The councillor suggested that I spent some time with Dad, simply because the relationship I had with him was suffering due to everything happening with Tori. She suggested that Dad and I make dinner together one night, just him and I, in his house. Of course this meant that Tori would have to leave the house for a few hours to give us time on our own, and she was not happy about this; she refused, not seeing why she should have to leave what was her house as well, even if only for a few hours. Hence, this didn’t end up happening and I thought it would be best if I lived with Mum from then on, as it was just going to be too hard to keep living at Dad’s with all of that going on. Basically the only times I was able to see Dad was if it was away from his house, so that Tori didn’t feel personally put out by the arrangements.
I lived with Mum for about the next year or so, and was much happier being in a better environment and away from Tori. However, my sister being 3 years older than me, still felt like she needed to keep living with Dad and Tori, as it would be difficult for Dad if both of us suddenly moved out and lived with Mum. I guess it just comes back to that whole thing about trying your best to spend time equally between both parents, as you don’t want one to think you don’t want to live with them anymore and take it personally. I, of course, was really sad to not be seeing Dad as much as I was when I lived with him; it was the only thing I liked about going to his house and I knew that this new arrangement meant I wouldn’t be able to see him as much. I missed him a lot and felt really sad that I couldn’t talk to him about what was going on as he didn’t see it the same way as me and didn’t understand what the problem was with living with them.
I still got to see Dad every few weeks, as I remember, but a lot of the time it felt super awkward and tense, as if we were trying to pretend everything was okay when it really wasn’t. He knew I was having a hard time getting along with Tori but he didn’t quite get why I couldn’t just get over it and accept her for who she was. Dad kept insisting that I was just upset that she wasn’t Mum, and that he had moved on and was with someone else, but in all honesty I would have been more than happy for him to be with someone else if I truly believed she was a good person and worthy of his love. We were never able to see her the same way.
I remember one time when Dad picked me up so that we could spend an afternoon together, we went to a café but it ended up being closed so he brought me an ice cream and ate it in his car. It was really awkward, we were just parked on the side of the road sitting in silence, trying to ignore the elephant in the room but desperately failing. It ended up coming up in conversation anyway, as we both knew we needed to talk about it and address what was going on, but it just ended up being an argument. Dad told me that he couldn’t choose between Tori and my sister and I, as he loved all of us equally. The thing is, I wasn’t asking him to choose. I wasn’t giving him an ultimatum at all, I just wanted to be able to talk to him about how I felt and explain why it was so difficult for me to live with them and to be around a person like Tori.
I’ve never needed my dad more than this time in my life, and it felt like he didn’t have my back and wasn’t on my side at all. Sometimes when you go through a hard time you really need to be able to rely on your family to support you and help you through it, and while I had the support of Mum, I also needed it from Dad as he was actually involved in the situation from the start since he was the one with Tori. I didn’t get that support, and I felt that I was losing the relationship I had with Dad because of all of this conflict.
I kept trying to explain to Dad that the way Tori treated him wasn’t right, like how she would constantly find ways to belittle him, criticise him, judge him, try her best to embarrass him and make him feel small. She would laugh at him, make snide comments about his parents or our mum, always making good use of sarcasm in her replies. Sometimes she would blatantly ignore him when he talked to her, not even bothering to look up from her phone or anything. If he made her a nice dinner she would criticise it and find something wrong with it, telling him about the mistakes he’d made while she ate it. She was always finding ways to shut him down and make him feel bad about himself or something he did. She was incredibly disrespectful and rude towards Dad, even though he was allowing her to live in his house and put a roof over her head etc.
She was a languages teacher and taught foreign students to speak English, and would often laugh at them over dinner and mock their various accents, pulling faces while talking about the students that got on her nerves. She would speak badly about her own family, her parents back in Scotland, her brother and his fiancé who actually came over to New Zealand to stay with them for a bit. I didn’t actually end up meeting them because I wasn’t living with them at that point, but all I heard was Tori’s complaints through Dad about her own brother, despite the fact that he lives on the other side of the world to her and therefore rarely see each other.
So anyway, all I was trying to point out to Dad throughout all this was that I had a problem with the way she was treating him, but of course he was quick to defend her and said something along the lines of “oh, that’s just her personality”, as if that makes it all okay. The thing is, there is a big difference between your personality and treating people (or more specifically, your partner), less than they deserve, so in my opinion this isn’t really an excuse for her behaviour – there is no excuse for the way she acts and treats people, regardless of differences in her personality.
I love my dad very much, and I want the best for him and for him to be happy with whomever he is with, but one thing that seems clear is that he is blind to what Tori is really like. He sees a different Tori to the rest of us, and it really does sadden me that he’s being treated this way when he deserves so much better. My parents’ marriage may not have lasted but one thing is for certain, and that is that they had so much respect for each other, from start to finish. They’ve been together for a long time now, probably around 11 years, and I can’t help but think that he’s so consumed by her that he can’t see what’s really going on. The truth is, their relationship is not normal. It is not healthy. This much is obvious from the outside looking in, but I imagine very hard if not impossible to see from the inside looking out…isn’t that always the way?
6 months ago they made the decision to move out of Auckland to a house they brought near Paeroa. Luckily, Dad had a job to go to once they moved, but was only in that position 2 weeks before it came to an end. Ever since then he has been looking for a new job, which has resulted in over 4 months of unemployment. Despite living in a rural area, Tori was fortunate enough to get a job working in a café not far from where they live now. Even though Dad wasn’t working, at least he could rely on her income for the time being, right? Wrong. Selfishly, she actually decided to quit her job soon after she started, meaning that now neither of them had any income at all, as well as putting extra pressure and stress onto Dad to find a job to support both of them financially. Dad has been trying to get a job for over 4 months and has been unsuccessful so far, so the fact that Tori thought she could just quit her job with no thought to how this was going to affect Dad or his situation just seems incredibly selfish and thoughtless to me. Where they live you’d be lucky if you even got an interview for a job you had applied for, let alone be successful in getting the job, which she did…only to just quit and make matters worse for Dad like that?
To this day, they are both still unemployed (Dad is doing his best to get a job, but who knows what Tori is doing during this time), meaning that they are together literally 24/7, as neither of them are working. Also, they don’t have any friends down there or know anyone in that area, so the only people they know is each other, who they’re with every minute of every day. No matter how much you love your partner, spending 24/7 together and the lack of personal space can’t be great for your relationship in the long run, especially when that person is Tori. She is probably the most cold, two faced, nasty and totally negative person I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting and knowing, quite frankly.
Part 3 is coming soon.
Lucy Rebecca x