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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.

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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.

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.

 

I just had a very enjoyable day off, yay!  I slept in until noon and then had lunch with my new friend, she’s a nail client of mine and we “clicked” right away – so much so that we are talking about opening a thrift store together.  From here on out I will call her my thrift store friend.  We picked a name for our thrift store today and set ourselves “homework” for the next week’s meeting.  Having a plan and hope for the future is a remarkable tonic!

After lunch I went to Target and picked up a beautiful bracelet on clearance that I will probably never really wear because it’s so elegant and formal (lots of rhinestones) but it made me happy so I bought it.  Next I went to Shopko to return a shirt and walked away with 7 bottles of nail polish, including one color which I already have and will have to exchange for another color, lol!  I counted all my nail polish  bottles after I got home and I have 110!  I should probably stop buying more there’s so many pretty colors out there…  Later I met my husband at home and we went to see the new Hunger Games movie, which I really enjoyed.

Now I am watching Dr Who on Netflix and blogging, fun, fun, fun!

I like good days.  Good days are so much nicer than the hard days.  Days like today help me stop focusing on days like Sunday when my younger daughter and I were at the store and having a good time hanging out together.  Towards the end she received a text from her boyfriend’s mother saying “What did you do?” and then the mother called her.  Apparently the boyfriend had tried to call her and when her phone answered he said that he heard laughter, somebody said “Oh crap” and the phone disconnected.  His very first thought is that she’s cheating on him so he calls his mother, crying, who texts and then calls my daughter to find out what’s going on.  Her phone has been on the fritz and she never received a phone call from him, I can verify that, but whatever he thought he heard sure freaked him out.  She talks to his mother and tells her she never received his call and that she’ll call him after we get home.  His mom warned her that he was very angry and she would have to calm him down.

My daughter acted like this was all matter-of-fact and  just a part of regular, everyday life with him, much like having to purchase eggs and bread on a regular basis.  Which, unfortunately, it seems to be.  She told me that she calls and texts his mom often to see how to best talk to him, calm him down and relate to him because “his mom knows him best, he calls her for everything”.

There’s so many things wrong with this scenario that it makes my head spin.  Manic paranoia to think that laughter and “Oh crap” equals cheating.  Major attachment issues to still be calling mommy for every little thing at 20 years old.  Mom appears to believe everything he says because her first communication, the text, was “What did you do?”.  My daughter’s acceptance of both of their behaviors and resignation to the fact that she will have to call him and they will “have a fight but I’ll talk him through it and we’ll work it out” when we get home.

She has no idea that this is not a normal, healthy relationship.  She said that he’s had so much bad luck with relationships that he doesn’t know what to do with a good one and that it’s up to her to be there for him and calm him down because she and his mom are the only two people in the world who know how to do that.

I’m afraid for her.  It’s going to take more and more convincing to calm him down as time goes by.  What’s going to happen when he becomes so paranoid that she can’t calm him down?  Will he become physically violent and dangerous if she ever does decide to leave him?

She is past the point of listening to me about this relationship so all I could tell her was that she doesn’t deserve to be treated poorly no matter what anyone’s past history is and she shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for herself.  That’s it, that’s all I could say.

Don’t let him treat you badly, you deserve to be treated well.

You deserve so much more than this…

It’s like I’m in a time warp, watching my own life through a magnifying glass.  My every bad decision is exponentially worse and has larger consequences in her life.  I can only hope that I’ve instilled a greater sense of self-worth in her than I ever had to help her get through – and out – of it eventually.

Please God, let her see she is worth so much more than the life that’s waiting for her with this guy, please!

Obviously, the world did not end.  Yay.

So rewind just a tad to the night before our Big Talk.  I had asked my husband if he would talk to our younger daughter alone and leave me out of the conversation.  He declined to acquiesce to my request.  I made it very clear that I did not believe that taking away her electronic devices and trying to force our daughter to make our choices and not hers was the right thing to do, that it would completely backfire and chase her further into her boyfriend’s arms and farther from us.

He completely agreed with me that those results were much more likely than the results he wanted out of the conversation and yet he insisted that he must still have this conversation with her. What?  Why?

