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I thought I was over that, dammit.

Tonight is my younger daughter’s birthday.  The ex had claimed her time tonight to have her birthday dinner with her on her actual birthday.  She didn’t want to go but I told her she had to.  He BBQ’d for her at his apartment, she send me pics of the ribs and personal sized pecan pie he served her which I thought was hilarious because she doesn’t like beef or pork.  She barely eats chicken and loves seafood.  But I digress…

Earlier today I had lunch with my older daughter and asked if she had told her future step-mother that I would like to be friends with her.  I don’t find this an unreasonable request since she is going to be a second mother to my children.  I’m not looking to be best friends with her but I don’t think we should be strangers either.  Both she and my ex have blocked me on Facebook so I didn’t feel comfortable communicating this request through him, that made the next logical person to ask was my older daughter. But we’ll come back to this…

At lunch today she happened to mention that she “stalked” my second Facebook page. (Her word.)  I created the new page about a month after I left her father so that I could still be friends with both of them and yet have a place to vent and share my feelings that they wouldn’t see because I knew that some of the things I would post were going to hurt their feelings if they saw them.  The ex noticed the second page right away, send me a friend request to the new page and then withdrew his request and unfriended me on the old page.  I guess I should have expected that but I didn’t and it hurt me.  My older daughter has not yet unfriended me on the original page but I’m frequently afraid she will and I’ll lose that last, tiny glimpse into her life – even though she doesn’t post much.  She also doesn’t ask me any questions about my life so I was surprised to hear she looked at my other page – she’s never given any indication of caring about what I do.  I asked her if she wanted to be my friend on my new page and then I hesitated and asked if she would show my new page to her father.  I said “If he wants to be my friend he can ask me but I don’t want to be stalked.”

I said that because my younger daughter continually tells me that her father is always asking her if I’m really moving to Montana “because I’m not known for keeping my promises”, where I’m living – and he pressures her for the exact address and when she said she didn’t know it he said “It’s OK, you can tell me” as if she was hiding it from him and most recently she told  me he asked what day I was leaving, what time of day I was leaving, how long it would take me to get there (he knows how long it is from here to Montana, we’ve done that trip lots of times) and when I would arrive.  She said she didn’t know exactly when I was leaving because I’ve been busy and we hadn’t had time to get together for a while.  His response was “How can she be busy?  She’s been out of work for a week!”  Which tells me that my older daughter tells him everything I’ve told her and he’s definitely keeping track of me.

My best friend asked me if I felt like he was being a creepy stalker yet…

After lunch with my older daughter I had birthday coffee with my younger daughter, went and bought nail supplies from my Vietnamese sister’s store and then went to dinner with my sister.  During dinner my ex calls me.  My cell is at 15% battery so I go sit on the floor next to an outlet to talk to him while my phone is plugged in.

He does not seem to realize that I can tell he is on speaker phone and since he never liked to use speaker phone I guess that his fiance is there, listening in but I don’t say anything because I don’t have anything to hide from her.

I can tell that he is upset, the entire conversation his voice was loud and raised in anger.

He starts off with why do I want to be friends with his fiance and why did I put my request (twice) through our daughter and not him.  I explain my reasoning (listed above) for asking our daughter to relay my request. He is baffled as to why I would even want to be friends with her because “it’s not like we have small children and need to co-parent”.  He says this about four times during our conversation…  I finally manage to get it across that I thought it was the right thing to do, the nice thing to do and he interrogates me about what do I want?  Her phone number, Facebook friends? What?  What?  Finally he says “Thank you for extending the olive branch” and that he will introduce us at our younger daughter’s graduation in February but I can tell he still doesn’t believe me, I’m now sorry I ever asked and realize that no good will come of it.

He said “What do you mean” when I told our older daughter I didn’t want him seeing my new Facebook page or “stalking me”.  This, I think, is the true reason for the call.  I’m sure that one little word pissed him off so much he couldn’t see straight.  I didn’t respond to that and he moved on quickly but I could tell he was very angry about it and possibly hadn’t even meant to say those words out loud.  We were married almost 21 years, after all, and knowing when he is angry is something I mastered early on.

