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I left my husband on Monday afternoon, he found out about it Monday evening and we had no communication until Wednesday evening when we met at a local McDonald’s for an hour and a half.  It is now Friday evening and and I feel like I’ve been on the longest, craziest, scariest roller coaster ride of my life.

Like one of those little rubber balls you get in the quarter machines my emotions are bouncing all over the place and frequently ending up where I don’t expect them to be.

Overall, I feel like I’ve been pulled out of the Matrix and am just now learning to breathe… it’s so weird.

 

Dear Family,
I know I need to say something about what’s going on in my family but I really don’t want to say anything at all.  I have felt so disconnected from all of you for so long now – and yes, I know that it is largely my fault.
For the last two years at the campouts I have wanted to tell everyone how much I struggle with depression and how overwhelmed I have been.  I envisioned a moment around the campfire, after all the kids had gone to bed to just be open and honest with everyone… but I could never bring myself to say the words.  You see, I have lived my whole life in fear.  It started out as fear that Mom would be disappointed in me or mad at me for something I said or did – or didn’t do.  Growing up I felt I failed her at every opportunity and that she was never proud of me, I honestly believed I couldn’t do anything right and yet my world centered around trying to win her approval.  I learned to hide my feelings and emotions, to not expect anything from anybody so that my fragile heart would not be crushed when it didn’t happen.  By the time she started telling me she loved me and was proud of me I was suspicious of her motives and didn’t believe her, I was already that damaged.
I used to think that I had a good relationship with my brothers while we were growing up because we never fought.  Then I graduated from high school, moved out and got married and realized I didn’t have ANY relationship with my brothers because we never talked.  We spent all of our time trying not to upset Mom and I never got to know them.
So, not knowing any different, I married a man who was more or less Mom as a guy.  I tried to please him just as hard as I had tried to please Mom and although he tried his best to be a good husband and father I learned to hide my feelings and emotions even deeper, to not get hurt.  I hid myself so well that by the time he began to truly become a good husband and father I was incapable of expressing myself.  Any time I decided to tell him how I felt I would experience shortness of breath, chest pains and sometimes my arms would go numb.  I would freeze and be unable to speak up at all – and so I rarely told him that he was wounding me, however unintentional.  Several times I thought I was having a heart attack and a couple of times I worried I might be having a stroke.  I went to the ER several times for the chest pains but they were always just panic attacks and eventually I learned to ignore the symptoms although they persist to this day.
When we moved here things changed, we got involved with a local church and took every class they offered and we became better people, a better family.  Then something in the church changed and the leadership seemed to be in control of every aspect of our lives and it felt like church was all rules, rules, rules and not very much about love at all.  I started asking questions and eventually left that church even though the rest of my family stayed.  It was hard for me to do in the face of all the disapproval I received, both from my family and from the church but it was the first step towards emotional health for me and it has been a long, hard journey since then.
In the meantime we lost my younger daughter.  She was so wounded by receiving the same parenting – from both of us – that I did that she decided to quit going to high school in her senior year, move clear across the country and marry a guy she’d only spent 2 days with face-to-face and then stay and live with his family while he went back to base on the other side of the country to get on the waiting list for base housing now that they’re married.  Her new mother-in-law has nicknamed her “My F**n Potato” and while there is lots of angry yelling, swearing and smoking in this house there is also a strong sense of family unity, they play games often and talk with each other all the time.  While I was there I could see that even though it was an extremely rough and tumble family life the kids were very clearly happy, loved and cared for.  Apparently our family life was so cold and sterile that an atmosphere like that is preferable to our daughter and while she is communicating with me on a limited basis she clearly wants to have very little to do with me anymore and nothing to do with her father or sister right now.
My husband and I have never truly had a healthy relationship nor been able to communicate clearly or effectively and it is for that reason I left him to go live with my sister on Monday.  After all these years I still get panic attacks when I try to tell him how I feel and I am incapable of telling him “no” or that I want to do something different than what he wants to do or that he’s hurt my feelings and so on.  I have tried and and tried I just can’t do it.  I’ve gotten to the point where it is very hard for me to have positive emotions anymore either, causing me to feel and appear very robotic, cold and aloof.  My self-preservation methods have pickled me something fierce and my depression has consequently gotten worse and worse and I have considered suicide many times. We even went to counseling together a year or so ago and I’ve even gone to a counselor, just myself, and yet I am still unable to change my behaviors with him.
I have been angry with each of you, at times, because you’ve never seemed to care to really get to know me and find out that things were not going well inside of me, nobody ever seemed to notice how badly I am damaged.  I came to realize that my anger was irrational, one must appear to be open for others to feel it’s OK to ask personal questions and find out how you’re doing – and I couldn’t stop trying to protect myself so I shut you all out and closed my heart as tightly as I could.  I’m sorry for being so unfriendly.
I don’t know what the future holds, I only know that I need space and time to find wherever it is that I buried my heart so I can dig it up and I need to heal from losing my younger daughter.  To accomplish this I will not be moving back in with my husband anytime soon.
My goals during this next season of life are to get back in to see my counselor on a regular basis, to get back on my depression medication and establish a healthy communication habit with my husband.  I also hope to find a way to connect with my older daughter because I shut her out as much as I did all of you and have been very unfair to her.  I will be continuing in my job as a Nail Tech and I am hoping to go back to school to become a Nail Tech Instructor sometime this year.
I’m sorry if anything I wrote in this email hurt anyone, I’m just trying to be open and honest about what’s going on, I am still very overwhelmed.  Please feel free to respond to me but don’t expect a rapid response back.  I’ll reply as I am emotionally able to do so.
Me