Knowing that what he doesn’t want to happen has a greater chance of happening because of this conversation makes him as determined than ever to do it?  All that I can think of is this conversation with her is his way of being able to sleep at night, his way of convincing himself that he’s done everything he possibly can to be a good parent and stop her from being a bad child.  And that does seem to be his main focus, that she’s disobeying him by staying up past the curfew he’s set, by blocking him from her Facebook page, by not sharing every thought inside her head, etc.

Fast forward to the Big Talk.  My  husband has warned my sister and our renter to stay out of our house while we have our talk.  He lit every candle in the house – very unlike him – and pulled three chairs into a circle.  He sat down in one, I sat in another and he called our daughter out.  I was so embarrassed to be there I could hardly look her in the eyes but she made me so proud of her.  I thought that she really handled the situation well and while it was clear to me that she wasn’t about to just give in to her father’s nicely worded statements she also stood up for herself in small but obvious ways, at least to me.

In essence he backed off from his previous stance that all her electronics should be taken away and he focused on her health like I asked him to.  She did agree that for her health she should get to bed earlier and eat better.  We expressed our concern that she might not graduate from too many missing days and she said she does want to graduate.  We set new curfews for talking to the boyfriend to which she agreed, although I have no doubts that she never planned to follow them, and then we went out for dinner.  A nice, happy family outing where we laughed and acted completely normal.

Since then everything has been same ‘ole, same ‘ole, for our family at least.  We’ll see how long it lasts…

I took my younger daughter’s senior pictures today, my attempt at capturing one of the last moments I have with her before tomorrow.  There are quite a few that I thought  turned out really well, I’m so glad we were able to do that this afternoon.

My husband is determined to go through with his plan of taking her laptop, tablet and phone away from her tomorrow evening for a month.  The laptop was something I purchased for her but the tablet and phone she bought herself and she pays for her phone bill herself.  She’s two months away from being 18 and I don’t think it’s right to take away the things she bought herself.  As a matter of fact it’s not right to take away a gift either but my husband seems to believe that the desired result will justify the means.

I had a chat with my husband tonight and asked not to be involved in tomorrows conversation and subsequent confiscation of the electronics but he wants me to be there.  I stated I was uncomfortable with this course of action and believe it will seriously backfire; by not being involved with tomorrows conversation I was hoping to leave a door open for her to see me as a parent she could still talk to.  He believes that we need to present a united front and that by both of us stating our concern for where her choices are leading her she will change her ways.

Uh huh.

Maybe I’m overreacting.  I hope so.

On a positive note, I met with a new friend today, a nail client who has asked me to consider opening a thrift store with her.  We met for lunch and will spend the next two weeks researching how to get a business license, tax ID and other legal paperwork accomplished, think of thrift store names and look for business locations.  This is a bright spot in life for me right now, a goal to work for and give purpose that is entirely outside of anything going on right now to my days.  I didn’t realize how much I needed that.

The saga continues, hopefully tomorrow will go better than I think it will…

Oh the joys of being me!  Here’s the roller coaster ride of feelings I  had today:

Overwhelmed
A Failure
Anger
Weary to the bone
Incapable
Suicidal
Hopeless
Unworthy
Faith-less (as in having no faith, not as in being unfaithful)
Rejected
Doubt
Alone
Zero endurance
Panic

OK, so that’s not really a roller coaster ride, that’s a gravity drop ride…

Today was horrible.  The fourth ten-hour work day in a row is always hard on me but this particular Monday at the call center there was non-stop calls from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm, just back-to-back-to-back, with a much higher than average ratio of mean customers than normal.  Seriously people, it’s not my fault you don’t open and/or read your statements and therefore “forget” to pay your bills on time or get interest charges from failing to pay off your promotional financing offers before they expire!

I started my day tired, cried off and on throughout the day because of my customers attitudes and comments and ended the day exhausted and yet, obviously, unable to sleep.  During my shift today I wrote several “Goodbye World” notes in my head – trying to decide what to put on Facebook to make the appropriate people feel guilty and how could I contact my youngest daughters only nice ex-boyfriend to ask him to look in on her when I’m gone.  At some point I realized my thinking was pretty messed up, which only made it worse because then the feelings of “I have no business being a parent” kicked in and only made the urge to off myself stronger.  I really began to feel like I would be doing the world – and especially my children – a favor by not being here.  Towards the end of my workday the calls slowed down and I became a little more rational.  Yes, stop freaking out, I am going to call my doctor tomorrow to get back on some form of anti-depressant because there really is something terribly wrong with me.  (I’m sure that someday this blog will wind up in a clinical textbook about depression and I’ll be reduced to nothing more than a case study, although that’s probably all I am to some of you anyway…)  I fantasize that my doctor will place me on disability because my jobs stress me out so much, but that is just one more fairy tale that will never come true.

