I didn’t have that awareness. Yes, I do. I have psychic relationships with two friends. We didn’t try to do it. We just do it. It’s really cool. My roommate and a woman I work with is another that I have that connection. It is nothing uncanny or unique or exciting or weird. It’s just something I accept. I can tell you by phone who is going to call me by the ring. I have become very aware at that level. Based on that, I can also feel strangers. Nothing like I know what they’re thinking. I just sense their persona. I can’t be fooled.

I’d rather not have that because I don’t want to know things. I just don’t want to know. I want to be numb again. I want the sense that Xanax used to give me and yet still function. If I could have the Xanax density, so I don’t know quite what’s going on, yet still have my Jodyness intact, I’d want to do that.

I do believe I am getting better. Yes. Because I already am better. A year removed from the suicide, and people said, “Oh, give it a year, and you won’t be in the same place you are now.” I still have nightmares. Do you get grossed out? Have you ever seen brains?

I’m not ready to show anybody the pictures because I put them away for a while. My father’s head blew off, and after they took the body, there’s this mess. In my dreams, instead of it coming up even as difficulty as it did, it’s even worse, and they turn to glass, shards of razor blades, they fall through my hands. It’s dangerous to scoop them up. I’m just desperate. That’s when I think I’ll be better when the nightmares go away. It’s unbelievable. I hear the gunshot in my dream, and I wasn’t there when it happened.

I used to have really cool dreams. Sleep was like my friend. I never slept with him. I was at the other end of the house for five or six years. I worked nights, and he worked days. Sleep was the only place I was okay. It was a place where I didn’t hurt. If the dreams were recalled, they were great, really creative, and fascinating. I used to love my dreams, and now I fear the night. There are demons.

I don’t trust people. I’m always waiting for the mode of kindness. It’s usually man people. I can forgive women anything. With women, it’s like I don’t care. You can do anything, and it’s okay. I forgive women for all they are. That’s why I can forgive Roseanne and all the other Roseanne’s. But I don’t forgive men their faults.

I’m good at being a subordinate. I’m an excellent peon. I like being around people who are stuck on themselves. They amuse me. I can suck up. For $12 an hour, I can suck up. They’re amusing. They’re stupid, and they bought into something, and they go for it. If it makes your penis bigger to tell those little kids what to do at work, then go for it. They think it gets bigger, but it doesn’t.

I’ve become closer with some, and some have been alienated. There are people who don’t respect me. They don’t believe me. They don’t understand me. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to deal with it. They like the happy Jody and not the Jody, who was recovering from suicide and abuse.  But my real friends have stayed with me.

I just don’t think I could have kept anybody from seeing what was going on. Just the verbal abuse of my father when it was directed at my mother was embarrassing. He was demeaning. He could balance it brilliantly, though. I couldn’t subject a child to that. But then I don’t have maternal feelings, so I don’t know. I’ve never wanted kids. I got my tubes tied when I was 24. I tend to think more of my equals and friends, and I don’t want to control something. I don’t like the responsibility, and now more than ever, I don’t ever want to love anything that much, ever.

I don’t know. I loved my father. I loved my dogs. I can’t handle losses like that again. I don’t want to care about anybody that much. Where it’s an obsessive love or consuming love, I can’t give it. I don’t have it.

I think it’s a direct consequence of the abuse that I feel this way.

My mother still doesn’t know, and I haven’t told her I couldn’t do that. My whole life was don’t tell mom and don’t tell dad. It’s like you don’t tell. I think it’s part of a Jewish phrase. It’s the whole thing of waiting for the other she to drop. It’s all the things I see in Jews and don’t see in Gentiles.

I think I learned, don’t tell.  I am one of those people who don’t say things and are waiting for the other shoe to drop. You can’t be too happy. God forbid.

I find it hard to make decisions. I’ve narrowed my clothes down to black and white. I don’t even know what to put on. I’ll sit in my room if I have a couple of choices to make about what shirt and I can’t leave. That’s where I start to obsess. I have a terrible habit that Prosac is supposed to get rid of, and it’s not. I’m getting that obsessive/compulsive disorder. I set my alarm, and I reach for it and keep making sure. I pull it out, pull it in, pull it out, pull it in. Make sure I’ve set it. I do this over and over, and even though I know I just did it, and I start to fall asleep, I’ll bolt out of bed to check the stupid alarm. I count things, and I don’t know why I’m counting them except I know that after I’ve hung the laundry, I’ll start to think the number forty-three, and it’s how many clothespins I used. Then I have to go back and count and see if that’s where I got it, and it was where I got it. I have to keep going home to see if I locked the door, and I know I did. I’m anxious about that, and I’ve never had that before. I don’t know if it’s from the suicide or the abuse.