I made it home safe but exhausted on Thursday and was greeted at the airport by my husband and younger daughter who immediately started talking smack about my younger daughter.  Too tired to argue with them I went to bed and stayed home from work on Friday to rest.

Back to work on Saturday and then church and work on Sunday.  Sunday evening, last night, I finally let my husband have it over his attitude regarding our younger daughter.  For the first time in our entire marriage I did not mince words about how I felt and he sat there and took it, apologizing left and right.  I let him know that I do forgive him but that does not mean the damage he did is magically undone and I am still going to have to work through my feelings and these circumstances and I need some space to do that.

Monday, today, I realized that if I was really going to leave him, that now is the time.  And so I left.  I wrote him a goodbye letter, packed up a couple of suitcases and moved in with my sister.

I feel so strange.  I “know” that he is not going to come and find me and drag me back by my hair but I’ve got major, almost paralyzing anxiety that that’s exactly what he’s going to do.  I am surprised at how deeply it grieves me to wound him by leaving and yet I know that if I stay he will continue to wound me and I’m already suicidal more often than I’m not.  I thought I didn’t care anymore what my family (aside from my sister) or his thought about me leaving him and have found that a little, tiny corner of my heart truly is bothered by the negative view I’m sure they’ll have of me now.  Furthermore, I don’t plan on airing our dirty laundry (except for here, because it’s anonymous) to make him look like the bad guy even though I know that will just cause it to look like it’s all my fault to the casual bystander.  There’s a feeling of great relief to be done with him and quite frankly, to be done with my older daughter as well but that feeling is conflicting with my feelings of guilt for destroying my marriage, except my marriage has been destroyed for a long, long time now (and not by me) and we have never, ever had a healthy relationship because neither of us knew how to communicate when we got married over 20 years ago.

I expect my emotions to be at war with each other for a while.  I really wish I could find some movie magic that worked in real life, just press a fast forward button and wake up a year from tomorrow instead of tomorrow morning.  But each journey begins with a single step and I have started a brand-new journey today.  We’re still going to have to find a way to communicate soon because both our names are on the mortgage and we have two children… and who knows, miracles can happen and maybe we’ll get back together someday.  Someday as in years and years down the road after lots and lots of (productive) counseling.

Getting out of an abusive relationship is always the right thing to do whether it’s at school or work, church or the home.  Believing that our marriage qualified as abusive because I was never physically beat up took a lot of convincing for me.  Believing that I’m worth an abuse-free life has required that I change the way I think of myself and has not been easy at all for me to see myself as having value – to me, much less anyone else.  I know a lot of people will paint me black and say I’m an ice queen but I just want to get away and find some healing for myself…

And so I shall.

I slept for 12 hours, which was fabulous, and woke up wondering what in the world I was going to do with myself today so I stayed in my jammies and started a movie on my laptop.  A couple of hours later my daughter called and I was excited thinking maybe I would get to spend some more time with her before I left after all but nooooo, what she really wanted was 20 bucks to go buy their marriage license.

