May 1, 2020:

She wants to use me for absolution.

"One day I'd like to explain the bad days," she writes, referencing by "the bad days" the many years she forced her children to remain within an abusive household headed by a schizophrenic stepmother. That woman locked her daughter in closets days on end, and she beat her son so arbitrarily and so mercilessly that he grew to lack all empathy, to understand human beings as either predators or prey, until in his rage and resentment he tortured, raped and murdered women up and down the land.

It's not up to me to absolve her, and if it were, I wouldn't.

I understand the constraints on women's choices in that era. The moral and social pressures on single mothers. Still. She had options. She was employed, in the union. There was no material obstacle preventing her from leaving. She was committed to "the family", although it seems insane to call it that. She was and remains married to denial. Her decisions were shaped by social pressures, yet they were also codependent and irrational, fueled by self-deception.

Her daughter is the anti-example. To break the cycle of abuse she packed up her infant son and walked.

Where the major difference is, her daughter was accustomed to being alone.