The abuse helped my work. I put more energy into my work. It’s been my salvation, plus I like my job. I really do. I love being a cashier. I have found my place, and it’s so nice because I get approval. I’m okay when I’m at my check stand. I’m the queen of my check stand. I can do whatever I want. I can triple your money back. I can give it away for free if you’re not happy with something. If you have a gun, I’ll give you the whole drawer of money. I can do anything I want. My check stand, they’ve empowered us that way.

 I’ve never wanted to die. I’ve never been suicidal. Isn’t that strange? Everyone I know is suicidal. It seems so dramatic, and I love the suffering, and it all looks so cool. I don’t. I have to find tomorrow.

If I die, it would have to be the result of my cigarette smoking. I’d have to know I only have a few months to live that my bills would outweigh my expenses, then I’d find a way. I like mornings. I do. I cocoon and hideaway in the mornings. I’m safe with Trish, my roommate. I’m safe there. I can’t be naked in front of people with whom I have sex. He likes large women, which is so cool. So I’m accepted once again. But if I’m at my kitchen table, I’m fine. In my yard, playing in the dirt, I’m fine.

I have noticed that I am angrier. I have a flashpoint unknown to me. It comes, it’s just unbelievable. I’ve also had a very easy going flashpoint, and now it’s worse.

I fear things. I’m afraid of everything. But that’s because I’m afraid of real things like my husband. He is a  husband who will kill me. And I’m afraid that boys who walk around on the streets at night with their hats on backward are going to kill me.

As far as sadness, I’m past that. That was the first little bit. Sadness is something I don’t feel.

I just smoke cigarettes more instead of drugs. I don’t smoke dope or drink alcohol. I don’t alter my consciousness, except with Prosac.

Yes, Prosac and cigarettes. I love it. They go together. I need more than ever now to be alert. I can’t even imagine wanting to alter my consciousness. I have to know what’s going on. The adult, that part of me that knows things too, and I don’t want that dulled. The part I want to get rid off, I still want to keep it.

With Xanax, I  would store up all my feelings. So I’d block them out, and then it was as if they all came down in one fell swoop as soon as the Xanax would wear off. I didn’t need that, so there would be more Xanax, but that was the first two months after the suicide.

Intellectually, I know I’m safe. But I did almost kill a transient one night. He touched my car and was yelling at me and wanting to drink, and I didn’t have any. I’m mentally thinking, “My God, I need to flee. I have to get away. When is the light going to turn green?” I wanted to hurt him. I called a policeman instead. I can’t shoot a stranger. I mean, he wasn’t going to kill me. My life was not in danger. He was just mad because I had something and he didn’t.

About my spirituality, that is a tough one. I believe in God differently. I think I have better communication with my higher power. I do pray more in a thankful way. I’m more grateful, not in a Christian sense like they do it, but in a different sense. But I’m still baffled as to where we go when we die. I need to know where my dad is. That’s a big obsession. I mean, does he know now that I lied to him all these years? Or is he wherever spirits go doing cool stuff that has nothing to do with the physical? Or is he some slug at the bottom of a cesspool? I don’t know where he is. His physical self is in my underwear drawer, and I’m getting rid of that on the 24th. I have to get him out of there. I can’t even go in that drawer. I have stuff I haven’t even accessed since I moved in. I put him in the drawer and threw things in there. Once I start to see the baggie, and it’s a big baggie, and I’ve been having all these doubts that it’s not him that it’s just some aggregate of a whole day. That they just burned all these people and sweep it all together and give everybody a bag and divide it up. What if it’s a dead dog? What if it’s not my father? So what am I hanging on to?

These are my obsessions.

I had to go back and get his remains from the airplane. That is the biggest joke in the world. My dad’s big joke was to be put in a hefty bag and throw me out with the trash. When I got to the airport, and they wanted me to open that box to prove what it was, I told them it was my dead father’s remains. I thought the shock effect would work. She wanted to see inside the box. I had no clue what was in there. So I was shaking it a little before I opened it and I opened it, and there he is, and I have to deal with the suicide, and it looks like he got his wish.

It has changed my ethics. Yeah, it has. I don’t give a shit about running yellow lights. I stole. Bally’s restaurant closed up, and I stole some flowers and planted them in my yard, which I would never have done before. I had to talk to God and say I was sorry, and I know they are better here because they’re not watering them. I had to validate it because I stole them.