I was crushed but agreed to give her the money.  She stopped by the hotel room for all of five minutes, just long enough to make some polite conversation and take the money.  I asked her if this was my in-person goodbye and she said yes, hugged me, said she loved me and left as quickly as she could.

Wow.  I traveled for over 24 hours to spend less than 3 hours with my daughter and was looking at at least another 12 hours to get home with another 24 hours to fill before I could even leave.  I tried to finish my movie but couldn’t concentrate so I went out to spend money, which always makes me feel better, ha, ha.  I started by attending the grand opening of the cutest Walmart I have ever seen and even though it was their very first day open they still had a clearance isle, which I found intriguing.  Knowing that I was going to have to pack stuff in my luggage to get it home severely limited my choices but I wound up with a candle, several scented discs to put in a warmer and five Christmas light extension cords that have an on/off switch by the plug in for about $9 total.  Feeling pleased with myself for finding such bargains I next located a Sally Beauty Supply – they’re everywhere, who knew?  Because I’m an independent contractor buying supplies for my job everywhere I go allows me to write off a great deal of my trips so I made a purchase there too. Next I found a Burger King and then headed back out onto the open road to visit a local landmark.

About halfway there I got a call from FMIL inviting me to dinner at 5:30.  All of a sudden the sun was shining and I was having a good day!  I still had enough time to reach the landmark and take a few pictures before heading back to their house for dinner.  I arrived 5 minutes early, there was loud music playing inside and I had to knock 4 times before anyone heard me.  My daughter and one of the kids answered the door and after hugging my daughter I turned to find a rat staring me in the eyes!  My darling Future Son In Law was holding the rat so it would be right in my face as I turned and I’m happy to say that I did not freak out one little bit!  I said “Oh hi there, you’re pretty” to the rat and pet it’s head.  I saw that it was friendly so I asked if I could hold it and he put her in my hands.  The rat was white with large brown spots, very soft and very sweet.  I held her close and she climbed up to my shoulder and eventually tried to go down one of my coat sleeves at which point I pulled her out and handed her back to FSIL.  It was clear that I totally burst his bubble with my reaction and I mentally chalked one up for me, none for him, whoo hoo!

I was there about 3 1/2 hours and during that time I listened to him and his mom tell stories about him growing up and here is what I gathered from that conversation.

FMIL has raised her children not to shy away from a fight.  It was clearly stated many times with pride by both her and her son that if any of her children came home from school crying about being bullied that FMIL expected that child to go back to school and beat up the bully and not to stop until they had won the fight.  Older siblings were told to go to school and beat up other children who had picked on their younger siblings. If they didn’t beat up the bully and win the fight FMIL would beat on them at home and send them back the next day to do it right.  To FSIL winning a fight means until the other person starts to bleed and then he stops, unless they keep fighting him and then he has a green light until they stop.  As long as her children fought because they were standing up for themselves or someone else AND they fought “clean” (no groin shots) she was proud of them and would take them out for ice cream after picking them up from the principal’s office.  Over and over again I heard the mantra “You may not have started it but you WILL finish it”.  FMIL told FSIL repeatedly that by fighting he was a man.  Not surprisingly, FSIL was suspended from school many, many times for fighting and has a short fuse.

Here’s my conclusion.  FMIL, FSIL and family have good hearts.  They aren’t out to hurt anybody but by golly if you hurt one of them they will all come after you for revenge.  Their definition of being bullied is very, very broad and seems to go from just being talked to mean repeatedly to physical bullying.  In a duel of wits FSIL is unarmed, although it is not from a lack of intelligence but a lack of skill in verbal communication.  When he’s nice, he’s wonderful and I could see that he does love my daughter and she loves him – with the immature love of the young and naive.  When he’s upset, which seems to be often and easy to do, he’s a volcano.  And he’s a total mamma’s boy, she rules the roost and he always winds up doing what she says.  The good news is that she keeps kids she likes as part of the family.  A boyfriend who broke up with her daughter 7 years ago still hangs out at the house and calls her mom.  That eases my heart because if my daughter ever breaks up with FSIL that means FMIL is at least going to take care of her until she can get back home to me and at most keep her on as an adopted kid.