He next addresses that we have very different ways of dealing with our younger daughter.  I agree but do not make any attempt to continue that conversation any further – I am smarter than that – so he moves on to say that he is upset with how I’m dealing with our older daughter.  I stop him right there and ask him what I should be doing.  I take her out to dinner once a month, text her every couple of weeks – in spite of her telling me she only wanted me to contact her once a month – and I have been doing her nails for free since the middle of October or so just to spend more time with her.  I ask her questions and she doesn’t answer them.  Just what exactly does he think I should be doing more, better or different?  He clearly has only heard her side of the story, which is that all of our meetings are superficial and I won’t talk about anything important, she thinks I’m just meeting her out of obligation and duty so this throws him for a second or two.  He acknowledges he doesn’t really know what to tell me except that my abandoning her has severely wounded her and damaged her ability to have friendships and relationships and that she is just a child.  He repeats several times “Her mother abandoned her” and continues to state how wounded she is.  I tell him I want to talk about it but she has flat out told me she didn’t want to talk.  He finally concedes that she may have to work on forgiving me…  which leads me to believe that she is not there listening along with his fiance or he would have never said that in front of her.

And for the record, my oldest “child” is 21.  She was 19 when I left him.  Him.  I left him, not her.  And she wouldn’t have anything to do with me in the last couple of years before I left anyway so I thought she would be happy I was gone.  Apparently I was wrong.

He tries to wrap up with “In the future we need to deal with each other in our business, not go through the girls”.  I ask him if that means he will stop asking our younger daughter about me.  A slight pause and he asks what I mean.  I say that our younger daughter is frequently upset after meeting with him because she says he is “always” asking about me, where I live, what I’m doing, etc.  He says he “doesn’t care” about my actions and then corrects that to “I have no interest in what you’re doing”.  He says he has asked about me from time to time but not every time they meet.  I say that she feels like it is all the time and it really bothers her, and told him about the “It’s OK, you can tell me” conversation she shared with me.  There was a noticeable pause, which I found significant – especially knowing his fiance is there listening – and then he tried to brush it off saying “I was interested in the general area they lived in because I knew they moved from the country to in town”.

That sneaky bastard IS stalking me and doesn’t want his fiance to know!  OMG!  He’s creeping me out a little bit now…  I wish now that I had told him the quote about how could I be busy because I hadn’t worked in a week because that might have opened his fiance’s eyes a bit but I didn’t think of it at the time.  I’m also really torn because I offered to friend my older daughter on my new Facebook page but I don’t trust her not to show it to her father.  What do I do, what do I do…

I managed to have the whole conversation without falling apart or bursting into tears but after I hung up I couldn’t help myself.  I cried in the restaurant and my sister tried to help me by asking me to identify why talking to him made me cry but I wish she just would have let me go for a little bit.  His anger still affects me so much and I don’t know how to free myself of it’s grip.  And he always seems angry with me so I avoid communicating with him because he still makes me cry

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Forgive me friends, for I have been busy, it’s been 8 months since my last blog…

Since November, in mostly chronological order, all of this stuff has happened:

In early December I had a hysterectomy – it went well, I recovered quickly and my life-long anemia is gone, yay!  Sadly, my need to chew ice is also gone which means I’m not drinking enough water anymore <sigh>.  Overall it was a super good trade though, especially since there is an entire row in the grocery store I can avoid now, whoo hoo!

I went to visit my dad twice, once in December and again in April.  Both trips were good and made me realize that moving to be near him is definitely the right thing to do.

Christmas was a little disappointing, mostly because my household of kiddos left me for their parents homes so it wound up just being me and my sister for most of the day, binge watching Netflix and missing the bounty of a holiday table prepared for lots of people.  It made me realize that being able – or not being able – to give isn’t what lost the Christmas “magic” for me, it was being with people I love and who love me back and that honestly hasn’t happened for years and years… and years.