I don’t go to temple. I’m not ready for that because it’s so one way and dogmatic and absolute. There isn’t a faith in the world that accepts suicide, not even Buddhist. There is something called a Kaddish. It’s a prayer for the dead. They don’t say Kaddish for suicides. You don’t cremate Jews. So there is no one I can talk to. I talk to God a lot more on a real thankful level. I have a hold. Whoever it was, somebody allowed me to get the loan on that HUD house. Everything has just worked. Once again, I have always gotten by on the skin of my teeth. I always have. Something has worked for me. I don’t know if I bring it to myself. I’m not that kind. My roommate is very metaphysical. If you’re unhappy, you choose to be sad, whether you know it or not. You draw these types of men to yourself. It’s unconscious choices. He doesn’t blame me, but he does feel it must have been something I needed to do something else in a future time. But I’m not metaphysical.

People have said to me: “I don’t know how you could let it happen. Why didn’t you leave? Why didn’t you kill him? If you told me, I would have killed him for you.” These types of things. You didn’t have to put up with that. You knew I was there for you, but you didn’t talk to me. Like I defiled my relationship with them. So I just quit talking about it. In a grocery store, we’re so close. I spend more time with those people than I do at home. Luckily, I’m in a pretty good store with good people, but there are still a few. I wonder how many people in percentages are psychopaths?

Some people are using people as objects. I see there are people who do that. Some people have no sense of right or feelings, and they don’t bond or don’t love. As much as my mom and dad were nuts, we did bond. We did have love. We always kissed goodnight. I think that’s why I’m not a psychopath. I believe they are formed, aren’t they? By their childhood? Not like chemically.

I don’t believe people are willing to listen to what happens to people in my situation.

I don’t know why. These people find it painful, or maybe they’re being abused themselves. I would bet there are parts of them they don’t want to think about or something they witnessed as children, and I represent something to them that is very scary. Or if they are sanctimonious, I represent something very weak and sexual, certainly not a woman. And having come up like you and me in the feminist movement, we’re not supposed to put with this.

I wanted to get a divorce and get away from it, and I had to explain why I was getting a divorce. I had to explain that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t blow it. I just had to get away from the abuse.

Some people listened. One has consequently admitted that she’s getting beat up. Another one is being emotionally abused and is in the process of a divorce. Another one watched her mother get beat up.

 If there was denial, it was because I think I am a good con artist. It comes from being a barber all my life, and bull shit is part of meeting the public. I think you have to do it. We always have to be okay and on.

As to most Americans, I don’t think they believe abuse happens. I think they don’t accept it. And again, it goes back to being a victim. She or he deserves it. They did something to spark the interest of a crazy person. Women are no longer chattel; we have choices, supposedly. But to be out of the body, you don’t have a choice. If you’re not who you are, you don’t have a choice. And I lived in that automatic response thing. North Americans don’t accept that this person is not in control. Look at what happened to Hetta Nusbaum.

I said North Americans only because of the awareness of certain world attitudes about women. Women are a possession in some places, even in the Middle East. I think I’ve just heard on the news. I can’t validate it with any facts with this country or that. It’s just something I’ve come to understand.

Yes, even though North Americans don’t believe women are chattel, they think we do have a choice. I still have that copy of the picture of Hetta Nusbaum on the cover of Newsweek. I would have to read it a lot during the abusive times to remind myself why I’m here. Why I’m putting up with this and why she put up with it and allowed a child to get beaten because she was also victimized and broken, and her face was altered. She was once a model and then look at her. Remember her face? She looked like a boxer. I have the same lesions, open wounds on my body, on my legs. I would limp and hold myself to breathe, and I knew her through my own experience. Like I can spot a bulimic, I know who’s getting beat up.

I feel it. I don’t see it. Unless the obvious, a bulimic comes up to my check stand, and she’s very thin. She looks pretty good, and she has all this delicious food, and then she tells me she’s having a party, and all these kids are going to make ice cream sundaes. Like yeah, right. I’ve had parties for one, and I used to do that. I would stand at the deli and go, “Does Paul want mustard on this sandwich?” You feel like you have to validate to total strangers why you’re buying gallons of ice cream. I’ve seen the same thing with people who are going to get beat up. I’ve seen people argue in the check stand and the women cower. Their bodies alter, and I know the man beats her. Why else would her body change? She goes into a full defense mode. I would just put my knees to my mouth and wait for it to stop. I don’t know how long it lasted. It was a time warp. There must be something the mind does, right? To protect itself? We do that, don’t we?