Other bits of knowledge I gleaned tonight:  FMIL is about 6 – 7 years older than I am and has been married to her 2nd husband for 20 years.  FSIL’s father was bi-polar and a bad, bad man.  FSIL is very good looking and charismatic, I can see why my daughter is attracted to him.  FMIL has lived through enough abuse of all types to justify spending the rest of her life drooling at a funny farm but is an incredibly strong woman and an amazing survivor.  Consequently though, there’s an acceptance in her soul for the terrible things that have happened to her children that flabbergasts me.  For example, one of her daughters was gang-raped by 17 men and had a child because of it that FMIL has now adopted.  Another daughter was born simple because FMIL had been beat up by her husband while she was pregnant.  Another daughter was attacked at age 15 by 8 guys who thought she was someone else – they beat her senseless and when she recovered she was simple because of the brain damage they inflicted.  And the list goes on and on, hearing about them was horrifying and made me wonder if my daughter will be safe living with them because bad things seem to happen to this family with great consistency.  FMIL has adopted three of her grandchildren that I know of, at least two of them are disabled in some way – one with severe physical and mental disabilities who lives off a feeding tube and cannot talk, walk or speak and one who is very bright but has significant mental handicaps when it comes to social and reasoning skills.  The third one I suspect may have a mild mental disability, judging by the way she speaks, but it could just be a speech pattern native to that area of the country, I couldn’t tell.  FMIL also took care of her mother with cancer for years until her mother became a danger to the children and she had to put her in a home.  FMIL has a HUGE heart and is a very protective mamma in every way that she thinks is right to be protective.  I have a lot of respect for her after hearing all the stories she told me tonight.  FMIL doesn’t look like much, a large, chain-smoking, middle aged woman who only has one upper tooth in the front but I could tell that her children all felt loved and secure in her house and there was a lot of happiness there.

That kind of an atmosphere is a soothing balm to my daughter’s soul, in spite of all the yelling and name-calling that is one of the ways they show affection toward each other.  It made me realize how sterile our own family atmosphere has been all these years, unwittingly designed to keep each of us from bonding to the other instead of uniting us as a solid family unit.

The whole visit was a lot to take in and I’m going to be pondering my experience there for quite a while.  It’s probably a good thing I have another 12 hours of air travel before I get home because I have a lot to think about.

So my initial flight was cancelled due to bad weather. My replacement flight was delayed. Three Times.  I missed my first connecting flight and from there everything spiraled into a loop of flight, layover, flight, layover…  I was in an airport or on an airplane for over 24 hours and didn’t arrive at my hotel until 10:30 am the next morning without getting any sleep and hardly any food.

This does not make me somebody who is fun to be around so I took a 3 1/2 hour nap once I got to the hotel.

Then I called my daughter who did not answer so I left her a message.  I found a nearby store to get some distilled water for my CPAP machine and then texted my daughter who again, did not respond.  I found myself some fast food and called my daughter’s Future Mother In Law who answered and said the house was full, she’d have to see if I could come over or not.  She put me on a silent hold for about 3 minutes and then my daughter came on the line and said she would check with her fiancé and call me back.  Roughly 45 minutes later FMIL calls me and says I can come get my daughter because her son and my daughter had been fighting about me all day.  Hmmm…

I show up at the house.  It doesn’t really look big enough to hold as many people as are supposed to be living there.  I knock on the door, it opens and my daughter is sitting at a table, smoking with FMIL and the air in the front room where they’re at is thick like fog.  I sit at the table next to my daughter and never leave that front room but the house definitely is not big enough for all those people yet they are making it work.

“We have a problem” my daughter says.  I have a brief, fleeting flash of hope, thinking that maybe she wants to come home but no, her problem is with me.  She feels I betrayed her twice, once by not sticking up for her when she told her father she was leaving and I never did figure out what the second betrayal was but she was very hurt by them.  I did lots of apologizing, asked how I could fix it or make it better and all she could say was “I don’t know”.  FMIL jumped into the conversation regularly, expounding on various points with things my daughter has told her.  FMIL is good-hearted but very rough around the edges and seems to view many horrible life situations as normal and therefore acceptable and unavoidable.  I think that realization about FMIL was the most frightening part of the whole day for me.