Online dating, yes, that happened too.  I tried three different sites – I started with Christian Mingle, figuring that I would be most comfortable there and found Tom.  We were chatting up a storm using their online messenger service and I was really enjoying his writing style, I felt like we were clicking and had been messaging each other for a good hour when all of a sudden he blocked me.  It was so weird, I hit send to post my latest response to our conversation and the website informed me that he had blocked me.  Rude!  Beyond that there just didn’t seem to be very many guys on Christian Mingle so I kept my membership there and started a second one with eHarmony.  They are soooo expensive!  Dang!  It was the day before my hysterectomy that I found Mike.  He was a Russian man living in Oregon (the Oregon coast is my happy place) he was nice and kind and sweet and gave all the right answers… until he started to ask me questions about sex.  Now I know that I have a hang up in this area because of my ex – I’m starting to realize that most of the sex I had in my almost 21 year marriage could probably qualify as date rape and I should probably go see a counselor – so when Mike started by asking basic questions about sex I went along with the conversation with the thought that it would help free me from some of the chains I had been carrying.  But once the conversation turned physical Mike didn’t want to talk about anything else and I became more and more uncomfortable until I finally let him know.  He admitted that his plan for our first face-to-face encounter was picking me up at the airport, dinner and then a hotel.  Nope, nope, nope.  I ended it right there, cancelled both my eHarmony and Christian Mingle subscriptions and took a break from online dating for a few months.  Then a customer told me she was engaged to someone she met on Zoosk and said that she had a great experience with that dating site so I figured I would give it a shot and I  narrowed my search to the town my father lives in, thinking that it would be nice to get to know someone online really well before meeting in person (because it worked so well with Mike, right?  I’m not quite sure what I was thinking…)  On Zoosk I met Tony.  Nice guy, gave lengthy, real answers to my questions and we seemed to have a lot in common.  On day four of our online chatting I asked if he had any pets, he said that he lost his cat recently.  I said that must have been hard for his young daughter and he said – all in one chat bubble – that it was harder on him than his daughter and he bet I was a good kisser.  Really?  He seriously went from dead cat to kissing.  It fizzled out with Tony shortly after that and I ended my search on Zoosk.  At this point I am so close to moving that I’m just going to wait until I am in Montana before I attempt to meet any more potential boyfriends, ugh!

In April I took 10 glorious days off of work and went to the Oregon Coast with my best friend from high school for 5 days and then went to visit my father for 3 days, it was a great vacation, very relaxing and reestablished my desire to live in either Newport or Lincoln City someday!

Just before Mother’s Day I ran into my ex husband at the movie theater and my, oh my, wasn’t that exciting!  My bosses took me to see the new Captain America movie that he and my older daughter just happened to attend as well.  He marched up to me and said in a very grumpy voice “I just want to say Happy Mother’s Day” and also told me that he had given a piece of paper to our younger daughter earlier to give to me.  I asked if he wanted to meet my bosses and he curled his lip as though he had just eaten something extremely distasteful, said no and then turned around and marched away.  My older daughter never once turned to look at me, say hi or even wave.  Huh.  They were with a group of people from their church and a few of them were friendly to me and said hi, which was nice but the very best part of the entire evening was when my Vietnamese bosses – who are from San Jose, CA – asked if my ex was a gang member.  They have a lot of experience with gangs (and have been victims of gang activities) and based on their experience and what they saw at the movie theater – the way he approached me, stood and spoke to me and marched away – they thought he was in a gang!  I nearly laughed my head off!  So much for the love of Christ shining through him, they saw him for what he was, a very angry man with no love or compassion in his heart towards those he doesn’t believe deserve it.  That frankly, was the highlight of my month!