As a member of Amnesty International, yes, I think that women who are abused have a lot in common with tortured people.  And I think it’s all part of the Stockholm Syndrome. You become sympathetic to your abuser. You tend to support that abuser. You become dependent on them for their happiness. The little bits of anything they’re going to give you that you often become who they are, and will go along with whatever it takes. I think humans by nature will seek out that which is painless and doesn’t hurt. I think we go through that painless place, that place where we don’t feel to cope and survive. How else do people put up with years of captivity? How is it that those Jews who willingly walked into the concentration camps also walk out of them? I would have been one who lived through it. I probably would have gained ten pounds and be the only fat one in there, but I would have survived that. I already know that. I knew that before this.

I’m a survivor. I know. It’s something in my personality.

It is pretty amazing for somebody who doesn’t like herself to want to stay alive, be okay, and do all the right things. I still mess up myself. I don’t know. That would be a good something for me to think about.

There are things I have done that have helped—joining my health club. I would just sit in a jacuzzi until I didn’t hurt anymore. I ate a lot of Advil. I would get lost in my work at work. Still, even that is very physically demanding, so I’d have to wrap myself up with big Ace bandages so I could breathe past broken ribs.

Since I have been out of the marriage, nothing has helped. I’m pissed off. I’m not still angry because I wasn’t pissed off when my ex was doing that. I was just trying to make him happy and not beat me up. I’m angry, and I don’t know who I’m mad at, me and him.

I guess that having a roommate that allows me to cry because I wasn’t allowed to cry in my marriage helps. Chris has probably been a real salvation. There’s an intimacy that isn’t just sexual because that’s not a big deal. I can’t explain it. He’s really important. I don’t have to babysit. He’s already house trained. He leaves the seat up, though, but I think that’s a boy thing. I can’t say anything else. Just the absence. Knowing I am safe. I still look outside my door before I get out. I know he’s not going to come after me, but I don’t know. He’s still fooling people.

The fact that my husband is out of my life is the biggest help.

Well, Chris helps,  for listening to me and letting me cry for no reason. My friend Trish who didn’t tell my mother, if that makes sense. Just people that still care about me. They have made it clear to me that they care by actions and words and looks, by every action, everything.

I have not helped anyone in my past situation.  Not yet, but I think I will. Once I’ve gone through therapy and feel past this, and the anger is gone. I couldn’t go to the Brewster Center and help anybody; however, I could tell somebody now how to leave your husband. But not until you’ve done certain things to protect yourself. You skim off the paycheck. It’s called a puschka–you hide away money in that old shoe. You get a loan, even though it’s in both of your names. You get a couple of credit cards, even though it’s in both your names. You refinance your car.

You do all these things that will give you independence. You get a storage room. Shop dollar days at Fry’s and start stocking up on those things like light bulbs and toilet paper. Don’t leave until you have something to go to, go with power. Go with money and go with strength. And buy a HUD house. And when you want a loan, this is racist, and I’m not a racist, and I knew that if I was to go to some yuppy bitch where I work in the foothills, she’s not going to give me a loan. I went over to the south side of town and found a fat Mexican woman. She took care of me, just like somebody else who’s been damaged. A damaged loan officer and only a woman, you can’t talk to a man.

The media has not been helpful. I can’t deal with shows about battered wives. My mother sends me every suicide, every Dr. Kavorkian story, every murder. She’s obsessing over there with death and destruction, rape, and murder. No. I can’t handle that. I don’t even want to hear dead dog stories. I don’t take that well.

Every time I hear about Dr. Kavorkian, that upsets me. Every time I hear about suicide, I can only wonder why.

Sure, there’s something in the paper this morning. A woman took scissors to her husband’s testicles, and they blamed her using Bobbet defense that she concocted the battered wife syndrome.

Hearing this was not helpful. This woman couldn’t take it anymore. Why strikeout at the genitalia, I don’t know. That’s because it’s men’s focal point of who they are. I don’t know. I still can’t figure it out. Why do they name them? Have you ever met guys who name them? What is that? That is really gross.

I find talking about what I went through is helpful.  I’m finding it cathartic lately. I can finally speak, and I think that’s why I needed to talk to you. I can now say these things out loud without losing it.