To make it worse her fiancé makes all of her issues his own – and then magnifies them – so before I got there he had called off the wedding and told my daughter to pack her things and go stay with me at my hotel tonight.  (She packed up but had no interest whatsoever in staying with me and so she didn’t.)  He wouldn’t even come to the house while I was there and called several times during the hour or so that I was there to see if I had left yet.  I decided to leave when he said he was going to go spend the night somewhere else.

My daughter, FMIL and I talked about several things and I noticed a few more things which I’m not going to get into here but the long and short of it is that my daughter is choosing an entirely different life than I would want for any little girl, much less my own daughter.  She is madly in love with a troubled young man who wants to have nothing to do with her and ends their relationship every time he gets upset over something she says or does and then takes her back after he’s calmed down, usually within a day or two.  Her life with him will most likely be filled with a fierce family loyalty, good food and good times but also loud, angry words and frequent family fights that are both physical and verbal.  She more than likely will not finish high school and she will probably start having children sooner rather than later.

Before I left the house my daughter is staying at I told my her that  I would have my cell phone with me and she can call me if she wants to spend more time with me but the only thing I want from her before I go home is to see her to say goodbye either tomorrow night or Thursday morning.  My daughter may decide not to spend any time with me tomorrow aside from saying goodbye so I’m planning to see a local landmark and catch a movie, maybe even get a pedicure.

I am out of tears.  I actually wonder if I’m in shock because I’m not feeling much of anything right now.  My best friend from high school says I might be in “Survival Mode” and I may break down on the way home… such fun for the people sitting next to me!   Right now I’m focusing on the fact that I was able to connect with FMIL in a positive way and I feel like she is on my side in encouraging her son to develop a relationship with me and she will encourage my daughter to stay in touch with me.  Even if this is all I manage to accomplish, the whole trip will be worth it.

The wedding most likely will not happen while I’m here and may not happen at all before he goes back to base in 5 days.  I’m OK with that.  My daughter seems to have become somebody I don’t recognize.  I’m not OK with that but I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it.  Everything seems to have gone sideways but ultimately it’s her life that has gone sideways from my expectations so I just have to sit back and trust God to keep her safe.

My younger daughter has been gone for 4 days.  My in-laws have graciously given us the money for me to go see her get married.  I started texting her to talk about when we can get together when I go see her and was completely shocked by her response.

She thought I would only be there for the wedding and was surprised I had planned to be there for 72 hours so she isn’t sure how much time she’ll have to spend with me because she had made plans to spend time with his friends and family.  Our texting conversation went something like this:

I said I wanted to spend at least a little time with her and her fiance, maybe take them to lunch.  She said that his family hasn’t seen him for a year and a half and he will only be home for 11 days so they aren’t willing to share much time with me.  I said I was hoping to get to know him and his family and was wanted to spend some time with all of them.  She said I’m forcing her to chose between him and me.  I said that we’re going to be family now and I thought they would want to meet me just like I wanted to meet them.  She gave me her Future Mother-In-Law’s phone number so we could “hash it out”.

I called FMIL and it was clear from the start that she is not my biggest fan.  I introduced myself, said I was coming to town for the wedding and was hoping to get together with her.  She said she was sure we could find something to talk about.  I asked if there was a good time to get together and she said she was very busy and she’d have to let me know.  I thanked her for taking care of my daughter and she said that she loved my daughter and had nicknamed her “My F-n (name)”.  I said “What?” and she repeated it.  I managed some sort of polite goodbye and hung up the phone, absolutely dumbfounded.

After choking back some tears I called my daughter, who did not seem happy to hear from me.  I told her that I had just spoken with FMIL and she said “Oh, how’d that go?” in a tone that let me know she did not expect it had gone well.  I told her I didn’t think FMIL liked me very much and my daughter says “Well she speaks her mind” which makes me wonder exactly what has my daughter been telling her?  I’m trying not to cry and she asks me if I’m OK.  I decided to be honest and say no, I’m not OK because I don’t think she wants me there.  She gets upset and says of course she wants me there but I have to understand she’s been waiting to see him for 4 months now and I’ve had her for 18 years and just saw her last week.  I tell her I can’t do this and have to go, goodbye, click.  I then felt bad and texted her, apologizing for crying and said I loved her no matter what.