I contemplated my faith, or current lack thereof, today.  As a child I loved God with all my heart.  As a teenager I was desperate for the peace my church promised I would have if only I followed God faithfully and did my very best to be a Good Girl.  After high school I began to see that reality was not the life I was told it would be as a Christian.  As a young married wife I slipped further and further away from believing the Christian ideal and now I’m wondering if God would even notice all that much if I cut that last thread and left Him altogether.  But if I don’t believe in God what’s left to believe in?

I have a jewelry open house this Saturday, trying to raise money to pay my school tuition and although I created a Facebook event and invited 50 of my Facebook “friends” to it I haven’t had a single response, yea or nay.  Which leads me to doubt that any of them will come because when everything shakes out I really don’t have “friends”, I have acquaintances.  Lots and lots of acquaintances.  I’ve chased most all the people who might have considered being my friend away by virtue of being mentally disturbed, distrustful and insecure.  I feel so alone, like there’s no one who will help me get out of this hole I’m in and I don’t think I can get out of it myself but I keep trying.  I really want to delete all my so-called friends and actually be as alone as I feel I am but I know I will regret it in the future.  I’m not sure why I’ll regret it but I just know that at some point I will…

My husband, who does woodworking, is all excited for my open house and has been making hand-crafted wooden pens this last week for me to take and try to sell at my fundraiser.  Not to help me get my tuition paid but to get him money to buy more wood because he wants to start a woodworking business from home.

A friend made sure to point out that her contribution to my efforts was limited to prayer.  Good grief, I’m not asking for charity – although standing on the side of the road with a sign asking for donations will probably make me more money than all my efforts to actually earn it will so I may do that soon too – but I wasn’t trying to guilt her into buying anything from me either.  It’s probably me just reading between lines that aren’t there again.  With her it seems like it’s always me reading between those damn invisible lines, I’m always wrong about something.

And that’s the core of what I always come back to.  It’s not you, it’s me.  It’s always something wrong with me.  I’m broken, I’m damaged, I’m wrong, wrong, wrong.  I can’t do anything right.  It’s true, that is my mother’s voice!  She has so much to answer for – although being dead she probably has answered for it by now…  Unfortunately I’m still sorting through all the crap she instilled in me growing up.  I’m 40 and finally realizing that most of it IS crap but I feel like the old dog you can’t teach new tricks to – how do I change the way I think?  The way I feel?  The way I respond to life?  The easier way out is death but honestly I’m a coward.  Too scared to die, not brave enough to live.  Clinging to the mushroom life because the evil that I know is easier than the good that I don’t know.

People in my church avoid me – and to be fair I avoid them now too.  The few that used to speak to me don’t any more and I feel like I’ve been given up as “lost”.  That I’m not worth their efforts anymore.  That I’m beyond “saving”.  That I could change if I would just decide to change.  My suicide would only cause them to “tsk, tsk, tsk” and think in their hearts that they were right.  My staying alive is the only way I would possibly dare to spit in their eye – and that’s pretty good motivation right now.

The next step is to get out of this job and start being a Nail Tech.  Right now I can’t deal with more than one goal.  Raise $1900 to pay my school bill, pass the state boards and start working as a Nail Tech.  After that, who knows?  Maybe reaching one goal will give me the courage to accomplish another goal, like leaving this church with or without my husband.

Yes, those words were used to describe me at about age 13 by my stepfather.  I had no idea what that meant or what I might have done to have been labeled that way, I only knew that those words wounded me in a manner that I couldn’t describe.  My stepfather also said I “looked like a whore” the first time I wore makeup out of the house and many other not very flattering things throughout the two-and-a-half years he was  married to my mother.  Yes, I know, he wasn’t very nice.

My mother had her own issues as well.  She told me, somewhere between the ages of 12 – 16, that I was too forward with men.  She said that I stood too close to guys when I talked to them, that I pushed my chest into them, I touched them too much, and more than once, my mother told me that I was just asking to be raped because of the way I behaved around men, especially ones who were significantly older than me.

