On Friday my husband’s ex called him and asked if we could take their daughter Saturday night. Usually, we never have plans on the weekends. And we have told her to call us if she needs a sitter (she has her Friday and Saturdays nights), but to give us some notice. This time we actually did have plans to go to dinner for my step father’s birthday at a nice restaurant. He told her that we would have needed some notice to change the plans. She got angry, of course. And once again threatened to change the schedule AGAIN.
About the schedule…we have my step daughter Sunday night thru Friday evening. It gives her the stability and consistency she desperately needs through the school week. We spoke to her counselor about this since her mother is always threatening to change the schedule to work better for her (she complains about having to have her every weekend – um..hello? What if you weren’t divorced, you would have your kid 24/7). Anyway, her counselor said that the schedule we have needs to stay in place and it is obvious she is doing well with it. My husband told her mother this, but she doesn’t care.
So, the weekend comes and goes. We find out on Sunday night that instead of changing her plans to go to a bar to see a band, her mother left her with a 17 year old boy she doesn’t know at all. He is the son of a friend of her brother in law. She knows nothing about him. My step daughter, who is 7 today, stayed with him all night.
After hearing all of that, I went to my room and cried. I know what is out there in the world and I personally know what can happen to kids in situations like that. I would be mortified if that happened to her. Putting her in that situation is incomprehensible to me.
When my husband put the kids to bed I told him to call her now. I told him that if she ever in that circumstance again and refuses to cancel her plans to tell us and we will cancel ours. I hate making things easy for her time and time again. She complains all the time about how hard it is to be a single mom. She is so NOT a single mom. She has her daughter 2 nights a week and doesn’t take care of a single responsibility. I would love for her to see how hard being a parent REALLY is. But not at the expense of my step daughter.
But I have to tell you – I don’t know how much more I can take. Watching all of this. Having little say in anything. Having no respect from my step child or her mother. Having little understanding from my husband. While he wasn’t thrilled about the babysitter choice, he didn’t see why I was so upset.
How bad is this going to get? She is only 7. What decisions are going to be made when she is 10, 14, 16?? It makes me terrified.
Is it really 2007?? I mean, seriously…really? You wouldn’t know that by some of the things I have heard this morning.
First, my daughter was watching Disney Channel cartoons. Lou and Lou Safety Patrol came on (it is a cartoon short that plays in between other cartoons). The little girl asked her father (my words may not be exact…but darn close), “Dad, are we almost done shopping?” Her father then replies to her, “You are a girl. You should like to shop. Women love shopping.”
It took an animated crane to lift my jaw off the floor. WHAT?? Believe me, I am no Gloria Steinem. But I think that these messages being drilled into our daughters and sons minds are sickening. Isn’t it bad enough all this pink princess crap that is overfilling our little girls toy chests is thought to be a must have by our daughters? My 2 ½ year old loves matchbox cars. Any trucks or cars, actually. But after watching her sister, niece, other little girls and of course TV…now she wants Princess this and Barbie that. YUCK.
Pandering to children is nothing new, I get it. But then a couple hours later while listening to the Bill O’Reilly radio program I had the chance to vomit in my mouth a bit yet again (which does happen from time to time when listening to Bill). He has a commercial during his show for Pajama Grams. He says (something to the effect…again not exact words but pretty darn close), “Spend just minutes getting your wife’s gift and she will think you spent the day.” Translation – women are far too stupid to figure out you went to a website and pushed a few buttons. Then he says, “After all, women really just want to be spoiled.” And men don’t? Spoiled? How about just respected you ass.
Anyway…you won’t hear feminist tirades from me too often…but I couldn’t help myself today. I guess I just got my Pajama Grams in a bunch.
Forgiveness. The word itself sends a message of peace and good nature. It is a word that has flowed through my mind more times than I can count in this past year. Forgiveness. Much easier said than done. And perhaps, more than it is all cracked up to be.
It has been exactly one year since I was first accused of child abuse. As I look back on the past 12 months I remember so many tears and gut wrenching emotions. I remember betrayal, depression, hatred and a pure sense of loss.