I get a text from FMIL saying my daughter told her I don’t think she likes me.  She “doesn’t judge” but has heard things she doesn’t agree with and is very protective of her son and feels his happiness is the most important thing in the world, being a mom myself, she’s sure I’ll agree.

I text back that my daughter doesn’t want me to be protective of her any more and I’m struggling with it and that she’s chosen to be happy with FMIL and her family.  Since we’re going to be family now I don’t want to steal the precious time they have with their son but I was hoping I could join them in some of their family times while I was there and get to know them.  Hopefully after meeting me they could decide for themselves what kind of person I am.

FMIL texts back that she hasn’t seen her son for a year and a half and only has 11 days with him and admits she is selfish but she has no desire to stop me from being at the wedding and that it’s “kewl” if I want to hang out with my daughter.

That particular spelling seems odd to me for a woman who has 8 kids and multiple grandchildren.  Something else in this text makes me realize that it’s her son who is calling the shots here.  He doesn’t want to spend time with me and has both my daughter and his mother on his side, refusing to allow me into his family.

I can’t believe that my daughter immediately ran to FMIL and told her that I didn’t think she liked me.  I’m realizing that I can’t tell my daughter anything that I don’t want her fiance or FMIL to know and that anything I tell her they’ll know in a matter of moments.  I’ve completely lost whatever relationship I thought I had with my daughter and I can’t believe that I’m going to spend most of a day flying clear across the country to sit miserably in a little hotel room about 2 miles from his house, staring desperately at my cell phone, hoping my daughter will call me and want to spend a little bit of time with me during the relatively few hours I will have where she is before I have to spend another day flying home.

I have never felt so alone or rejected and I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so much in my whole life, this parenting business is becoming more and more overrated by the minute.  I’m absolutely crushed.

And yet I know it’s time to practice what I preach.  I told my husband that all his rules and demands were only pushing her closer to her fiance and farther from us and that he needed to love her unconditionally and move his focus to building a future relationship with her.  Now it’s my turn.  If I make her feel guilty for the way she’s treating me it’s very likely that she will cut me out of her life like she has her father – or that her fiance will direct her to cut me out of her life and she’ll obey.

Somebody commented on my last post that they wanted to encourage me to stay in touch with her and I wanted to let you know, it’s not me you have to worry about staying in touch with her, I just hope she’ll stay in touch with me and that he’ll allow it.

She woke up about 11 am.

Her sister hugged her goodbye before she left for work but didn’t say “Goodbye” or “I Love You” and acted like she couldn’t wait for her to leave.

We took her to lunch at her favorite restaurant before going to the airport and my sister joined us.  We all had crab, pleasant conversation and laughter filled the air.  It felt like a normal day.  We had some time to kill so we stopped at a second-hand furniture store before heading to the airport.

On the way there we noticed a fire truck in a hotel parking lot.

At the airport we printed her boarding pass and checked her bag in.  It was painfully obvious that she had no prior experience with air travel and fresh pangs of fear and worry pierced my heart.  She’s so trusting, is she going to be OK?

Her father gave her one last lecture in a desperate, final attempt to get her to change her mind right there in the airport and then handed her $50.  He gave her a hug and didn’t say another word for most of an hour.

One of her friends skittered in just before she had to get in the security line for a final hug.

I gave her a hug and squeezed her tight, told her I loved her and tried not to cry.

She made it through security without being strip searched and turned to give us one final wave before disappearing from sight.

We turned and went back to the car for a silent trip back home that seemed five times longer than usual.  The fire truck had left the hotel parking lot but now it was filled with police officers and the contents of a hotel room were spread on the ground outside of the hotel.

My husband apologized for whatever he did to make her leave.  I mumbled something.  I sat in the chair and watched a movie, trying to think as little as possible.

Her sister called from work on a break and said she was relieved that her sister was gone because now she didn’t have to wonder about whether or not her sister was telling her lies.  My husband did not chastise her for her attitude.