My twin nieces graduated high school at the beginning of June and I took a few more days off work to attend their ceremony and party afterwards, which my ex also attended.  I knew he would be there so I was a little more prepared to see him but he did his best to avoid me at both the graduation and the party.  The graduation was busy but it was obvious that he refused to look at me and wouldn’t even come stand with the entire family once I joined then.  Then at the party my brother held at his home my ex and older daughter arrived after I did and it didn’t seem right to just jump up and greet him warmly when he got there but I tried to catch his eye here and there so that I could smile and say hi but he still refused to look at me.  I did, however, go and stand next to my older daughter as she spoke with her cousins for about two minutes and she never did turn around to say hi or acknowledge that I was there in any way.  I finally gave up and went to sit down at a table on the outer edge of the party area.  Then his parents showed up, which I thought was odd because it was my brother’s children’s graduation party… but I went over to say hi to his father knowing my ex was standing nearby and figuring I could greet him then – except that he moved away as I approached his dad.  His father was very kind and gracious, he gave me several warm hugs and we had a nice conversation for probably 15 – 20 minutes.  Which was, by the way, the only time at the entire graduation weekend that my older daughter spoke to me at all or even looked my way was when she and I were both speaking to her grandfather.  My ex’s mother was a different story entirely, I said hello and she said my name in a way that made me feel icicles stabbing my heart.  When dinner was ready my ex was serving the meat to everyone in line.  I debated whether or not I should get in line because it seemed obvious to me that he didn’t want to speak to me but then I decided to be the adult, get in the food line and say hi to him once my turn was up because then at least he couldn’t run away from me.  My sister was ahead of me and she said “Hi” and “Thank you” when it was her turn to get the meat but he did not look at her or speak to her.  I thought he was very rude to her.  I also said “Hi” and “Thank you” and he stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said with anger in his voice “I’m surprised you’re speaking to me”.  I’m sure my jaw hit the floor, from everything I could tell he was the one avoiding me and yet he was obviously angry that I was avoiding him.  The only thing I managed to stutter was “I wasn’t trying not to”.  I think I said that twice and then after opening and closing my  mouth like a guppy several times I turned and walked away from the food line because I was so shocked.  I left the party shortly after that, it was just to awkward to stay.  At my own brother’s house.  It’s actually rather irritating that he made me so uncomfortable that I left and he and his parents stayed to visit with my family.   Just one more testament to the fact that my brothers don’t really care that much about me I guess.  I made sure to tell him goodbye and that I was sorry he thought I was avoiding him.  Seriously?  I saw a meme on Facebook that said “You destroyed me and I apologized”.  Yep, I just did it again.  Crap.  His father gave me another big hug and his mother gave me a slightly less icy glare.  My father walked me to my car and said “I’m sorry to say this but I think maybe your marriage should have ended 10 years ago”.  Damn right!  But I wasn’t the person I needed to be in order to leave 10 years ago… but I am where God wants me to be right now.  My biggest hope is that since my father saw it maybe my brothers also saw how my ex treated me that weekend and that maybe their eyes opened a wee bit as to why I left him.  Although in the end that is not super important either, I know I did the right thing.

The week after we get back from the graduation my younger daughter had coffee with her father like she does every month and I took my older daughter out to dinner like I do every month.  He doesn’t even pay for my younger daughter’s coffee when they meet, he’s such a tightwad, lol.  My dinner with the older was was actually one of the nicest visits we’ve ever had, which I thought was very strange given the fact that she tried to have as little to do with me as possible just three days before…  My younger daughter’s coffee was much more exciting because her father introduced her to his girlfriend!  The girlfriend wants to be friends with our younger daughter and she’s not sure if she wants that but I told her to at least try it out – this gal might be the best thing that ever happened to her father and hopefully this girl will make him a better person.  It was curious to me that my very first emotion after hearing he has a girlfriend was relief.  I actually felt like a large stone had rolled off of my shoulders!  Maybe now he’ll stop being so angry with me – although judging by the fact that he had been dating this girl for some time before the graduation and he was still so angry with me at the graduation… that might not be a realistic hope.  I looked her up on Facebook and my second reaction was to laugh hard – she looks so young, I’ll bet she’s going to want kids!  The thought of him getting his vasectomy reversed for her and going through the whole infant and child-rearing thing again (knowing how “helpful” he was the first time around) really struck my funny bone and I just roared with laughter.  But ultimately I truly hope he finds someone that he genuinely loves and respects.  Maybe then he will become a decent human being and stop being so angry about everything all the time.  I wish him a good life with someone who loves him, I truly do.  I wish it for myself as well.