In May, I wrote a letter to my husband’s ex wife. I will share this letter with you. I have edited it a bit due some serious personal nature that would reveal much about her and even after everything, I could not do that to another person. So I will cut out parts that are just too personal and hurtful.
May 3, 2006
Yesterday, and so many days previous, I was filled with anger, frustration, and sadness. Those emotions are still with me, but I am coming to some conclusions within myself that are helping me cope and alleviate the negativity. The first being compassion. I know that you are a wounded person. And I know that the things you do are a direct result of those wounds, some self inflicted, but wounds the same. When I get into those moments of such anger, I am trying to picture you bandaged from head to toe. I am trying to see you as a human, who, for whatever reason, is carrying pain.
(edited – text removed) I think in your young subconscious you learned that your actions could cause powerful reactions. And I think this has fed you for a long, long time. It has fed your need for validation, acceptance, and control. So often you feel you have no control, whether it is financially, parentally, or emotionally. So to feel that sense of control you so desperately need, you shift and alter your life in ways to get people to notice you. I really don’t think any of this is done on a conscious level. And while you may know prior to doing or saying something that it isn’t the best choice and while you may carry regret afterwards, I still think it is almost automatic for you.
You care so much what others think of you and that must get so tiring. I think you are exhausted. Your family, peers, media all influence you so greatly. I am not sure that you have ever truly valued yourself and your own perspectives.
I cannot make anything better. And I am the last person you will listen to or take advice from. But I want you to know that I know. I want you to know that there is a way out of this misery you are creating. Constant drama. The instability. I know that cannot make you happy. Perhaps the high, the rush, makes you excited and thrilled for the moment (when you first meet a new guy, when you end the relationship to ‘start over’, when you move into a new place…things that give you that temporary sense of control). But that is all quickly passing.
(edited – text removed)
I first wrote back to your last email responding to each and every statement that wasn’t accurate or that I disagreed with. But I realized that none of that matters. We could go back and forth until the cows come home and nothing will ultimately change.
What concerns me now is the fact that M is growing up and taking on many of these traits. (edited – text removed)
You tell Charlie you do not believe she should have consequences for lying or manipulating. With this, you are reinforcing her behavior. And its going to get really bad, K. You think you are unhappy and stressed? Do you want that for her? Do you really want her to grow up feeling the way you do everyday?
I am begging you to swallow your pride. To stop caring so much about your image as a mother, woman, daughter, Christian. I know that you know what is right. You have to heal yourself before you can teach her how to be a productive, healthy, compassionate woman.
There is no need to turn around and point out my faults. Believe me, I know they exist. And yes, I am learning everyday on ways to improve myself. You can attack me all you want; you can even make yourself believe the things you say. But I know the truth here and deep down, so do you.
I now have a natural daughter to think about. And I also want what is best for me. I have learned and am learning (as it is a very difficult transition), that I need to basically step out of M’s life. At least until things have changed. I cannot make effort after effort just to have it be undermined, just to have me be the villain in her eyes created by you and your family. Especially when now she is involving outsiders. (edited – text removed) It won’t be long before she is making things up all together. I cannot be in that situation. And believe me, when I am not available to be the target, someone you care about may be. Perhaps even you. So while I know you do not care about me, think of the future. Think of HER future. This much power is way too much for a child, you of all people should know that.
My offer still stands if you want to try to talk this out. If not, so be it, that is fine with me also.
After she received this letter, I got this email as a reply:
I printed your letter off yesterday, but I just read it this morning. There are things I would like to say, and also want to apologize to you….in person. I left a message on your answering machine to call me so feel free. If you don’t mind, I was wondering if I could come over and talk to you tonight. Maybe C could do something with the girls. You touched on lot of things and are right about just about everything. Please let me know what you think.
I responded to her and she came over that night. She talked a lot about her past and about how her mother makes her do things she doesn’t necessarily agree with. She had many reasons for the ways she does things and for the things she says. A part of me wanted to truly forgive. And I did feel some compassion. But I was still torn apart at the time.
Only a couple days later she went back on everything she said and started trouble again. The trouble has continued off and on and I see no end in sight.
She would likely say that C and I cause the trouble. She considers it being mean when C asks that M eats properly or doesn’t get exposed to boyfriend after boyfriend or when he asks that M sleep in her own bed at night instead of a different place every night she is with her mom. Apparently those are unreasonable requests. Requests he needs to make over and over because they do not get acknowledged.
