It was about a month into their relationship and I called Kristen at one of the new time slots I was allowed to call at. Lee had these mandates on when I could call. This time, she was having an episode. It was the first time I had witnessed it. For whatever reason, Lee was angry that I interrupted and proceeded to trash me in the background. Megalodon was right there witnessing it. Kristen did nothing to ease the situation. My relationship with my kid is strained already by prison. I felt helpless.

Just since the beginning of this year, Kristen had said Megalodon was seeing a therapist and she was holding my letters until the therapist said otherwise. Kids without dads can have problems. Troubles with loss. I’m all on board with my kid having a professional to describe her thoughts to and to help her really understand her feelings, how to cope. It was soon that Kristen said Lee had been taking over the therapy duties. As I asked about when was Megalodon going to get my letters, it was always “soon”. A few months later, Kristen slipped up and admitted that Megalodon had only been to a few appointments. Lee had been owning one more person I love. And let’s face it, Lee couldn’t be exposed to a professional like that. Oh, from the mouths of babes.

The episodes of blatant disrespect and verbal violence because of me had gone catastrophic when I called. I was upset myself and I barely called because of it. Kristen kept telling me that Lee’s medical issues make her act out and she just has problems sometimes. It reminded me of a woman of yesteryear with bruised arms being berated at a cocktail party by her drunk husband and then telling everyone how misunderstood or stressed he is. In one call, it was a meltdown in a public park with other parents in earshot, in another, Kristen had to threaten to call the police because of Lee’s behavior, another ended my call on my daughter’s birthday. More was happening in that house. I knew that. But I hoped to God if I hung up, Lee would stop or Kristen would wise the eff up and end it.

The last thing I ever thought would happen is that Kristen would allow this shit in front of my daughter. Why wouldn’t Kristen defend my relationships with her and Megalodon? Why? Lee’s need for the control only got worse and Kristen’s need to be connected to her did, too. I was schooled real fast that this is NOT the way closeted LGBT folks make a grand entrance. Victimization for anyone isn’t a part of any of it. At least it shouldn’t be. I was handed a pamphlet by a gay friend and it talked about domestic violence as a very real danger in some same sex couples. I emailed the web address to Kristen regarding this advocacy. I was terrified for her, worried for my kid, devastated inside for how we never needed to be here, like this. It took a whole lot of my friends, both LGBT and straight, to grab a few pails of water. Everyone saw the flames rage out of control…

Rory Andes