And now we’re up to the present.  Work is going well and I’ve had some amazing paychecks now that the weather is getting so hot.  I’m almost ready to list my trailer for sale and as soon as it sells I will be moving to Montana to be near my father and his wife – oh, and I started calling her Mom at Christmas.  I’m embarrassed it’s taken me this long to do it, she’s such a nice, kind lady who has always loved us kids as her own and I’m really looking forward to getting to know both her and my father better.  My bosses are still wonderful and thank God I’m not in love with either of the boys anymore, it was on-again-off-again for a while but I’m in a good place now and their entire family had a lot to do with getting me there.  They treat me like I’m a born sister to them, in fact they’re taking me with them to Las Vegas for the Fourth of July!  It’s me and six of their family members going and they’ve paid for everything – my plane ticket, hotel room, food, everything, they’re just amazing people and it will be sooo hard to leave them and not just because they buy me so much stuff but because I truly love them as my own family.

I know that I write all of this out for me, it’s how I process my life and sort things out in my head, but thank you for following me and for taking the time to read all of this.  I’m just an ordinary girl, trying to do the right thing every day.  Most of the time I feel like I succeed but some days I don’t.  I’m healthier now than I ever have been both emotionally and physically.  The one-year anniversary of the divorce came and went and I didn’t even notice it until a few days later.  I feel healed from my marriage and from my life before.  I wish you healing from your damage as well and blessings to you.

It’s been 2 weeks and 1 day since I left and in that time I have gone through an entire roller coaster of emotions.
The biggest thing I’ve realized is that I really am afraid of what my husband will say to make me feel bad and that I fall for his guilt trips more often than not, even now that I’m not living with him.  I am not quite as strong as I want to be but I’m getting there.

I’ve also realized I like talking to my husband now that he’s being so careful of my feelings.  We’ve had a couple of in-person conversations and a few phone conversations and for the most part I enjoy the interactions right up until the point where he gets frustrated and starts to guilt trip me into feeling sorry for him, moving back into the house and/or tell him the address where I’m at now.  It usually takes me at least 15 minutes to end the conversation after the guilt/manipulation starts but I’ve been consistently surprised at how much I like talking to him until that point.  It reinforces, to me, that what I’ve been telling people is true.  I don’t hate him and I’m not interested in making him look bad to anybody, I just want to be out of this abusive situation and develop a healthy way to communicate with him because regardless if we’re living together or not, or married or not, we still have two children together and will need to be communicating with each other on a regular basis for the rest of our lives.

Both of my brothers, my father, my step-mother and my father-in-law have responded to my letter that I posted earlier in “What I Told My Family”.  All of their responses were very gracious, they offered to help if they could and wanted me to know they loved me.  A week after I had sent it I realize I forgot to include my husband’s only brother in the group email so I forwarded it to him with an apology for inadvertently leaving them out.  He responded a few days later with a simple “we’re praying for you” and a very formal blessing of sorts, which was a little better than I had expected from him.

My body was in survival mode all these years and in the last week I have been exhausted.  My friends and sister who have medical backgrounds say this is normal and that I should expect to be tired and get sick for a while before it gets better so I’m calling it “crash mode”.  Today was my day off, the first of two days in a row.  Last week I only had one day off and the week before that, the week I left, I had split days off so this is my first proper “weekend” since I left and it was sooo nice to sleep in!  I actually spent the day in my jammies and worked on the taxes all day, which was oddly relaxing and my sister says I should become a tax person to make extra income during the nail salon’s slow season.  Hmmm…

Anyway, that’s basically where I’m at right now.  My older daughter has not responded to my offer to meet with her at a restaurant after she gets off work some evening and my husband says she is very angry with me and to not show up at the house when she’s home alone without “making an appointment”.  I will try emailing her again tonight.  My younger daughter seems to be hellbent on completely destroying her life and leaving no bridge unburned at the moment… but that’s going to be another post, I can’t deal with it right now and there’s really no way to help her.  All I can do is be here and continue to love her and hope she turns her life around soon.

In the meantime I have one more day off and I’m going to sleep in and enjoy it as much as possible!

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 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.

 

I had always heard that girls were harder to raise than boys but I never really believed it… until now.