So, when he makes these requests she threatens him or me. She screams and swears on the phone and then hangs up. She calls us names. And that’s only what we know about.
Even through this roller coaster ride of calm and riot, I have my moments of wanting to forgive and muster up compassion for this woman.
Several months ago she called C explaining that she needed help – that she was addicted to her ADD medication. She had been taking it for five years. Apparently fooling the prescribing Doctor all that time in order to keep receiving the medication. It made her very thin and gave her mountains of energy. I don’t know if that was her motivation, but I can only assume. But during this time she said she became extremely dependant and her doses had to keep increasing. When she would try to wean off she said she would become violent, mean and even hallucinate. When she told this to C he said that we would keep M for the next few weeks until she gets help. I got on the internet and tried to find out all I could about this medication. I was genuinely worried. I then called a treatment facility and asked them for their hours. I made C call K back and give her the number. He was reluctant, saying this is just another one of her dramas – a ploy for attention.
She ended up checking into the local hospital for 3 days to detox from this drug. It did seem a bit over the top as I have since known people to just wean off of it just fine without being hospitalized.
We still kept M for a couple weeks while she got ‘back on her feet’. And after that she started to stay with us Monday through Friday so she could have some stability and consistency through out the school week.
Before K checked in to the hospital I talked to her on the phone. Again…yes AGAIN…after everything…I still felt empathy for her and told her she had nothing to worry about.
It wasn’t long after when she started with her comments, irresponsible actions and threats. My hopes again were dashed. I thought maybe these drugs were causing her behavior. I guess not.
So…here I am today. One year from the day it all started. Six months into my 12 month probation. And everyday the pain and aggravation and hurt feel the same. I read. I try to meditate. I exercise. I even go to therapy. But I suppose that cannot erase the imprints in my mind and heart. Maybe one day it will start to fade and I can get to the point where I can not only forgive past occurrences, but also the ones that continue into the future. Perhaps one day I can simply let go and live in the absolute moment with the knowledge that it is only the life I live that I can have any control over; even if that control is merely an illusion.
So right now, I am on the path of forgiveness…of letting go. Anyone know the easiest way? Because I seem to keep taking the roughest roads and I am just so very tired.
The week of New Years my husband took off work. I had a week to relax more than usual and I came across the first episode of Six Feet Under on Bravo. I watched it and had to watch the next two that followed. After those three, I was hooked and the next episodes that were scheduled were not in succession. I had no choice. I headed to Blockbuster and rented the rest of Season One. It was like a needle in my arm. One right after the other – I couldn’t stop watching. Little did I know the coffin I was about to open.
As soon as the last of season one was finished I was right back at the video store renting season two…the next day, season three. In one week I watched the entire series…five seasons. My family laughed at first and then genuinely seemed weirded out and annoyed with my new addiction. All I could think about were these new people, I mean – characters, in my life. This was not just a television show for me. It was therapy.
Needless to say, the show was so wonderfully written. And the acting is beyond remarkable. It was like this orchestra with each instrument playing notes never heard before and yet they all were so in sync and so beautiful.
My struggle with existential anxiety…my irrational fear of death…my angst about the existence of an afterlife…this was the Rx that was never written for me but should have been. I identified so deeply with several of the characters. I sunk into the story lines like velvet covered couch. I was in love.
I have always been a ‘too much too soon’ kind of person. I dive into depths I know little about. Watching what was meant to be a 5 year once a week program in one single week was very powerful and draining. I doubt it would have had the same affect if I had watched like everyone else on Sunday nights.
Then it came. The final episode. I knew it was coming, but like I imagine death to be, I wasn’t prepared in the least. It was over. And not only did it end but it ended beautifully. I cried and cried for…well…never mind. No need to sound even crazier than I already do. But I can say that I have not been the same since.
I have also been searching for a replacement. Something to fill that void Six Feet Under left in my psyche and heart. Have yet to find it. Alan Ball or someone as brilliant – this is a cry for excellence. This is a cry for a pure raw authentic slap in the face. I hope you are working on it. I am depending on you J