She texted me that she arrived safely on today’s leg of the journey.  Tomorrow she arrives at her final destination to live with her fiance’s family, get married and start a new life.  I called her just to make sure she wasn’t alone and that she was OK.  She said he was with her and everything was fine.  She didn’t sound as excited as she was when she left but maybe she was just tired…

Tomorrow I will talk to her sister and address her attitude and I will also let her know that I know she used to physically abuse her sister and that I am angry with her.  I will tell the high school she will not be graduating this year and clean out her locker.  I don’t know what I will say to my husband, at the moment I want to say as little as possible.

My brave, sweet, trusting girl is gone.  I can only hope and pray that she’s safe.

My younger daughter told a friend at school that she was engaged and moving across the country to live with his family.  Friend texted my older daughter that she was concerned, older daughter showed text to husband and husband calls a family meeting to confront younger daughter about the text and she said:

She is flying out on Tuesday afternoon to meet her boyfriend and on Wednesday they fly to his family where she is planning to marry him then stay with them while he goes back to base and applies for on-base housing, get a job and restart her senior year of high school.

Oh crap.

My husband starts his traditional routine of cold, accusing questions – he is hurt, angry, in shock and frustrated and his posture and tone of voice shows it.  My younger daughter was calm, clear-headed and for the most part soft-spoken.  She shared her reasons for leaving and they begin and end with her father, my husband.  She is hurt and angry that he has never listened to her, never tried to understand her and has never been there for her.  Her voice began to raise just a bit when she became passionate and broke once when she almost cried but overall she stood her ground and stuck up for herself with grace and poise, I was so very proud of her and I told her so afterward.  I don’t agree with the choice she’s made and I wish she would stay here with me but I will always love her – I told her that too.

My  husband’s facial expressions and posture did not change throughout the conversation but his voice did become a whisper when he asked her to reconsider.  My first thought after it was all over was that he thinks he has totally humbled himself to her and was begging her to stay but that’s not what came across, what I saw, and I’m sure what my younger daughter saw as well, was that he was looking down on her from a place of moral superiority.  He was nowhere near heartbroken at her news, simply outraged that she could defy him like this.  I happen to know that he is also terrified at the thought of the consequences her choices will most likely bring to her life – I am too – but the fear turns his conversations with her into an inquisition while my conversations with her run to gentle reminders that she will always be loved, information to help keep her safe and that it’s never too late to change her mind and come home.

My older daughter sat and listened to the entire conversation without a word or a single emotion showing on her face.  Afterward we each gave my younger daughter a hug and then our younger daughter went to bed.  My husband asked our older daughter if she was OK and her response was yes but her tone said “Of course I am, why wouldn’t I be?” as if nothing important had just happened.  She frustrates me.  A lot.

My  husband asked her to go to church with them today “to say goodbye to people” and for some reason she agreed.  I was surprised because I know she hasn’t wanted to go to that church for a long time now.  She did go and said it was horrible, that her father had told people that she was leaving so they came up to her and told her she shouldn’t go, etc.  He came home and said it was great, that she got to hear the same message that he was trying to tell her from several different people and he hoped it would impact her.  Seriously?

I’m ready to shoot both of them.  He needs to realize that all we have left is a chance to maintain a future relationship with her and quit demanding answers to his questions.  She needs to realize that she is blowing everything out of proportion and that her life is not as bad as she thinks it is.

I talked with him tonight and told him that we only have a day and a half left with her and he needs to stop asking her questions.  He didn’t think he could do that.  I told him to find a way.  He asked if he was too black and white.  I said yes but I recognize that it’s a part of his personality.  He asked me something along the lines of “What am I supposed to do now?” and then started to get upset with me when I didn’t have a ready answer, he even said “You’re my helpmate, you’re supposed to have the answer and help me” and I cut him off saying I had already told him what needs to be done for the next couple of days and that’s all I’ve got right now.  I told him it could be worse.  She could be planning on just living with him and not getting married or finishing high school.  She could have committed suicide instead of leaving.  There are lots of ways it could be worse.

It feels weird to be the person with their head on straight in this situation.  I feel like I should be sobbing on his shoulder, being consoled instead of holding his hand and telling him everything is going to be all right.  This isn’t really a marriage anymore but I don’t know what to call it.

I would like to sleep for a week but that’s probably just my way of sticking my head in the sand.  Still, it would be nice to get that much rest…  One more day of work for me and then one day with my younger daughter before she flies away and life as I know it changes forever.

The beginning of the end has truly begun.