I decided to interview with you because it was a woman’s name, and I like that Tucson rag. I just love that paper. The words like trauma, human inflicted trauma, meant that you understood that we aren’t doing this to ourselves. You were sympathetic to that. It wasn’t my fault, and I’m still working on that. Because I’m still not sure, maybe it was my fault, and that perhaps all this new age thinking is right, like I did it to myself, which I didn’t. I don’t think I deserved it. I just don’t. Nobody does. I could still kill him. I just keep resurrecting in my mind. I know it wouldn’t even make me feel better. I just don’t want him to be. (I couldn’t hear very well due to background noise.) Maybe the best thing is that everybody continues to feel the pain and as far as he does. I’m angry at him. I’ve never been angry at him until like the past month. I think it’s because I’m past my dad’s suicide that I can see what I was living, terror, fear, cowering.

I saw a counselor. I had one. He’s okay. You know these people in town, and they tell you their names. He speaks Italian with an Italian accent. I felt this was the guy to talk to. He’s European. He’s not American. Somehow I just thought because he wasn’t American, he’d be okay. He was. He’s adorable, but his socks didn’t match, and his office was messy. He had the couch from the Freudian days. He kept saying, “God, you’re so funny. I don’t see how you have any problems.” I was in a more witty time then. It was part of my trying not to deal with it. I had to quit with him, and he just wanted to medicate me anyway. Then I went to Patricia N, who asked me, “What are brains like? I’ve never seen them. Are they kind of like wet bread?” I had to go crying out of her office. Now I’m in this sterile environment over at Palo Verde. This guy is just like something out of central casting. Plus, he’s fat. I have a real problem with that because now I can’t tell him about my eating disorder. How do you tell a fat person you don’t like fat people? That’s really hard, so I eliminate that part. But he’s brought a lot into perspective for me. He’s really helped me. Have you ever been to Palo Verde? It’s sterile there. And the day that I go through the pictures again, I kept making myself look at the suicide, of my father’s swollen face and the brains and all this stuff. The day I saw the blood moved by his hand, I went over to Palo Verde and said I needed to be committed. They wouldn’t take me. The only accept you if you don’t think you’re nuts. If you do think you’re nuts and you want to get in there, they won’t take you. I went into urgent care. I didn’t want to go to work. I didn’t want to function. I want people to feed me. I want to wear a nightgown. They wouldn’t do it.

I do meditate again. I used to do TM, and now I’m coming back. I still breathe color. It has been beneficial. It’s calming myself. Twenty minutes does give me more energy. I can work until two or three in the morning, and then they have me on the schedule at six o’clock the next day. That’s hard. And to be perky and cute is hard. You have to think. I don’t have to think.

What is helpful is that I’m finding I’m able to talk without crying and talk without shame. I found out that that’s where I can validate that it’s not my fault that this happened. And where the hell was I for all those years? Where was I? And why did I let it happen? I told my therapist. I want to set some parameters in therapy. I don’t want it to drag on. I want short-term therapy, and I want to know why suicide freed me, and where was I? And I want to stop wanting to kill him. God forbid if something happens to him. I know I’ll feel responsible like I thought the energy. I don’t want to believe I’m responsible for doing that. I’m kind of into metaphysics in that area. I don’t want to think I bring anything negative to him because I fear the retribution that will come back on me.

Just being able to talk this past month has helped. That’s why I needed to speak to you. And to hear me. You’re very good at what you do. Do you know that? You say all the right things. You compliment. You find good stuff about me that I didn’t know about. I like that.

I like to be funny. I used to crack myself up. It’s starting to come back. I want that shit-eating grin, that smirk, that smart-ass person I used to be back. I want her back. Go see Damaged. Jeremy Irons is good. It’ll explain everything about us and why we can never go back and who we are and the obsessive/compulsive behaviors at the very end. Somebody was very bright. Somebody has lived under abuse.

I do get overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that that’s when I have to obsess. I have to go away. To sit at my table, smoke and stare at the sky. I just get so overwhelmed that I get flashes of everything, that I’m getting beat up, the fear before getting beat up, my dad’s body, the brains. Sometimes I don’t know where I am then. I was driving in my rearview mirror. God forbid I should ever do that again.

I’m driving in traffic. Did I stop? Did I downshift? Where the hell was I? I was getting beat up in my rearview mirror, and I was there. I was in my rearview mirror. It scares me.

I’d have to call you. I can’t think of anything else. But I’m mentally ill. I just want to add that. I know I’m sick because I just am. I don’t function.

It is the result of the abuse. Oh, God, yes. I used to be motivated and energetic. Yeah, that’s what got me everything I ever had. That motivation, and he just literally beat that out of me. I went into a robot. I still want to know where I was for ten years.

2 thoughts on “Interview with Jody”

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