July 5, 1998
First, thank you for doing the right thing and returning the money. Now I am going to discuss the content of your letter.
You attacked Morgan. This is a simple fact. You, no one else, threatened her life and the lives of the other children. I am not sorry that I refused to allow you to live with us any longer. It was incumbent on me, as a responsible adult, to protect all of the children under my care, including you.
I am sorry that the breech between us occured. But I do not see how I could have prevented that. In retrospect you were not the source of the problem. Craig was. From the beginning he refused to back me up as your step-parent. This led to a steadily deteriorating situation in which I was unable to maintain discipline and guarantee the safety of those who lived there.
Craig was a terrible example of how to live without violence, as you well know. He was a terrible example of how to live together in any way. You, as any teenager would have, took advantage of the situation and appealed to Craig whenever you didn’t like my decisions. But he was not the one raising the family. I was. He was hardly there. When he was home he secreted himself in his bedroom, a pattern you were long familiar with.
Think about your relationship with Craig then and earlier. You wanted him to love you. He had told you for years that your mother was keeping the two of you from being together. But it wasn’t true, was it? Do you think that Craig loves you better now?
You went from a situation with us where you were not getting enough discipline or individual attention to a situation where you were. You began living with your Aunt Priscilla. It was a good change for you. It enabled you to graduate high school and begin college. I know that it hurt feeling rejected. Of course it did. And if I had been able to trust Craig’s judgment it would not have been necessary. But I had learned that trusting Craig’s judgment was impossible.
You were not put up in a motel to ensure your safety. This was made necessary by your violent behavior. You do recall that you and Craig were the only ones who were ever violent, don’t you? Our fear was for the safety of others, not your safety. That violent behavior did not start with your attack on Morgan. You will remember you also had been violent towards your own mother, hence, your change of residence to Burnet. You brought your problems with you.
Remember the events of that spring. You hurt Dawn by throwing her cat at her in the pool. That was an act that could have caused her more serious injuries than the rather bad scratches she sustained. The cat could have scratched her eyes. Throwing the cat was an act of animal abuse. I am sure, when you recall what you did, you are ashamed.
Do you remember why you were living in the garage? Edi offered to share his room with you and you bullied and physically abused him. Craig would have let you get away with it, even given you Edi’s room. Do you think I regret putting my foot down and refusing to allow that to happen? I don’t.
Frankly, I do not know what I could have done differently that would have been responsible. I am sorry that your feelings were hurt. But imagine the consequences if I had allowed you to remain and you had harmed one of the children badly enough to require hospitalization, or even killed one of them? I had to accept that as a possibility. That would have had life-wrenching consequences for you as well as the rest of us.
Imagine what would have happened if you had succeeded in strangling Morgan. You would have been incarcerated, perhaps treated, but certainly involved in the justice system for all of the remaining years of your childhood and a good part of your adulthood. It would have tainted your life. And I would never have been able to forgive you. How would you have felt about yourself?
I am glad I did not allow you to stay with us. I am sorry for your pain.
Now I will go over the rest of your letter.
You could not trust me? What a pathetic and self-justifying statement. I kicked you out. I did it openly. I did not mandate a trial; Craig did. The kids all felt, and feel, that your behavior was unacceptable. Since I wasn’t there for the events, I accepted the accounts that were relayed to me. There was no sustantial disagreement as to the facts. I’m not devious. I never have been. You and Craig have been devious, not me.
You said in our previous, last, converation, that if I needed money I could sell the jewelry that Craig gave me. The subject came up over my need for money to pay Ed’s medical bills. I want you to remember that conversation. I want you to remember the previous conversations in which you elicited from me, through careful manipulation and selective slams against myself, which you credited to both Craig and Michael Emerling Cloud, the comments about Craig which you now attempt to characterize as hurtful to you. Did you think I would feel charitable towards either of them when you told me that they wanted to see me become a bag lady?
