The Collector let me cry for a minute, and then retrieved me and led me by the hand to the sofa. He left me there and came back with some Valium and a cup of milk.
I drank them down, even though I know I shouldn’t be screwing around with benzos, and then he held me for half an hour until they took effect.
“I took the protein off the fire. It will not be as good, but it will still be good enough. I’ll boil new pasta so it will be fresh,” he said.
This made me feel guilty, like I ruined dinner, but also oddly grateful.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” I said.
“We can do anything. Trust me.”
Let me tell you something I know from years in the sex industry and living life in general as a heterosexual female: any guy who tells you to trust him is probably a scammer.
But I got up, slightly drugged and significantly calmer, and returned to the table.
He served me a plate of seafood pasta in scampi sauce, lit the candles, and then had a seat on my right, at the head of the table.
We pretended as if it was ten years ago. He asked me questions about my thesis and we talked politics, and he told me how wonderful and exciting it was going to be in New York, and how much he loved it there.
I can’t describe what I felt. I was under a mild Valium haze (God, I love that drug. Anything that shuts down the emotions is right by me. If I could have my emotions removed like an appendix, I’d have that shit taken out surgically tomorrow). It felt like my brain was being molested.
The food was delicious, but I didn’t have much of an appetite.
Then I started to get into the role, and perked up.
Hope, my friends, is the cruelest and most dangerous emotion.
I started to speak excitedly about my plans, and how this school was giving me a full-ride scholarship, and how confident that made me feel, and how much I wanted to contribute to society.
He reached out and grasped my hand.
“I am proud of you, and I give you my blessing.”
This is the way that it should have been, except that, obviously, it wasn’t. My own father was too selfish to be happy about my success, minor as it was. He only wanted to keep me to him in order to exploit me like some natural resource, like oil or coal.
I wonder to myself if he ever loved me, even though it doesn’t matter now. He didn’t love me as I understand the meaning of the word. One of the greatest lies in our society is that all parents love their children. Newsflash: many don’t. However, children have a primordial psychological need to believe their parents love them, and I find it amazing that my devotion to him stood for so many years against all physical evidence that I was a toy, a meal ticket, a means to torture my mother, or an extension of himself. I mean, what can you say about a sadist who abandoned his first daughter (my sister) in Germany and wouldn’t even cut a check for child support?
You want it to be true, so you make it true.
Now we are at dinner, as it should have been. It’s a do-over. And I cannot decide whether it nurtured me or re-traumatized me.
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