I was sooooooo sheltered growing up, we had no television, strictly monitored music choices, carefully selected library books, clothing modest enough to be made fun of all through junior high school and no unsupervised interactions with the opposite sex until I was old enough that they were impossible to prevent.  Add to that the fact that I was raised by a woman who was most likely a sex addict and who was oh so scared to death that her little girl would turn out to be just like her… and I was doomed from the start.

She never taught me how to behave around men and conversely, she never taught me how NOT to behave around men either.  I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 18, and since I graduated at 17 that meant I had already moved out on my own and didn’t live with anyone of whom I could ask questions regarding the many mysteries of dating.  Mom never really welcomed those sorts of questions at any point of my life so I was pretty much on my own.  Doomed, I tell you, doomed…

All of this has come back to haunt me because this last weekend I was a chaperon on my youngest daughter’s music trip.  This involved a 15 hour bus ride there, one day at the competition, one day at a theme park and another 15 hour bus ride back.  My daughter dress and behavior both mortified and horrified me me on this particular trip.  Besides wearing Daisy Dukes, that I naively thought she only wore around the house, paired with either a skin-tight tank top or a mostly see-through shirt my daughter was one of two couples on the bus that were repeatedly asked to stop making out!  I was so embarrassed I cried.  A lot.  I told my daughter that her clothing and behavior made me embarrassed to be her mother at that moment.  She apologized.  We hugged.  She came out the next morning wearing pants and a more modest shirt.  Peace was restored.

The bus ride home started at 10 pm and went through the night so the teacher required girls to sit with girls and boys to sit with boys.  My daughter was The Poster Child for love-sick teenagers all over the world in spite of my changing seats to sit in the seat in front of her and me sitting in that seat cross-way so I could watch her.  Oh. My. Gosh!  That child and her True Love held hands across the aisle, with that Brave Boy sitting very awkwardly in his seat, leaning his head against the back of the chair in front of him so that he could reach his arm forward and hold her hand.  You could almost hear that famous line from The Princess Bride “Wuv, Tuhwooo Wuv”.  I wanted to vomit.  Throughout the long, long drive home I had to tell her to stop laying down in the aisle so she could be closer to him and get back in her seat.  I had her come up and sit with me and we started watching a movie on my laptop.  She said she was going to go to sleep and went back to her own spot where, surprise, surprise, she suddenly became wide awake and started talking with the other boys sitting near her as Prince Charming had finally managed to fall asleep once she stopped being a growth on his hand.  Eventually I fell asleep for a short while (I’m old, I couldn’t help it), only to wake up and see her sitting on his lap.  More tears from me.  She feels bad and says she’s sorry again and goes back to her seat but for the remainder of the trip I am seriously considering suicide, especially because once the sun came up the “girls sitting with girls and boys sitting with boys” rule ended.  I had to stop the other couple from kissing and my daughter went back to sitting openly on Lover Boy’s lap.  I was at my wit’s end. I felt like a failure as both a parent and a chaperon. There was every chance that if I could not stop my daughter and the other couple from excessive public displays of affection that her teacher could get fired and/or the entire music department could get banned from trips requiring bus transportation.  It has happened before in this school district!

I have to admit the thought that my daughter was acting “like a virgin in heat” did come to my mind more than once.

The nightmare finally ended, the bus pulled up to the school and we silently disembarked, wordlessly loaded all our luggage into the car and quietly went home.  In the car on the way she and I started talking and I think we finally, finally connected.  I shared some of my stories about growing up with my mother.  I told my daughter that based on what I saw – and wished I could unsee – from this weekend that she looked like a girl who sleeps around (I specifically did NOT use the “virgin in heat” phrase) and that if I got that impression after only a couple of days with her and her school friends than what were her teachers and fellow students thinking?  What kind of reputation did she have around school?  I then asked her to tell me what kind of girl she is.  She appeared absolutely shocked that her behavior could be interpreted as promiscuous and told me that she does not sleep around.  I chose to believe her.

I really, really hope that this conversation actually got through to her because if it didn’t I don’t know what else I could possibly say to her that would make a difference anymore.  I feel like I’ve failed her somehow, to let her become this desperate, broken, lonely heart but I don’t know how to be a better mom.  I know I’ve done my best but I don’t think it’s good enough and I’m scared for her.  Really scared for her.

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