My youngest daughter is ripping my heart into little, tiny shreds – and I thought that had already been done but nooooo, the pieces CAN get smaller, ugh!  This month, I have found out many things I didn’t really want to know.

The biggest ones are that my youngest daughter has:

1.  Accepted the Bad Boy’s proposal so they are engaged.
2.  Had sex.  I’m not going to say with how many guys since even one is too many at her age but I’ll just leave it plural.  Her boyfriend/fiance is the one that told my husband this – what a crappy guy!  I was hopeful that his volunteering this information to her father would cause her to break up with him but no such luck.
3.  Started smoking about 6 months ago and had been vaping for about a year before that, which means she started well before the Bad Boy so unfortunately I can’t blame this one on him.
4.  Admitted to lying more than she tells the truth.  She says she is working on it and wants to stop lying but I can see that it’s become such a strong habit of hers that it’s very hard for her to start being completely truthful all the time.
5.  Been physically beat up for years and years by her older sister.  I was hesitant to believe her because of all the lying she’s done but I was actually able to get outside corroboration on her story and it’s absolutely true – I had no idea, none whatsoever and I feel like such a horrible mother for not knowing about it and stopping it.  She always had bruises but she was so active we just assumed it was from her playing outside and when questioned about it she always said she didn’t really know, must have been from when she was playing so we believed her.  At one point we did figure out that our older daughter was pushing our younger daughter’s buttons until she exploded but the older daughter was very, very hard to catch in the act and eventually we assumed she had stopped her button pushing.  In reality she just got better at being subtle about it.

Over the last four months the Bad Boy/Fiance has:

1.  Threatened to break up with her because she sat on the bus with an old boyfriend for a several-hour trip with the color guard.
2.  Broken up with her at least twice because of her lying – and then made up with her after a few hours of her crying her eyes out and begging him to take her back.
2.  Broken up with her because she wouldn’t stop being friends with her best friend – and then made up with her again after more crying and heartbreak.  (This was just tonight.)  He was so angry she wouldn’t stop being friends with her best friend that he hit something, busted his knuckles open and had to go to the hospital to get it stitched up.  I tried to tell her that if she had been there he might have hit her instead of the wall or whatever it was that he did hit and she refused to believe me, saying he would never hit a woman, she trusts him.  I feel like I have given birth to an idiot except what she really is is a victim.

This boy has been in at least three car accidents in the last four months (he tells her they were not his fault or no-fault), he is easily angered, aggressive, controlling and emotionally abusive and she makes excuses for him every time saying “I don’t blame him for acting/speaking to me this way because of my past”.  I tried to tell her that by thinking this way she is giving him permission to be abusive towards her but she doesn’t believe me.  I’ve told her that she has a hole in her heart from not having a father’s love like she needed from her father and this guy is just like her father AND he says he loves her so he’s filling the hole in her heart but it will end in heartache and misery and she doesn’t believe me.

She is failing her senior year because she’s been sick so much this year – in large part because she stays up all night talking to him and won’t go to bed and then doesn’t eat very much and is very proud of the 10 – 15 pounds she’s lost since she met him 4 months ago (so I’m wondering if he’s telling her she’s fat).  I asked her if she’s gotten a bad reputation at school because of who she’s slept with and she said that yes she has.  I offered to let her stop her senior year and re-start it next fall at a completely different school where nobody knew her.  She refused because she’d rather be with Bad Boy and seems to think that they can get married and then she’ll finish her senior year.  Yeah right.

I am terrified for her because she won’t believe me when I say this relationship is dangerous for her.  I am sooooo angry at her sister and at myself and my husband for not catching on to the physical abuse she was receiving.  I am wounded beyond words watching her do everything in her power to re-live my life despite my warnings.  I am afraid that Bad Boy is going to hurt her, maybe even kill her and that she won’t even fight back – she will just let him do it because she has no value in her own eyes and she thinks she deserves that kind of treatment.  Sometimes just thinking about all of this makes it hard to breathe…

Life is going to change in January, I don’t know exactly how but something’s got to give.  I can only pray that she will trust me more than she trusts him so I can get her away from this relationship.