Manipulative Homes, the Heartache of One Mother
Ten years ago I met my husband, each of us had a little girl. His was seven months mine was one. He and his ex-wife had a huge history and they did not, still don't, like each other. When I met him we lied out all the facts between us and made sure going in we would be there for the long haul. As we all do they both did things to each other that made each one feel neglected, unloved and unappreciated. He worked and she did not. He would come home to a filthy house every day and she would always complain about him working. He had to sell things to make ends meet sometimes. Its complicated but you understand.
So she met this other man online and was chatting with him. She still married my now husband lets call him James. When they got married they just found out she was pregnant. She had visited this other man once and so there was a small question as to if it was really James' or not. She claimed she never messed around with this other person and that it was indeed his. He was skeptical of course. The night of their wedding was spent with her online with this other man. James had an event to attend for a weekend shortly after the wedding. He left thinking nothing of it when he returned he found her with this other man in their bed. Naturally he was upset and realized it was over at that point. He did not want the mother of his child out on the street so he let her stay but in a separate room until the baby was born; all the while she continued to see this man and have him over and in her room. Fast forward to when I met James. We talked about everything, he told me his situation and I told him mine. We explained that we needed to be sure that we could handle the baggage because of the children. We didn't want to establish connections for it to just end one day.
We had only been dating for maybe a month when he told me that our relationship happened into a conversation with him and his ex. Suddenly she would not sign the divorce papers. All the time that we were getting to spend with his daughter started to dwindle. The man that she had been seeing prior to me, lets call him Andrew, was now living with her and had been at the hospital when the baby was born and was "raising" this child. So for her to have this type of reaction was not warranted.
That was just the beginning.
The Not So Distant Past
As the child grew her mother kept calling Andrew Daddy and James was James. She was keeping the child from James longer and longer which was hard because as an infant we had her every day. She still did not sign the papers and we now had proof that the baby was James'. We tried to get her for family functions and to spend time with her but somehow there would be some excuse as to why we could not have her every time. The child continued to get older and by the time she was 2 her mother was giving her a choice whether to come or stay. It got to the point where she must have been saying something to her because she would scream and run away and make this big scene when James would come to pick her up. It was so heart breaking. I confronted the mother once about having the child call this other man daddy and not her real father. I also asked her that if she didn't want her real father involved then why even let him be in the first place? She could have easily spun it to keep him out back before they found out. She did not have an answer to that but said that she was not going to teach the child to call Andrew by his name, he was daddy and that was that. I was furious! How disrespectful!!
I would ask around about how things used to be and what not to try to find the truth. Really everything lines up, she was and still is manipulative and he was not attentive to her and manipulative as well. This did not sound like the man I fell in love with but everyone had the same to say. It just showed how being with the right person can make you change and be better. Anyway, the years went on and we saw less and less of her until she was here so little it was like being a glorified babysitter. Every time the child and I would get close she would come back from her mothers and treat me like dirt. She would treat us all like we were dirt. At the time she was 4 and I know she knew what she was doing, but not without coercion i'm sure because what toddler would just innately do that?
It seemed like every step of the way we were being shut out and pushed away somehow. When the child would want to be here, it turned into not seeing her for a week. We did this up and down roller coaster for years. Her mother would always ask why we can't be friends and we can co-parent, but her actions speak so much louder.
I want to give you some back story on the last couple years before I tell you why I have taken the path I have taken because I am not cold or mean by any means. I have gone so far to make this child part of our family as much as putting my own daughter on the back burner a couple times which was unfair to her. I have gone out of my way to make sure she would get her time here and that we could be a good influence but to no avail apparently. I cannot play this game I suppose.
We have spent the last several years making changes to our style of parenting, tried to be more like her other house hold in terms of how we act with her etc. Just to try and be with her. We always ask to have her for things or to see her even on our days because now we just never know. She gets to decide what she does every day other than school. Despite us never throwing her mother under the bus and always being here for her we come second. James is still James, even in the child's phone and Andrew is Daddy. She is old enough now to understand how her actions affect others around her and the child's actions speak mountains, I will pick her up from school assuming we will spend time together because it is our day and she wants to go to her grandmas, or sit at her moms work and do nothing or go wherever. She won't establish a connection to her brother and is drifting from her sister. Her mom always makes plans on our days and so when the end of the week comes she won't come home because her sister is not here like we don't matter. She doesn't even come home for part of a day if her mom has plans with her later. I do not know how this happened we fight so hard but whatever is going on over there has jaded her so deeply now that only her moms family matters. My one last example is she was going on vacation for a week, we had not seen her in eight days, instead of coming to see us and have some fun she went to her grandmas because she wasn't going to see them for a week. She chose to not come home this week because her mom made all these plans and now her sister is at her dads and so she won't come. Now we are not bad, but we don't go out to expensive trips, we are not athletic and we are really not quirky in the way she is accustomed to at her mothers. We walk, we hike, craft and like to play games with the kids. The time we spend together is important so instead of going and doing things that cost money we try to do other things together like games, parks, walks etc. We expect them to do chores and help out and expect them to be courteous and kind. I just do not understand what is being done.
I said all of that to say this. A person can only take so many years of heartache, trying, being beat down, being pushed away and put second or last however you want to look at it, before they stop trying. We will always love her, always want her to be here and she knows that, I know she does, but I cannot put myself into that position any longer. Waiting to see what happens the day of wasting all the time I could have been out having fun with my other children, waiting to hear what, at this point, I already know the answer to. It is not that we don't care because we sure as heck do, but we are choosing us first now. The stress of it all is too much, it is now my job to protect my family from the heartache. Our son doesn't understand, he was in tears because he just wanted to see his sister, thinking he did something wrong because she isn't coming home. He is only three he doesn't understand any of this, all he knows is love and compassion. My daughter doesn't understand why she doesn't seem to care about us. They are drifting and it is hurting her. My husband has been beat down so many times that the mention of her name makes his face droop. He feels like a failure despite his best efforts to be in her life. He is defeated. So now I have chosen to protect them. I continue to handle all communication between the child and her mother for when we see her and what not. If she chooses to not come home I say nothing, I let it go now because talking about it hurts more. I protect them now from the negativity of it. We are fighting a losing battle. I know that child knows we love her, and that we care, I make that very clear and when she is ready to see the truth she will. Until then we wait because hurting every day is not healthy. Being made to feel so little every time I have to talk to them is not right.
I know there are probably many of you out there who are going through a similar situation and truthfully there is so much more to it that explains any holes. We are not giving up, never give up, the child should never have to feel the way we do. Just step back, be confident in knowing that they know the truth and shoot them an I love you when you can to make sure they are reminded. Sometimes space can be a good thing but just enough to breathe. It is always going to be tough and in some cases like this one, the one parent cannot get over the past and put that onto the child. Our job is to be better than that, be stronger and grow to be better than we were so they can see people change. Nobody can tell you how to handle your personal situation and if they try tell them no. Unless they walk in your shoes day in and day out they cannot possibly fathom the pain you feel so they have no right to weigh in. All we can do is be as present as this time will allow and hope that the truth will come out, as it usually does, and that they will see it and come back to us one day.