It has been while since I have written. Sometimes it can be just too painful to write in this blog and think about these painful topics. Since my daughter left, it has been a difficult ‘almost’ two years. However, looking back, I realize that healthy progress has been made.
My daughter keeps reaching out to me, but it is clear her loyalty is to her father. About 5 weeks ago, I received a tearful call from my daughter and she said a lot in 30 seconds. I will paraphrase what she said, “Mom (maybe she said Mommy), I hit a curb and my tire is flat, and I can’t reach my dad. I do not remember Step-Mother’s phone number because he took my phone away because I went to X-Friend’s house. I would call Ex-Boyfriend’s mom, but we broke up.”
So, I told her that I would try to reach her dad. She asked if I could send her Step-mother’s phone number. So I sent my ex-husband an email with the subject line “Daughter’s name is trying to reach you” and included the friend’s phone number in the body. I also texted her Step-mother’s phone number.
One of the next times we got together she shared a great deal with me. We sat visiting at Starbucks for more than three hours. She told me what happened with her boyfriend and that was why she went to the friend’s house. I had suspected that was the reason and that she was looking for comfort after a break up. I knew she had really liked this boy and they had discussed moving in together. Although they were very young for those types of big decisions, I just told her to give it time, that time would tell.
Apparently her dad had threatened to pack her (I think he said sh&$) and send her back to my house. So I became a threat. I replied, “Oh, send you back to your mean mother.” She laughed. It was a good visit and I just tried to be supportive. During that same visit she had mentioned that she wasn’t as mad at my husband as she was even six months ago. She did tell me that she was just mad at how he treated her. My husband was pretty mad at how she was behaving before she left. It was a difficult situation for all of us and I am not sure any of us handled it right.
Now, she is forbidden to visit her friend in the city where she lives. This happens to be the same city where I live. It has been about 4-5 weeks since this situation unfolded. After she lied, her Step-mother shunned her for nearly three weeks. My daughter had mentioned how hurtful that was to her. I am not sure what shunning would accomplish, but it seems very punishing. One article calls this “Silent Treatment Abuse” and says it is a strategy to control someone.
Anyway, we suspect (my mom, husband, and good friend) that this is just another way for her dad to control the situation. My mother mentioned that it seemed like my daughter was starting to get closer and maybe even getting to the point of not being so angry at my husband. That is when her dad created stricter rules to forbid her from coming to our area. My husband believes it is because her dad and his wife are afraid she might be coming to our house. It is interesting because our daughter is 19 years old now. It is time to start treating her as an adult now. There would still be rules that make sense for the household.
Our other daughter still lives with us while she is going to school. She pays a small amount of money that mostly covers what we pay for her car insurance. Then recently we added in 25% of the utilities. However, we do not ask where she is going, who she is going to see, or what time she will be home. She has not broken our trust. We do not ask questions. The only rule is that she needs to call if she is going to be really late so we do not worry. It is still difficult to navigate adult teenagers in the house, but I think we have handled this well.
So, my daughter graduated from high school last week. I never received a graduation announcement because her step-mother didn’t send me one. She did send one to my mother though. We also learned there was a graduation picture that nobody from our side of the family received. This frustrates me because over the years I always gave my ex-husband copies of school pictures. In fact, I took several photos at graduation with my camera using telephoto lens. I thought the pictures turned out very well. I took the time to correct the red eye and sent my ex-husband copies. If he wants to keep those pictures, it is his choice, but I felt that was the right thing to do.
My daughter sent me a text message that said, “Hey btw I wanted to post the pics of me and u and me and nana but I didn’t look good in any of them. So I posted different ones.” The pictures she posted were one of her by herself, one with her dad and his wife, and one with her cousin. This made my mother cry. My mother told her that she flew all the way here and they will never have that moment again. This also made me feel angry and sad because over the years I was the one going to her activities at school. My ex-husband never really participated in school activities. In fact, she wasn’t’ allowed to do homework on his weekends. However, it may be innocent and she truly didn’t like the pictures. It also may be that she didn’t want to upset her dad either. It is possible that it is all subconscious too.
During my mother’s visit, my mom discussed flying my daughter out to see her in the state where she lives. My daughter asked who was going to pay for the travel. My mother said she would pay for it. My daughter said she is looking for a job and what about that. I explained that is considered a preplanned trip and you can just tell the company I am traveling between these dates. Most companies understand this an allow you to take the trip or start after the trip. However, when she talked to my ex-husband he said no to this idea. Then told her that no company would hire her if she was traveling. So, now she can’t come to the city I live in or the state where my mother lives. In this video, Amy Baker discusses the tribal warfare about 20 minutes into the video. She even discusses how the child will miss major events like funerals. My daughter was not present for my grandmother’s funeral in November 2016. She had to do her schoolwork and missed that trip where my entire family celebrated my grandmother’s life.
Anyway, I was really getting to the point where I almost feel it is time to protect my heart and walk away. However, then I started watching some videos from adults who experienced parental alienation as children. It sounds like they don’t really want the alienated parent to go away. So, maybe I just need to change my approach. I need to be more loving and take this less personally. She is stuck in the middle of this crazy mess and it is truly unfair. This fact has frustrated me for years that she is in the middle of such a Toxic Divorce. It always frustrated me on how powerless I was to stop it. My ex-husband is very high-conflict and I believe thrives on chaos and drama. As difficult as it may be one some occasions, I need to continue to rise above, and be the bigger person.
In fact, I strongly believe some of their actions are done to hurt me and maybe they hope I will send them an email. I have resisted any contact since last October. It was bad enough to engage is a spat with his wife via email last year. I do really try to take the high-road, but I do often feel controlled and angry. I do not want to be controlled by my ex-husband. There are times it seems like I will never get away from him.
Now, I need to focus on my family (my husband and step-daughter) and myself. I am going to keep reaching out to my daughter, but I need to protect my heart in the process. It may be years before she figures it out and I need to make sure I continue to live my life. One scripture that continues to come to mind is one from Genesis where God will turn an awful situation into something good.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20
I need to hold steady to the belief that good will come from all this. Something good must come out of all this suffering, maybe it is so I will continue to share my experiences so someone else can know they are not alone.