Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband Derick’s new book, Counting the Cost, is out September 12. Last week, we covered how Jill and Derick wrote about the strain their 19 Kids and Counting spin-off Counting On put on their marriage, how manipulative her dad Jim Bob is, their fight over getting paid for the show, and their experience with therapy.
People.com has an exclusive book excerpt that details a meeting between the Dillards, Jill’s parents, Jim Bob and Michele, and a mediator. By the end of it, Jill is upset enough to straight up accuse her dad of treating her worse than her older brother Josh, who molested Jill and three of her siblings when they were children, and is currently serving a 12 year sentence for receiving and possessing child pornography. Jim Bob and Michele do not come off looking good at all. In fact, they look like such a–holes that I got angry reading it and want to give a trigger warning for abusive, manipulative parents. I’m including the entire excerpt for anyone that wants the full context, but totally understand if it hits too close to home to read. I’ll do a tl;dr for anyone who needs it after the excerpt.
“I’m sorry it took so long for this meeting to happen,” I said. My voice was shaking a little, and I could feel the breath stutter in my lungs. “There have been some very hurtful things that have happened, and so we wanted to sort it all out. To have a good discussion together. We love y’all and I know we all hope to be able to restore family relationships very soon.”
In the time I’d spoken, Pops’ body language had shifted. He was sitting very still, lips tight, eyes locked in a scowl that had been sculpted out of rock. “That letter you guys sent us.”
He stopped, like he was lost and didn’t know where to go. He looked at Mom. She looked at me.
There was no scowl on her face, no folded arms. Just a look of pain. The pain of a mama torn by her baby.
“It was the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever read.”
Her voice was soft, but her words hit me harder than anything she’d ever said to me.
I knew she was right, that she was speaking the truth. I didn’t know exactly how I’d messed up, but I knew that I had. I’d hurt her and Pops, and that was never my intention.
I heard Derick try to explain that we never meant for the letter to be taken that way. I looked at Pops. He was still scowling.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “We love y’all and could’ve used more care. We wrote the letter together and had hoped it would help explain our feelings, but I know we kept adding to it and then we were tired and just figured we had better go ahead send it along…”
My voice trailed off as I tried to find the right words. But Pops wasn’t listening to me. He had his own list of things he wanted to talk about.
“You sent me a text message, Jill. You said I was verbally abusing you. I was so offended by that, too. You know in your heart that’s not right. Are you going to apologize for that?”
I was nervous now. I remembered the message, remembered sending it in the hope that it might wake Pops up to how bad I felt things had gotten, to maybe make him give us a little space and let things calm down. I’d written about not wanting to be verbally abused, which was exactly how I’d felt at the time. I’d felt it in El Salvador as well. I wasn’t sure that I could apologize for that. I glanced at Derick as I remained speechless.
Pops must have sensed what I was thinking, because he suddenly stood up. “You’re not going to apologize? Really?”
His voice was loud, and there was an edge to it that I’d rarely heard. The moderator looked pale and was stuck on mute. Derick tensed, and I could feel him getting ready to step in. I squeezed his hand, hoping he’d get the message.
Please be quiet.
Do not let this get any worse than it already is.
We were facing each other from opposite couches, open space between us. Pops took a step toward me, closing the gap.
It wasn’t a gesture of reconciliation.
It was an act of aggression.
He towered over me, his whole body fueled with anger. My face flushed red. My eyes filled with tears.
Then there was a long, awful silence that I wanted to fill but just couldn’t yet.
Derick’s hand was shaking in mine, and I squeezed as hard as I ever had, desperate for him to hold his tongue.
“You know why you’re crying, don’t you? Your conscience is talking to you. That’s why.”
Pops’ voice was so loud in my ears. His words were like blows. I instinctively tried to protect myself and block him out. I curled up on my seat, trying to find safety in some kind of fetal position.
“You’re guilty!” Pops was yelling, stabbing a finger at me, standing right over me.
Mom started crying. Derick tried to speak, but I pulled him back.
“You want to know why I’m crying?” My voice was cracked, my eyes burning. “It’s that you think I’m some kind of horrible person just because I wear pants and have a nose ring, and yet you see that girl outside and praise her. That’s why I’m crying, Daddy. I’m evolving and changing, just like that girl out there, but you can’t see it. You treat me like I’m a prodigal who’s turned her back on you. You treat me worse than you treat my pedophile brother.”
To sum it up, Jill’s parents want an apology for a text message that Jill and Derick sent them, in which they voiced their frustrations. At first, JB & Michele opt for the manipulative, melodramatic, “That was the most disrespectful thing we’ve ever seen!” When Jill doesn’t immediately give them the apology that they want, Jim Bob gets aggressive and makes an abusive comment about Jill’s crying. That is what causes her to retort that he treats her worse than he does her “pedophile brother.”
I know Jill and Derick are problematic in their own right, but it’s infuriating when parents do not treat their adult children like they are adults. There’s a difference between being mad at your kid for being a s— and being a s— to your kid because you’re mad at them. I think the line that really got to me was, “I didn’t know exactly how I’d messed up, but I knew that I had.” That is a telltale reaction of someone who has been emotionally abused. Good on Jill for speaking up for herself because it can be so difficult to do. She told her dad that he was verbally abusing her and he proved her point by verbally abusing her. And I’m sure she’s right about how she gets treated for committing the cardinal sin of having a mind of her own vs. how her parents reacted to what her brother did, which was to cover it up.