I wonder how such comments, aimed at yourself, would have made you feel. I wonder what you would have said to a ‘trusted’ confidante in those circumstances.
Did I say uncomplimentary things about Craig? Hell yes, he had just left me, abused my trust, broken every promise he had made to me. He had caused me to have a heart attack, lied about filing his taxes for ten years, abandoned me to clean up his mess and then tried to steal the money he promised me as partial restitution. I was and am angry. But I am justifiably angry. My trust has been violated. You have no such objectively appropriate reason for anger. You offered yourself as a friend and confidant. What did you expect me to say?
Take the log out of your eye, Christian.
If I had known in 1986 that Craig would not file his taxes I would have made very different decisions. I would not have married him. I would not have allowed him to use my money to buy the house on Burnet that he wanted. I would never have lived with him. I would never have trusted him with everything that was most precious to me in life. And you would never have lived with me and my children. And consequently you would be looking at a very different reality.
Don’t think for a moment that Craig would therefore be wealthy. He would, as he well knows, still be a high-tech hobo, disabled emotionally from benefiting from his own brilliance.
As you know, Justin doesn’t want to have anything to do with Craig. That is his own decision, one which I was reluctant to let him make but which, after long consideration and consultation with his therapist, I have agreed to. Justin’s therapist thinks that, no matter how important the father/son relationship is, that Craig is so toxic that Justin is better off without him. I agree.
Craig, through his attorney, went into court and refused to acknowledege that Justin was his son. Justin, as you well know, has refused to have contact with you as well. I am sure that Justin has told you about Craig’s abusive behavior. Justin was publically battered, manipulated and coerced. He has chosen to end his relationship with Craig - and you - because of Craig’s abuse and your behavior towards him and me. Why have you not expressed concern for Justin and what he is going through now - at a younger age than you were when you had to leave Burnet? It is curious that you are more wroth about events in the distant past than you are over Craig’s recent abuse of either Justin or myself. If you are a caring person, how can that be?
To try to justify your behavior, deceiving me, defrauding me, and abusing my trust, by citing things that happened ten years ago is sadly pathetic.
Do you think that you have lived your life with truth, honesty, integrity or anything approaching those values? You have not. I’ll share something with you. I have. I know how difficult that is. I have made mistakes, done things I regret. I acknowledge them and try to make amends. But I will be glad to present my life’s record of what I have done, and why I did it to God when I die. I live my life, every day, in the knowledge that there are only two people whose opinion ultimately matters. Myself and God.
I have done nothing for which I need to be forgiven. You have. When we resumed our relationship several years ago you were an adult. No one coerced you into signing anything. You volunteered that you felt that you had acted inappropriately in 1989. I never would have asked you to make such statements. I was willing to let the past bury itself and begin our relationship anew. And I was very willing to have a relationship with you. We had some wonderful, warm conversations, if you allow yourself to remember them now.
We began anew. I extended you trust, and then, God help me, love. I listened to you, tried to help you with your endeavors. I made sure that we kept our financial committments to you throughout the period of the tax crisis.
Your response to that was a complete violation of trust. That was your choice. I hope that, in the future, you learn that carrying that kind of baggage and acting on such vile motivations is more than just wrong. It was a moral atrocity. I hope that the relationship you can have with Craig, ethical and emotional cripple that he is, will be worth what you have paid for it.
You could always have trusted me, you know. You can still trust me. I never lied to you. I never will. The truth is what we owe even those who make themselves our enemies. I have learned my lesson about trusting you, though, and will not make the same mistake again.
You ended this relationship. I can’t be sure why you wrote that letter, but I suspect that your conscience and Kathy were both in play. If so, I will try to ignore the obvious self-justifications in your letter and hear what you did not say, until you are willing to say it out loud. I think, at some level, you know how wrongly you have acted and are sorry. Maybe, maybe not. But I can hope that you are capable of enough introspection to begin what I know will be a long and painful process. Good luck.